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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In Print or Online?

It’s a topic that comes up often in corporate, business, government and PR communications: should we do online publications, print publications, or both?

But what about literature?

The panel discussion with literary magazine editors at a writers’ conference in Bethesda, Maryland a few weeks back was an interesting one. We weren’t talking about internal newsletters or reports to stockholders and taxpayers. The same question — print or online — was being posed to the literary world.

Is it better to publish your work in a print magazine or an online literary journal?

The answer? No consensus. The fact is, both types of publications offer benefits and downfalls. Print does some things the Internet cannot, and the other way around. (That’s why so many corporations, government agencies, and organizations opt to synergize both print and online — not duplicating material, but using the strengths of each to benefit the other.)

I’ll admit that I’ve always been partial to good, old-fashioned print literary journals and magazines that I can hold in my hand, show to a friend, put on my bookshelf.

But, as some editors pointed out, an online journal can be emailed to your friends and colleagues, linked to on your blog, shared with the world. Everyone you know can get a copy without the hassle of postage.

Another thing to consider is exposure. It’s an honorable thing to get a story or poem published in a literary journal. But consider that many respectable literary journals have circulations beneath 1,000 subscribers. They’re being passed around and, in some cases, are being used as screeners by agents and publishers looking for new talent. But are the numbers as high as the online counterparts?

Not according to some of the online literary journal editors. Consider that even a small online poetry journal like No Tell Motel gets 400-600 hits a day. Or StorySouth gets about 1,000 a day. Blackbird gets 750,000 readers each year. Coloquio, which is serializing a story from TRACKS, my novel in stories, gets 7 million hits a year.

That’s a lot of readers.

Then there are the journals that have a leg on both sides of the fence. Ballyhoo Stories, for example, has a print journal and an online journal. JMWW is quarterly online and offers an annual print journal.

I’ve often had mixed feelings about online publications. Although I write for them and get paid by them, I sometimes felt that it was somehow less legitimate than getting published in print. But after the literary magazine conference, after seeing the numbers and realizing that the online journals are just as selective as the print counterparts, that the quality of the writing is just as high,I think I’ve come to a conclusion.

It’s not one or the other, but both. Print and online publications are equally as valuable in today’s publishing environment, and each serves a purpose.


Anonymous Lee said...

I wonder about those online numbers. I know from my experience with my own webpage I'll get psyched about seeing a lot of hits, but when I look at how many of the viewers remain on the page for less than a minute it's pretty depressing. So I wonder what numbers those online journals are reporting.

Still, I do believe there are a lot more readers online than anyone realizes. My own new project is entirely over email and online. That's where I'm finding my audience.

May 24, 2007  

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