About a year ago, during a beer-fueled brainstorming session, Adam and I conceived the idea for EmptySinkPublishing.com: an online arts and literary magazine for both aspiring and established authors and artists who are looking for an outlet that will take their careers, and our place in them, seriously.

We’ve written at length about how we do it. But why did we do it? That, we haven’t talked about much. After all, starting a magazine is no small task, and running one that publishes on a regular basis, on top of a regular eight-to-five job, is an even bigger task. And it isn’t like Adam and I don’t have other things to do: I’ve got a novel to finish editing and he’s working on a documentary. If we decided to abandon this project, it would give us both more time to concentrate on other, larger projects that, let’s be honest, have a better chance of reaping us financial rewards.

It isn’t like the world of independent online magazines is brimming with financial opportunity, and we’re not going to be on the cover of Publishers Weekly as some bastion of the new wave of publishing and writing—it ain’t gonna happen, even if we are doing things differently than all the other publishers out there.

So why did we do it, if not for fame and fortune? There’s two reasons:

  1. Because we wanted to
  2. Because we could

Do you know how little capital it takes to start a website? You can get a good website, domain name, hosting service, and CMS for less than a hundred dollars. How long did it take to design the website? Not long at all—we use a pre-made template focused on ease of translation to multiple devices. Our design time was limited so that we could focus on what was important to us: content.

What about getting people to submit—how much do ads cost? Well, they’re free, depending on where you go. Our most effective ads were placed, at no charge, on NewPages.com, and they have resulted in close to one thousand submissions over the past twelve months.

And what about publicity? Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, that’s free too, and we’ve spent a good part of the past twelve months growing our followings on both.

So the “how” was cheap and easy. We just needed the “why.” And at the end of the day, the “why” is that simple reason you hear from every child at some point in their lives: “because.”

We’re both good editors. We both like literature, poetry and art. And after several months of debating all different kinds of websites: author services, editing services, even, at one point, a website that would allow people to publish their own material no matter how bad or atrocious it was, we settled on a tried-and-true method that’s been around for over a century: the good old arts and literature magazine.

I’m not trying to brag here, but the fact is: most startup literary magazines don’t make it past the six-month mark, and we’re proud that we did. Because it isn’t easy. In the time I’ve spent working on this magazine, I probably could have written two novels.

But it’s worth every minute, for several simple reasons. One, it has given Adam and I the chance to work together again, which we enjoy—we make a great team. Two, it has introduced us to some of the finest talent the creative world has to offer. And three—and perhaps most importantly—we’re having a damn fine time doing it.

We hope you enjoy this issue. We’re going to introduce our features in a bit of a different format this time, so check out our full lineup for this issue below. But I do want to make note of the Editor’s Choice for this issue. N. Piatkoski has been with us since the beginning, delivering new issues of her black and white graphic novel, Strange Fish, every month. This month, she did something spectacular: she did the entire issue in color. And every inch of it is beautiful. I’ve loved Strange Fish from the very beginning, but seeing it in color is magical. Nicole is an incredible artist, our most consistent contributor, and we are honored to have our magazine associated with the work she’s doing. This issue of Strange Fish is not to be missed: read it once for the story, then look at it once more just for the artistry.

Be sure to come back for our ninth issue in October, and in the meantime, keep doing what you love.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 8/15/2014



Summer Afternoon, by Reese Scott

Release, by Mary Ann Cooper

The Man in Black, by Nels Hanson

The Release, by Karen Faris

The First Night, by P.K. Lauren


Voyage Around Lies, by Ìgbékèléolúwa Sàláwù

Nineteen Questions with Author L.T. Vargus, by E. Branden Hart


Yuan Changming:

Travis Naught:

Peter Bracking:

Jennifer Lagier:

Howie Good

Christopher Dovoric:


Three Images by Clint Van Inman

Three Images by W. Jack Savage

Three Images by Jack Galmitz

Strange Fish Issue 10, by N. Piatkoski (Editor’s Choice)


Half Way Home, by Hugh Howey

Casting Shadows Everywhere, by L.T. Vargus