By Allison Xu and Jessica Wang
Literary magazines are a great avenue to get your writing published and reach more readers. But have you ever thought about creating one yourself? It requires time, effort, and teamwork, but it certainly is a rewarding experience. Here’s what Jessica Wang, founder of Ice Lolly Review, has to say about starting your own literary magazine.
Tell us about the literary magazine “Ice Lolly Review” and how you came up with the idea of starting this online magazine.
I started “Ice Lolly Review” after discovering the literary world for teen writers. I’m the only editor of my school’s literary magazine and I wanted to have my work published in a magazine outside of my school. However, there were only a certain number of youth literary magazines out there. Plus different magazines had different response times, acceptance rates, and wait times and that made submitting a little confusing for tenth grade me.
I created Ice Lolly Review because I wanted to provide a platform for young writers with relatively easy submission guidelines. We accept previously published work, respond to all submissions, and have a two-week response rate. When we first started we had a three-day response time, but as we received more submissions during each new submission period our response rate lengthened. The name “Ice Lolly Review” comes from our pastel and pink aesthetic and the sweet and sour writing we look for.
What was the procedure of creating an online literary magazine? How did you find your collaborators?
Honestly, I don’t think there’s really a procedure for creating an online literary magazine. I just tried things and if it didn’t work out I tried something new. But no matter what happened I tried to keep my spirits up and have a positive attitude. It was really difficult when I first started the magazine because I remember refreshing the magazine’s email and seeing the same blank inbox each time. But I’m really glad I stuck through it and continued to post on Instagram and spread the word until the magazine started receiving more submissions.
I started the magazine’s team by creating a google form and asking some basic questions like Do you have prior editing experience? and Why do you want to join Ice Lolly Review’s team? and then sorting/reading through the responses.
How did you get people to notice your magazine and submit their work to it?
I think the youth literary world really helped Ice Lolly Review. The magazine has a Twitter (@icelollyreview) and Instagram (@icelollyreview) and both literary communities are very kind and uplifting. On Twitter, there are Follow Fridays and Support Saturdays where literary magazines and presses tweet about each other and bring exposure to new literary magazines and writing opportunities. On Instagram, there are youth organizations and literary magazines that exchange shout out for shout-outs. I believe it’s because of the support and kindness I found in the online literary world.
I still remember Cathartic Literary Review writing me a lovely, encouraging message and We Got Story shouting Ice Lolly Review out when I first started the magazine in August/September 2020. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other literary magazines for advice and make sure to utilize hashtags!
What are some challenges you’ve faced during your management of the magazine?
The biggest challenge I faced was the time commitment. When running a magazine there’s a lot of intricacies and details that you need to take care of. For example, I need to maintain the mobile and desktop website, set new submission dates, respond to questions, design and format issues, select artwork for covers, brainstorm new projects while plotting out current ones, keep track of submissions, etc.
Another challenge I faced was funding the magazine. Using Canva Pro, maintaining a website domain, and running projects cost money. I don’t want to ask for donations from Ice Lolly Review’s audience unless I absolutely need to. So far I’ve been running the magazine out of my own pocket with the exception of the Hope During the Pandemic Project. I genuinely enjoy the work I put into the magazine and I hope when I attend college I can apply for grants/funding to keep Ice Lolly Review running for years to come!
What advice/suggestions can you give to other high schoolers who are interested in starting their own online literary magazine?
If you’re looking to start your own magazine I would suggest taking an editing position first. Ask to become an editor in your own high school and if there isn’t a literary magazine in your school try to talk to the head of the English Department to see how to start one. There are also youth literary magazines out there that are looking for editors and writers for their team. Polyphony Lit, Seaglass Lit, and TYWI are great organizations that are looking for staff members. Try out editing and decide if you like it before starting a literary magazine.
Starting a literary magazine is a big responsibility and there’s a lot of learning through experience. If anyone has any questions about magazines accepting editorial positions or any questions about starting your own literary magazine you can always email me at jessjellybeans333@gmail.
Feel free to submit any of your writing to Ice Lolly Review. Here is more information about submissions.