Columns > Published on May 17th, 2018

Putting Together a Literary Magazine

I had wanted to put out a print magazine for CLASH for a while, but it was never a pressing project. Literary magazines don’t make that much money, after all (hey, sorry, it’s true). Whenever I felt the impulse to put one together I would remember how all of my favorites ended up folding in a year or two. "Was it really worth it?" I asked myself. I probably would have forgotten about this literary dream, or left it as a project for a rainy day, but AWP 2018 was coming up and I saw CLASH magazine #1 sitting on the table, catching the eye of people that passed—and it felt so right.

As a publisher, nothing gets me more excited than tabling. There is something special about seeing people look at your table, the covers of your books tempting them. It’s one of my favorite parts of publishing. It's something I can experience in a very concrete way. Not an idea, but a reality. There is nothing like seeing the excitement in someone’s eyes when they spot the perfect book they didn't know they were looking for sitting right at your table. That feeling is beyond words. It's why I do this crazy job. So I imagined a magazine full of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that would be the perfect fit for the audience at AWP. Just the right mix of fun and literary.

There is nothing like seeing the excitement in someone’s eyes when they spot the perfect book they didn't know they were looking for sitting right at your table.

My bigger goal was to showcase the range of CLASH. It’s a website that started as a venue for "clashing" political and cultural views, but has evolved into a brand that embraces literature, non-fiction, pop culture, poetry and film, all rolling around together in one big aesthetically diverse mudpie.

Some of the strongest pieces in this mudpie have been non-fiction and opinion pieces, so it didn’t take much time to find some great articles to reprint in the magazine. For fiction and poetry, I drew from pieces that had been featured in the CLASH Zine that Leza Cantoral put together the year before. I also reached out to a few writers who I wanted to see original fiction from, such as Autumn Christian and Charles Austin Muir.

For the cover art I reached out to Joel Amat Güell. Joel is a very gifted Spanish artist that has become an integral part of the CLASH crew. He came up with a few cover choices and I picked the one with the palate that resonated the most. I wanted the magazine to feel fresh and contemporary. CLASH feels new to me. We say "fuck it" when it comes to following trends, because otherwise you'll always be chasing them, trying to fit what you publish into little boxes.

The finished product was both fun to look at and fun to read. It gives readers a feeling of the eclectic and eccentric blend of talent we feature on the website on a regular basis. It also gives an idea of what CLASH Books looks for in potential book-length projects. CLASH Magazine is that midpoint between online platform and publishing house where you see pieces by a wide array of multicultural voices. Some names are instantly recognizable and some less so. CLASH is a place where the voices of Autumn Christian, Brian Alan Ellis, Stephanie Wytovich, Lisa Marie Basile (founder of Luna Luna Magazine), Joanna C. Valente (Yes Yes Poetry), Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, B. Diehl, Kat Giordano, and Gabino Iglesias meld seamlessly with the fiction of Sam Pink and the poetry of Daniel Knauf (creator of HBO hit series Carnivàle).

It was a beautiful thing to see this completed Magazine on the table. Contributing authors who were at AWP came by and picked up their copies, and it caught the eye of everyone that passed by. I am already putting together CLASH Magazine # 2 and I cannot wait to lay it on the table for lovers of all things lit.

About the author

Christoph Paul is the Managing Editor and owner of CLASH Books, who have published over 60 books and have been covered by NPR, Poets & Writers, Rolling Stone, Believer Magazine, Oprah Magazine, The Observer, Fangoria, and Publisher's Weekly. The press has had books translated into Spanish, French, and Italian. He has been editing books in almost every genre for over a decade. As an author, he won a humor award and had viral cult success under a pen name. He is the lead singer and bass player of the rock band The Dionysus Effect, who have received positive reviews in Loudwire, EARMILK, and Red Rock Magazine. He sometimes writes songs about the books he publishes because even artists are inspired by their day jobs. Follow him on Twitter @christophpaul_ @clashbooks @dionysuseffect.

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