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So You Want to Start a Magazine
Here’s how—and why—four people did it.


Illustrations by Sam Kerr  

Jesse Pearson, 38, Manhattan
Apology
“I couldn’t do what I’m doing with Apology in a traditional magazine world—I had to go off on my own to do it. Apology isn’t really that concerned with current events or current artistic or literary releases. It’s—I’m trying to think of a less horrible word than evergreen. Before, I was an editor at Vice, and, yeah, there is a certain kind of cynicism that grows out of being in that world. Apology is about being expansive and curious in literature and art. Issue No. 1 was funded from my own savings and ads. Issue No. 2 was from the sales of the first issue and advertisers. I have had offers from investors, but none of them is the right one. One of my guiding principles is to not be afraid and be kind of weird.”


Rawan Hadid, 28, Manhattan
[wherever]
“I felt there was something missing from travel writing—it’s not just about hitting up the five top restaurants in London and getting the best croissants in Paris or whatever usually comes to mind when you’re looking at a glossy travel magazine. I was trying to think about travel a little bit more critically and reflect the experiences of different people. Of course, launching a new print magazine is a risky move, but plenty of people continue to do it. Honestly, it started as a bare-bones effort. I asked a few people I knew in ad sales (I had worked in the past as the communications director for another independent magazine called Kalimat) for advice, scoured other magazines to see who had print budgets and was a good fit, and set to work calling, e-mailing. I didn’t get to sleep much.”


Rosa Park, 29, Bristol, England
Cereal
“The magazine isn’t about cereal; it’s about travel and food and the lifestyle that goes with it. The name is an inside joke between my partner, Rich Stapleton, and me. We both love eating cereal—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!—and when we first met, we talked about our mutual memory of reading the back of cereal packets at breakfast. I grew up in Vancouver and Seoul. I moved to New York where I worked in the fashion-and-beauty-PR industry, which I did for about five years, and decided to leave to pursue a master’s in English literature at the University of Bristol, which is what brought me here. Being the editor of Cereal is my full-time job right now. We secured private funding for Cereal before we began work on the magazine, which is what’s currently taking care of our publishing costs.”


Sarah Nicole Prickett, 28, Brooklyn
Adult
“What we’ve made is not really pornographic. It’s erotic. It’s literary. Those two elements haven’t coexisted very well together in a long time. I am very restless. If I’m in too much of a literary milieu, I’ll totally freak out about how unsexy everyone is. But if I go to a fashion party, I’m like, ‘Can anyone here read?’ We’re not making money now; we have a digital strategy that will eventually make us money—I don’t want to retire rich from this, but I do want to pay my writers. For the first issue, some of my friends did stuff for me because they wanted to; some writers we paid. Noah Wunsch, our publisher, convinced a few chill marketing directors to take a chance on us. I don’t know how to relax. But I think it’s the same for everybody, right? Everyone is working too much and not enough. ”


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