The Good Journal is a quarterly literary journal showcasing the very best work by writers and illustrators of colour.
It follows on from the success of the bestselling, award-winning collection of essays, The Good Immigrant, presenting the most exciting new writers alongside more established names.
The journal will launch in Spring 2018 and feature essays, short stories, poems, extracts of novels and illustrations.
Writers already signed up to showcase work across the first four issues are Kamila Shamsie, Sanjeev Bhaskar MBE, Emma-Lee Moss (Emmy The Great), Susan Wokoma, Carl Anka, Daniellé Dash, Niven Govinden, Sunny Singh, Bolu Babalola and Bridget Minamore. There will also be an open call for new writers too so we can discover and showcase the very best writers of the future.
Your support, by way of a year’s subscription to the journal, helps us to make it happen: commissioning it, editing it, printing it, distributing it, paying the writers, putting on events.
But it’s more than that too.
Once costs of the journal have been covered, any funds raised will go towards The Good Literary Agency, a social enterprise literary agency focused exclusively on representing the under-represented from all backgrounds: BAME, disabled, working-class and LGBTQ+.
A little more about the journal itself
When we launched we focused on announcing some of the amazing established writers who’ve agreed to contribute, but simply being another platform for writers you’ve heard of is not what we’re all about. We’re completely committed to finding, working with and introducing you to new writers and not just those considered ‘literary’ despite the fact we’re a literary journal.
Our focus is on great writing, great storytelling and great ideas, so this won’t just be about ‘Literature’ or serious criticism, we’ll feature all sorts of writing, across genres, all we’re guaranteeing is that what you read will be the best in its area. And we’re also aiming to feature other creative work including illustrations, graphic stories / comics and photo series.
Unlike with The Good Immigrant the contributions won’t be focused around race and immigration. We will theme issues around various subjects, and of course we’ll welcome contributions that address race and immigration, but this is very much about showcasing great writers of colour across all genres and subjects.
We really want to do a fully visual issue at some point featuring only graphic novelists, illustrators, photographers and visual storytellers. This might not be able to happen but we really want it to.
Finally we’ll be looking at how we put together a list of the 20 Best British Writers of Colour, hopefully as a supplement to our fourth issue. They won’t be chosen by us, we’ll have a panel to choose the final list but we want at the end of our first year to really celebrate the best of the best. It might end up being focused only on emerging writers or looking at established ones as well, we'll take a view once we've got to a point where we're looking seriously at writers and submissions.
And of course we hope that you’ll keep subscribing beyond the first year so we can keep doing this. But you don’t need to worry about that for quite a while, we won’t ask till you’ve read at least the first two issues!
In 2015 Nikesh had the idea for The Good Immigrant, a book of essays by writers of colour about race and immigration in the UK. It was successfully crowdfunded via Unbound, the crowdfunding publishers, in three days and J. K. Rowling contributed and became its patron. It was published in September 2016, was Radio 4 Book of the Week and has gone on to sell over 50,000 copies and win the Books are My Bag Readers Choice Award. It sparked a conversation in the UK publishing industry and across culture, the media and the arts about representation.
Not long after publication Nikesh was talking to Julia (his agent) about what more we could do to increase representation across publishing and we had two ideas: a journal and a literary agency.
The idea for The Good Journal came about because people kept asking us when we were going to do another edition of The Good Immigrant and could we cover this issue, that issue? And we thought, why stick to one more volume and why only use it to talk about race and immigration. And why not do something with a quicker turnaround? So we thought we’d launch it as a journal, with slots for established writers, up-and-coming writers and open slots for undiscovered talent, open up the remit to encompass writing from all fields. And what we’ll have is something that presents and showcases the British BAME talent we know is out there, from established to new and to build on the readership for The Good Immigrant and put out work that resonates with so many different audiences, but specifically young people of colour who felt represented by The Good Immigrant.
At the same time we had a lot of writers who were getting in touch looking for representation and opportunities to submit work and we started to look at the issues as we saw them and try to think of viable solutions for increasing representation in publishing. Publishers complain that they aren’t sent enough under-represented writers by agents and agents complain that when they do submit them, publishers either didn’t buy them or pay very little for their work. It was obvious to us that there was a pipeline problem. And that's when we struck on the idea of a social enterprise literary agency, explicitly to represent the under-represented and the idea for The Good Literary Agency started to take shape.
This was all happening last November. Since then we've been scoping out the idea, building a business plan, talking to publishers, agents, authors, writer development agencies and a whole host of prospective partners and funders. The agency needs quite a lot of investment and we've applied for large scale funding as well as getting commitments of support from major publishers (and if you want to talk about how you could support the agency in a larger way please get in touch).
One of the reasons for needing the funding is because alongside increased opportunities for representation we also want to offer as much development support as possible because it's incredibly important.
Why development is important
Once upon a time publishing invested much more heavily in developing authors’ work, but changing businesses models and new challenges and media make it harder to spend as much time as they once did. The impetus is now placed much more heavily on writers to come with very polished manuscripts and without the ability to invest in creative writing courses it can be hard to achieve that for many talented writers. Take Harper Lee as an example. Ms Lee moved to New York because she wanted to be a writer but she had to work hard to support herself and was struggling to find the time. A friend of the family gave her some money to enable her to take some time off (no, we’re not offering that to writers) and she was able to complete a book which she sold to a publisher. It was called Go Set a Watchman. Nearly three years later and with considerable support from her editor she’d turned it into To Kill a Mockingbird. Could she have done it without them? Maybe. But it doesn’t seem very likely. That’s the sort of impact we want to have on the writers we work with!
So, the journal, the one you’re funding, will be a place to talent-spot the stars of tomorrow. The ones who are going to write world-beating fiction and non-fiction and short stories and poetry, whose work will be showcased alongside the very best established writers of colour. And the agency is where we’ll develop them. These projects will work hand in hand. But yes, the first part of making all this happen is getting our journal off the ground.
Mostly, because we know you’re hungry for more writing from British writers of colour.
Risks and challenges
Risks are low as we have a lot of experience in similar projects but we have done everything we can to minimise them. We believe absolutely in our ability to deliver four issues of the journal to you along with any other rewards you commit to.
We have already started commissioning and as soon as we are funded will begin work in earnest recruiting the team we need to put together the first issue
Budget, distribution & delivery
We have carefully costed the journal, based on the final costs of creating The Good Immigrant but extrapolated out over four journals rather than a single book and have have consulted with magazine and book publishers and distributors to refine our costs. We are confident we can deliver the magazine to all contributors within budget.
Content & contributors
We have a lot of experience identifying and commissioning great writers, as well as working with writers to make sure their work is of the highest possible quality.
The biggest risk is to our further ambitions to make The Good Literary Agency happen, as it depends on receiving funding from other sources as well. Should the Agency not be able to go ahead all the funds raised for it will still be committed to helping under-represented writers, through sponsoring places on creative writing courses and other development opportunities.
The agency and the journal run entirely separately so there is no risk to the journal should we not get funding for the agency.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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