My experience as a Publisher of a digital magazine began in February of 2013 and has been a constant learning experience. When I first started as Publisher of Going In-Depth magazine I did not know what I was getting myself into. I just knew that I wanted to be involved and I would figure it out along the way. Before volunteering for this incredibly challenging and fulfilling job, I had only developed some newsletters for my engineering society and for my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. I knew that the hardest part of any publication was getting the content to fill it. So with that frame of reference, I got started.
I had joined The In-Depth Genealogist (IDG) with the intent of making the magazine a reality. My friend, Stephanie Pitcher Fishman, had started IDG with Terri O’Connell and for a period of time the publication that they created was a newsletter. I wrote for the newsletter on the topic of Jewish Genealogy and loved it. I knew I wanted to be a part of what they were doing. Then they made the announcement that Jen Baldwin would be joining the team… and I thought, “Why didn’t they ask me?” It got under my skin and finally my husband told me to just ask them. So I did. To my surprise the reason they had not asked me was due to my full time engineering job. They didn’t think I’d have the time to devote. I quickly told them that I really wanted to do this… and so I became the fourth partner in the business.
Initially I was working with Stephanie and Jen doing the layouts for the magazine. We each read the articles that were contributed by volunteer writers and edited as we saw fit. We wanted to keep the same “voice” of the writer, but make it more readable when necessary. I thought that part was pretty easy. I have a knack for picking out misspellings, misplaced commas, and fixing run-on sentences. I felt I could use my own judgement and do okay. Then we started with the layout of the magazine itself. When you are first starting there are so many things to consider! We had to decide what we wanted the cover to look like. After all, we’d be keeping that same style for years to come! And just choosing a name for the magazine seemed daunting and final. What if we didn’t like it in 6 months? Would Going In-Depth really be the title we liked in a year? We were The In-Depth Genealogist, but did we know what we were doing? Maybe when it came to genealogy, but magazine creation? That was a learning experience all along the way.
What software to use? How to publish?
The decision had been made before I was involved that we’d be using an Open Source program called Scribus to create the publication. We were designing for an online reading experience at the time. Not considering that someday we might want to print them. None of us had any experience with print publications, but we all had designed websites in the past… so how hard could it be? Knowing that I often can learn new software with a short learning curve; I dug in. Finally on February 15, 2013 the first issue of Going In-Depth was published. We used the website Issuu.com to publish the magazine in an engaging way and it was free! The word got around quickly and soon we had thousands of people reading the new magazine. It was pretty awesome! Take a look for yourself at our very first issue.
In my next blog post I’ll share more about the learning experience of the first year and all the different layout software that we tried. After all, not every software package is completely equal. They all have their pros and cons depending on what you are trying to accomplish!