Guide to building a magazine: the structure
This guide is designed for those who would like to carry out their own editorial project and ask themselves: how are the contents of a magazine structured? What elements should I enter?
We have listed a list of practical elements that we advise you to keep in mind when approaching the structuring of a magazine, with some indications for making an editorial project suitable for the challenges of tomorrow's publishing. This guide is not a list of mandatory steps, but simply wants to summarize all the possibilities to be taken into consideration in the editorial construction of the magazine.
1. THE IDEA AND THE CONCEPT
Vision and strong idea
Unless you're a star with millions of fans in tow, if your idea is simply "I want to do a magazine" the best advice we can give you is not to do a magazine.
A magazine, in fact, can only aspire to success if it has a precise idea behind it to pursue, a concept to express. There have been many magazines for one's ego and as valid meteors they then disappeared from the publishing landscape. Those who remain and acquire credibility and public over the years are those who persevere in their own editorial integrity and actually have a positive contribution to their audience.
The concept from which to start is therefore always a clear and precise idea or passion. Whether you want to spread your love (and your skills) for shoes, for skating, for politics, for Eastern Europe, for bathrooms, for literary culture, for Japanese poetry or whatever it matters little, the important thing is to define a clear range of interests.
Multidisciplinary or lifestyle magazines, those who want to talk about everything a little bit, are very difficult to communicate, but above all they struggle to create and involve their own community and niche of passionate readers.
Do not improvise: you need to know deeply the subject your magazine is about. Both to gain authority and to respond to any criticisms that are always an important part of every job.
Being clear in expressing one's editorial line denotes knowledge of the subject and is important for gaining authority.
2. THE STYLE
One of the characteristics of independent magazines is that they are experimental, sometimes even chameleonic: they can also change with each issue, format, graphics and even headings (some brave even change the title), but despite this it is essential to maintain their own recognizable and coherent style . Here are some preliminary style indications that we feel like giving you:
The importance of a flat plan
Create your own flat plan, preferably physical, but today they also exist online. It is literally a wall on which you hang the sequence of pages as you imagine it. The flat plan helps you to identify the line held by your magazine, and also helps you in deciding spaces, cuts, changes of subject, thus visually keeping in mind the sixteenths (or eighths) of printing.
Take care of the cover
The cover is the design element to pay more attention to. It directly and clearly affects the magazine's sales but, of course, there is no magic formula to make a cover both aesthetically beautiful, catchy and one that piques the reader's curiosity.
The cover must be consistent with the content so as not to confuse the reader. If you want your project to attract interest, give the cover a substantial role and give it a lot of attention.
Consistent editorial style
The tone of voice used in the texts defines the editorial style you give to the magazine. Inside, the style of the texts must be unique and have distinctive features that allow the magazine to be characterized and, issue after issue, assume its own authority and recognition. In a magazine you can really imagine and experiment, but be consistent with yourself and accompany the reader correctly when you decide to change style-
3. THE FORM
There are some structural and, if we want to say "formal" elements that have to do with the legal and recognizability basis of the magazine. Here is the list of structural and formal elements to keep in mind
The title of the magazine is important, sometimes it can be or become a real logo or symbol of recognition of the magazine.
Cover squeals: these are optional elements (which we don't like very much). All the rage in the past, they served as a mini-presentation of content for sale at newsstands. Today you can do without it to leave room for the creativity of the cover.
It is the claim of your magazine, or the description of the magazine in 10 words. This too is a distinctive character of immediate recognition, however optional.
On the cover you can decide to publish the sale price. Today, with margins in the publishing world that are always very narrow for publishers, distributors and sellers, we advise against applying it and thus leaving retailers more freedom to set the price to the public (remember, however, to always set and indicate a minimum cover price from which leave to prevent your magazine from being devalued).
It is that numeric code that contains all the meta information related to your magazine. Here the guide Frab's specification on what ISSN is and how to get it.
Once the ISSN has been acquired, it is advisable to insert a barcode for the correct scanning of the magazines with automation in the cash management systems of physical sellers. It was once used to put it on the cover. Today it is advisable to keep the cover clean, especially for smaller editions (<1000) and to put it inside. advice on how to buy it can always be found in ours guide
Edition number / date.
Insert it, if not on the cover at least in the colophon. Increase the collectability and recognizability of a magazine story.
If the magazine is very limited, we advise you to number the copies by hand.
names and contacts of the editorial staff and other important information such as publisher and printer contacts, advertising information, information on the type of paper used, etc.
Letter from the publisher
generally it should be inserted after the colophon and before the index. It is the welcome that the publisher gives to its readers, referring to the contents they will find in the magazine and describing the editorial choices made.
- Content index
A page in which to name and give some hints on the profile of all those who have contributed to the magazine, from photographers to illustrators to the authors of the articles. You can also put a photo and the contacts of each of them.
It is always very useful to insert it to help the reader orient himself. If you are keen to keep a clean layout, you can decide not to include it on the pages where you have decided to publish photos and images with full bleed (ie without margins).
Remember that it is essential in every image or photo (or editorial if we have multiple images of the same photographer) to write the credits.
4. THE MAGIC
There are some factors that determine the success or failure of a magazine that do not have precise rules, but which we believe have a profound importance for its affirmation. Let's try to list them.
Make a beautiful product, look for beauty. Beauty in publishing for us is the attention to detail, the study and the search for meaning in the design and presentation of the physical product. Always search for it, do not leave the design in the hands of some pre-set structure found on the internet for € 9.99. The beauty of independent publishing is that even the most brutal trash can be beautiful when it is sought after and has a careful study behind it that it conveys its meaning.
The independent magazine is a tool that was created to speak to a specific community. Choose who you want to address, which community is your goal. Alternatively, if you want to create a new community that starts with your magazine, don't be too generic and make sure you understand who the group of people you want to target in the first place is.
Take care of social media and the web
Fortunately, today we understand that the internet, as in many things, is a great friend of the printed word. Care, update and keep your online channels (social and website) alive. This is where you can find new readers and collectors for your magazine. The Internet is that square where today it is much easier than before to find new contacts and spread your editorial project with a community that grows over time.
We've finished the list of things to keep in mind when defining the content of a magazine. Perhaps it is not exhaustive and certainly not all the elements mentioned must be present in the project you have in mind, but it is a minimal list of all the essential things you need to know in order to make your decisions in building a magazine without leaving anything to chance. . On Frab's you will find some magazines that radically undermine the to-do-list described above, but have an editorial integrity and coherence such as to give a perfect idea of how much research has been done in creating them and how certain editorial freedoms are the result a specific and thoughtful choice.
Have a good print!