Monday, May 30, 2011

Almost Summer Water Cooler Update

Time to confab about peeps in publishing! Thanks for sharing your people news. As the weather heats up, so too will the gossip, or so I hope! 

If you know of any other such news, please do let me know. Or, if you’re wondering what someone is up to these days and would like me to get the scoop, drop me a line as well!

  • In case you haven’t been watching already, check out My Rona Home on Citytv where Avenue Calgary’s Käthe Lemon is one of the show’s judges. There are only two episodes left to air on upcoming Sunday nights, but you can view all past episodes online.  
  • Welcome to Venture Publishing’s new editors! Mike Ganley is now at the helm of the editorial team at Alberta Venture. He was formerly editor of Up Here Business magazine in Yellowknife. Darren Campbell took over as editor of Alberta Oil magazine from Gord Jaremko back in January. See full details here.
  • Congrats to Redpoint Media editors Abby Miller and Tony Charron who tied the knot last month. Best wishes to the happy couple.
  • AMPA’s former RAMM coordinator and all-around events specialist Angy McIntyre has recently joined the Calgary WordFest team on contract to manage volunteers. So, if you’re interested in volunteering, let us know and we’ll connect you.
  • Bon voyage to Kelie Jensen, former associate publisher for Alberta Views, who wrapped things up at the magazine earlier this month to prepare to move to New Zealand in July with husband Stephen and two-year-old son, Finn. Kelie worked at Views since 2004 in a few different positions including controller. Kelie, who is perhaps best known for her role as "orc no. 8" in Lord of the Rings, will be missed by her Views coworkers as well as others in Calgary’s magazine and arts community. All the best, Kelie!

    --- Colleen Seto AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

    To Post or Not to Post?

    [updated June 2] 
    Say what you want about the role of Canada's postal service in our "e-nabled" age of online billing, banking, emailing and socializing, but there's no time like the present day state of postal union negotiations to contemplate the reasons we'd miss our snail mail.

    If you haven't yet heard, Canada's magazine industry is atwitter about the possibility of a strike as, at latest word, it's announced that the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) intends to begin strike activities at 11:59 p.m. EDT on June 2, 2011. This doesn't mean that it's a done deal, but after seven months of negotiations this 72-hour strike notice means business--or no business, if you're in the magazine industry.

    In the meantime, publishers and printers are forced to sit on their latest issues and direct mail campaigns until further word. Freelancers are left wondering if that much anticipated cheque will arrive. Many businesses still pay bills with cheques, and question whether they should risk it or go the pricey-but-reliable courier route.

    If you're looking for updates and insight on the strike, here are a couple of resources:
      --- Rebecca Lesser
      AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      Lasting Legacy for Amber Bowerman

      Three years after we lost Amber, I'm happy to report that good is still happening in her name.

      Today, on the eve of the third year anniversary of her passing, the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation (AWBMF) announced the creation of a lasting legacy for its namesake during a press conference at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary.
      Photo by Greg Fulmes

      Through the generous and kind efforts of donors, the AWBMF has met its endowment fundraising objective for the SAIT Polytechnic journalism scholarship in Amber’s name. The final cheque for the SAIT endowment was presented today by the Foundation’s President, Käthe Lemon, to Debby Deniset, the Annual Giving Manager of SAIT Alumni and Development. The amount of the cheque was $10,497.93 reaching a total of more than $28,500 in the endowment, which will ensure that a journalism scholarship of $1,000 a year will be given in perpetuity.

      “This isn’t the most significant donation ever in terms of the absolute amount, but it is truly a huge donation in terms of the number of people who came together to make it happen and who put their thoughts into making something positive from tragedy,” says Käthe.

      I'm so proud to be a founding and current board member of the AWBMF and of all those who have helped us reach this goal, whether by donating money, time, goods or participating at our fundraising events. We weren't sure what could be done when we began, we just knew we wanted, no needed, to do something to honour Amber and continue the work she started.

      This SAIT endowment fund is the just the first of what we hope to be many scholarships in Amber's name. It is through such efforts that we can find some solace in losing such a great person. Here's to you, Amber. We miss you!

      See the full press release here.

      --- Colleen Seto
      AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

      Thursday, May 19, 2011

      May MagaScene: Awards Season Highlights, New Grant Deadlines, Publishing Workshops...

      Magazine Award Season Highlights: Your Guide to Events and Finalists
      Awards season is upon us! Join in the celebration and recognition of our industry’s talents and accomplishments... 

      Business Innovation Grants Offered through the Canada Periodical Fund
      Alberta Cultural Industry Grant Program New Guidelines and Dates!
      Venture Publishing Welcomes New Editors
      Routes Awards Short Story Fiction Prize
      2011 Summer Publishing Workshops at Simon Fraser University  

      Alberta Literary Awards Shortlist Celebration May 24, 2011
      MagNet 2011: Canada's Magazine Conference
      June 7-10
      Magazines West and Western Magazine Awards June 17
      Oilweek Rising Stars Awards Celebration June 29
      3rd Annual Sugar Bowl Fundraiser August 27  

      Canadian Online Publishing Awards June 24
      Alberta Views Annual Short Story Contest June 30 

      Fellow Industry Blogger's Outstanding Achievement posted May 2
      Arts and Lit Mags: Alive and Well posted May 3
      AMPA Goes to the Edge of Print posted May 11
      Share Your People News! posted May 12
      LawNow Goes All Digital posted May 16 

      Intermediate Web Designer, Soul Integrated Solutions Deadline May 26
      Project Coordinator, Soul Integrated Solutions Deadline May 26

      Monday, May 16, 2011

      LawNow Goes All Digital

      After 35 years as a print publication, LawNow has transformed into a digital publication. The digital edition launched with the March/April issue and includes content that continues to showcase the best in public legal information and education.

      Despite its loyal readership, the magazine struggled financially and had to make the tough decision to stop printing. LawNow was able to adapt its content to suit its new medium, and its paying off. 

      Production assistant Kristy Rhyason tells me, “We thought we would lose many subscribers, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. Many people upgraded their subscriptions so their whole offices could have online access. We also improved our access to back issues and upgraded our search engine, so people are better able to view all our articles past and present.”

      Though the LawNow staff is sad to see the print edition go, they are also excited about the new prospects that digital offers. Editor Teresa Mitchell outlines this enthusiasm in her Viewpoint piece in the inaugural online mag:

      [T]his change means that I have the opportunity to learn, adapt, grow, smile, and be very grateful to be able to continue to do what I have loved to do for over twenty years: read, research, edit and write about the law, and continue to work with our wonderful contributors. I’m still a reader: it’s just that now, I read online. We hope that you, too, will continue to read, online!
      Check it out at

      --- Colleen Seto AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

      Thursday, May 12, 2011

      Share Your People News!

      Yes it's true. I tuned in to the Royal Wedding. I didn't really intend to (though I do enjoy Royals watching), but I was having trouble sleeping and got up to watch the telly since I knew I'd have to get up to feed Annabel shortly anyhow. I missed the actual ceremony itself, but saw much of the pomp and circumstance leading up to it (including Princess Beatrice's horrendous hat. What was she thinking!?). And then of course, I watched the ceremony several times afterward as it was replayed endlessly the next day. And I was not alone. Millions of viewers tuned in. And millions wanted to savour the moment with memorabilia including People magazine's Royal Wedding issue.

      According to an article in Audience Development, the issue was People's largest in four years with 220 pages. They even altered their publishing schedule so consumers wouldn't have to wait until the following Friday to get the collector's issue. Plus, the People website got a record 162 million hits on the day of the wedding. Sales figures for the issue have yet to be released, but I expect they'll be high.

      Which leads me to wonder what sort of other events garner this much attention? Are there events which your magazines dedicate whole issues to? If not, should there be? How can magazines use special events relevant to their audiences to develop content around and drum up both circulation and ad sales?

      Let me know your thoughts.

      AND, let me know about your people news and events, too. I'd like to share the various happenings of Alberta magazine folks on this blog so your fellow colleagues can keep up. So let me know what's happening at your magazine. New hires? Retirees? Kick someone to the curb? And share your personal excitement such as weddings and babies too! It'll give us some new water-cooler talk plus maybe eliminate some awkward social moments. (Although I must admit, I really quite enjoy those!)

      --- Colleen Seto AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

      Wednesday, May 11, 2011

      AMPA Goes to the Edge of Print

      This past weekend I loaded up my wee Yaris with boxes of member magazines, and hit the road (literally, that poor bumper was weighed-down) for At the Edge of Print, the 2011 Get Publishing Conference at Grant MacEwan University.

      This was my first time at the bi-annual conference, which this year reached a record 100-plus participants. It was also my chance to meet more of our Edmonton members, interact with the larger publishing community, and ultimately get the word out about Alberta's magazines.

      The Friday night keynote address connected our Edmonton audience via live video-conference (a brave a/v feat that went off without a hitch) with Andrew Steeves in Nova Scotia, the founder, owner, publisher, printer, editor (you name it, he does it, and it's all self-taught) of Gaspereau Press.

      I missed the Saturday keynote, Minister Faust, to set up AMPA's tradeshow booth, but I hear it was a hit. And so was our booth! Writers, editors, publishers and students crowded to get their hands on the free samples of Alberta magazines, and to pick up their colourful AMPA swag (many compliments on our branding, courtesy of Gillian Bishop):

      I started off my professional developing for the day by attending the AMPA-sponsored "Tales from the Blogosphere: Passions, Politics, and Profit" with panelists Dave Cournoyer (, Jennifer Cockrall-King ( and Kathryn Burke ( Each panelist shared their unique blogging stories, and you can read the highlights on twitter (through @albertamags and/or #GPEdge).Link
      I was also keen to hear from Joyce Byrne (@joyce_byrne), associate publisher of Venture Publishing Inc. (think Alberta Oil and Alberta Venture, amongst many others) with her session "Shifting Gears: New Trends in Magazine Publishing." Here are a few of her many quotable tips for writers (with my own comments included, of course!):
      • Many editors no longer read the resume with your pitch, they just Google you (LinkedIn and blogs are the new resume)
      • As a writer, breadth can be as important as your ability to write in different styles (specialization is so 1990)
      • No Dumping Online: take care with your online writing, ensure that it's well-groomed & edited
      Never fear, however, you aren't dependent on me to glean the gems from this presentation, since Joyce has kindly posted her presentation for you to read in all it's glory:

      The evening ended with a banquet and entertainment, as all evenings should, to cap off a great event. Kudos to the Get Publishing Communications Society, and the many volunteers who helped pull off this year's conference!

      --- Rebecca Lesser
      AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

      Tuesday, May 3, 2011

      Arts and Lit Mags; Alive and Well

      [This post has been updated.]
      The Canada Council for the Arts recently released a study of benchmarks for Canadian mags based on 2010 applications to its Grants to Arts and Literary Magazines. Here’s a recap: 

      • The number of titles has remained steady for the past decade sitting at 90 (60 in English and 30 en francais.
      • Half a million copies were in circulation throughout the year.
      • These mags served more than 75,000 subscribers.
      • The arts and lit mag industry makes up a $5 million enterprise with 2/5 of revenues coming from mag sales and 2/5 from advertising sales. The remaining fifth comes from various sources.
      • Overall revenue comes in at about $10 million with grants making up roughly half of all income.
      • These mags generate about 200 full-time-equivalent jobs.
      • Magazines are critical in the creation of “social capital”.
      • Overall, it’s clear that arts and lit titles are dependent on Canada Council funding.

      The study gives arts and lit publishers a sense of how their operations and costs compare against their peers, keeping in mind that many aspects are covered off by volunteers or low-paid interns. The biggest costs are overhead (30 to 36%) and editorial (21 to 30%). The full study can be viewed at

      Unfortunately, like most government funding, very few Alberta magazines receive Canada Council support. That said, it also speaks volumes about the tenacity these publishers possess to continue publishing their titles especially given how many titles rely on Canada Council dollars to publish. 

      AMPA is always looking at ways to support this special group of magazines. If you have ideas for how AMPA can help your arts and lit title, drop us a line at or post a comment here so we can have a public chat about it! For readers, be sure to check out AMPA's 30% off promotion for arts and lit titles.
      --- Colleen Seto  
      AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      Fellow Industry Blogger's Outstanding Achievement

      I'm thrilled to share the news that fellow magazine industry blogger D.B. Scott has been awarded the 2010 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

      This may come as little surprise, but D.B. Scott's Canadian Magazines blog has proved invaluable to me as a resource for industry news to share with our readers, and I can't thank him enough for providing a model for my own Alberta Magazines blogging. Congratulations D.B., it's well-deserved!

      I thought I'd share an excerpt from the NMAF awards announcement:

      "With a dynamic career spanning four decades, D.B. Scott has earned his reputation as an eminent authority in the Canadian magazine industry
      [...] D.B. presides over the industry’s most widely read and go-to blog, Canadian Magazines.

      Kat Tancock, senior web editor at Reader’s Digest, says 'I remember poring over his archives when I was new to the industry to try and glean as much information as possible about the world I was trying to inhabit, and it was like reading a textbook on how things work and how people interact.'

      In calling for his nomination as this year’s Outstanding Achievement recipient, John Macfarlane, editor and co-publisher of The Walrus called D.B.’s blog a 'public square' and noted, 'when [D.B] chooses to mount his soapbox, he is invariably informed, fair-minded and wise.'"

      --- Rebecca Lesser
      AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator