May 22, 2016 § Leave a comment
Here’s an interview about The New Territory just before its release.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
ifwhen I have boxes of leftover copies, I can just go pick them up and not have to pay for shipment.
- 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.
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!
September 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
Kai Brach is founder and publisher of indie mag Offscreen, a print book about the tech world. On its website, Brach blogs often about magazine making in a much more informed and succinct manner than I. He also gives talks on his process, and I’ll dissect one because I listened to it this morning and loved every minute.
Things he does that are different and/or practical and/or rad
- Make a spreadsheet of the content plan! Ah, if only I could zoom into that video.
- Use Google Docs as people enter their contributions.
- Make a calm, sophisticated, thoughtful, approachable and friendly layout, to counter the hyperlinked world of the Offscreen audience.
- Use 100% recycled paper! It even has woody debris?
- Replace advertising with unified sponsorships. A reader told him they read every single word of the magazine, including the advertisements. Brill. Eee. Ent.
- Go through stockists rather than traditional newsstands. I have put blinders on the idea that distributors take 20% of your cover price, and retailers keep another 40%. Plus, once it’s off the newsstand, the issue is sent to the crematory. “I don’t want to see my babies destroyed,” he said. Neither do I!!
- He asks his subjects for photographer suggestions. Since this is an international title, it makes sense that you wouldn’t have a robust global network, especially at first. Could still apply to a regional magazine.
- He also, somewhere in there, mentioned that he found people much like I’ve been finding people: Twitter, clicking links, reaching out. That’s encouraging, too. 🙂
And here’s a more recent talk, just as open and interesting as before.
Offscreen is donating $10 of all single issue purchases to help refugees in Europe, hopefully through the rest of the day (it’s already Thursday in Melbourne, oops).
Kai! You’re an inspiration! Keep doing what you do, and I intend to join your print club soon. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
McSweeney’s started a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign, and though it’s not obvious why the need you to give them money, they do offer a nice package of perks along the way (a perk of being a well-established publishing personality). Here are a few of my favorites:
- Ben Greenman writing a fake celebrity musical about crowdfunding that incorporates your name (for $50).
- Six all-new issues of The Believer (for $70).
- An invite-only summer party at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco (for $100).
And to be fair, they are talking about updating websites, the costs of podcasts and magazines, etc. But hey, it’s also a nice 60-day storefront, so go check it out!
(And stay tuned for my very own crowdfunding pitch soon!)
April 23, 2015 § 1 Comment
M12, an international rural arts collective, just published two cool little books. From a publications standpoint, they’re really interesting: small “field guides” of ephemera, published as a series. Like erudite zines. Here’s what M12 said about the project in an email, sent yesterday:
The Center Pivot Series is produced by Last Chance Press (M12) in collaboration with Jap Sam Books. Each of the volumes is produced in a limited edition of 250 copies and formatted as a small field guide. Through interdisciplinary approaches, this series explores and connects the changing realities of rural landscapes and communities around the world. The books present an array of curated notes, documents, and research ephemera combined with images, poetry, and more formal visual and written works. Each volume is assembled and edited by M12 Studio. M12 is pleased to be working closely with publisher Jap Sam Books and designer Peter de Kan on these editions. The “spinning horse” logo for the Last Chance Press books and records has been designed by American artist Star Wallowing Bull (Ojibwe-Arapaho, b. 1973).
Cool Pastoral Splendor (No. 01)
“Cool Pastoral Splendor includes a selection of pictures from Richard Saxton’s Rural Research Archive and accompanying writings by Kurt Wagner. Saxton and Wagner are among a rare breed of artists focusing on the non-heroic, psychic and lyrical unfolding of daily events. Both Saxton and Wagner infuse the work with their own rural experiences, but no single genre or culture captures the whole of these intentions. Cool Pastoral Splendor leaves us in search of beauty hidden in plain sight.” -Kirsten Stoltz
An Equine Anthology (No. 02)
“An Equine Anthology stitches together non-linear histories, testimonies, and interpretations of equine culture from the American Southwest and beyond. Far from representing binaries of the romantic and mundane, of personality and commodity, An Equine Anthology presents the reader with a broad topographical view of the horse, an image that reaches well beyond that of American mythology. M12’s anthology combines poetics with research methodologies that delve into the unseen, hidden, and overlooked to create a work that is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Sanjit Sethi, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute
M12 is primarily concerned with art, research, education and outreach, so it makes sense for them to culminate their work into publications. They started with a book chronicling their ten years of work, so now I’m interested to see where the Center Pivot Series goes.