The Monthly interviews Lauren O’Donovan from “HOWL: New Irish Writing” magazine – Part 4 – Building relationships and assessing viability

part three of this interview is here

Are you setting criteria so that you know whether the magazine will be financially viable?

We have our our budgets and our targets, we’re applying for funding. We learnt a lot with the first book, the anthology we produced at UCC. For example, in terms of getting copies into a local bookshop in Galway, we are based in Cork so we have to post those books, added to that is the print cost and the cut the shop takes, and if the books don’t sell and you want those books returned that adds to the cost as well. That was a real trial by fire because while it can seem wonderful that a bookshop will take 10 copies of your book, when you sit down and go through the numbers, even if you sell all of those copies, there isn’t a lot of profit to be made.

That’s one of the reasons why we are keeping our print run low because we want to be able to sell every single one of those books and we want to be able to do it in a manageable way.

And that’s why we want to put more of an emphasis on online sales, and through international print on demand. I don’t think we will be cracking into any mass market but I am hoping we can find our way beyond the market of literary journals.

I think that literary journal language can be a little off putting, so we will be looking at how we market these poems and stories and see if we can convince people who might not buy a literary journal, to buy our publication.

What are the criteria that you’re using to select from the submissions?

Well between Róisín and myself we have slightly different writing styles and we read different things for pleasure. I think that the combination between the two of us is pretty solid. It would be hard to pinpoint the differences but I would tend to be more literal and Róisín would perhaps be more abstract. I suppose on a very basic level, we like different types of poetry,

For me I look to see if the things I am reading show craft. Do we have basic levels of craft here, is the submission well formatted, and from there am I feeling anything, is there anything interesting. Is the work making me connect with the writing. That is the litmus test for getting through the first round, and if I’m reading something and it’s not stirring anything, then it would go on to the pile for a re-read later.

And how is the final decision made?

Keep in mind that the last editorial board we were part of had eleven people on it which made for interesting conversations. But now just the two of us have to make the difficult decisions.

We have meetings with all of the pieces printed out and we lay them out to see what goes well together, what complements, what contrasts, what pieces will create a larger story, effectively a cohesive group of pieces. We have to make decisions and it means leaving out work that we think is great but we only have a certain number of pages.

And when is the date of the first publication?

We’re looking to launch the first edition of “HOWL: New Irish Writing” at the end of October(2022). That is our plan.

See more about “HOWL:New Irish Writing” at the following link – –www.howlwriting.ie/

part one of this interview is here

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