Fashion fans are only too well aware of the importance of the September issue of Vogue. It is their biggest edition of the year and fashion houses wait in anticipation to see if their new collection will be featured. The 2012 US edition was the largest ever with 916 pages, the majority of which were advertisements. Since 1988, the publication has had the infamous Anna Wintour as it’s editor-in-chief.
Recently in my work at Purple Rain, I have had the privilege and challenge of editing two magazines for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Whilst not of the same scale and readership of the world famous Condé Nast title, there are elements common to running any regular publication.
Therefore, if the opportunity ever arose that Anna and I were to meet over a Costa coffee, besides chatting about tennis, (Anna is one of Roger Federer’s biggest fans), we could debate over the frustrations and merits of working on magazines (yeah, in your dreams, Rebecca).
Those who have watched the movie The Devil wears Prada will be familiar with ‘the Book’. This is a large book that is updated each day with the photographs from the fashion shoots and content from editors, all pasted in so the magazine comes to life as apposed to flat on the computer screen. Runway’s book was delivered to Miranda Priestly’s (played by Meryl Streep) house each evening for her to dissect and pity help the assistant if it’s not where it should be!
This is based on what happens at Vogue and anyone who has seen the documentary The September Issue, featuring Anna Wintour, will see ‘The Book’ in action as Vogue staff spray mount new content in daily. Later on, Anna can be seen perusing over it with her expert eye, clutching a cappuccino. I have tried to copy ‘The Book’ idea and found it quite handy saying I am on the go so much, although mine is a modest poly pocket plastic folder and not actually a book per se, and I carry it around myself.
So, why am I writing a blog post about September issue in July? Working in advance is normal fodder for any PR professional however the magazine trade works even more ahead of schedule to allow for printing and distribution of the magazine to its readership.
To illustrate this, I have one magazine due in September and everything is with the designer to work their wonder on as we speak.
In the past, my sister and I have fallen out over magazines. Not over who reads them first, but rather how we handle them. I’ve often complained about her flicking through magazines at speed, ripping pages and generating dog ears and, on more than one occasion, using the magazine to set a hot cup of coffee on!
I know how much work goes into every detail of the magazine that I like to respect other editors and design teams by treating the finished product with the utmost care.
As a team working closely together, we debate over the size of images, the size and type of font, the headline title, the sub head title, moving quotes to fill corner spaces, moving the order of articles around…the list goes on. Then there’s the cover image to confirm, the headline and which articles to feature on said cover. The editorial decisions to be made can seem endless.
Any magazine is in itself a little work of art. You chip away at it, refine it, proof it, refine it some more, change bits around, but there comes a day when you have to hand it over to the printer because the deadline has come and its life needs to take on a different form.
When the boxes of magazines arrive at your desk, your stomach goes as you peel open a copy. By this stage, you know the magazine inside out. You could narrate the order in your sleep. Half of you wants to check through and (hopefully) smile at seeing all the hard work, emails, phone calls, meetings, briefings with writers and liaison with the designer, come together. The other half glances over pages gently for fear of seeing a missed typo or a low res photograph. As subscribers begins to read their copy, your thoughts as editor are already on the next one you have to put together – and how you are going to fill all the pages.
So, the next time you sit down to go through your favourite magazine, you will perhaps know a little more about the editing process to appreciate even more what you read, and please, please use a coaster for your cuppa!
This article was written by purplerain