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Publishing Projects: Producing a newsletter during a pandemic. An interview with Rory McNeill

This year we’ve seen a rise in independent projects as hopefuls found themselves with more time and less job opportunities. Today we talk to Rory, founder of one such project. The Publishing Planet is a monthly newsletter exploring a range of weird and wonderful genres: SFF (Science Fiction and Fantasy), Climate Fiction, Speculative Fiction and worldly (or otherworldly) stories. The Publishing Planet aims to support independent publishers through special features and interviews and welcomes contributions from publishing hopefuls, writers, readers and bloggers.

Hugely inspired by the likes of The Publishing Post and The Indie Insider, Rory realised that there’s a demand for publishing newsletters:

“I wanted desperately to be involved and have long felt an impulse to write about these genres, but it has only recently become clear to me what form this would take. My lecturers often advised students to write the book (or in this case publication) that they would love to read, so that’s what this is.”

Like many, Rory has faced several job rejections this year with the overriding feedback being lack of experience, “I saw this as an opportunity to get some quality editorial experience and be actively in tune with the industry. If I can offer the same for others, then brilliant.” Working with a handful of contributors, the first issue launched last month, and Rory describes the amazing welcome he received from the online publishing community, “even publishers got in touch, which blew me away.” Rory admits, though, that he’s still figuring a lot of it out:

“I initially set up The Planet without a website because I resent website-building. I soon realised that it would be beneficial to publish content from the newsletter (and beyond) onto a website, so I caved in and made one. I’m a fan of illustration and graphic design alongside my writing, so I’ve been able to do the branding myself so far.”

As we’ve seen, COVID has had a huge impact on the publishing industry this year, although not all for the worse. We’ve seen the industry become more accessible through remote working and for Rory and his team, the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise, “were it not for lockdowns, I might not have thought I’d have time for this.” Projects such as The Publishing Planet have been a lifeline to many hopefuls this year. With job opportunities in high demand, we’ve seen a spike in book bloggers and Instagram accounts from hopefuls looking to utilise their time and gain experience which Rory is all too happy to accommodate, “In terms of assembling a team, the response has been amazing, possibly because there are so few opportunities currently. It strikes me that many of these contributors are well-established “bookstagrammers” or bloggers already, so they really know how this stuff works.”

With the first issue successfully launched and the magazine’s spot in the industry firmly secured, Rory is now looking to the future:

“I hope to build a strong team of contributors, who may offer their skills as regularly or irregularly as they please. I’d love The Planet to find its audience and hit 1000 subscribers and 1000 Twitter followers. I’m really proud of our first issue, but I’m also keen now to explore more of a distinct identity. I’m hoping to get hold of advanced copies of great books regularly for our reviews and in six months, I’d love for The Planet to be widely known, read and enjoyed by a solid base with six quality newsletters under our belt and more on the horizon.”

Independent projects are the latest trend within the publishing industry and whatever the next year holds, one thing is for certain, they’re here to stay. A huge thank you to Rory for speaking to us. You can subscribe to The Publishing Planet on their website and find them on Twitter @publish_planet or Instagram @thepublishingplanet.



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