Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thanks to Gillian Bishop, AMPA's freelance graphic designer, for this beautiful holiday greeting

Monday, December 20, 2010

Does Your Magazine Have A Unique Selling Proposition?

by Allison Onyett

Last week I came up with the idea of purchasing magazine subscriptions for a few friends and close family members for Christmas. I liked the idea of giving an affordable gift that they would receive all year long. My only problem was choosing which magazines to subscribe to. Most subscriptions can be purchased online (making it an easy gift to give for those long distance relatives), but to get some initial ideas I headed to a local bookstore to browse through their wide selection of publications.

There were so many options at my finger tips – especially for the fashion lover or teenager in my life. Part of me started to wonder how some of these magazines are able to make a profit considering the endless options to choose from. How can you tell one magazine apart from the other, since they all seem to offer the same regurgitated information? After purchasing a grab-bag of monthly issues, which will hopefully satisfy the recipients and cater to their unique interests, I began to think of how saturated the industry is. Would a new publication even be noticed amongst the hordes of already popular issues on the stand? What kind of market share would they get?

Forever the optimist, I do believe that if your long term goal is to launch your own publication (which mine is), don’t get discouraged but keep in mind that you need to have a “unique selling proposition” (USP) – a new angle or concept that is difficult to duplicate so that you can successfully penetrate the market, and reach out to potential investors. This isn’t easy to come by, and takes some serious business planning, market research and creative ingenuity.

For more information on creating your own unique selling proposition so that your cover or on-line publication will catch the attention of potential subscribers I highly recommend taking some marketing or entrepreneurship courses, searching the web and talking to friends and family about your ideas. What would make your target market choose your publication over all the others? Why is your magazine so special (besides the fact that you’ve slaved over it for the past month, creating the perfect edition)? One website that I noticed was – I felt that I got a really good overview of what a USP is and I enjoyed their excellent examples. They’re also certainly not the only website out there: as soon as I searched Google for some information, my screen was flooded with an endless stream of websites dedicated to the topic.

So, to all you entrepreneurs in the publishing industry, don’t become disheartened the next time you walk past a newsstand. I hold firm that it is possible to create a compelling USP, and look forward to seeing some new, original covers adoring local magazine stands – and potentially someday my own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

City of Edmonton Book Prize Increased to $10,000!

It is a momentous day for Edmonton’s literary community as the Writers Guild of Alberta and the City of Edmonton proudly announce an award increase for the 2011 City of Edmonton Book Prize. With sponsorship from the Edmonton Arts Council and Audreys Books the $2000 prize has now been increased to $10,000, making it one of the largest city book prizes in Canada.

This marks a significant achievement in Edmonton’s 10-year cultural plan, The Art of Living, which aimed to increase the size and profile of the book prize, making it comparable with other major city book prizes. You can access the The Art of Living by visiting the publication section of the Edmonton Arts Council’s website (

For more details, visit:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MagaScene: Story Slam, Mag Redesign & Social Media seminars, 20% off Promo + more Events, News & Jobs (Issue 78/Dec 2010)


Hope You Like Slammin' Too

Q&A Reveals the Art of Story Slamming


20% off Subscriptions AMPA Holiday Promotion

I Heart Alberta Arts & Lit Check Out the New Webpage

Alberta Views Website Redesigned


Edmonton Story Slam December 15 & January 19

The Art of Redesign January 19

Social Media Fundamentals January 26 & 27

Edmonton Story SLAM OFF February 16


National Magazine Awards deadline January 14

Alberta Literary Awards deadline December 31

Oilweek's Class of Rising Stars deadline December 31

FreeFall Prose and Poetry Contest deadline December 31


Editorial Intern, Where Calgary

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hope You Like Slammin’ Too

We knew that magazine editors were a diverse and talented bunch—but imagine trying to fit Associate Editor/Writer/Children’s Book Author/Champion Story Slammer on your business card. We recently discovered the many talents of Omar Mouallem, associate editor of Avenue Edmonton, and were particularly intrigued by this “slamming” thing (more on the children’s book and rapping later). You may have heard of it: brave souls test their five-minute stories in front of a lively crowd and a panel of judges.
The upcoming Edmonton Story Slam, December 15th at the Haven Social Club, will be the last of the year leading up to the SLAM OFF! finals February 16, 2011. We asked Omar to enlighten us on the art of slamming, and how it relates to his career in the magazine industry:

MagaScene: How did you become involved in Story Slam?
Omar Mouallem: I just showed up at the Haven Social Club and signed up, put five dollars in a hat, told a story, walked away with a wad of cash. Sure beats the editorial process of pitching, revising and waiting until publication for payment.
MS: Could you offer further insight on what takes place at a Slam?
If you've ever listened to The Moth podcast or radio hour, it's quite similar. It honours traditional, oral storytelling. No props are allowed and the only other rules are it can't be plagiarized or previously published, and it has to be under 5 minutes or you'll lose points from the judges, who are selected randomly from the crowd. The stories can be fiction, non-fiction or a little bit of both. Sometimes there's a theme, like when the society partners with a festival or publication, but mostly it's a medley of genres and personalities.
There are two story slam clubs, Edmonton Story Slam, every third Wednesday of the month at the Haven Social Club, and Blue Chair Slam, every second Wednesday of the month at the Blue Chair Cafe.
MS: How has your writing/editing career benefited from slamming? In other words, do you find similarities between magazine writing/editing and slamming?
I think the strongest stories, not just on stage but in print, are the ones written for the ear. The ones with good rhythm and cadence, and only use pronounceable words. Story slam forces you to do that, if you want to get the best reaction from your audience. I've learned to love simple oral techniques like alliteration in my writing again. It's also taught me to be more relentlessly sacrificial with my writing in an attempt to get a story down to 5 minutes or less, which is about 800 words, depending on how fast you can tell a story.

Omar Mouallem is the special guest host at the upcoming story slam. You’ll also find for sale at the event copies of his new book Q Without U, a juxtaposition of children's literature with playful illustrations by Josh Holinaty and a storyline intended to improve kids' vocabularies. Oddly enough, inside the book you’ll find the unique code to Omar’s downloadable rap album of the same title, but not intended for kids at all. Intrigued? Learn more at

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alberta Views Wants Readers To Get Involved

by Andrea Cubala

It’s no mystery that readers feel a strong connection to their favourite magazines. To keep this bond strong, it is important that readers be provided the opportunity to access magazines easily and conveniently. A Magazines Canada podcast, on the topic of reaching readers, describes a part of the reader-magazine connection: “Consumers access magazines on their own terms. They read their magazines when they’re ready. They read their magazines when—and where—they want to.” To learn more, watch their informative video.

In our web-driven society, the opportunities for magazines to enhance their accessibility are sky-high, and publishers truly are reaching. Just take a look around (on the internet, of course). How many magazine websites are under construction, or have even gone fully digital? Alberta Views is the perfect example of this new trend.

Recently, Alberta Views restructured its website to a digital-friendly version. With much more of its content now online, the multi-award winning magazine is hoping to increase its readers’ involvement. New and exciting features include a blog, a digital preview of the latest issue, a “Meet the Minister” page, and a “Brews & Views” section to keep up with the latest happenings. Each of the ten issues (per year) focuses on the social, political, and artistic views of Albertans. So if you’re an Albertan and you’re itching to contribute your views—whether they’re feature stories, book reviews, photos, or contest submissions—don’t hesitate. See the contributor’s guidelines and get involved!

To learn more about Alberta Views magazine, in the convenience of your own home (or anywhere, really), visit

20% off Subscriptions - Holiday Promotion!

Avoid the long line-ups, save those precious dollars, and cross a few off the list early this year. Take advantage of our holiday promotion and receive 20% off your subscription to any of our member magazines.

It's easy. Scroll through our listing of member magazines - there's sure to be a publication that's the perfect match for your loved ones. Simply "click here to subscribe," and don't forget the promotion code Holiday2010. Et voila - your shopping is done!

For all of your hard work, we'll even send you a special little gift to keep for yourself. These cheeky and cheerful handmade magnets from Calgary artist Paul Abrey are our gift to you:

Thoughtful and good-looking
Good in bed

Flippin' Sweet
We've got issues

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Heart Alberta Arts & Lit

There are a handful of longtime AMPA member magazines which we fondly refer to as our "arts/lits". These are literary and visual arts magazines, typically published in a press-run of around 500 copies per issue, lovingly and arduously assembled by a predominantly volunteer-based team. In other words, magazines published by people with a love for words who work their butts off to share those words with you!

In an effort to help promote their hard work (and this is just the first step) we've launched an Arts & Literary Promotion -- postcards and a website to start spreading the word about these unique and diverse magazines produced here in Alberta. At you'll find descriptions and distribution details for five magazines: dandelion, filling Station, FreeFall, Other Voices and Prairie Journal.

Better yet, subscribe to any of these five magazines at, enter the discount code "artslit" and receive 30% off your one year subscription! Plus, we reimburse the full subscription price to the magazine, so they don't lose a penny while you save.

Basically what we're saying is that Alberta offers some of Canada's most innovative arts & literary magazines. Each offers a unique perspective, from eloquent inspirational to edgy experimental. Share in their passion for the creative. Explore Alberta's arts and literary magazines:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Publishers Weigh In on Digital Mags

A recent post from FOLIO that I found interesting:

"Ten Years In, How Satisfied Are Publishers with Digital Magazines?
By Matt Kinsman

As the digital edition industry near 10 years of age, Nxtbook Media recently wrapped a survey called "Digital Editions: The State of the Industry," which polled 233 publishers on their overall satisfaction with digital editions as audience tools and revenue generators, and how mobile apps and tablets will influence their strategy going forward.
Interestingly, Nxtbook concluded from the results that there is great latent potential in digital magazines from the perspective of the publisher. In terms of priorities, Nxtbook believes, publishers are more focused on increasing circulation for digital magazines and selling advertising more effectively into the format, than they are on apps and mobile solutions.
When it comes to the circulation of their digital magazines, about 40 percent reported modest to great satisfaction. On the other hand, 38 percent were somewhat dissatisfied while 22 percent were quite dissatisfied.
However, b-to-b publishers seem more pleased with digital magazines at this point than their consumer counterparts, with 50 percent saying they are somewhat to greatly pleased with their digital circulation.
Still, the majority of respondents believe digital magazines remain an untapped circulation resource but aren't sure how to capitalize on it, with 59 percent agreeing that, "I'm confident there are many more digital magazine readers out there but I don't know how to reach them" while just 3.3 percent said, "I believe that our digital magazine audience has very little room to grow."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Win Tickets to the Cannes Reel Fundraiser!!!!

AMPA is giving away two tickets to the Cannes Reel Fundraiser at Flames Central (Calgary) November 30th! The tickets include dinner, the reel viewing, and some fabulous table companions:

The Calgary Marketing Association presents the Cannes Reel of the world's best (and funniest) commercials at a fundraising event for the National Advertising Benevolence Society.

Not only is this event sure to entertain, it will also serve as the CMA's annual Christmas party -- a great opportunity to network with the media, marketing professionals, and creative agencies.

To enter, simply email with the subject CANNES. The winner must be a resident of the Calgary area.

The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association is a proud sponsor of the Cannes Reel Fundraiser.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tree Free for Synchronicity

by Andrea Cubala

[Update: Despite their intentions of moving to an online edition, as of January 2011, Synchronicity magazine has announced that they will no longer be publishing]

After being in print for 20 years, Synchronicity magazine is adopting a completely "tree free" attitude. Starting on November 30th, the magazine goes purely digital with monthly online editions. It seems the magazine focused on mind, body, spirit, and earth has checked in for a rejuvenation treatment, and will emerge ready to connect with the whole world.

To mark the fresh start, Synchronicity is working on a new website that will be launched on December 1st. But if you don’t want to wait until then, sign up now for a free online subscription. To read more about Synchronicity’s transition, check out their blog or sign up to receive E-News.

On a more personal note, I’m excited about their new website! If you take a look at the earthy photos, serene colours, and user-friendly layout of their transition website it’s clear that their new one is something to look forward to.

Monday, November 22, 2010

50,000 Words In 30 Days

by Andrea Cubala

On November 1st, I opened my laptop and starting writing. With a story in mind (the same story that’s been in there for years, waiting for a push) I typed at 1,667 words every day to make sure I was off to a good start in completing the goal: 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th. Well, it’s day twenty and where am I? About 16,007 words short… Seeing that number makes my heart hurt. But the stress is worth it.

Why do I do it? I came across Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) last year. Run by the Office of Letters and Light, Nanowrimo’s home base is in Berkeley, California—but the location doesn’t matter because anyone can participate! The premise is simple: write 50,000 words between November 1st and 30th. There is nothing to win but your own satisfaction. Last year, I got to 38,000 words and I can honestly say it was an extremely satisfying experience. Pushing your creative limits, getting to know your characters, and watching your imaginary world unfold before your very eyes are just some of the perks along the way. Plus, you get a taste of what it’s like to be a true writer; one who continues even in the face of adversity.

I know it is now more than halfway through the month (please, don’t remind me) but don’t let that stop you from joining in. Challenge yourself. Write 10,000 words and see how it feels. Or even just 5,000. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beyond the Block

by Allison Onyett

We’ve all been there: sitting in front of a blank computer screen, watching the curser blink at us impatiently, without a thought in our head – writer’s block. We’ve all heard of it, many of us have struggled with it, successful writers have been haunted by it occasionally during their careers. Hollywood has even made a feature film, Stranger than Fiction, on the topic, proving that we’re not alone.

There are endless suggestions and tricks for overcoming writer’s block. A simple Google search brings up countless websites devoted to the topic, offering insightful suggestions on how to get your creativity flowing again. For example, I’d recommend which, among other things, offers 101 ideas on how to get past your mental roadblock and caters to various forms of prose. I was equally impressed by the extensive amount of free content devoted to helping writers produce quality work.

I also came across many articles that suggested allowing your originality to break free through other art forms, such as painting, drawing or simply “playing.” This makes perfect sense to me, since as children we often generate ideas through creative play. As adults we tend to forget to make time for “play,” a leisurely way to practice being inventive.

Personally, I find that as soon as I stop focusing my ideas start to come naturally, which is why I’ll go for a run or take a long shower if I find myself struggling. I also always carry a notebook in my bag, which I started doing when I noticed my purse overflowing with ideas scribbled down on napkins, post-it notes, and old receipts. I’ve also found that bouncing ideas off of a friend is a great way to generate a topic. Lastly, yet probably the most obvious, is reading. Growing up we learned at school that reading and writing go hand in hand. So when you’re stuck writing, try reading. Another author’s work can be very inspirational – hearing their tone, word usage and subject matter can often conjure up new ideas of your own.

All in all – there are many useful suggestions out there to help us get beyond the block. What works for one person may not for another – so on that note, I’d love to hear what works for you. Who knows, you may save a fellow writer from those stressful hours of staring at a blank screen.

MagaScene 77


AMPA’s Adventures at LitFest and More

October was a busy month for AMPA. Here are the highlights…


Power of Magazines Ad Campaign from Mags Canada Could Benefit You

Paper No More Synchronicity Goes Digital

Is There a Strategy for That App? Digital Editions Today

Bursaries a Benefit with Mags Canada School for Circulation


FreeFall Chapbook Winners Launch November 18

Tax Matters for Freelancers November 25

Cannes Reel Fundraiser with CMA November 30

Fine Art of Schmoozy at Latitude 53 December 4

Awards/Calls for Submissions

Alberta Literary Awards

Oilweek's Class of Rising Stars

FreeFall Prose and Poetry Contest


Communications Coordinator, Alberta Conservation Association

Web Traffic Coordinator, RedPoint Media Group

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Magazines Canada Ad Campaign

Magazines Canada has launched three new advertising campaigns that will remind the advertising community and industry influencers about the power of magazines.

“As today’s consumers and business leaders become harder to reach in meaningful ways, magazines more than ever have powerful stories to tell,” said Gary Garland, Executive Director of Advertising Services at Magazines Canada. “They engage, they connect communities and they sell. Member support of these new ad campaigns will remind the advertising community and industry influencers that magazines are not only open for business but a must-buy.”

The first of these campaigns, a “torn insert,” will run in Marketing and Marketing QC, and is set for release in the November 22 issue (street date November 15). The die-cut insert looks like a ripped page in a magazine. The campaign leverages the high percentage of consumers who tear ads out of magazines for future reference.

The second consumer-based ad campaign features a series of whimsical ads that begin with “Dear Magazine Reader.” The ad then apologizes for magazine ads being so successful at prompting purchase. Each ad ends with, “We’re sorry we’re so engaging.” Members will also be able to create their own customizable version of the ad based on their own experiences.

Transforming the bedroom and bathroom into the new boardroom, the third campaign, geared specifically to business media titles, promotes the power of magazines in keeping business decision makers in the know—wherever they are.

In addition to the print ads, online ads will also be available for the consumer and business media campaigns. An overrun of inserts will also be made available to members on a request basis for use as bookmarks in magazine copies sent to advertisers as comps or proof of performance.

All campaigns have been developed by doug and serge agency in both French and English and will be available for Magazines Canada members under the Members’ Download Library.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November SLAM! Mavericks Celebration and B-House Launch

Thursday, November 25, 2010 -- 8:00 PM -- $5
Auburn Saloon, #163, 115-9th Ave S, Calgary
Hosts: Kirk Ramdath & Jen Kunlire

In partnership with the Calgary Public Library, the Calgary Spoken Word Festival is pleased to celebrate the “Mavericks” (Aritha van Herk’s book Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta) and will present a Wild, Wild West Maverick-themed poetry SLAM!

The SLAM! will feature Paul Marshall as this month’s Sacrificial Poet. For those who do not wish to Slam!, there will also be an Open Mic. So come down, strut your stuff and showcase your work. All styles are welcome.

B-House Publications, Calgary’s “Maverick” publisher, will also launch their latest book of poetry, Lessons in Falling, by T. B. Perry. In his unflinching poems, Perry presents a no-holds barred glimpse at the working life of a contemporary teacher, based on his experiences as a teacher at a Calgary junior high school. He was also captain of the 2010 Calgary Slam! Team that competed in Ottawa in the 2010 Nationals. The launch aspect will be hosted by Eugene Stickland, B-House’s editor-in-chief and playwright.

For more information about SLAM!, visit:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Content-Driven Apps: New Insights for Publishers

[excerpts from "Beyond the Magazine Replica: Publishers Explore New Types of Content-Driven Apps" at]

Publishers are evolving their app strategies beyond basic magazine replicas, experimenting with a variety of new formats and products that have the potential to create new mobile revenue streams.

The apps cut across a broad spectrum of features and content offerings but generally fall into one of three categories: utility app, special issue or content feed. Interviews and other commentary from a variety of consumer publishers – including Consumers Union, New York magazine, Hearst and Meredith – offer some insights into how publishers’ mobile app strategies are extending beyond print content.

Filling the idea pipeline

Most publishers will readily acknowledge that they are still in the very early stages of determining what type of content best lends itself to an app experience. One thing they quickly figured out: Smartphones offer a much different user experience than larger-screen tablet devices. Smartphones are very much utility-driven, with users often looking for specific information to help them complete an activity. Early research on tablets points to a lean-back reading experience that equates more with traditional magazine reading than with the task-driven Web. [...]

A dose of consumer research

Publishers are also pairing editors’ suggestions with consumer research to ensure that a legitimate target audience awaits a new app.

“We did a lot of user segmentation and mapping to determine women’s passion points and their perceptions of relevance and value,” said Lauren Wiener, senior VP of interactive at Meredith. “We have been taking this information to our editors to power product development.” [...]

Read more

Cannes Reel NABS Fundraiser

On November 30th the Calgary Marketing Association (CMA) presents the Cannes Reel of the world's best (and funniest) commercials at a fundraising event for the National Advertising Benevolence Society (NABS).

Not only is this event sure to entertain, it will also serve as the CMA's annual Christmas party - in other words, this is an invaluable opportunity to network with the media, marketing professionals, and creative agencies.

Flames Central (219 8th Avenue SW, Calgary) has been booked for this private event, so be sure to purchase your advance tickets at

The doors open at 5pm, food (included with your ticket) served from 6pm-7pm, and the screening starts at 7pm.

Non-member: $149

Association member: $49

Students: $29

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Fine Art of Schmoozy

Schmoozy is what the fine art of having a good time is all about: the perfect mix of an art auction, live music, great food and drink, and fabulous company.

On December 4th Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture (Edmonton) presents its 12th annual winter fundraiser, The Fine Art of Schmoozy, from 8 PM until the glasses run dry. Enjoy smooth music, even smoother cocktails, and bid on fabulous works by established local artists in the exclusive silent auction.

Some of the artists featured in this year's auction include: Allen Ball, Brenda Draney, Marc Siegner, Patrick Higgins, Raymond Beisinger, and many more.

Get your tickets now, $25 each, before they're gone. Tickets are available in person at Latitude 53 (10248 106 St, Edmonton, AB), or online at

The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association is a proud sponsor of The Fine Art of Schmoozy.

Template Teaser 3: Circulation Strategy

Finally, a third post in the "Template Teaser" series, this one from AMPA's 2010 Tiny Template: The Circulation Edition. In her article "Party On! Like Any Good Party, Successful Circulation Requires Best-Laid Plans," Malwina Gudowska turned to Eithne McCredie, vice-president of Abacus Circulations Inc., for her insights on circulation strategy:

"...for new magazines, most are launched out of a passion for an interest area, but McCredie warns that it should never overshadow circulation and distribution planning. She says that no matter how passionately you believe that readers with the same interest will naturally gravitate to your magazine, without the right circulation plan, they won't.

Before launching, do plenty of research on your potential market and count yourself lucky if your magazine has a competitor because then there's already a market. Do the research on the competitor looking at circulation, ad rates and demographics. Once you've figured out your target group and how you can get to it, look at every possible circulation source."

You can learn more about circulation strategy, and gain other valuable information about magazine publishing, in Tiny Template: The Circulation Edition

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Evolution of the Magazine

by Allison Onyett

As most business owners know, when launching a product it is of utmost importance to evolve with the trends and keep up with your market; the publishing industry is no exception. In recent years, the trend in publishing has been the digital edition – a magazine or newspaper reproduced and delivered electronically. In most cases it is almost identical to the print version, yet will often contain hyperlinks to various websites and related topics.

There are many advantages to producing a digital edition – some magazines are even solely available online, such as the local Calgary fashion magazine Conglomerate. Ultimately, a digital edition is also more cost effective to produce and environmentally friendly to distribute. As the market evolves and new electronic devices emerge, it would seem that an increasing number of consumers are choosing to subscribe to the electronic format.

However, you may also be questioning the viability of this new trend, and wondering if the market has evolved enough for currently distributed publications to justify the investment in and/or immediate production of digital editions. Is an online presence enough? What is the future of print magazines?

If you are involved in the publishing industry and are concerned about the evolution of the magazine, I would recommend doing some serious market research. You could get started by participating in the November 9th webinar hosted by FOLIO, “The State of the Digital Edition”, where you will have the opportunity to debate and learn about the aforementioned concerns and other related issues.

Personally, I still like the idea of flipping through the pages of a magazine and folding the corners of articles and advertisements that catch my eye. After staring at a computer screen all day I find it refreshing to turn away from its florescent lights and curl up with my favorite magazine. For these reasons, I’m not sure that I ever would subscribe to a digital edition, despite its many economical and environmental advantages. Is anyone with me on this, or am I part of a growing minority?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tips for Writing a Magazine Feature

On October 23, AMPA sponsored the LitFest session "Creating a Winning Magazine Feature," with writer and editor Lawrence Scanlan offering his advice on how to create a winning magazine feature from pitch to publication.

Scanlan can speak with considerable authority on the topic, as a former magazine and newspaper editor for publications including The Whig-Standard and Harrowsmith, a former CBC Radio producer, and the author of six best-selling books, including Wild About Horses and Little Horse of Iron. He has also won three National Magazine Awards for his journalism.

The seminar began with a discussion of "the pitch" (ie: selling your story to the editor). Scanlan advised writers to be clear and concise, offering just enough information upfront to pique the editors interest and appeal to the editor as a reader. Knowing and appealing to the specific audience of the magazine is of absolute necessity. Another sound tip: pick up the phone! It's easier to reject or ignore an email than a phone call, so send a pitch via email and advise that you'll follow up with a phone call in a few days time. 

As for the creation of a feature article, Scanlan suggested that writers invest time in their research, even if this means putting in the effort to dig through archives to provide that added touch and detail. He also shared his interview techniques, including taking notes during an in-person (recorded) interview: the very act of note-taking, and breaking from the pressure of eye-contact, will aid in putting the interviewee at ease. 
 Reassure the interviewee that you, or your fact-checker, will run any quotes by them prior to publication.
Some final tips from Scanlan: never underestimate the value of a good peer review, and always read your article aloud to ensure a sense of rhythm.

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Friday, October 29, 2010

On Blogging and Op-Ed with Andrew Potter

This past week AMPA sponsored the LitFest session "Making Your Opinion Matter: On Blogging and Op-Ed Columns," and I thought I would share just a few of the many gems of advice offered by Andrew Potter, public affairs columnist with Macleans magazine and features editor with Canadian Business Magazine.

Potter co-authored the international bestseller The Rebel Sell with Joseph Heath and has just published The Authenticity Hoax. He also blogs regularly for and at In other words - he's a man who knows what he's talking about when it comes to writing, specifically opinion writing, and the wild world of blogging.

First, I have to share Potter's wryly proffered definitions of his journalistic specialty, the op-ed column, as "complaining in an entertaining way" and "the empty calories of journalism." On a more serious note, he also shared his belief that "good opinions can fundamentally change the way you think about the world." His advice to the many emerging writers in the audience? "Do not write for free!" or risk undermining your work.

The topic of blogging quickly became the focus of the session, beginning with Potter's advice that a blogger must identify their purpose and their goals by answering the question "What is your brand?" Everything on the blog should promote this brand, offering a kind of predictability for readers.

Then Potter dropped the bomb, stating that "blogging is dying." Twitter has fundamentally changed blogging by becoming a micro-blogging platform in and of itself, a forum for the small tidbits of information and links that used to be blog fodder. Blogging is now just one aspect of brand building online, one branch of a "unified space" of social media cross-promotion.

I'll leave you with one of his especially resonant statements in response to a question about how to drive blog traffic: "Link and be linked to. Follow and be followed. Quote and be quoted."

So, Andrew Potter, if you're out there and reading this, I've taken your words to heart. Note my link to your blog[s], my many quotes of your sage words, and the fact that AMPA now follows you on twitter. I'll be watching those traffic stats carefully!

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Family Friendly Award for airdrielife

Congratulations to Frog Media Inc, publisher of AMPA member magazine airdrielife, for winning the 2010 Airdrie Family Friendly Award. In the press release, publisher Sherry Shaw-Froggatt describes the family-friendly emphasis of the magazine:

“This business was started because I wanted to have more flexible hours for my everyone involved in the business is a parent with kids and they can enjoy the same freedom to set their own hours.” airdrielife was recognized for creating a welcoming environment for people, supporting community events and for being home-based which allows for flexibility for staff.

The next issue of airdrielife arrives on doorsteps and over 100 locations in Calgary and Airdrie November 22.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tax Matters for Freelancers

The Calgary Association of Freelance Editors (CAFE) will discuss tax matters for freelancers at their quarterly meeting Thursday, November 25, 2010.

Most freelance editors are better wordsmiths than number crunchers, but meeting tax obligations is a key part of running your business. Meet with a representative from the Canada Revenue Agency, who can provide advice to small business owners on such topics as record keeping, making tax payments, taking advantage of all your eligible deductions, and utilizing CRA services and resources. To tailor the presentation to your needs, CAFE invites you to submit questions in advance when you register.

Sign-in starts at 6:30 p.m. Program starts at 7 p.m. Refreshments and networking until 9 p.m
Free for CAFE and STC members; $10 for non-members
McDougall Centre, Media Room

455 6th Street S.W, Calgary

Registration is required by Tuesday, November 24. Contact Kerri Rubman,

Bad weather date, if needed, will be posted at

Calling All Grammar Lovers

Make sure you mark a big “G” on your calendar for the evening of November 3, 2010. The Editors’ Association of Canada and the Writers Guild of Alberta (WGA) present Grammar Gals Extravaganza, a night of linguistic information and fun with Edmonton’s Karen Virag and Virginia Durksen:

The WGA teamed up with the Editors’ Association of Canada (Prairie Provinces Branch) to present a Grammar Gals Extravaganza with Edmonton’s own Karen Virag and Virginia Durksen, who have been regular guests on CBC Radio’s Alberta at Noon and Blue Sky call-in shows. Karen dons the prescriptive hat; Virginia the descriptive. The result is a fun and informative discussion touching on everything from arcane grammar points to the annoyances of contemporary usage to linguistic pet peeves. Make a note of and bring along (take along?) your grammar questions, pet peeves, and language insights. What better way to spend an autumn evening than being entertained by the witty repartee and warm charm of these two language specialists as they use your questions, comments, and opinions as a springboard to informative and lively discussions that are sure to make you smile out loud!

Karen Virag is the supervising editor at the Alberta Teachers’ Association. She is also a freelance writer and editor, and teaches grammar at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

Virginia Durksen describes herself as a writer and word whisperer. She also develops customized workshops for workplace writers and editors. Through her company, Visible Ink, Virginia teaches business and technical writing to corporate clients across Canada.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Socializing and Light Refreshment: 7:00–7:30 pm – Session: 7:30–9:00 pm

Stanley A. Milner Library, Centennial Room (downstairs from the main floor)

7 Sir Winston Churchill Square

Cost: WGA & EAC members: free. Non-members: $5

Please RSVP to or (780) 422-8174

For more information, visit:

----Andrea Cubala

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Magazines: The Conversation Business

[An excerpt from "In 'Digital Distraction' Age, Magazines No Longer Information Providers" by Tony Silber at]

Living in an age of “digital distraction,” magazine-based media companies need to come to terms with what they’re becoming, and whether they’re doing it by default or design, said Roger Fransecky, CEO of the corporate-consulting firm Apogee Group, and keynote speaker at last week’s “Reimagining the Future,” conference held at the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi.

The powerful metaphor going forward is “conversation,” Fransecky said, and media companies can create a path to the next one. “You’re no longer information providers, you’re in the conversation business,” he told the audience of about 125 magazine-industry professionals and journalism-school students. From a business perspective, the challenge is to ask a series of questions in that context. “What’s over?’ Fransecky asked. “What do you still believe? When you look at your business, you need to ask, ‘what do we still trust?’”

Read more

Monday, October 25, 2010

So many job opportunities!

Committed to the Success of Entrepeneurs

I'd like to introduce to you Allison Onyett, the latest addition to AMPA's small team of volunteer bloggers. Allison has a B.A from the University of Calgary, and is exploring the world of publishing for a career where she can put her writing skills, marketing and business knowledge, and avid interest in arts and culture to good use. For this first post she shares with us her impression of an online education course with the GoForth Institute:

Did you know that 50% of small businesses launched in Canada won’t survive past their second year? Or that roughly 70% of small businesses won’t see their 5th anniversary? Neither did I, until I took an online education program with GoForth Institute. Their mandate is to provide entrepreneurs across the country with the resources and skills they need to improve their odds of success. I thought that magazine publishers, freelance writers, and any of the other entrepreneurs and small business owners in the industry might be interested in learning more about the program that I found so helpful.

In 2009, Dr. Leslie Roberts and her team launched Canada’s first national education program for entrepreneurs. The core of the program is 100 Essential Small Business Skills™ that successful business owners across the country told them you need to know about running your own small business. Catering to busy, cash strapped entrepreneurs, the ten-hour online course is timely, comprehensive and affordable.

I found the course really comprehensive – in ten hours, expert entrepreneur-instructors taught me all the skills I would need to run a small business, and how all the different parts of a business work together. Best of all, the course is broken down into ten modules, and each module has three twenty minute video lessons The course came with downloadable course materials, exercises, quizzes and email access to each of the instructors if I had a question.

This fall GoForth also launched Canada’s largest on-line resource website for entrepreneurs at any stage of growth. The site is jam-packed with content, seamlessly laid out to allow for fast, easy access to the information you need to know about your small business. GoForth even has a section where you can ask an expert your own specific questions and get a fast answer – free! So if you’re a small business owner, or thinking about becoming one, I’d recommend making the time to visit, take the course and use the free information provided – on your 5th anniversary, you’ll be glad you did!

----Allison Onyett

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Connecting with Magazines: The "Brand Bond"

by Andrea Cubala

Our increasingly online world and its effects on publishing is a hot topic these days—perhaps even cliché—but something I’ve been pondering nonetheless. Due to the online presence of magazines, virtually every magazine issue can be accessed via internet. If readers can browse their favourite magazines onscreen, isn’t it safe to assume that print readership should be suffering? Not quite. The Print Measurement Bureau (PMB) recently released their fall report, and the news is positive: the “average readership across all magazines remains stable at 1.02 million.” In fact, not much has changed in the past year. The following averages have remained consistent:

  • number of readers per copy
  • time spent reading magazines
  • level of interest

The internet and social media are actually helping magazine readership. The internet brings magazine information and advertising to the home, making all things magazine highly accessible. Just watch this short (and very spunky) video entitled “Magazines Connect.” It highlights various facts about how the internet and magazines, well, connect. For instance, dedicated magazine readers are also heavy internet users. If we can all agree that this generation is very internet savvy, then it’s no surprise that young adults and teens constitute a large portion of magazine consumers.

This youth dedication to magazines may be due to the relationship that readers have with their favourite magazines; something I’d call the “brand bond.” According to “How Magazine Advertising Works,” readers view magazines as brands: just like people choose clothing to represent who they are, they choose magazines to do the same. And with brand satisfaction, comes brand dedication. If your favourite magazine entertains you, informs you, and represents you, then it makes sense that you would continue to read that magazine despite any changes it incurs over time.

Now back to the question at hand: Why do people still turn to magazines on newsstands when they could read them online? That’s easy. Did books go extinct with the release of e-readers? Did CDs disappear with the appearance of mp3 players? Did people stop listening to the radio when TVs were made? Did…okay, you get the picture. Holding magazines, carrying them around, rolling them up, folding them, and leaving them in the bathroom are just a few reasons why print magazines are extremely convenient. Just imagine trying to do the same with your computer. Plus, there’s nothing like flipping through a magazine, the crisp corners crunching under your fingertips and the glossy pages gliding over one another.

While the internet has definitely added convenience to our lives in more ways than one (no more messenger boys to carry our wax-sealed letters!), people still seem to opt for the old-fashioned way. We are sentimental creatures and when we find something we like we stick with it. The internet has opened the door to access and information about magazines, but our dedication is what keeps the print magazines in our bathrooms—in all their steam-crumpled glory.

For more reader information and statistics from the PMB’s fall report, visit: