Behind the scenes: Shooter Literary Magazine

by Miranda Thompson in February 2015
Literature

A new British journal of poetry and prose, Shooter Literary Magazine gives exciting up-and-coming writers a way to fire their work out into the world.

And in appropriately storybook style, Anglo-American editor and publisher Melanie White says it was a “romantic disappointment” that propelled Shooter into existence. I caught up with her to find out more.

Shooter-magazine

Is it true that a breakup inspired you to start Shooter?
It might’ve been a slight exaggeration for the purposes of creating a bit of narrative interest, but it’s actually kind of true. Feeling happy and insulated is not a state that means being terribly productive with other projects. I came out of a… prospective relationship last summer, and I’d wanted to do a literary magazine for about a year, so I galvanised myself and set out to do it.

There’s a great tradition of literary magazines in the US, and I think that over here there’s a growing interest and appreciation, especially with the existence of publishers like Salt and the London Short Story Festival. I think that while people are time-crunched, there’s an obvious appeal for the short story form, because they still want to feel satisfied they’ve read a whole story in 10 minutes rather than just dipping into a novel. I didn’t want to create something esoteric or academic; I wanted a magazine that would appeal to a general reader.

Shooter-magazine

Why is it important for you to highlight that you pay your writers?
That was the other reason I wanted to start this! When you begin submitting short stories, you quickly realise there’s no money. No one gets paid. I wanted to send a message that creative work is valued, and if someone writes an incredible piece, they should be remunerated for it.

If the publisher has the money to produce and print something, then that publisher can presumably find the funds to pay their writers. Even if it’s a token amount, it’s heartening to have that be acknowledged. Nobody who writes for the internet gets paid either and, as someone who loves books and reading, I think this is devaluing writing in our culture. It’s frightening. All of our writers and poets get paid, as does the cover artist.

How did you decide on the visual tone?
I wanted something that was going to be elegant yet powerful, and making something that was gender neutral was very important to me, because I didn’t want to alienate male readers. I worked with two great designers to come up with the cover design and initial masthead, but there will be a different cover illustration for each issue.

The magazine took about four months to produce, including one really intensive month after the submission deadline, and then I balanced things with the printer and distributors and booksellers. We’ve got into Foyles, which is really exciting.

What’s the significance of the ellipsis in the title?
It’s an ellipsis raised up to be in line with the ‘r’, which I felt was quite a cool connotation of bullets, but as it’s also a piece of punctuation, there’s a literary element to it too. It suits both the character of the masthead and the elegant, powerful character of the publication.

Shooter-magazine

What’s your plan for the next issue?
I want to go in the opposite direction for issue two – with a theme like ‘Pulling the Trigger’ for the first issue, I guess I was asking for it in terms of getting a ton of violent stories – so I’ve chosen the theme ‘Union’. I’m hoping for more stories about relationships and connections, and maybe some love, sex and marriage, but of course the most important thing is the level of the literary quality and how beautiful the writing is. It’ll be out in July.

To begin with, we’re publishing biannually, but I hope after we’ve reached a point where we’re breaking even that we might be able to turn Shooter into a quarterly.

What do you hope readers will get out of this magazine?
Nabokov said that a good story must entertain, educate and enchant, and I hope people might get all of those things from Shooter.

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