Starting with a blank piece of paper for a new publication can be a daunting task.
But being clear on a few key things can usefully help shape the project.
Even if this is not a ‘first edition’ but an ongoing publication or regularly updated website, answering these questions can be extremely helpful to evolving and improving your editing (and creative) process.
What is the purpose of your publication?
Decide if it is intended to influence, entertain, inform – or maybe all three…
Who is it for?
Understand your readership: possibilities include other pupils, teachers, parents or the wider community in which the school is an important part.
What is the range of subjects to be covered?
Decide the topics relevant to your school and what it does – or is ‘the sky is the limit’? Shine projects routinely aim high, covering subjects such as how the universe began, science, technology, music, mobile phones and social media, as well as potentially contentious topics such as politics, body image, gender, sex and religion.
What size is it?
If you’re devising a printed publication, it’s important to decide how many pages will there be, particularly so you know how your budget tallies with your printers’ costs. For a website or digital publication, decide how many sections there will be, the page structure setup and how users will navigate through the piece.
Do you have a budget and business plan?
Few things can be done without money and thus managing the ‘business’ element. Understand the costs of producing your publication for paper and printing, for example. Are there other costs? What funds do you have? Can you generate some more – through advertising or sponsorship? To help with this, writing a simple business plan is essential.
Who should edit it and write it?
Great magazines and newspapers are seldom produced by individuals – it’s all about working as a team and making sure that everyone involved is bringing their special talents and skills to the project.
Do deadlines matter?
Quick answer: Yes! How else do you think newspapers get published every day…
What makes a good cover?
They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’… but an awful lot of people do!
Should we number the pages?
We’d always recommend it . . .
Is there competition?
You may decide to examine other similar publications in your area to understand what competition your magazine might have.
Do some research by deciding where it is to be available e.g. local shops and community venues and ask other organisations who produce their own publication how many they circulate to help you calculate the optimum number.
Can we produce a stand-alone online edition or website?
Yes, if you feel you have the ability and resources.
Or maybe you already have an established online ‘magazine’.
Some of our entries don’t have the financial resources to print, but are judged in just the same way.