Canadian Magazine Industry News
3 June 2009,     TORONTO
Mags U Review, part two: Tips from two very different indie publishers
Becky Brown
Although they both run independent magazines, Becky Brown and Michael Brooke have had very different experiences in publishing. Becky Brown, sales and promotions manager for The Magazine, a pop culture book for 8-14 year olds, deals with advertising agencies. Her magazine has a circulation of 80,000 and she has signed advertising contracts worth $100,000. Brooke, the one-man operation behind skateboarding title Concrete Wave, deals directly with his ad clients (sometimes he stays at their houses). He has turned down advertising from Pepsi to keep his book "100% skateboarding." And he doesn't sign any contracts with his advertisers.

 
Michael Brooke
Brown and Brooke spoke Tuesday afternoon at Mags U at a session hosted by the Independent Publishers Association of Ontario. Though they may do things differently day-to-day, Brown and Brooke share at least one thing in common: They don't play by anyone's rules but their own.

Here's a sampling of the tips and tricks that the dynamic duo offered yesterday:
  • Brown sends her clients a bimonthly report on trends in the 8-14 demographic. She also passes along anything she thinks might be of interest to her advertisers. "You have to show them you care about their business," she said. "I legitimately care that Pizza Pizza sells more pizzas."
  • Concrete Wave's tagline is "100% skateboarding." This includes advertising; Brooke will not accept "lifestyle" advertising from clothing or sneaker companies.
  • Polybagging goodies with your magazine will lead to a newsstand sales spike, Brown says. It's expensive, though, so seeking out a sponsor that can cover your costs is essential.
  • Brooke uses the Web strictly to promote his print magazine. "You can't be a servant to two masters," he said. Rather than develop his own audience online, Brooke hosts a forum and a blog on the Silverfish Longboarding site, which gets 90 million hits per month.
  • The Magazine has a 24-hour phone line where readers can call in to offer compliments or complaints. On occasion, Brown gets her staff to sit around and listen to these messages to get a sense of what readers are feeling and thinking.
  • Every issue of Concrete Wave is 100 pages; no more, no less. At times, this has meant saying no to late-arriving advertisers. At other times, this has meant "biting the bullet" and not filling an issue with as many advertisers as possible. But it also means every issue of Concrete Wave is perfect bound and that advertisers need to arrive early if they want to take part.
— M.U.
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