The Raconteur Story
I first met Michael Pietrzak at a So You Want To Write pub night. The pub nights and workshops has been an amazing outlet for writers to find other writers, encourage stimulating discussions, critique groups, collaboration between writers. It has become a community creating connections in the writing community. With the addition of brilliant literary agents hosting workshops, and personalized 1:1 sessions for manuscript reviews, we also had the support required to level up the community in terms of their abilities.
One year later, Raconteur was born.
We wanted not only to have our own community of amazing, talented writers, not only to have a great selection of proven literary agents levelling up our skills, but to also have a platform where we could showcase that talent, to promote our community to the world. This, as we see it, is how we close the loop—the full cycle of events between a novice writer and a professionally published author. This is Raconteur’s mission. To provide a platform for aspiring writers, to spur the writing community forward, to showcase their skills, and to feature previously-unpublished talents.
Together with the entire Raconteur team, we wanted to take that to the next level.
Raconteur started small. Our team has differed somewhat in our first year as we found our footing. Through the So You Want To Write community, Michael and I built our mailing list. From there, we found our first volunteers and the team grew from 2 to 20 to where it currently stands today.
Today, the Raconteur Team comprises of close to 40 members across a variety of functions.
In the beginning, we were only looking for Readers, Editors, Graphic Designers, but by the second issue, our needs grew. We began bringing on team members for Web Design, for Marketing and Sales, for Social Media, for Partnerships.
Mary Jo Garrido
Marrying Product Management with a Literary Magazine
Being a small team, organization was crucial to Raconteur’s success. The first hurdle to overcome was to build a reputation in the literary community, enough so that to be taken seriously by the writing community and to receive an influx of submissions. This was combatted by offering token payments to writers as early as the second issue, something unheard of when starting a literary magazine. We made sure the costs balanced themselves out first (done through Patreon, issue I sales, partnerships).
Naturally, once submissions began coming, the floodgates opened. We received around 100 submissions for the first issue, published 7. We received close to 300 submissions for issue II, published 8. That number ballooned to over 500 submissions for Issue III. Lacking a lean organization tactic, our team would have been crushed by the influx. We tackled this with the implementation of a custom Kanban board, in which, incoming submissions were automated from Gmail. Once a new piece makes it onto the board, it must be rated by at least 3 members and receive a rating (between 1-5 stars, usually accompanied by a justification as to rating). The pieces are labelled, commented on and shifted across the board depending on their ratings, and the top-rated pieces are rank-ordered at the end of the submission period and acceptances are sent out accordingly.
As seen in image below (some details hidden for sensitivity reasons):
The Typical Publication Roadmap
Have you ever wondered why it takes so long to get a response back from a magazine? Being a writer who regularly submits to magazines myself, this was a question that had eluded me for some time. Especially after working in tech, where things move a mile-a-minute. Could literary magazines hurry up and get their act together already?!
It was only when I experienced the other side that I saw the full picture. When Raconteur started, we agreed that we would release three issues per year, a rather uncommon number. Of course we want to increase the frequency of publication in the future, however since we are also a print magazine, this offers some difficulties.
Displayed below (in typical Gantt Chart fashion) is the roadmap for the launch of Raconteur’s third issue. The Reading & Curating period is often our longest period, spanning on average around 6 weeks. The reason is simple: to ensure we have the best content for publication. Following this period, acceptances are sent out and together with the authors, our editors work throughout the next two weeks to polish and make appropriate changes (structural, copy, or otherwise). During this same two-week period, our Art Director begins to source illustrations to accompany the pieces. At the end of this period a full book block is compiled, consisting of all the pages as they will appear in the magazine.
The book block then becomes the master document for all further formatting. Throughout the next month, our team works alongside Amazon to format for both e-book, epub, mobi, and print versions. This phase usually spans a full month due to the physical proof copies that are delivered by Amazon, confirming our changes have been reflected as needed. Following this comes a two-week period where the new issue is promoted on Social Media, and a Launch Party is scheduled. Raconteur has a launch party for each issue. For more details, you can join our mailing list.
Raconteur: An Artistic Literary Magazine
Raconteur is independently run by a small and dedicated team of writers, readers, and illustrators. Our future issues depend on readers supporting us along the way. If you enjoyed this summary and like what you see above, you can support us on Patreon, Instagram, or on Amazon.
If you want to get involved with Raconteur in a Partnerships, Volunteer, or Advertising capacity, reach out to me personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org