ELEVEN ELEVEN: the future of the literary journal

Debate all you want about the role literary journals have in today’s rapidly changing publishing industry (OK, debate all you want about the publishing industry), but any conversation on this topic would be incomplete without a trip to the new web estate of Eleven Eleven. Already an international journal of well-earned repute, this publication from California College of the ArtsMFA writing program has added some new features that make it even more valuable… and pave the way for the literary journal’s ever-increasing function in the larger cultural conversation.

Koi Pond: Instead of providing a blogroll or list of links to other journals and other industry-related friends, Eleven Eleven has launched this feature, which, every other week or so, includes a list of 11 links that “highlight new journals, new issues, art and other stuff we find interesting and want to pass along to our readers”. … With commentary on why they feature these links, Koi Pond adds a level of much-needed curation to the literary realms of the net. Art Director for Issue 13, Susan Lin, posted the first issue of Koi Pond this week.

195: As Editor Hugh Behm-Steinberg says, “Some of the problems with publishing work in a biannual is a) waiting six months for the next issue to come out; b) work that is published gets locked into the context of the issue in which that work appears; and c) once the next issue is published, everything published in the previous issue falls into the past.” 195 is their attempt to fix this. Every other week, they will publish a selection of writing and art featured in past issues of Eleven Eleven. With this feature, the journal becomes one mega-issue… all work in conversation with all other work. But more importantly, 195 reinforces Eleven Eleven‘s commitment to promoting the authors—and not just the writing—they publish. As Behm-Steinberg told me in a recent interview:

One of the ways I see Eleven Eleven is it’s not so much an artifact or an object as it is a network. A place where lots of different writers and people get to crisscross and communicate. And it continues beyond publishing the writers’ work.

So, for example, one of the things we’re very active about is promoting the work of the people we publish. So, we have a Facebook fan page that has almost 5,300 people, and we use that as a platform for marketing people’s books. So if a writer has work that’s been featured in Eleven Eleven, whenever they have a book out we’ll post links toward purchasing their books. We do the same for visual artists in terms of when they have gallery shows. We do the same for presses that we collaborate with. And when writers are doing tours we’ll promote their readings when they’re in the Bay Area and help them and assist them with setting them up. So if you get published by Eleven Eleven you’re part of our family, and we want to stick around with you not just past when you have your first piece published with us. A lot of journals… it’s really nice when you’ve been published, but then they pretty much just forget about you. And it’s like, I want Eleven Eleven to be deeper than that, to have a deeper connection than that.

Read the first issue of 195, with a wonderful introduction by Behm-Steinberg.