How To Put Out Twenty Issues of Broken Pencil

1. Volunteer at an obscure literary magazine and watch it head into a steady decline you can do nothing about. Get drunk at a downtown rathole of a bar with fellow litmag volunteer editor Hilary Clark and decide what Canada and the world needs is yet another magazine. But this one will be different! Know nothing about magazine publishing, or very much at all. Arbitrarily agree to each put in $1000 to start this new magazine.

2. While scrolling through some now defunct graphics program, come across the symbol of a pencil broken in half. Decide to name the magazine after that meaningless symbol then proceed to make all kinds of arcane intellectual arguments about why the name is just so so perfect.

3. Recruit a friend of yours to design the magazine. Send out 50 or so letters to zine publishers whose addresses you glean from Fact Sheet Five. Beg a photographer pal to walk around the streets of Toronto with you taking pictures of an old broken typewriter. Stay up till 4 am several nights in a row trying to figure out how the myriad technical problems that emerge when you are designing a magazine on a student newspaper’s computers after hours. Compact your files using zipdisk on a series of no less than 14 floppy discs. Print the pages then glue them with hot wax on to flats and drive them to the printer in the student newspaper delivery van. Pick up the magazine in the same student newspaper’s delivery van. Drop off at bindery. Deliver covers to bindery. Pick up magazine with van next time you deliver the student newspaper. Pile boxes of magazines up in your bedroom. Repeat this arcane process for the next 4 years or so until gradually technology allows you to eliminate floppy discs and flats and borrowed computers and wax from the equation. Start using your parents’ 12 year old Honda Civic and see how many boxes of magazines you can get into it at one time.

4. Accept delivery of 2,000 copies of the first issue. Get your first order from the distributor: 300 copies. Store 1700 magazines in your basement apartment. (Some are probably still there.) Tell everyone you know that your new magazine features the Lucien Bouchard Flesh Eating Zombie Doll with Removable Leg.

5. Pound the pavement searching for advertisers, writers, editors, friends, publicity, anything at all. Repeat process for the next eight years.

6. Apply for grants and get rejected. Repeat over 3 years.

7. Apply for grants and finally get accepted. Repeat forever.

8. Convince mom and dad to buy you a laser printer.

9. Pay your writers for the first time. Pay yourself $200. It’s a good feeling.

10. Start getting zines and books and CDs for review from people you do not know personally.

11. Expand the magazine from 48 pages to 72 then 88 then 96. Finally establish line of credit at the printers so you don’t have to keep paying them with suspicious looking sacks of small bills.

12. Say a sad goodbye to your first co-editor Hilary, who decamps to New York and leaves you all alone.

13. Get so tired of typos that you finally recruit proofreaders.

14. Stay up all night wondering if you will be able to make the deadline, find enough advertisers, think up a good idea for the next issue, pay the writers. Have many people tell you how much they love the mag then decline to subscribe due to lack of funds. Watch them drink nine pints of beer at the pub that night.

15. Slap a colour cover on the mag for the first time. Print 3,500 copies and have somewhere to put them that isn’t your basement apartment.

16. Add sections on video/film and visual art. Add a folio section for weird graphic experiments.

17. Do a reader survey and be amazed at how many readers respond and are passionate about Broken Pencil and indie culture.

18. Wake up one morning and realize you have been publishing and editing a magazine for 8 years and 20 issues.

19. Throw a big party.

20. Thank all the people who invested time and energy and passion in Broken Pencil over the last 8 years. They include John Hodgins (oh! Hodgins!), Emily Pohl-Weary, Derek Winkler, Rachel Greenbaum (especially Greenbaum), Michelle Emmanuel, Ken Hann, Ken Sparling, Chris Frey, Terence Dick, Sam and Nina Niedzviecki, and all BP’s reviewers, illustrators, writers, subscribers, advertisers and boosters. You rule!

21. Start thinking about the next issue.

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