How do you measure the success of a literary anthology? Is it about profit? The amount of media attention and hype? That may be the case if you’re a publishing house where revenue is the bottom line, but for student-run literary anthology Soliloquies, it’s about being a platform for showcasing the talent of writers at Concordia and the outlying community.
The question we have to ask ourselves then is how does a budget-tight literary anthology garner attention while remaining economical? Editors Lizy Mostowski and Paula Haley Wilson are trying to solve this conundrum by taking Soliloquies online.
“We never put the anthology into any bookstores, because we only printed a limited number and believe that it is important to have them in the hands of those who care about the publication the most. This is why we put it online: to make it accessible to everyone. Since our goal was never to earn a profit, putting it online has only increased readership and accessibility,” said Mostowski.
The 15th edition of Soliloquies has been available online since Nov. 28. Although it has only had 379 views since launching, Mostowski was adamant that since the publication functions as a yearbook type of literary collection, the website is serving the anthology’s purpose “to showcase and preserve talent that currently exists in the community.”
On Feb. 10, Soliloquies will launch issue 16.1, a half of the proposed whole that will be Soliloquies 16.2. “This half-issue is really thin, so we’d only have a couple of readers, so we’re going to launch the half-issue online and we’re going to do a call for submissions on the same day,” said Mostowski. “Then we’re going to have a launch party in early April to launch both of them, and we’re going to have all the readers read […] Then at that point in time we’re going to put out the print edition and shortly after that we’ll put the second half online.”
Issue 16.1 will hopefully wet the literary community’s appetite and help snowball readership along the way. Mostowski is planning to market the launch of issue 16.1 through social media and word of mouth, a system that seems to be working quite well considering the number of unsolicited submissions they get from across Canada and the United States.
In the upcoming issue, they will be publishing a short story that is the first chapter of a novel to be released by Pedlar Press this spring. The author is from Toronto, and how she heard about Soliloquies is a mystery, but it nonetheless says a lot about the reach of the anthology outside the halls of Concordia.
With the publication’s increased focus on the world wide web, Mostowski and co. are looking to apply funds to the redesign of their website. Although the web page has come a long way in recent years, it could use a general overhaul for easier navigation and visual appeal.
Soliloquies currently uses the free host WordPress, but in the future they hope to apply grant funds to owning their own website.
There are many advantages to having a literary anthology online. Principally, it frees up a lot of the budget for publicity. Instead of worrying about selling the anthology in local bookstores and hoping people buy it, a free online edition means that the anthology will possibly reach a larger audience. After all, who doesn’t like free things?
Soliloquies is launching issue 16.1 online on Feb. 10. For more information or to submit, visit www.soliloquies.ca.