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Libbon Interview

Posted on 16 August 2005. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Dave Soulsby, editor of Libbon literary magazine, 'born out of the frustration of rejection.'

Tell us something about your background.

Libbon was born out of the frustration of rejection. Yes I know all new writers get rejected but after too many kick-backs and without any explanations, you either quit and take up another hobby or occupation or maybe if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

I decided to take “time out” to ponder these options and travel around the U.S.A., my goal was to visit all 50 states of the union. This was despite being told that some of them were better driving out of than into.
En route I bought a kid’s sticker book and as my wife and I drove our Oldsmobile Cutlass over 10,000 miles round Interstates and dirt roads I religiously stuck in the stickers provided to mark my tally. I returned home with heaps of dinner table stories and my sticker book completed with trivia facts about 38 states. Did you know Indiana is known as the Hoosier state? Or that the state flower of Utah is the Sego Lily? Didn’t think so, anyway this is a “work in progress” and we hope to finish the other 12 next year.
I digress, on return a further pile of rejections was waiting on the mat, so I decided I better join ‘em.
I know that there are hundreds of authors ‘out there’ who can tell interest grabbing stories yet are rejected by the mainstream publications. I wanted to start a magazine that could print these stories and so help emerging writers achieve recognition
Despite being able to fill the pages of a magazine with my own efforts, I am not a vanity publisher and thought the best way to obtain contributions was via a competition.
I wanted to achieve a full colour mag printed on high quality paper with illustrations, so I knew the printing costs would be high. I therefore had no choice but to charge an administration fee for entering in order to defray these costs. Additional costs are of course prize money, advertising and judge’s fees.
Still I did it, we received over 150 entries (no way of knowing if this high or low) for the first competition and the ten best printed in Libbon are of a high standard. My efforts are now directed into a distribution strategy; some might think that this should have been done first, but I needed to see a finished article that I was proud before I could begin marketing. I am very proud of Libbon and now owe it to the writers that have supported me by making sure their stories are widely read.

How do you usually find your writers?

Writers for the first two issues of the magazine are via competition alone. This strategy was successful for the premier competition, we were very pleased with the standard of the entries, and are hoping for a “bumper crop” from Competition Two. We placed paid-advertisements in Writer’s Forum magazine which seemed to stimulate interest and emailed a number of websites asking if they would promote the competition in their listings. The majority were quite helpful but there were a number of acrimonious replies.
These centred round our policy of charging an admin fee for entry rather than paying authors for their work if published. Without such a charge (only £3) we would never have got the magazine off the ground as the printing costs are high and we do pay £175 out in prize money. The magazine is high quality with full colour illustrations throughout.
The plan is to get a sound distribution deal together so that we can be sure of a paid circulation. At that time we will dispense with the competition, asking writers to submit their work and pay them on a “per word” basis if published. This method will not be possible until the publishing costs are met by income from guaranteed subscriptions. We would still try and solicit writers via the same sources but hopefully the hostile responses will reduce.

What excites you about a piece of writing- what keeps you interested?

I am excited by any writing that I can visualise, conjuring up a picture of what I might be seeing from the back row munching my expensive popcorn. I enjoy stories with characters I believe in and care about, difficult to do in a short story, I know, but many succeed.

and what makes your heart sink?

I must admit my heart sank when I read some of the early entries into our first competition. It reinforced my original idea that my own stories were worthy of being printed and I thought long and hard about “slipping one in” under a pseudonym. Luckily the standard of the writing improved exponentially and I was happy to acknowledge that the ten winners were all better than my own creations.

Submissions policy?

Submission can be on-line via our website http://www.libbon.co.uk or by post using the entry form which is there and can be printed off.

What kind of writers do you work with?

After the judges selected the winning stories we wrote to the authors and asked them for biographical details. This revealed a mix of those that had been published previously and some for which inclusion in the magazine was their first publishing experience
We are honoured if established authors send work to us but are very happy to receive submissions from new writers.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

old friend at 15:37 on 16 August 2005  Report this post
Anything that encourages the writing of short stories must be welcomed with open arms.

I have yet to visit the website but I wish Mr Soulsby all success. His is not the easiest of tasks. It will be interesting to learn more about the yardsticks by which entries are judged.


lieslj at 13:27 on 26 August 2005  Report this post
Does it appear that they are only interested in submissions for the competition?

I've combed the website, but there doesn't appear to be anyway to submit to this magazine unless you are entering the contest.

Or am I missing something?


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