Five tips for new editors starting their journey into church magazine production.
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Building your editorial team
Are you taking over the editor’s role for your church magazine? Or are you planning to start a new publication for your church? Either way many of the problems you face will be similar because you will want to stamp your own authority on the magazine. That doesn’t mean that you will be the only person involved. A successful magazine is often the creation of a team working together. There is more truth in this in today’s world where churches themselves are part of a team, often referred to as a Benefice.Build yourself a team around you. Encourage representatives from the various church organisations to provide you with their news. Encourage representatives from organisations within your community to provide you with their news. Ask members of your congregation and local community for articles – be proactive. ACE can be part of your team. Join us and don’t be afraid to ask us for help.
Agreeing your purpose
Some church magazines have a written constitution which defines their aims and objectives. Many magazine editorial teams don’t feel the necessity for such formalities. After all, things can happen suddenly in the community and the editorial function needs to be flexible to capture the news. However, the purposes of the magazine should be discussed regularly, even if informally, with the priest/minister, senior church members, church leaders, the church council and members of the congregation. They all have ideas and these need to be brought into your discussions on the purpose of your magazine and its target audience.We recommend keeping written notes about your defined purposes, in case there are differences of opinion further down the line. Such groundwork will also be relevant as the ambitions for your publication grow and develop.
Good copy and photographs
To attract readers your magazine needs to be well written and presented. Copy must grab the attention of your readers. Good photographs are the ones that catch the eye.
Have a look at all the mail that comes through your letter box. Newspapers, magazines, local free-sheets, flyers, posters and junk mail can all teach you how to write and how to design. What is it about each which catches your eye and attracts you to read? More important, what is it that causes you to shrug your shoulders and read something else?
What is it that makes you really want to read a magazine? Certainly not boredom; more likely breaking the rules if you know how to do it!
Many church magazines are produced, month-after-month, year-after-year on a shoe-string budget. Why? For most churches the magazine is the most immediate means of outreach. Your church should be realistic about the cost and why the expense is so important.
Typically, just one of two highly committed folk do everything from typing and designing the artwork, to photocopying, folding, stapling and distribution. For larger circulations, financial resources should be such as to allow the use of a local printer.
Whatever you do, agree the budget with your church council. Are you going to give your magazine free of charge or are you going to charge a subscription? Are you going to aim for a profit or will you regard at least some of the cost to be part of the cost of outreach? Aim to keep within budget to keep treasurer happy.
Artwork, Layout and Print
Can you imagine the rare church magazine that might be produced without using a computer? Probably not.
However, you need to think through the whole production process. What printer do you need? How many copies do you expect to produce – that will affect where you get copies printed. What about a flat-bed scanner, internet access, e-mail and additional memory.
What software should you use? It is a question frequently asked. The best solution is a desk top publishing program. There are several on the market. Once you get used to using the program you will find it easier for creating your design and for placing all the bits of your artwork just where you want them to be. Every program is updated from time to time. Often annoying, the updates are usually useful, though perhaps the most important reason for accepting updates is the ever-present need to keep enhancing security and protecting the information that you are handling.