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!

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{ 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)

{ Plato, Missouri: Center of the U.S. (a new photozine project by Ben Hoste) }

September 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Have you ever seen Plato, Missouri, looking so good? I hadn’t. But I do really really appreciate when people pay attention to tiny rural places. So I’m really really excited that photographer (and University of Missouri J-School alum!) Ben Hoste is coming back all the way from New York to document a place just 30 miles from where I grew up. If that makes you excited too, you can back the project on Kickstarter!

For the 2010-2020 decade, Plato will be known as the exact population center of the United States, one point on an persistently westward path, which Ben elegantly says, “can be seen as the echo of manifest destiny.” He’s making photozines out of the pictures he’s taking there.

You know what I appreciate? Commitment. This will be the second time he visits and makes a zine. I also appreciate universalizing experiences:

I choose to focus my camera on seemingly momentless situations in an effort to make photographs absent of time. My goal is to explore both a local and universal understanding of America through the people and landscape of Plato, Missouri.

I think Ben makes a good enough case for his project, but just so you know, all my most talented photojournalism friends confirm he’s awesome, too. I’m admittedly a little late to the game (he was already 122% funded when I finally pledged some money), but dangit I want those photozines! If you want one to, go back it yourself, because he’ll only print as many as get backed.

(P.S. – Ben recently finished another local project, “Good Earth: Missouri’s Old Lead Belt.” It’s appropriately beautiful and eerie.)

(P.P.S. – Good Earth reminds me of Stacy Kranitz’s Appalachian photos.)

(P.P.P.S. – Speaking of documenting tiny places, remember that time I did a Q&A with the directors of Rich Hill?)

{ Streets Named After Muses }

September 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

For four mornings in New Orleans, my eyes opened to a sunrise over the Mississippi River. That’s always a good start. I was there for a gathering of environmental journalists, but it was also a fine place to gather my own thoughts and intentions.

Each day began with a long walk. Early on Saturday, sick of the French Quarter’s storefronts and smells, I set out in the opposite direction. Passing under a highway, beyond old churches and homeless shelters, I ended up in a part of the city where the streets are named after muses. That’s another good start.

There’s a great coffee shop there, in this supposedly seedy area that raised eyebrows when I mentioned it to locals. The woman who owns the place said she came to New Orleans to help after the BP oil spill. When I asked if she was still involved in environmental efforts, she shrugged and motioned around. Her place is in the coffee shop now. She’s building roots, giving back. Making me a mocha.

A sweet little dog at Church Alley Coffee in New Orleans.

A sweet little dog at Church Alley Coffee in New Orleans.

I met a few other inspiring business owners that weekend, not to mention the plethora of conference-going freelancers. The ones doing it right are intensely focused, wrapped up in the joy of creation.

And where am I? After a spring of discontent and summer of peaceful happiness, my personal life feels complete. I’m stable again. So I’m once again ready to create art. Or commit acts of journalism. Ideally both. I’m ready to rejoin those creators.

Here’s what else I got from the conference:

  • I met and spent time with some very cool Midwest ladies and gents. Of course, cool people come from everywhere, but there’s this sub-tribal element to bonding over the same landscape and same culture. There’s talk among us of recruiting more journalists from the area and getting together outside of the annual conference. If you know anything about me, you know how exciting this prospect is. And if you’re a Midwest/lower Midwest/Texas/Oklahoma/Arkansas environmental writer, send me a line and I’ll include you in our plans!
  • I also talked to people who run field reporting trips and others who work with youth, and it got me excited again about doing that myself. I’ve planned to design a print publication class for the Missouri Scholars Academy, so it makes perfect sense to narrow it into some sort of nature writing curriculum.
  • Overall, the encouragement was overwhelming. Whether it came from award-winning writers or people in about the same pond as me, I drew a lot of energy from their stories and advice. The takeaway: there’s no single way to do this. Trust yourself.

So that brings us to now, with gray skies and an autumn breeze seeping through my windows. I’m following leads and sending emails and trying to lay down roots in my own way.

Yesterday, back in Jefferson City, I worked out of Three Story Coffee, one of those shops with a conscience. They don’t even have WiFi, which seemed strange at first, but is growing on me. I ran into the president of the local Audubon chapter and eavesdropped on cops learning about espresso blends. It feels right to return to Mid-Missouri, where my muses of nature and culture inspire me every day. And that, my friend, is always a good start.

At Three Story Coffee in Jefferson City.

At Three Story Coffee in Jefferson City.

{ Reconnaissance and Relief }

May 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

Ahoy! Results ain’t quite in for Missouri River Relief‘s cleanup at St. Joseph, Missouri (when they are, you can find them here), but I couldn’t wait any longer to share the experience from May 15-18. This was my third away-team cleanup as a crew member. My first experience with the group was back in 2009, and despite attending dozens of events as a regular volunteer, it’s impossible to know just how much work goes into preparing for these things.

First, there’s the matter of time and location. Where’s a good boat ramp to conduct a cleanup, and where can we camp that’s reasonably close? At St. Joe, we lucked out with Remington Nature Center hosting us on its grounds, just a parking lot away from the boat docks. We cut driftwood behind the building and established a kitchen underneath it, pitched tents by Roy’s Creek, and built a campfire laughably close to the city’s riverside bike trail.

Sunrise on Roy's Creek. I wouldn't mind unzipping my tent to this every day.

Sunrise on Roy’s Creek. I wouldn’t mind unzipping my tent to this every day.

And then there are logistics of the cleanup itself.

Since an aerial trash scout in 2011, it’s been a little easier to spot dump sites on maps. Even so, there’s a lot of foot work for crew members to find litter that’s washed in by recent floods. The day before a big cleanup, we scout for sites up and downstream, about five miles each way, on both sides of the river. A few people are elected dispatchers and assistants, a couple drive the boats, and the rest of the group piles in to check out the damage.

The river was low that week, meaning steep and muddy banks. Melanie, Jennifer, and I scrambled up them into the woods to find trash caught behind logs and foliage. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot to find, maybe because the river is so straight and swift in this channelized stretch by the city. I did, however, eat a bowlful of lamb’s quarter, watch several Common Yellowthroats flitting through the woods, and even scared up a Nighthawk! Seeing a Caprimulgid in the daytime was a first for me. Just one of the little serendipitous joys in getting outside.

2014-05-16 17.10.01

Boots get muddy. Boats get muddy. Mud gets muddy.

That was Friday. A pretty easygoing day, although the scout does get tiring after a while. We assign jobs for the crew the night before, and get started really early the next day. Like, 6 a.m. breakfast early. On a Saturday! Then follows this volley of set-up, registration, driver meeting, volunteer orientation, safety talks and finally–rejoice!–getting out on the boats.

It’s a lot to do before noon, but we pull it off flawlessly, crew members filling in wherever they’re needed. Because turnout was fairly light this day, the drivers and first mates got to stay with their boatful of volunteers instead of leaving to get another group. That was awesome for me, as I got more alone time in nature, and was able to hang out with a totally precious gang of 7-year-old bicyclists. On the way back, when I ate an orange and tossed the peel in the stream, one of the kids looked totally disappointed. “Eli, what’s wrong?” He threw his palms in the air and said, “You’re littering!” in such a dismayed voice that I’m sure my response of, “don’t panic, it’s organic” would fail to redeem my sin.

After the cleanup, we give lunch to our volunteers, host and judge a trash contest, chill for a while, then peel out in the boats again to pick up the trash. Volunteers leave their bags, tires and other stuff on the shore. We pick it up in the afternoon in a streamlined fashion.

2014-05-17 14.01.59

This, my friend, is a well-orchestrated daisy chain of trash.

2014-05-17 13.33.01

John Brady is our premiere frontloader communicatuer. Here, he’s telling the driver to smash down on this refrigerator.

I’m a little exhausted just writing about this. Which is ok, because feeling exhausted means you did a lot of hard work, eh? And what better frame of mind for a sunset walk on a trail by the river? This was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, seriously. Even my fancy new iPhone (hey world, I finally upgraded!) couldn’t capture it’s glory, but here. I tried.

2014-05-17 20.04.02

You can catch me at the next river cleanup at Leavenworth, Kansas, and Weston, Missouri the weekend of June 7. Seriously, come if you can (free boat ride and fuzzy feelings), and if you can’t, follow my Twitter and Instagram. (Yep, Instagram. That’s new for me. Give me something to follow!) I’ll bring you along for the ride.

{ 25 years of Missouri Stream Team }

March 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Folks, I’m a polyblogger. It’s a lot like a pollywog, in that my baby writings are floating around the Internet, and only one or two will survive to print-publication adulthood.

The water-themed reference is apt, because my latest venture is the Missouri Stream Team 25th Anniversary Blog. We’re commemorating a quarter-century of one of the state’s biggest volunteer environmental efforts. With only one year to celebrate, there’s no holding back on content. Not only will this be a clearinghouse of information for the 25+ celebratory events happening across the state, we’re also posting cool archival finds, current advocacy alerts, and stream-related news nationwide.

most25

Because it’s run by the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition, we’ll have access to leaders with lots of collective stewardship wisdom. Our goal is to create a culture around the blog, Stream Team, and Missouri environment through storytelling and conversation. If you love clean water, you should follow the blog and come along for the ride! I’ll see you there.

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