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Letter from the Creator of Storytelling World Magazine

Flora Joy

Note: Storytelling World is now published by the National Storytelling Network (http://storynet.org; 800-525-4514) as special issues - two per year - of Storytelling Magazine. To subscribe, contact NSN, not Flora Joy.

The information below is presented for those who want to learn from Dr. Joy's experiences and business model.

As editor of Storytelling World may I offer information to anyone who might be interested?

BACKGROUND

A few years ago we wanted to offer our Storytelling Master's Degree candidates at Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU) a truly enriching hands-on experience with writing/editing/evaluating stories and articles about storytelling. After all, who learns by the lecture method? Practically no one--especially with a topic as exciting as storytelling. So we began the journal Storytelling World as a "real" academic (and delightfully challenging) experience.

SUDDENLY... An amazing number of serious, professional, and highly-respected storytellers communicated that they wanted to be a part of this adventure. As a result I have encountered the kindest and most knowledgeable people who have written stories and/or articles for this publication--and who still continue to do so.

THEMES

Each issue centers around a theme. Issue 11 was Creating and Crafting Stories (featuring Jay O'Callahan); Issue 12 was The Storytelling Audience (featuring Ed Stivender); Issue 13 centered around Storytelling and Technology (with David Holt donning his "thunderwear"), Issue 14 has a possible topic of storytelling in therapy, etc., etc.

In our new incarnation as special issues of Storytelling Magazine, we still use the theme approach. Any theme suggestions from readers?

MONEY

We pay nothing to those who send stories/articles. Also, our staff is all voluntary.

ADVERTISEMENT

We do not accept ads. (This way we can't be "bought.") We "advertise" new storytelling resources only through the annual Storytelling World Awards, and we advertise "tellers" (who give of their valuable time and energy through their written material) by including their photographs and a brief bio. (Storytelling Magazine accepts ads, but there is an "arms length" between NSN ads and Storytelling World content.

MARKETING

We don't. If folks hear about us and want to subscribe, we're happy. If not, we're still happy. So far we haven't really done anything to spread the word about this publication. My enjoyment with this adventure will continue as long as I don't become too entrepreneurial or get too stressed out about the business factors. Maybe this isn't financially smart, but it allows me to keep the fun and pleasure in it.

READERSHIP

When we were a free-standing magazine, we had a readership in the low thousands--not an impressive number, but we were satisfied. We mailed these journals across the United States and into several countries. Storytellers from two other countries (Ireland--Batt Burns; Australia--Kerry Mallan) have graced our covers.

SUBSCRIPTION COST

Was dirt-cheap: $8.95 per year (or $16.95 for two years). Now, the magazine is a free benefit to members of NSN That really didn't cover our costs, but who's counting? Most periodicals obtain their budget through their paid ads, but our philosophy excluded them. We published two issues each year.

GOVERNANCE

We have a permanent editorial board in addition to a separate group of workers for each individual issue. What magnificent talent! ALL manuscripts proceed through both boards "blindly" (names of authors of all circulated manuscripts are removed). About thirty workers are dedicated to each issue.

TIME

It takes us mega-months to get an issue ready. We all feel that we've earned a new Ph.D. each time we complete a publication. But what a magnificent education and positive experience!

FLAVOR

We are laid-back, fun-loving, but very serious about what goes on the printed page. We have a blast putting this journal together. What energy and talent our board, our enrollees, our volunteers, and our writers have! We are indeed honored.

MISTAKES

Yes, we make them. But we learn from them. So far we have had two major criticisms:

  1. We didn't have enough "white space." (This was a frequently-heard comment; however, it let us cram heaps more content into each issue).
  2. We used to have a "favorite teller/story" page until a bulk of our readers objected to one particular storyteller we featured. (Simple solution: We never ran that column again after that.)
However, having two major complaints just ain't bad, eh? We'll have more. Maybe even lots more. But we'll not get bent out of shape, and we'll learn from them as they happen.

COMPETITION WITH NSA - AND LATER NSN

We didn't compete. Their magazine had different goals from ours. Both were needed. I am very thankful that (in the late 80s) I was able to work with NSA's magazine. It was a magnificent experience for me, and I must give them much credit for sparking my interest in creating our non-competitive periodical. They were (and are) really terrific people to work with. Now that NSN is effectively the publisher of Storytelling World, the ties are closer than ever.

A "JOY"FUL ENDING TO THIS LONG MESSAGE

I wouldn't miss this experience for the WORLD (no pun intended). It's one of the numerous fantastic pleasures storytelling brings to my life.

My regular mailing address is

  • Dr. Flora Joy ( )
  • Storytelling World editor
  • 108 Oak Grove Boulevard
  • Johnson City, TN 37601
  • Visit our web site at www.etsu.edu/stories
Thanks for listening--if you managed to get this far.
Flora Joy

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This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
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