SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Leilanie Stewart: Over the past few years many magazines have become defunct for one reason or another. Print magazines rely on reader subscriptions, and with ever increasing postage costs, many markets can’t survive. As a writer and poet myself, I began to get depressed at seeing many of my favourite magazines folding; often ones that had given me my early breaks into the publishing world, such as Weyfarers and Decanto. I then began to look into online magazines. Surely a website would not only reach many thousands of readers, as opposed to a small print-run circulation of, say, a hundred, but would be sustainable without the need for printing and postage costs – right? In many cases, I found this to be an accurate assumption. But there were others that, once the respective Ezine websites had ‘expired’, would be lost in the void of cyberspace – and my published work with them. I began to realise that it was just as likely for an Ezine to be cast into online oblivion as it was for a paper magazine to be cast into print purgatory.
I decided that I needed to bridge the gap. Bindweed Magazine aims to showcase quality writing and archive it on the webzine permanently, offer contributors a free pdf copy of the issue their work appears in and give them the option to buy a print on demand copy. This is all part of a non-profit, labour of love venture that I set up after hearing from fellow writers who love the accessibility of Ezines, but miss having a physical book to read from at open mic nights. If my work-life balance gets hectic (as can happen from time to time!) the website will remain alive and the authors’ work will keep blooming on Bindweed.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
1. Well written work. I’ve had to turn away work where I love the ideas, but the writing just needs a bit more polish to really make the piece shine. There are so many talented writers out there, and it could be the most amazing and important topic that the world needs to hear about, but sometimes an editor has to make difficult decisions. It makes me sad. It really does!
2. Show passion about the topic. I want the writer to make me feel as much excitement for their work as if I had written it myself. I might not know anything about the topic at all, so I want to feel what they feel about it.
3. Keep momentum. For both poetry and fiction, I like a nice payoff at the end. Reward me as a reader by tying up the theme with a lovely big bow to finish. The piece should make sense. Unless it’s deliberately being ambiguous, I want to know exactly what is going on. I’m not good at being frustrated – and even worse at being lost!
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
LS: When people don’t read the guidelines and send me attachments. I’ll only take attachments for published books, so that I can promote excerpts. The guidelines for this are on the website at: https://bindweedmagazine.wordpress.com/free-promotion-for-indie-writers/. For normal magazine submissions, Bindweed accepts body of the email only. This is mainly for formatting reasons – transfer from attached documents to the website can make for garbled layouts. Garbled layouts mean unhappy contributors and an irate editor. So it’s best for all in the body of the email.
I’m not fussy about people addressing me as ‘Dear Editor’, although, using ‘Dear Leilanie’ shows me that they’ve read Bindweed. If a writer wants to be published in a magazine, doing their homework is always best practise, and makes a better impression on editors.
SQF: Will you publish a story previously posted on an author’s website/blog?
LS: At the moment, I’d say no. Bindweed is a new venture, having first bloomed in April 2016, so I wouldn’t rule out anything entirely until it’s tried-and-tested. The reason why I’m inclined to say no is that it seems counterintuitive to me to republish work on an Ezine that was self-published on a personal website in the first place. The purpose of an Ezine is to maximise readership worldwide. If an author’s work is already on their own blog, or other online platforms then it can be accessed by a quick search for that author’s name.
However, if a writer sent me a submission and explained that it had been previously published in a print magazine with a finite print run, so long as they cited the magazine name and issue, I might consider it. Print zines usually allow work to be republished elsewhere after a couple of years. This makes more sense to me, as the author would be seeking republication to reach a wider audience.
SQF: If Bindweed had a theme song, what would it be and why?
LS: Filthy/ Gorgeous by the Scissor Sisters. Convolvulus Arvensis (Field Bindweed) flowers are stunningly beautiful. But they’re considered a toxic nuisance by gardeners, killing off the immaculately pruned flowers in parks and gardens. Bindweed Magazine contributors are not afraid to be labelled a ‘weed’, as they know their writing is just as gorgeous as it is filthy, growing in the compost of life!
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
LS: Question: Do you publish work from anywhere and on any topic?
Answer: Yes and yes. Even though I’m currently living in London, Bindweed is a global creeping plant and can take root wherever there are nutrients to feed it. Writers can submit from all over. When the print volume of issue 1 is published, it’ll be available to buy in pounds, dollars…whichever currency the buyer wants. As for topics, there are no themes. So long as the work is blooming good, it’ll flower on the Bindweed homepage and be included in the print anthology.
Thank you, Leilanie. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.