An enjoyable chunk of last month was spent updating the websites for both Neon Books and Neon Literary Magazine to the shiny, clean new interface you’re looking at now. Playing with WordPress and picking out colour schemes is always fun, but I’m also planning on slightly overhauling the way the magazine operates in the coming weeks. Although the end result of these changes might be barely noticeable to most readers, I thought I’d take a moment to explain them fully just in case anyone was wondering.
The first change I’ll be making is to the schedule of the magazine. At the moment I aim to publish a new edition every four months. That’s a schedule that – for reasons outlined below – is sometimes very easy to keep to, and sometimes very hard; indeed, issues are almost always a little bit late. From this point on, that schedule will be essentially provisional. Issues will still appear roughly three times a year, but the gap between each one might be as short as three months or as long as six.
I’m making this change for a few different reasons. One is that the publishing process is often subject to delays (boxes go missing, printers run out of ink, subtle errors decide only to announce themselves at the final proof stage), and so a strict schedule can be pretty difficult to keep to. Another is that sales of the magazine fluctuate enormously throughout the year, for reasons that are as unknowable as the weather. One print run might take just two months to sell out, whereas another could take half a year. Rather than stockpiling or pulping back issues, I’d prefer to let each issue live its natural lifespan. Once one comes close to selling out, I’ll start work on publishing the next. This looser schedule will allow me to pour more time and energy into each issue, ensuring the best possible content and a successful launch. Rather than rushing things to get an issue out on time, I’ll be able to tie up loose ends, and produce a magazine that’s the best it possibly can be.
The second change is to the way I handle submissions. From the middle of October, submissions will only be accepted at certain times of year. These submission windows will be advertised on Neon‘s social media, and through the mailing list – I’ll aim to be open to submissions more often than I am not. Subscribers, donors and anyone who has purchased or supported the magazine will still be able to submit at any time, of course, and will still receive feedback on their work.
I receive a lot of submissions, and reading through them is one of the most labour-intensive (albeit enjoyable) parts of the publishing process. Giving each submission the attention it deserves is difficult when there are several hundred waiting to be read each month, and more pouring in each day. By implementing submission windows, I’ll be able to manage the submissions queue more effectively, and ensure that I can read and respond to everything that is sent in a timely fashion. With a little careful management I hope to be able to reduce the response time for submissions from “about six weeks” to a matter of days.
Neon Books is, in fact, just one person. Me. I organise everything: the magazine, the chapbooks, the blog, the resources and the submissions queues – and I do it in addition to the work that actually pays for me to eat and sleep inside a house. The magazine is something I love to do, and it’s not something I plan to stop anytime soon… however, managing the time I spend on the magazine is necessary to its long-term survival, and both of these changes will help me do this. As I said before, most readers probably won’t notice much of a difference, but I’ll leave this here in case anyone is wondering why exactly Neon‘s schedule is so vague, or why it’s not always open to submissions.