Let me know what you would like to see in REPTILES magazine next year.
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Want to see an article about collared lizards in REPTILES in 2011? Let me know by going here.
Working in publishing has a tendency to make it seem as if the years are whizzing by faster than they really are. For instance, today is June 3, yet we are working on our September issue. This is standard operating procedure in the publishing world, but nonetheless, it can make one feel that he is aging prematurely, faster than everyone else. That’s 25 years in the business talking.
Another project that seems to speed up time is one we’re in the process of right now: the creation of our editorial calendars for the 2011 issues. Every year at BowTie, the reminders are sent around: Editorial calendars are due in three months … then two months … then the end of this month. And that’s where we’re at right now.
Our editorial calendar is the master list of monthly articles that will appear in the coming year, arranged chronologically by issue. The usual process involved in creating one goes like this:
When the first of the e-mail reminders mentioned above is sent around, the germ is planted in my brain that I need to start planning soon. Then I get busy with the standard, day-to-day operations affiliated with REPTILES magazine and ReptileChannel, and the editorial calendar takes a back seat.
The follow-up reminders stir me to action, and I call my staff to hunker down and begin planning in earnest. First, we will review the articles we have published within the last few years. This helps to prevent us from repeating article topics too often. While we may revisit the most favorite reptile pets every year in some way – a how-to-breed-leopard-geckos article here, the latest overview of ball python morphs there – most of the time we go to great lengths to not get too repetitive. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to repeat a popular subject. While I can see why a longtime subscriber might cringe at being faced with yet another bearded dragon article, people need to remember that we have to be sure to consider the newbies to the hobby or the magazine. If a newbie has not subscribed up until this point, he or she probably did not see our most recent bearded dragon article. So we’ll want to run one before too many years go by because there’s a very good chance the newbie likes these very popular lizards. That makes sense, doesn’t it? And that’s why some of the most popular animals are featured more often than others.
Of course we will also publish articles about reptiles that may not always be mega-popular pets, but that are simply interesting in their own right. This might include animals such as tuataras, sea turtles and other endangered species (often covered in conservation-oriented articles), and venomous reptiles, which used to get their own special issue every other year. Deviating from popular pet species has sometimes put me at odds with people who want to see only articles about animals that are readily available as pets. They are not interested in reading about animals that they cannot keep. While the majority of REPTILES articles are about the keeping of pet reptiles, I think there are plenty of reptiles that are interesting in their own right, regardless of their pet potential, and that’s why articles about rare and lesser-known reptiles will surface in REPTILES alongside the articles about more commonly encountered herps. Such articles will never outnumber the pet-related features, but they’ll be sprinkled in among them.
I mentioned the now-defunct special venomous issue. Some readers have asked why we don’t publish special issues anymore, or new ones may be requested. I decided last year, however, to discontinue publishing special issues. The reason is that no matter what the topic of that special issue is, there will be people who are not interested in it. My goal is to provide each and every reptile enthusiast something of interest in every issue. If I were to publish another venomous issue, for instance, the readers who are not interested in venomous snakes could feel gypped. Of course not all articles in every issue will appeal to all readers, but when the majority of the magazine is devoted to a specific reptile category such as venomous snakes, there is an increased chance that larger numbers of people would be disappointed. I think it’s best to avoid that scenario and instead strive to do what REPTILES has been doing: provide a broad assortment of subjects to provide appealing articles for the largest number of reptile hobbyists, from beginner to veteran (even though many people continue to pigeonhole REPTILES as primarily for beginners – a description with which I disagree).
Back to our planning process: Once we know what reptiles and amphibians have been covered fairly recently — thereby eliminating them from consideration for the next year’s issues — we’ll begin making our monthly lists for the calendar, with a specific group of articles scheduled for January, another group for February, and so on. Some article topics result from editorial brainstorming, with the editors getting together and bouncing ideas off each other. We may solicit ideas from our contributors. Other article topics are decided upon after reviewing trends in the industry, which can be done by speaking with breeders and manufacturers, or visiting their websites. We’ll check to see what kinds of animals dealers are selling. Attending reptile expos and seeing the animals for sale there can help provide some direction for editorial planning, as well. If there are topical issues, such as deforestation, these may lend themselves to a reptile-related article, perhaps with a conservation slant. We get our article ideas by exploring many different avenues.
This year, I’ve included a new avenue to explore, and this is where you come in. This year, I’m actively seeking article ideas from reptile hobbyists. I want to know what kinds of articles you would like to see in REPTILES in 2011. It will only take you a minute to list your suggestions, assuming you have any, and everyone who submits some ideas will automatically be entered into a raffle. One winner will be chosen to receive a book of his or her choice (out of two possible titles) free of charge. So participants not only get a crack at a nice book for free, they may help determine the editorial direction REPTILES magazine will take in 2011. I’m excited to see what kind of article ideas people come up with. There’s a deadline of June 14, so go here and submit your comments now!
After the deadline, and as we continue creating the editorial calendar, my staff and I will consider all the ideas we receive for inclusion. Some will very likely be used, others won’t. Of course, you’ll need to wait and see each issue as it comes out next year to find out if an article you suggested was chosen. I will say, though, that I’ve reviewed the ideas so far, and I’m seeing some great ones already. With the help of reptile fans such as you, I already think that 2011 could be a great year for REPTILES and its readers!