The Ecphorizer

Editorial Issue #40
Richard Amyx

Issue #40 (December 1984)

I seem to have caused a bit of confusion with October's editorial by referring to "slicks." It hadn't occurred to me that, in context, the term might be misconstrued as meaning evasive, glib, or slightly less than honorable, or have connotations of, in more contemporary parlance, "hip, slick, and cool." During the heyday of the American novel and short story--the '20s, generally--magazines were considered in two gross classifications: "pulps" and "slicks." These were quite literal categories, because some magazines were printed on cheap newsprint (pulp) and others were printed on more expensive coated paper, which, by comparison to newsprint, is slick to the touch. The pulps were trashy in appearance and carried trashy writing--sort of the network television programs of their day. (The magazine always cited as the epitome of pulpdom was The Police Gazette.) The slicks, on the other hand, vied heavily for, and expected sales based upon, the best writing available. Examples of slicks were (and still are) The Atlantic, Harper's, and The New Yorker. So, despite the fact that virtually all magazines nowadays are printed on slick paper, the distinction remains in my mind and still has meaning in the publishing industry.

It also seemed that the reference to "little magazines" was another point of confusion. Taken literally, the phrase is, of course, meaningless. Again, back in the heyday of American writing, little magazines represented a submarket for aspiring writers. They were in fact small in size compared to the slicks--about the size of The Ecphorizer--and commonly appeared quarterly, appealed to writers who were serious in intent but who couldn't quite compete in the slicks' market, and paid only in contributors' copies. There were at one time many of them, but they were often as ephemeral as the seasons. Because the American market for short fiction and poetry has changed so much in the last three decades, I had come to wonder whether any still existed. Well, look at this: according to the March, 1984, issue of The Writer,

Beginning writers will find a receptive market for their work in . . . little magazines. There are hundreds of magazines in this category,. . . and the editors are looking for work from novices and pros alike, as long as the material is well-written.

Although payment is only in contributors' copies, publication in the literary journals can often be the crucial steppingstone to publication in larger-circulation magazines: In addition to garnering a publication credit, the beginner may be lucky enough to be spotted by one of the many editors of major magazines who routinely scan the pages of the smaller journals in their search for new talent. The writer's work may also be considered for reprinting in one of the prestigious annual collections of work from the little magazines.

Not incidentally, The Writer makes reference to The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses published annually by Dustbooks. The Ecphorizer is listed in Dustbooks' Directory.

Like the other hundreds of magazines in this category, The Ecphorizer is looking for good writing, from novices and pros alike, whether they have long-term literary goals or not. Other kinds of work commonly found in little magazines are line and charcoal drawings, washes, and photography--anything that can be screened and will reproduce well in black and white. I therefore invite contributions of this sort also. And please be kind to the editor, who hates to trash anybody's creative efforts: include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with submissions.

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