Sure, newspapers are dying, as well as those disgusting tabloids, but print isn’t dead in general, right? This century’s extinction of printed mass media doesn’t mean the death of independent publishers. If anything, it’s the rise of small, passionate niche magazines. And Offscreen editor Kai Brach is here to tell you everything you have to know about making an independent magazine.
“Just like on the web, content is king,” Kai says about the inside of every good magazine. “You don’t have a magazine if you have nothing to say. Leaving the definition of content aside, the food for thought served to your readers is what defines your magazine. Not the paper, not the typeface, not the cover. A lot of new publishers make the mistake of trying to fit too much content into their inaugural issue. Keep in mind that you will have to generate similar amounts of content for each consecutive issue.”
But what about production? “There are so many stressors in making magazines, the last thing you want is to lose sleep over the production once the files are out of your hand. That’s why finding a reliable, trustworthy printer is crucial. Having said that, no production will ever go 100% perfect. There are always minor issues and delays, at least that’s been my experience so far. More on picking a printer below, but let’s first look at the different elements of a quote and how they impact the cost of printing.”
And how do you make money? “Pricing any product is tricky. It’s worth doing a bit of research, but in the end, your cover price needs to make what you do sustainable while not shutting out your core readers. Most indie titles are priced somewhere between $10 and $30, and I think most magazine aficionados are willing to spend around that much for a product they appreciate.”
You could also find sponsors, right? “There are pros and cons to the sponsorship model. Decide early on how crucial the money that’s coming in through advertising is to your overall business strategy. My own strategy has been (and still is) to cover not just the printing but the entire production of the magazine through my sponsors. This includes fees for writers, photographers, and illustrators, the cost of proofreading and editing, the software I use, and everything else that goes into the making of one issue.”
If you’re browsing through magCulture, you can see there’s a huge market for independent magazines covering every topic imaginable. From design to sports to fashion. But the truth is: Print costs money. And if you’re planning to invest in such an effort, your plans should be reasonable. You can find Kai’s article about his experiences right here. And you should read it. Every single word.
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