From Kate’s Writing Crate…
Continued from last week:
My toughest week editing a monthly magazine runs from the 15th-22nd.
I have an issue list I follow every month. On it, I list all the articles, features, and columns along with the page space each will fill and how many photos, if any. Depending on the page count, I have three to six articles per magazine. Columns are the same each month except I have one writer who alternates between his own Sports Column and an essay the next for a column he shares with another writer. I submit this list to the Production Department to make sure they include everything in the layout. I also prioritize items in case something doesn’t fit due to additional ads sold. (Remember I don’t find out the page count until the 18th—the day I turn all text over to the Production Department.) I also use this list to check off each piece after I email it to the Production Department to make sure I included them all.
If every writer meets deadline, I receive all the articles and columns on the 15th via email. I read each one then reply immediately with a thank you, a compliment, and any questions to let each writer know I appreciate their work. Most of them have written for the magazines between five and twenty-two years (some before I was the editor). As a writer, I know hearing from an editor is important. Also, most writers have become friends so it’s fun to let them know what surprised or entertained me.
I then read each piece in depth trying to catch all errors. It isn’t possible so I reread each one at least three times between the 15th and the 18th. Fresh eyes are essential so I do these readings between eight to twelve hours apart. Luckily, I work with writers who take their work seriously so there are few errors usually. However, we are all human so mistakes happen.
I used to print out the articles and columns then used a red pen to make corrections. I would then make the changes on the Word Doc. After a year or so, I just edited right on the Word Docs.
Some writers choose to write the captions for photos running with their articles. Most don’t so I write them. Captions start with a clever phrase in all caps followed by the names of people in the photo and what they are doing. Generally, I wait until first proof to write the captions as space varies for each one depending on the layout.
Only the gardening and sports columns run with photos. The rest are essays which run with pull quotes if there is room. Again some writers suggest pull quotes, others don’t so I choose them. Amount of space on the layout page determines the length of the quote and the size of the font used.
While I have copyedited the event postings and Good News items during the month, more come in at deadline so I have to edit them as well. We list birthdays sent in which have to be set up as a feature. We include Pets of the Month to help animals get adopted which come in on the 15th as well so lots to do in just three days.
Once everything is edited, on the 18th of the month I email all text to the Production Department. Then I send all jpeg photos labeled by story or column so everything is received at the same time. Each item is labeled by month and year, 217 for February 2017, then initial for which magazine, then title of article, column, or feature. Photos are sent with same info, but begin with the word PHOTO so can be searched for easily.
If something falls through at the last minute, I have to fill the space. If the page count goes up by eight pages (minimum increase), I have to fill the space. If a photo never comes in, I have to fill the space. And I only have hours to do so.
To fill space, there are lots of options: use extra photos or add pull quotes to articles, add late arriving Postings or Good News items, expand press releases about programs or events into articles, have non-timely articles ready to go, or write an article or book column. Sometimes I can expand the articles I wrote for the issue by adding information and quotes I didn’t think I had room for originally.
I have an arts column that can fill a full page or two anytime. Artists are invited to send in photos of their work along with title, media, and contact information. I run the photos on a page like a gallery wall. Lots of white space with artists’ information underneath so readers can appreciate the pieces printed three or four to a page.
Whatever it takes—that’s the job. I do not get a lot of sleep during these three days. No time to write in my monthly notebook or work on my blog posts or do much of anything else like errands or house cleaning. Family members pitch in and pizza is often ordered. During the day, the dogs go in and out as they wish through the doggie door built into the storm door into a yard where I can watch them through my office window. They come in to check on me so I take short breaks to play fetch with them and get some fresh air.
If the page count goes down by eight pages, filling the space should be easier but it isn’t. I start by shortening or cutting items in event postings. I make articles about events into short postings. I cut my Editor’s Thoughts column. (Because it is sometimes cut, I write my 450-word Editor’s Thoughts on the 19th in time for the second proof. Yes, I have learned to write quickly doing this job for well over a decade.) Most of the articles are timely so they need to run although I try to have at least one that isn’t so I can save it for the following month. Shortening articles takes hours, but sometimes it must be done. Obviously, pull quotes aren’t used and only one photo per piece. Readers love the columns so they run if possible. If not enough room, I run columns on the magazine’s facebook page so they can still be read that month. All of this takes time on the 18th and 19th. Again, there is not much time for sleeping or anything else.
I get the first proofs by email on the 20th. I do print these out and use a red pen for corrections.
I have about 24 hours to proof both issues, but I do sleep for a whole night as tired eyes will not catch errors. My red pen gets lots of use as I sometimes rearrange the order of items to fill the space more efficiently. Then I go through looking for errors I missed. Things jump out at me in this different format. For example, titles that don’t work—too long or not clear. The Table of Contents needs correct titles and page numbers. Jumps must be noted at bottoms of pages to the correct tops of pages where text continues. Also, as the writers and I use Word but the Production Department uses Macs, there are some conversion problems notably symbols for some punctuation marks and apostrophes everywhere for no reason. They are difficult to spot and make proofing a nightmare.
I used to return the proofs on paper for corrections to be made, but now we do them over the phone so if there are any questions I can answer them so second proofs are in great shape. Usually, I only have two or three hours to complete second proofs late on the 21st or early on the 22nd. The final versions are sent to the printer on the 22nd or early on the 23rd to be printed then delivered to local Post Offices for delivery to every home and business by the first of the month.
No rest for me. I have to assign articles to the writers by the 25th for the next issue. See Monthly Magazine Timeline Part 1 as the routine starts all over again. (As December 25th is a holiday, I wrote that I assigned articles by December 26th in Part 1.)
Local Monthly Magazine Editor is a great job if you like to plan things way in advance, pay attention to details, look up grammar rules, and take the heat for all errors as it’s the editor’s job to catch every one of them. On the upside, I get to work from home, interview interesting people, work with other writers, and be part of a publication residents enjoy reading. I also get to write articles, essays, and book reviews. This is my dream job.
Week of January 22-28, word count was 5,841.