06 June, 2013

An irksome problem

This weeks I've been working my way through a problem that you don't think about when you read a magazine, and indeed it is a problem that magazine editors try very hard not to have.

I guess that every magazine has a slightly differently process, but recently, we've been allocating articles to the magazine fairly early, most of them before they've even been written.

The magazine I'm managing editor for is not high profile, like Reader's Digest—we don't have piles of non-solicited articles pouring in. Our magazine is written by missionaries, most of whom are very busy working, not writing articles.

Recently, though, the strategy we've used for procuring articles is to give a theme to each issue and call for articles via the group email system that our organisation (Japan Evangelical Missionary Association) uses. This has worked very well, and now we're getting more proposals than we can publish.

Based on these proposals we decide what we'll include and then an author has about six weeks to write their article. This is a good system, but like any system can go wrong.

This week I've had a glitch. I've been working with one author for many weeks on her article, which at first seemed promising, but has turned out not to work very well. On Monday I got feedback from one of my team members that the article wasn't as good as I'd hoped and she questioned whether it should be published. Hmmm, a whiz around my internationally-based editing team (one was in the US), and they all agreed, so I pulled the article (and had to write a rejection "letter").

That was the "easy" part, though I didn't write that rejection letter lightly. The harder part I'm still dealing with. That article was slated to take up two pages of our 40 page magazine. Suddenly I need to quickly find some replacement content. At this point it is too late to commission another article, which irks me, because we had more proposals than we could accept. It also irks me, because it falls on my lap to find something suitable to replace this article with.

Thankfully it is a topic that I am not unfamiliar with—TCKs or Third Culture Kids. But I'd value your prayers as I work this through.

Below is a more general monthly prayer email I sent out early this week.

Pray for Japan Harvest magazine

Thank you for your prayers for Japan Harvest during May. Here are some up-to-date prayer points for the magazine.

  • The Spring issue is out and looks good.
  • Dates have been set for the next two Writer’s Workshops. Registration opens this week for the November workshop in the Tokyo area.
  • The encouragement of seeing a growing number of writers and the increasing quality of the magazine.
  • The Summer issue is coming together but as I mentioned last month, our designer is due to have her second baby this month, right around the time that we'll be finishing up the issue. Pray that we'll be able to work around this. Pray she'll have a good birth and easy baby!
  • For participants for our Writer's Workshop in November.
  • We've received many proposals for articles for our Autumn issue on Member Care issues. Pray for the editorial meeting on the 7th of June where we'll decide which proposals to pursue.
  • Our goal is to encourage, inspire, and equip the members of the JEMA community. This magazine is the official publication of the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA). Pray that we'll serve the community well.
  • Japan Harvest team (listed below) is put together by volunteers. All of us have other responsibilities. Six of us are mums with young children. Pray we would all use our time wisely and work smoothly together.
  • We're still looking for a News Editor/coordinator and writer/s for the Member Care column/department.
Here is the list of our Japan Harvest team:

Executive Editor: Gary Bauman
Managing Editor: Wendy Marshall
Art Director, Production Editor: April Mack
Associate Editor: Rachel Hughes
Fact Checker: Georgia Anderson
Proofreader: Evangeline Kindervater
Advertising Director: Yuko Miyata
Administration Assistant: Yuka Oguro
Plus the translators for our News section: Atsuko Tateishi, Tomoko Kato, and Tim Williams.

Thank you for your continuing prayers.

Please pass this along to others who might be interested in praying for the ministry of Japan Harvest.


Judie said...

Could you ask for one or two more articles than you think you'll need? You could tell the people you approve that, if their article is not used this issue, it will be used at a future date.
Then, if they're all really good, maybe you could fiddle with spacing &/or editing to fit them all in or, if not, you'll have one or two articles for another time. It could work if you have a bit of subject overlap.
Alternately, every year or two, you could have a 'piecemeal' issue of mainly unused articles (with reprints of especially good ones?).
Don't know if it's a good idea, but it is an idea.

KarenKTeachCamb said...

As I read this, I was thinking almost exactly the same thing as Judie! I'd be requesting drafts of one or two extras, on the understanding that publication is dependent on space and quality of writing.

As for this issue, is there someone who can write well, who submitted an idea that you didn't use who could produce something useable on a tight time frame?

No fun writing the "rejection" letter. Always good to remember you're not rejecting the person, just something that may be dear to their heart.

Wendy said...

Good points ladies, and timely, because I had an editorial meeting today and we talked about all this. The main concern from me is that I'm not asking busy missionaries to do lots of work (and I know how much work writing a good article is) but then turn around and say sorry we don't have room. But the option of publishing it later is a good idea, also we have a website where we can publish articles also. So, I'll be trying to loosen my controlling grip a little and see how we go.