Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Online magazines - reincarnation for paper copies

I write a couple of columns for a magazine and I was recently checking out my work on the net (what can I say, I'm a big fan of my own writing). And then, like an idea faery flicking my earlobe, it came to me.

What if I took one of the much-loved but rarely seen copies of As Above So Below magazine, co-written with David French, and put it online for a new generation of readers?

We had talked about it in the past, but shied away from the idea because of technical issues with the files and, frankly, wondering what the point was. Plus, that ideas faery probably wasn't flicking my ear hard enough.

But now, thanks to www.issuu.com, it was as easy as uploading a massive PDF file. 

You can read one of the mags online here:
http://issuu.com/aasb/docs/


The other thing that inspired me to do this was the excellent BBC4 programme about The Wipers Times, written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. The programme dramatised the events and people that contributed to the creation of a satirical magazine, produced on the front line in WWI Ypres. 

Not that I'm making comparisons, just drawing inspiration. 

We started As Above So Below because we felt there was a niche (and a desperate need) for satire in the alt lifestyle arena. It was also a way to showcase our own writing and to stretch ourselves as writers. With the mag we learned about deadlines, formatting, writing around a theme and the challenges of distribution when you are also responsible for publication.

Now, as I look at that first proper issue online (we never talk about issues 1 to 4...), I can see so much that I came to take for granted. The inventiveness, the playfulness and, at times, the vitriol for what we saw as values and ideals often chopped up into buy-it-sized pieces. It was all there at the beginning - characters, recurring motifs and an almost desperate desire to be heard and read (which was hopefully tempered over subsequent issues). 

What I also like is the way we didn't care what people thought. Remember when your writing was last like that? Writing because it's what you want to write. Mostly, I think, I love the magazine because we made it happen all by ourselves and because, for a time, we had a cult following (albeit a small cult). It's funny too. 

So we're thinking about releasing more mags online, if there's sufficient interest, and seeing where it takes us. Incidentally, the magazine's claim to fame is that, thanks to our friends and stockists, Geraldine and Bali, at The Atlantis Bookshop, a mag cover appears briefly in a More 4 TV programme: A Very British Witchcraft.

Now, have you ever reappraised some old writing or given it a new lease of life? 


2 comments:

  1. Hi Derek,
    Congratulations on the online launch of As Above... What a fantastic idea and one I hope to follow when they invent a 48 hour day:) I also started a free print magazine called Enchanted. The aim being to help other MBS writers get their work read. The problem was being editor, marketer, PR person and distributor was simply too much for one person, so I put it on the back-burner for when I had more time to dedicate to it - that was two years ago and I still haven't found the time!
    With all the latest technology, it's now possible for the ordinary person to launch books and magazines equally as good (sometimes better) as what publishing houses are putting out, for a fraction of the cost.
    Well done again! I'm off to read As Above...

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  2. Many of our writing projects seem to be a labour of love - at least at the beginning. As Above So Below sits in two camps. We enjoyed limited success from those who knew about us and this online venture is already proving to be interesting. if you can make the time to put your work out there, you never know how the story will develop!

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