Dear Literary Magazine: A Love Letter

You are a saint of the printed page. Your publication is one shiny vertebra of America’s literary backbone. We want to support your mission because we really do love you. So here’s the rub—your online presence sucks, and you know it. That blog you’ve been meaning to start isn’t going to help. Your website? Gross. And that Twitter account you have is just spam, and as far as spam goes it’s boring spam, even more boring than Ziplock’s Twitter feed. Think about that: a plastic bag company is writing better tweets than your serious literary publication. That really bothers us.

Maybe you publish content online and have a website you’re actually proud of. Good for you! We think that’s important for the authors you work with and for your own survival. The problem is that you probably don’t have the money or personnel to make your online content truly reader-friendly. Therefore, no one is reading your uploaded story archives, and that’s a shame because those stories probably rock. We think we have a solution.

We want to do some online development on your behalf. PhoneFiction has a staff of ridiculously talented designers and developers excited to make your stories more accessible. Somehow we also managed to snag a few socially conscientious marketers and business strategists that are coming up with long-term plans to help writers and journals survive the publishing downturn. How did we get real business folk onboard, you ask? Turns out they like reading good stories, too.

Writers and editors have got to find a way to be more efficient with our minimal resources. For instance, we know there are good things about competitions, but doesn’t making people pay to enter feel, well, kind of slimy, like this might-maybe- perhaps just be a scam and a bit beneath the work of otherwise intensely ethical journals? Sorry, but that’s the way we feel about pay-to-play competitions —even the ones we’ve worked on and won, to be fair—and we bet deep down you’ve felt that, too. We don’t want to mess things up that are working, and we know you’re just trying to survive. But maybe PhoneFiction can help us take a step toward a more efficient business model that takes care of the writing community as a whole. What we’re building is a reader-oriented model that handles only previously published material. The goal is to put money in the hands of writers and journals by getting more readers to chip in—you know, the way it used to be.

Right now we’re focused on recruiting authors to our project. But one day soon we hope to get you another revenue stream so that maybe you won’t have to charge so much for contests. Artists need to get better at taking money from outside of the artistic community—most of us have forgotten that, and we’ve ended up with business models (yes, you have a business model) that ends up unintentionally preying on the ‘weakest’ among us: the unpublished, the desperate, the inexperienced, and, well, students.

We got all kinds of plans in the works—more on that later. For now, check out the site, and if you like what you see and you want to consider partnering (The Ohio State University is already getting onboard), send us an email. If you want to wait awhile and see how this experiment goes, that’s fine too—we’ll catch up with you later.

Thanks for all you’re doing. We think you’re really hott.

Love,

The Founders of PhoneFiction

PS: Contact us at journals@phone-fiction.com for more information about how you can get your publication involved.