Editor’s Note: This is a new monthly column by two Hoboken residents who are starting a small business. To comment, go to hudsonreporter.com or email email@example.com and put “Hoboken column” in the subject head.
I have an obsession with reading. Like, a sick obsession. Five months ago, I took 853 books from Random House – yes I kept count, and yes it was with the company’s blessing – but I still find myself browsing every bookstore I pass and buying books from online retailers.
This summer I decided to put my obsession to good use. I figured if I liked reading so much, I might as well make something out of it. So I joined forces with my friend, Bethany, and we created FictionBrigade, an online literary magazine that publishes flash fiction.
It started over burgers. Bethany and I were getting dinner, talking about our summer plans.
“Here, have some more books,” I said, handing her a bag full of 15 of my latest treasures taken from Random House.
She threw the bag on top of her own bag of books she had taken from her work. “Great, I’ll add it to my list to read.”
And then I realized Bethany and I were true kindred spirits. “Want to start a literary magazine?”
“Definitely,” she said, flipping through one of her paperbacks.
Starting a new venture these days is pretty exciting. In the beginning it’s cheap, it’s fast to set up, and with the right tools – social media – it’s easy to disseminate. True, in order to be a success, it takes a lot of work and eventually a lot of money. But the point is anyone can create anything.
According to what my real estate agent told me before I moved here, Hoboken is full of mostly young professionals who, I’m guessing, are motivated and ambitious. Most of us are between 18 and 34, so I know this is a tech-savvy city. Fortunately for us, we live in a digital age, which means everything is constantly changing and if you know even a little HTML, you’re pretty much good to go.
I worked for a newspaper in college. My second year I was promoted to be the layout editor, and during my first week, the senior editors spent all their time filling me in on their policies: which fonts to use, which thickness of lines to use, where to place images, etc. When I asked why there were so many strict rules, the answer I got was, “This is the way it’s always been done.”
But now it seems that the world is all about accepting change. I work in the publishing industry, where recent technological developments have turned the whole business upside-down. I’m getting my masters at NYU, and all I hear from my teachers is, “Employers want to know what you create” or “You will be inventing your jobs.”
Right now FictionBrigade’s office consists of two laptops and whichever table is open at the nearest coffee shop. We don’t make any money yet, though we have big plans for the future and are hopeful.
Here’s what’s happened since we officially launched in May:
• Purchased the domain name fictionbrigade.com and set up our website
• Created a logo and made business cards
• Relentlessly used email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all contacts to promote FictionBrigade
• Met with lawyers to draw up contracts for writers and artists
• Accepted, rejected (easier said than done), and edited stories for our first issue
• Designed a pdf version of Issue No. 1 to email to interested readers
• Worked with an artist to redo our logo
• Shamelessly self-promoted at the Brooklyn Books Festival in mid-September
• Added an “events” page and “survey” page as a way to entice more visitors to our site and get feedback for future advertising opportunities
• Submitted and was accepted to Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects
• Started accepting submissions for a second issue and set up a writing contest
So we’ve been pretty busy. But, with any luck and more shameless self-promotion, we’ll soon have money so we can start paying back some of the bills we’ve already accumulated (mostly lawyer and website-related).
The idea for this column came from The MouseDriver Chronicles, a book based on regular newsletters two entrepreneurs sent out to friends and families in the late ’90s and early 2000s about their start-up company. FictionBrigade is still very much in the early stages, and I think it’d be an interesting experiment to share all our obstacles, successes, frustrations, and everything else that goes with being an entrepreneur.
A professor once said that all entrepreneurs sleep like a baby: They wake up every two hours crying.
Since sharing is caring, we’d like to hear about any other entrepreneurs out there—all your experiences, issues, and lack of sleep. Leave a comment on this column at hudsonreporter.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. (put “Hoboken column” in the subject head), or contact us at email@example.com or via our website at fictionbrigade.com.