Dave Kavanagh is the originator and the managing editor of The Blue Nib. He is primarily a reader with an eye for the original, the quirky and the unique, though he is a published poet and writer of short fiction, and confesses to having a number of novels gathering dust.
Dave was prompted to launch The Blue Nib in 2016 out of a growing frustration with the fickle space that is the lit-mag universe. He saw a need for a quality magazine-format website that sat between the ultra slick platforms that published well established names in poetry and were inaccessible to emerging talent, and the plethora of smaller journals that appeared to publish whatever came their way and demonstrated no evidence of editorial input.
The Blue Nib was born, and from the first its primary objective was to offer a platform to emerging poets and later authors. Dave has grown the Blue Nib slowly over the past twenty-four months and is now bullish about its future.
How do you see the Blue Nib growing in the coming years?
I think our growth will be slow but steady. The Nib has an online readership of around 20,000 unique visitors per month, that’s not bad for a site that is not yet three years old. Poetry is an interesting niche, as is literary fiction, I will be more than happy if we can keep moving forward at the same pace as we have done up to now. Our main priority for the next twelve months is to grow our readership and our subscription list. The Nib is now committing to paying for content in the print magazine, so funding will be vital. We have been conscious for a long time, of the need to reward contributors. We have added several features to the site, offering our magazine as a digital download is something I am happy about. The Format is Pdf so the magazine can be read on mobile, computer or can be loaded on Kindle.
What do you see as The Blue Nibs mission?
I am not a mission statement type of person, however, I would say our self-appointed task is to structure the Nib in such a way that it will become a springboard for emerging talent. It is lovely to see a poet like Anne Walsh Donnelly do so well. We published Anne some time back, and later she won a leg of our Chapbook Contest. To see her nominated for the Hennessy awards this year was a major buzz for me.
Anne is one of several poets who saw first, or early publication with The Blue Nib. I am pleased to be publishing Anne’s first collection of short fiction later this year.
We are still small fry as publishers, but with the combined talent of our editorial team, we can offer a service to poets and writers working on a first or second collection. The Nib can offer editorial input, help with formatting, cover design and marketing. We are more enablers than publishers, and do not have the resources of the larger imprints, but that is not always a handicap. We use the small amount of funds we have to back projects that larger publishing houses might find too chancy. As a team, we are becoming more discerning about what we will publish and I think our out-put will be no more than four or five books per year, but for me, if the work stands up to scrutiny, if it excites me, then I want to publish it.
What Excites you most in the working day?
Seeing our contributors becoming successful. The Nib has published so many poets and writers in the last years, and it is exciting to see them becoming more. I am very excited about the team we now have working on The Nib, there is so much talent, they are all writers and poets I admire, so why would I not be excited to be working with them.
How do you see your role as Managing editor?
I think the role is the least important on the magazine. The editors and the contributors do the real work. My function is to macro manage the project, to get into everyone else business and ensure that all the various threads that make up the Nib, work together to produce a good magazine every quarter. I try to do that without making a nuisance of myself.
Where do you see the Blue Nib in ten years time?
That is a hard question to answer. The Lit-Mag world is fickle and The Nib has already outlive the average lifespan of a magazine in that space. However, the Nib is showing ever sign that it survive. I hope that in ten years it will still involve me in some role. However, It heartens me to see so many talented people now involved with the magazine. It is a foolish man who builds something that is reliant on himself alone. I think that with so much energy around me, my vision and methods will be eclipsed and others will take the lead. That is not something that frightens me, it is something that excites me.