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Garden & Guns Blazing

Just three years since the title nearly went under, Garden & Gun magazine is making a great recovery, according to a recent NYTimes article.

Circulation is up 20,000, to a quarter-million, and publisher Barbara Bing thinks that number can double. Meanwhile, 3,000 subscribers are paying premiums of up to $500 a year for access to special events.

It’s a far cry from where the magazine was in 2009, when employees were let go and told they could work as freelancers. Advertisers pulled out, leery of a magazine that had “Gun” in the name. And the articles were so long. Who had time for that?

“You didn’t know if you would be there the next week,” editor-in-chief David DiBenedetto told the Times. When the magazine’s color printer broke, they couldn’t afford to replace it for two months and instead used a nearby Kinko’s.

Since then, cofounder Rebecca Darwin has brought back most of the staff (and replaced the printer, we presume). The magazine may have its first profitable year ever.

We wish the once-scrappy little magazine the best of success.

Six Nuggets of Career Inspiration From the Late Helen Gurley Brown

Need a little jolt in your job today? Look no further.

Earlier in the week we paused with great respect when the death of Helen Gurley Brown was announced. After all, she’s the ultimate “Cosmo girl” — the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, author of Sex and the Single Girl, and quintessential media maven.

While perusing her obituary in The New York Times, one can’t help but extrapolate interesting tidbits that can add a spring to your step! Read more

What Magazines Want Today

Angling for an editor job at a magazine? Folio: asked two magazine bigwigs to explain what qualities would get you a job at their properties.

The best thing you can do? Have an open mind.

Shannon Wong, editor-in-chief of Fitness, told Folio: that it’s important her hires “are as excited about creating content for the digital properties at Fitness as they are about getting a byline in the magazine.” And Dan Shannon, publisher of Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine, said that editors shouldn’t do things “the old way,” with a big wall between editorial and advertising. “I insist that editors, salespeople and operations staff interact constantly. They share ideas, critique story choices and layouts and have a cup of coffee together. When we bump into a virtual or metaphorical wall in our company, we try to tear it down,” he said.

Beyond versatility, what else are bosses looking for these days? According to Wong, passion is crucial (“Even if…you end up covering a subject that bores you”) as is “roll-up-your-sleeves pluck and persistence.” Editors need to be the ones calling the shots even on things beyond the magazine, she said. That includes apps, mobile products, and even events. “Editors know their readers better than any developer or HTML coder ever could,” she said.

Sound tough? Yeah, it’s getting tougher every day to be an editor, it seems. Your skillset needs to be continually improving. Keep your head up, though. We’re here for you.

Lucky‘s Brandon Holley on the Key to Moving Up: ‘Steady Input Without Being Annoying’

Brandon Holley held editor positions at Time Out and GQ, helped launch Elle Girl and headed Yahoo! Shine before taking the helm at Lucky in 2011. And, she says, if you want to snag a top spot on a magazine masthead, you need to be a vocal and proactive voice for the brand.

“I think people make a mistake when they wanna climb the masthead, and they assume the editor-in-chief should pay attention to them. And, now that I’m on the other side of the desk, I love people who come to me,” Holley said in our Media Beat interview.

Holley explained that she made a name for herself at GQ by giving “steady input without being annoying” to editor-in-chief Art Cooper. “I wasn’t kissing ass, but I would write memos to him and say, ‘I think this section could use this,’ and ‘I think we should start a new section that’s this’… I’m a huge fan of memo writing.”

Part 2: Brandon Holley Calls Fashion Blogging ‘Most Exciting Thing to Happen in Publishing in Decades’
Part 3: Lucky‘s Brandon Holley Talks Photoshop and Fashion

Laid-off GOOD Staffers Launch Kickstarter

After GOOD laid off most of its editorial staff, cofounder Casey Caplowe told Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon that “we are evolving our platform in a way that will allow the whole GOOD community to engage more deeply.”

But for the people affected by the layoffs, the future was a bit murkier.

Turns out the eight folks who have left the magazine (six layoffs and two separations shortly after) want to go out with one last hurrah. They confirmed earlier this month that they’ll produce a one-off magazine called Tomorrow to do their “absolute best,” according to former GOOD managing editor Megan Greenwell.

And today the team launched their Kickstarter to fund the magazine. $15,000 will pay for production, web hosting, postage, and a launch party—no money for the staffers. But they’re already halfway to that goal and if they raise more, they’ll be able to pay freelancers, plus maybe even themselves. An “advertiser or independently wealthy human” would allow the magazine to continue past one issue. Will it work? Who knows?

View the Kickstarter pitch video below:

(Disclaimer: I met Megan Greenwell a few times and pitched her….once. Hardly the stuff to build a conflict-of-interest case on but that’s how we roll at MJD.)

Lessons Learned from Condé Nast: Know Your Employer’s Freelancing Policies

Reading this story on The New York Post made us think about the importance of knowing your employer’s policies about freelancing for other publications especially if they’re a competitor.

In essence, after reading this blog if the take-away is simply knowing if you’re in an exclusivity contract with your current employer, then we’ve done our job.

It’s always best to know your employer’s policies up front rather than find out too late that you’ve been given the pink slip due to freelancing for a competitor whether it’s writing, reporting, fact checking or designing layouts. Sure, some people may get by with a pseudonym byline and figure nothing’s wrong with freelancing on the side to earn extra cash and make new contacts but all we’re saying is this story can create a spark in terms of your own situation.

In case you missed the piece, sources told the newspaper that Condé Nast’s international chairman, Jonathan Newhouse, has been telling his photographers and editors to say away from a former French Vogue editor’s new publication.  Read more

Land A Feature (And A Job) At Working Mother

Where most parenting magazines focus exclusively on children, Working Mother is meant for mothers who are dedicated to their families and committed to their careers.

There are lots of pages to fill at this niche pub, as editors are on a constant search for profiles of a special mom who’s making it work, and a closer look into certain industries through the lens of working motherhood. Get a few good clips under your belt from the glossy, and you might even land a full-time gig.

“We’re always looking for freelance writers who understand our initiatives and can pitch some fresh angle,” said senior research editor Krista Carothers.

Find out which sections are the most freelancer-friendly in How To Pitch: Working Mother. [subscription required]

7 Keys To Becoming Editor-In-Chief

So, you wanna be EIC, huh? Depending on the size of the publication and the stability of the market — which, let’s face it, has not been that kind to print publications lately — the magazine masthead is not the playground of overnight sensations. You can, however, climb the editorial ladder with a little strategy and lots of hard work. For example…

Sign up for the un-spectacular.

You know those grunt assignments that nobody else wants? Take ‘em. They’re like little learning boot camps, said Marie Claire features director Lea Goldman, who found unique value in a notoriously tedious task.

“When I started out, transcripts and fact checking were the most useful things I did because they taught me how to put together a story,” she remembered. “I often just copied the source with the head of an organization and add that name and number to my Rolodex like, ‘OK, that’s a source. Now, I know if I’m ever working on a story like this, I can call that person.’ So they’re very useful and they shouldn’t be dismissed as just scut work.”

To find out how other magazine veterans got promoted, read How To Become an Editor-in-Chief.


This article is one of several features exclusively available to AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, you can register for as little as $55 a year and get access to these articles, discounts on seminars and workshops, and more.


Get Some Freelance Clips at Family Circle

The best way to position yourself for a full-time editorial job is to start freelancing for your dream publication first. And if your niche is parenting (specifically for teenagers and tweens), you might be able to earn a byline at Family Circle.

Just make sure your pitch outlines concrete tips for the health and well-being of readers’ families. ”We offer essential advice for tough parenting challenges, fun suggestions for family activities, healthy and delicious recipes, and DIY projects to create a comfortable home,” said senior associate editor Stephanie Emma Pfeffer.

If you’re bursting with ideas in any of those topics, you’re in luck. FC relies on freelancers for about 60 percent of its content.

Get more guidelines in How To Pitch: Family Circle.

ag_logo_medium.gif This article is one of several features exclusively available to AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, you can register for as little as $55 a year and get access to these articles, discounts on seminars and workshops, and more.

More Woes For Heart & Soul Magazine

Heart & Soul, which was purchased in January and given a big-name editor to run the magazine, is not giving off an impression of, shall we say, financial soundness.

Just before the purchase was finalized, the National Writer’s Union launched a campaign on behalf of 60 writers who were owed a collective $200,000. The contributors had been told last July that the payment process was delayed during the ownership change.

However, not only have those writers still not received payment, but the new owners are also allowing new debts to pile up.

According to Richard Prince’s Journal-Isms, the magazine has skipped its April issue. Tipsters told Prince that the issue was skipped because the magazine’s entirely freelance team (including editors) went on strike to protest lack of payment. Clarence Brown, president and CEO of the magazine’s acquiring group, responded that actually, no, the magazine is making adjustments in its publication schedule.

Among the angry writers include Sheree Crute, who wrote for the publication before the change of ownership but told Prince that the current difficulties are nothing like she’s experienced before. She’s not the only writer who is still upset. Freelance contributor Harriet Washington, who was not among the writers in the initial complaint, tells us that she is owed more than $5,000 for an article that was accepted more than three months ago (and assigned under the new regime). Since March 13, she’s received no correspondence from editor Sandra Guzman or EVP George Curry…and of course no payment.

Reached by phone this morning, Curry referred all questions to Clarence Brown, who did not respond to a request for comment as of the time of this posting.