28 September, 2016

Behind the scenes of the magazine

The other day one of my sons queried me about this cryptic looking piece of paper that's currently beside my computer:

It is a list of all the articles in the Winter issue of Japan Harvest, the magazine which I manage. All sorts of information is listed there as I work on initial organisation of the production of the magazine, especially which of our four editors is going to edit which article when!

It isn't easy keeping track of all the articles and bits and pieces that need doing. Each magazine typically has 20+ articles (which means 20+ authors to work with as well). Each article goes through several steps from being submitted to appearing in the magazine. Here are some other tools I use to keep a track of it all.

This is the Google doc that I record where each article is up to in the process, plus other information like how long an article is. I used to ask other editors to update this as they went along, but I've given up on that, primarily because we started using another tool as well that's a bit more user friendly.

One of our editors has a paying job as an editor (his "day job"). His company uses Asana.com to keep a track of projects and on his recommendation we now do too. It's not perfect but it helps. It also has nice graphics too—occasionally a unicorn will leap across the page when you click that you've completed a task/subtask! 

One of my jobs is setting up this for each issue. The information on the first photo above was part of the decision-making process for allocating articles and deadlines for the various subtasks for each article in Asana. That's six steps for each of the 20+ articles I have to allocate to five people and plus due dates. It took me a few hours the other day to set up the Winter issue in this tool. Though once it is all entered in I can pretty easily keep a track of where everyone and everything is up to.

And then we get down to the actual editing. This is the Track Changes view of an article of mine from a few months ago. You can see that my team didn't hold back on making their opinions known. That is why I get a bit annoyed when people say things like "feel free to edit" or get upset when we do. I submit to this process regularly and I'd have to say that in the vast majority of cases my article looks the better for it.

Putting a magazine is very much like many things in life: a lot of work under the surface that the end user, audience, or recipient never sees. Work that hopefully makes the finished product look amazing or run smoothly. The old iceberg illustration that you occasionally see floating around illustrates this perfectly.

No comments: