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From prospective editor: How many hours per issue?

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Here's a question for all you experienced editors out there:

The editors of our region's newsletter are seeking to retire after 10 years of service. I am interested in serving as editor, but I don't know what the time involvement would be. Our editors themselves (husband and wife) can't really quantify the time involved when I ask. They will be hard to follow, having repeatedly won the Award of Excellence, but I have a good grasp of writing and am learning desktop publishing. I'm decades away from retirement, have recently begun my own one-man business, and feel it wouldn't be fair to accept the job if I couldn't do an excellent job for our members.

How many hours, would you estimate, do you editors invest per issue? Our newsletter is currently bimonthly, about 12-14 pages per issue excluding covers, with some items (President's message, birthday lists, and sometimes photos from club events) provided by others. Our region is large--about 700 members--but our editors don't often receive actual articles or columns contributed by members, so the editor will probably be the one doing that research and writing. Our newsletter was monthly until our editors wanted to reduce their workload a bit.

With your answer, could you also indicate:

--The size and frequency of your newsletter. I'm assuming most are written via computer these days.

--Whether you are doing a lot of the writing, or instead receive ample contributions?

--Whether you are the "jack of all trades" or instead have someone else for typing or desktop publishing?

--Whether you do the assembly and mailing as well.

In the meantime, I've been contributing a one- to two-page article to our editors every issue. Thanks for any help and encouragement you can give. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

John S. in Penna.

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My new friend, John of the Gettysburg Region, has found the forum. Welcome John!

John and I have already talked at length by phone last week. I told him all I could remember <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> about my publication(It's in the mail, John). I'm going to confess here. I got three newsletters back without postage(Well, I tried, those darn postal clecks! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />). So John be glad you're getting one. I have 3 members that are wondering what happened.......THIS TIME! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

So, you see John, none of us are perfect. I find that all of the editors I'm familiar with are specialists in certain areas, not perfect in all. So, give it your best, and "talk up" your members a lot. They like to see their names in the newsletter. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />


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John, I do the Coil Wire which is published monthly, and is done in digest form (8.5"x11" landscape - folded in half). Typically there are 16 pages (4 sheets of paper printed front & back). Sometimes there is an insert. The only things I get on a regular basis is a president message and the minutes of the last meeting. I write the rest. Any photos are usually mine or two other member's.

I average about 8 - 12 hours writing articles and page layout (I use Adobe PageMaker. QuarkXpress is nicer but about $800 program) When it is ready I put it into PDF form and print from that. With the new printer, I can print 56 copies in about 3 to 5 hours depending on how many images.

alamanacewebmaster@earthlink.net send me your address (and stick AACA in subject line to get past spam filter)and I'll send you an extra copy. I should have one around here. Next month's issue won't be a good typical example.

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Hey John

I do the Great Smoky Mountains Region newsletter. Our usual newsletter size is 10 pages, with one-two 12 page issues a year. You can view two of our newsletters online at www.aaca.org/gsmr where we have our current & previous newsletter. The current one is a 12 pager, last issue a 10. We bump it up a page when we have a special event.

I probably spend about 8 +/- hours/issue, depends on how much 'stuff' I get from other members. I'm pretty lucky in that I do usually get a good amount of filler from members, but then I've been doing our newsletter for going on 7 years now - I've had some time to train them! During the winter I don't get quite as much input from the members so I tend to do more of the writing than in the spring/summer. But keep in mind, if you do get a lot of input from the membership, then you'll have a good amount of editing to do (you won't believe how badly some members write!!! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />)

Ours is published bi-monthly, one of our members has a copy shop so he makes all the copies. Another member is gracious enough to mail them for me.

I happen to use Microsoft Publisher 2002, & I know other editors (like David) use other programs. Use one that your familiar with (if you've ever used one) & is flexible.

Have fun! If you take it on, it's a great way to meet all the members. As my husband says, since I've taken on the job he's now known in the club as 'Mr. Dawn' <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Hi John -

I'm on your region's newsletter exchange list. Our newsletter is a monthly 12 page black and white version printed on 11x17 20 lb. bond at 1,200 dpi; folded to 8-1/2x11 and then to 8-1/2 by 5-1/2. I use MS Word and Picture It, plus have an HP scanner. I send the printer a CD with 12 Word docs fully formatted plus a 600 dpi proof set and he assembles the two page layouts for printing. For the first 6 months I tried e-mailing the newsletter but there were too many technical glitches including file size problems. I don't use Adobe pdf format because we've had some bad results that neither of us has solved. I live 150 miles from the region, so processing the newsletters for mailing is handled by another club member and a third member maintains the mailing list.

You will probably wind up either writing or major editing almost everything you receive from members. I've got to admit that I'm fussy about how each page looks and how the multiple pictures fit into the layout, which adds to editing time. I don't keep close track of my time because I prepare the newsletter over a three week window an hour here and there. My guess is that it takes about 2 hours per page, primarily because I use a lot of B&W photos which add to editing time. Almost 100% of my photos are digital, either my camera or another club member's online photo albums.

One of the key things I do is plan future issues three months at a time. With a bi-monthly a couple of issues at a time would work. Working on the newsletter piecemeal like I do makes this step essential. I also use the newsetter article content for the club's website, converting the B&W pages to color pdf, which is fairly easy to do.

If you do take over the newsletter expect a fairly high learning curve. You will spend much more time early on, but as you gain experience and build your formats, you're processing time will decrease. I took over an award winning newsletter in a fairly disorganized situation and had to basically start from scratch. Hope this info helps.

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Should have mentioned two other items.

1. My parents (also members) are my proof reading team and mailing team. I send my parents a pdf file when I have it ready, they read it, I make correction in pagemaker and save it as a PDF again.

2. When I'm done with this month's newletter, I'll format the PageMaker file to read-only, then open it and delete everything I won't need next month, and change things like the vol & issue numbers, meeting time, etc. then I'll save the PageMaker file in a new folder for the next month and save all the files with it. This way if I have things that carry over from one month to the next (but not through out the year, which a template would provide) it is already there.

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Likewise, I have my hubby proofread it & I send a PDF copy to the club prez (an extra set of eyes to catch mistakes).

I'll burn a copy on a CD to send to the printer who prefers it that way (plus he's less likely to screw it up). I also burn a copy onto a CD. That way we have a few years worth of copies, & a few back ups if my computer crashes (the copies have saved my bacon several times over).

If anyone ever takes it over from me (yeah, right! who am I kiddin'? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/ooo.gif" alt="" />) they have a format already set up if they don't want to start from scratch right away.

After I save it, like David, I start deleting & updating right away.

One thing to keep in mind: since your doing a bi-monthly, set aside up to hour or so every week to update the newsletter in progress. That way when you get close to deadline, there's only a few things to put in & your not giving the ol' gray matter a workout trying to remember what happened seven weeks previously.

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Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. Your suggestions are helpful.

Though I am still a "prospective" editor for our region, I already have accepted the one-time editorship of the newsletter of the 2007 Glidden Tour. Our region is sponsoring it next year, and there are 6 daily issues, 4 pages each, that are prepared well in advance for the Glidden Tourists. That way I'm getting my feet wet and learning Microsoft Publisher. It really is fun.

I'm close enough to the AACA Library to take advantage of some of the interesting things in its collection. Anything I do I want to do well so people will have a good informative newsletter to enjoy.

And if any of you have pre-WW2 cars, you might think about coming to Pennsylvania in September of 2007 as our guests. (Well, you'd still have to pay for the tour! But you'd get to drive through Amish country at manure-spreading time and see lots of other interesting sights from the comfort of your old car.) <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> Meanwhile, I'd be happy to hear as many responses as there are editors. Thanks.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Amish country at manure-spreading time </div></div> Ahh..... fresh country air <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

You'll most likely find that your first issue will be the hardest, 'til you decide to completely change the format, then that issue will be about as hard as your first one was. It really is the over all format that is the challenging part. After that it is pretty much edit info and change the articles and photos.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hmmm...that is a loaded question, isn't it? Do I tell the truth and scare you off--or do I offer a creative reply?

My husband and I edited the Beam for about 14 years, which when we last did it was a 20 page monthly. I typically spent 15 hours or more on the prework, writing, and typing. He contributed at least another 10 or so toward final layout and hunting up just the right picture for each situation. [i won't count squabble time. Whether a couple is navigating a tour, or putting together a newsletter, some of those unintended conversations are bound to happen! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> We finally decided that the person with the title Editor after his/her name was the one who got the final word. That worked until the final three years when we shared the title--that's when coin flips came in handy!]

If you intend to put out a quality publication, you will find yourself spending more time than you think on each issue. You will have to decide how much time you are able to dedicate to each issue and do the best you can in the time allotted.

If you are lucky enough to get contributions, try to work ahead on issues. If you aren't lucky enough to get contributions, then lean on your executive board. Ask each of them to contribute one story and to find another member with a story.

By all means encourage people to give you digital pictures. That's a great timesaver. If you give credit for the pictures, you'll eventually get a steady stream of photos from people who like to see their name in print but who aren't bold enough to write something.

Encourage the kids in your region to write something from their perspective. Or get people to submit pictures of their grandkids with the cars, if your region is older (as ours is).

Editing (or more accurately, rewriting) the stories does take some time. But if you're good with words, you'll enjoy taking the time to craft something the other members will enjoy.

By all means use the resources at the library if you're that close. Make sure you let everyone know when you use library resources. They can use all the PR they can get!

Make friends with your web editor if you have one. If you share back and forth, you'll each have an easier job finding content.

Understand right away that whatever you do will be criticized and know that nothing you do will please everyone. When you have "one of those days," come to the forum and look for reassurance. We've all been there and done that!

Jan K.

Wis Region

[Retired} Beam Editor

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I did our club newsletter for most of the last 25 years.

Started with a postcard announcing the next meeting place

because we moved every month. (took about 3 hours for 40


Next came the typed Newsletter done with the help of another

member and a 6 pack, single sheet on a mimiograph machine.

Funny how the ink has disappeared on the old Newsletters.

Along came Copy Machines and we went to two pages and pre-

printed address labels, scanned pictures. (8 man hours for

80 member families)

Then word processors with "spell chick" and a master to

the Office Store for copies, fold staple, stamp, label and

send to 120 member families, (10 man hours)

Finally, Computers and email! Went to 6 pages, good pictures,

Spell Check, but we still had to fold, label, stamp and send to

140 member families, 12 man hours for the editor and many for the

writers who could now email me)

Finally I got another member with great computer skills to take

over the editor's job! Now I just write and email her. She has

about 6 regular contributors and does 8 pages in color. We offer

first read for the people who will get the Newsletter by email,

which is about 25% of the 160 member families. (still about 14

hours a month for the editor with the worst part being folding,

labeling, stamping and mailing)

My next suggestion is a $5.00 discount for getting the Newsletter

by email. No profit for the CLub but might keep the Editor on

the job longer.

It's a big contributon to any club to do the Newsletter and is the

biggest job in the club. It keeps the members in touch and makes

us more familiar with each other. Without an active newsletter

editor we're a group with only one thing in common, old cars.

With the newsletter we become another family of friends with many

common intersts.

If you take to job, make it fun and ask for help, especially on

the fold, stamp staple and mail part.

RE: the Glidden Tour News. That too can be fun when you get the

participants to give you tid bits for the next day. Give us each

a 3 X 5 index card each day for Glidden News to be turned in with

our score cards. Remember, we're there to have fun and share it

with the other Tourists. Ask and you will receive.

Paul Dobbin

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I am sort of new at this only 2 years. Our news letter"The Schoharie Rambler" had been done by another member and had won different awards. I to was asked to take over and was not sure if I could do it or not. We own our own logging and saw mill business. I am not good with writing, terrible speller and you should of seen the look on my English teacher's face when I told her....

Our news letter is done monthly, 5 pages front and back and I print every one 60 in all. It take me all day 8-9 hours fo find what I am going to put in, scan it or down load different stuff along with clipart. I print one copy which I take to a club member who checks it for mistakes. Then it takes me another 6-7 hours to fix things, print all of them, put them together, staple them, tape them and stamp them.

Hope this gives you a idea and hope to see you added to the list of editors.

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Thanks, all, for continuing to add your advice to this topic.

One thing I have learned (as a novice editor preparing for next year's Glidden Tour newsletter) that may save some of you editors some time: Our local print shop can also take care of the folding, addressing, and mailing. They know all the postal regulations and can also give advice on how to use postage economically. The Glidden Tour newsletters will be handed out, not mailed, so postage is not a concern there, but I thought this might help others. Of course their labor is not free, but this might save some harried <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> editors.

In getting three quotes for printing, I found that there was a 100% variation in price, even between knowledgeable and experienced printers. Four-color printing remains quite expensive, but printing directly from a disk, on good-quality paper and on top-notch machines, gives a product that looks excellent. It's much above a color-photo-copied sheet from an office warehouse store, and can be done in modest quantities in black-and-white or color. Four-color printing, in contrast, needs large quantities in order to be economical.

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John -

One suggestion on using a printer. What we do is give our printer a business card size ad in our newsletter in exchange for a reduced printing rate. Ask at where ever you decide to have your printing done that if you put in an ad that doesn't have an out of pocket expense for them provided that they give you a discount on the printing. If they are willing to do so, take advantage of it.

When we have ours printed, he does it at cost for us because of the ad. He also gets quite a lot of business from club members due solely to that ad. You may or may not get the same deal, but you'll never know unless you try to strike a deal.


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