Further Adventures of PRISM THREAD
an update and possible secret call for submissions
what am I doing? I’ve been thinking about my plan to start a small press and I’ve been revising the target downward to something less ambitious for the moment. I would like to publish books but I think to keep it more realistic right now I’m going to publish print zines. I thought maybe a handful of 8.5” x 11” black and white magazines featuring writing and art, working up to maybe tackling publishing books down the line. Money is an issue and for right now publishing zines is more within my range although it costs money too. I’ll get to that later.
I have already created a simple “proof of concept” rough version of the kind of thing I have in mind, with my own writing and artwork to start off with, but that is not my actual goal. I want to create a traditional literary magazine with other people’s contributions. I thought about putting a call for submissions on twitter but that would be killing myself with work that I’m not equipped to do, so I’m not doing that right now. Instead I’m bringing this up to you, my subscribers, of which there are approximately 50.
Talking to my printer, the current parameters that I would have to work with would be a maximum of 60 pages total length, saddle stitched with staples that comes out to 15 11” x 17” sheets at $0.35 a sheet, that’s $5.25 to make a 60 page booklet/magazine. That’s pretty expensive for me but I was thinking of starting small and also touching a few people in my life for some help funding the thing. Also it need not be 60 pages, that’s just the maximum this printer can do.
These will be pretty grisly b&w photocopied guerrilla zines like from the days of old, and will not be 100% pretty. But that’s not the point, at least not now. Or at least the beauty would have to come from within the ugliness. I have found the ability to edit artwork on my iPhone, email it to myself and do basic layout and design in Microsoft Word. I want to graduate to some software that is more advanced, as I research how to do it so it looks a bit nicer and it gets closer to the time to try out a 100+ page book. These are just intermediate goals for now.
I want to know if any of you, my writer friends, would be open to solicitation for pieces to put in the zine. At 45 to 60 pages total that is a lot of real estate I can’t fill myself. Do you have fiction, say 1,000-2,000 words that you would be willing to let go for a project like this? Or poetry or an essay? Being a zine it would not get a lot of eyeballs, that’s why I’m asking politely if you have any work that could be human sacrificed on this altar in front of only a handful of witnesses. I know it could be turned into a pdf and put on the Internet for more people to see, that could come later. I want to try making physical books right now.
Financially it will probably be a sinkhole for a while, but the goal is to figure out the age old question of how to make money from this. If a copy of a 60 page zine is $5.25 to produce, I’ll have to figure out a way to eventually (not now) get people interested in making a “low friction” decision to reach into their wallets to pay $6.00 or $7.00 to buy it. It has to be of a certain quality. That’s why I’m talking to you. And contemplating how to make it worth your while. This is another conundrum that I think could be solved with some thinking, budgeting and resourcefulness. I would ideally like it if every contributor could get paid and the thing could grow. Pipe dreams I know. For now I’m just thinking of the art. It wouldn’t be fair to ask people to contribute for free and charge money for people purchasing it. So for a little while it will just have to come out of my pocket and some people I might ask for money to help with printing costs. Even twenty copies of a 60 page zine costing $5.25 to make is a job costing over $100. I want this to be substantial and have a certain number of contributors and be a group project. If you don’t want to be involved that’s fine.
The tone of the publication: I have a rough sort of ethereal vision I am trying to articulate for the kinds of things I’d want to see in Prism Thread. There’s a certain quality and standard and vibe that is hard to put my finger on. I sort of alluded to this in a previous substack newsletter called “Prism Threaded Books.” This is kind of where the word document rough draft proof of concept I’ve been working on might come in handy. Those who are interested to see what they might be contributing to should DM me on twitter and I will email you the document so you can see something like what the finished product would look like when your contributions may be in place. To put it vaguely, I would want to see cutting edge, experimental writing that fits into this kind of futuristic, grimy template but which still has a kind of hope and “belief in the light.” Or just some special magic quality. It should be writing you’re proud of but maybe minor side projects you are willing to give up and that you don’t feel like could be published elsewhere in the million of places to submit. We all have unusual obscure things on the fringes that we wonder if they could ever see the light of day, that maybe could make a secret impact and start a chain reaction of inspiration in readers.
It’s funny that it’s called Prism Thread but it’s in black and white. This is the kind of desperation I’m talking about, something beautiful within a narrow bandwidth of greyscale at the end of the world. The image I’ve selected for the cover, which you see above, shows a scientist in a white body cloak perhaps about to release a rat into a three-dimensional maze. It’s a depressing picture but I guess what I like about it is the emotion he seems to showing for the rat: is it admiration, care, love even? The fact that the maze is three-dimensional and has levels, does this mean a kind of freedom, albeit limited, a freedom to explore an environment, an adventure? Look at the image and the title and ask what this says to you, if you can come up with writing that evokes a feeling like this, of being trapped but finding a possible way out, by going within…
Although I am sort of putting out a limited, somewhat secret call for submissions among my subscribers, unfortunately that may mean that people will have things to submit and I might reject submissions. I have never been in this position before and it is notoriously a really shitty part of running a literary publication. This will be doubly so in this case because of this more intimate call for submissions among a smaller pool of people who’ve shown interest in my writing and aesthetic by subscribing. I hope it doesn’t turn into something personal and that you get that I’m trying to go for some vision that I can’t quite put my finger on but I’ll know it when I see it. Maybe there will be no interest in this from you, which I will just have to accept and figure it out myself. But I think some of you might have some cool ideas. Anyway, DM me on twitter at @platelet60 or leave a comment here to talk about it. Or any ideas you might have on how to make this work, if you want to get involved. I have a vague idea of how this will all work and the goal is to get to a point where I’m publishing books which is another level. Prism Thread Books. Belief in the Light.