Letter from the Creator of Storytelling World Magazine
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?
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
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.
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?
We pay nothing to those who send stories/articles. Also, our
staff is all voluntary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Yes, we make them. But we learn from them. So far we have had
two major criticisms:
We didn't have enough "white space." (This was a
frequently-heard comment; however, it let us cram heaps more content
into each issue).
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