Saturday, December 18, 2010

Letters & Journals: The e-Newsletter (since June 2010) & Paper Magazine (2011)

Letters & Journals - one of my favorite websites so far offer you an electronic newsletter and a promise for a paper magazine that is going to be released somewhere in 2011. Judging by the cover it will be a must see one! I am already excited about it and decided to share it will all of you out there!
"The launch of the print version of Letters & Journals is scheduled for 2011. It’s been a long time in research and planning and the challenge in 2010 has been to build a following of potential subscribers.
To date we have a list of 2,300 names of possible subscribers/ buyers. Our goal is to get 5,000 names. Once we have a list of 5,000 names then we will begin approaching advertisers and following up with the ones who have already expressed interest (thank you!).
If you know some people or groups who would be interested, please encourage them to sign up for the website, the e-newsletter or just let me know to add them to my Magazine Updates Only list. None of the lists are being sold or shared and there is no obligation."
Text from: Letters & Journals Official Blog.

The magazine idea of "Letters and Journals" sounded awesome to me and with such a cover - I simply could not resist to send an email to Jackie and I asked about an exclusive interview. She responded really quickly and here is the sneak peek of what's coming our way in the first paper issue of the magazine "Letters and Journals".

Maxine: Tell us more about how the idea about the website and of course the e-newsletter and the magazine came to be?
Jackie: I got the idea for a magazine on letter writing while completing my master's thesis on the history of letter writing in 2004. During my research I came across hundreds of newspaper and internet articles bemoaning the loss of letter writing. These articles were written by people who love letter writing and miss it in their lives and I remember thinking, 'Who are all these people (like me) who love letter writing? Wouldn't it be great if we had a community or a magazine where we could share our appreciation of this hobby?' And that got me to thinking that there should be one. Then a light bulb went off and I thought 'Why don't I do one?' I have some related background (BA in English, worked on HS and college newspapers, bookstore manager for 10 yrs and district manager for a book company for 7 years, love the printed word, letters and mail and soon I will have my Master's degree in Communication (which I have now).
Adding journals seemed a natural fit as it's not just letters/mail that I love, but also pens, notebooks, journals, ink, pencils, postcards, stamps, etc.
So began my research into how to start a magazine. Reading books, searching online, noting ideas in other magazines that would work, talking to others who have done it (Kim at Faerie Magazine, Lydia at Performing Songwriter magazine and Cathy Scheibe of Toy Farmer magazine who is from ND (like me). Finding blogs and groups by people with the same interest. Joining groups like Exceptional Women in Publishing and the MN Magazine Periodical Association. Attending conferences as my budget allows.
Thinking big and starting small. An example of this is designing my perfect magazine in my head and then listing what makes it exceptional. Next, I choose one aspect of that and find out what I need to do to make it happen. In this case, I spoke to printers at a conference and got feedback on some of my ideas (quarterly issues, perfect bound, wt of the paper). I went to a paper show courtesy of my graphic designer who attends these regularly and was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to attend one with her.
The website was a natural choice since it's something I can do right away without the funds like I'll need to print the magazine. Also, for my day job I work at a website company that happens to cater to publishers. It's a small company and our president is brilliant. I have learned a lot about what to do/not do. If only I could afford them. Ha!

Maxine:A question that I am sure everyone will be asking, when is the paper magazine going to be released?
Jackie: I hope to have a print edition out sometime in 2011. At this point it is looking to be later in the year. I have the editor and art director ready to go, but what's missing at this point is having enough people to sell it to. Apparently, where a lot of new publishers go wrong is to create a magazine that doesn't have enough subscribers to sustain it. But it's hard to get all the subscribers you can when the magazine isn't around to show them all it can be. So it's been a longer process than I had hoped, but we're more than halfway to our goal of 5,000 interested people (potential subscribers). Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear from someone expressing interest in the magazine.

Maxine: Can you tell us more about the topics/sections that are going to be included in the paper version?
Jackie: I am continually adding to my list of topics for the print magazine! It surprises people how many topics there are. And since the magazine will only always be quarterly, we hope to keep the quality of the stories top notch. Here are some examples.

For the Paper Enthusiast - Product Reviews
From the Desk of… - Writing areas of famous people and L&J readers
L&J Online- Highlights of online only content available to all
City by City Guide to Stationery Stores- Features reviews, pictures, highlights of stationery stores
Fan Mail- Who gets it? How has it changed? What does it look like today? 20 years ago?
Calendar- Online contests (monthly), conferences, seminars, trade shows, retreats
Travel- Writing retreats, journal workshops, conferences, trade shows, seminars
Exotic Postmarks- History of postmarks, stamp collecting, postcards, foreign mail
Pen Pal Corner- Profile of pen pals, tools for writer, how to find/become one, class assignments
Letters in the Attic- found collections of letters, genealogy, saved letters, letters bought at an auction
Famous Letter Collections- Excerpts/highlights from books on letter collections
Mail Art- What it is, how to, reviews of mail art/artists
Scrapbook Journals- Journaling for scrapbook enthusiasts
Journal Type- Experiment with different journals (Nature, Daily, Art, Travel, Child, etc)
Fun with Day Planners- Review of different types of people’s planners
Famous Journal Collections- Excerpts/highlights from famous journals
Blog- The online journal experience
Letter Writing and Pen Pal Blogs

Maxine Is the paper magazine going to be a paid one? If so, any estimates about pages/prices that you can share with us?
Jackie: If all goes according to plan the magazine will retail for $7.99 or $8.99. Ideally we would offer electronic copy at a cheaper rate (and free if you purchase a subscription which will probably be $25-$30 for an annual subscripton. This will depend on timing, advertising, etc. so is subject to change, but that is what I am estimating at this point.

Maxine:Are there going to be PenPal and Swappers Ads in the magazine?
Jackie: I am undecided on this. There are so many other places where you can advertise for free, I'm not sure that people would pay for a personal ad. But you never know and there is always on online option down the road, in which case, it would be free.

Maxine: Do you plan to release "samples" of the magazine, so our readers can check them out first before ordering the magazine? 
Jackie: Yes. I am at the very beginning stages of putting together a zine which I would like to offer online and in print. I see this as a miniature version of the magazine.
Also, if I could find a magazine sponsor who would want to partner with L&J for the premiere edition and foot the bill for printing a limited run, then we could give those away as samples to the first 5,000 or 10,000 people who sent in their mailing address (or confirmed the address already on file). Possibly the lucky recipients would have to pay $2 or so for postage, but until a sponsor is found, that is all hypothetical.

Maxine: Once again, thank you for agreeing to be featured in the blog. I really enjoyed the idea about the interview, so that we can jazz up the whole blog entry about Letters and Journals. Needless to say that I am a huge fan of your website! Keep up the amazing work!
Jackie: Thank you for the opportunity to help get the word out about L&J! Thanks also for supporting other letter writing publications. I had not seen your site before. It's very well done and I think a lot of people will find it useful as well.
So my opinion about Letters&Journals: the e-newsletter and the paper magazine:

Subscription: Easy - just get on their website:
Magazine type: Prelaunch state of the paper version. Waiting anxiously to see it in 2011. For now you will have to settle with the e-newsletter, which covers interesting stories and updates from the site itself.
Payment: Free e-newsletter. The paper magazine will be paid.
Information wise: e-newsletter: includes updates and interesting topics.
Sections in the magazine: It looks like it will be the go-to magazine of everything that's cool and new in regards from writing supplies to journals and journal keeping.
Design: Pretty Good judging by the cover of the paper issue. E-newsletter: cute! Check out previous newsletters on their website!

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