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Alum starts literary journal

Ann Marie Jakubowski | Friday, September 7, 2012

While many think of reading as either an assignment or a pastime, Saint Mary’s graduate Sara Rajan has made a career of reading and sharing avant-garde literature through the online literary magazine she founded.

Rajan, a member of the Class of 2010, started her magazine “Literary Juice” in 2011. She said her motivation for the site came from a lack of originality in the literary magazines she subscribed to.

“I personally love to read a lot of lit magazines, but after awhile I found a lot of the stories conventional and predictable,” Rajan said. “One morning, I just decided to start my own avant-garde lit magazine, a place where writers could take risks and get into unconventional territory.”

Rajan said the decision to launch Literary Juice was motivated by an appreciation for unique writing.

“I did a little bit of research on publishing and began drafting the layout on regular notebook paper,” Rajan said. “I would experiment a bit on a free webpage design website, and then took it from there.”

She receives submissions from writers from all backgrounds and of all skill levels, some of whom she personally invited to submit to the magazine and others who encountered the site on their own accord.

Rajan said Literary Juice is now in its fifth edition, and receives 1,200 to 1,500 unique webpage views per month. After publicizing the magazine by word of mouth, Rajan began to market it on various social networking and literary websites.

“When I first launched it, I relied on word of mouth,” Rajan said. “After it got off the ground, things kind of snowballed.”

She cited search engine optimization as a key concept in the magazine’s continued success.

“I carefully select key words that will bring up my website when people are using Google or whatever search engine,” Rajan said. “The more the website is brought up, the more people are encouraged to send submissions.”

The avant-garde content is not intended to appeal to any specific population demographic, but rather satisfy the reading interests of any visitor to the site, Rajan said.

“We’re looking for our audience to include absolutely everybody,” Rajan said. “It’s already very international, with readers and submissions from all over the world.”

Literary Juice publishes fiction, poetry and flash-fiction, and Rajan said a major goal of hers is to keep the design sleek with minimal ads so as to keep the focus on the writers’ work.

Rajan said her plans for the magazine include expansion and increased publicity.

“Right now, my long-term goal is to continue building its reputation,” Rajan said. “I would love to put it up there with prominent magazines like the Iowa Review and Tinhouse Magazine, but before I can make that happen, I know I have to tackle small goals first. I hope to offer a print version in the near future.”