Thought for the week: Indie Magazines

The latest issue of Mslexia features a thought-provoking article “Who Killed The Alarmist? Life and Death Among Literary Magazines.” In it, Debbie Taylor points out that while thousands of writers submit work to literary magazines every year, only a fraction of that number actually buy (let alone subscribe) to them.  It’s an impossible situation for lit mags to survive let alone thrive in.

Don’t you find that interesting?  Is it true of you?  Do you try to support the mags and journals you want your work to feature in?  And if not, why not?

Who DO you subscribe to, and why?

Last question: do you read the magazines and journals you subscribe to?


BTW: the latest issue of the Stinging Fly will be launched in BOOKS UPSTAIRS (Dublin) on 28th June.


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14 Responses to Thought for the week: Indie Magazines

  1. I sub to the Emily Dickinson Journal, The Moth and the St Fly (husband also subs, so we gift one copy to someone else). I just let Mslexia lapse, something in the tone drove me mad eventually. I also stopped Books Irl because it was too male biased ( second time I let that lapse for the same reason…). Also stopped PIR but I may renew. They seem to use the same editor for v too long, imo, and it gets samey but I like it so will go back.
    Like you, I rarely read cover to cover, but I keep them near so that I can dip in whenever I have time.

  2. I am obsessed. When I finished teaching in uni over a year ago due to illness I no longer had access to university libraries. I started with a few online subscriptions then started adding paper ones too. I’ve given and received gift subscriptions to/from writing friends. My subscriptions are mainly Irish and Australian publications Stinging Fly/Moth/Banshee/Gorse/Overland/Lifted Brow/Canary Press/Gargouille. From elsewhere Popshot/Granta, I make do with The Paris Review online. And, buy The New Yorker only sometimes. (But then there’s also anthologies: Aesthetica, Fish, Bridport …) I did say I was obsessed.

    As I have almost always been either studying or working in a university in adulthood I had maintained a ‘journalling’ habit – it was a complete wrench when I lost my academic library access. I know many graduates feel the same. I don’t understand why universities don’t seem to offer library access to alumni, former staff and the public on some kind of subscription basis.

    I don’t read them from cover to cover. I dip in and out with cups of tea and coffee. They accompany me on trains, planes and in automobiles. I find the poetry goes best with a small glass of red wine and cheese. The excitement when they come through the letterbox and getting more than one issue for the subscription fee are not to be downplayed. At times I feel they are better value for money than buying a novel or two. Even a disappointing issue is a more lasting let-down than a hipster dinner out.

    • libranwriter says:

      ‘I find the poetry goes best with a small glass of red wine and cheese.’ – love it!
      I think most universities do allow graduates to use their libraries on a subscription basis. UCD does, for sure. Local libraries can be amazing and big central city libraries would be a good bet too, I’d imagine.

      • Googles … Yup, see it, and I should investigate it more – particularly locally. (I actually went to uni in the UK.) What I should have said was remote academic e-library access on a subscription basis. From my unofficial polling of friends/colleagues/students over the years it is access to remote digital content that ‘we’ would pay for.

  3. I have bought the Stinging Fly on a few occasions and read most of my copies. I wouldn’t have the time for much more. Yes I would love a gift subscription too 🙂

  4. At the moment I get The Moth, The Caterpillar, Banshee and The Reader but I change my subscriptions around every so often – it’s good to see what’s out there and be introduced to new writing and writers. It’s a mixed bag in terms of interest in each issue, but the occasional gems are worth it. It’s impossible, both financially and in terms of time, to get to them all. I really, really love to get a gift subscription.

  5. Phyl Herbert says:

    I subscribe to Stinging Fly, The Moth and Poetry Ireland. No, I don’t always read them. Not fully. Sometimes I’m not interested in what they publish.However, I always peruse the Content’s page.

    • libranwriter says:

      I don’t read them cover to cover either. I start with the pieces and writers that interest me – but I like having them around so that I can go back and dip in later, and find new writers to be interested in and follow.

  6. Sheila Barrett says:

    They tend to be costly. Enjoyable, instructive – but costly, especially if you subscribe to a number of them. Pity they’re not more widely available in bookstores or large newsagents so you could get single copies from time to time.I buy the very odd Moth or Stinging Fly and, when away, an issue of Glimmer Train.I’ve given a Stinging Fly sub for a Christmas present. Subs as gifts for those you’d like to have something special could be good. I’m getting the New Yorker online at the moment but go in and out of being able to afford this stuff

    • libranwriter says:

      Gift subscriptions are a great gift – I love getting them as well. I agree it would be better if lit mags were more widely available but distribution is an issue (sorry) for small presses. I like the way some of the bigger ones allow subscribers full access to their archive and wonder if that would lend weight to the appeal of smaller journals.

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