Essay by Ed Quillen
April 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine
Maybe we aren’t a real magazine. Already we’re at the second issue, and we haven’t run a word about Lorena Bobbitt or Tonya Harding. So we’ll try to hold your interest by answering some of the questions we’ve been asked. In publishing, there’s a theory that every person who summons up the fortitude to question an editor represents at least 500 good citizens who want to ask questions, but don’t.
Why don’t you print poetry or fiction?
We may someday; it’s not out of the question. But don’t send us any yet.
We feel reasonably comfortable dealing with articles and essays; they’re what we write for other publications, so we know what’s expected on both sides.
That is, we can tell a writer that a piece needs more details on some areas, or that the lead should be stronger.
But a poet would be offended, and rightly so, at such editorial suggestion. There’s got to be a way to handle poetry so that our readers enjoy what we publish while we stay on speaking terms with the many poets of our region. However, we haven’t found that way yet, or even imagined it. Suggestions are welcome.
Much the same holds for fiction. Selecting and editing fiction takes a lot of time and energy, commodities in short supply while we continue to figure out a monthly routine.
But do note that we review books, and we will review works of poetry and fiction, providing there’s a connection to Central Colorado.
Why do you charge so much for a copy? $1.95 is pretty steep for 32 pages, and it’s not like you’re printing on slick paper, either.
That’s true. When it comes to a cover price, you can set it low and go for a mass circulation. It follows that most of your income will come from advertising — it has to, because circulation will, at best, break even under those circumstances.
There are several reasons we didn’t want to get into that game. For one thing, we wanted to be a journal of ideas. We wanted to put our energies into finding good writers, researching articles, and keeping track of community trends and events. Right now, we’re a part-time staff of two, and serving advertisers well takes a great deal of time and dedication, energy we’d prefer to devote elsewhere.
Besides, no matter how noble your intentions, if 85 percent of your revenue comes from advertising, then you’re dependent on only one segment of the community when you should be trying to serve your entire readership.
As we know from experience, that can lead to complications we’d prefer to avoid. Given the nature of business in general, the best way to avoid those complications is to structure this enterprise so that the dollars of our readers are as important as the dollars of our advertisers. We aim to serve both, and if there’s a financial incentive, we’re more likely to do the right thing.
And finally, we need a decent income from Colorado Central because we want to pay decent rates to our contributors — the writers, photographers, and artists whose work appears here. We’re currently paying 5¢ a word, which is somewhat competitive with other regional markets; as soon as we buy better machinery, the next priority is to raise that. We want to publish good work, which means we should pay good rates. That money has to come from somewhere, and much as we’d like to be philanthropists, we have little to philanthrope with.
Why so much time between the March and April editions?
We didn’t understand the magazine distribution schedule well when we started, so we ended up with a choice. We could call the first issue “February” and have two weeks to put together the March issue. Or we could call it “March,” and enjoy about six weeks before the next issue.
That was about the easiest decision we’ve made. Henceforth, we should be in a regular cycle, with each month’s edition appearing during the last week of the preceding month.