Let’s be clear at the outset about the purpose of The Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine.
It exists as a communication channel for you, the reader, who is probably also a writer.
The idea is to create a whole new venue for you to display your own work, to find out what is available from others, to become enlightened about the field of fiction and writing, and to be entertained by your peers. With this in mind, it contains an immense variety of material from all over the world, dealing with a huge range of topics, and includes in-depth studies of particular areas, insights, tips, links to useful places, feedback from people across the planet, and new and classic fiction for your enjoyment.
As a writer, you have certain needs, some of which you might be unaware of, and the magazine was created to fulfil many of those needs, even some you didn’t know you had.
Its secondary purpose was and is to create money for me as a publisher, but I’m not and never have been seeking to make a fortune from it or from anything else that Clarendon House Publications does. I need enough to be able to continue doing what I’m doing, to pay my bills and to support my family. If I wanted vast wealth, I’m in the wrong game, believe me. And part of that money is for you - I want the magazine to generate enough funds to be able to pay its contributors well for their accepted work.
Having established that, let’s take a look at what has happened since the magazine was released a week ago, and what that means for the future.
The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, both on and off social media, now has a total of about 4,000 members. Approximately 1% of those members have now subscribed to the monthly magazine, while several others have purchased individual copies of the first issue.
In raw marketing terms, especially considering that the thing has only been available for seven days, a 1% return, given the amount of promotion done, would be considered acceptable.
However, as I have said in blog articles, in books and elsewhere (and will say again and again because it’s true), conventional marketing suggests that success in marketing terms is all about numbers, and this is not actually the case.
Fundamental success in marketing is not about numbers, it’s about affinity.
What does that mean?
It means that, while I never intended to be rich in money terms as a result of producing this magazine, I always wanted to be rich in terms of friends, supporters, authentic contacts and relationships. I wanted to produce that wealth by doing good, fulfilling needs and producing value. And that kind of wealth has already materialised. The rave feedback, the generous comments, the outspoken and emotional support have been plain to see.
I must have put close to 200 hours of work into that first issue, spread over about three months. That means that I have been working at a rate of approximately £4.00 an hour, which is about half the minimum wage here in the UK. When you look at it like that, it seems brutal - but I don’t look at it like that, and I don’t think anyone else should either. I spent 200 hours labouring on something I love; the fact that it made any kind of money at all is a bonus.
Obviously, it would be great if the bonus was high enough to sustain the effort - and that is the name of the secondary game. To get the bonus high enough to sustain the effort needs the number of subscribers to grow to approximately 1,000. That would produce enough money for me to pay my bills, support my family, and continue to produce the magazine - which by then would have become a self-sustaining entity - while also generously rewarding contributors with decent cash payments for their work.
So what happens next?
If I based my decisions purely on the commercial aspect of what I was doing, I would probably have given up a long time ago. Fortunately for us all, I base my decisions on the needs of others, and this magazine, as well as the other things that Clarendon House Publications does, is something that is needed. The only question is ‘How much need has to be fulfilled to produce enough “bonus” in money terms for the whole thing to be sustained?’
What happens next, then, is we have to find more subscribers.
Conventional marketing states that the thing to do is to go for numbers: plaster ads all over the place, send out bulk emails, shout from the rooftops. But what actually works is almost the complete opposite, and this is where I need your help.
What works is the quiet, one-to-one or small group conversation in which the merits of something are discussed and its benefits pointed out in such a way that the other people in the conversation pay attention and possibly then take action.
If each and every subscriber were to contact ONE other person whose interests were so aligned with their own and with the magazine, and talk about the magazine - not in a ‘salesy’ way, just pointing out various things to them happily and with a little bit of excitement - and that person then decided to subscribe to see what all the fuss was about, and then repeated the same action with one of their friends, subscriptions would grow steadily over the next few months. More importantly, affinity would grow, and affinity is the foundation of many wonderful things.
So how can you help? Have a think - whom do you know who would love the magazine? Talk to them about it. Don’t try to sell them it, just talk to them, perhaps pointing out a few benefits.
What are the main benefits from the magazine?
Well, the whole thing is packed with entertainment, enlightenment and education. You have author Maria Zach talking about how to get started on a story, author Susannah J. Bell outlining how to plan a story, and editing expert Dennis Doty pointing out how to finish a work so that it doesn’t get rejected; then you’ve got prolific short story writer Steve Carr giving you precise data about how to submit a piece of work.
You’ve got retired editor Samantha Hamilton tackling the finer points of using commas; author Warren Alexander explaining how to approach humour; author Gary Bonn giving unique insights into character development; author Emma Prior relating her experiences at a writers’ conference; and me with some hot tips about marketing.
You’ve got poetry analysis, story analysis, reviews, a whole section giving direct links to places to submit work, and much more.
You’ve got gorgeous artwork plus a whole stream of fiction from well-known names to entertain you while you learn all about the above. You’ve even got a Marvel Comics style adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which some have said has communicated the play in a better way than anything they have ever seen before.
That, plus Tolkien, free gifts, special offers and more.
All for the ridiculously low price of £2.00 a month - a price made even more ridiculous by a subscription offer of £20.00 for 12 issues.
Maybe that sounds like a sales spiel, but I’m just summing up what’s in there. (Oh, and there’s an article by Steve Carr called ‘The Summing Up’ in which he opens up about his life and career.)
‘Of course, the first issue had all the good stuff,’ some cynics may say. ‘The rest of the year won’t be as good.’ This is where I sometimes wish people could see into my head directly. The April issue is already taking shape and it’s full of glorious things, some of which have already been hinted at, and some total surprises. The first issue was packed with value, yes, but it had to be completed and published at some point, leaving tremendous treasures which have not yet seen the light of day. Each month will be a glimpse of more and more riches for writers, all wrapped up in beautiful packaging intended to delight the eye and the heart.
Stable and sustainable growth comes with careful nurturing and preparation. If you’d like to help, simply talking with like-minded people about what is available will do the trick. Our collective wealth will continue to expand - maybe not the kind of wealth that fills bank accounts, but the kind of abundance which gives life meaning and value.
And a little bit of cash in the bank will follow too, for me and you.
Please spread the word and email me if you have any questions: