The ReviewerBill Kieffer‘s website.
I met Peter Frycki very early in 2017 at my first LGBT networking event. It was a hard sort of thing for me as I'm terribly uncomfortable if I'm near real people and away from the keyboard. Next to the host of the event, Brian Blatz of Fiddleheads Bistro, Peter was the first person I screwed up the courage to talk to. The shiny magazine covers at his table attracted me. I'd never seen them before in my part of New Jersey. And I wanted one, so I had to approach him, if only to buy one. Turns out they were free and my life has improved just a little bit but snagging them.
Peter turns out to be one of those great conversationalists and when his eyes lock on yours, you instantly feel engaged with the pleasant weight his attention.
So, I thought I'd let you meet one of my newest friends, a publisher who doesn't publish the books we usually share here on Underground Book Reviews. He's very much an Indie Publisher that you should know. Local magazine publishers need to be treasured and cherished, especially those that are the voice(s) of your communities.
Peter Frycki and His Magazine and Its Niche
Please describe Out In Jersey briefly and what type of articles do you print?
The print magazine over the years has evolved as a feature article publication with a half-dozen regular columns, plus cartoons, a crossword puzzle and lots of photos we call “spotted OUT.” The website is where 75% of our news and event content is updated daily for the NJ LGBT community.
How did Out In Jersey come together? What were your goals?
When we incorporated in 2002 there were no LGBT statewide publications in New Jersey that were not published by non-profit organizations as newsletters. We thought the LGBT community in the state of New Jersey needed an independent voice.
How has the company changed over time? Was it because of lessons learned? Did changes within the publishing world force you to adapt as well?
When we started we were only in print. Now our website is the news and event portal daily. Facebook and twitter are also updated almost daily. In 2008-2009 we had to adapt to the realities of almost half of our advertisers being "out of business.”
Is Out in New Jersey focused more on the personalities or the culture of the LGBT+? How do you define what you are looking for? What happens when you come across a great story that isn’t in your wheelhouse?
We pass on great stories not in “our wheelhouse.” We try to stick to LGBT and New Jersey stories and consider our publication both cultural and personality driven.
As a small indie publisher, I expect your company and your home may be somewhat juxtaposed. How much of your daily life has been given over to publishing? I assume it's not exactly like The Devil Wears Prada?
I started working in 2002 in my spare time evenings and weekends. As time went on it became too much with a full-time job. So, three years ago I retired from my full-time gig and now work on the website and print magazine full-time - 8 hours a day and 6 days a week.
What was the first time you really felt like you were a publisher?
Always! The publication was already in existence within a non-profit org newsletter.
Peter Frycki Tells Tales of Himself
Imagine that your ultimate destiny is a window-less, suspicious-looking van for a moment. Instead of “free candy,” what would be written on the side of it to lure you inside?
LGBT History archives of New Jersey
What was the Young You like? Would Young You recognize Current You? What would you tell Young You?
I went to college as a Communications and Journalism student in the late 1970s. I also dropped out of college after 3 years. So, I would say, “Stay in school. Get that degree and get going. There is no time to waste. You can socialize and party later when you can do it right!”
What did you read before you even thought of publishing? How did becoming a publisher change your reading habits?
I have always been a reader of newspapers and magazines and interested in politics and current events. As a LGBT publisher, my reading is mostly online now and a bit more LGBT focused.
What do your friends and family think of your publishing endeavors? Are they supportive? Have they tried to hold an intervention? Or do you find yourself reminding them of your true calling?
Some are very supportive. Some are less so. Some get it and some don’t. My line since I started doing this full-time is “this is what I always wanted to do.”
Has becoming a publisher changed you or your social life in any way?
It has changed my life in every single way. Most of my friendships revolve around the business. As much as I try to take time off and associate with folks that are not part of the business, it would seem the enduring friendships are the ones that understand my interests and are able to accept my constant and incessant needs to stay connected with the news and events that affect our NJ LGBT readership. My current partner and my family are the exceptions for all the obvious reasons.
If you meet someone for the first time and they introduce themselves as a writer, do you... a) say “Hey, funny coincidence...” b) talk about your “day job” exclusively... or c) point to a grouse in the trees and run away when their back is turned?
On Community Interaction: Readers/Fans
How do you find your readers? Or do readers tend to find you?
We are both subscriber based and free-distribution. So, it is a little of both. Our subscribers find us online or by word of mouth. Meanwhile we are always seeking new locations throughout the area that are LGBT owned or are frequented by LGBTs as new distribution locations.
How do you interact with your readership? Do you have a forum? A newsletter? Pen-pals?
We are on Facebook and twitter and we have a company e-blast that is sent regularly to our subscribers to let them know about new stories online as well as NJ LGBT event announcements they might otherwise miss. We like to think of our website as a “one-stop shop” for everything that is happening “Out In Jersey!”
We encourage our readers to visit the website as often as possible.
What is the typical reader of Out in New Jersey like? Do you even have a typical fan? Are your readers attracted to different authors (or imprints) differently? Or do your readers tend to be attracted to the whole she-bang?
We have a very diverse readership. But there are a few things we do know about our readers that might be interesting for this article. Seventy-five-percent, or more, of our readers are college educated and have above average household incomes. The print magazine skews toward the males a bit more than female, while online it is the opposite. The website and facebook/twitter have more female readers than male too. The female identified readers are more likely to be raising children in their homes unlike most of the all-male households. Our readers in the print magazine have an average age of 43, while online the readers are much younger – on average.
If you could make it happen, who would you want to have an exclusive interview with?
We want an interview with Anderson Cooper at CNN and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Can you help make that happen?
What conventions or conferences do you attend where you meet the community?
I attend as many LGBT business networking events in New Jersey as I can. As a company, Out In Jersey attends/sponsors, and is a part of, every LGBT/Gay Pride event in New Jersey each and every year. There are five LGBT pride events annually in New Jersey. Out In Jersey magazine is also a media sponsor of as many non-profit - large - LGBT events as we can.
On Community Interaction: Writers
How do you attract writers? Or do they tend to find you? From submission to publication, how closely to you tend to work with your creators?
Through our networking within the local LGBT community we find new writers all the time. Sometimes they find us too!
If the writer is interested, we ask them their real “personal interests” in writing for us and attempt to find a good fit based on their knowledge, their ability and personal interests. We like to have writers send us a few articles they have written or posted elsewhere to get an idea of “their voice.” My Editor, Sam Martino, works very closely with young people that have never written for a print magazine before. She helps them find their voice by sending a book or DVD for them to do their first review. She then helps to develop their natural writing talent.
Without naming names, tell me what your worst creator interaction was. Was bail money involved?
As publisher I have had the “pleasure” of working with a writer, or two, that forget the publication has only so many pages and refused to have their work edited or shortened to a reasonable length. The two individuals that come to mind even insisted on their own headlines. We encourage our writers to send suggested headlines, but they are "suggested,” not promised!
After working with them for several articles it became apparent that even with their intense knowledge of the subjects, which was immense in both cases, it was just not worth the hassle of working with them. Needless to say, they do not write for Out In Jersey any longer!
Magazine have to have covers. How do you decide who's getting the coveted cover? Any interesting stories?
What I can say is this. We NEVER promise a writer, or a person being interviewed, or a publicist the cover. Sh*t happens! Things change!
We do say that we are considering it for a cover. Sometimes we give them a strong - maybe. We never ever say the cover is 100% definite - until it is.
How do you reach out to your creators? Do you have a forum? A newsletter? Personal emails? Do you host panels at conventions and such?
All of our talented writers and editors work from home. We use email, text and phone to communicate on a one-to one basis. When we get to final layout the product is a collaborative effort on Skype with 3-4 editors involved.
How do you market Out in New Jersey? Beyond finding readers, a magazine publisher also has to find advertisers.
This is a very real problem. My interest in publishing was always about making sure the LGBT voices in the community were heard and to have as many voices as possible. As an LGBT activist, I always have needed and wanted a marketing person to be more successful as a business. Needless to say, it is not my strength.
In addition to your website and Facebook page, where do you send people who might want to know more about the Queer Community?
We have a weblinks page that has many organizations both locally and worldwide for additional information about the Queer community. We also strive at the end of most of our articles to list a web page where folks can “find out more.”
Do you do theme issues like a Halloween or Health special?
At one of the networking event I went to, a restaurant owner played Devil's Advocate and asked if they could expect a "brick in the window" if they outed themselves in an article or newspaper ad. How do you respond to that question?
Well, you could get a brick through the window for any number of reasons. If you are more worried about a brick coming through your window because of being featured as an LGBT business or ally in the LGBT/gay press then your business is really not very supportive of the LGBT community, is it?
Sorry about that! Please remember I AM an activist. If everyone hid in the shadows because of “what MIGHT happen” there NEVER would have been an LGBT movement!
On Community Interaction: Local Real World Stuff
Do you, as a creator and publisher, reach out to local community groups or art guilds?
Do you, as a publisher, reach out to locals through bookstores, craft fairs, or the local chamber of commerce?
Sometimes, when time allows.
Business vs Passion, Publisher vs Creator
How often do you get the chance to write for other markets?
What’s your day publishing like? How many days or hours of publishing are you able to get in per week?
I work at least a 40 hour week. That includes EVERYTHING to do with the business from editing, publishing online, website fixes, phone calls and email and….. You get the idea.
If you feel your connection to or appreciation for your local community fading, how do you reconnect or revitalize that loving feeling?
I take a few days for myself and then reconnect with my younger self. Sometimes while taking that “me time” I start a conversation with another LGBT young person and I am able to get my connection back much, much faster.
On That Damn Slush Pile
How often is your “open” period, and where do writers find your latest needs? Do you assign certain stories?
My Editor, Sam Martino is available to assign and talk through story ideas every day.
If you're open to submissions, I’m sure you have this posted in at least two places on the Internet, but what is an acceptable format for you and how easy-going are you about it?
We are always open to submissions – PERIOD! Our format is a word doc.
What makes a good cover letter or query letter? What was the last one that really blew your mind and made you want to read/print the article?
Anything that is LGBT New Jersey gets my attention.
I noticed that you had some standard columns like the entertainment reviews and commentary that make it into print. Yet, other columns, like the "Creep of the Week," only appear on your website. How do you choose what goes where?
That is a good question. I can’t answer that with a solid reason in every case - except to say that it is a collaborative effort between Sam Martino and myself. Breaking news and events always go to web immediately. Everything else is looked at individually. We decide if it is too timely to hold for print and if it is “important” enough to hold for print.
As a magazine publisher, do you get much of a slush pile? What’s your methodology for pruning your slush pile? Do you have a page limit or time limit per day? Do you break them down to different, smaller piles? Or do you keep digging in until you find “the one?”
Our slush pile is not all that big - yet. It consists of an online pile of emails and attachments and links. They are “filed away” in the inbox until my editor and myself find the time.
These days, the slush pile is probably mostly or all piles of pixels. Is there a point where you might print some out to see how the story looks on paper?
No, we don’t. My editor and I have a very good imagination. In looking over the words and photos sent to us via email we can visually get an idea if it works. When submitting ideas to us always remember that we are a web and print magazine publication and as such there MUST BE images and photos or there is no story.
How do you dole out rejection letters? Do you ever say “maybe with revisions”?
On Current and Future Plans
What was the last year like for you and Out in New Jersey? What were some of the highlights for you?
It has been a very good year business wise. Is has been the best year since 2007 – before the stock crash.
What are the plans for the immediate future?
To keep doing what we do in our 15th Anniversary year.
Do you have any long range plans in the works?
To continue to expand the business online and in print. After all, “it is what we do!”
What was the first book you read for yourself and not for a school assignment?
I do not remember.
When was the last time that you read a book for pleasure?
Out In Jersey includes book reviews. Can you walk us though the process of what gets selected to be read and reviewed? Is it exclusively books published in NJ or by writers from NJ only?
We only accept submissions for review that are LGBT related. We get dozens of submissions monthly. We are always looking for more reviewers and it is our reviewers that select the books they wish to read. If they “like” the book they then submit a review. Honestly, we are in need of more reviewers because this year only a sliver of the books submitted have yet been read.
Thank you Peter! I look forward to seeing you again.
Out In Jersey is online here.
Bill Kieffer‘s website.