Over the course of nine weeks, students in “Introduction to Publishing” delve into the world of print media by creating and pitching their ideas for magazines to HWS community members who act in the role of “investors” during Monday and Wednesday morning classes in Gulick Hall.
The course, designed and taught by Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Cheryl Forbes, gives students insight into what it takes to create and sell a magazine from both an editorial and business perspective. In the class, students are required to develop a vision for their magazines, including a cover page, brand, and sales and distribution strategies. By the end of the course, students have developed an editorial voice, knowledge of the program InDesign, and a 40-page final product.
Forbes, who worked in book and magazine publishing for 17 years before joining academia, structures the course to ensure students write and edit copy for several weeks. She also uses her background to provide insight into the competitive and rapidly changing industry.
“I teach my students that the industry standard for a magazine is 60 percent editorial content and 40 percent advertising,” says Forbes, emphasizing the importance of a sales strategy that ensures a profit after four years of production.
At the beginning of the semester, Forbes encourages students to choose a topic for their magazine that they are passionate about, as well as one that fits a specific niche or opportunity in the marketplace. This semester, students presented a range of ideas such as:
Abigail Abdinoor ’17 developed an American technology magazine called Interfaced with content focused on topics such as Apple’s most recent projects and its push to stay relevant in the tech industry. “I wanted people to relate to the content, so I tried to find a balance with stories and advertisements about technology itself as well as how people use it,” Abdinoor says.
Peter Lambos ’18 presented a sports fanatics magazine called, The Benchwarmer, which included everything from golf to rugby, ice hockey and beyond. “Running the numbers and seeing what it would take to make my magazine sell, really made it feel like my magazine had come to life,” Lambos says.
Haleigh Quigg ’18, an avid skier, decided that her magazine, Skier’s Edge would be a one-stop shop for competitive skiers, families searching for vacation resorts, as well as beginners interested in learning more about the sport. Quigg says, the project helped her land an internship at TV Guide this summer.
Several HWS staff and faculty observed the presentations providing feedback, including: Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Legislative Affairs Jerry Buckley, Director of the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Learning Brandi Ferrara, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Geoffrey Babbitt, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Hannah Dickinson, Writing and Teaching/Learning Specialist Susan Hess, Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions Bob Murphy, and Vice President of Communications Cathy Williams.
“I was impressed with the thoroughness of the presentations, from the editorial concept and audience demographics to the advertising strategy and profit and loss projections,” says Buckley, who before coming to HWS worked as a correspondent and bureau chief for Newsweek magazine and a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. “It’s critical for anyone interested in magazine publishing to understand both sides of the equation—the editorial content and the financials—and to have a complementary digital strategy in this rapidly changing publishing landscape.”