On March 1, 2014, submissions open for Tahoma Literary Review, a new journal of short fiction and poetry. Edited by Joe Ponepinto and yours truly, Tahoma Literary Review isn’t just another literary magazine project. We’re not following the existing publishing, editing, or business models, but are trying a new approach altogether. We took time to truly listen to writers’ and readers’ wants and concerns as we planned TLR, and took time to consider how we might reframe the discussion about what functions a journal should serve. Before TLR launches its website later in February, and before we begin reading for the magazine in March, I want to tell you about a few things that I—not only as TLR’s Poetry Editor but also as a writer and reader myself—am excited about:
We’re going to pay our writers. I think everyone in the writing world can agree that authors deserve payment for their work, but many journals simply can’t pay writers, no matter how much they would like to do so. We’re different. Because we’re starting this journal from the ground-up, we’ve had the chance to develop a unique business model that will allow us to use the bulk of all the journal’s income to pay professional rates to our writers. The best part? The more money we make, the more money we will pay our writers per piece. We do well? Our contributors do well.
We’re going to be transparent about our selection process. Every poem I select will come from the slush pile. Every one. We’re not going to run contests. We’re not going to solicit writing. We will never reject a submission unread. We’re not going to take over-the-transom or under-the-table submissions. Every poem in the submission queue will be treated with equal consideration. We want writers to know that when they submit work to TLR, they’re getting fair, professional, ethical treatment; we believe that the best way to assure writers that their work is being respected is to implement a clear, transparent, consistent selection process.
We’ll select work that reflects our values. I’ve said it before: I have no patience with journal editors who claim that it is difficult to publish an equitable proportion of male- and female-identified writers. In my selection process, I’m going to ensure that I select work that demonstrates gender parity. VIDA—this is an official invitation to count us. I also believe there is a great deal of work to be done in terms of better representation for LGBTQ writers, writers with disabilities, and writers of color in the literary world, and I’m making it my business to publish those voices. I want TLR to be a place where writers outside the mainstream know that they are welcomed and valued.
We’re going to give our readers what they want. Most of us are tired of the print-versus-digital debate by now, right? At TLR, we’re not making an either/or distinction, but providing print and digital options to our readers. Whether you want a feels-good-in-the-hand journal or an epub edition you can read on your iPad, you’ll have access to the same content in either format. We’re also offering additional content through our submitter- and subscriber-accessible Backstage area, where we’ll provide audio features, interviews, and a great deal more.
Ready to take part in this literary experiment? Let’s get started. Submit your work beginning March 1, 2014.