Getting a Literary Journal to Print
It takes a fat wallet — and a community of readers and writers
In 2017 in San Antonio, there was a period of time when I just felt bored. Everything was boring to me. I couldn’t find anything that would spark — and keep — my interest.
I tried painting, which I enjoy. I also tried crocheting and woodworking, to greater and lesser successes, respectively. I tried a number of things. In fact, I’m almost always trying my hand at something new. Maybe it isn’t climbing a mountain or completing a triathlon, but I do still challenge myself: learning Linux to revive old computers, installing lights and other accessories on my car, finding as many foreign language publishers as possible, serving on the Texas Veterans Commission Communications Advisory Committee, figuring out how to use Adobe Illustrator well enough to design T-shirts and bumper stickers and more almost daily.
One of the things I started in San Antonio in 2017 was a literary journal, the San Antonio Review. San Antonio’s media landscape isn’t the best. You’ve got the underfunded local daily, the thin alternative weekly and the hyper-local nonprofit news website — none of which focus on the arts.
Additionally, I was (and am) tired of reading The New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review of Books, the Boston Review and other literary journals from big cities. San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the country, I thought to myself. Why don’t we have one?
Given no other Texas city has an established, well-known literary journal (there’s no Houston or Dallas Review of Books, as far as I know), I thought San Antonio, one of the country’s oldest and most diverse cities, should host such a journal.
I randomly sent out calls for submissions to writers I respected. I had the good fortune to recruit Alex Z. Salinas, a longtime San Antonian and poet, as one of the San Antonio Review’s first and most prolific contributors. His connections to other writers in the area led to more work being submitted. I published them on our site — www.sa-review.com — until we had more than 100 pages worth of material. Then, I published our first print issue.
The first print issue was published using Amazon’s self-publishing service, which makes the print copy ridiculously expensive. I slowly doled out the money over the course of multiple paychecks to send a copy to every contributor, but I don’t earn enough in my day job to pay for extras to leave around town at coffee shops and bookstores for people to find, which is what I’d really like to do.
Time and my boredness passed (I think it was caused by medication) and I started other projects. But I kept coming back to the Review because people kept submitting poems and other work. And I enjoy helping writers with good work get larger audiences. I couldn’t just abandon it.
In 2018 and 2019, the pace of submissions hitting my inbox greatly increased. I began to receive inquiries from established writers. I again recruited Alex — this time to serve as poetry editor for the San Antonio Review. His contributions (poetic and behind-the-scenes) are invaluable.
Now, it’s time for another print issue. We have plenty of material — poems, essays, art, prose, etc. We just need to be able to afford bulk printing. 250 copies, which would be a good start, can run $1,500 or more. I can’t afford that on my own. So, I started a Kickstarter.
But, and here’s the thing, a Kickstarter is pointless if we don’t get fully funded. That’s because all the pledges go away if we don’t reach our goal, which means I’m still left holding the bag on printing costs (or settling for Amazon again). So, I canceled the Kickstarter. Instead, if you’d like to donate to help me pay for printing costs, you can do so here. (Any money that comes through there will be applied to printing costs.)
San Antonio Review’s second print issue will be released no matter what happens. It’s just a question of if we’ll be able to give any away for free and price the remaining in the single digits. If I fail in finding a printer I can afford with my own cash and any received through fundraising, we’ll be forced to make people pay Amazon $17 for every copy.
We’ve published over 20 artists’ work. I’d love to get our contributors’ work to a wider audience. Please help us make the San Antonio Review’s print copies affordable (and sometimes free).