Making the first issue of a magazine is a daunting task.
In this short guide, BROAD Magazine founder, Gergő Farkas, provides a pre-launch checklist for aspiring publishers.
Use this checklist to move faster, skip common pitfalls, and have a successful first issue.
The 8 Key Elements To Launching A Magazine
1) Firstly, you must have determination.
Magazine publishing is not for the faint of heart or the risk-averse and it’s always easier to give up than finishing the project (true for most things I guess) so keep pushing forward!
2) Have unique content.
There are lots of voices out there and you want to make sure that you have something valuable to add to the conversation and a unique way to present it.
Your branding, your typography and content all has to flow together to create a cohesive product people want to purchase and collect. Your magazine should have a clear message.
What are your values? Readers are looking for content that aligns with their taste and interest. It should be clear what your message is as they flip through your zine quickly.
3) Know your audience.
Who is it for? Do you have an established audience already or are you starting from scratch?
In our case we already had a community form online which created a built-in audience and a wide network of contributors we could rely on for unique content.
4) Find the right team.
This is something that you just can’t do alone. At least not to the extent that you would need to produce a quality publication.
You may be good at design, but are you any good at sales or writing? At the very least you will need a great layout designer, a writer and an editor who will pull everything together and coordinate the production of the issue.
5) Research the details.
There is a lot of jargon and peculiar details that are easy to miss if you don’t do your homework.
I will be the first to admit that I fell into this trap.
I was so excited about making the magazine that I thought I could deal with the details later. This can create a lot of work and headaches later on.
Do your due diligence and read up on distribution requirements and how to obtain an ISSN number. What kind of barcode will your potential distributor need?
These things are required for all serial publications and you have to go through the proper channels to obtain them otherwise you cannot put your zine in commercial circulation (if that’s your goal.) If you miss these in the beginning, it will delay your publication schedule and could potentially cost you a lot of money.
6) Shop around for printers.
Don’t go for the first quote you get! Meet with a few printers and go through the fine details with them and see how they can work with you to produce what you envisioned.
A good printer will be able to get you the right specs at the right price. It’s very easy to get sucked into something that might not work for you in the end.
Get at least 3 different quotes from different printers and you’ll be surprised by how much they can differ saving you a ton of money you can spend on marketing or going on a nice vacation. Trust me you’ll need it when you’re done!
7) Find a good distributor that fits your genre and audience.
Independent or specialty magazines have their own scene and you want to be working with people that know the right places to get your magazines into the right hands.
Do some research or look at your favourite zines and see who they work with. Reach out to their editors.
Most people in the publishing business are happy to share information and support each other, you just need to ask nicely.
8) Above all, keep your passion!
You probably want to publish a magazine because you’re passionate about a topic or something that matters to you a great deal.
Keep this in mind throughout the project to keep you inspired to make it happen.
I know it helped me get through the slumps!