A cynic once remarked that an editor needs two things: good grammar and a long memory. But we all know there’s a bit more to it than that. As we prepare to send the April issue to press – the four hundredth in the magazine’s second series – it occurs to me that an editor’s main function is to be a recogniser of expertise, discernment, literary flair – and, more importantly perhaps, courage even, for sometimes it’s needed in this caper.
Over the past forty years, ABR has had the good fortune to publish hundreds of writers and critics who have demonstrated these qualities in abundance and who have contributed enormously to the success and tenor of this magazine. Some of them have been contributing for years. Neal Blewett wrote for us in 1966, long before he went into federal politics. Geoffrey Blainey had a review in the very first issue of ABR (first series), back in 1961. For me, it has been a privilege to work with this loyal and discriminating cohort.
But a magazine’s responsibilities don’t end there. We have a duty to encourage the many young littérateurs who long to appear in publications of this kind. ABR’s cultivation of new literary talent is ongoing and multifarious. Through lectures, workshops, prompt commissions, we offer freelance work to bookish newcomers. And we back it up with decent payments (there are no unpaid probations here). ABR continues to deplore the exploitation of freelance reviewers. Unpaid and patronised, young writers will give up in frustration or despair.
To mark its birthday, ABR is pleased to announce that our base rate of payment for reviews has increased by ten per cent to $55 per 100 words. Since 2013 the base rate has trebled, at a time of shrinkage or stagnation elsewhere. Furthermore, we are intent on paying writers $75 per 100 words in future.
ABR’s many Patrons are responsible for this increase, along with rising subscription revenue and admirable support from government. All of our Patrons are listed on page 8. With their continuing support, we look forward to paying our writers even better and to diversifying our programs. Patrons have the satisfaction of advancing literary careers and contributing to the vitality of arts criticism in the country.
I hope you will enjoy the four hundredth issue.