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First-time publisher? 5 minutes with… Dean Cook

Got a passion? Want to launch a magazine about it, but not sure where to start? We grab five minutes with The Magazine Production Company’s Dean Cook to get his advice.

By Dean Cook

First-time publisher? 5 minutes with… Dean Cook

Q: For first-time publishers looking to launch a new magazine, what do they need to consider?

A: Naturally, there's always a list, but if I'd had to sum it up in two words – work backwards. Identify the route(s) to reach your audience, work out realistic readership numbers to gain quantities and costs, refine the size, pagination and unit weight limits (if mailing), then see if figures are viable to create affordable advertising packages aimed at the smallest of businesses. The magazine’s business model can then be honed, based on these factors. The majority of enquiries I receive focus on its looks without thought to the financial side. Without a viable business plan, there isn’t a magazine.

Q: What are the things first-time publishers typically overlook?

A: Four things come to mind:

  • Planning: timing is essential if cost and time savings are to be had as those involved further down the chain can then be ready to receive to swiftly service. Schedule for up to twelve months ahead and work in content and production planning from there.
  • Quality content: invest in writing or commission unique and engaging content. In the current world of publishing noise, you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.
  • Visual identity: invest in how you look to your readers. Establish basic branding guidelines and editorial structure as these will be a couple of the contributory factors that will save time and money later. If you're hoping to build a fantastic house, you need to ensure the foundations have been set correctly.
  • Media pack: create a short and simple, well-written and factually correct sales brochure to offer your potential advertisers.

Q: When budgets are tight, what advice do you give them on where to prioritise their spend?

A: Often, we're working with a one-person publishing business that has a deep understanding of the industry they are writing for, but, as with most publishing companies, reduced income has eaten away at resources and investment to deliver the magazine to standards we'd like to see. If resources are tight, lean on quality outsourced services you can hire as and when you need. They can often provide you with more ideas or offer additional services for a small additional cost that may help you be more effective.

Q: From a design and production perspective, what tricks of the trade do you try to impart to new publishers?

A: Establish content structure. Readers like familiarisation, so to offer flexible options with master pages means we can provide variable looks without spending valuable time and client money going off-piste to develop new ideas. Client budget constraints sit at the forefront of our minds, and we work hard to maintain those budgets. Aware of the content structure, we could create various essential design assets ready to be called upon if and when required.

Q: In your experience, what characteristics do successful first-time publishers share?

A: Successful first-time publishers are rare to see, mainly due to poor planning, limited investment and publishing experience to see them through the first two years while they bed in and establish business relationships. That said, it does happen. We have several clients we've been working with for more than ten years (20+ years in a few cases), and it's great to see them grow over time. Most of our clients outsource, so, by planning, they're only paying for quality services as and when they need them.

Q: What's in the pipeline from The Magazine Production Company?

A: At the moment, we're focusing on our current client workloads as we work our way through the pandemic. I'm pleased to say we're pretty much back to typical workloads. Interestingly, we are starting to see an increase in print-related enquiries from content providers. While there is plenty of noise in the digital world making it tough to be heard, there is recognition that many more potential readers are to be found offline.

About us…

Here at The Magazine Production Company, our services can be delivered in a way that suits you, your project and your budget. Our clients are rarely the same in how they approach their needs. Some need only a certain skill set to bolster their own team, whilst some clients need the whole suite of services. If you’re looking for a production company to partner with in a way that suits you then we are exactly what you are looking for. Our flexibility and experience allow us to fit seamlessly into your project and your team. And if you need to discuss your options with us, we are always available for advice or a free consultation and quote.

01273 911730