Ymlaen Placement Week 6
Short update: WE ARE OPEN FOR PREORDERS. I REPEAT, WE ARE NOW OPEN FOR PREORDERS. These are words I never thought I’d type. I’m a month and a half into my six month Ymlaen placement at Rabble Studio and by some extraordinary turn of events (mainly advice, encouragement and a little bit of expertise) Lucent Dreaming is going to become a print magazine, at least for its first issue!
Not-so-short update: Three important things have happened since my last blog post which have propelled Lucent Dreaming, my very online independent creative writing magazine, towards print publication.
Important things that have happened:
- I’ve had mentoring from one of Rabble’s finest, Amy Pay, as well as Dan Spain, founder of Rabble Studio.
- I’ve had 1-2-1 sessions with Kayleigh McCleod of Creative Cardiff and Claire Parry-Witchell from Cardiff University’s Enterprise and Start-Up team.
- Together, all this conversation and expertise has given me much-needed direction. Amy Pay and Dan Spain have helped give my nebulous idea of a magazine some substance and reality. Kayleigh has given me indirect confidence to plug Lucent Dreaming and Lucent Dreaming’s short story contest to everyone on the planet, and Claire is helping me reach a place where I can call Lucent Dreaming a business.
There are other smaller things that have led to this point too. But I don’t know how to write about it logically, so please excuse any forthcoming incoherence.
Deciding to print
In my first mentoring meeting in January with Amy Pay, freelance journalist and content creator, we discussed how to manage social media (which also means managing the Lucent Dreaming “brand”) and how I could possibly monetise a magazine that was giving out its content for free.
Side question: Why was/am I giving Lucent Dreaming out for free?
I started Lucent Dreaming as a free online creative writing magazine. I wanted emerging writers to gain visibility and that’s much more difficult when there’s a paywall. Lucent Dreaming is still going to be available for free online whether or not it continues to be printed!
Anyway, just talking about the magazine with multiple people since I’ve arrived at Rabble has made me realise the idea behind Lucent Dreaming is very much about writers more than readers. I’ve always been more of a listener than a speaker. There is undeniable value in listening (and being listened to). Listening and reading have shaped who I am, and I want to keep listening to and reading the things humans choose to express, especially writers, and day-to-day dreamers, anyone with their imaginations and humanity turned on. If that is at the heart of why I’m making a magazine, then it is no limitation that I am focusing on writers. The readers will come, I hope. They’ll read and engage with Lucent Dreaming if the writing is compelling and thoughtful. But it’s getting those writers to be confident enough to share their ideas and work with any sort of publication that is the hard part. Fortunately, I discussed this in my session with Amy.
Amy suggested that with social media content, I focus on writing prompts and writing exercises. Give, give, give and then things start coming back. So, I’ve recently been giving my energy to rewarding writing and engagement. That ultimately led to hosting a free to enter short story contest. The contest is to encourage writers to take the first step towards publication. There is something far less scary about submitting to a contest compared with submitting to a magazine. This is where talking to Kayleigh was so beneficial. She came by Rabble for a chat about online marketing and suggested I tag everyone I can in contest tweets and contact universities. Well! That was an adventure in itself. I emailed almost all the universities I could find on UCAS who have undergraduate creative writing courses. It was a good call.
But, contest aside, I still had no idea how to make Lucent Dreaming a business. How could I generate any money if submissions were free and the magazine was free to read online? Amy suggested I consider having an online directory where people can pay to be listed, have ad space in the magazine or perhaps reach out for sponsorship. I’ve gladly kept all these routes to revenue at the back of my mind. They’ll come up later. One other thing that really helped push Lucent Dreaming from idea to reality was Amy’s suggestion I create a sample issue (which we are currently working on) as well as having a launch event.
The launch event idea was significant. It got me thinking seriously about printing. I was having a catch-up with friends (Mikey and Caitlin) and Mikey really encouraged having printed stuff for people to take away from the launch. I wanted stuff to take away for myself too. In January I had a couple of Lucent Dreaming badges made as a little token of appreciation for my Lucent editors, and having that physical representation of the idea (it was only a badge featuring the logo), made Lucent Dreaming feel so real. And having a printed magazine can only increase that! The only conceivable problem was money.
Fortunately, I have two things on my side. Humans at Rabble who have printed things before and know the most cost-effective printing companies, and seed funding provided by Enterprise and Start-Up at Cardiff University and Santander Universities as part of my Ymlaen placement, enough to cover my travel costs, an Adobe subscription and now a 50 copy print run of the magazine. Dan pointed me to an affordable printing company and so far I’ve received a paper sample pack and am working on choosing the length and quality of the print magazine. It’s so exciting!
I’m operating on the assumption that the magazine might have only one issue. Maybe it won’t reach the 37-ish subscribers I need to keep a print magazine running, and if it doesn’t, I want this printed copy to look beautiful anyway. I’m going to make sure it’s the best quality I can afford so I can keep it, look back and be proud.
Having reached this ‘we’re-going-to-print’ stage, Lucent Dreaming has opened for preorders and it’s such a surreal feeling. We’re also taking donations to help fund distribution of the magazine to authors published in the issue, and a slightly bigger print run. Donors names are printed at the back of the magazine as an incentive. So, if you’re reading this and fancy being immortalised in name only at the British Library, donate today! We’re also holding a launch event at Rabble Studio on April 28th at 4pm. More details about that coming soon!
I will end this blog post with this: with an idea and supportive people on your side, it’s incredible how much can happen in a very short amount of time.