Decentre is a new sort of literary journal that aims to get writers read and to relieve the burden on editors. Everyone who submits plays a small role in editing, managing, and promoting Decentre, harnessing the power of many small contributions to make one big (& novel) contribution to the online literary space
Decentre is a new sort of literary journal collectively written, edited, managed, and promoted, by anyone who wants to. Its aim is to solve the problems of scaling literary magazines face, whereby writers submit and wait forever for verdicts, and editors face mountains and mountains of work to read. If you submit to decentre, you’re on the hook to do a bit of editing (reading some stories and saying which you prefer), so that the more submissions, the more editorial energy available. At the end of a given submission period, the stories that are most liked are published. We will encourage writers to make their own website and host the winning stories on them, in the hope that readers will be put more directly in contact with writers. We’ll also publish them on this site. We’ll then ask (/demand) that anyone who has submitted promotes the stories on their social media account. (You might balk at this, but it needn’t amount to more than a single tweet or facebook post saying that you participated, and encouraging people to check out the winners. But it can be much more, if you felt like it!) If we assume, conservatively, that each person has 100 followers, and we have 100 submissions, that means the winning stories get promoted to 10,000 people, and while of course only a small fraction will click through, some surely will. Just as a small amount of editorial energy multiplied many times can accomplish big things, so a small amount of promotional energy from many can do the same.
But it’s not only about the eventual most liked stories. One of the central goals of decentre is to get your work read, quickly, by at least a few people, and possibly, even if you don’t make it to the end, by a decent number. Each submission period works in a series of rounds, as so. Let’s assume there are 100 submissions. The stories get divided into two groups of 50, and each gets read (anonymously–for more on this, see the FAQ) by 3 people. If your story is among the top twenty of its 50, it progresses. It gets around 3-4 more readers. If it’s among the top 5 of the top 20, it progresses, and gets another 5-6 readers. Finally, if it’s the most liked of the 5, it gets head to head with the most liked from the other group, at which point it gets another 25 or so readers. And then both winner and runner up (and possibly third place or more) get published live on the site. Unlike traditional journals, where it’s either publication or rejection (and in 90% of cases the latter), in decentre you don’t have to make the final cut to get value.
Indeed, for this reason it’s good to think of decentre in terms of a slightly different paradigm from an average literary journal. The way I think of it, the different rounds of a given period correspond to (online equivalents of) ways of letting others encounter one’s work. The first round, with the guaranteed three readers, is kind of like showing it to a few close friends of yours. The second round is maybe like a small workshop. The third, we can think of as an online reading with a dozen or 15 so in the audience. The precise numerical details are somewhat secondary (and can be tinkered with, as I’ll explain to anyone who cares). What’s important is the idea: decentre gets your work read, and gets it read in proportion to how much people like it. If you find that idea as thrilling as me, please take the time to read the FAQ and call for participants for the upcoming test, and subscribe to the mailing list on the next page. And if you have a well thought out problem with this approach get in touch by email and tell me it, and I will try to solve it, or at least acknowledge it in the FAQ. This is an idea in the process of being finalised, and I welcome feedback of all sorts. Finally, if you like the idea, please tell your friends and otherwise promote it.