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.]

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.

Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc Launches TAStrader e-Publication

Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc Launches TAStrader e-Publication”

This headline has been four years in the making — seriously.

In 2005, I hatched an idea for an e-publication for telephone answering services.  I did some online research, eventually landing on a name with matching website that were available.  Taking a proactive step forward, I registered the domain name TAStrader.com on May 13, 2005.

In my spare time over the following months, I would plan and strategize how the publication would be laid out, promoted, and supported.  Sometimes I would go for months without working on it, but the idea had been birthed and was not going to go away.  Two years ago, I began in earnest, putting my many musings to paper and working out the details.  I added “TAStrader” on my “to do” list, but there always seemed to be another project that was more worthy, more demanding, or more promising of providing immediate gratification.

Approaching the project’s four-year mark, I decided that I needed to bring it to fruition or be content to forever lay it aside.  Fortunately, my planning notes were sufficiently sound and adequately detailed, so there was little left to do — except execute the plan.  It was merely a matter of prioritizing my time and enlisting the support of the Connections Magazine team to make this a reality.

Last Saturday the supporting website, www.TAStrader.com, went online and the bugs worked out on Monday.  The final version of the premier issue was also completed and approved that day.

Although the scheduled distribution is April 9, I pulled the trigger this morning with an announcement launching TAStrader.  Emailing the subscribers and potential subscribers will still happen as scheduled, but the word is out and people are providing pleasingly positive feedback.

I would hope so — I’ve been working on it for four years!