To run a literary magazine

The litmag (literary magazine) scene in US is quite thick and overflowing. Being an Editorial Assistant and Blog Editor for the poetry magazine Spoon River Poetry Review, I am well apprised of the gruel and tenacity it takes to run a litmag. Yet, I am surprised by the enthusiasm and frequency with which new journals are conceived and run by writers and enthusiasts all around. From where does their optimism come? Don’t they realize how difficult it must be to invite quality writing when a writer has too many options? Don’t they realize how difficult it is to establish a brand name without money and manpower? The answer may lie in the accessibility and openness of the web age in starting an online journal. But in his review of Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz’s book The Little Magazine in Contemporary America, Stephen Burt disagrees:

A new journal needs a reason to exist: a gap that earlier journals failed to fill, a new form of pleasure, a new kind of writing, an alliance with a new or under-chronicled social movement, a constellation of authors for whom the future demand for work exceeds present supply, a program that will actually change some small part of some literary readers’ tastes. None of this has changed with the rise of the Web. Nor has the other big truth about little magazines which emerges from Diaz and Morris’s book, or from a day spent with anybody who runs one: it’s exhausting, albeit exciting, to do it yourself.