The Paperbook Collective
Comments 27

Team with the Theme.

After the dust had settled on Issue One of The Paperbook Collective, several people told me that it would be a pretty difficult task to keep up the momentum and quality each month.

This is so true.

I think it is absolutely essential that the magazine keeps moving forward, rather than stagnating, so I have been brainstorming ways of achieving this.

The idea that I landed upon today was prompted by the number of emails and comments I get from people who are not quite sure what to submit. They like the concept, they like the magazine, but deciding what to contribute is a bit overwhelming. I totally get that. Each month, it is difficult for me to decide what to put in: something original, something unique, something a little different to the month before.

So I thought, why don’t we narrow it down a bit?

Why don’t we have a theme each month?

I am really interested to know what you all think of this, because obviously it is you who decide whether or not to bother clicking on that magazine link. Obviously, The Paperbook Collective being what it is, a theme could be interpreted in literally thousands of different ways. Everyone is going to translate the theme in their own way, but the initial prompt might be there.

Themes could be anything from the ‘me’ theme, the ‘big’ theme, the ‘green’ theme, the ‘technology’ theme, the ‘love’ theme, to the ‘young’ theme, the ‘fantasy’ theme…so on, so forth. These aren’t amazing but you get where I am going with this.

For anyone who is worried that this will narrow down the scope of their submissions, please know that when I say it can be interpreted in any way, I really mean ANY WAY, limited only by your imagination.

This is just an idea, so I would really appreciate your opinion in the comments.

Do you like this idea?

Does it freak you out?

Do you have any awesome suggestions for themes?

I’m thinking that they should really only be one word sort of concepts, just to allow for a multitude of interpretations and ideas.

Over to you, Paperbook people.

You take the reins from here.

P.S. I have had some awesome submissions over the past few days for Issue Four, but there is plenty of room for your work. So finish it off and get it in. Yes, that means you.





  1. kingmidget says

    Hmmm … Having a theme to me would lead to fewer submissions. While you say the theme would be interpreted broadly, people looking at the theme for each month may not be able to dive into the theme quickly enough to produce something worthy of submission. There’s something to be said for the randomness of the magazine and the open submission format that invites anything and everything.

  2. kingmidget says

    One suggestion … accepting longer pieces. I rarely write things as short as what you accept. Obviously, you would still need a pretty strict word limit … no novellas But accepting short stories…

    • Thanks for your suggestions kingmidget! I’m definitely taking them on board. What do you suggest the upper word limit to be? I’ll happily extend it, the 800 word limit seemed to work as it comfortably fills two pages with narrow margins. But I suppose there is no reason why a piece couldn’t run to three or four pages…

  3. I think this is a great idea. I would probably find it easier to think of something to contribute if I had a theme in mind. Off the top of my head I like the idea of Dreams, Innovation and The Night Sky as themes.

  4. What kingmidget said about longer pieces. Personally I’ve never liked the idea of themes, even if they can be interpreted any way. I’ll end up never submitting cause I’ll convince myself it doesn’t fit the theme, but maybe that’s just me…

    My submission for November will be with you tomorrow.

    • Oh yay! Very excited to receive your submission. It is really interesting getting everyone’s ideas on this theme issue!

  5. Personally, I don’t think you should only do themed works. I think if the opportunity arises, themes like holiday themed works or seasonal themed works would be a great idea. However, I think that only doing themed issues would make less people submit works because it doesn’t fit their niche.

  6. I like the theme idea. They can be broad enough to capture many different mediums and ideas but focused enough to create a strong issue. If you were able to post a list of the upcoming three themes then contributors could plan ahead and polish each piece accordingly.

  7. Themes like a good idea. Would make people focus and produce something just for you rather than submit any old thing in the hope it will be published. It would be interesting to see all the different ways a chosen theme could be interpreted. As for word counts – think you should have an upper limit – it’s a great discipline to really hone your writing skill to let a little say a lot.

  8. I’m in favor of themes to help focus the search for a good fit. Doesn’t seem too limiting to me, since presumably the themes could range rather widely over time; if a writer hesitated to submit something one time because she/he didn’t feel the theme suited, there’d likely be just the right theme soon enough. That’s about as inclusive as it gets, but still offers a little specificity for guidance.

  9. I like the theme idea. As long as the interpretation is broad I can’t see why a writer would be scared off. I like themes like; Sporting, In Love, Mad About You, The Dream, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Fastest, Temporary, Permanent (duh), My Way, Me and You, The Holiday, Killer Story, and Revolution.

  10. Pingback: A Tentative Theme…And Other Announcements. | The Paperbook Blog.

  11. havelipswillsmile says

    What about a themed section of the publication? This wouldn’t limit the whole thing to one theme but just one part of it. Best of both worlds – helps those who need some prompting on what to submit and also allows those who don’t fit the theme to still be published.

  12. i think the idea of a theme can be good…it can help spark ppl’s creativity in a direction they had never thought of. it can also lend it’s hand to getting more creative in your work. on the other hand it can be limiting for some ppl. maybe you should try it out for a bit and see how it works…

  13. I am not fond of the themes, even tho they can be inspirational and lead to marvellous results, it makes it harder for me, because it usualy ends up in my work not being understood. It is like, when they say “Red” to me and you – there is endless array of possibilities a writer or a photographer can interpret that and some of it might be too hard to fit into the actual theme so it is understandable by the vast majority of the audience.
    Oh, and I echo the “allow longer pieces”! 😀
    I know I am a bit late for the party, just wanted to add my thoughts anyways 🙂

    • Thanks Oloriel! I’ll see how next month’s goes and take it from there. I’ll still have plenty of ‘unthemed’ issues so I really hope this won’t put you off submitting!! Your gorgeous poetry is always welcome in the magazine 🙂

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