Published in the Spring 2007 issue • Letter from the editors
Letter from the Editors
People always ask us for advice on starting a magazine. Usually, they want tips on how to hook up with a distributor, find an affordable printer or recruit writers and artists. As far as we’re concerned, those are the easy parts. Since it’s our last issue as co-editors of Shameless, we’d like to share some of the other lessons we’ve learned along the way—lessons we’re pretty sure will stick with us for life.
“Let’s do lunch” can be the sweetest phrase in the universe. Especially when it comes from one of your feminist heroes. We’ll never forget the time Michele Landsberg took us out for sushi and gave us a pep talk, back when Shameless was still just an idea.
Sometimes, you’ve got to be sneaky. From staging an unauthorized photo shoot in a men’s bathroom to photocopying party flyers at our day jobs, being indie publishers has taught us to be stealthy. We suspect this will serve us well in our new careers as cat burglars.
Always have tissues handy. You’d be surprised by how many things can make you cry when you’re an editor of a small magazine—whether it’s a computer crash that corrupts the file you’ve been working on for the past 12 hours straight, or a high-school teacher telling you Shameless is the only thing the girls in her class will read. Embrace the tears! (Or, at the very least, be ready for them.)
Being in the public eye is embarrassing, but worth it. Getting free publicity for the magazine often put us outside of our comfort zones. When comedian Mary Walsh asked us to fly to Halifax to appear on a panel with sexperts Sue Johanson and Dan Savage, we hopped on a plane and tried to psych ourselves into believing we could hold our own with the pros. When an alt-weekly offered to feature one of us in its style section, Melinda lost the coin toss and was sent to model on behalf of our feminist magazine. (She’s still grumbling about that one.) We’ve allowed TV cameras into our homes and have woken up at 5 a.m. for radio interviews, sometimes knowing that only one or two people would be listening.
When in doubt, put on a rock show. Hosting all-ages shows has been a fun way to raise money, celebrate issue launches and hit the dance floor with our readers. We’ve collaborated with Ladyfest Ottawa and even had the chance to release a compilation CD (Good Grooming For Girls) of amazing girl bands, with Permafrost Records. If you can’t be a rock star, at least you can hang out with them!
The delivery truck will always be late. No matter how carefully you try to time the delivery of your magazines, the nice man who drives the truck will inevitably get stuck in traffic, get lost or stop for a sandwich. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and even control freaks like us need to go with the flow sometimes. Keep a book in your bag and you’ll be fine.
It’s better with a friend. Sharing editorial duties meant we always had someone to laugh with on the good days and commiserate with on the bad ones. Neither one of us was fond of group projects in school (perfectionists never are!), but Shameless taught us how rewarding collaboration can be when it’s with the right person.
Feminism is not dead. We never thought it was, but people keep asking. They ask if the world “needs” feminism anymore, and if young women really care. Working on Shameless has proven to us that young women in Canada are interested in a wide range of feminist issues (from pop-culture representations of women to equity in education, health and sexuality to poor working conditions). They are active in their communities and read Shameless to discover new ideas, get in touch with one another and know that they’re not alone in a world that can be pretty dismissive of feminism.
This has been one of the most important lessons of all, and the reason why we hope Shameless has a long and successful life as a grassroots, independent, feminist magazine. We are delighted to announce that Megan Griffith-Greene will be taking over as editor, starting with the next issue. Megan is a smart, energetic woman with experience as an activist and a journalist, who has worked at magazines large and small. She’s got big plans for Shameless and we think you’re going to love them.
We won’t be disappearing completely, though. We plan to work behind the scenes to raise money and help Shameless grow. It’s been an amazing three years and we’d like to thank you, dear reader, for your support and enthusiasm. We couldn’t have done it without you.
PS: If you’d like to keep in touch, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also say hello to Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to send letters for publication to email@example.com.