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Epic fail or bad magazine publishing experience

I thought to write a small comment in response to a habratopic. We invite authors to create an electronic journal on .NET , but in the end a whole article was born.

So, -

I will share my experience of publishing a magazine on .Net topics.

I will start over again - somewhere in 2000 I decided to switch from Borland Delphi to something, because it was already clear (he is holivar) that Borland is over, and therefore Delphi, in the form that we knew and loved, too (holivar off). I followed the news in the IT industry closely (yes, just like now), and somewhere slipped information that Anders Hejlsberg has been working at Microsoft for a long time, since he was offered $ 1 million. more than Borland could offer. He is engaged in creating a certain C # language on a certain .Net platform. As a result, as soon as Visual Studio.Net appeared, I convinced the management of the company to pay for the training of a group of programmers, which we successfully did. I liked the language and the platform very much and by the end of 2003 I decided to issue a newsletter on this topic “.Net Interlocutor”, its first number was released on December 26, and by the end of 2004 more than 4000 people had already signed it. 2004 and the first half of 2005 were the golden time of this newsletter - I can be proud of almost every issue, I have a clear breakdown of the issue into headings, and they are still nice, and it may be useful for someone to read (here’s an example of another issue ) . I will retreat - the newsletter has not been released for about 2 years, you should not subscribe to it. Links are not advertising, but simply a confirmation of my words.
Lyrical digression ended, now about the magazine itself. Somewhere in the middle of 2005, I had the thought of somehow making money from it. The advertisement in the newsletter itself seemed to me not serious, maybe at that time it was so, and I decided to turn to the classic version - the paper edition. I proceeded from, as it turned out later, the following wrong premise: I figured that I had 4,400 followers. Well, I thought, let every 5 sign up, and even every tenth, 440 numbers of copies will be fine with me, and there it goes. I registered the magazine in Ukraine, and was unpleasantly surprised when subscribers turned out to be just over 50 people. It turned out that for subscribers at the time, the magazine would have been an order of magnitude more expensive to subscribers, that is, no one had subscribed from there. Over time, I learned that, among other things, it was necessary to register at Rospechat, and then I could be accommodated in Russian catalogs, but the time was lost, plus the price of the question did not suit me at that time. However, there was one interesting point that I missed - there were people who wanted to subscribe from abroad, there were about 20 people, on the one hand a little, and on the other - quite comparable with the circulation. But there was another problem - the complexity of payment, the high cost of sending a hard copy (as a result, I started selling electronic copies of the magazine, but since I took ridiculous money for them in small amounts, there was no point in this).

Conclusion number 1 - It is necessary to seriously approach the assessment of the audience of subscribers. Pay attention to their geographical location and the possibility of delivery to those countries in which their potentially significant number lives.

Conclusion number 2 - You must be ready to provide the magazine not only in paper but also in electronic form to those people who for various reasons cannot receive a hard copy of the publication.

Conclusion number 3 - You need to be ready to accept money from different sources. For example, on the account, on electronic wallets of several kinds, etc.

So, the journal was registered, an index was obtained, published in the catalog of printed publications of Ukraine, an approximate number of subscribers was received, and the question arose about the first issue. Some of the materials I planned to do myself, some of the materials should have been provided by several authors.
And so it happened - the materials were received, the next step was to be the layout, then printing and sending to Ukrpochta. With the layout I agreed to help my brother, who by that time was engaged in it, according to him at a professional level. Unfortunately, in fact it turned out to be completely wrong, and after I received a mockup from him, he simply caused me genuine horror and disappointment. From here -

Conclusion number 4 - No relatives in the project, if they really are not true professionals in this particular case. This, of course, does not apply to relatives - it is necessary to approach the selection of the layout designer responsibly, because it will be your magazine that makes, but, as practice has shown, the quality of information is a necessary thing, but not sufficient for success. A corresponding feed is also required.

By the way, I have to say in fairness that at the moment my brother has become a true professional in his business, as can be seen by looking at the materials he puts out for acquaintance in LiveJournal . His skill would be yes at that time - maybe everything would be different.
So, the first number was laid out.

It was bad, but there was no way out; it had long been necessary to give a number to the press and send to subscribers, as well as people who could help in promoting the magazine. In our city at that time there were several firms that were engaged in printing. I will not bore you with the details of communication with these guys, I will immediately draw the following conclusion -

Conclusion number 5 - No matter how rushed you are (and in general, haste is the last thing in everything except catching fleas, as Kozma Prutkov said), study as much as possible all the offers on the print market. Sometimes the price is different at times, and the quality of the final product in the end may be better where it is cheaper. Strange as it may sound.

The number was printed, sent, received a variety of reviews. Both positive - mainly in content and negative - mainly related to appearance. There was a question about the next issue. And it turned out that the authors, like all people, need money. And the issue price for the article, which could be called the “article of the issue”, was around 100 USD. Now, on the basis of the above, I already understand that these were quite fair demands. But, since I had an overspending on printing, registering, shipping, etc. etc., the authors as a result, I could not resist. And after all, they are the creators of what they call content, and he, accordingly, in Russian is called the spirit of the magazine, that is, in fact, for the sake of which, including, they buy it. Or should buy, that's how you look. Here immediately suggests several interrelated conclusions -

Conclusion number 6 - Authors, creators of really valuable content, you need to keep. Possibility of self-promotion, money or something else - but hold, otherwise the magazine will lose interest, its spirit and just will not be needed by anyone. Due to what - this is the second question. But I can do and -

Conclusion number 7 - do not invest a lot of money in printing.

For example, Visual Studio Magazine is a very bad example of a magazine for programmers, in my humble opinion. This is a small number of interesting articles on glossy paper, very diluted with advertising. Much better, in my opinion, another way out is to print a magazine on plain paper, and advertisers can print tabs on glossy ones, if they have enough money for that, of course. And the emphasis should be placed on high-quality submission of articles, with normal code formatting, highlighting the main points, etc. Try to avoid options such as red code on a black background, or, God forbid, dark blue text on a black background. Reading this article is almost impossible.

There is a whole science, it is called typography. The basis of the essence is design and layout with fonts, the matter is very interesting, and if you decide to start publishing, at least having some idea of ​​it will not hurt you. And by the way, there is a whole series of such magazines on the Russian market, which, as for me, approached the ideal of providing information for programmers and administrators - these are “Programming in C #”, “Using Visual Studio”, etc., their whole series. True, the articles there are mostly transferable, but again, well-chosen. I will not give references - you want, google yes you will find.

So, something I digress. Let us return to the main question, namely, to the daily bread. As you know, any company must make a profit. If this is not a charitable organization, of course, although there are some nuances here. It turns out that we have expenses for authors, for full-time employees (for example, the same layout designer), for printing, for sending the magazine to recipients, etc. etc. And who will pay for the banquet? There are actually several sources. At first I thought it would be subscribers and advertisers. In fact this is not true. It’s hard to find good advertisers, and whether the advertiser wants to pay for the whole circulation with advertising is a question. There are more subscribers. And here there are nuances. Subscribers are divided into individuals and legal entities. And if for an individual the issue of the price of a magazine is important, then there is a difference in the price of a magazine of $ 2. can already be decisive, then for a legal entity it is often that 10 cu for a room that 50 cu - no difference is usually not. This implies the following conclusion -

Conclusion number 8 - carefully approach pricing. Perhaps, it will be possible to find a way to implement the magazine at one price for individuals, and at another - for legal entities. In fact, this is a very subtle point that is worth paying attention to.

And one more thing - the relevance of the materials. If you go out 1 or 2 times a month (as the RSDN now goes), then the materials should be long-lived and valuable so that a person wants to put the magazine on the shelf, like a book or reference book and periodically refer to it. That is, in this case, your competitors will be books. If you go out 1 time in 2 weeks or more often, then your competitors will first of all be the Internet, since news and small articles will take up most of your space. From here one more, last conclusion -

Conclusion number 9 - try as carefully as possible to assess the need for your publication on the market, their physical and financial capabilities. Maybe it's better to do something else?

As for me, I have to release 2 numbers and then I close. And I can say one thing - I have no regrets about anything, and I don’t smell like an epic fail - I learned a lot about new things, did an interesting job, grew up professionally, even earned some money, albeit small ones. And I tried to share a part of my experience with you in this small article - although I did much more than these 9 conclusions, I hope that I outlined the main points.

But life must be interesting, right?

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/104439/

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