My interview on the ShowMe Food Podcast

May 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

Here’s an interview about The New Territory just before its release.

Finding a printer for my magazine

January 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

I Googled this subject line. Results include:

  • A Wikihow page riddled with exclamation points by an author who maybe has published a Zine or taken a marketing class.
  • A magazine startup guide on MagazinePublisher.com. MagazinePublisher.com’s logo uses the Impact font.
  • Various businesses offering to print your magazines.

Of course, these never answered, “How much will printing a magazine cost?” How could they? Every publication is different. When I searched for a printer for The New Territory, I didn’t use any guides and didn’t bother with services online. In fact, I probably spent relatively little time deciding. That said, I humbly offer this case study as an alternative to generic instructions.

mock1_cover

Mock cover of The New Territory, designed by Kerri Voyles.

How we decided how our magazine would look

Woo, hey, this is important: What’s the footprint (dimensions) of the magazine, and how many pages are you going to print?

Over the holidays, Katie—yes, the Katie of roadtrip fame, and now NT’s creative director (!)—and I fanned a couple dozen magazines over a table in a coffee shop. We talked the tactile aspect of magazines (likes: Offscreen’s size and subtle embossing, how ink soaks into non-gloss paper like the great photos on The Outpost; dislikes: Fast Company’s sandpaper cover, the disposable feel of Harper’s despite some of the most timeless and valuable journalism). We walked away with some pretty firm priorities that helped limit our decisions.

  1. Quality material: While I’ve been leaning toward a higher-end feel to the printing, the democracy-loving journalist in me cried a little. But, as Katie’s business-savvy husband coached, the magazine is a product, and to convince people to buy it, it needs to feel special. We can still post policy-important stories for free online, but the print product will be exclusive. So, thicker paper, perfect binding (versus stapled or saddle stitched), here we come.
  2. Size: Small-size publications that would fit well on a bookshelf just feel permanent. Since we’re indie, quarterly and longform, this seems like the right size for us at this time. If we increase frequency, we might redesign to mimic regular magazines, but for now we’re going small and thick.
  3. Local: The only firm focuses of NT is our regional scope, so we want to source locally whenever possible. And, it’s been really nice to visit printers in person, touch all their papers, see their titles, get good shipping rates, and know that if when I have boxes of leftover copies, I can just go pick them up and not have to pay for shipment.
  4. Responsible paper sourcing: We all come from strong roots in sustainability, so if possible, we want to lighten our environmental impact.

What printers offer, and how much they cost:

Turns out, mid-Missouri has several businesses in the national magazine printing scene. I researched a few and visited two. I share the following information for your comparison purposes:

Printer A: 96 pages, with a 60# soft gloss paper and 80# matte cover in 8.5″ x 11″*
* This company runs a web printer, so setup costs are high. The sales rep told me we could go as small as we want, but the web printer doesn’t have a lot of flexibility and whatever margins we slice off would end up recycled. And we’d pay the same price either way. So we were only quoted for a standard paper size.

1,000 copies: $5,306.16 (or $5.31/copy)

2,000 copies: $5,784.35 (or $2.89/copy)

My takeaway from this company was that they were really good, and they’re really well equipped to do big print runs. But, they said, until we can print about 5,000 copies, they aren’t able to do any custom orders on paper. The basic paper options were either too glossy or too low-budget-feeling for our tastes, too. So, the search continued.

#magazines #printing #printingpress #paper #ink #midwest #midmo

A video posted by Tina Casagrand (@gasconader) on Oct 23, 2015 at 8:01am PDT

 

Printer B: 96 pages, with 60# offset paper and 80# accent opaque cover in 8.5″ x 11″*
* Listing here for comparison purposes.

1,000 copies: $4,394.26 (or $4.39/copy)

2,000 copies: $5,432.80 (or $2.71/copy)

in 7″ x 10″*
* This printer does sheet printing, so they could fit more pages onto a sheet if we go this size or smaller.

1,000 copies: $4,332.98 (or $4.33/copy)

2,000 copies: $5,326.03 (or $2.66/copy)

Of course, I understand knocking down the size means less space to put words and pictures—and thus we are actually diminishing our potential by rolling with 7×10. But it’s a principle and damnit, we’re standing on it.

Also, since this printer has equipment more attuned to smaller print runs, we save a lot of money on the upfront cost. “Once you get to 20,000, you might want to explore other options,” the sales rep told me. I’ll be super happy if we can get the first 1,000 in peoples’ hands for this first issue, so that is a-ok for now.

 

I also noticed that even though I told my sales reps we would be printing 128-page minimums, which is still within their 16-page signature standard, I always got quotes for 96 pages. I don’t know if that’s to not lose us at sticker shock, or if 96 is some sort of industry standard. But just so you know, we do hope to be thicker than 96 pages.

Other things to keep in mind when choosing a magazine printer:

1.) How the company will ship. Both these printers are equipped to take your mailing list and ship it out under their media license (Printer B even had a USPS office on-site), so they were pretty equal in that category.

2.) What other custom printing options they can offer. Do you want blow-in cards (those little subscription cards that fall out whenever you pick up magazines from the grocery store)? Do you want your magazine packaged in a poly bag, so you don’t have to design a name label on the cover (Printer A charges $50/1,000, plus a $75 setup fee)? Special inserts? Custom covers? Printer A prints its special covers through a “mothership” partner the specializes in yearbooks. Printer B has a little machine that can do embossing and metallic foiling on-site, but they still have to order die cuts for the process. These are all things you ought to consider ahead of time and ask during a visit.

Another option for self-publishing:

Like I said, I didn’t bother looking at online options, but when I scanned a few sites today, it looked like they were targeting companies just printing magazines as a sidenote, AND the sites charged more upfront than the local presses.

However, if you’re lucky enough to live near an “Espresso Book Machine,” that might be an option for a micro-run of a magazine. The Mizzou Book Store has one, and it does good stuff! The quality feels a little homespun, and the cost per copy is going to be higher, but the store keeps all their projects on file and can print on demand for you anytime. When I taught writing at the Missouri Scholars Academy last year, we got 25 copies of our class book proofed and printed in the span of 3 hours, and with the university discount, it cost just under $5 for a ~60-page book in 7″ x 10″. Not too shabby!

Alright, that’s all I know. Or–is it? I bet if you have questions, I have an answer. Leave me a comment!

« Read the rest of this entry »

{ How To Make Money With Magazines: A Dreamer’s Guide }

September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Coverage Area-01Whaddup, readers. If I’ve been a wee bit absent, it’s because, this time, I’m actually moving forward with making a magazine instead of just blogging about magazine-making.

Cue the trumpets: We’re calling it The New Territory, and it’s going to feature the south-central U.S. in full color: a general scope of genres and topics, with a proudly regional focus. Of course I’ll discuss my process here, but The Gasconader will remain first and foremost a cheering/advice section for all kinds of magazines and Midwest art projects. To follow progress on The New Territory (TNT) specifically, subscribe to my new newsletter, The Roar of Discovery.

So. The last newsletter’s subject was getting “Down to Business,” and I highlighted some ideas for generating revenue for this title. After several years working in and around nonprofits as well as small businesses, establishing TNT as a self-sustaining for-profit company is important to me. Going for-profit is a rare approach for magazine focused on meaningful storytelling (rather than lifestyle, say), especially in our region. The only one that comes to mind is This Land Press in Oklahoma. Columbia Journalism Review did a great story about them back in 2012.

While I try to keep a close eye on both editorial and business ends of magazine-making, there’s still a ton to learn. I’m taking a moment today, using The New Territory as an example, to discuss different approaches to revenue and profit. If you want a primer on why it’s a good idea to diversify funding strategies, start with this Nieman Labs article, “The newsonomics of small things.”

Here’s how I weighed each idea, and keep in mind, I have raised precisely -$300 for the project so far. So maybe you should be schooling me. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Change and Adaptation }

May 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Traveling to St. Louis by bike, then train, then bike seemed a fitting measure for a climate adaptation conference. I got to attend a forum in St. Louis this month through a Metcalf Institute fellowship, which generously covered travel and our stay at the Union Station hotel, arranged for a tour of the Danforth Center and organized an all-day orientation to the latest climate concepts. The experience has had a surprising effect on my own career plans.

Bike Buddies!

Bike Buddies!

At the National Adaptation Forum, hundreds discussed gameplans for urban heatswells and rural ecology and how to mitigate the warming effect that nearly everyone’s feeling. The main irony being that these talks took place in rooms so cold that people drank tea just to warm their fingers, that my dresses were paired with the same brown cardigan all four days. But conferences are always overchilled, no matter the focus. At the Society of Environmental Journalists in muggy New Orleans, or at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in already-cool Denver. No fault of the organizers. What I did appreciate from this National Adaptation Forum was the ceramic lunchware and drinkware, the utter lack of frills to the registration process. Just a program. No bag stuffed with handouts and pens and rulers I don’t want.

I’m sorry, but what does this slogan even mean?

Utilities and objects aside, the looming irony was the forum’s location in a state most emphatically unaffected by climate change. As presenters talked about sea level rise, we were an 8-hour drive to the nearest shoreline. As they talked about drought, the nearby Missouri and Mississippi Rivers ran a tad flooded. At a booth displaying St. Louis city’s sustainability efforts, I bumped into a man who works for San Francisco. He sought some insight into the host city’s initiatives, and even though I don’t live there, I felt a little embarrassed. Their sustainability plan is so basic, it could have been written by third-graders: Recycling. Getting kids outdoors. Planting more trees. Things to do with development that don’t really address climate at all. Here’s the thing, I told the man from San Francisco. We’re in Missouri, a state founded on abundance and self-sufficiency. We have mines and forests and plenty of water. If this were Settlers of Catan, we’d have our pieces on all the prime corners. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Mosenthein Island }

March 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

First river cleanup of the year. Actually, lots of firsts. Boating through a lock system. Being on the Mississippi River. Camping on an island in the middle of it.

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Seldom seen parts of this mid-American landscape. I want to find them all and show you. I’m “working from home” now, a misnomer that actually frees me to be intentionally anywhere.

The last few weeks have slayed my spirit. This weekend reminded me how to rise and fall in full view of the sun. Here’s to moving forward.

{ Also }

Listening
Ash Wednesday
by Elvis Perkins

Reading
“Going It Alone” by Fenton Johnson (twice)
“Rotten Ice” by Gretel Ehrlich (both in the April Harper’s)

{ In which I profess my love for Belt Magazine }

March 6, 2015 § 2 Comments

If I could point to a publication that’s doing—conceptually—what I’d like to do, I’d throw my whole stance, Lewis-and-Clark-style, toward Belt Magazine. Belt doesn’t just “lead the pack” in Midwest publishing. It is the pack. A lone wolf, if you will. And as the print-anthology and online-journalism publication heads toward its third year, I’m still as excited about it as when it first came out. Born of a Cleveland writing anthology, Belt Publishing is creating a platform for Midwest writers to congregate and do just damn good work.

Belt Magazine publishes independent journalism about the Rust Belt. Online only, it launched in September 2013, and focuses on longform journalism, op-eds and first person essays of interest to the Rust Belt and beyond.

Belt Magazine publishes independent journalism about the Rust Belt. Online only, it launched in September 2013, and focuses on longform journalism, op-eds and first person essays of interest to the Rust Belt and beyond.

Tomorrow I’ll post a quick interview with Belt’s editor, Anne Trubek. But first, here’s why I think the magazine is so important:

Belt bolsters Midwest regional writing.

“There are a number of high-quality regional publications,” founder and publisher Anne Trubek told The American Prospect. “The New Yorker is the most obvious one—you don’t think of it as regional but it is. Texas Monthly and Pacific Standard are other good examples. There’s not a single example in the Midwest. People read those publications who aren’t in those regions because they’re interested in them, or because the writing is very good. That’s what I would like Belt to be seen as, and become.”

{ See also, “Midwest Lit: the new nostalgia.” }

It’s identified a regional audience for Belt not so much by geography as history.

Which is a little academic, a little heady. And I love it for that.

Trubek again: “There are a lot of similar issues in these cities that had their peaks around the same time, are facing similar problems now with housing and manufacturing loss. They have incredible cultural institutions that are about the same age, similar immigration patterns—there are so many commonalities.”

{ See also, “Where is the Rust Belt?” }

It curates sophisticated, serious, longform journalism and first-person essays.

Some of my favorites include this piece on Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen, a fascinating investigation of a county probate judge’s weird attempts to take down the local parks district, and “A Middle-Aged Student’s Guide to Social Work.” There’s an underlying, unapologetic certainty that social justice, culture and the environment deserve deep journalistic dissection.

“We’re trying to avoid the trap of page views, which snares you into a cycle of putting out more and more things. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that strategy, but if everything’s like that then you’re going to lose certain kinds of writing.”

I also love this closing quote from a Nieman Labs interview, in which Trubek takes a firm stance that people in Rust Belt cities should care about what’s going on in other Rust Belt cities. That there should be a way to get “Clevelanders to read about Buffalo,” for example. This is bold. Most publishers would approach this the other way, right? See what ideas are viable among communities, and then choose a philosophic approach? I’m interested to see if/how Belt might influence the regional identity.

Trubek has pretty much insisted that women be published equally.

At one point, I went to social media and said if we don’t get more women pitching I’m just going to shut down Belt for a week.” – Trubek, to the American Prospect.

Annnnnd its first print magazine is all about wildlife.

I’m in love.

{ Read more about Redhorse: The Rust Belt Bestiary. } « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Ode to the Midwest }

January 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Poetry from a native Nebraskan:

The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
—Bob Dylan

I want to be doused
in cheese
& fried. I want
to wander
the aisles, my heart’s
supermarket stocked high
as cholesterol. I want to die
wearing a sweatsuit—
I want to live
forever in a Christmas sweater,
a teddy bear nursing
off the front. I want to write
a check in the express lane.
I want to scrape
my driveway clean
myself, early, before
anyone’s awake—
that’ll put em to shame—
I want to see what the sun
sees before it tells
the snow to go. I want to be
the only black person I know.
I want to throw
out my back & not
complain about it.
I wanta drive
two blocks. Why walk—
I want love, n stuff—
I want to cut
my sutures myself.
I want to jog
down to the river
& make it my bed—
I want to walk
its muddy banks
& make me a withdrawal.
I tried jumping in,
found it frozen—
I’ll go home, I guess,
to my rooms where the moon
changes & shines
like television.
PS – Thanks, Ulzii.

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