This week we hear from Grace Harrison, founder of true crime magazine Foul Play on managing a magazine as a side hustle, what mainstream titles can learn from independents, and what makes Foul Play an altogether classier type of true crime title.
In the news roundup we discuss LadBible’s imminent takeover of Unilad to create the Ultimate Lad, the sad news that Johnston Press’ debt is forcing the sale of its titles, and whether 5 minute long videos can work for Snapchat. Peter voices his fear of extraterrestrials.
In our own words: Peter Houston
I vaguely remember the first time I spoke to Grace Harrison about launching an independent magazine. I say vaguely because it was about two o’clock in the morning after a magazine awards ceremony and I was *very tired*. I don’t really remember what her magazine was going to be about, but it wasn’t true crime.
What I do remember was the enthusiasm that Grace wrapped around the idea and that same enthusiasm is ever present when she talks about Foul Play, the true-crime magazine that she actually did launch.
The other thing I got from talking to Grace about the launch and development of Foul Play is an incredible pragmatism, from funding the first issue from pre-orders to seeking advice on magazine craft from other publishers.
In the press coverage of the Foul Play launch, the magazine was described as the first female led non-sensational true-crime magazine. Grace is quick to say, “We initially never led with that. We were just two people that launched a magazine.”
That hasn’t stopped the Foul Play team embracing the female-led label. “People started saying well it’s a feminist true crime magazine and that’s making it different,” Grace told me. Being different was something Grace and co-founder Emma wanted to achieve.
“Almost everything looks hideous in true crime… it makes you feel like you want to wash your hands,” Grace said.
Pushing against that has led to a typically beautiful indie title that meets the brief Grace and Emma set themselves: Make something different and beautiful and that they wanted to read themselves.
Listening to Grace is a real inspiration for passion-project publishers that are keen to develop a side hustle. The magazine has been brought to life on the hard work and flexibility of the team, the ‘kindness of strangers’ and a stack of pre-orders.
And now we all get to sit on the bus and read a true-crime magazine that doesn’t have a picture of Rose West on the cover.
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