Uncategorized | June 01, 2004

Today I begin my duties as managing editor of The Missouri Review. My first question (after “Where’s the coffee pot?”) centers on expectations. What do you want from a literary journal? Of course, it’s easy to say the best fiction, poetry, and nonfiction being written today. And that’s exactly what TMR strives to do—just take a look at our Pushcart Prize nominations. But what specifically do you enjoy reading? For example, what do you look for in our essays? How does the balance of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, and special features strike you? Why do you subscribe or buy from the newsstand?

In future postings, I also want to talk about our obligations to writers and potential contributors. A related subject has to do with marketing. How much effort should we spend growing our circulation, knowing that even a small increase in readers can have a big impact on budgeting for printing and design—not to mention payments to authors? (One thing that puzzles me is a journal that “buys” all rights to an author’s work. The payment: a few copies of the journal. I understand that a journal may not be able to pay because of funding issues—it costs a great deal just getting a journal printed and distributed. But acquiring all rights for absolutely no money seems unfair to the author, taking advantage of the writer who may desperately want his or her work in print.)

I’ve said enough for now. I want to know what you think. Please respond by clicking on the Comment button below. I look forward to an ongoing conversation about the literary journal field in general and The Missouri Review in particular.