SoaringNZ is now well into our fifth year and I think we’ve got quite good at the process of making it. I’ve had some comments recently that made me realise that our readers have no idea how that happens. People are surprised to realise that I do not sit in an office in town bossing around my staff as they answer phones, while I source and write stories. In fact I sit at a desk in the back bedroom of our rental house in Halswell in between working nursing shifts at a resthome down the road.
SoaringNZ has one employee – the much appreciated proof reader Melanie Henrikson (who is also a nurse in ‘real life’). It became obvious after the first issue that a proof reader was essential. It is embarrassing to admit, but even after taking English to seventh form level at school, I still only have a rudimentary grasp of grammar and in some cases spelling. I blame the schooling system, which has only gone downhill from there. That is a rant for another day.
The magazine’s parent company McCaw Media also has a new employee. Paula Ruddick will be tackling our accounts from this issue on. See more about this and the changes it will make to your club’s payments in the Log Book section. I am multitalented but running a business and dealing with money are a set of talents I haven’t mastered.
So how does your magazine get made?
It couldn’t happen without the internet. This would have been a completely different job even twenty years ago. Everything happens via email. Articles and photos all arrive this way. Occasionally I receive photos via other methods and will scan old pictures, sometimes I receive discs of photos in the mail, but just about everything is email.
I have a large white board for planning the current mag (and another one for future planning). On receipt of an article, I make a tick in the column next to the article’s name. I give it a read through and can spend quite a bit of time making sure that it actually says what the author thinks they wrote. Some correspondents have an even worse grasp on English than I do and some do not have English as their first language. Never let that worry you. We (Melanie and I) will always make your words read well. There can be quite a bit of work making long pieces fit into the word limit for the pages available, while keeping the important parts and feel of the story. As a rule of thumb, we use 500 words per page with pictures and illustrations. The number and quality of the photos sent with a story are as important as word count in determining how many pages I will use for a story. The look of the magazine is very important and I don’t want pages of tight text with nothing much to break them up.
Once I’ve done my work on a story it gets another tick, then it is emailed to Melanie. She reads through it and catches many things, often minor, but all improving the ‘readability’ and accuracy of the piece. She sends the corrected version back. That’s another tick on the board.
Once all the material for the issue has those three ticks, it’s ready for the next stage. I work out (roughly) how many pages per article and which are the most important. All the edited version of words, the photos, illustrations and notes are put onto a stick drive and taken to Rosalie Brown and Lee-Ann Collins at RGB Design. These ladies work the magic that makes the magazine look so good. People erroneously think I do this. I don’t. These girls are amazing. They are not employees, but I pay them to do it and it is money well spent.
Once the girls have made a good start, there is a proof for me to go through. At this stage, I’m checking that the important parts of each story are emphasised, the pictures fit with the text, I put captions on the photos and check for any obvious mistakes and muck ups. My changes are made and I get another draft. This is pretty close to the final version.
This draft is sent out to a set of proof readers with impeccable credentials. These people are volunteers and include Max Stevens, executive officer of GNZ and ex Deputy Director of CAA, and John Goddard, ex Air Accident Inspector. There are also a couple of other people and all of them are fonts of gliding knowledge. We all sit down and pore through the draft, checking every word, finding the last mistakes, and there always are some, no matter how carefully the text has been checked before. Interestingly, we often find different mistakes from each other. Accuracy and legality are the main focus of this proof read.
We don’t print anything that may be detrimental to gliding in general or any individual pilot in particular.
There is one last chance to catch mistakes and make any changes (at a cost) when the printer sends their proofs. We check the colour and the final look of the thing. It will take about a week for printing and posting and be in your mail box a few days later.
Roughly two weeks after that, I start making the next one.