A hybrid publishing series

RiVAL Vagabonds is a series of publications between 8,000-14,000 words in length, from people working on activist, artististic and scholarly projects that offer provocative, thoughtful, radical and imaginative commentary on key contemporary social issues. It is a venue to share work that otherwise cannot find a home. We aim to publish three texts per year.

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In addition to being released free online as a PDF and eBook, RiVAL Vagabonds publications are printed in limited-edition, read by the author(s) as a free audiobook and podcast, and promoted in a range of online and offline media. Vagabonds are somewhere between a polemic, a research paper, a pamphlet and a disposable piece of art.

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To ensure quality and cultivate community, all submissions to the RiVAL Vagabonds series are peer reviewed: the author(s) and editorial team work together to select two peers to vet the manuscript and offer suggestions, as well as a one-page rejoinder. These rejoinders are included in the final publication.

for the Radical Imagination

  • A hybrid publishing series (print, online, audio) for misfit texts of 8,000-14,000 words that are radical, rigorous and resonant .
  • A high-quality pamphlet series for the critical and creative writing of activists, artists and researchers, released in print and as PDFs and eBooks, accompanied by podcasts, webinars and other forms of distribution.
  • An innovative and generative peer review process aimed at building critical community and thoughtful engagement.
  • Texts in the series are
    • Accountable to real social struggles, but take the long view
    • Provocative, but not dogmatic
    • Intellectually rigorous, but written for a wide and thoughtful audience
    • Interdisciplinary in approach, but focussed and concrete
    • Readable, but not necessarily easy
    • Revolutionary in imagination, pragmatic in orientation
  • We aim to appropriate the best aspects of academic, activist and artistic writing while working to reject the oppressive and exploitative systems that enclose them.

What we publish

RiVAL, the ReImagining Value Action Lab, is a platform for fostering and broadcasting the radical imagination. Its Vagabonds series aims to publish fresh, complex, thought-provoking and incisive writing and art about key social struggles in our age. We welcome submissions from renegade academics, strategy-minded activists and organizers, radical artists and others with an axe to grind.

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Publications in the Vagabonds series are theoretically sophisticated, politically astute, focussed on real social struggles and challenging to those in power. Without sacrificing the complexity of the matter, we celebrate writing that escapes the confines of jargon and can speak to multiple audiences. Authors are encouraged to imagine new formats and approaches to presenting their work.  

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While we invite a broad range of submissions, we are especially interested in texts that speak to one or more of RiVAL’s four key themes:

  • financialization, extraction and colonialism
  • debt, financial literacy and the radical imagination
  • revenge politics and the prospects for democracy
  • commons and platforms

Why we do it

The RiVAL Vagabonds series is motivated by a few key factors:

  • There ought to be more vehicles that actively publishes incisive, radical texts that break boundaries and challenge power.
  • We want to create a platform that stands between the ephemerality and immediacy of the online magazine/blog and the slow gravitas of formal book publishing.
  • We want to take time and care to produce urgent and vital texts that can cut through the noise of a crowded media landscape and cohere new critical relationships.  
  • Conventional forms of peer review are often frustrating, time-consuming and unhelpful. We are interested in experimenting with new forms that encourage writing as a reciprocal, community-oriented and generative process.
  • We want to take full advantage of and seize the new opportunities for online publication without sacrificing the quality and care conventionally associated with print.

How we cultivate an audience

Texts published by in the RiVAL Vagabonds series reach audiences in a variety of ways

  • Every text is published on the RiVAL website as a PDF and an eBook under creative commons license.
  • Every text is also simultaneously printed in limited edition (typically, 200 copies) with hand-made covers. Half are given to the author(s), half stay with RiVAL for distribution. We are presently in negotiations with presses and distributors to make these texts available in store for order in North America and Europe.
  • Near the time of their release, key excerpts of RiVAL Vagabonds texts (and/or interviews with the author) are published online in partnership with ROAR Magazine and potentially other venues.
  • Authors of RiVAL Vagabonds texts are supported to produce an audio version which will be released simultaneously on RiVAL’s YouTube and Soundcloud channels as a free audiobook/podcast.
  • Authors are encouraged to work with RiVAL to organize launch events in various localities.
  • RiVAL maintains a modest budget to send physical copies to the right people
  • RiVAL is developing a framework for online promotion, including a mailing list, social media presence and relationships with key venues.
  • RiVAL aims to publish texts that are, in style, length and approach, highly germane for use in university classrooms and in freeschools and reading/ discussion groups. We are cultivating a list of interested teachers and facilitators.
  • In collaboration with the author(s) and potentially the reviewers, RiVAL may organize live online webinars and discussions.

Peer Review

We believe that writing is always a collective and community practice. We want to develop a method of peer review that cultivates this communality to make texts the best they can be and to foster real intellectual, creative and political engagement.

When the RiVAL Vagabonds editorial team accept a submission for publication, they will work with the author(s) to determine two peers to review the text. These reviewers need not have any particular formal qualifications, but they should be people that the author(s) and editor(s) believe can vouch for the quality and vitality of the text, and offer critical and generative feedback on it.

First, reviewers are asked to provide constructive feedback to help the author(s) refine the text. Next, they are asked to provide a short rejoinder (between 250-500 words) to accompany the text in the final publication. The RiVAL Vagabonds series encourages collaboration between the author(s), editors and reviewers and we may organize online or in-person discussions towards this end.

Process

The RiVAL Vagabonds series encourages authors to think imaginatively about how to present their work in a hybrid online/offline format. In print, RiVAL Vagabonds texts are delivered in a standardized design format and packaged in a standard hand-made cover, but editors are enthusiastic about breaking the frame. Meanwhile, the RiVAL website, which runs on a WordPress platform, is available for experimentation. The audiobook/podcast format also accommodates creative engagements.

Conventional submissions typically take the form of a text of between 8,000-46,000 words in length. Texts should be subdivided by headings to make for easier navigation. While texts should not sacrifice their commitment to complexity and theoretical rigour, they should also seek as much as possible to avoid or explain jargon. All texts should aim for a basic undergraduate reading-level. We are in the process of developing a style-guide, but we strongly encourage Chicago formatting with very minimal footnotes.

If you are interested in publishing in the Vagabonds series, you should visit the RiVAL website and fill in the online form (or download, fill-in and send back the Word version). Attach a draft of your submission, as well.

RiVAL aims to publish only three Vagabonds texts per year to ensure we can give each the attention it deserves. As such, we aim to produce texts on a four-month production cycle.

If approved, RiVAL Vagabonds editors will work with you to select and solicit the feedback of peer-reviewers. RiVAL reserves the right to cancel the publication process if the reviews are not encouraging, but it is our preference to work towards publication of texts we send out for review, even if it means extensive revisions.

Once approved by the reviewers, author(s) work with the editor(s) to produce the final text, including copy-editing, layout and proofing. Near the end of this process, the editor(s) will work with the author(s) to produce the accompanying materials: the audiobook/podcast version of the text and supplemental publications such as excerpts and interviews for publication elsewhere.