Electric Literature Moves to WordPress — Here’s How an Indie Publisher Thrives on the Open Web

Lessons from 10 years of publishing essays and fiction.

Electric Literature launched 10 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, as a quarterly print journal with a mission to make literature far more relevant, thrilling, and inclusive. And now they’re celebrating the launch of a new site on WordPress, at electricliterature.com.

Surviving (and thriving) for ten years as an independent publisher is no modest feat. More than the years the nonprofit organization has grown its on line audience — with offerings like Advisable Reading and The Commuter — although expanding its membership of readers who support fund its function. The site is free of charge to absolutely everyone and relies on the generosity of its neighborhood to donate to the web-site and help its mission.

How does an indie site make its enterprise function in 2019? We talked with Electric Lit’s Executive Director Halimah Marcus about some of the lessons they’ve discovered in the previous 10 years.

Slow and Steady Development Can Be a Incredibly Superior Point

From time to time raising a lot of income from investors implies you will develop speedy — but also burn out sooner. “Slow and steady development has been crucial to our longevity as a result far. Ten years for some organizations is not that lengthy, but ten years for an indie on line magazine is fairly lengthy. We’ve noticed numerous of our peers close for the duration of that time and also numerous publications that have been a lot greater funded and bigger than us as nicely.”

Concentrate On Your Mission

Marcus and enterprise produced a deliberate selection early to develop into a nonprofit with a mission to help writers. “That was an exciting discussion. For the most element I consider it was the suitable selection, despite the fact that there are numerous diverse approaches to appear at this query. We have been undoubtedly a mission-driven organization. With Advisable Reading we companion with other magazines and indie presses and publications to market their function and to give an on line platform to numerous stories that have in no way been published on line and in no way would be published on line.

“It was our purpose to develop a literary ecosystem, to showcase how diverse it was and to give access to it. There was absolutely nothing about what we have been performing that was about creating income [laughs]. Becoming a nonprofit to be mission-driven, to be in a position to have access to grant possibilities, to be in a position to solicit donations and make these tax-deductible was going to be crucial for our economic model.” As a nonprofit, Electric Literature receives funding from foundations like the Amazon Literary Partnership, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts — an crucial supply of funding for a publisher when income from on line marketing can fluctuate considerably from month to month.

Memberships (and Your Members) Matter

Direct funding from readers tends to make a significant distinction for the enterprise. Electric Literature does not paywall its essays or fiction — the web-site is entirely free of charge and readers have an choice to donate or subscribe with a recurring month-to-month payment.

Its membership plan hit some bumps when it briefly moved it to Medium — the platform switched its membership model in 2018 and Electric Literature was 1 of many publishers who have been left scrambling. Marcus’s assistance? Consider cautiously about who you let amongst you and your readers — it is extremely tough to regain subscribers right after you have lost them.

Most crucial of all is creating certain these who do donate to your publication really feel specific. “I consider the lesson that I’m normally studying and figuring out how to do greater is to make these men and women who have shown you that they care about your publication and that they’re invested in it really feel integrated and appreciated. Make certain they know who they can speak to if they have a query or if they just want to make a comment or they have a issue. That is anything that is so crucial.”

Make Your Residence on the Net Your Personal

“You’ll see that on the new site the appear is extremely vibrant and constructive and is pulled via each and every report and each and every space. Icons inspired by electrical symbols such as signals and inverters are a element of the style we have been in a position to bring via. It is crucial to be in a position to have handle more than what our item appears like. Our editorial vision is now in a position to extend to the way the function is presented and what it appears like.”

For far more on Electric Lit’s new web-site, verify out Marcus’s letter to readers.