The Elephant in the Room


 

Managing Editor Melanie Jones discusses the recent changes to MIROnline 

 

In October, I wrote a blog post for MIROnline about why our services were free. I believed and still believe, that there should be a place for new writers to receive support, mentoring, editorial guidance, workshops, and university level experiences; without having to open their wallets.

 

This has been a big year for me and for MIROnline. I appointed Peter Coles as my Deputy Managing Editor and together, we expanded our team of volunteers. This meant we could work on new projects like podcasts and plan exciting events like our Climate for Writing day.

 

This partnership has worked so well that we decided to split the role of managing MIROnline between us equally. Peter has become Managing Editor of Content, and I have become Managing Editor of Learning and Mentoring. Having Peter on board means that the management of MIROnline is no longer a monthly firefight. We have time to discuss new projects and directions for MIROnline. And we would really love to see our little platform become a major resource for the UK literary scene.

 

But as we try to put together new projects, we keep coming up against the elephant in the room. Money. We have no budget. We can’t pay for an established author to come and teach at a workshop. We can’t give an author the train fare when they come to read at MIRLive. We can’t buy books to review. Peter and I both put in around 30 hours a month at MIROnline and this time is limited by the fact that we need “day jobs” to survive.

 

So, we found ourselves in a bit of a moral quandary. We wanted to do more. We wanted to expand and be a hub for supporting new writers, we wanted to bring in more established authors and industry professionals, and we wanted to spend more time on this project that we love. But we didn’t want to start charging for any of the services that we offered, we didn’t want to exclude anyone.

 

My position hasn’t changed. Everything that has always been free at MIROnline will continue to be free. Free to submit, free to read, free half-day workshops, free entry to MIRLive. However, we’ve decided to add a couple of premium services to allow us to expand all aspects of the platform and reach a wider audience. And in order to stay true to our ethos, we plan to charge considerably less than our industry equivalents.

 

There are two areas where will be doing some fundraising. Firstly, in addition to our free workshops, we will be organising a series of Masterclasses. Priced between £10 and £20, these will be full day sessions that involve a range of activities and will have a headline teacher from the literary world. The first of these will be a Masterclass on the emotions run by Laura Kaye.

 

 

Secondly, we would like to start offering an editorial and mentoring service through a Patreon campaign. Splashing out for copy editing can be unrealistically expensive for many writers, so we’ve included monthly editing to the majority of our tiers.

 

Our hope is that these two new aspects will allow us to do more for our readership. All money that we raise will go back towards developing the platform and supporting new writers and we have lots of plans. For example, we would like to do some outreach work, particularly with young writers who don’t always have access to the literary community. And we hope that there are people out there who would like to contribute financially to what we are doing.

 

 

I believe that what we are doing is still in the spirit of supporting new writers from all backgrounds. And as I said earlier in this post, everything that was free at MIROnline will remain so.


Melanie is a creative writing PhD student at Birkbeck University. She is the Managing Editor of Learning and Mentoring and a member of the MIRLive Team. She was a member of the editorial team for The Mechanics’ Institute Review, Issues 12 and 15.