How to Start a Non-Profit Literary Magazine

| Posted in Publishing, Writing.

Magazine rackStarting a nonprofit literary magazine may be a daunting task, but it has its rewards. If you’re a writer, or are at least passionate about writing, then you might have a shared understanding of what readers are looking for. A magazine could be a great way for you to discover writers new to the game, and if you publish quality work that gets recognized elsewhere, you’ll build up your magazine’s credibility. This also helps establish a good reputation, so that more readers, as well as more writers looking for opportunities, will seek you out.

Here are a few tips for starting a literary magazine:

The first thing you need to do is start making decisions. Planning is always important in any undertaking and starting a magazine involves a great deal of planning. You need to ensure that you cover every angle and plan for problems sooner rather than later. Leaving things until later can lead to more stress and add even more problems which could have been avoided at the start.

At the top of the list is deciding on a name. That sounds like an easy idea but you need to think about it carefully so that you don’t accidentally choose something that might be offensive to some people. You also make something that is catchy. Ultimately, you need to be true to yourself. The name of the magazine has to be something you’d be proud of.

You need to decide what kind of content you want to publish. This is the kind of information that goes into your submission guide. Don’t be afraid to tell writers what kind of work it is that they should submit. It will be your magazine and you’ll be in charge. Don’t worry about receiving too few submissions initially. It will pick up as you gain credibility.

Getting started

The cheapest way to get your magazine established is to start a website. Starting a print magazine can a long time, since you need to find a printer; preferably one which gives favourable rates to non-profit magazines. On the other hand, starting a basic website costs nothing, provided you use sites like WordPress. You don’t need design experience because themes are available, but if you want to personalise your site you might have to consider hiring a freelance web designer.

It’s also best to pay for a unique, highly relevant domain name because this will help you get good results in the search engines. Not all domains are expensive, so try out as many alternatives as you can think of to get the most affordable option.

Bear in mind that running an online non-profit literary magazine will require funding on your part. Ultimately it’s for people who are passionate about literature and not necessarily those that are looking for exposure. If your plan is to start off as non-profit and then switch to commercial that could work too. But be prepared for the set-up costs that will go in to the site.


Written by David Hendricks

Image credit: Enokson, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr


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