Magazine production is a business that runs by the clock, and those who produce magazines live a work life that is totally based on a constant series of ever-evolving and constantly moving deadlines. But unlike newspapers that concentrate on the day-to-day news as it happens – and then move on to the next news cycle within a few hours – magazines take more time to produce, so their deadlines are also more elongated.
First of all, the editorial staff will come up with a yearly outline of issues, including the cover story topics, the columns and articles that will go inside each issue, and suggestions for art work, photos, and graphics. Then the advertising and market team will set about the business of drumming up ads. They will usually take a copy of the magazine and show it to potential advertising – such as merchants, retailers, or others – and then based upon how many ads they sell, the managing editors will determine how many pages long the magazine can afford to be.
Next, the various articles will be assigned to writers, and they will also be given a deadline for turning in the finished articles. And they will be told how many words long the articles should be, so that everything can fit into the allotted number of pages, including photos and ads. Photographers will be sent to take picture for the magazine, graphic artists will stay the layout of the whole issue, and eventually it will wind up packaged and ready to go the printing press.
The schedule for producing many magazines means that the articles will be written three months or more ahead of the time they will get printed, so the writers have to keep that in mind. If you are writing about a winter sport, for instance, you will need to keep that in mind, even if you are writing it in the middle of July. Similarly, photographers will need to take pictures that will not look out of the ordinary when the magazine finally hits the newsstands and readers open it. This can also mean that the topics covered have to be researched a year in advance, so that they are appropriate to a particular season of the year. But if they contain time-sensitive information, that might have to be inserted at the end, right before the article goes to print. For example, a food review of a restaurant opening next year might be written this year, but the phone number of the place won’t be known until next year, right before the magazine goes into production. So these kinds of challenges are all part of the strategy and planning that go into the production of the magazines that we see every day.