Written something terrific? Wondering what to do with it? Speakeasy is profiling a range of contemporary Australian literary magazines to show beginner/developing writers the wealth of opportunities to have their short works published.

The Lifted Brow is a progressive and experimental Australian literary and music journal. First published in Brisbane, The Brow’s team now operates from lit-zine central in Melbourne, and has bagged some big-name overseas guests like Neil Gaiman.

Talking about the first edition of TLB, editor and founder Ronnie Scott says “We funded it through a few $100 ads from local businesses, but still came up short. A bunch of our friends got together one Friday night and had a bake-off; we made fudge, cookies, cupcakes. We dressed up the most attractive person, a writer named Sarah Grey, and went out into the Valley at about 2am with all the baked goods in a cellophane-lined basket. Right up until the sun came up, Sarah would step out of the shadows and innocently sell the baked goods to Valley drunks, and that made up the shortfall. The first edition had a print run of, I think, 300 copies, then another 200 when we sold all those. It was on cheap, grey paper and saddle-stitched, the idea being that (a) you could roll it up and put it in your pocket – disposable aesthetic – and (b) we could only afford cheap, grey paper and saddle-stitching.”

As well as its strong aesthetic, setting The Brow apart from the crowd is it’s proud refusal to “distinguish between established and school-aged artists; overseas and local artists; genre and literary fiction; and between writing, art, and music” while still demanding works are up to “world standard”. This offers a broad range of genres for writers wanting to submit their work, including comics, fiction and non-fiction pieces (up to 1,200 words), songs, and poems. And their slushing process means every contributor gets a fair deal: “For issue five, I basically did the submissions as they came in. The No pile is easy, the Yes pile is easy, but the Maybe pile is disgustingly hard. We had about a hundred stories in the Maybe pile this time, from which we needed to pick, say, twenty. At that stage, Jane [York] came along and helped refine it. But the Maybe pile was halved and halved again too many times to count.”

If your submission is accepted, you can look forward to Ronnie’s dynamic editing process: “I look at the white page and feel afraid. Then I make a little red pen mark and feel good. Half an hour later the page is covered in red pen and I feel very, very ashamed. But the story is better. Most of the stories are edited really heavily. After that initial hand-edit, I type it into Word with “track changes” on and send it to the author. They send it back with maybe half the changes approved, half disputed. Then I send it back with half their disputes approved, half explained/argued further. It goes on like that, argued in more and more detail, until we’re both happy with it.”

The Brow do one themed and one unthemed issue per year. As editor, Ronnie gets the final word on what direction each issue takes: “The Brow basically publishes ‘stuff I personally think is exciting and good’, and of course that will change, and the magazine with it. From the next issue onwards, we also have some contributing editors from around the world who are going to herd things our way that I wouldn’t otherwise see. Blind submissions [i.e. unsolicited] are the most exciting things to get.”

TLB6 is themed as an atlas of the world, and submissions are due by 1 July 2009. Brow launches are a total blast, with music and cheap mags and lots of fun, so get along if you can, whether you’re a contributor or a fan!

For those of you who are new to submitting, and are worried about dealing with possible rejection, read this post by emerging author Angela Slatter, and laugh while you learn.

Writing Race update: Last night’s Race with special guest Joanne Schoenwald achieved a huge total of 7,484 – which brings us to a running total of 46,169 words.

3 Responses to “Lit mags #1: blind submissions are the most exciting”

  1. lisa,

    The Lifted Brow rock. Love the contributing editors idea…

  2. Ronnie,

    Nice one! Full guidelines for the world atlas issue, by the way, are on our website: http://www.theliftedbrow.com. Under “about”.

  3. littlej,

    just started reading my copy of fake bookshelf. it’s fantastic. nice to see a lit journal that isn’t full of the same old writers talking about the same old topics.

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