Guardian independent magazine weekend

by Steve Watson in July 2013
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I wrote a post a while ago about the two-day magazine publishing masterclass I ran at the Guardian last year. Lots of the ideas students talked about that weekend have since been turned into real magazines and it’s been fantastic to watch them emerge, so I’m very excited to be running another masterclass from 14-15 September.

The weekend format really allows us to get into the details of magazine publishing, and we’ve got a fantastic line-up of experts ready to share their knowledge.

We’ll kick off with a talk by Debbi Evans, one of the students who came to last year’s class and now the editor of Libertine, the magazine for interested women. She’ll be speaking frankly about her experiences over the last year – the things she did well and the things she wishes she’d known more about.

Rob Orchard, publisher of Delayed Gratification, will talk about the importance of finding your niche. He gave the talk at a Guardian class a couple of weeks ago and it was absolutely fascinating, so he’ll be using the longer time slot to expand on those ideas and run a workshop that helps students to figure out their own magazine’s niche.

Cathy Olmedillas is the editor and founder of Anorak, the happy mag for kids, and she’ll share her experience on how to make an impact with an independent magazine. New titles have a relatively short amount of time to make their mark on the shelf, so she’ll be talking about some of the strategies she’s used over the years.

If you’ve ever read magCulture or been to Printout you’ll know who Jeremy Leslie is – the godfather of independent publishing will cast his eye over the current market, picking out some of the most successful titles and speaking about what sets them apart. Kicking off Sunday’s talks, this is going to be a must-see keynote.

Alan Rutter is a journalist and digital media consultant currently working for Conde Nast – he’ll speak about the importance of a solid digital strategy for print magazines. Running through everything from the simplest Tumblr to the most complex bespoke tablet solution, he’ll make sure all students understand why digital matters and how they can make it part of their plans.

Dan Byrne and Paul Gleeson started the football magazine Spiel in 2011, and earlier this year they launched Field, a matchday magazine distributed to 50,000 fans at every Premiership ground up and down the country every week. They’ll talk about the importance of learning as you go and turning ideas into reality.

Of course I’ll be pitching in too, with a talk on the difficulties of distribution and some practical ways for actually getting print magazines out to readers. And we’re leaving lots of time for the students to talk about their own projects – one of the things we learned from running the course last year is that students tend to be at very different stages of preparation, but that’s fine – we’re working hard to make sure the course will be useful to anyone seriously thinking of publishing their own magazine, whether they’re still coming up with a name or they’ve got a bundle of colour proofs under their arm.

Tickets are on sale now – I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of projects come along this time.

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