Friday, October 19, 2012

Some questions and answers with the Revolver Mafia

Revolver is the newest of the new literary journal/mag kids on the block. Their electronic home is here

1) I know a little about the reasons behind starting Revolver but the question still must be asked: why start a literary magazine right now?

We started Revolver because we had a fire in our collective gut about writers and artists with a certain energy.

Why start now? Why not? Some of the best things in life come to those who recklessly pursue. It only took us a year of hard work to get it ready for the public.

2) How do you see the digital-you fitting together with the print-you?

The internet is a place that can be more open to experimentation, to failure, to surprise--we have a strong brand, but we don't let it get in the way of a good piece. The internet is a great place to do that flexing. The print publication will be a perfected version of that experimentation, failure, surprise.

3) You had 700+ people at the launch party--how do you try to continue to bring those people(and more) into the mix?

We won't do another blow-out party for a while, and our next event in the spring is going to be even better. More visceral, more intense, more story-focused--but smaller. We’re really excited. All we can say now is that we’re calling it Confess.

We're also looking to cultivate an online reading and writing community. Every two weeks, our home page will have entirely new content, and we want to create a space for people to participate, to write with Revolver, while we continue to publish high-quality work.

Two ways we are doing that: Shots with Strangers, which has already launched with a few pieces, and WANTED, our micro-writing contest, which launched last month. We have quite a few other experiments in the works. Think trust-falls into a bookstore moshpit.

4) Outside of the Twin Cities (with Paper Darts and thirty two doing similar--yet not the same--things) are there any journals you look to for inspiration? Or is this a totally new thing?

Both Paper Darts and 32 are great, as well as the amazing small presses in town. There is a groundswell around the lit scene here in the Twin Cities. The music scene hit its stride a while ago, and now the lit scene is becoming bolder, too.

In terms of publications we enjoy, Vice, A Public Space, N+1 are great. McSweeney's is obviously influential. The New Inquiry and Thought Catalog are two younger publications we enjoy.

But honestly, we didn't look too hard at any publication as a model. We didn’t want to end up copying something that already exists. New whiskey into new whiskey barrels, we say. We’re doing our damndest to retool the magazine for a new century.

5) Is there a clear division for Revolver in terms of poetry/fiction/non-fiction/reportage? Or will it change with every issue?

No. It's Short Range (under 1000 words) and Long Range (over 1000 words). Readers will be able to sort by genre, but we don't want that to be the focus. Revolver is gunning for the art and beauty of writing, and we're working hard to tear down the artificial distinctions that get in the way of that.

6) The demographic you seem to be aiming for is one that is accustomed to free content--how do you get these people to pay?

We'll have various options for different sorts of readers and writers: electronic and print subscriptions, events, T-shirts, journals, writing contests, etc. People will want to support the publication in different ways and we want to be ready for that.

We're also in discussion with a number of businesses who want to advertise on Revolver. Currently, the site is self-sustaining on Google Ads, thanks to our readers clicking on the weird stuff Google dumps into the slots we give them. We’re excited about moving toward advertising businesses we have a relationship with.

7) Publishing, in general, is in a great sea change. How do you guys fit into this sea of madness?

We want to blaze a new trail. We’re going to experiment and publish a lot of audacious writing. Some experiments will be wildly successful. Some will be soul-crushing failures. This is a good thing.

We hope our approach to the publishing elements--print, online, social media, etc.--will keep our readers at the edge of their seats (and/or continually refreshing on their smartphones).

This ride is going to be wild, and part of the rush is that we don’t know where we’ll all end up.

8.) A boxing gym? How? Why? Will the relationship continue?

It had that special sort of energy we were looking for. Seemed right.

Maybe we'll return for our 10th Anniversary Party.

- Revolver Crew

Alexander Helmke, Ben Barnhart, Emilie Robinson, Esther Porter, Luke Finsaas, Marcus Anthony Downs, Ross Nervig, Thorwald Esbensen

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