The Joys And Opportunities Of Magazine Publishing… The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 5

May 1, 2019

A magazine is so much more than a magazine now, and the job of an EIC so much more than editing, said Rachel Barret, Editor in Chief of Country Living Magazine, at the University of Mississippi’s ACT 9. Opportunities are coming up beyond the New York bubble, with publishing centers in Des Moines, Birmingham, and elsewhere; opportunities exist for scrappier ways of publishing to drive the brand economically and connect with the reader.

Jeff Joseph, publisher of Luckbox, concurs. “The first rule is there are no rules,” he said. “One of the advantages of coming in from outside the print realm.” You can’t be in the news business and be in print; Luckbox learned this from experience, and was nimble enough to pivot to a new model. For Joseph, the single most important metric is what percent of your audience don’t throw out your magazine. Luckbox is at an astounding 58%, as a result of providing useful, evergreen content. If your revenue model is from advertisers, then you are a content marketing platform. For online, look for how many clicks take the reader to content over three months old.

Now is a great time to be involved in magazines, said Jeremy Leslie, Founder and Curator of Magculture. “I love magazines,” he says. “They are like people; they have character, and they reflect the character of the people making them up. They become your friends.” They reflect the world they were created into, they exist in a historical context and become a great record of what people wanted, thought—and how they designed. The world of independent publishing, while still undervalued and under recognized, is coming into its own, breaking new ground to show people what a magazine can be. For example, Delayed Gratification, launched to look back at news three months ago and point out what was important. Migrant was launched to re-address the topic of immigration, limited itself to six issues and wound up the topic with the last issue. MacGuffin takes one object and tells many stories around it. Civilization melds design and content. Real Review is published as a triple fold. And Ordinary has a blank cover every issue, and every issue has an “extra” on the cover; they use that object in the photos in the visual-only content. These groundbreaking independent publishers are leading the big multi-title publishers in new directions.

Jo Packham, the 2018 Magazine Launch of the Year Winner (Where Women Create and its sister titles) launched Where Women Work with an augmented-reality video on the launch cover. Magazines are alive, she tells us, but must be integrated into the world of technology. The audience, the small entrepreneurs, the makers, loves print. Every publisher, every person, should have a mission in life, and Packham’s is to educate people on what it takes to create, and to deepen the appreciation of this process. Packham thinks of herself, not as a publisher, but as an entrepreneur who specializes in the written word. Entering publishing, she promised herself her magazines would be authentic. Her photos are submitted and her articles are in the writers’ voices, not re-written.

Her advice to others who want to share the joy and opportunities of this field: Be selective. Build a community. And do not waste your valuable time doing something you don’t care about. Do what you love.

To watch my fireside chats with Rachel Barrett and Jeff Joseph, Jeremy Leslie’s presentation, and Jo Packham presentation click on the videos below.

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