The importance of literary magazines

Ten or so days ago, I submitted a sci-fi cyberpunk short story (damn, that phrase has a lot of S sounds in it) to a professional magazine named Sci Phi Journal. I’ll be honest with you, I really like this story. I like all my stories, they’re like my babies, but this one had something that really clicked with me. Perhaps because of the philosophical implications that most dystopian/post apocalyptic stories have on me. For the record (and this is the hook of the story), it’s the story of a small time crook, who tries to survive in any way possible, in a world where time is the only available commodity and everyone lives to work. Basically, each person is implanted with a timer that shows how much time they have left. Once it goes to zero…

Anyway, at the bottom of said magazine’s submission guidelines, the publisher requests potential contributors to talk about the magazine. The reason for that is there’s no way for the magazine to continue exist and pay professional rates, unless people know the magazine and buy it. And that’s true for every magazine. So, it got me thinking.

Now, there are thousands of magazines out there, most of them short-lived. Which is sad. In fact, one of the magazines I got published is now permanently closed (although in their guidelines they say they are on a hiatus). Which saddened me even more. I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty in some way. Maybe if I had advertised my work more, maybe if I had done this, if I had done the other, and so on. Bottomline, it’s just sad. I understand it’s how the market works, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So, I was thinking, what would happen if all magazines were to go bust. In a few words as possible, there would be no more places for publication for us aspiring authors. That in turn means, that fewer people would have the chance to perfect their craft, which in turn could either lead to fewer people going after their dream, or that the big traditional book publishers will end up with a slush pile of lower quality. And that will lead to either fewer published books or of poorer quality (assuming they lower their standards to continue publishing a certain book number per year). For some of us (and I include myself in this category), these publishing credits may be the only ones we’ll ever get to see. Quite frankly, I like seeing the byline with my name, don’t you? It’s not a matter of vanity or cockiness. It’s a reward for our efforts on its own, even if we submit our work to a non paying market.

So, I believe it’s important to support magazines (the small ones more than the bigger ones), and through that, the aspiring authors.