Learning to make a magazine pt.2

How about another  installment of learning to make a magazine?

First to set the stage —  here’s where we are in the grand scheme of cycles and status:

End of the Autumn 2014 cycle

Middle of the Winter 2014 cycle

Planning of the Summer 2015 cycle

That sounds easy enough, right?  Let’s look closer, things are always more difficult and dirty when you look closer and making a magazine is no exception, my spinnerly friends.

End of Autumn 2014 cycle —  Kitten sends me PDF of the final design and layout and I review them.  However, he’s a bit behind (this sometimes happens where one of us is a bit behind, we always catch up) so I don’t have any to review this week.  Which is actually not a bad thing for me since much of my time needs to be spent planning, and spinning samples for, my Craftsy class.  Yes, folks, I’m doing a craftsy class. Very excited! Amy King just did one (and it’s great) and if there’s anything else in this world I want to be, it’s Amy King!

Middle of Winter 2014 cycle — there’s more work here for me, mainly, finishing all the first edits and re-orgs or author’s articles.  There are still 2 articles out with the authors (extended deadlines) but everything else is in and I’ve gone over all of it once.  Now I’m in the middle of going over it again so that I can make sure there’s not too much overlap, repeating of information and so on.  Again, with the themed issues,  it’s more of a threat than not.  I’ve already got most of these done and by the end of the week I’ll send them all to Levi for a 2nd round of editing.

I just sent the Winter 2014 patterns to Amy P,  our tech editor.  Except that we have a inkle weaving project and so I’m on the hunt for a inkle weaver for a little tech editing.  It’s small and simple so if you have experience, let me know!

Planning of the Summer 2015 cycle: The best part of my week is the planning of the Summer 2015 issue.  We got so many fantastic proposals and it’s my job to sort through them.  I told you before that I’ve got a folders in my mail client, right?  Under Summer 2015 there’s Yes, No, and Maybe.  In my Yes there’s 5, in No (which later I will transfer to my trello board in case we can use them elsewhere) there’s 39, and in Maybe there’s 56!  It’s a lot to go through but building the issues like this is something I really enjoy.

I used to use a giant sheet of butcher paper but since I discovered Trello, I do it there.  I have several things I look for when I first start this job. I have to make sure that there’s a great intro article, something introducing the topic, broad and focused (it’s a thing, really).  There’s not one in the proposals this time so I have to go hunt for one.  I’ve already put out an e-mail to who I’d like to write it, negotiating with her now.  I hope she consents, if so, it’ll be a great opener.

After finding that article, I try to make sure there’s a good mix of what I label light, medium, and heavy.  That refers to the content and how much brain power it takes to make it through the articles.  Deb Robson and Diane Palme are examples of heavy!  Smarty ladies, they are!  But it’s important to have a mix, take the reader on a journey they’re going to enjoy, not just fill it with heavy, dense facts.  I try for 40% heavy, 40% medium, and 20% light. Our regular features take care of some of that, you know, stuff like fiber study is usually heavy while guilded, who’s that spinner, and follow the fiber are usually light, and spin it’s are often medium.  The articles that don’t fit into those categories — the extras — are the ones that I have to make sure have a good balance and cover everything the issue should cover.

So after considering the intro article, and a good mix of article weights, I also consider authors.  I like to have a mix of those, as well.  I try to make sure we have at least 4 new authors in each issue.  There can be more, but I make sure there’s no less!  It’s important to me that we don’t just hear the same voices, that we involve the community, that we recognize that we are more than just our known teachers.

Finally I consider word count.  We have space for about 37,000 words in each issue but I probably won’t get to word count this week so we’ll skip talking about that for now.

It’s interesting, and I’ll tell this to the spinners I have to send the “thanks but no thanks” email to – sometimes a really great article doesn’t get in because it doesn’t work with the rest of the issue.  It could be fantastic but if there’s a gap in the issue and it doesn’t fill it, or if it’s too heavy or long or whatever, and I can’t make it work, I have to take the article that is lighter or shorter and gives the issue the roundness it needs.  It’s probably the hardest (and most interesting) part of my job.  Sometimes I am very happy with the results.  For instance, I think the Silk and Twist issues both are very full and round and diverse.  I don’t think the First issue or the Color issue  are as much, though I think the stuff in there is wonderful. That early in the process I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing yet and didn’t know how to really put together an issue. The winter issue is better but not quite as finished as the last two.  That just means I’m getting better at it, which is good. Hopefully I’ll just keep getting better at it!

But this week I’ll just decide on the articles and build my trello board.  My next work week I’ll deal with word counts, contracts, e-mailing authors, and all the in-house stuff. I’ll tell you about it as it comes.

And that’s what the editor-in-chief is doing this week.

But there’s more!  Here’s the less interesting stuff, in list form so I don’t lose you completely.


  • Stuff backorders and mail them (we got pre-paid envelopes so it’s a bit faster now!)
  • Resend copies of the magazine that got lost in the mail.
  • Answer e-mails.
  • Sell website ads for September!  Wanna buy one?  Only $15!
  • E-mail all the people that have a credit card on file with us (LYS and advertisers) because the recent Quickbooks update erased that info and I need to re-input it.
  • Sell the rest of the Winter 2014 issue ads there’s still some of every size except full page.
  • Send in payroll taxes to the government.  Government, if you’re reading this, thanks for understanding that I’m late, I’m sure you can see why, right? It’s busy up in here.
  • Secure a time and location for Winter shoot. It’s gotta be soon and it’s gotta be wintery!
  • The winter issue has a glaring gap so I need to whip up a short little article on worsted joins.
  • Start thinking about our Spinzilla team!
  • E-mail the LYSs and advertisers that are behind in paying us.  I’m reading (listening to on Audible while I work out at the gym) Gold Finch right now and there’s a whole section where he’s in Las Vegas with a gambling dad.  Me collecting from those that owe the magazine will be NOTHING like what happens in the book, I promise.  It mostly includes me saying “please”.

So that’s my work week.  What’s yours like?

ps.  if anyone wants to make me a graphic for this series (you can see the terrible one I made at the top of the page), I’m sure we could trade something good for it.  Please?



1 reply
  1. Karrie
    Karrie says:

    I appreciate the mix of heavy, medium and light articles. As a newer spinner some of the more technical articles can be a little overwhelming so I do sometimes skim them then come back to them later. For some of the spinning techniques I need to sit at my wheel with the appropriate fibre try the technique then read it again. Keep the mix coming.


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