Skyline Review editor Victoria Valentine contacted me recently about one of my poems (“Innerness”). At the time, I had forgotten about my submission (it had been almost a year), so this came as a wonderful surprise. Editor Valentine explained that she had stepped away from publishing due to unwanted necessity, but was now back in business.
It is a sign of true dedication when an editor returns to us whiny poets after a personal hardship. It’s a tough job and there’s rarely profit in it (but see below, you’ll be amazed!). Good editors are akin to starving artists. The medium they use to create their art is written work gleaned from many souls, a palette of rare passions well-expressed.
This is especially true in Valentine’s case. A google search turns up praise and positive reviews for her journey as a one-women publishing virtuosa, who for years produced perhaps the most aesthetic literature magazine the print world has known.
Valentine’s magazines are true works of art formed not just by her great aptitude for wordcraft but also a stunning sense of color, image, format and space.
Her accomplishments, however, are not limited to management. Valentine possesses a powerful and wide-ranging skill, which has resulted in a novel and a children's book in addition to her publishing press and magazines. She has somehow run this conglomerate single-handedly (though her daughter sometimes helps out).
If you add all this up, Valentine emerges as one of the great entrepreneurs of the small press. At one time, she achieved a nation-wide circulation of about 10,000.
You HAVE to be impressed. Here’s part of the Wikipedia entry on Water Forest Press, run by Valentine:
“Water Forest Press is an independent book publisher located in rural Pennsylvania. Water Forest Press was created by Victoria Valentine, as an imprint of Skyline Publications. Skyline Publications produced print magazines that were retired in 2004. Water Forest Press replaced Skyline Magazines with Skyline Review, Literary House Review & Hudson View Poetry Digest books. Skyline Publications published monthly literary magazines that were distributed nationwide in stores, libraries, universities and homes, with a readership of approximately 10,000 per issue. “A Tribute To America” issue (dedicated to 9/11) was reprinted three times. All proceeds from the Tribute Issue were donated to local fire houses to purchase needed equipment.”
As far as I can tell, her adventure began in 2001, when she initiated Skyline Publications. In less than ten years, she created a literary venture of countrywide proportions. This despite competition from the internet and academic journals with university funding. (See the Wikipedia entry on “Victoria Valentine” for more).
I just have to say WOW again.
How did she reach a circulation of 10,000, you might ask? The answer is quality literature combined with fantastic visuals and sensuous details.
Go here to see a sample, and also to experience Valentine’s eloquence as she describes the magazine and entices potential readers:
Here are some other relevant links:
I am going to end with part of the email I sent as a response to the acceptance notification. Please consider buying a copy of Skyline Review or another of Skyline imprints. Victoria Valentine has done something almost impossible: produce works of art so lovely and captivating that they conclude the necessity of keeping beautiful paper journals alive.
Excerpt from my email:
“I spent the last hour researching you and your publishing journey, finding, among other things, the Wikipedia entry on Water Forest Press, essays by you, interviews, and a review in Feminist Review. I work hard on my poems and I was concerned because some paperbound magazines today accept most anyone and make ignoble profit selling expensive copies to contributors.
I was absolutely wrong to even consider this possibility in your case. I did nothing but show how naïve and uninformed I am. You are a true legend and a great publisher, who has demonstrated incredible fortitude. You’re also a very talented writer and ‘interior designer’ when it comes to the style of your magazines. The way you craft sentences, even for the mere purpose of conveying information, is most aesthetic and speaks to your ability. From what I can ascertain on the internet, yours are some of the most beautiful covers and zines I have seen.
This is a skill that is almost lost, I think; but the treasures you publish make all the argument anyone needs to keep this form of literary expression alive.
I thought I would share the above because I hope it is as full of praise as I think, and secondly I am going to try to somewhere find the money to purchase at least a copy of the upcoming issue of Skyline Review. This is the first time I will have bought a copy in which my work appears in many years. Like most all dedicated artists, working at it full time, I barely scrape by.
Thank you again. I’m honored to be included, and do contact me if there is anything more I can do.
[Owl Who Laughs]”