My name is Christina and I am the editor of La Vie En Rose.
As we’ve been mentioned several times recently, I felt now would be a good time to come forth and give the community a clearer idea of who we are and what we hope to do with La Vie En Rose. This is going to be very, very long, but I hope you will read it as this is very important to us.
I will also include an open letter to lucid_blulace here, left open so that the community can get a better idea of what issues face us in running a magazine and this particular magazine.
First, who are you?
I am an editor with a journalism degree, with a minor in magazine layout. I have been in the workforce for over 8 years and am familiar with dealing with the stresses and fast-paced environment one finds in editorial work. I have edited all types of writing, done layout, and even had a short story published myself.
Are you an outsider?
No. I am an old-school Goth since my high school days who got into Lolita when researching an outfit to sew for a friend to wear. I love the fashion, wear EGA (it ties in very nicely with old-school Goth and better suits my age, I think) and read EGL religiously.
As the editor of La Vie, I would also like to take this chance to say La Vie will NEVER turn Lolis over for a fast buck like many large corporations are likely to do. Why? As an old-school Goth back in the mid-90s, I got to watch as the media did a number on the Goth subculture after Columbine. The ignorant, biased, and just plain stupid things that came out in the media about "Goth" after Columbine were just stunning.
I will never, ever let such ignorance cross the desk at La Vie regarding Loli while it is still my magazine. And as I’m the founder, that should be for awhile! ;)
About La Vie En Rose
The La Vie En Rose magazine is made up 100% by and for Lolis, many coming from this community, all working for credit only, including myself, though this issue I will pay out of my pocket for each contributor to get their own copy if their work appears in it. (It’s important to me to show them their work is appreciated.)
My vision for La Vie is to be a magazine that encompasses Loli fashion, décor, cooking, fun, literature and so on. Our first issue has received great reviews so far and we’re in the middle of preparing our second one, for release in early October.
A few people have said they would like more fashion. We would love to have more fashion and photoshoots and patterns. We are only one issue old, however, and that limits the pool of talent we have to work from. We have a lot of great models and a few great photographers and right now the issue is getting both in the same local area. We don’t want just any photos: we want really good ones that would look at home in a real magazine.
That’s the thing about La Vie, you see. I’m approaching this as I would any professional assignment in my workplace, and so I am trying to put together the best magazine we can. I want people to buy La Vie because they enjoy reading it, not just to support the idea of Loli. So far the most frequent compliment from our readers has been how professional the magazine looks, which I will admit makes me happy. :)
Once we have two or three issues under our belt (to show we have an audience and staying power), I hope to contact the major Japanese brands and discuss getting press kit materials of their new lines and such.
But we have to survive and be supported long enough to make it two or three issues.
And that brings us to lucid_blulace's recent post, just a few posts back from this one.
As La Vie hopes to grow into the type of magazine that has fashion shoots and patterns as well as advice, make-up, décor, how-to, entertaining, and so on, that brings us in direct competition with Lucid’s idea.
An Open Letter to lucid_blulace:
Here is my letter to you, Lucid(please pardon this shortening of your name, but I’m not sure what else to call you.)
In 2008 Tokyopop is going to release the translated Japanese GLB. Anyone who is positioning herself as a direct competitor of the GLB, no matter how frequent or infrequent her publication's schedule, is very likely to face stiff competition. TP has money and backing and a full-time staff that can create and promote it and at the end of the day most Lolis are going to spend their money on which version delivers: your volunteer one, or TP’s. (While TP may butcher the copy, or not, and add a few questionable things, the bulk of the pictures will be the same professional ones that appeared in the Japanese version, I am assuming, and that appears to be a big part of the appeal of the Bibles.)
I hoped to have La Vie survive TP’s release(because I researched the subject thoroughly and knew, all the way back in June, that the translated Bible was coming) by not positioning itself as a Bible, but as what I really wanted to do anyway: give English-speaking Lolitas their own magazine that really captured the fun and ideas and unique personality that Western Lolitas have while providing a fun break from everyday life through photos, advice, and articles. La Vie is not meant to be a Bible full of rules, or a copy of Japanese Lolita.
I figured we had three or four issues to build a solid readership of Lolis who enjoyed our magazine and saw that we were one of them, fellow English-speaking Lolis who wanted to share our love of the fashion, before TP hit in February. This would allow us to survive as a completely original and playful approach to Loli from within the community, not a competitor to TP.
If you start up your own effort, whether you intend to mirror the Bibles or not, you will cannibalize readers and effort from La Vie. And that will weaken us both in the face of the TP release in 2008.
I say this because the Lolita market is a niche market. There aren’t nearly as many potential readers to go around as there are in a general reading market. There are a finite number of good, quality contributors to go around as well.
What It Takes to Run a Magazine
If you mean to do this right, it is going to be a lot of work. I say this not to scare you, but to prepare you for what lies ahead if you decide you want to do this:
-Time. Here’s my average work day, no exaggeration. Wake up. Check La Vie mail. Go to work. Beg off to mail ordered copies (as at my edit desk you don’t get a real lunch break) around lunch time. Come home after an 11-hour work day (commute not included). Work on La Vie. Break for dinner. Work on La Vie. Go to sleep. Repeat. I have not read a book or had hardly any time at all to talk to my friends or do any of the hobbies I enjoy since June, when I started La Vie. I love La Vie and that of course makes it easier, but it still has grown into another job, one that I don’t (and I assume you won’t) get paid for for a very long time, if ever.
-Money is a good topic to move into. Full color printing is expensive. If you intend to have rice-paper pattern inserts for patterns, that will be expensive as well. You will need money for your layout program (I spent $800 of my own money on Quark for La Vie), as any student version you buy is only allowed for non-profit ventures and you don’t want a big company like Adobe or Quark on your back wanting to see your license.
You will need to keep your price low enough that people will buy your magazine, which may require placing a large bulk order upfront to gain a discount, which may cost you upwards of a thousand or two thousand dollars. If you decide to do print-on-demand, from my research you will still find it hard to create a magazine for any less than $10, once you include shipping and sales tax, and that will be for around 40 pages.
-Legality. Do you understand copyright law? Do you know what can happen if a photographer fails to obtain a model release form from anyone they take identifiable photos of? (The model can sue you, not just the photographer, if she decides later she didn’t want her picture in your publication.) Do you know the difference between exclusive rights and non-exclusive rights?
You may actually have this part down more than most, as you are a business major.
This brings me to my final point, and suggestion, one I hope you will consider.
You are clearly excited and would like to see Loli treated well in print. So would we at La Vie.
Rather than you doing a separate publication, why don’t you join us and help us out by becoming part of our staff? I’d like to see your resume and samples of your work, of course, before I promise anything but from the sound of it you could probably become an editor, our first advertising representative, an artist, or a combination of all three. We would love to have such an enthusiastic person join us.
The idea I saw, of publishing your work under our name as a separate release is not one I’m open to right now, and the reason for this is that I am very protective of the La Vie name. As I said in the first issue, a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into establishing the beginnings of a good reputation for La Vie, and I am not going to loan that name out to someone until I see firm, hard proof they would do the name proud. As they say, it takes years to build a good reputation and a day to destroy it. A lot of us (around 40 contributors at the current count) have put our hard work into starting that good reputation.
We are already established and will have two issues under our belt by this time next month. We have a network of writers, photographers, artists, models and more. Combining our efforts by having you join us would give you a chance to help Lolita out and strengthen our own grassroots effort in the face of TP's impending release.
But all we can do is offer.
If, after consideration, you do decide you want to go ahead with your publication, then that of course is your choice and I wish you the best of luck. We will continue doing our best here at La Vie, and time and our continued hard work will show us if that is enough.
Please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss this further. I would be willing to give you my phone number (through email) if you would prefer to call.
For Anyone Else Reading
I have made this an open letter, and so if you would like to respond to this post with questions or comments please feel free. As long as your comment is civil, I will do my best to reply as soon as I can.
Thank you all for reading, and for your support of La Vie so far. I hope you will check us out, and through your contributions and purchases of our magazine help us grow into a lasting, original Western Lolita magazine we can all be proud of.
-Christina Banta, founder of La Vie En Rose