Lessons from the 2023 Mycelium Parish News

The Mycelium Parish News is an annual publication produced by myself and Dan Sumption from Peakrill Press. It’s a gazeteer of UK counterculture, inspired by the underground catalogues from people like Loompanics and Disinfo back in the 90s. We produce it as a physical zine as we think that’s an important statement – this is something worth printing, and something worth paying for. When the print run is exhausted, we will release it online. You can buy this year’s issue on etsy, and download PDFs of the 2022 edition.

We started compiling the latest issue in September, with the final text locked down a few days after the Toxteth Day of the Dead. The first copies were out before Christmas. We been mentioned in a few places, with my favourite being from Michelle in the Mycelium newsletter (no relation, although they inspired our name):

Loads of creative capers and happenings have happened this year amongst you beloved discordians, pilgrims, seekers and star seeds. The best place to find out all about 2023’s bountiful harvest of books, events, podcasts, dramatic tributes, vision quests, must-read newsletters, free libraries, people’s pyramids, porcine plays, gong baths, pop operas, poetry, metaprogramming courses, dream symposiums and more is in Dan Sumption and Orbific’s annual almanac, Mycelium Parish News – a lovely new tradition bursting with heart and art

There were three main things I learned from compiling this issue.

  • Recent changes on social media mean that promotion is hard. We sold a handful of issues when Dan and I announced this ourselves. An announcement on John Higgs’ newsletter sold over a hundred copies. Word of mouth seems to be the only way to get noticed now, and it’s harder to grow audiences than it used to be. I don’t think people realise how important it is to shout about the things you like.
  • Packing over 100 envelopes, including a number to other countries, was harder work than I expected. Luckily John’s announcement came just before Christmas, which gave me a little longer than normal to fulfil the Etsy orders. Everything went out on time, but it took several hours. It’s something to consider if I ever try a larger project.
  • Given how important word of mouth is, it’s important for projects to be easy to share. Listing something in the magazine requires describing it. It’s often hard to work out which URL to share; and I’m grateful to anyone who provides clear copy that I can use for a summary. This is something I’ve been pondering for my own writing, where I have no simple description of what I do, no simple elevator speech. Seeing how hard it was to share other people’s work has made me much more aware of this. If you want something to be shared, you need to make it easy to share.
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