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’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.


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 run a one-man magazine show }

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 »

{ 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 »

{ 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?)

{ Alt fashion mag publisher talked to The Riveter. And thus meets my yearly quota of fashion news. }

September 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Aren’t Sunday mornings great? After recovering from a busy river cleanup and music festival in Boonville, I woke up to a crescent moon! In my window! And the wealth of the internet! At my fingertips! Thank God it’s 2014.

So while shaking off sleep, I checked in on websites I love and admire and stopped at The Riveter, a year-old publication founded by two Mizzou J-School women dedicated to women in longform journalism. They’re rad, the magazine’s rad, and you should probably go like them now before they’re famous.

Anyway, The Riveter’s most recent Q&A introduced me to Haley Mlotek, publisher of 10-year-old fashion mag WORN Fashion Journal and new editor of The Hairpin. She talked about the publisher-editor relationship, whether anyone at Worn gets paid, and what she thinks of Vogue.

“There’s a lack of urgency to a lot of their pieces,” she says in the interview and later, “As the publisher of WORN, I’m always thinking about why my magazine needs to exist, why people need to read it, because there’s a huge newsstand out there, and if you can’t tell your reader why they need to read the magazine you’ve made, then it’ll get lost.”

That’s great in itself, but the interview also links to Mlotek’s fascinating dissection of Vogue and fashion writing. It’s a worthy article for anyone interested in magazine identity and voice and—bonus—it forced me to Google “normcore.” Because hi, sorry, I live in mid-Missouri, and ironic fashion takes a while to settle in here.

WORN looks beautiful and meaningful and energetic, like a zine with more time on its hands. And I mean that as a high compliment, especially because I just watched this really good Kathleen Hanna documentary on Netflix last night.

Anyway, go click those linksss. But then come back and give me more links to read! I became the caretaker of an iPad yesterday and I hear I’m supposed to be doing something on it all the time. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Magazines are still printing. On paper! They’re finding creativity out of limitations. And they’re finally featuring graphic novelists. }

September 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

As mentioned before, I was gone a lot this summer. Camping, traveling, phone off, laptop closed. Magazines stacked up like stalagmites underneath my coffee table, and a digital digest of boutique pubs pooled up on my Feedly. Finally, after drinking coffee in the afternoon and thus staying awake late late late, I binged on all the indie mag news from the past couple months til now. I wanted to share the highlights with you and flesh out the most stand-out ideas. I have to hand it to Stack magazines, magCulture and Magpile for doing the real work of documenting these ventures. I’m just rehashing stuff that made me say, “oooh.”

{ Slow Journalism, a.k.a. Longform, a.k.a. This is all I want out of life and print magazines }

beltwayThe Intentional Quarterly is “dedicated to building creative communities and showcasing emerging artists.” They rock a print magazine, a clean website, and even host events. I love events.

Here’s a sample of writing: “So, My Roommates are My Parents” is a funny, well-edited piece on privilege (by this founder of cool-looking project Be You Be Sure); there’s a phenomenal story/essay/f**king great piece of writing from MISSOURI, nay THE OZARKS (!) featuring, among other great observations, a racist conservationist neighbor named Bud; and the editor gives a passionate declaration of faith in the print medium that nearly made me cry tears of joy:

The Intentional is long-form because it is, because I had a magazine baby, and it was born that way. Because that is what was conceived when the world asked me how I wanted to interact with it.

Sooo, that’s inspiring. There’s also Delayed Gratification, “the world’s first slow journalism magazine” (the qualifier being a little ironic since they decry “today’s ultra-fast news cycle” that “rates being first above being right”). At any rate, their newest issue is out now, with art from Ai WeiWei on the cover.

And then, I really enjoyed magCulture’s “At Work With” interview with Weapons of Reason founder Danny Miller. When asked about the mag’s “rabble rousing name,” Miller said:

Honestly we’re not fighters or activists at all. The mag looks at some very challenging topics, but at the same time we’re not trying to be political, or even draw conclusions. We realised when researching our first cover topic – The Arctic – it was such a vast area that the best we could do was to identify the best questions to be asking. From there we could commission the right stories, and ultimately look to present the key facts that inform the debate to readers in a way that would allow them to connect the dots themselves.

Hey look, straight journalism with objective reporting. Walter Williams is shedding a tear in journalism heaven. I also like how Weapons of Reason is taking on a single, serious topic and exploring it through “past, present, and future” lenses, similar to what The Outpost does by looking at “What’s Happening, What’s Not Happening, and What Could Happen” in its magazine about the Arab world. Again, creativity from limitation. Again, awesome.

{ Creative Approaches }

The WoR interview also alluded to a limitation of eight issues. Is this a trend? Because Dirty Furniture talks of doing the same thing (one piece of furniture explored per issue…neat…weird, but neat). I can see advantages to that “finite printing” concept. Experiment, make people want it now because they can’t always get it later, achieve a specific goal and be done with it. If that’s your goal, that’s cool. Something to think about…

A few more: Stand & Deliver magazine uses core subjects (in this case, standup comedy) to spin off in other directions. Like, profile one man, reprint a children’s comic he made, publish pages from his notebooks, and write an overview of other comedians from his home country. Or, more generally, include researched articles along with photography and other cool stuff. It lets creativity flow from limitations, and that can be a very good thing.

And finally, The Guardian magazine redesign is running a weekly graphic novel series. Also, at the SEJ conference, we learned that OnEarth magazine’s next packaged publication will feature a graphic novel. I’m personally thrilled.

{ New Takes on Travel }

A genre all its own! But worthy of critique and a new way forward. First, Compass Cultura is a new digital magazine that publishes three quality pieces of travel writing for $2 each issue. Here’s what they have to say for themselves:

We don’t publish puff-pieces, round-ups or sponsored articles. We take pride in storytelling and readability.

Compass Cultura is for people who like to travel and discover. It’s for people who are sick and tired of the bubble-gum travel section of their local newspaper. It’s for people who are fed up with airy 500-word travel-and-leisure blurbs published by major media outlets.

Compass Cultura is your new alternative travel publication. Let us tell you some stories.


Steve Watson at Stack did a long interview with the magazine’s creative director. It shows a magazine reveling in digital and keeping alight the torch of quality longform storytelling. I also appreciate their business model that shirks short-term startup money in favor of sustainable funding, or “revenue-backed growth.”

And hey! Its second issue came out this week. That’s exciting. Once I get a minute I might just lay down $2 to see what it’s all about.

Finally, Unmapped offers “hidden stories from around the world, about ideas, events, places and people that have been left off the map.”

The paywall’s strict: two articles and you’re bumped out. The few articles I did read (thanks, multiple browsers) feel about as broad as the mission statement: unpolished first-person pieces, some narrative, others just descriptive. Often with good photography. A nice project, but lacking a strong identity. I think that’s hard to do when you’re featuring places from all over, but not impossible. Maybe they just need more limitations.

{ Wildland Magazine }

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hey look, a magazine! A beautiful magazine! It’s called Wildland.

It speaks to me! Perfect title, flawless design. The cover explains its essence, and I was hooked as soon as Stack shared its newest cover this morning.

Here’s what I found from further research (because beauty like this deserves a full going-over):

  • It’s independently published by one guy out of the UK. His friends help. They split the proceeds, if there are any.
  • It features lots of landscape and documentary photos (breathtaking photos!) from EVERYWHERE, anywhere wild! Slovenia, Scotland, Oregon!
  • It’s stupendously gorgeous.
  • It’s printed on A5 paper, or 5.83″× 8.27″. That’s mostly due to printing costs, but they flipped the narrative to say, “it’s a tough little book to accompany you on your travels.” Easy sell.
  • Each issue has a theme, such as “Natural Connection,” “Escape,” and “Lifestyle.”
  • The first two digital issues are free, the newest one costs $2.55. I feel like I want to hold the book, pore over the images, and pass it around to friends. But that would cost me $12, plus shipping. For now I’ll share the link.
The sparse design of Wildland magazine leaves plenty of room for interior thought and reflection.

The sparse design of Wildland leaves room for interior reflection and stirring-of-spirits.

What’s phenomenal about this little journal is how cohesive each issue feels. Not only do the photographers achieve consistently lofty, spirited outdoors shots, but the design never wavers from story to story. So despite a diversity of locations, each setting fits into the greater theme, almost without trying. And when they do try, with written words, I find it hard to focus because the images themselves are captivating enough. Apt, then, that the first issue should feature this quote:

“I don’t think I’ve ever yet, in any of my books, described a landscape. There’s really nothing of the kind in any of them. I only ever write concepts. And so I’m always referring to “mountains” or “a city” or “streets.” But as to how they look: I’ve never produced a description of a landscape. That’s never even interested me.”

– Thomas Bernhard from “Monologe auf Mallorca” Interview, 1981

So hey. Go check out this magazine. You’ll find deers and mountains and streets, and as you observe, you can write your own description. You also might want to bolt out the door and into the wild. Let me know what ends up happening.

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