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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Designing, publishing, printing... [part 5]

Book-- The last two months provided some amazing challenges. The book I developed collects 30 previously published essays into a single volume. Manuscript selections and title were completed in early March. ISBN number and text page layout completed a week after that. Book design (including cover design and rear cover promo copy) delivered to the printer the last Monday in March. That concluded the production phase.

Throughout the next three weeks I prepared the national ad campaign and organized the retail and fulfillment operations. Let me pause here and express thanks to the many excellent team members who helped get this project off the notepad and into production. While writing ad copy and designing the ads, I was examined and approved press proofs, adjusted profit and loss reports and visited the book printing facility.

The customer service team offered inspiration and assistance in the providing the first contact with customers. Early on it was decided to make the book available only via a 1 800 number. This was done to assess customer response and to quickly adjust if challenges arise. It's easier to proactively accommodate customers' needs if there is only one door to go through to purchase the book.

The first "teaser" ad was placed in a national magazine dated April 15, 2006. The following week another "teaser" ad was released. Both of these teasers do not provide a call to action (i.e. a 1 800 number or web site address)--only the message that a book by the author was coming soon. However, a few calls to customer service were made during that time requesting info about the book and the author. The April 29th issue of the national magazine featured the third ad which contained a description of the book, the book's price and a 1 800 to call and "pre-order." Five days before the magazine's cover date there were already 60 pre-ordered copies.

Books were delivered early to the warehouse last Friday. By the end of Monday there were almost 200 pre-ordered books. The book's official (but not advertised) release date was this week--Tuesday. Currently, more than 300 copies have been ordered and shipped.

Magazine-- Photo shoot.

Magazines are better designed than written. Three simple rules about selling magazines: 1) Great covers move magazines from the rack to your hands. 2) A well-designed page layout will keep the magazine in your hand for at least a cover-to-cover flip-through. 3) If the headline doesn't send you to the deck (a deck is the copy that teases the article) and the deck doesn't send you to the article, then the magazine ends up back on the rack.

Back to photo shoot--covers aren't born. They are shot. Last week I spent about six hours at a photo shoot for the magazine. It was a great shoot. I learned a lot. The photographer is really great to work with and deals with unexpected challenges very well. He provides great material for the magazine. Without a great photographer a magazine shifts from the top rack to the bottom rack where all the literary journals are located. Its sad but true--literary magazines lose a lot of ground to the overwhelming power of visual-based glossy mags.

Here's my dilemma: I know that great photography attracts readers to a magazine; that works for me as a visual artist and graphic designer. The magazine I am designing is to be a very visual piece with large chic photo spreads. The flip side is that I also gravitate to the bottom rack to find the lit mags and pulp zines. The dichotomy puzzles me.

PART: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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