As print magazine and newspaper veterans who somehow made the transition to the digital world, speedonthewater.com co-publisher Jason Johnson and I love returning to our roots. That’s what we did last year with our inaugural 2015 Speed On The Water Year In Review collectible print edition, and what we’re in thick of doing right now with the 2016 version. Of course, we had to get a bit more ambitious with the oversized magazine, meaning we bumped it from 132 pages last year to 164 pages this year.
The mock-up phase for the 2016 Speed On The Water Year In Review collectible print edition is almost finished.
That we produce an almost-print-ready digital magazine six times a year—in addition to publishing news and features seven days a week, 365 days a year on the website—definitely keeps us in the magazine production groove. But printing a physical magazine adds a bunch of steps, from gathering high-resolution images from various photographers (thank god for Drop Box and WeTransfer) to collecting advertising materials and meeting a print and distribution deadline schedule. But before you begin any of that, you have to decide when you want to have the magazine in the hands of your readers—in this case early January 2016. The deadline/delivery schedule flows from there.
All of which means we’ll take a break tonight and tomorrow to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, get right back into it Friday and keep at it pretty much seven days a week, in one way or another, until we deliver the finished PDFs to the printer for publication. That much of our end of the entire process happens online is remarkable. (At least one of us remembers the days of art boards, hot waxers and X-ACTO knives for pasting up columns of text on those boards, and sending out photos for the physical color separations that were required by printers.)
We’re nearing the end of the overall magazine design mock-up phase thanks returning art director Rick Damien, the most talented and creative guy either of us has ever worked with. (Of course, the new magazine’s design has to be somewhat different than that of last year’s edition—that’s just how he is.) Next week, Rick will start delivering layouts. From there we drop in text, much of which is already written or will be gathered and rewritten from stories that appeared on our website. After that, there is copyediting, making sure photo credits and captions are correct, endless other assorted details and, go figure, more copy editing.
Building a magazine is a lot like laying up a hull—it happens in distinct layers that cannot be rushed if the finished product is to be strong. It’s a step-by-step effort without shortcuts.
Right now, we’re in the “Isn’t print wonderful?” nostalgia stage of the process. By the time we send the final PDFs to the printer, we’ll be in the “Let’s get this damn thing out of here!” reality stage. The nostalgia stage will return when we hold the first issues in our hands and—better still—it gets into yours.