Publish A Magazine
So many ways to do it
OK. So you are thinking of joining the world of publishing. Welcome. There is always room for another great magazine!
What is a Print Magazine?
We're going to spend our time talking about print magazines -- although some of what we talk about here applies to both digital and print editions. Also, let's generally define a print magazine. It is printed on paper - newsprint, glossy or one of a myriad of paper weights and sizes. To be a magazine, you have to have articles. If not, it is an advertiser and not a magazine at all. So now that we have a simple definition, let's get going.
What is Your Message to Share?
First, why are you thinking of publishing a magazine? Find out what you want to share and ask yourself if a printed magazine is the best avenue for you. The thing is that you have to have something that makes readers want to read your magazine and, more importantly, for your advertisers to want to spend money on ads. You see, most publications rely on advertisers to carry some or all of the costs of production, distribution and everything else.
If you have something that people are going to want to read and you have a likelihood of advertisers wanting to be seen by those readers, you have a fighting chance.
Let's Talk Distribution
If you are going to rely on subscriptions, you will need to create a substantial infrastructure to manage that. For most folks that are new to publishing the route most often gone down is the free subscription magazine. This is where the magazine is distributed on your driveway or in your doctor's office, favorite restaurant or other place where your readers go and your advertisers want to be seen. Getting into the print magazine business is probably easiest with the free "take me home" approach.
For best results, having your magazine in a zillion small stacks in 'every' location imaginable is better than having all your magazines in a few locales. Sure, distribution is easy when there is one dropoff spot -- you also don't have the reach that the local advertisers will want to spend the big bucks on advertising.
Who Writes the Editorial Content?
You need to get content. Do you write it all? Do you get guest writers? Do you buy the writing? Just know that while it sounds easy to get articles it isn't AND the articles might not be the quality that you would want to put in your magazine. Generally, the percentage of editorial content is 40-60% of the magazine with advertising space being the rest. Of course, the advertising is where the money is at so you have to make sure you have enough of it. So, to mangle the words of Mr. Pulitzer "All the news that fits, we print" is the new mantra.
Layout that Magazine!
You will need to layout the magazine (with all the cool design elements that I'm glossing over here) in a program that will allow you to send it off to your printer electronically. Pages, InDesign and lots more are out there. You'll find one that works. Remember too that you have to layout your ads in there too so something that is friendly with pdfs is key as many advertisers will provide you the ad in that format.
If you can do the layout work or know someone that can, great. Otherwise, you can find someone locally or on the web to do the work for you. This work at a minimum will be to layout the ads in the magazine. You might also have to make the ads for your customers -- and manage that process. Of course, your advertising rates should include this service or you should charge for this service separately.
Managing the sales of advertising is a big venture. You could pay someone a salary or a 15-20% commission (on average) to take care of the advertising. If you can't sing your own song on why your magazine and its distribution are so wonderful you'll have to hire someone else to do that for you....and you'll have to make sure that the salesperson(s) is singing your song.
What you charge for the advertising is an algebra problem. For the number of issues that you need to 'blanket' the market, what can you charge? If there are 2,000 copies out there you can't expect to charge as much as if you had 20,000 issues. The good news is that in this particular case it does not cost 10 times as much to print. With some market research you might find out, for instance, that for you can sell a page for $800 as a full page ad. Half pages will be less but not half as much -- maybe $500 each. Quarter pages might be $300 each. You can do whatever makes sense for you and your advertisers.
Getting it Printed
Printing of the magazine is something that is not difficult per se. Get the file put together properly, send it off to the printer (local or far away) and wait for the printing to take place. I've done final proofs of magazines and then a few hours later over 10,000 copies have been printed, bound, boxed and ready to ship. It's crazy to think about it.
What we do with our magazine (www.thebunkroom.com) is we focus on the content and create magazines that we license to local publishers that only have to focus on the sales, layout, printing and distribution. For many folks, having a magazine with a general audience readership provided to them works out fine. The bonus is that ours is written entirely by kids so it is a great magazine for just about any advertiser.
If the whole reason that you wanted to do the magazine was to get your own content out there, well, this would not work for you. For those that like to help inspire kids to love reading and writing yet don't have the time or talent for all that editorial work, this works fine.
As for frequency-- it is all about the marketplace -- annual, bi-annual, quarterly, monthly or other -- and you'll have to figure that out. Remember, the more you print and the more often you print drives a great deal of the revenue structure of your operation. We publish ours six times a year.
Think There's a Market?
As you will see below, the type of magazine you publish matters. In today's world, the news magazines are getting pounded by that internet thing but the specialty or niche markets are doing pretty well.
We could go on and on about all the things you need to think about -- just know that whatever it is that you want to accomplish -- You can do it.
Niche Magazines are doing well
How we publish local editions
Learn one way to Publish
Licensing might be a good way for you to get started -- Remember that you don't have to buy your content -- you can always do it yourself.