Monday, September 5, 2016

Creating A Magazine In Second Life

Are you an aspiring editor or publisher?  Have you been wanting to produce a magazine or webzine in SL?   Below are some points to help create a great SL magazine or webzine.

Planning Process,  Think About This First:
So you think you are creative or a good photographer and would like to publish a magazine in SL.
Unless you literally have 10-12 hours everyday to dedicate to creating your magazine, you can not produce a quality monthly magazine all by yourself.  6 years ago I was delusional enough to think I could create a great magazine focusing on current events, new products and the latest trends.  After all, I have been in the publishing industry since college in real life and have worked for several popular magazines. I worked my way up from a copywriter to my current editor position.
I purchased a Thinc publisher system and began my magazine layout.  I created an outline of what I would be writing about and titled each article and interview adding a short description of the articles points on a notepad then decided how I wanted to construct my content.  I opened Photo Shop and began, starting with my introduction page and table of contents.  It took me many long hours just to complete those two pages to my satisfaction.  Then I started taking photo's of the places and things I had planned to write about.  Hours setting up and shooting products and locations then many more hours in Photo Shop editing and enhancing each photo.  Then I began the page layout of my first article and started researching my topic, another huge amount of time.  Long story short, I had put in around 40 hours for the cover and only 6 pages of the 60 pages I had planned.

Consider These:
  •  It takes a substantial amount of start up funding.
  •  You will not see any profit for months and even years sometimes if at all.
  •  It takes a lot of passion and drive to construct a great magazine every month without being over whelmed and eventually burn out and quit.
  • You will need a well established magazine with a high rate of readers in order to sell ad space.
  • You need ad fee's to fund the magazine. Usually a magazines only revenue.
  • This is not something you can simply slap together each month.  It is a long and painstaking    process.
After you have considered all of the above and you still want to create a magazine, here are some important steps.

First Thing:
 Do your research!  Look through every publication in SL.  Those in-world as well as webzine's in programs such as Issuu.  Know your competition and take notes.

Getting Started:
There are several things to consider before starting a magazine in SL.  First and foremost, what kind of magazine are you wanting to create, what is the concept?  What topic's will you be covering?  Who is your target audience?
Once you have that established what kind of magazine you will be creating, you need to create the framework or design.  This is very important.  You want your magazine to be consistent every issue.  There is no set standard for a magazines' framework as you will notice in real life and SL magazine's but there are the basic's.
Design, structure and substance.
  • Cover
  • Introduction page - Introducing the reader's to your vision and what to expect.
  • Contribution Page - Acknowledgement or credits of writers, editors, photographers etc.
  • Table Of Contents Page
  • Body (articles)

Hiring A Team:
Ask any publisher in SL and they will tell you the most valuable part of their magazine is the creative team behind it.  It's hard to find good help in SL.  It is helpful if you have a notecard detailing job description and expectations ready to give applicants.  They should submit several samples of their work, how many hours per week they are in SL and if their schedule would prohibit them from meeting assigned deadlines.
Interview the applicant asking why they want the position.  It is easy to tell those who are passionate or just looking to make some extra cash doing what they think will be an easy job.  The difference between a photograph created with the love and passion for the art and a photo that was taken because they "had too", is like the difference in a chef and a busy mom throwing together boxed mac & cheese.
*Having a group of trusted and creative friends to co-own the magazine is an option.  There are drawbacks such as shared debts.getting paid, creative differences and pulling of weight. But if you have a group that shares your vision it can be a fun project that could lead to a business.
*There are some residents that may contribute to your magazine for exposure or simply because they truly enjoy writing or photography and those who are looking for recognition. Keep in mind, those donating their projects have nothing to lose by not coming through or meeting deadlines.
*There really isn't a set salary base for magazine employees since it depends on the amount and complexity of their contributions and whether they are full-time or freelance. Most magazines do not pay their writer's and photographer's, but offer exposure and recognition.  A paid staff may sometimes be more dependable but costly.  A real life standard for writer's is $1.00 USD per word.  In SL, however payment is usually by the page or photo or on a monthly salary basis for full-time employees.
An example from one popular magazine in SL who does pay their staff.  Writers submit assignments in notecard form for in-world publications or email for webzines.  They are paid $100L per article. Since some of their writers also shoot their own photo's, they also receive $100L per image used.
The graphic designer then takes the articles' notecard text and photographs and creates the page layout textures to upload to SL or the webzine.  He is paid a monthly salary of $1000L.
There are two owners' that split the remaining profit and all revenue is made from selling advertisement.

Creating Page Design:
You will need to do some grid work for your page layout.  You may have several different templates for each content subject.  These need to have textures that you can give to your writers or graphic designers to use each month to insure consistency in your publication.
  •  Heading - Should be large bold text.
  • Subheading - Bold, smaller text than the heading and creatively draws the reader's attention also called "The hook." 
  • Description Summary - The supporting points of the article.  Should be double spaced between the subheading and first sentence of the article. Should consist of a short paragraph.
  • Body of Article: The story or interview.
  • Conclusion: The last paragraph should sum up the point of the text written in the description paragraph summary.

Page Layout Sample 1

Page Layout Sample 2

When all your pages are finished and uploaded to SL.  You need to buy a publishing system in-world,
Thinc or IntelliBook are the most popular.  You will need blank magazines that can be used in the publisher system you bought.  These are no copy/transfer and can only be used once.  This is what the server reads.
Now you are ready to load your blank magazine or upload to Issuu.
Follow your wireframe that you created for the design of your magazine. 
After you have loaded every page, double check all pages before hitting the "publish" button.
The publishing system will load/copy your template magazine and give you the finished product which you can change the permissions to yes copy and transfer.  They are no modify.

All that is left to do is distribution and gaining readership.  Both Thinc and IntelliBook sell kiosks.  These work off a server and automatically update each kiosk that is rezzed inworld each time you reload the server system.  Each month you simply open the servers content's delete the cover texture and magazine from last month and drag the new cover texture and magazine into the contents tab and select "reload" from the pop up menu.

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