The Editor's Circle Presents...
Advice for Beginning the Journey

Tried & True Tips & Tricks
for those beginning the editing journey,
from those who learned as they went

compiled and edited by Gretchen L. Glaser
of the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship Journal

Thanks to contributing editors:
Melinda Lavorante of Inkblots
Christen Gleaton of Lilies of the Field and Hidden Love
Abigail Paul of Hidden Wisdom
Paula Sue Shipley of Eagles Wings

 


Getting Started

How does the idea for a beginning a new publication come to mind? It could be from seeing a friend's publication and thinking you could make one better or different that the public would enjoy, or perhaps your home school group is in need of someone to compile all the students' writings and drawings. There are many ways the idea might start, but once it actually materializes into something tangible, the fun and work really begins!

 

Theme, Purpose, and Guidelines

The first thing you'll need to decide is the theme/purpose of your publication. Is it to inform? Instruct? Entertain? Encourage? Is it to display an array of people's articles? Stories? Poems? Drawings? All of the above? Decide what kind of work your publication will accept.

After that, be sure to come up with a set of guidelines. Do you want stories only for girls? For what ages? Will you refuse to accept anything with violence? Evil? Poor grammar? Be sure to state this in your guidelines. Make them easily accessible to your readers; whether you print your guidelines in your publication or send them to prospective writers is up to you.

 

Naming Your Publication

When you begin a publication, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself. One of the first questions, of course, is what to call it. When you name your publication, have a meaning to the name. If your publication is to glorify the Lord, choose a name based on a favorite Bible verse. Don't just use generic terms to describe your publication. What makes it different? A publication to glorify the Lord is great, but in what ways does it glorify the Lord? For example, if you want to encourage young ladies to be keepers at home, say so! On the other hand, maybe you want to encourage them to wait upon the Lord, or encourage them to write for God's glory...whatever your purpose, describe it in your title!

Be sure, however, that your title is not too lengthy or hard to remember. Think of the initials your title would make. Family Unlimited Newsletter would make the acronym "FUN," which might be an appropriate initialization for your publication. However, the initials for a publication like Risen in Glory would be "RIG," an acronym which is rather unclear (and you may not want it associated with things like a "big-rig" or the rigging of a ship). So be sure that your initials conjure up images you intend.

And once you come up with a name, be sure to ask family, friends, and other editors if they have heard of a name you choose before. Someone else may already have thought up the same title you have, and you don't want your publications to be confused with one another!

 

Newsletters vs. Magazines and Methods for Stapling

You should decide to begin with whether your publication is a newsletter or magazine, and stick with that format, as it may affect your title, and will most definitely affect the terms you use to refer to your publication. The basic distinction is how it's bound: a magazine is folded in half and stapled two or three times on the fold (or possibly just collated and stapled two or three times along the side); a newsletter is stapled in the corner or not at all. Also, a magazine usually has a front cover with just the magazine's title, a graphic, and maybe the titles of a few articles to be found inside or a Bible verse; a newsletter usually starts its first article on the front page. (We will use the term "publication" to refer to both newsletters and magazines generically.)

As far as stapling is concerned, stapling at the corner should usually be reserved for newsletters with no more than four to six pages. Even small newsletters can benefit from having three staples down the left side, providing much easier reading than one at the top left hand corner would, and especially good for viewing a two-page spread easily. Of course, if you get your magazine printed on 11x17 or 81/2x11 paper and then fold it in half, you would naturally get it stapled right down the middle with two to three staples. This is definitely the nicest looking of the three choices, and makes for the easiest reading.

 

Subscription Price

The first thing to think about regarding the price for a subscription to your publication is if are trying to make money with your editing venture...if you are, then you'd really better try to find a better business (selling lemonade? :-))! But if you've decided to be an editor for the love, fun, experience, and ministry of it, and don't expect to add anything to your piggy bank (and in fact you realize its weight might lessen a bit at times because of your publication's monetary demands), you've got the right perspective...

Before setting a subscription price for your publication, research the printing places in your area. Be sure to find out how much it would cost you per issue, per page, and per side (be very specific with the person you speak with...repeat yourself, so that you both understand what you're asking! :-)). Find out the different options regarding paper weights and colors, as well as folding and stapling costs, if you plan to have those done for you. Sometimes there are price reductions for certain quantities-find out about these ways to save money, as well, when you call around to the different stores. Or, if you are planning on printing it at home on your own printer, be sure to find out how much toner will cost, plus wear and tear on your printer. If you eventually got one hundred or more subscribers, would you want to continue printing it on your own printer?

Next figure in postage. The number of pages your publication has will influence this, so prepare for growth. Also, remember that the weight/thickness of the paper you choose will have a slight affect, as well. Take a "dummy" of your publication (i.e. the correct quantity of blank sheets of paper, stapled with the proper number of staples, a label attached, etc.) to the post office, and have them weigh it. See how close it is to the next ounce, and how much room you have for fluctuation. Postage is something in which you must leave room for increase as your publication grows and as the United States Postal Service increases its rates! :-) Also, remember that you may gain some foreign subscribers-be prepared that foreign postage is much more expensive. Ask at your local post office for a foreign postage chart, and estimate a foreign price based on averages of its figures. (It is a good idea to list U.S. and Canadian/foreign subscription prices separately when you advertise.)

Lastly, you need to think of all other extra and "miscellaneous" expenses-little things you might want/need like computer program upgrades, clipart, advertising, etc. It's hard to know how to plan for that type of thing, but it's always a good idea to have around fifty cents or more extra per subscription for miscellaneous fees you may encounter.

Add the printing and postage costs for one issue together, multiply by the number of times per year you plan to print your publication, then add in the "extra" amount. Round it up a dollar or so (don't use half-dollar amounts), and you have your yearly subscription price! (It is a good idea to ask for your parents' help in coming up with this total-they will sometimes see expenses that you may have overlooked or forgotten.) Remember...be liberal in your original estimations-you don't want to have to keep upping your subscription price each issue as you find out how much is involved!

Some of us editors have decided that we never want to refuse subscribers simply because of lack of funds on their part, because depending on our publication's type, we view ourselves as a ministry, not a business. Some of us list only a "suggested donation" instead of a set subscription price: this way those who can pay will have an idea of how much our expenses are, but those who can't send any money don't feel guilty about it. When we give out free subscriptions to those who can't afford them, the Lord has honored it, and we always find that we have just enough to pay for those free subscriptions from the donations that go above and beyond the suggested amount. The Lord always provides, sometimes in surprising ways! Some editors feel led to make their publication available completely free, not even listing a suggested donation, and that's fine, too-each editor must follow the Lord's leading in this area!

 

Material for Printing

Putting together your first issue can be quite a challenge! You want it to be a good issue, one that would really represent your publication's uniqueness, and one that would encourage people to subscribe. The best way to get original material for your first issue is to contact your friends and relatives. (Many people would be willing to write, but won't unless you ask them!) Let them know your plans for beginning a publication, share your excitement about this new project (it will be contagious!), and tell them specifically what you need. Don't just say, "I need stuff for the first issue. Anything you can send would be a great help!". How would they know what "stuff" really encompasses? Saying you need things like "poems that encourage us as Christians", "stories that are for girls ages ten to sixteen", and "word puzzles and games using names or stories from the Bible" gives your writers a more specific idea of what you would like them to write. Offering an incentive is not necessary but it might help your response. If you tell your friends and relatives that if they send one or more submissions they'll receive their first issue free, they might be more eager to send you something for printing.

It shouldn't be that hard to get enough material for the first issue: grandmas love to help out their grandkids, friends are usually "ticked pink" at the prospect of being published in a "real publication," great aunts always have some stories or poems they wrote when they were young stored in a closet somewhere, and older women in your church or circle of friends are also another great source (they've seen a lot of life, and most likely have wisdom they are willing to share with the next generation). Anything you don't receive that you were hoping for, you can write yourself! :-) Subscribers always love to read things written by the editor.

You may be able to find stories and poems from a published source, but if you do, be sure to get permission from the author or publisher (usually, it's pretty easy to obtain permission, if you are specific about what you want to use, and where it will be published)! (See Regarding ©opyrights.) However, don't reprint stories that many of your readers have probably already heard (such as the story of Cinderella, for example :-)). Also, it is not recommended to use many stories, jokes, etc. found on the internet or received on e-mail forwards! (Unless maybe occasionally a poem or quote.) When one of us editors used a lot of stuff she had gotten via e-mail, she received a lot of negative comments. Who wants to read something they got free on e-mail?

Try selecting a theme for each issue to give you a start on ideas for poems and articles. Encourage reader participation (though you won't always get it), and get them to express their opinions. Try questionnaires to give you an idea of their interests. Beyond that, be creative! You are original-there is no one else like you, and your publication will be the same-unique! :-)

 

Plagiarism

The editor's version of the Biblical Golden Rule is this: Treat and talk about other editors and their publications as you would like them to treat and talk about you and yours. Thus, we should not imitate other publications. If you can't publish something without copying other people's ideas, don't do it! If your subscribers receive another publication that is a twin to yours (in title, design, columns, articles, etc.), they probably won't want to continue receiving both; so they'll choose one or the other-probably the one that was the original. While you will always have similar sections to another publication's (recipes, book reviews, etc.), make sure the name and description of your column is unique and original. As fellow editors striving to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are not in competition to print an article first or get the most catchy titles; nor is it a good Christian witness to copy each other's ideas. Let's live like Jesus did-always putting others first...your readers will appreciate your publication all the more for its originality and witness for Christ.

 

Be Sure to Include...

An "About" Page: No matter your publication's size, you need to have a page giving information about your publication. How much space you want to use is up to you-you can fit your info in a very little amount of space, a whole page, or more. The most important information to share here is sample and subscription prices. You may also want to tell something about you and your family, your policy on ads and submissions, your publication's theme and history, your theme verse or quote, etc.

A Letter from the Editor: Having a letter from the editor in each issue adds a nice touch. Other people like to hear what you are doing, what your interests are, etc. Use this page to tell what has been going on in your life, lessons you've learned lately, and anything important about your publication that you want to make sure they notice-upcoming contests and themes, etc.

 


The Editing Process

Using a Computer: Publishing is much, much easier to do on a computer than a typewriter. There are some editors of fairly successful publications that use a typewriter for their entire publication, but there are many more out there who have not been able to compete with the editors who have computers. Recommended computer programs to use are Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Publisher 97/98, or Adobe PageMaker. These can be purchased for around a hundred dollars-they are well worth it. (Or your computer may have come with a similar program that works just as well...)

If you are using a computer to edit your publication, learn how to use it before you start your first issue! It is harder to learn as you go, and though you will always be learning more about your computer every single day you use it, at least read the tutorial and help files and learn about all the buttons and commands before actually beginning your publishing venture. (The same goes for publications sent by e-mail-learn about address books, mailing list groups, Carbon Copies, Blind Carbon Copies, etc.)

Enlisting a Proofreader: Since I wrote this sentence, I probably wouldn't realize I any words out. (Yes, that was intentional.:-)) Because I wrote that sentence and I know what it was supposed to say, I actually "see" the word that I left out-this is why it is important to have someone else proofread your publication (in addition to reading through it several times yourself). Ask someone you know well, older and/or more experienced than you are, and nearby or easy to contact. (When your publication is all finished except for that final proofreading, and you're already a week behind schedule, you don't want to have to wait two more weeks to mail your publication to the proofreader, wait for them to proofread it, then wait again for them to send it back!) Ask your parents, a sibling, friend at church, aunt, grandmother, or other relative-anyone who won't be afraid to tell you if your writing quality is poor or that you had a dozen misspellings in one paragraph. Honesty definitely is the best policy when it comes to proofreading! In addition, make use of the your word processor's spell and grammar checking functions (but don't rely too much on them, because they are known for their errors :-)). And be sure to keep a dictionary and grammar handbook nearby for quick reference while you're editing your publication-they come in handy!

 

Design Tips

Do Not Underline. Always italicize words instead (or use bold or small caps font styles). Underlining often gets in the way of the "tails" on letters like "y", "g", "j", and "p".

Align Your Text. Keep all your margins pretty much the same. You can hang an occasional item over the margin, but if each paragraph of your text has a different width, it makes for hard reading. Aligning your text with graphics and other text will give your publication a neat, crisp, inviting look.

Don't Try to Jam Everything onto Each Page. Too often in our minds, empty space means money, and the temptation to fill up every single little white space is very strong! But you will gain more readers by leaving space to "breathe," even if it means having less content. Your publication will give an invitation for leisurely reading rather than appear as a chore your reader must drag through. Squeezing text into boxes or wrapping it too tightly around illustrations are no-no's as well. When placing text in a box, make sure to leave plenty of breathing room. Be very liberal with white space, for if your text is too crowded, it will detour your readers. The same goes for small print...there are some proper times and places to use size eight font, but don't make it a habit for the majority of your stories and articles. Your readers, especially those with poor eyesight, will soon get discouraged if they have to struggle to read small fonts.

Watch Column Spacing. When using larger type sizes, your column spaces must be wider to prevent a reader's eye from skipping over to the next column when reading the title in the first column. Be careful not to leave too much of a space between the columns, though, as it can create distracting vertical bands of white space.

Justify Text Conservatively. If you have vertical lines between columns, justified text should not be used-it creates a "boxy" look that makes readers think your paragraph will be long and difficult to read. Also, do not justify narrow columns, or columns with large type size. This can result in huge, ugly gaps in between words, and too much hyphenation.

Use Simple Body Text Fonts. In body text, such as a story or article, use simple fonts (preferably serif). Never use fancy or cursive fonts, meant only for titles, in your body text-they are hard, distracting, and frustrating to read.

Avoid Uppercase Type. Design books state over and over, "Avoid uppercase headlines!" The reason being? People recognize words by their letter shapes, whether they realize it or not. Letters set in lower case type have distinct shapes (with ascenders and descenders), each of which can be easily recognized by the reader. Uppercase letters lack this, making for hard reading.

 

Turning Browsers into Readers

It doesn't take much to get someone to browse through your publication, yet how many subscribers or sample-issue-purchasers read publications cover to cover? Too often, editors have conversations such as this:

Editor: So, how did you like the article about leather wristwatch bands in the last issue of The Pocketwatch Companion?

Subscriber/Friend: Oh...um...hmmmm...was that in the last issue you sent me?

Editor: Yes, it was in the last issue I gave you two months ago, on page thirty-three. Didn't you see it? It was right next to the large picture of the wristwatch.

S/F: Oh yes! I remember that picture!

Editor: Good. So what did you think of the article? What did you think of W.A. Tch's conclusion about how leather is better than synthetic material?

S/F: Oh...um...uh...I'm sorry, I don't remember his conclusion...

Editor: <getting exasperated> Did you even read the article???

S/F: Hmm... <long pause> I don't think I've read it yet, but I'll read it this afternoon-I promise!

Does that conversation sound all too familiar? It is highly probable that the Subscriber/Friend in your life hasn't read more than an article or two each issue, if you're lucky. They probably only scan each page (which is why the fictional S/F recognizes the pictures but not what was said in the article). Undoubtedly, your S/F won't even read subscription renewal notice, and they'll never miss receiving your publication in the mail. This is sad, yet true! So, how do you turn those browsers into readers? Here are a few tips...

Use Interesting Titles. Offering titles that really "grab" your readers and make them want to know more are great for getting readers. Have titles that create a question (Title: "10 Ways to Wind Your Watch"-Question in browser's mind: "There is more than one way to wind a watch?"), or is a question in itself (Title: "Your clock has a face, but does it have arms and legs too?"). Everyone's naturally curious minds will latch onto questions, and the browser, wanting to learn more, will become a reader!

Easy-Reading Text. Small, smudgy print is not inviting, no matter how interesting the article may be. If you printer or copier has trouble with text, make sure to use a font size that is larger than normal, so it will be easier for your readers to read the smudged print. Don't make articles stretch all the way across a page-columns are much more inviting and less work for the eyes (the eyes don't have to follow a line of text all the way across the page each time). Columns that aren't justified look less blocky and thus are more inviting, however there are times when you do use justified text, so this isn't always a set rule.

Use Subheadings. In long articles, use several subheadings that give hints of the story, yet don't tell the whole story line. This will draw in readers-it will tell your browser exactly what your article is about, and if the subheadings sound interesting enough, the browser will immediately turn into a reader. Also, having three subheadings, for example, will change your one large article into something that appears to be three shorter articles. Shorter sections are much more inviting, look easier to read, and give the appearance of brevity. Your browser will think, "Hmm...I guess the article isn't that long. I have a few minutes, so I'll read it now." Then once you have your reader hooked, it does not matter how long the article is (for what is a waiting pile of dirty dishes to an intriguing article? :-)). For this same reason, the letters from your subscribers that you print in your publication is what usually gets read first-each letter is relatively short and easy to read.

Interesting Pictures and Clip-Art. If you use pictures with your article that are interesting, nice looking, and closely related to the article, it makes the article much more inviting. An especially good tactic is to use a picture that is rather mysterious and needs the article to explain it-browsers will turn into readers just to find out what in the world the picture is about. Creative captions to your photographs can also cause browsers to become interested enough to read the article.

Author's Names. In this the point is not to get only popular writers to write for you, but rather to have the author's name in plain view. All of your authors and columnists are most likely known and loved by at least one of your subscribers. Having their name boldly displayed by the article will draw that browser in immediately. Names can often speak louder than the title of the article itself.

Mix Your Long and Short Articles. Having all your short articles at the beginning of your publication and all your long ones at the end will create imbalance. If you pepper your publication with an even sprinkling of short and lengthy articles and features, it will encourage your reader to read a variety of both. When most people see a publication with all the light articles in front and the heavy ones at the end, they sit down and read all the light ones and save all the heavy ones for later (and too many times that "later" never comes). Be sure to put careful planning into the organization and order of your material.

Introductions and First Sentences. Creating an interesting first sentence in your article (especially if you use a larger font size for it than that of the rest of the article) will draw your browsers in immediately. Boring first sentences will, likewise, lose your readers' interest just as fast. In a recent issue of the (imaginary) Pocketwatch Companion, Mr. Con Troversial wrote an article with a rather bland title ("The Future of Clocks"), yet the first line was a real "grabber" ("All timepieces are now obsolete.") and attracted a lot of attention. This sentence was printed at a font size two points larger than the rest of the article. Likewise, introductions to the article are a good key to attracting readers. Introductions shouldn't be too long (no more than a few lines), yet they should be long enough to be interesting and to introduce the article following in a "mysterious" way that would attract the browser to read the article. Editors, if your writers don't supply interesting introductions, create them yourself!

 

Regarding Copyrights

Legally you do not have to register with the Register of Copyrights to put "© Copyright 1999, Jane Doe" on anything you write-if you write something, you automatically own the copyright to it. (Quoting from "Copyright Basics" published by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, "In general, copyright registration is a legal formality.") It is a good idea to list a copyright statement in your publication, not only to protect your work, but that of those who write for you. Use a generic statement such as this one that editor Gretchen Glaser uses: "Each poem, story, quote, article, column, etc. in this publication is copyrighted to its respective author. Every author remains the owner of their copyright and they are free to publish their work anywhere else they'd like (however, we request that you wait until at least six months after we print it before submitting it to another publication). Everything else in this publication (the name, the layout, the ideas, etc.) remains the copyright of Jane Doe and this publication. If you would like to reprint something from this publication, please write us. We will either refer you to the author, or negotiate reprinting permission with you. Thank you!" (Substitute your publication's name in place of "this publication" and your name in place of Jane Doe's. :-) Edit this example statement however you like-it's meant merely to give you something to start on.)

It is not a good idea to use copyrighted material in your publication...this could get you into many different kinds of trouble, not to mention the fact that it's just plain not legal or fair. Usually, short quotations can be used without permission, as they fall under the "fair use" category. Any work that was first published before 1923 is considered to have outlived its copyright protection and is in the public domain. But any works first published after 1923 may still have copyright protection and a search of the Copyright Office can determine that. The registrations made after 1978 are the only files accessible to the public, and can be searched on the internet. The Copyright Office does not publish a list of works that have gone into the public domain. For $20 an hour (anybody have that much to spare? :-)) the Copyright Office will search their records to see if a particular item is still under a copyright.

"Copyright Basics" is a good circular to become more familiar with the way copyrights work. To obtain this circular, or for more information, contact: Library of Congress; Copyright Office; 101 Independence Avenue SE; Washington, DC 20559-6000; Phone: 202-707-2600; E-mail: copyinfo@loc.gov; http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright

Now you've read all the "legalise"...but from a Christian perspective, what should copyrights mean to us? Well, by copyrighting our work, we are being good stewards of the writing ability the Lord has given us. But we should in no way be prideful about our writings, or stingy about sharing them. Our main purpose in writing should be to glorify God and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Homeschool graduate Joshua Harris, author of the best-selling book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, as well as former editor of New Attitude Magazine, has an excellent perspective on Who owns his writing. Here in his own words is the history of a piece he wrote, entitled "The Room," which appears in his book and on his website at NewAttitude.com "'The Room'...is one of the few [articles] that I can honestly say God gave to me. ...I had this dream and woke to find that I was crying in my sleep. I immediately began writing and wept the entire hour and a half that I wrote. The finished article was a very personal testimony of the forgiven. God has used that little article more than anything else I've ever written. I have a feeling it will outlive me by many years. Not only did we receive a tremendous response from our readers but the article also found its way on the internet and traveled to many people who would not have read it in New Attitude. One of the most gratifying experiences for me has been to hear of the article being spread with the byline 'Author Unknown.' My name was lost as it was passed along. This is the way our humble service for God should always be-we decrease so that He can increase. The original article is online. I invite you to use it and distribute it in any way you would feel led to. It belongs to God."

Wow! What a testimony... Oh that we all had this attitude about our writing-giving the credit to God, not ourselves, never worrying about who passes it on or who takes the credit.

 

Last-Minute Check-List...questions to ask yourself before printing the finals

(by Melinda Lavorante)

  1. Is the date correct on the front cover?
  2. Do the numbers on the table of contents match the pages in my issue?
  3. Are all my page numbers on each page sequential?
  4. Do I have the correct subscription and contact information in my publication? (Make sure this information doesn't contradict itself somewhere else in your publication!)
  5. Is my letter from the editor up-to-date? (I recommend this being the very last thing in each issue your write!)
  6. Have I run spell-check on every page?
  7. Are there any misspellings on the headings for articles?
  8. Do my pictures have the correct captions?
  9. Are all the graphics reverted to "grayscale" or black and white, all coloring being removed? (It comes out clearer this way when printed on a non-color printer.)
  10. Did I sign the letter from the editor?
  11. Did I put an ending symbol at the end of every article (if applicable)?
  12. Are the graphics far enough away from my text?
  13. Are the graphics too dark? too light?
  14. Have I researched the facts I discuss in my articles to make sure they are truth?
  15. Have I plainly stated the deadline for the next issue, any contests, etc.?
  16. Are the ads I am printing for other publications up-to-date?
  17. Are my word searches, games, crossword puzzles, etc. without flaw? Have I completed them myself to assure this?
  18. Have I read over every article more than once (or, better yet, had others read the articles too), to make sure everything makes sense, and there are no ideas expressed which go against what I believe and stand for?
  19. Have I put the Across the Miles logo somewhere in my publication? (see details about ATM later on)
  20. Would I be proud to send Jesus a copy of my publication?

 

Mailing Your Publication

Hand written addresses look more personal and friendly, but printed address labels give a more professional look. Which look are you striving for? You could always start out hand writing them, then later, as the cost of labels fits into your budget or until your hand begins to cramp for addressing stacks of publication by hand :-), switch over to printed address labels. If you use a computer database to organize your subscriber data, it most likely has a feature allowing you to print out mailing labels.

Unless your post office requires it, we don't suggested folding your publication in half again for sending. It is hard to flip through a publication that keeps trying to collapse back into the folded position. When you send your publication flat (the open end taped shut) it may be more susceptible to the bruising, batterings, and bendings the post office dishes out daily-but others who have folded their publication in half again have had cases when only the cover page was delivered to the subscriber, the inside missing! The general consensus of the Editor's Circle members, therefore, is to send it flat... That means you'll need to have a place on the back page for the return address, a blank place to put the subscriber's address, and be sure to leave room for the stamp! Try pre-printing "First Class" in the address area, so it gets proper handling. Also, you may want to consider putting "Forwarding & Address Correction Requested" above the address label-this tells the Post Office that if the person has moved, you want your publication sent to their new address, and that you want to be notified of their new address, as well. (You will be charged a slight fee for this-around 50 cents-but it's usually cheaper than having to pay all new postage to send the issue again once it's returned to you.)

 

Advertising

Letting the public know you have a publication you want to share with them is important. Start by placing ads in a few smaller publications which offer free advertising space (be sure, however, to choose publications whose subscribers will be interested in the subjects you cover). If you plan to print ads in your publication, offer to trade ads with other similar publications-this is a great way to get lots of publicity at no cost. (It is highly recommended that you preview a publication before printing an ad for it.)

Once your publication is stable and firmly established (i.e. you've decided how you want it to look, what material will be regularly included, your subscription price is confirmed, etc.), you may choose to begin advertising in larger publications or via other methods for which you must pay. However, you may find that by trading ads with several other publications, you'll grow quickly to a subscribership number that is enough to keep you quite busy. :-)

In composing your ads, keep it short and to the point, out of consideration to the editor who is printing your ad. But also try to word it so it "jumps out" at people-don't just say you are a publication "for Christian girls" but be specific about what you cover, why you publish, etc. (Since there are so many different publications available, especially for Christian young women, you want to make your publication sound special and unique. In the end, the quality of your publication is what will make the difference, but you need to entice potential subscribers by your ad so they'll be interested enough to send for a sample copy.)

Begin the advertisement with the name of your publication and its purpose. Then list some of the articles-but here again, don't be generic and just say "my publication has stories, poems, and interesting articles..." Try something more like: "In recent issues we have featured true courtship stories, an interview with an accomplished homeschooled violinist, etc." You may also want to list some of your previous themes, etc. Be sure to include pricing (for both samples and subscriptions) and contact information (if you have e-mail or a website, mention it here).

Offer samples for free, or for a cost that does not involve coins (i.e. charge $1 or $2, not $1.50-if you ask for a sum that involves coinage, often a potential subscriber or sample-orderer will be turned away because they do not feel like writing a check for such a small amount or feel uncomfortable slipping two quarters into an envelope to be sent by mail). When you receive a sample issue request, be prompt in sending it out-your potential subscribers will be delighted and impressed with a quick reply, and prompt service shows them that their business is important to you.

Brochures: Offering free brochures for subscribers to share with their friends is an excellent method of advertising (have one near you at all times, and slip a few in your purse, too!). Just as with an ad, be sure not to be vague in your description of your publication. Letting potential subscribers know exactly what your publication is about and what kind of articles/columns you print will help them determine if they would like to subscribe-and in a brochure, you have a lot more space than an ad! Be sure to include sample issue and subscription costs, as well as information on how to contact you (snail mail, e-mail, your web page, etc.). Including a picture of a recent issue's cover is a creative way to really get potential subscribers interested. (Most brochures are 81/2x11 paper, tri-folded. This is the easiest way to do it, and you can even create the back panel in such a way to make the brochure a "self-mailer".)

 

E-mail

It is hard to express how helpful e-mail is to editors! Sending frequent letters through snail mail and trying to stay in contact with your subscribers and writers can get quite costly (and most editors do not have an excessive amount of money in their publication's treasury!). Editors who have e-mail get quite a bit of e-mail from their subscribers and columnists every week, and can answer their questions or give them advice quickly and promptly, with no cost for postage! If you have internet access, you can get a free e-mail address with websites like SaintMail.net, Mail.com, NetAddress.net (visit www.emailaddresses.com for a more complete list of the free e-mail addresses available). If you don't have access to the world wide web, you can still get free e-mail through Juno, as long as you have a IBM-compatible computer with a modem. Download their free software at Juno.com, or order it on CD or floppy disk (for a small charge) by calling 1-800-654-JUNO.

Many editors find that it is nice to have a separate address from their personal address for their publication. That way urgent questions don't get lost among forwards, and submissions don't get mixed up with pen pal letters. The drawback of this is that you will have two addresses to check, but depending on your e-mail program, you may be able to set it up so it checks both your addresses at once, or forwards one to the other.

Also, when you receive an e-mail inquiry about your publication, don't wait to send a brochure via snail mail-copy and paste your brochure's text from your word processor into your e-mail message, and they'll get a prompt response, giving them a good impression of your publication and service.

Sending Your Publication Via E-mail or Snail Mail: Most of us don't like to spend hours in front of the computer reading pages and pages of small text, but prefer curling up in our favorite chair in front of the fire for a time of comfy, enjoyable reading. Printed "snail mail" publications are more likely to be read by your subscribers for this reason, along with the design options a printed publication offers. E-mail doesn't allow much creativity, as most e-mail programs don't support colored text, different sizes and styles of fonts, or graphics in a message, so you're stuck with black and white text all the same size and style (with each line of text "cut off" or "wrapped" when it gets to about eighty characters in length). With snail mail publications, you can use graphics, fun fonts, large headings, and different sizes of fonts all your editor's heart desires!

However, snail mailing your publications costs money, versus the usually free service of e-mail. With an e-mail publication, you may get a larger number of subscribers more quickly, as most people are more willing to receive something that is free than having to pay a subscription fee. But sometimes it seems that if people don't pay for something, they don't appreciate it as much-they may not read your publication at all, or just scan through it and hit the delete key. E-mailing your publication may be a good way to start, and later, depending on your type of publication, you could move it to a web page (where you can use formatting and graphics!) or make it into a snail mail publication. It all depends on what kind of audience you are trying to reach. More and more people are getting access to internet and e-mail, yet there will always be a few potential readers who would greatly benefit from your publication, yet can't get it because they do not have a computer. So the decision is up to you, the editor and publisher.

If you do send your publication via both e-mail and snail mail (a viable option), design it first in your word processor (not in your e-mail composer!). After it is all completed in your word processing program, copy and paste it into the e-mail message. It's much easier to format fonts & justification, add graphics, etc. as you're editing it, than to transpose it from e-mail format to a nice-looking printed publication all at once!

 

A Website

Having a website for your publication is wonderful free advertising and a great way for potential subscribers to become familiar with your publication without having to wait to receive a brochure or sample issue.

Unless you are fluent with HTML (the language used to construct web pages), it would be advisable to use a web page editor that comes with your Internet service, or programs such as Microsoft FrontPage Express and Netscape Composer (which both come free with the full installation of their respective internet browsers, available free for download at Microsoft.com/ie and Netscape.com). Many word processors and desktop publishing programs also have templates, tools, functions, etc. for creating web pages (however, some are very slow and not extremely user-friendly, as editing web pages is not their main functionality).

Tripod, Angelfire, and Geocities are websites that offer free web space (and online web page editors)-all three have been used by Editor's Circle members, each of whom prefer their own choice to the other two. :-) (If you plan to use Microsoft FrontPage as your editor, use Tripod in order for all FrontPage's functions to work properly [such as the "search" function to search your entire site!].) Also, many internet service providers offer free web space with your e-mail/internet account.

If your goal is for everyone to subscribe to your publication via snail mail, you shouldn't include each issue in its entirety on your website. Why would people want to pay for a snail mail subscription if they can just view it on the internet? Having a few sample articles, just one entire issue as a "sample," or simply the table of contents from each issue (with a link to one or two articles each issue, possibly) work well as "teasers" to convince your online readers to become snail mail readers.

However, if your mission is to reach as many people as you can with the message you have to share, and not to make money, then if time and server space allow, place your entire publication online (minus addresses, pen pal ads, reader's locations, etc.). This is especially a good idea if your subscriptions are available "by donation only," as this allows you more readers at less expense. (You might also want to consider giving your subscribers the option of receiving your publication via e-mail, as this is free-just copy it from your word processor and paste into your e-mail editor. You could even have a sign-up on your website using free mailing list services such as WebsitePostOffice.com has to offer.)

One precaution: It is not considered safe to have your snail mail address posted on the internet (unless you have a P.O. Box-though that isn't much better), so it is usually best to just list your publication's e-mail address for people to contact you if they want more information.

 

Regarding Discouragement & Upset Readers

Being an editor is not always a bundle of joy. There are times when you will feel frustrated and ready to turn in your editor's "cap" and just forget it all. It is very easy to get discouraged...you feel like quitting because you're too busy and not getting any submissions or new subscribers. Sometimes a reader will write you with a complaint-perhaps they didn't like an article last issue, didn't agree with a belief expressed, were irritated by a few spelling errors, or maybe upset about a silly thing like how one of the staples was crooked in the issue they received. Pay attention to these letters, as they may contain some lessons you can learn from-examine what they have to say; then, if there is some truth to it, admit it, correct the problem, and go on. But sometimes these letters are written irrationally, and we should not let them get us down.

If you express decided opinions in your publication about the Christian life, you will have opposition-expect it. As our dear president Abe Lincoln once said, "You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time." Letters from people who disagree with your convictions and beliefs are not always pleasant, and they can cause discouragement or make you question whether your convictions are right, but don't let them! Stick to what you know the Bible says-we should not look for the approval of others, but of our Master.

Often, as an editor, you will run into other problems like printing cost rising, running late on an issue, or making an occasional bad blunder. We are not perfect, along with the rest of the human race, and should not expect ourselves to always get it right. If something goes wrong that is your fault, learn to smile, change your ways, and move on.

One note... If your friends don't really want to subscribe, don't be offended! They have reasons (money, usually-or just lack of interest). Hurt feelings get you nowhere, and if you make them feel guilty about it, you'll either loose a friend or gain an un-interested subscriber.

In those down times that do come, when you feel like you don't want to go on, contact another editor friend-we've all had our times of discouragement, and are glad to help other editors out of the depths of editing blues. Talking to a caring friend or relative helps to make your load lighter, but Jesus is the best One of all to calm our fears and smooth our cares away. Prayer should be like breathing to us-whether it's a cry to God for encouragement, wondering about a questionable submission, praying that your computer will do it right for once :-), or simply a loving prayer of praise to the Creator. Jesus is always available-24 hours a day-and will help us through all our trials.

Among the thorns, there is a beautiful rose. The joy we get from being an editor is nearly indescribable, and we wouldn't exchange it for just anything. Sometimes, even as impossible as it seems at the moment, the "thorns" of being an editor, make the "rose" of it all the more beautiful. Unless you feel an obvious pull from God to discontinue your publication, you should stick with what you have started. Remember, you can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you! If you do all to the glory of God, your publication will be a blessing to all that read it. Some may even come to the knowledge of God through it. "...let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrew 12:1b-2)

 

Keeping the Focus on Christ

We strive to have our publications honor God, yet sometimes we can get so caught up in deadlines, getting a good variety of articles, and trying to get more subscribers that we lose sight of our main focus. So how can we keep our publications focused on Christ?

Prayer. Make prayer a big part of your publication. Pray frequently-about every problem that occurs and every wonderful thing that comes up. Perhaps you could make it a practice to pray every time you sit down to work on your publication or every time you choose to accept a submission. You may already pray a lot, especially while your publication is at the printer :-), but maybe you should make it a practice to pray even more often and about everything.

Trusting in God. How many times have we fretted our heads when there is just one day left in the deadline for submissions, and only enough material has come in to fill half an issue? If the Lord wants your publication to be successful, He will bless and provide. Often these provisions will come by God working through our own hard work, so we shouldn't just say that we trust God then sit at our mailbox waiting for submissions to miraculously start coming. We must trust, then go and do! God never commends laziness.

Making the Gospel Clear. Is the Gospel presented in a clear and easy manner in each issue of your publication? The purpose of our publications is to bring people close to the Lord, isn't it? Don't be afraid to share your faith! And don't just mention His name only in passing-be bold; be a witness; share the gospel!

Don't Go Against Your Conscience. It's two days past the deadline and there is still one empty page left. The mail comes. A submission is enclosed that will fill an entire page! You read the submission, and your heart sinks as you realize that there are some things in the article that aren't uplifting or honoring to God. Should you print the article? Don't go against your conscience. Trust in the Lord, and realize that that article may have been a test He has sent your way.

Be Generous. If you feel led to give away a free issue of your publication to someone, yet your budget is screaming "No! No! I'm already empty as it is!!", do what you feel God wants you to do. Perhaps the person who receives that issue will come to Christ through it. What if you had listened to your publication's piggy bank? What if you had resisted what God was telling you to do?? Don't pass up an opportunity for Christ. God will provide the money, if that is your worry-He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, so what is a few dollars to Him?

 

A Few Other Miscellaneous Things...

When referring to your publication by name, always italicize the title (or underline, if italics are not an option; in e-mail, use _underscores_ to indicate that a word or phrase is italicized/underlined.) Never enclose it in quotation marks-they are for titles of short stories, short poems, songs, chapters, articles, and other parts of books or magazines. Italicization/underlining is for titles of books, magazines/newsletters, newspapers, plays, works of art, long poems of book length, long musical compositions (such as operas, concertos, and symphonies); and the names of ships, submarines, aircraft, and spacecraft.

Using a computer database to organize your subscriber data is very handy, especially for printing out mailing labels. Keep track of name, address, phone, e-mail, birth date, any extra notes, when their subscription expires, etc.-all in one place. Be sure to print out a "hard copy" of your data and make frequent back ups, too-you do not want your computer to lose your subscriber list!! (You can set up your database program to print the data on 3"x5" or 4"x6" cardstock, and keep your the cards organized alphabetically in a card file for easy reference.)

Keep an "idea tablet" by your bed, in your purse, at your desk, etc. Many editors find that about 75% of their ideas come not when they're at the computer working on their publication, but when they're supposed to being doing something else (i.e. schoolwork, sleeping, dishes, etc.). We've all learned the hard way that you can never seem to remember that perfect wording, title, or layout idea later (i.e. the next morning :-)), so it is highly recommended that you keep pen and paper near you at all times! A small memo pad works great to carry in your purse or pocket, and to keep near your school desk (for those of us who are homeschoolers-if you attend school, the teacher probably wouldn't appreciate it! :-)). Use a larger notebook for your bedside, since it's usually when you're trying to go to sleep that the "big" or long ideas come. (If you share the room with someone else and don't want to disturb them by turning on the light, just write in the dark...it works, as long as you can interpret your blind scratches! :-))

 

Editor-Helping Publications

Across the Miles, Inkblots, Spree, Unto Him, and many other publications/organizations are dedicated to helping editors spread the word about their publications and encouraging them in their myriad of tasks. Below is information about just a handful of them-find out more information and become involved in a few of the publications/organizations out there for editors. They'll be a big boost and encouragement along your editing journey, and help out with advertising, as well!

Across the Miles is a publication for editors... In each issue, you'll find a listing of all participating publications, plus the details about them. Keep informed of publications in print, and find new places to advertise. (Those who aren't editors can subscribe, too, and be introduced to new and interesting publications for girls-great advertising!) Every issue will also contain a catalog of newsletter/magazine supplies.

Inkblots is a Christian, seasonal creative writing magazine for all ages and writing levels, edited by Melinda Lavorante. Each issue consists of many articles including: featured writer/poet, free ads, stories and poems by readers, recommended writing, Computer Corner, and much, much more. Inkblots provides a place for readers to display their work, and improve their writing. Reader participation is encouraged. A great magazine for all writers...and editors! Internet: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/5842/

Unto Him is a publication giving information on magazines and newsletters for Christian girls. To have your ad printed in each issue of Unto Him, send a sample copy of your publication and an ad.

 

You Are Cordially Invited...

Now that you've read all this helpful advice on beginning your new journey as an editor, we would like to invite you to join the e-mail Editor's Circle, operated by Melinda Lavorante! The Editor's Circle's motto is "Encouraging Editors in the Lord." This fun group of Christian young women editors discuss a question each week, trade ads, share "gray hair" stories, help each other out with a need for a last-minute filler or article, notify each other of newly-found editor-helping websites, share from one editor's heart to another, ask for prayer regarding a particular need, give specific advice, find encouragement, and much, much more! It's an editor's dream support group-it's free, doesn't take much time, and is full of other editors just like you! Some are novice, others have been doing it for years...and we'd love to have you join us! We're all sure that you'll look back on joining the Editor's Circle as one of your most important steps in beginning your editor's journey. The only requirements are: 1) You must be a Christian editor of a Godly publication (it can be distributed via snail mail, e-mail, or online); 2) You need to be able to check (and respond to) your e-mail at least once a week; 3) You must join with the intention of participating (of course, if something comes up-like finishing up your next issue, etc.-you will be excused from participating for a few issues). For more information, e-mail Melinda Lavorante at Inkblots.Mag@Juno.com or visit the Editor Circle's website at
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/5842/edcircle/index.html (Once you become a member, you can read past EC's on the members-only website-they're each priceless for their great advice and "meaty" editor-helping content!)

 

We're so glad that you have decided to begin your journey as an editor.

Happy Editoring!
God Bless You and Your Publication!

The Editor's Circle Members

 


Permission is hereby given to photocopy this Editor's Circle Special Issue in its entirety, to be distributed to other new/prospective (or old-timer :-)) editors at no other cost than that of printing and postage.

View this entire Editor's Circle Special Issue online at http://members.tripod.com/ylcf/resources/advice4editors.htm
(please feel free to distribute this address)

An e-mail copy of this entire Editor's Circle Special Issue can be obtained by e-mailing YLCF@saintmail.net with your request.

A printed copy can be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope, along with a donation of a postage stamp, to the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship.

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