Online publishing popular with writers



University of Minnesota literary magazine Ivory Tower will print about 1,000 copies of their publication this year, less than half  of last year’s total, as a result of a tight budget and the increasing presence of online publishing, said Editor in Chief Phil Hart.

Funding plays an important role in deciding the number of magazines published each year.

“Although [Ivory Tower] is funded by a foundation specifically for us, they’re being very restrictive. The budgeting process was difficult,” Hart said. Finding additional funds has also been difficult, as fundraising has also been restricted.

Because of Ivory Tower’s affiliation to the University, staff is restricted from soliciting sponsors and must look for donations from family and friends.

University affiliation has also proven to be an obstacle in fixing the publication’s website.

“We’re trying our best, but it’s a lot more work than it would be if we weren’t affiliated with the school,” he said. “We’ve focused on ways we can expand our identity without spending a lot of money.”

However, an overall shift in publishing trends may also be to blame.

The transition to new media as a publishing platform may have left traditional printed material behind, especially campus publications.

“College literary journals are, unfortunately, mostly unread,” said Hart. “The literary world is a lot more cutthroat and specific [than Ivory Tower] in terms of what they’re looking for.”

Paired with a shift in the direction of online exhibition, this can be debilitating for a publication.

“It’s been difficult to adapt to online platforms,” Hart said.

Paper Darts, a publication based partially online, is a literary and art magazine based in the Twin Cities and founded in August 2009.

Creative director Meghan Suszynski said the journal aims to incorporate more of a design element than other literary magazines.

“Most literary magazines are pretty boring,” she said. “We’re hoping to appeal to a broader audience.”

Suszynski said an online journal is more accessible for less established writers than a traditional magazine or publication.

“It’s easier to get a hold of these tools [online] than to step into an already established system,” she said.

Paper Darts Managing Editor Jamie Millard  agreed that the trend was changing from magazine publishing to more online publishing and new media.

Hart, however, expressed distaste for the nature of online publishing.

“The Internet is a big anonymous dump for anything people could think of,” he said. “It has popularized online illiteracy.”

Although trends suggest increasing future use of online databases, Suszynski agreed there are issues with online credibility.

“Some publishers don’t look with as much regard to online magazines,” she said. “There’s a stigma against them, but that’s changing more and more.”

Suszynski said Paper Darts uses mostly young authors, getting involved with writers who are still growing. For writers who haven’t yet had their big break, Suszynski advised patience and revision.

“Submit as much as you can to many different journals. Even if you’re rejected, keep writing and keep sending in your work. Establish yourself,” she said. “Work more on your pieces and give yourself room to grow.”

Millard said that the type of publication a writer is submitting to should match the style of writing that the writer is comfortable with.

“The best way to get a submission published is to have a good fit with the journal’s style and tone,” she said. “You have to be really strategic, and find exactly the right journal for your writing.”

Paper Darts continues to publish two print magazines annually, proving traditional publishing and exhibition models could never be completely replaced.

“It’s really important to have a printed copy. It’s the representation of the beauty of the work that can be juxtaposed with written word,” Millard said.

Hart’s predictions for the future of Ivory Tower echoed this.

“I’m guessing if the money situation at the [University] continues the way it has been, it’s going to be more and more online, eventually all digital,” he said. “Publishing was the original goal, but there won’t be enough resources.”

Hart speculated that collaboration between University publications could be on the horizon, but said traditional publishing models would always exist.

“We’re really striving for a publishing standard of quality,” he said. “People who are still passionate about publishing will find a way.”