Well hello, mag fans. 
An indie magazine newsletter by Dan Rowden

Issue 6 — March 15, 2018


Welcome to the sixth edition of Coverage. I'm loving doing this every other week and hope you're enjoying the emails too!

In this issue you'll find three features about a magazine shop, a magazine book, and a magazine changing up its digital strategy; all three provide ample food for thought around strategy and marketing for magazines so give them a good read; you should get something out of them.

On a personal note, I have a few new ideas around magazines that I want to explore (totes, anyone?), which is super exciting. And magazines selling subscriptions on Subsail recently reached $130,000 in total sales, which is absolutely mind-boggling 💥 Such an amazing bunch of magazines. You'll be hearing from some of them in an upcoming Coverage newsletter 😉

I have a lot of energy for the magazine world at the moment. Hopefully you're enjoying this newsletter as I explore the industry for myself. If you know of anyone else who loves magazines like you, make sure to spread the word! Send people to coverage.email or @coverage.email on Instagram.

Lots of love,


P.S.: Check out which magazines I'm reading at @dansmags

Under The Cover, Lisbon, Portugal

Going undercover in Portugal's indie mag scene

Under The Cover is one of those shops that makes you wish you lived near it (and have a big enough monthly magazine budget to make it worthwhile!)

I know next to nothing about the magazine scene in the shop's home town of Lisbon (nor Portugal for that matter), so I got in touch with Luís Cunha, one of the founders of Under The Cover to find out more...

Dan R: Can you give a quick background to the shop and your interest in magazines?

Luis C: We've [Luís and Arturas, his co-founder] always been passionate about magazines, even though we come from a different background. Our trips abroad always included a stop at the local magazine shop where we would stuff our luggage with magazines to bring back with us. We were inspired by some great places in other European capitals and felt Lisbon was lacking a shop specialized in indie magazines.

DR: Sourcing indie magazines from around the world seems like a difficult task. How do you select magazines for your shelves?

LC: It's hard but not because there's not enough good publications; it's the opposite. We don't have enough room for the many good titles that are being created out there. Instagram is a great platform to meet new projects and to let editors know about our existence. The selection process is based on several aspects of the publication like the design, layout, paper, content, even smell, and the overall feeling we have when holding the magazine in our hands: is it a desirable object?

DR: Have you seen the Portuguese indie mag scene develop since the shop has been open? How does your local scene compare to the rest of Europe?

LC: I would say there's still a lot to be made in Portugal when it comes to independent publishing. But in the almost two and a half years that we have been open, we've witnessed the birth of great projects headed by a younger generation, like Cabeça, Nevoazul, Casa Mãe, and photo books by Kid Richards. Almost every week we get someone at the store seeking inspiration for a magazine that they are working on, so we are very excited about the future of print in Portugal.

DR: Which three magazines excite you and your team at the moment?

LC: Kajet from Romania, is a journal of Eastern European encounters with issue 1 focusing on the notion of community inside Eastern Europe. Fare from the UK, exploring the heart of a city through its food, community, and history - Issue 2 takes us to Helsinki. Polpettas On Paper, published by Margherita Visentini, an Italian living in Madrid, is a journal about artists and their stories. All memorable publications and excellent examples of what indie print can offer.

You can browse (and buy from) Under The Cover's stunning selection of magazines—without buying a plane ticket to Lisbon—at underthecover.pt

This Way Up

Origin Story

This week we hear from London-based designer Adam Hunt, about his new title This Way Up, which explores “the curiosity, desire and fulfillment of self-initiated projects in creative culture.” Right up my alley!

Here's Adam on how and why he started his own magazine...

“The idea for the magazine came at a time when I wasn’t particularly feeling where I was at with my professional life. Instead of putting my energy into trying to figure out a new project, I decided to make the project about side projects itself.

“At a similar time to this I was regularly attending talks by magCulture, Stack and Unit Editions. I had the initial thought of a magazine in the back of my mind, but after attending a few of these events and seeing a large number of people showing an incredible amount of passion for a specific medium, it really cemented it for me. In my mind, it was the perfect marriage – projects that people love, told through a medium that people love.

I was seeing a lot of online blog fodder at the time, images made purely to get noticed without context. I found myself continually thinking, ‘what’s the point of these images’, ‘why do they exist?’, ‘what’s the reason or rationale (if any) behind them?’. 

“TWU is a retort to that style of work with the aim of featuring thought provoking written and visual content, that delves deeper than design porn and the venereal, standardised copy lifted straight from a press release. Content that is instead, human and digs deeper, exploring the whys and reasoning behind the work.”

Issue 1 of This Way Up is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies. Head on over to thiswayupmag.co.uk to get your own before they're gone!

The Magazine Blueprint

Lessons learned from magazine masters

I got to know Conor Purcell through the magazine world about 6 years ago. At that time he has busy reinventing the award-winning Emirates in-flight magazine, Open Skies, and has gone on to produce many other titles (like lo-fi travel magazines We Are Here and We Are Dublin).

Just a few days ago, Conor received the first printed copies of his new book about indie magazine publishing. The Magazine Blueprint is a guide “from idea to execution and everything in between” rammed with quotes and knowledge from a huge list of influential people in the magazine world... and me 🙃

I thought this would be a great opportunity to ask Conor to boil down some of the key ideas and topics from his book. Here are four lessons he learned...

This is crucial. Too many publishers wait until their magazine has gone to press before they start promoting it. This is far too late. Promotion needs to start before you start compiling your first issue. Once you have figured out your title, buy a URL and set up a website. Start collecting the names and email addresses of interested people to build up a mailing list, which you can mail once the first issue is ready to order. Then, set up your social media channels and start posting. This will alert the world that you exist and give you a chance to tweak your voice. If you do this six months before you launch, you should have an audience to sell to.

No one needs another soft-focus magazine featuring fawning interviews with graphic designers or coffee shop owners. While interviews such as these are easy to do, they result in boring, insipid content, and if the reader is bored, you probably will be too. What do you want to say? What angers you? What inspires you? What stories do you want to tell? Not every article has to be a call to arms, but you should have a view about whatever you are focusing on. Be bold, be creative, be contrary—it’s your magazine and you should take risks when choosing what goes in it.

This is vital. If you don’t enjoy the process of making a magazine, then you will give up. The chance of getting rich from your independent magazine is almost zero. The chances of making a profit are much greater, but this takes time and dedication. If you are not in it for the long haul, then you will give up. There will be setbacks, frustrations and days when you wish you had never started. Take these in your stride and focus on the big picture. There are few better feelings then holding a freshly-printed copy of your magazine in your hands.

One of the great strengths every indie publisher has is their size; while the bigger magazines are often slow moving, you can move quickly. Whether that means tweaking your content or masthead, setting up a new social media channel or setting up a mailing list, you can do it without asking anyone for permission. Just be clear that what you are doing makes sense for your brand.

The Magazine Blueprint is an independently published book about independent publishing ⚡️ and is available now at themagazineblueprint.com


The ambitious trio behind Azeema Magazine on empowering Middle Eastern and North African women

“We aim to be not just a magazine, but a platform for these women so their voices can be heard and shared, with the hope that it will empower and inspire women of colour to embrace their identities and cultures.”

That's the idea behind Azeema, a magazine exploring “strength and femininity” of women from the MENA region and women of colour. The magazine's three editors recently talked with It's Nice That, revealing their ambitions and discussing their recent second issue.


Lagom revises its digital content strategy

Print vs digital is a funny little battle that indie print publishers face. What do you put online if you're a print-first magazine? Can you reach and entice new print readers by making your content available online? Does it make sense to produce digital-only content to compliment the print magazine?

Recently, Elliot and Samantha from Lagom took the decision to stop creating online-only features and post only their print content online. I asked Elliot why.

“Sam and I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about how we run Lagom, and although ultimately the end product is a printed magazine, the majority our workload is actually ‘other stuff’ — logistics, planning, liaison with partners and stockists and printers and distributors, marketing, that sort of thing. 

“And when we talk about marketing, we're really talking about everything we put out digitally: content for the website, social media posts, newsletters. As well as (hopefully) driving people to buy the magazine, all of that content that you put out there has to reinforce the story of your brand, and the message you're trying to spread. 

“We reached a point where we realised that we were spending  loads of time and effort putting out posts for the site and social channels that just didn't really reflect the quality of the magazine; we were just putting it out there because apparently ‘that's what you have to do’ when you have a product, right? 

“Well, no. And it goes against the entire message the magazine represents, too. We're a tiny team—it's literally just the two of us—and this change is us attempting to work smarter, for us and for the magazine itself.”

For more insight into the decision, read the announcement blog post →

Lagom discount!

A discount just for Coverage readers ❤️

Editors Elliot and Samantha have been super generous in offering Coverage readers 25% off all Lagom issues and subscriptions.

Use the discount code COVERAGE25

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