To our friends and readers,
I’m writing this letter with a hopeful heart, but it’s also a difficult one to write.
We’ve hit a bump in the road, friends.
Growing pains are real—in organizations of all types and sizes. And the challenges of running an independent, volunteer-led literary organization are also real. While the operating costs of an online magazine are somewhat manageable, expanding into a national professional development conference and launching a small press division has exhausted our already-limited resources—which has also created significant personal burdens on individuals behind the scenes.
To that end, HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers will be going on an indefinite hiatus. We need at least a year, if not more, to recover from the losses and deficits that resulted from the last few years. Between canceling in 2020, running a much smaller than planned conference in 2021, and negotiating changing costs in 2022, we’ve reached a bit of a breaking point.
We LOVE LOVE LOVE creating a weekend conference that feels comforting, exciting, community-driven, and filled with high-quality offerings that make our attendees feel immensely appreciated (because they are). But the prospect of creating this amazing space again in 2023, with all of the labor and resources that it requires, doesn’t feel like a responsible choice right now. We want to give you our best, because you deserve it. And right now, we need to take a beat, and get back to a place where our best is possible.
We hope to return and in the meantime, we’re reimagining this beloved conference into a more sustainable endeavor.
The magazine and small press are not impacted by this decision (although Books by Hippocampus remains on submission hiatus through 2024). You’ll continue to see bimonthly issues and monthly articles—as well as some new faces and efforts.
So rest assured: Hippocampus Magazine is not going away. On the contrary, actually. The truth is, putting the conference on hiatus is the smartest strategy for us to make sure that the magazine KEEPS growing and flourishing and putting out the very best creative nonfiction there is. This is how Hippocampus started, and this is what matters. Being a living, breathing platform for amazing writers who tell the truth. Our focus on sustainability and recovery will not only allow us to keep that vital offering going: It means that even more exciting things are on the way, and we look forward to sharing them with you.
Additionally, we still want to bring our community together somehow this August. As we did during the lockdown in 2020, we’re planning to host a few online events during “HippoCamp Weekend.” More details to come.
Donna Talarico, Founder/Publisher, on behalf of our entire team
P.S. We’ve included a few more additional updates, below, of what’s to come—and how you can help us continue to do what we do.
What’s Next for Hippocampus Magazine
As we build our 5-year strategic plan for the future (including where the conference fits), we’re excited to spend 2023 into early 2024:
- launching a new books website/online store (it’s live now, but in soft-launch phase)
- reviving our book backlist, including reissuing some of our titles in additional formats; this includes new marketing campaigns, too
- resurfacing our magazine archives; be on the lookout for social posts and emails that elevate past content from our 120+ issues
- re-introducing (and retooling) our Friends of Hippocampus Magazine program; we’ve been way too timid about asking for reader support
- re-focusing on our monthly content sponsorship program (advertising option)
- expanding our editorial team (watch for some announcements soon!)
How Our Readers & Attendees Can Help
Some of you might be asking yourselves: What can I do to help?
First, just being a part of the Hippocampus community is EVERYTHING. But if you want to help us work our way back to sustainability AND help set the stage for HippoCamp to return, here’s what you can do right now:
- Donate money through our Friends of Hippocampus membership program. If you’re giving already, set up a larger monthly gift. (If your membership lapsed, welcome back!) This monthly income not only keeps the magazine running and pays honoraria to our contributors, it goes towards programming that benefits YOU. You can set up a monthly gift, or make a one-time contribution.
- This year, as we put together virtual offerings for our community, be sure to attend and ask your friends and writing buddies to do the same! We are hoping to offer panel discussions, readings, and maybe even workshops and webinars at a reasonable price that reflects the true value of what we’re doing. So buying a ticket and showing up is a great way to let us know that you’re into what we’re doing, and you want more!
- When you read something we’ve published that you just love, share it. Email it to your friends, tweet about it, whatever. Spread the word about what we’re doing, and encourage others to read our archives, sign up for our newsletter, attend our online events, etc.
- If you haven’t already, consider purchasing the books we’ve published over the last 5 years, or buy other Hippocampus merch!
Later, we hope to send out a reader survey that will ask for feedback about what we should be doing and how we should be doing it, so when you see that in your inbox, please respond! We want to collaboratively create a sustainable future WITH our community, so your thoughts, ideas, and opinions will help drive that vision forward.