Monday, October 24, 2005

Making a magazine

Ever wonder what goes into producing the publication that lands in your mailbox? Here’s a peek into a birding magazine editor’s routine.

Tomorrow is a deadline that we call “ad close.” Other publishers might have different labels for the date on which the ad sales representatives must stop selling advertisements that will appear in an issue.

On the 25th, I need to have all of the editorial text and photographs ready for the January/February 2006 issue, because Oct. 26 is the beginning of the production cycle. I call the day after ad close “dummy day” - “dummy” being the label for the map of ads and editorial content in the issue.

On dummy day, my production coordinator gives me a “run list” that shows all the ads scheduled for the issue. The most important info to me is the ad size, because it determines which pieces (ads) go first into completing this jigsaw puzzle (dummy).

When I began working as an editor, it was the Dark Ages. We used paper, pencil, ruler... and lots of eraser. We loathed dummy day, because the process could take a very long time — sometimes 10 hours.

With computers, it takes maybe three hours to create the final version of the dummy. I can make a duplicate of the previous issue’s dummy file and move around the ads rather than repeatedly drawing, erasing and scattering red eraser bits all over the desk and my clothes.

Technology is my friend!


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