Here's my initial thought. Since we have no funds currently, we should have modest aims. As much as I would love to pay all the writers and artists pro rates from the get go, that's just not feasible. (It's also less of a concern than it was with Strange Horizons, because we aren't SF-specific, so the SFWA minimum isn't a factor in attracting submissions.) Although there's certainly a tradition of excellent literary magazines that only pay in copies, it's important to me that we pay the writers and artists SOMETHING. But I think the better part of valor is to aim small and sustainable for now, and if we can raise more funds, great -- then we can always increase the pay rate as we go.
I want to have three years of funding up front before we start -- that lets me know that this is going to happen, and that it's worth my time investment to work on it. So let's say we aim to raise $3000. That's $1000 / year budget, with volunteer staff. That's $250 / quarter, which would give us something like this for a token payment:
fiction ($100): $25 each for 4 stories
articles ($50): $25 each for 2 articles
reviews ($50): $10 each for 5 reviews
poetry ($50): $10 each for 5 poems
art ($0): no payment to artists initially, but we can feature 2-4 artists / issue in a gallery, get their work out there and hopefully that will help them find cover art or illustration work
Yes, I know the payments are miniscule. No one will be getting rich off publishing with us, and obviously, we're not going to be attracting big-name authors with this. But if our primary goal is to support South Asian and diaspora authors, initially at least, my main concern is to get people's names out there, get people reading their work.
I'm also happy to include reprints from bigger name authors, since again, the goal is to get more exposure for their work. If Anita Desai published a story in a collection fifteen years ago, I'd be delighted to reprint it, since I'm guessing the vast majority of people haven't read it. If she wanted to donate it to the magazine, even better. (And, of course, if any of the other contributors chose to donate their work rather than take their tiny payment, that would be great -- it would go back into the pool to let us continue publishing longer.)
So, what do you guys think? We could, of course, set a higher fund-raising goal -- $6000 would let me double all those payment numbers above. But $6000 is also a lot harder to raise, and I'm not sure the trade-off is worth it.
As a writer, I'd much rather there was a solid, sustainable, serious publication out there that I could regularly submit to for years to come. That would be more important to me than getting $50 instead of $25 for a story. But maybe others disagree? C'mon -- now's your chance to argue with me. :-)