Independent Publishing Frustrations + Successes
Well, we got sidetracked. Diverted. There was a fork in the road and we took it. We’re writing this from Fes, Morocco. Currently, we are thinking back on the processs of building issue no. 1, Cascadia, while compiling issue no. 2, Tallinn, and taking a quick break (the diversion) from our time in Andalucía (issue no. 3). What we want to discuss in this post is some of our very real struggles with the creation of the the first issue, and how we’d like to improve and facilitate the development of future issues. The creation of any new thing is bound to be fraught with unexpected challenges and hindrances, some disappointments and frustrations, but also pleasant surprises and impromptu successes.
+ Our mission, and its statement:
Our mission statement is intentionally vague, as is our call for submissions. We aim for Calliope to be a piece of art to cherish. A tactile pleasure to hold (we love fine paper) - while both visually and intellectually stimulating. Candy for both eye and brain. Able to arouse discussions among intelligentsia, look good on a coffee table, and perk the imaginations of even the most casual of toilet-seat browsers. We hope to satisfy both the pretentious dilettante and shallow debutante simultaneously. All while recognizing, of course, that we cannot be everything to everyone. It is woefully ambitious, yet makes the commonest of sense.
+ On gathering contributions:
One of the reasons we chose to start with an issue based in Cascadia was because we thought, knowing creative people like we do, that collecting submissions would be simple. That struggling and not-so-struggling artist friends would jump at the chance to get published in a quality print publication with an international outlook, and get a little money as well. Oddly, as it turns out, we were not overwhelmed with submissions despite many of our friends saying “Oh great! Yes! I’ll contribute!" Friends will be flakier than professionals, no matter how talented. While in Tallinn, we placed our call for submissions all over the city, took down names at galleries, contacted writers directly, and, in short, tried to create a ‘buzz’ in the city's creative spaces. This approach seems to have worked, as we’ve had very little trouble gathering contributions (early even!), and are more than happy with the results. Also, being a tight community, most everyone we contacted also recommended other people we should reach out to. (We are still taking submissions for issue no. 2 - Tallinn until 21 May.)
+ On printing + shipping:
Delivery of our first issue to the U.S. is approximately four weeks late due to complications during our first print run and shipping experience. In pre-press, our final files had formatting issues that had to be addressed multiple times between waiting in the queue. Printing was then delayed when we realized that our U.S. bank did not allow international wire transfers. Once issue no. 1 was finally in production * sigh of relief *, we were only a few days out from our pre-announced release date.
Of our total print run, we sent half of a pallet back to the states, while retaining four (very heavy, mind you) boxes with us for European distribution. Our printer set up the shipment back to the states and just when we thought they had been delivered into Seattle, we received notice that the transportation company hadn’t even picked them up from our printer in Tallinn. The story then goes on, to the shipment getting stuck in customs and awaiting customs payment and clearance.
The magazines will finally find their way to our home office in Port Townsend, WA this coming Monday! Orders that have been placed with us will finally be shipped out to their new homes. (For all who have ordered and supported us, we are ever so grateful for your patience).
+ On issue no. 1:
We are very happy and proud of our first issue. Of course, there are things that we wish to do differently in regards to our personal contributions to the magazine and the process itself. We would have liked to have a variety of written content, some journalistic, some more abstract, strange, creative writing pieces. Cascadia has been our home, so it’s more challenging to be objective. Our focus has been more on the bioregion and the invoked moods. Of course it was incomplete - we didn’t cover music, local cuisine, didn’t include much about Portland or Oregon in general, and included very little history.
Is the pricing fair? While we are a high quality print publication operating on a budget, we want to remain accessible to everyone. Many of the new, fancy quarterlies are charging $15-$30 per issue. They are depicting themselves as luxury objects for international, well-read, and travelled elite. Where do we fit in?
+ Looking forward:
We will be defining more pointedly who we are. We are location-based, but we are not a travel magazine - you won’t find in our pages recommended places to stay, dine, or shop. We want it to be a bit weirder, a bit more “what the hell is this thing?” than “oh, this is nice”. We’re determined to get that reality-warping, transformative sense of “huh?” in subsequent issues.