I've started to appreciate that publishing online isn't just an issue of picking sides within the industry. It's an opportunity to grow your readership on a grassroots level, to reach people who have never bought a small press book or a literary journal in their life. From undergraduate to graduate teaching assistant, GTA to professor, professor to chair of the visiting writer series—sometimes an opportunity snakes upward like Jack's vine, sprung loose from the tiniest bean.
Once you're open to publishing with online journals, you can learn promotional techniques from the journals themselves. Steven D. Schroeder, editor of Anti-, sees social networking as a natural extension of the Web's potential. "Since the journal is online, most of my marketing is online as well," he says. "I have a personal blog where I post frequent updates on the journal and a Facebook group of several hundred people, which I update whenever there's new content at Anti-."
A critical advantage on the Internet is your ability to foster seamless flow from site to site. Placing teasers for your Web site in the contributor-bio section of a print journal can look a little strange, but including a link in an online biographical note is a smart move that places the purchase of your book only a click away. And many writers use blogs to centralize links to online work—a kind of digital curriculum vitae.
The barriers are coming down. Selections from online magazines are now regularly included in the Best American Series of annual anthologies. Online editors can nominate their contributors for the Pushcart Prize. The National Endowment for the Arts permits up to half of one's qualifying publishing credits to be from online journals (though that stipulation has a "separate but equal" quality that, I hope, earmarks it as a transitional phase on the way toward unconditional acceptance).
“Once you're open to publishing with online journals, you can learn promotional techniques from the journals themselves.”