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Start a Magazine

Madeleine White

Madeleine White encourages writers to seize the moment, though that doesn't necessarily mean writing a novel. Why not start a magazine...? 

These days everyone is a writer. You might not think so, but if you use social media, email, or WhatsApp with conviction, you are able to say you write. Your only outlet isn’t to start writing a novel, though. Why not start a magazine? Start-up magazines written by you, for people like you, encourage interaction within a community that matters to you; they’re an exciting space to showcase your voice and your writing; and it can belong to you! Here are things you might like to consider, hopefully inspiring you to take action.

1. Publications need a purpose

Whether you’re planning print or online, it helps to write out the purpose of your publication and for all involved to be in agreement with this. For example, this statement is at the heart of everything Write On! magazine does:

"Write On! magazine was created, in print and online, to link local writing communities to the publishing industry by showcasing the work of emerging writers, while propelling writers from working-class and minority backgrounds with something to say into publication. An authentic storytelling platform, Write On! inspires readers, writers and commercial entities to come together in new and innovative ways to build positive social change."

2. You need an audience

Decide whether you have a target market. Initially, it might just be a small one. You could, for example, pull together some people who share the same interest around a particular local concern. A movement that is happening at the moment is a national sewing bee around creating scrubs. You might be able to pull together the stories of where they are going and some sewing patterns and ideas around this. You’d be connecting to those people who are sewing things, those who have set it up as well as the end recipients (health care workers). By working with other writers you’ll be able to tap into their networks as well and as a group you’ll soon begin to co-create the platform, gathering a range of content.

3. Your distribution network

Once you have purpose and some content you need to reach out to a relevant distribution network. My first magazine Oi! - aimed at teens, was distributed for free in schools. At the moment, of course, most physical distribution is limited. The same principles apply online though, and you can always roll out a physical edition later on. If your purpose and content is strong enough, you will find many organisations willing to work with you. Write On! for example has its main distribution base in libraries, and reciprocal online relationships with organisations such as Thanet Writers and Penguin. You could deliver door-to-door or find regional stockpile hubs within local shops (many local papers are distributed like this). Alternatively, you might want to work with formal distributors, such as Marketforce, who can approach national retailers and supermarkets. Please not that although print is expensive, advertising revenues are potentially greater also.

Write On! cover

4. Commercial revenue

It’s worth thinking about how you’re going to make money, especially if you’re planning a bigger website or going into print. In order to do this, you need to decide how many pages you will put towards advertising and sponsorship; too many and you don’t provide enough content, too few and you don’t have enough revenue coming in. The same goes for an online platform. Too many adverts distract. And in terms of attracting advertising revenue, you need to do the following: clearly communicate what your distribution numbers are likely to be, who your readership is, and offer a variety of ad spaces at different values. A sensible way of doing this is to create a media pack: take a look at this Pen to Print Media Pack as an example.

In these unprecedented times, we writers are more important than ever,  inspiring action through positive messages that reflect what is real creatively. By becoming publishers, our reach can extend further still, catalysing what is needed in an accessible, authentic way. By connecting people with ideas and opportunities that reflect present needs, we will not only survive but be in a position to thrive again far more quickly, when we come out the other side of this current crisis situation.

Madeleine F White is Editor of Write On! magazine, and author of Mother of FloodsYou can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @madeleinefwhite

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