Marketing Mikrokosmos

2:14:24 PM CDT - Wednesday, May 03, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

For months, Jason Harper has been staring at the shelves of his office in 618 Lindquist Hall — they're filled with back issues of WSU's student-run literary magazine Mikrokosmos.

"It's sad to see so many copies not being distributed," said Harper, this year's co-editor, "and to know all the time and effort it takes and to just have them sit there."

Jason Harper
Photo by David Dinell
This year’s co-editor of Mikrokosmos, Jason Harper, holds back issues of WSU’s literary magazine. Harper is working with a marketing class on a plan to raise awareness and sales of the publication.
About 500 copies are printed each year, with only about 10 percent being sold. The rest find their way onto the crowded shelves in the Mikrokosmos editorial office in Lindquist Hall.

In an effort to have more copies in the hands of readers and less inventory on the shelves, Harper approached Kim Sovell, who teaches a marketing class, to help develop a plan to increase awareness and sales of the long-running, beleaguered magazine.

Sovell, who has incorporated similar projects into her Promotion Management class in the past, didn't hesitate to take on Mikrokosmos as this semester's client.

"The students need the education and (Mikrokosmos) needs the assistance," said Sovell. "I truly love helping WSU and any organization that needs help." In the past, for example, her class crafted ideas for WSU's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Later this month, the 20-plus students in Sovell's Promotion Management will present their ideas to Harper and co-editor Brian Evans.

While Harper's and Evan's tenure as co-editors will soon be over and the ideas will likely not help market the volume for which they were responsible, Harper hopes the class' ideas can serve as a sort of "template" for future editors.

"I'd like to leave it in better shape," said Harper. "I want it to be easier for the next person."

For years, the awareness and financial support, which primarily comes from student government, for Mikrokosmos, often called Mikros, has waned.

For example, when Harper and Evans visited Sovell's class in early February to talk about the magazine, none of the students had heard about the publication.

A couple of years ago, the Student Government Association cut the magazine's funding from $3,000 to $1,000. The magazine still published that year, thanks to efforts by alumni of the magazine who rallied to hold fund-raisers.
While SGA restored its full funding of the magazine for this year and again for next year, Harper recognizes that the magazine still suffers from an awareness problem.

The fact that one class hadn't heard about the literary publication doesn't bother former editor April Pameticky.

Now a SGA senator — she got involved with student government to find out how projects are funded after Mikros' budget was cut — Pameticky said the student senate funds plenty of projects that many students aren't aware of. What's important, she found, is how the projects and organizations contribute to a student's education.
For the student editor, the experience of putting together a publication is "priceless," said Harper, who decided to come to WSU because of the opportunity to work on a literary magazine.

The magazine is an outlet for aspiring, and even established, writers, artists and now musicians. Any WSU student, faculty or alumnus can contribute written, visual art or musical works to the publication.

For the first time, musical entries were solicited this year. Harper worked with the School of Music's new Center for Research in Arts, Technology, Education and Learning to create a CD of musical submissions.

Mikrokosmos, which means small universe, was started in the 1960s, during the Beat culture era. Nowadays, literary magazines are considered a hallmark of creative writing programs, according to Matt Burriesci, associate director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

This year's magazine will be available for sale through the English department.

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