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NCLR’s Big Announcement for 2024

By Margaret Bauer, Editor

If you look on the spines of the first 5 issues of NCLR, you’ll see they are labeled 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, then 5. With the 1996 issue, Alex realized – accepted – NCLR would be an annual. Curating, editing, and designing the print issues simply takes a year to complete.  

In 2012, however, our twenty-first year in print, we added NCLR Online, after several issues had exceeded 200 pages, some by a lot (the 2009 issue is 260 pages). Alex had been right: NCLR needed to be biannual. But our budget could not handle another print issue, and in any case, by this time, we were seeing more digital publications and recognized the web could broaden our audience.  

We elected to make these online issues open access and moved book reviews into them, along with literary news stories. After all, our mission does include promoting as well as preserving the state’s rich literary history. We would help writers promote their new books this way. The additional pages without the additional print and mailing costs also allowed us to accept more of our contests’ finalists for publication.

Soon, these online issues grew to be as lengthy as the print issue. 

Then in 2022, after twenty years in print and ten years of a single annual online issue, we added a second online issue, in part to accommodate our ambitious goal of releasing at least 52 book reviews a year on our vibrant new website.

Via the broad audience of our online issues, digitizing the print issues for library subscription services, and, of course, social media, word about NCLR is getting out. We are receiving more and more submissions of interviews and literary criticism. COVID isolation seemed to inspire an increase in submissions to the contests, which led us to want to increase the number of finalists we would publish.  

Therefore, after just two years of two annual online issues: **drumroll**  . . .  

I am proud (and a bit trepidatious) to announce that NCLR is becoming a quarterly – this year – 2024. Digital Editor Devra, Art Director Dana, and I have been talking about it since last summer, as I realized how much strong material is coming in. I didn’t want to turn down NCLR-appropriate content just because of space issues. And, as I worked with Assistant Editor Desiree’s students on designing over two dozen book reviews last fall, then pulled those together with the finalist poetry and creative nonfiction, plus other content, I realized I already had a hundred pages for the winter issue – with several pieces still out for design and more reviews coming in all the time. We would just have to add a spring issue. 

I remind you all that we have doubled our production workload within the time that we have added only one semi-permanent (grant-funding dependent), part-time staff member; that the majority of the editorial staff (including our new guest feature editors) volunteer their service on top of their own full workloads; that the student staff turns over regularly; that the editor and art director are also professors; and that there are still only twenty-four hours in a day. All of which is to say that we still need to expand NCLR’s permanent staff, at least by a full-time managing editor to share the thus far editor-only familiarity with the day-to-day production tasks. Such positions are not unusual for literary magazines and scholarly journals. Southern Cultures comes to mind: published within the North Carolina state university system, as we are, it started a year after our first issue appeared but with staffing and funding that allowed it to begin as a quarterly. We’ve often produced as many pages of content in a year as this kindred publication. Imagine what we could do with the same level of financial support.  

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m asking for your help in demonstrating to our sources of funding the value NCLR holds for you:  

ECU’s East magazine celebrates NCLR‘s 25 anniversary in 2016; NCLR Art Director Dana Ezzell Lovelace (left) with Bauer and then Fiction Editor Liza Wieland (now retired)

Subscribe: which allows you to enter NCLR’s creative writing contests and shows our funders that people are reading our pages. Encourage others to subscribe. Ask your local independent bookstore to add NCLR to their shelves. 

Click on the links to the Friday from the Archives content Devra posts each week: reading our digital content through Proquest, your library, etc. does add up and is applied to our printing and mailing costs at UNC Press. 

Purchase back issues, which also helps pay our UNC Press invoice if you buy through them and to access our full ECU budget if you buy through our ECU store. Does your local or school library have a complete set? Selling just 4 complete sets of NCLR through UStore before the end of the fiscal year would release the rest of the part of our annual budget that is contingent upon sales—not to mention that it would provide your community or school with this important research resource.  

Donate whatever amount you can afford. Just $25 allows us to pay an honorarium for a semifinalist’s poem, $50 for a finalist’s poem, story, or essay. Our annual large gifts from NCLR friends and foundations supplement our operational budget, keeping us in the black even as we’ve expanded production over the past decade-plus.  

We also welcome book review volunteers and are considering guest feature editors/topics for future years. And of course, if you are a North Carolina writer (or writing about a North Carolina writer), submit. 

Thank you for your helping us preserve and promote North Carolina’s rich literary culture.