Lit Mag Guy

End of last year  I offered to help produce a school literary magazine, figuring I might be useful editing the 80 or so submissions. Yesterday I learned the organizers really need someone to pull the issue together, format it, give it that polished look.

Why’d they turn to me?

My inexperience coupled with their tight deadline (they want to publish by Wednesday 1/16) promises a tough road ahead. Here’s what we’re up against:

Roughly 120 pages of text in mixed media—photos, art, poetry, prose fiction and nonfiction up to 1,500 words—at least three languages, and three different scripts. As handed over, the table of contents is a three-page list of contributors. In alphabetical order. By first name.

The file exists in Lucidpress. Anyone familiar—tips welcome!

I want to turn this back to the organizers within 40 hours [by Saturday morning] and have identified the following aesthetic improvements to make:

  • Establish uniform spacing and font for all pieces*
  • Create columns for longer pieces and justify
  • Insert page numbers
  • Add page frames
  • Add a border frame on all images
  • Select and amplify two or three one-line extracts to hook readers on longer pieces
  • Add a jazzy font/different font size for first letter or word of each piece
  • Establish an organizing principle for the Contents around 5 categories-
    1. Photo Essay
    2. Poetry
    3. Short Fiction
    4. Memoir & Reflection
    5. Art, Journalism, and Other Forms

Photo Essay
Title  |  Author  |  p.1
Title  |  Author  | p.18

Title  |  Author  |  p.1
Title  |  Author  | p.18

Short Fiction
Title  |  Author  |  p.7
Title  |  Author  | p.39

Memoirs and Reflections
Title  |  Author  |  p.13
Title  |  Author  | p.72

We don’t want to run all genres in clumps, since we’d like the magazine to flow visually between short and long pieces, between image and art, etc.  What else am I missing?

Now that I’m done blogging about it, I’m rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. Any tips for the amateur Lit Mag Guy can be added to the comments, emailed to me, or tweeted at @hBenEast.

*The document is set at OpenSans with 1 to 1.2 line spacing. I’m looking for ideas: Helvetica? Garamond? Other? Line spacing ideas? I’ll play around, of course, but happy to learn from those with experience!



4 thoughts on “Lit Mag Guy

  1. All sympathies!
    I’m sure people will be telling you: Don’t Panic! My own experience in similar situations is that a couple of hours’ initial white-faced panic is time well spent.


  2. Sounds good to me.
    I would farm out alphabetizing the list of contributors.
    Write pull quotes for long articles and separate them into sections, each with a heading in bold.
    I like the Optima font. Verdana is easily legible.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. This is torturous in its own way, but after a few key decisions it’s very plain to me how to dress the mag up. Turns out the freebie Lucid doesn’t have very many font choices—including no Optima or Verdana!

      Liked by 1 person

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