Ever wonder how a magazine comes together? As an editor I’ll be happy to share some insights with you. Most of us have probably put together a jigsaw puzzle, so you know how sometimes they go together quite well, and other times, well… not so much… In fact sometimes putting a puzzle together can be downright exacerbating!
This is not unlike what it’s like putting together a magazine. Space is precious in print, there’s never enough of fit for all the articles that contributors want to see get in the current issue. Sometimes I wish I could wave a magic wand and all of the pages I need would magically appear, but obviously that isn’t reality.
The most important part is actually the ads, since those MUST get in as these folks are paying for a certain amount of space. Since ads help defray publishing costs, the amount of ads usually dictates the number of pages you are going to have … although in the case of the magazine I edit, the Journal of Employee Assistance, the magazine is 32 pages each time as opposed to varying from issue to issue.
Because there are only a certain number of words that will fit on a given page, the word count of any story is a major consideration in fitting things together. Write shorter, and there’s a better chance an editor will have room for your piece. Write something too long and it becomes much more difficult.
Some people think editors discriminate and do not run certain articles on purpose. No. My personal experience is that it’s about the SPACE. What fits best, runs. What doesn’t, just has to wait, and we ask for contributors’ patience in seeing their article in print. Period.
Because it’s a question that comes up from time to time, I thought I should also touch base on how we go about selecting the photo for the cover. Some readers wonder if the people pictured are actual EA professionals in the field. No. Our designer scours through an online image service we subscribe to, to decide which image would be the best fit with the cover story. In addition to correlating with the topic, the photo must also be the right dimensions to fit on the cover. A highly vertical picture, for instance, isn’t apt to work in a horizontal space.
There are also cover blurbs to be written, a table of contents to write, and I devise a layout plan so our designer knows which stories I plan on running and on what page. The moral of the story is still: There’s never enough room, but we do our best!