There is something very odd about producing a magazine and not having a launch.
We’ve only ever done it once before in the magazine’s 20 years, but that was so long ago we can’t really remember why, now.
Launches are vital for little magazines – most sales of magazines are made at launches – and we’re no exception, about 70% of single sales comes from the launch. Brittle Star’s home for its launches for as long as we have been co-editing the magazine has been the music library at the Barbican in London. When the lockdown began, everyone saw that a physical launch was not going to happen for spring/summer releases and so editors had to think of ways to share the work of talented writers, promote their magazine and still gain those critical sales. Some chose to launch live online through platforms like Zoom and YouTube, others videoed work and distributed it through social media outlets, others didn’t launch at all but just spread the word as far and wide as they could. The writing community came together, shared, supported, cared about one another. It’s what we do.
Issue 46 would have launched at the Barbican at the end of June. In our 20th anniversary, we had a lot to celebrate. What were we to do? Something that had to feel right. Our own lives had changed fairly drastically during lockdown because Martin and I were locked down with Martin’s very elderly parents (his mum saw her 92nd birthday in April) making sure they kept safe. We didn’t have time to organise a live launch (and we thought it would be super stressful anyhow) but we knew we’d lose a lot of revenue from not launching. As it happens, we had an idea we thought might work. Last year, as part of the creative developments at Martin’s small press Stonewood Press, we talked about launching a podcast for poetry and fiction. It would bring original writing to an interested listenership, and each episode would have a focus on a specific question, for example: how does poetry work on the brain? It would have a fairly relaxed tone and try to explore and demystify poetry and fiction a little bit. We would interview people, commission work etc. But we knew it would be a lot of work and our time was already pressured as it was. So we shelved it for a future date.
Then the world changed.
How could we launch Brittle Star Issue 46 in a way that felt right to us? This podcast. We reached out to contributors to see if they would be up for recording their work and we had an overwhelming response – almost everyone in this issue sent us recordings. We thought about a daily podcast – a week-long launch as it were. Then we had a cup of tea and a calm down and decided on a series; one that would look at the lockdown and the little mag/writing world.
The podcast is called Stereoplate. It isn’t a Brittle Star podcast, though, it’s a Stonewood Press podcast – but Brittle Star will kick it off. (There’s a lovely serendipity here because our 10 year celebration anthology Said And Done: New Writing from Brittle Star kicked off Stonewood Press as well). The series which launches Issue 46 over five episodes and mini-sodes is called ‘We Have Lift Off! How do you Launch a Literary Magazine in a Lockdown’. The first fortnightly episode is available on Monday 13 July on Spotify, Anchor FM, Breaker and other podcast sites. It looks at the very first literary journal, chats with Magma Poetry magazine about their hacked Zoom launch and features the first readers from Brittle Star Issue 46.
Have a look on Stonewood’s website or Stereoplate’s Anchor FM site to download and subscribe:
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