The death of printed media is a prediction that’s being bandied about frequently these days. Kindle, Nooks, Sony eReader, and the iPad are defiantly ushering in a new age of printing and opportunities for us little guys in the industry. The same technology that seems to be placing the nails in the coffin of traditional print, are also opening new doors in digital on demand printing. While Create Space, Lulu, and Lightning Source are now common alternatives to the vanity presses of old, did someone forget that magazines are printed media worthy of the same consideration?
Not the folks at MagCloud. The less than a year old service wants to bring magazine self publishing to the same level as that of the previously mentioned book presses. The company works on much the same principle as the on demand book publishers. The producer of the magazine uploads a PDF to the site and within two weeks MagCloud sends out a proof copy of the magazine. If the content is everything you dreamed it would be viola you’re in the magazine business.
There are a few considerations with the MagCloud format before you turn yourself into the magazine version of Randolph Hearst. MagCloud supports only 8.5″ × 11″ page sizes. The traditional print rule of a final page count in multiples of four applies of their printing. All orders for your magazine go through MagCloud. There is nothing on their website that indicates they have a relationship with any specialty distribution channels. However, they do offer a service that lets you create an email list within the MagCloud community. If you’re thinking about publishing, there are technical and financial considerations you have to come to terms with.
Producing your issues in 8.5″ × 11″ gives the publisher a lot of room for content. While you do get a bang for your buck in this size, step back for a moment. Successful magazines marry large format, attractive art with their written content. The standard printing requirement for photographs and art is 300 DPI (dots per inch). If the equipment you have for processing art or digital photos cannot get a resolution at this rate, you could run into problems. Just make sure that picture you think will make the perfect cover will translate into print well.
I would also consult the printers with any unusual font’s types and large sizes you choose to use in your copy. The use of most True Type fonts normally don’t present a problem with printing these days. With that said, don’t totally throw caution to the wind. After the conversion to a PDF format, you might want to run Adobe Distiller to see what the Post Script output will look like. If the results aren’t quite what you are looking for, check with customer service on your choice of fonts. Looking good on a computer screen doesn’t always equal up to looking good in a print version. You will save time in reformatting and ordering an additional proof copy if you just ask a question.
The base price for the service is 20 cents a page and the publisher sets the final retail price. For the printing MagCloud provides, initially the cost sounds reasonable. If you’re thinking of actually making a profit on your magazine venture, advertising is still the key to your success. Let’s say you have a 36 page edition and you are relying solely on the retail revenue. The base cost for the edition will be $7.20 per issue. Once you factor in your margin, your brand new magazine might have priced itself out of the market. There is also the consideration of attempting to sell your publication to a distributor for a wider release. If you can get any type of distribution deal, they won’t do it for free.
This isn’t to say that making a financial success using MagCloud isn’t possible. Given the nature of your content, the community you are publishing for could be willing to shoulder a potentially high retail. Do yourself a favor and at least pound the cyber-pavement for an additional revenue stream. Making deals for reciprocal advertising is another avenue that fosters the law of attraction. The publication gets a wider presence and thus the possibility for addition retail sales. This also gives you a list of current advertisers that you can present to an entity you’re hitting up for a paid advertisement. “I currently have ten ads in this issue and room for yours”, sounds much better to someone controlling the purse strings than, “Well you’re going to have my full attention because no one else has an ad this issue.”
Even with some of the hurdles you might have to cross to self publish a magazine, the service is worth looking into. There are other companies that do magazine self publishing out there, but none that I’ve looked at seem as easy to deal with as MagCloud. The ease in which you can calculate the financial and technical costs of producing a magazine could make the difference in your satisfaction with your publication.