With 2014 rapidly coming to an end, it seems fitting that we should take a moment to reflect on the magazine’s first year. In fact it seems almost unbelievable that the first issue of the magazine only came out in February this year.
In the last 12 months, the magazine has grown beyond our wildest dreams into something that we know has a viable future. Along with that has come a new challenge for us – dealing with people’s opinions about the magazine. In truth, Like the Wind was not started with an eye on the future, a business plan and an exit strategy. It started because we love magazines like Rouleur, the Ride Journal, Boneshaker and other independently published periodicals that inspire and move the readers that make up the niche group that they are written for. We simply wanted a magazine that did that for runners. So we created one.
With no publishing experience it really has been a case of learning by doing. Simon has no experience as an editor, and Julie had to learn how to use the software. This is an additional project from two busy people who just wanted to create something small and humble with what they had – not an overtly commercial enterprise.
We also had to work out how to make the magazine as environmentally friendly as possible – even buying the wrong envelopes, which couldn’t cope with torrential rain.
We know that the magazine is not perfect, and we’re doing our best to make it better with our limited resources.
One aspect of the magazine that has been discussed a couple of times online is the way in which we gather content. A recent blog post reviewing the magazine (coincidentally by one of the writers who features in issue #3) commented on “… the editorial policy of expecting bloggers to contribute for free”
This raises a point we have been thinking about quite a bit recently. When the first issue was ready to go to print, the only financial backing was our life savings. We spent every penny we had producing the magazine and hoped that enough copies would sell to recoup the costs. Thankfully they did.
With a policy of no advertising and no institutional backers, the decision was taken that no one contributing to the magazine would be paid. We are not paid. The sub-editor worked on the first issue for free and is now paid a token amount. The idea was that if the magazine broke even, all the profits would be given to charity – we thought that was the fairest way to do things. So far, 3 issues in, we haven’t yet broken even but the sale of merchandising is slowly getting us there.
It goes without saying that we are hugely grateful for all the people who have been and continue to be prepared to donate words or images and there was never any question of “expecting bloggers to contribute for free”. Everyone had a choice to get involved or not and the few people (one writer and one illustrator) who would have wanted to be paid were simply told that for now, that wasn’t possible. They were happy with that and in the future, if we can pay them we will.
We also believe, from the feedback that we have had from contributors, that many are simply happy to be involved in the project. We want to continue to give writers – whether they are bloggers, journalists, authors or have never written in any way for the public – a platform to share their stories and we want to continue to give readers the opportunity to read a variety of pieces from different writers.
As we get close to the start of 2015, we have to make a few decisions about the magazine. One of them is whether we are going to have some advertisements in LtW. This would help to pay for the print and would also mean that we could pay for some contributions. However we believe that the magazine benefits from keeping the advertising to content ratio as low as possible, so there is never going to be much ad revenue to go around.
So here we are, with the sound of Christmas songs all around, a slight panic about the lack of presents that we haven’t managed to buy and a magazine that we are really proud of. We have made mistakes. There are plenty of areas for improvement. But we have met some amazing people through the magazine and read some incredible stories. We are hugely excited about 2015 and the magazine developing in its second year.
To borrow Kai Brach‘s words: “Done is Beautiful”. Like the Wind is not perfect in any way, but it is out and read by thousands of people. We firmly believe that there’s space for more independently published magazines, if only someone has the courage/time/money to get involved.
Meanwhile, thank you to everyone who has contributed, critiqued, purchased and read what we have done – please keep doing those things so that Like the Wind can be the best it can possibly be – a magazine by runners, for runners
Simon and Julie