Saturday, August 19, 2006

E-zine dreams

That there Julie's been asking questions again. This time she's picking people's brains to find out what tempts you to submit poetry?

Disclaimer: I don't. Not any more, anyway. So what follows is purely hypothetical.

Number one has to be the website design. It must be:
- easy to access and navigate around
- quick to load up (so no megabyte pdf docs or jpg images)
- pretty, in a sophisticated way

If it passes those tests, we get onto the tough tests:
- good poems that work well both individually and as a group
- good reviews, articles, essays, artwork, etc
- did I mention that they had to be very good?
- as in not reading 3 stinker poems in the space of 3 clicks?
- oh, yeah, defining good - mindblowingly, entertainingly good

So, now I'm itching. Maybe there's a couple of draft poems I could tighten up which would look good in this e-zine. Which brings us to the tiebreaker test:
- simple, easy to understand submission process
- which means an online submission process
- with clear information provided on things like copyright, turnround time, simsubs, payments (heh!), etc
- having a way to check on how the submitted poems are progressing would be a bonus!

So basically, if the e-zine passes tests 1, 2 and 3 I might just decide to inflict my poems on them.

But that's just the basics. Is it enough for an e-zine to offer a space on a website for some poems the editor happens to like? What more could e-zines be doing?

Well, I like the idea of an e-zine that I'd want to visit regularly - say 2 or 3 times a month, just to check up on what's going on. So there would need to be some new content to draw me in each time. That rules out this 2, 3 or 4 issues a year nonsense. Jacket Magazine, for instance, posts accepted content onto the website as soon as it's accepted, and then gathers the accumulated content into "editions" once a quarter. No Tell Motel features a series of poems by a different poet each week, posting a new poem each day; there's also a printed annual anthology involved. Jacket uses a traditional web format, while NTM goes for the flavour-of-the-moment blog apprach. Both get repeat visitors, I'm sure.

Blogs are novel, because blogs have RSS feeds. And you don't need a browser to see what's new on the blog. But why stick at the written word? Why not podcast the latest poems and articles like here or here or here or even here? Why not have video poems via those very nice people at YouTube?

And it doesn't have to be all heading-for-the-future technology. Why not have space for print-on-demand hardcopies of each issue of the e-zine? I mean, if I can publish a book through then better people than me should have no problem with a quarterly magazine - and it needn't cost the buyer much either.

Here's an idea. Visitors to the e-zine website could build their own little chapbook from the selected poems. With a little bit of wizardry behind the scenes the selected poems could be bundled together into a pdf, sent off to a compliant POD printer, printed and shipped. If the costing scheme was done something along the lines of printing cost + $0.20 per poem then it might not be too expensive. And that 20c could go straight into the pocket of the poet who wrote the poem! I thinks this is one of those idea-too-far ideas at the moment (the technology's not there yet, and no POD printer is - as far as I'm aware - offering single book print-runs in such a way) but who knows how the technology might develop in the next 5 years!

Poetry calendars are definitely here, though. I'm willing to strip for art, but is anyone willing to take the photos?

So, there's some thoughts on what I'd like to see in the next generation of e-zines. I wonder if anyone's got the vision to try it ...

1 comment:

  1. "I wonder if anyone's got the vision to try it ..."

    You, perhaps? Heh. Along with a few other semi-visionaries...