Salome’ is a new UK literary magazine I’ve recently discovered, and I was so lucky to get Jacs, the Editor-in-Chief, here for a chat to present the zine and the concept behind it. I have to add that the graphics are gorgeous and there’s a great blog, too (I’m writing a piece for it right now). Welcome to Salome’!
- Describe what your magazine is about. What makes it special / different compared to others?
Our magazine is about finding the best emerging female writers out there and giving them the platform, confidence and experience to get their work published. Most of us know that the publishing industry severely favours men (around 80% of all published literature is by a male author). This can be because there is bias in the industry generally or it’s also – especially at the, shall we say, novice level – about confidence. Many women don’t think that they could get their work published so they don’t try. We’re changing this; just today we had a submission from someone who has never tried to get their work published before. This made us really happy because it’s exactly why we exist; to give women a helping hand into the world of publishing. Hopefully once they’ve submitted to, or been published with, us they’ll go onto aiming for bigger and better things!
Our uniqueness, what differentiates us from all the other literary magazines out there, is that we give feedback to every single writer who submits. It includes what we liked, what could do with some improvement, resources they could use, books they might like and advice for the future. From what we’ve heard from our writers. they find this invaluable and many say it’s the best thing about submitting their work to the magazine. There really is nothing to lose. It’s a great way to boost your confidence and improve your writing, which is what we set out to do – to give back to and strengthen the female writing community.
Oh and we also pay. You wouldn’t believe the amount of large publications that make a profit yet don’t pay their writers. We never intended to do this, and so we haven’t. Why should writers work for free? It’s just absurd.
2. Why / how did you decide to start it?
I lost my job and my business in January this year and it was all rather stressful. So I decided to run away from reality and go to Cambodia on my own for three weeks. I had lots of thinking time there and so many 6 hour+ bus journeys. One bus journey I was reading Lenny Letter (rather unusually for me, but it was a very long bus ride) and it mentioned a woman who set up a platform for female film directors, so their work could get found and created. Just that week I’d written a piece that I’d felt proud of, which was unusual for me. I suppose it was non-fiction, about my struggles with mental health the year before. Despite my pride, I felt fairly certain that nowhere would publish it. Maybe because the standard genuinely wasn’t high enough or maybe because I lacked self-belief; until I try to get it published, I’ll never know. So I thought… screw it, I’ll make my own platform too and publish my own work. I was fed up of so many women I knew who wrote and either didn’t submit their work or couldn’t get it published. Many of these girls were from the Write Like A Grrrl community; a collective of women who all did the WLAG writing course. I’ve gained so much from that community and I was happy to think that I could help them out – if I managed to get Salome’ off the ground. And, lo and behold, a week after I’d dreamed of it, I had a 12-strong steering committee, and a week after that we opened submissions. 8 weeks later and we had a printed magazine (which was never in the plan), my side project had turned into a business, and we threw a big old launch party! It’s been an incredible journey in less than three months.
3. Which particular brand of fiction do you publish in Salome’ – if any in particular?
Any brand! Come one, come all. And it’s not just fiction either: fiction, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Salome’ loves all of you!
4. Tell us something about your target audience.
This is a tough one. I’ve tried to run surveys to find out who they are and I’m still doing that. Mostly, what I know so far, is that it’s any person who enjoys women’s writing. Beyond that, it’s often women who have an interest in supporting emerging and new female writing talent. Or feminists, naturally. It’s a global audience, much to my surprise and yesterday our first print copy arrived in the US! But, really, the idea is that our magazine appeals to anyone and everyone who simply wants to read really beautiful writing from undiscovered female artists. And, ya know, if any publishing houses want to fall in love with us and offer our writers book deals, well… you know where I am!
5. Which qualities /characteristics you are after in the pieces you accept for publication?
We have some criteria that we loosely stick to when we’re judging the submissions. However, because there’s 8 of us on the reading panel and two people read each piece, it really is down to a big old mix of differing opinions. Which I think is the best way. Some things we like to focus on are: that the piece introduces us to a new idea or topic; that it explores something taboo or that hasn’t received much coverage; that it elicits an emotional response in the reader. It varies between the different literary categories (fiction, non-fiction etc.) but those are the key ones that I would mention. Maybe my reading panel would say something different; but even the reading panel changes every issue so I don’t think that would stay the same either!
6. Which ones among the pieces you have published you would recommend to people?
Ah, I can’t do that! No favouritism here. You’ll have to read for yourself. Not got a copy yet? What are you waiting for! salomelit.com/buy
7. Anything else you would like to say?
My writing teacher from Write Like A Grrrl always says to us at the beginning of our writing course, “don’t be feart”. Maybe this makes more sense if I tell you she’s Scottish. But it basically means, don’t be afraid. It’s a funny thing to say in some ways because of course we’re “feart” to join a writing course where we each have our writing critiqued in front of us by a room full of female writers. And yes, I’m still pretty terrified of submitting my work for the course and having people read it. Writing can be a very personal thing. Still, Kerry is right and the same goes for submitting to Salome’ . Of course, if you’re not used to submitting your work to publications, it can be daunting and scary. However, know that the women who read your work (including me!) are lovely and simply love literature and the privileged position they have of choosing some of the emerging female writing talent of our day. In our choosing sessions, we mostly sit around with coffee and pages of notes saying “I loved this one”, “oh me too”, “but this one totally made me cry” and “oh I wanted to punch that character, what a dick”. More or less. So please, please, if there’s even an ounce of you that is intrigued to submit, then please do. I am always here to answer questions before you do, if that helps.
Many thanks to Jacs and I’ll look forward to reading Salome’. Here some links if you want to check it out: