I’ve known Sophie Playle through the blogosphere for a fair old while now (her blog’s great and one that I read often), so, when she told me she was launching a quarterly magazine I couldn’t not talk to her about it, could I? Of course not. So I did.
Hi Sophie, welcome to the blog. Lovely to have you here. So, you’re launching a new literary magazine, Inkspill. What can we expect?
Thanks, Nik – great to be here.
Inkspill Magazine is not intended to be solely a lit mag. It’s going to be a host for all things creative. There’s going to be a lot of different material on show. In each issue I am aiming to include the best short stories, the most compelling poetry, an article or two (about anything in the creative industry), a debate (the first issue’s hot topic is about self-publishing), some artwork and photography, and other goodies. I’m open to suggestions for content, so please feel free to get in touch and pitch me something.
There will also be a few pages of readers’ letters. I want the magazine to have a sense of community and interaction. I want to know your thoughts and ideas – not just about the magazine, but the creative world in general.
I want Inkspill Magazine to be a magnet for creativity. So what can you expect? What can you expect from creative minds? Even I can’t predict what might head this way.
The content’s going to be varied, with features and art alongside poems and short stories. Is there anything, or any theme, Inkspill will naturally lean towards?
At the moment, I’m not looking out for any particular theme or style. As the magazine progresses, its identity may become clearer (to me and readers alike). I’m keeping an open mind at the moment. I don’t want to create any restrictions. Above all, I’m looking for quality.
Why did you decide to launch a magazine?
It has been something I’ve been itching to do for a long time. I’ve been a reader, writer and critique of short fiction and poetry for years. I studied literature and creative writing to degree level, working with authors such as Giles Foden (The Last King of Scotland) and poets such as George Szirtes. My nose is always in a lit mag, or a book about writing, or a book about publishing… It really is my passion.
I did a unit on publishing at university. As my main project, I created my own magazine and got a high mark for it. It was hard work, but I enjoyed it and it gave me confidence that I could physically put a magazine together.
I now work in the publishing industry full time. However, I work for a company that makes educational books. It leaves me a little starved for creativity…
What formats can we expect it in?
I’ve always loved the tactile element of books and magazines – the feel of paper and the smell of ink. I enjoy the old-school portability of a magazine, folded into a handbag or stuck in a coat pocket, ready to be read on the train or in a coffee shop – as opposed to lugging around a laptop! So, naturally, Inkspill Magazine will be available in hardcopy.
If I’m honest, I haven’t quite finalised how I’m going to go about printing Inkspill Magazine. At the moment, it is a toss-up between finding a suitable local printer (and boy have I been looking!), using print-on-demand technology, or going really old school and buying my own laser printer and guillotine and printing it myself. I’m very tempted to do the latter – after all, the magazine is all about being creative – but I would worry about the quality and effort involved to print it this way. I have a couple of months before I have to decide.
The printed version of Inkspill Magazine will be A5 sized (this seems to be quite a popular format, according to my research). It will be stapled bound, and around 60-70 pages. The exterior will be in full colour, and the interior will be black and white.
The pages won’t simply be text-filled, like so many small press publications. I intend to give Inkspill Magazine a more creative design: a more tradition magazine-like layout.
I know that many people want to read magazines without having to pay for and wait for a printed version. Inkspill Magazine will also be available as a downloadable PDF, at a reduced price.
Where will it sit in the market?
For the moment, it will sit in the swelling, overflowing market of fledgling literary magazines. It is going to be a struggle to pull Inkspill Magazine out of that pool. I know that the market for these kinds of magazines is hugely competitive.
However, I hope I’m providing something a bit different. Hopefully Inkspill Magazine will be able to make a name for itself. Hopefully lots of people will want to read it, as well as submit to it. (A lot of hoping!)
At the moment, Inkspill Magazine only pays in contributor copies (I’m very much of the philosophy that a writer should never have to pay to see his or her work in print). As you can understand, I’m running this on a very small budget. As soon as Inkspill Magazine starts to make a profit, I will pass those profits onto the contributors. At the moment, I’m relying on contributor’s sharing my vision of a quality, creative publication to make this work.
Do you think now’s a good time to be launching a magazine?
No and yes. No because so many people are doing it at the moment. And why are people doing it? Because modern technology has made it easy. Which is why it is also a good time to be launching a magazine. The image of a snake eating its own tail comes to mind.
As I’ve mentioned before, I believe the key is to break free from the masses. Even if people are finding it easy to set upmagazines, it doesn’t mean those magazines are any good. If I can break away from the masses and create a quality publication, I think Inkspill Magazine will be on the way to success. Or at the very least, escape complete failure!
As editor, what are you looking for in submissions. How can we impress you?
Submissions for Issue One have been open for a few weeks now. And I’ve been overwhelmed with responses. It has been very encouraging!
As mentioned, I’m not completely sure what exactly I’m looking for, other than quality, entertainment and creativity. But after reading so many submissions already, I can tell you what puts me off.
Short stories need to hook me right away. I’ve read a few well-written stories, but half why through I’ve found myself thinking ‘So what…?’ and put the story down.
Literary fiction doesn’t mean boring. Again, I’ve read a few well-written pieces where nothing much happens. Even if you write beautiful prose, you still need a captivating story.
I like poems that have meaning behind them – but I don’t want them to be indecipherable riddles. Sometimes I read poetry that feels excessively ‘poetic’ for the sake of it. I love poems that reveal more the more you read them, but not poems that are like hitting your head against a brick wall. (How’s that for subjective?)
And above all, please read the submission guidelines. I know they are long, but they are there for a reason.
I’ve got a few interesting articles lined up for the first issue, but I’ve not had any submissions for the rest of the non-fiction sections. I would love to read some!
Sum up Inkspill in no more than ten words.
Inkspill Magazine: An inkwell of creativity.
When can we see the first edition?
The first edition will be out in mid April. You can join the Facebook group or follow @inkspillmag on Twitter to keep updated.
Anything you’d like to add?
Yes. Firstly, thanks so much for having me here on your blog. I’ve often read your interviews, Nik, but never thought I would be the one being interviewed.
Readers and writers and anyone in between – keep in touch! Tell me what you want from Inkspill Magazine. Let me know your thoughts on my ideas and philosophies. Don’t be afraid to submit to the non-fiction part of the magazine. Creativity is interactive. YOU are all a part of Inkspill Magazine.
Don’t be afraid to spill some ink!
Inkspill’s website is here. What are you waiting for? Go see it, go submit!