Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago I entered the publishing world when I bought Connections Magazine from its founder, Steve Michaels.

The transaction was done in parts, that is the documents for the sale were not signed at the same time or at the same location, but on different days via fax and mail.  As a result, I don’t know what day the sale was official, but what I do know is that the package of publication’s records and files arrived on September 10, 2001.

Early that next day, I dove into the treasure trove of information that would set my career in a new direction. I was understandably excited and wanted to quickly grasp the nuances of my new business.

My morning bliss, however, was interrupted by my bride who uncharacteristically popped into my office to inform me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center building. Assuming that it as a novice pilot in a single engine plane, I dismissed the news and resumed work. But not for long.

Soon I was drawn to the TV and the horrific events that would forever change life in the United States. For a time, my labors no longer mattered; ceasing all attempts to work, I watched the news in shock. I wondered what this would mean to the future of business and commerce — and the magazine operation I had just bought. Would I end up being a victim of bad timing?

For the rest of that week, I did only the work that was absolutely required. Then, life slowly began to reclaim a degree of normalcy, even if normal no longer existed.

As we remember the events of 9-11 and the people who innocently lost their lives, we can also celebrate the resiliency of our country and our ability to prevail and succeed. Personally, I can also celebrate Connections Magazine and the new path it has provided.

My Summertime Schedule

For myself and many others, summer effectively begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day.

This year the weather seems to concur that summer is over. Last Friday, temperatures in southern Michigan were in the upper nineties, with a heat index of 105 to 115. Today, the highs failed to hit 70, with a predicted low tonight of 45.

For the first time in months, I am wearing jeans and have donned a sweatshirt. It certainly feels like fall.

With fall comes a pledge to blog more frequently. If you’re keeping track, it’s pushing two months since my last post. It’s not that I have nothing to share — I’ve composed many a blog in my mind — it’s that I’ve not had a chance to write things out. So, I hope to begin catching up and write retroactively.

Another change is that the comments and trackbacks features are again reactivated. I had turned them off due to a high degree of spam, but with a software upgrade, things are again manageable.

Also, check out my other blogs, which I post to more frequently:

Going Forward

Regular readers of this blog (thank you, one and all) have noticed a decided decrease in posting frequency over the past six months. While Musings will remain alive and active, infrequency will become the new norm.

When I started Musings over three years ago, it was to provide a creative outlet, connect with others via the written word, and learn about the art of blogging. By design, Musings had no theme, other than to share the musing of my mind at that moment. While it was not a stream-of-conscience spew (that would be narcissistic and boring), it did bounce all over the place. No one would connect with all my topics, such as family, computers, nature, movies, politics, business, sports, weather, and even blogging about blogging.

Realizing the need to blog around a theme and for me to focus on areas of interest, I have begun to specialize. The result is that, going forward, I will primarily be blogging at:

I encourage you to pick the ones that interest you and follow me there, as well as occasional future posts here.

Thank you!

A New Blog: From the Publisher’s Desk

This blog, the “Musings of Peter DeHaan,” is about nothing, but covers everything. It is essentially a sharing of my stream of conscience. While this blog will continue unabated, I have started another blog, one with a stated purpose and goal.

It is a business blog, called “From the Publishers Desk,” and shares my tips and commentary about advertising and marketing. If this topic is of interest, I encourage you to check it out. Just like this blog, you can sign up to be notified via email of new posts or subscribe to a list feed.

[In 2013, the name of the blog changed to “The Book Blog,” and the focus became book publishing. All old posts were saved in the archive section.]

The Work of Publishing Periodicals

I publish four periodicals: two magazines, an e-publication, and an e-newsletter. There is an established workflow to each, with every day requiring that some task be accomplished for at least one of them.

Additionally, one of the magazines has an overlapping production schedule, meaning that sometimes I have to start the next issue before the current one is finished. The result is that at any given time, I am working on four or five publications. Given a bit of discipline, it is all quite manageable — when I am in the office.

Two weeks ago, I missed four days in the office due to traveling to and covering a convention. I began my preparations in earnest two weeks prior to departure, working in advance and accomplishing tasks ahead of schedule to the degree it was possible. Essentially, this meant doing three weeks of production work in two weeks. Some ancillary things, such as blogging, fell by the wayside.

Then I was gone for a week. Then I spent a week getting caught up from being gone. This included doing those tasks that could not be done in advance, responding to issues that arose while I was gone, and following up on everything from the convention.

So, the essence is that being gone for four days required a concerted effort lasting four weeks.

Although this may sound like complaining, it is really explaining — why it has been 21 days since my last blog entry.

[If you are interested, my publications are Connections Magazine, AnswerStat, TAS Trader, and Medical Call Center News.]

More News Than You Can Use

As a publisher, I receive all manner of press releases. Some are appropriately targeted and end up in one of my magazines, newsfeeds, or newsletters. Others are close, but slightly miss our focus, while many are seemingly sent to me without forethought or strategy. Here are the headlines that I have received in the past 48 hours; see if you can figure them out:

  • Prosodie Interactive Enhances the Max-Route Call Allocation Platform by Adding Ad-Hoc Reporting, Fulfillment and Contact Center Flexibility
  • Smucci: Make Your Pets Feel Like Royalty
  • Wilson Named to Kaiser Permanente’s Board of Directors
  • Confirmit Partners with Plum Voice to Offer Complete Data Collection Platform
  • GSA Smartbuy Geospatial Agreements Provide Maximum Taxpayer Value
  • Global Telecom & Technology Completes Acquisition of WBS Connect
  • FTC Privacy Roundtable Highlights Clash Between Consumer Advocates, Ad Industry
  • FCC Counsel Invests in XG Technology
  • LG Begins Global Hunt for Live Borderless Experience
  • Knowledge Networks Expands in Pharma Research with Acquisition of CMR
  • Researchers Announce Medical Breakthrough with Simple, Inexpensive Blood Test for Colon Cancer
  • Immune Cell Activity Linked to Worsening COPD
  • Hibernia Atlantic Acquires International Broadcast and Media Production Service Provider Mediaxstream
  • Isippy Networks Inc. Announces Unlimited Calling to 70+ Countries on iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian Phones
  • In Age of ‘Sexting,’ Parents Weigh Options for Blocking Content
  • CSD Designated for State of California Disability Equipment Distribution Contract
  • U-M-Patented Nanotech Treatment for Cold Sores Gets Major Boost with Glaxosmithkline Licensing Agreement
  • About 25 percent of Arab adults in Greater Detroit reported abuse after 9/11, study says

Many of these make little sense to me — even after scanning the press release. Some, I comprehend, but don’t care about, while a few capture my attention, as in the case of the last two items  Nanotechnology has always intrigued me, though I never suspected it as a cold sore combatant. The abuse of Arabs after 9/11 is indeed sad.  Nineteen radicals needlessly subjected an entire race to unwarranted ill will and harsh treatment by close-minded and vengeful Americans. What else can I say?

Call Centers Can Aid in Healthcare Reform

I’ve spent most of my adult life in call center related vocations. I’ve worked in call centers and for a call center vendor, did consulting for call centers, audited call centers, wrote about call centers, and now publish magazines, newsletters, and websites about call centers.

Call centers are a vital part of the global economy, moving information and facilitating commerce by taking and processing orders, providing customer service, taking messages, and even assisting in and providing healthcare. Yes, healthcare.

Hospital and medical related call centers ease patient-practitioner communication, provide medical answering services, allow patients to schedule appointments, send reminders of those appointments, refer callers to doctors based on specialty or geographic location, and dispense medical advice. Even though I am aware of this, I’ve never taken the next logical step to see that medical call centers can play a vital role in healthcare reform.

Fortunately, Doctors Barton Schmitt and Andrew Hertz have. They recently completed a position paper regarding the role of medical call centers in health care reform. The position paper, titled The Case for Publicly Funded Medical Call Centers, offers as a premise that, “every citizen should have the right to reach a telephone care nurse at any hour day or night for assistance with illnesses, injuries or other acute medical problems.” Its content describes the primary functions of today’s medical call centers, an overview of their outcomes, evidence of their ability to reduce healthcare costs and recommendations for making these centers a critical part of universal access to health care. Medical call centers are used in many other countries and have been found to be cost-effective, so why not in the US?

If you agree with the premise, why not pass it on?

Is Two Really Twice As Good As One?

Several years ago, I sought to add another product to my publishing business. I looked at options and considered alternatives. Two possibilities rose to the top. I began investigating both, planning to pursue whichever path opened up first.  Instead, they did. So, I embarked on two nearly simultaneous publication launches: AnswerStat magazine (addressing medical call centers) and Answer Plus Newsletter (for telephone answering services). 

AnswerStat is an advertiser-supported magazine, in which ad revenues cover the production and distribution costs; it is a model in which I take all the risks (I could lose money — and have on a few issues — or realize a profit, which are beginning to occur on a somewhat regular basis).  In contrast, Answer Plus Newsletter was a custom publication in which a sponsor covered all the costs. In this endeavor, my risks were minimal and a modest profit was ensured. (AnswerStat is still going strong, but I pulled the plug on Answer Plus after two issues.)

Launching both simultaneously was a confusing challenge. I was forever getting the two confused, as each had different requirements, goals, and expectations. This would result in things being overlooked or double-checked. I asserted that I would never again make the mistake to two simultaneous product launches — it is just too bewildering.

Fast forward seven years and I did it again. After years of being a “future” project, I recently launched TAS Trader, an e-publication. (It is laid out like a printed newsletter, but distributed electronically.) It is an advertiser-supported publication.  Right on its heels was another “someday” project, an e-newsletter, Medical Call Center News. It is supported by a sponsor.

Although neither is printed and both rely on email for connect with readers, the similarities end there. Their design is different, their cost structures are different, their distribution is different, the revenue models are different, and their supporting websites are different.

So, guess what? It was a confusing challenge. So much so, that I’ll never again launch two products at the same time. Really.

Reading Magazines Online

Yesterday I shared about a magazine that had a special green issue.  That is code word for no printing and mailing (hence saving a huge percentage of their costs).  The issue is to be read online.  Here are my thoughts — as a magazine publisher — about that.

First, I noticed that it was a 31-page issue.  The nature of magazine publishing is that you have to have an even number of pages, and if the magazine is stapled (which most are), you must have a multiple of four.  So a 31-page issue seemed a bit odd, but is perfectly acceptable, since it was never intended to be printed.

The other odd thing is that the publication only contained one advertisement (not counting all of their own internal promotions).  The lone ad was for the issue’s sole sponsor, whose name was prominently displayed before one could begin reading the magazine.  I guess that this means there is not much interest in advertiser support for an e-publication.  Apparently, advertisers don’t think people will actually read the online magazine.

Speaking of reading it — I didn’t.  I paged through it out of curiosity — and read part of one article that captured my attention.  The frustration is that once I enlarged the page enough to read it, I was then required to do too much scrolling and panning to continue my perusal of it — so I bailed.

If publishers are going to make online only publications, they need to reformat the layout to be conducive to a computer screen, not counter to it.  That is what I did when I launched the all-digital TAS Trader.  It is laid out in landscape mode, working quite nicely on a computer screen, but also availing itself to those who want to print it.

When their next green issue comes out, I will again check it out — not to read it, but to see what they might have changed.

Magazine Goes Green – Sort of

A weekly (or almost weekly) magazine that I receive, recently announced that it was going to have four “green” issues this year, with the goal of being “carbon neutral” in 10 years.

I was curious how they would handle this “green” issue.  o their credit, they emailed me when it was ready and I went online to check it out. (Even though I proof the magazines I publish on a computer and online, I greatly dislike reading magazines on my computer.  To be direct, I don’t have a computer where I do my magazine reading.)

Upon clicking on the link, it took me to a sign in page, where I essentially requalified my subscription, which was a good idea on their part, as it will save extra work and effort for them later. Additionally, I didn’t need to pick a password and login, which is a good thing, too, as I have over 150 logins and passwords for the various sites I need to use and will thankfully be spared one for this site.

The presentation of the magazine was a PDF file (as I do with the electronic versions of my Connections Magazine and AnswerStat), with some hyperlinks in the table of contents to go directly to the articles. There were also links on the top and bottom of each page to speed readers back to the table of contents, to the next page, or to the previous page.

So, all is good — sort of.  The magazine had a green issue, it was relatively painless to access, and I could read it online — unfortunately, I don’t like reading magazines online.  More on that tomorrow…