||A message for subscribers
Some of you may be wondering what's going on at To-Do List, and where the next issue is (#4). Our last issue was #3 (the green self-loathing issue). You are right: There has been a lag between this issue and future ones. Basically, an independent magazine such as ours can be a tough nut to crack in terms of funding, and we are trying to find innovative ways to fund the publication of the magazine. I've decided the best way to spend the next few months is to concentrate on a book that I am writing for Harper Collins. The book is about quirkyalones, a concept that came out of To-Do List. I am hopeful that the buzz created by the book will generate publicity and lead to interest from funders. I want to ask for your patience as we go through this transitional time. I've written a bit more about this on a post below. Please scroll down for more about the situation here.
In the meantime we will be updating our website later this summer to add a "list of the week" section and some other web-only content. Please check back with us to see these lists, and if you would like to send yours in for consideration, you can send your list to the attention of Jessica Longo, To-Do List, PO 40128, SF, CA 94140.
Thanks so much for your early support. I will be keeping subscribers posted in terms of new developments.
All the best,
International Quirkyalone Day, February 14
In Your Local Bookstore
To-Do List has been recognized for general excellence with an Utne Reader Alternative Press Award, Readers Choice for Best New Magazine, 2000. Weve also gotten a host of media attention, including national recognition on NPRs All Things Considered, and in a BBC documentary, Foxnews.com, San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Chicago Tribune, Writers Digest, and more.
To-Do List has all the appearance of success.
But there is a problem that I can no longer ignore. The issue of money.
The revenue we bring in from subscribers, ads, newsstand distribution, and small donations is good; it has barely covered the costs of publishing issues #2 and #3 (I saved up for #1). Postage costs have gone up and production for small runs is expensive. After we publish each issue, our bank account is empty, and needless to say, theres no money to pay me or the other professional designers and editors who work with me. My to-do list for publishing this magazine is miles long. Working with writers, soliciting funds, dealing with distribution, circulation, a website, and subscribers all takes time; there arent enough hours in the day to publish a magazine and support myself.
(I work days as a proofreader and weekends and evenings on this magazine.)
We toil and receive such acclaim. But we cant continue to work this way. I cant continue to run To-Do List this way.
To-Do List needs your help. We need resources.*
Poetry magazine famously received a donation of $100 million this past year. When I read about this vast sum, I wondered, what about a donation one percent that size for a promising, youthful, smart magazine like To-Do List ? Just $1 million would be a miracle. $500,000 would be great. $100,000 for the next year would be terrific.
A major donation (which, by the way, would be tax-deductible) would allow us to make an investment in the long-term growth of the magazine by compensating staff. For the first time in three years, this would include paying a part-time fundraiser; part-time ad sales person; designer; and myself as the publisher, so I can focus on editorial, advertising, and development. The next year would bring an intense focus on increasing circulation and building a greater stream of revenue.
A gift would make it possible for To-Do List to keep growing and provide you with more introspective essays, more fascinating lists, and more unpredictable original features. In an age when many nonfiction magazines such as The New Yorker and Harpers are inaccessible to emerging writers, To-Do List is a venue for talented voices like Raj Jayadev and Jenny Bitner, whose work has been reprinted in magazines with larger circulations.
Four donations of $25,000 each would make it possible to make a real go of it building this magazine as an alternative on the newsstands. Two donations of $50,000 would work. One lump sum of $100,000 could help make magazine history.
To-Do List is a fiscally sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.
Another possibility is finding someone to come on board as To-Do Lists publisher. Working in close collaboration, the publisher and I would define the magazines future, business strategy, look, and voice. If serious investors of over $100,000 want to get more involved, I am open to a discussion.
These are just a few ideas. Im very open to talking about creative
ways to fund To-Do List. If you are interested in helping, please
contact me at [email protected] for budgetary information and
If you are a subscriber waiting for issue number four, I apologize for the delay and ask for your patience. The sad fact (sad because there is nothing I would rather do than work on our next issue, other than lie on a beach in Maui) is that I cannot produce another issue without knowing there is a financial light at the end of the tunnel. Im doing everything I can to fundraise to make future issues a reality.
In a New York Times Book Review article, Judith Shulevitz wrote,
It should come as no surprise that at any given moment, much of
the innovation in journalism bubbles up from little magazines staffed
and edited largely by people who are just starting out. She was
writing Lingua Franca, a must-read magazine about intellectual
life that won multiple National Magazine Awards and became extinct last
Please dont let this to happen to To-Do List.**
If you can help, or know someone who can, please get in touch with me
at [email protected] I look forward to talking with you.
* You may be wondering how other magazines do it. Heres a brief explanation. Commercial publications such as Vanity Fair or Marie Claire get the vast majority of their revenue from advertising. We solicit ads, but businesses will not pay equivalent amounts to advertise in a relatively small-circulation magazine. Some independent magazines are funded in part by grants. But the few grants that exist for independent media are dedicated to cause-based periodicals. Ironically, and unfortunately, there are few foundations that fund a magazine with broad appeal.
To-Do List in the News
"Do-It-Yourself Literature" To-Do List and Watchword Press move in together.
"What's A Quirky Writer to Do? Start Own Magazine" An interview with the publisher in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Examiner Story "Essay on the Joys of Flying Solo Launches New Zine"
To-Do List's publisher talks about the challenges of independent publishing.
A To-Do List staffer announces the release of the second issue of her zine
Before the Mortgage began after Rachel and Christina quit their
jobs in New York and returned to their hometowns in an effort to figure
out the post-college, school-to-work transition, and continues as they
think about how they might fit into the "real world." BTM's
anecdotal opinions fit into three categories: Part of the Problem, Part
of the Solution, and On the Fence. Send two dollars to: Christina Amini,
PO Box 68, Ross, CA 94957 for a good read.