Thank you! Really.
Thanksgiving message from Lit Mag News
About three years ago I had the idea to re-launch my Review Review newsletter. This was right around now, November, of 2020. Like so many of us, I would not be seeing family in person that year. There was a sense of connection and community that I sorely missed. But of course it was more than that. I missed talking with others about lit mags.
For those who do not know, The Review Review was a lit-mag-oriented website that I created in 2008. The site had a searchable database of over 1k lit mags, featured reviews of individual journal issues, interviews with editors, classified listings, and a publishing advice column. It also had a newsletter, which I started in 2010.
The newsletter feature of the site started very small. It began as an email just to let people know what was happening on The Review Review. I wanted to drive traffic to the site, though I hoped what I shared genuinely interested people—new editor interviews, new magazine reviews, new articles about publishing. That email, in its early days, probably went out to about twenty people. The recipients were individuals who had written reviews for me and a handful of journal editors.
Over time I realized that if I included a few links to articles beyond my site, people might take more interest. I started linking to newsworthy pieces related to lit mags. Nothing major, just a few links to interesting things happening in the landscape.
Incidentally, two of my biggest supporters back then were the Glimmer Train sisters. Many of you might remember them. Susan and Linda were among the nicest people I encountered in those early days, all the more surprising given the prestige of their magazine. To so many of my emails, which I was initially a bit shy to send, Susan often wrote back little encouraging messages—Always a pleasure! and Wow! Thanks for this!
Litle notes like that boosted my faith in the work. (As an aside, we should never underestimate what a small note of encouragement can mean to someone. These notes meant the world to me.) (In spite of the fact, or probably because of the fact that Susan and Linda also rejected every story I ever sent them!)
Anyway. Through bits of encouragement, notes of support here and there, the emails continued to grow. I added more news, spent more time looking for exciting things to report on, began adding a bit of my own commentary and humor. I made every subject line a song lyric. People seemed to like this (except for one quite distressed reader who informed me that my song-lyric subject lines filled him “WITH MURDEROUS RAGE.”) (I don’t know what that was all about.)
At some point I switched from an email to an actual newsletter platform. Back then it was Mailchimp. I also started adding long looping closing-off paragraphs. If you’ve read my news-roundup, then you know what I’m talking about. These breathless passages where I try to cram as much nonsense and humor and music and insomnia and stars and cereal and oat milk and prayers and furry rabbits and winks across a crowded room into my signoff at the end.
I have no idea why I started doing that. But I did.
And because of this, or because of the news links, or because there was a need for a place to get lit-mag related information all in one place, the newsletter continued to grow. By the time I sold The Review Review (to Gonzaga University, where it currently lives), my little “Hey, just wanted to let you know about…!” email to a handful of people had grown to a newsletter with five thousand subscribers.
Then, though, I needed a break. In 2019 I stopped The Review Review, which meant that I stopped updating the database, stopped assigning lit mags to reviewers, stopped chasing after advertisers, stopped assigning editor interviews, and stopped maintaining the website (which was turning into a massive headache and was in need of a much-too-expensive overhaul).
In turn I folded up the newsletter. I thought I was done.
And for a while, I was.
Then came 2020, and all that that year brought us. Personally, I found I wanted to do more than work on my writing and all my side hustles (teaching, consulting, etc etc). I didn’t miss The Review Review. What I missed was my newsletter.
I missed gathering up the news of what was going on in the world of lit mags. I missed reflecting on the lit mag world and seeing if what happened there spoke to trends in literature and society at large. I missed offering little bits of insight about these trends, or wisecracks, or asking questions. I really missed the newsletter as a way to connect with people working in the lit mag world right now, with insights of their own to share, and no shortage of questions and excellent wisecracks to boot.
So I relaunched the newsletter. Initially I thought it would be small, like those early emails. I would only do a roundup of news, the posts would only be bi-weekly, and that would be all.
Three years later, Lit Mag News has grown. It’s become so much more than the roundup of news. We have the weekly columns by guest contributors; the weekend discussion forums; the monthly Lit Mag Brag where you all get to share your accomplishments and read one another’s work (and you actually do read it! and leave for each other the loveliest comments!); the live editor interviews; the Lit Mag Reading Club; and our monthly info sessions.
(Will it sound dorky if I tell you how much I look forward to those monthly info sessions? How ridiculously fun I find them to be? What about if I tell you how much I cherish our weekend conversations? Or how honored I am to post columns written by all of you, where you entrust Lit Mag News as a place to host your words and ideas? How about if I tell you how much it delights me to see you all show up for editor interviews and the Lit Mag Reading Club? Will I look silly if I tell you how much I enjoy all of this, love reading your comments, love getting to know you in person, love all of it, like, so so much?)
(It might sound a bit...over the top, or something. So I won’t tell you.)
What I do want to tell you all, is that, when I relaunched this newsletter in 2020, I had absolutely no idea how much this would mean to me.
By which I mean, how much you all, would mean to me.
Your comments on these posts, your questions, your engagement here with me and with one another, your dedication to your craft, your financial support, your trust in me and Lit Mag News, your commitment to learning, your thoughts and observations about this work, your humor, oh, your humor—all the things you have shared in this space as part of this community, let’s just say, it is a community I could have never have imagined for myself and as part of the literary world.
I am grateful. So very grateful for all the ways each one of you has contributed to this site, nourished it, spread word about it, believed in it, helped it grow, challenged me to be better at what I do here, inspired me, and most of all supported one another here in this space.
As I write this today, Lit Mag News has close to 10,000 subscribers. I am stunned by this number.
But in truth, it’s not about the quantity. It’s about the quality.
And Lit Mag News readers are quality indeed.
So, thank you. Thank you.
And that you turkey roasters and tofurkey substituters, you racers to the store in a desperate search for rosemary, you sippers of sparkling cider and you pounders of pumpkins into the perfect pie, you who feel the stress of this holiday like a spiky electric blanket clinging to your bones and you who feel the joy of leaves all around you (or else the joy when everyone leaves), you who plan to vigorously debate whether or not marshmallows belong on mashed sweet potatoes (they do not, as far as I’m concerned, fight me!), you who plan to vigorously relate to whatever comes your way, come what may, this way, this day, this toss into the fray of all that is familial and frankly, let’s face it, totally frickin frenetic, to say the very least, you and you, out there, everywhere, embracing the efforts, scaling the skies, reaching deep with your every finger under the subcutaneous shelter of bird skin because that’s where all the best spices are supposed to go and don’t you know, all the best spices are yours for the reaching for, is this very special holiday note, from me to you.
Have a most wonderful and restful day, pals.
Thank you for all you’ve given me. I could not be more grateful to each and every one of you.
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