Publishing is scary


A remarkable thing is happening when you read this (if you read it sometime around the week of Thanksgiving, 2018 that is. The initial micro-issue of Substrate Magazine is somewhere along the process of being printed and assembled. Granted, this is more remarkable for me more than anyone else, because magazines get printed all the time, but this is my first personal effort, and I would be lying if I didn't say I'm a bit freaked out about it.

There's the worry about whether I caught all the grammatical errors, and didn't use words inappropriately.

There's a small worry about whether my files were formatted correctly and get trimmed and bound the way they are supposed to go together.

There's the chance that the colors aren't quite up to my specifications because I didn't get a chance to do a press check, and I am also unsure about the paper quality.

I've worked with this printer many times in the past though, so things so go smoothly, as long as I didn't mess up on my end.

Those things are scary because if they copies of the magazine come back looking like trash, then that's a significant amount of money in the trash.

All that is a bit scary because everything is unknown until I have the first copy in my hand, but that isn't the real fear I'm feeling right now.

My true fear is that people will see the zine and not understand it. If they love it or hate it, then I know I've tapped into something important, but if they don't get it, then I've lost the fight.

Anytime anyone goes into a self-publishing project, it starts as a mix of disobedience, vanity, and impatience.

Self-publishing is disobedient because you throw up a middle finger as you push past the gatekeepers of the publishing establishment.

Self-publishing is vanity because you believe that your message is important enough to put into print, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Self-publishing is impatient because it means you don't have time to wait for a traditional publishing company to give you permission. Your message needs to get out into the world, and it needs to get out there today.

It takes an extreme amount of confidence and personal desire to publish your own magazine. If you put that work out into the world, but the world came back with a collective sigh of disinterest, that might be the most devastating thing ever. If people don't want to buy and read this magazine, not because they hate it, but because it just wasn't interesting enough to consider, then I might be crushed.

On the other hand, it could be a learning experience.

This particular issue is going to be much different than the next one. Issue v0.1 (my affectionate name for it) is only 16 pages and filled entirely by my own content. Aside from a couple of photos from Unsplash, this mag is 100% me.

The future issues will have my voice, and the pages will be designed by me, but there will be stories from other creative people. I've already started the planning for the next issue, and it has stories from artists, storytellers, photographers, illustrators, and a serial traveler. That's just for starters.

At this stage, I have no idea what that magazine will look like yet, but the main thread of the magazine is about following the creative journey of people from different concentrations. The journey might be short, from one specific event, or it can be the lessons of a life filled with creative work.

Even the pages of the magazine will go on their own creative journey, moving from minimalist and rigid in appearance, to wildly expressive and abstract. I tried to capture this in the pages of the micro-issue, but it will have a greater effect when the page count is higher.

It's Thanksgiving day when I write this, and the print shop is closed for the holiday, so no pages are being printed today. None the less, I'm thinking about those pages between bites of turkey and stuffing, both a little anxious about how the mag will look when it arrives, but also thankful that I have the ability and persistence to put my creative work out into the world.

Yes, I'm a little scared, but I'm going forward regardless.