When we launched Belt in September, 2013, we pledged to pay all our writers. We kept that promise, and have since written checks to hundreds of freelancers for their longform journalism, reporting and essays about the Rust Belt published in the only magazine dedicated to journalism about the region. Our rates are competitive with larger, national publications (which is either a point of pride for us or a sad commentary on them). In fact, 35% of our total operating budget goes to writers, higher by far than most publications.
We want to continue to pay our writers --even increase their pay--and publish more stories. But we can only do so if we can increase our freelance budget. That's where you come in.
By backing this Kickstarter, you will enable us to keep our commitment to pay all writers as well as to assign more stories by experienced reporters and essayists. Our stories provide in-depth coverage of issues key to the region, including poverty, redevelopment, housing, police brutality, manufacturing, economics, urbanism and race. We cover culture as well, from Harvey Pekar to Marilynne Robinson to 19th century genre painting and much, much more. First person essays are another integral part of Belt's mission.
With your support, we will commission additional features on the issues that matter the most to the industrial Midwest, And you will allow us to continue to give away our writing away to anyone, free from a paywall.
$10,000 will guarantee we can publish the same quality and amount of excellent journalism readers of Belt have come to expect through 2015. If we exceed our goal, we will be able to commission additional stories from seasoned journalists.
Not convinced yet? Hear what writers say about working with Belt:
Belt Magazine gave me my first chance to write a feature article about a local institution with a big impact The piece quickly went into circulation around the country. Also, they paid me a fair wage for my work! Amazing! If you support Belt, maybe they'll do it again.- David Perry
Belt is essential reading for anyone interested in compelling essays and reportage about one of the country's most fascinating regions. For writers, it's a venue that offers thoughtful editing and dependable payment, both of which are rare among online publishers. -Jeremy Lybarger
Thanks to Belt Magazine I was able to find a home for a fascinating story about Midwestern history, a story that's still relevant today but has been largely forgotten. The editors were great to work with, did a great job with the story's layout and they paid me promptly. Can't say enough good things about them. -Debbie Carlson
"My daughter's college fund is growing because of Belt. She's 3, but it's never too early to start, right?" -Vince Guerrieri
"Because Belt paid me, I was able to make time to interview authors of special interest to the region, and hopefully the coverage helped them get paid, too." -Zoe Zolbrod
"In exchange for my writing about the perseverance of a German restaurant and vegetarian cafe in southeast Michigan, Belt gave me enough money to treat all of my friends to spaetzle and seitan (although I may have bought myself a steak dinner instead.) That's a square deal." -Hanna Raskin
My story started as grad school course work, and I'm proud to have found a home for it in Belt. Thanks to Belt, I can cover four months of my alumni gym membership. Way more fun than kicking it to student loans." - Michael A. Van Kerckhove
"Writing for Belt is a great experience from pitch to payment. The process is smooth, the feedback is helpful, and the editorial staff is all-around quite pleasant." -Ryan Schnurr
When I read articles by other Belt authors, I find myself marveling at the writing and wishing I could have turned a phrase like they did. The words are chosen aptly and they convey moods so nicely. We need good writing in this world, and for all the technological changes -- print, web, tweets -- writing still communicates feelings, the complexity of the human journey, and entanglements of our lives in ways that nothing else can. Belt keeps the spirit of writing vibrant, and for those of us who adore the written word, this counts for quite a lot. -Rick Perloff
"I'm grateful to Belt for providing me a forum to cover and share such out-of-the-way Midwesterly phenomena as the Dickeyville Grotto, the International Typewriter Collectors Convention, and Chicago's elaborate system of winter dibs." -Kathleen Rooney
"Belt pays. Some daily newspapers -- no names here -- don't pay for personal essays. Belt wins." -Bert Stratton
"Belt paid me to research and write a story about the state of colleges in the midwest, which have a huge effect on the economy and culture in our region. This is work that other publications pass on, because they are focused on the coasts." -Ann Logue
"Belt is an undeniably special place. The fact that a magazine exists where quality, experimental journalism can have a home, be paid, and go home with its dignity, is a testament to the amazing staff that Belt employs. At Belt, an important, well-told story has real monetary value. Their unwillingness to succumb to cheaper quality work is what keeps their readers loyal and their writers ambitious. When click-bait grows up, it wants to be Belt Magazine."-Zoe Gould
So what do you think? Want to help us keep these fine writers with their college savings, gym memberships and meals out? Contribute to coverage of stories that would otherwise go untold? Ensure we remain editorially independent, women-run and locally-owned? If so, we will send you books and t-shirts, acknowledge you in our books & announce your name at parties. And, of course, be incredibly grateful.
Read more about us, and why our "deep dives into the Rust Belt zeitgeist" have made us the "nation's new literary darling."
Risks and challenges
We are a start-up, and all start-ups are defined by risks and challenges. But we can guarantee you will receive all your rewards, and that we will continue to publish finely crafted stories about the Rust Belt.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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