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Literary Journals in Australia

Apr 18, 2024


Literary journals and magazines – and the small publishers and independent literary organisations that produce them – are key components of Australia’s literary landscape. They offer platforms for writers and creative workers to develop their skills, to encounter peers and audiences, and to build their careers. Through literary journals, audiences in Australia and around the world encounter new work, new ideas, new writers, and new forms of practice.   

Literary Journals in Australia provides insights into how literary journals function as organisations and investigates potential operational models, mechanisms and support structures that may enable sustainability and continued productivity in the coming decades.   

This work was conducted by Catriona Menzies-Pike from Western Sydney University and Samuel Ryan from the University of Tasmania, supported by funding from Creative Australia (previously known as Australia Council for the Arts).  

Key findings

  • Literary journals provide a platform for writers and offer opportunities for exposure to new audiences, income and professional development. Literary journals are spaces where writers can trial new ideas, approaches, and short-form methodologies.  
  • Many journals contribute to social change by undertaking work that challenges established viewpoints and providing a space for marginalised writers (e.g., First Nations writers, diasporic writers, queer and disabled writers) who may otherwise be excluded from participating in the literature sector. 
  • Literary journals play a role in building communities of writers and readers. Many journals run programs of events beyond publishing, such as writing groups, workshops, mentorships and prizes. Such events build cultural communities and connect writers to each other. 
  • Most Australian literary journals publish part of their program online, and several exist only in digital form. The move to digital publishing has largely been driven by media convergence and the increasing cost of print publishing. 
  • Despite its advantages, developing infrastructure for digital publication can be challenging to resource. It is expensive to develop digital infrastructure, and there is very limited public funding available to undertake this work. This is compounded by the fact that digital publication does not provide substantial income for organisations, especially compared to print. 
  • Literary organisations would like to pay their staff better, but many prioritise artist payments over staff payments. Funding to pay contributors is typically more accessible than funding to pay staff. Organisations are wary of asking peer-based funding panels for support for staff, concerned that asking for higher rates of pay for staff would compromise their ability to secure funding.