Editor and writer Joe Ponepinto, a regular commenter on this blog, has been busy creating a new literary magazine, Tahoma Literary Review. He and co-founder Kelly Davio (as well as nonfiction editor Yi Shun Lai) created the journal with a particular vision, one that interested me as soon as I heard about it.
In short: a transparent approach to submissions; editors, not students, reading the slush pile; making sure contributors got paid.
In slightly longer form, here is Joe describing that vision:
When Kelly and I started Tahoma Literary Review, we knew we were facing some risks. The business model we proposed was a hybrid, combining what we saw as the best features of literary journals with a collaborative effort among writers and editors to ensure published writers were fairly paid.
It’s tough enough to start and sustain a journal amid the current chaos of the online/POD/print literary world, and then to… gulp… ask writers to pay submission fees? Who would submit?
We added aspects that we, as writers, crave from the journals we submit to: a transparent selection process in which all published pieces come from the slush pile; all submissions read by the editors (no first readers); a secure area for submitters, with links to craft articles, readings, and interviews to help ensure everyone who paid a fee received some value for their money; and finally, an open book policy regarding the journal’s finances.
After our first submission period we are ecstatic about the numbers, and deeply appreciative of the support we’ve received from the writing community.
It’s remarkable that Joe and Kelly are willing to publish their numbers, detailing exactly who pays and who gets paid, and how much. Too often, literary magazines give off an air of mystery and privilege. I really like Joe and Kelly’s approach, and while I haven’t yet submitted any work to them, I think I would be happy to pay a submission fee, in this particular case, because their funding and selection process is so clear.
Have a look at the chart of income and payment that Joe put up, and see what you think. Are you against submission fees, however nicely they are presented, or do you find the Tahoma Literary Review’s approach a breath of fresh air?
If you are interested in reading the end result, the free e-book version of issue one is here.