Recently, our MPub students had the chance to share their Magazine Media projects with industry professionals and classmates of the publishing community. The three teams presented their plans to a panel of industry experts: Jessie Johnson, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Asparagus Magazine; Anicka Quin, Editorial Director of Western Living and Vancouver Magazine; and Tania Lo, CEO & Co-founder of Tandem Innovation Group. The three panelists gave their feedback and advice on the different aspects of the team’s business plans including their mission, audience, competitors, business goals, marketing channels, and sustainability strategy.
The first team was The Modern Local, a digital publication that encourages readers to live local and connect with their neighbourhoods by sharing stories about community issues, arts and culture, and activities. As an online lifestyle magazine for a community-minded generation, their mission is to serve readers exclusively in the tri-cities: Langley, New Westminster, and Maple Ridge. The panelists praised them for their creative tagline, “Find the good life close to home” and for their workshop idea of creating a “best of local” award show to cultivate sponsorships.
Next to present was Spoil, a sumptuous web and print magazine showcasing food and cooking culture from across the world. Spoil is committed to fostering curiosity, connection, empathy, and diversity through a deep and nuanced passion for food. In particular, the panelists were impressed by the team’s chic design and quality of their magazine, noting that it was “delicious to look at.”
Last to present was Sprouts, an accessible hub of trusted information for parents with research-based content that contains actions and activities to help include kids in the conversation about the world we live in. Sprouts aims to curate actions and activities to do together to help kids learn and shape their future. Specifically, Sprouts was applauded for their content creation and audience personas.
The presentations allowed the teams to showcase their months of hard work to the publishing community and a panelist of industry professionals. Thank you to everyone who joined, we are looking forward to seeing you again for next year’s Magazine Media Presentations.
Every year, graduate students of the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University present their fall book projects in a format that instructor Scott Steedman describes as “sales conference meets thesis defences with a bit of Dragon’s Den and Canada’s Got Talent thrown in.” The public is invited to attend, though the total audience doesn’t usually exceed thirty or forty people. The students’ presentations are critiqued by three panelists from the book publishing industry. This year (2019), the panel included Vici Johnstone, publisher of Caitlin Press and Dagger Editions; Iolanda Millar, Account Manager, British Columbia, Yukon & Northern Territories at Manda Group; and Mike Leyne, editor at Figure 1 Publishing, in addition to operating a micro-press.
Below are the highlights of the presentation. Given that the majority of books the students conceptualize include real-life authors with real-life careers, Publishing @ SFU has scrubbed all author names from this recap article. Likewise, we can’t display the cover art for the concept books for the same reason.
Please note: all references to real literary organizations, awards, and world instances are entirely made-up/fictitious, created to simulate a “real world” industry experience in book publishing for the Master of Publishing students.
RISE: A Concept Imprint of Canadian Book Publisher, Greystone Books
Katia, Amy, Vishakha, Lakota, and Melissa made up the team at RISE, a concept imprint of of Greystone Books. According to their printed catalogue, required in both the MPub’s educational setting as well as in the real world of the book publishing industry, RISE endeavours to “bring exciting emerging voices to the forefront on pressing societal issues.” They remain steadfast to Greystone’s environmentally conscientious production mandate. RISE publishes accessible non-fiction titles about feminism, climate action, LGBTQ topics, immigration, race, and celebrating differences. We champion underrepresented perspectives and often introduce humour and hope even when there may seem to be no light.
Their concept books included:
Where Are You Really From?: 10 Cultures. 10 Lives. 10 Canadians, an anthology of experiences by ten young, first- and second-generation Canadians edited by a Canadian journalist who also anchors for CBC News as well as award-winning Canadian poet and short story writer.
Be Gay, Do Comedy: A Memoir of Getting the Hell Out of Your Small Town, written by an award-winning Canadian comedienne. This book was presented as an intimate, hilarious exploration of growing up queer in a small town and coming into her own in the big city in this unforgettable memoir.
Swipe Wrong: Hookups, Heartbreaks, and the Horrors of Modern Dating: hilarious online dating horror stories from the creator of the viral social media account who also launched a YouTube Channel and her own line of swag.
Earth is Enough, a personal collection of ecopoetry that unearths heartbreak and hope in the wake of the 2013 Alberta floods. While in this case the author wasn’t a real person, RISE created a stand-in author with a history of writing poetry, some award-winning, who would have had a direct link to the natural disaster that bases this book.
Aranea: A Concept Imprint of Canadian Book Publisher, House of Anansi Press
Kankana, Emily, Lauren, Mahima, and Nadya make up Aranea Press, home to established and emerging authors experimenting with their voice. Through their compelling stories, they focus a constructive lens on the toughest sociocultural issues facing young Canadians today and invite their readers to learn more about our national community.
Their concept books included:
Fit to be Tied, the first novel by a very accomplished nonfiction writer of Polish and Ojibwe descent that tackles the ongoing practice of forced sterilization of Indigenous women. Borrowing from true stories and writing in the haunting voice of a victim-turned-survivor, the author brings to life the insidious crimes perpetrated in past and present time.
Women Aren’t Funny (And Other Jokes): Comic Takes on Cultural Calamities from Canada’s Funniest Femmes is an anthology including ten Canadian comedians who explore contemporary culture, intersectionality, and how women are taking over—both onstage and off. This book is edited by the co-creator of a hit female-fronted sketch comedy series and includes a foreword by a popular late-night talk show host(ess).
Splintered Spirits is a graphic novel written by an award-winning Oji-Cree poet about Dakwaa, an Oji-Cree Indigiqueer teen, is at his wits’ end being bullied by his peers who don’t understand his identity. A chance encounter with a two-spirit Cree Elder helps him find his place in the all-but-forgotten history of two-spirit peoples across Turtle Island.
Mending from Within is a novel appealing to Millennial and Generation Z readers’ interested in zero-waste and anti-fast fashion ethics. The author is recognized by her works in The Walrus and Refinery29 for her sustainable designs and activism against the fast-fashion industry.
Aisling Press: A Concept Imprint of Canadian Book Publisher, Biblioasis
Ryann, Amy, Anastasia, Ashley, Hailey, and Paige created Aisling Press to “provide an inclusive and supportive environment for writers to engage their audiences in broad conversations about contemporary social issues such as feminism, Indigenous rights, and mental health.”
Their concept books included:
Unmasked: My Ancestor’s Spirit. His Transformation Mask. Our Fight for Repatriation. This memoir of an Indigenous elder contextualizes the controversy around colonial theft of Kwakiutl culture and the subsequent repatriation process. With an 8 page insert containing 12 photos, this paperback book saw sales potential in the trade and educational market.
Herland: A Graphic Novel is an adapted Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s vision of a feminist utopia come to life (see the original here). This new edition features beautiful illustrations from the illustrator of a popular, Canadian graphic novel released in 2019. It would be the first in the Aisling Press series, Feminist Graphic Classics.
Comeback Polka is a novel about a young woman who stumbles across a busker with an accordion at Toronto’s Bloor-Yonge subway station—who turns out to be an old music teacher of hers.
Waken is a powerful, must-read poetry debut by a Tsilhqot’in writer, editor, and storyteller that addresses issues plaguing Indigenous youth, from homelessness and addiction to the fight to keep tradition alive. With a striking cover, this book certainly jumps off the shelf.
Please join us for the 2019 SFU MPub Fall Publishing Project Presentations
The students, faculty, and staff of the SFU Master of Publishing program invite you to attend the final presentations for the Fall Publishing Project, on Friday, November 29, at Harbour Centre, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Our three publishing groups — Aisling, Aranea, and Rise — have been hard at work for seven weeks, preparing their business plans and their first list of trade books. On November 29, they will present their imprints, title lists, and marketing strategies to a panel of consulting publishers, in the company of colleagues and guests.
Audience members are also encouraged to ask questions and offer comments or encouragement to the groups, following each panel review.
Please join us!
Time & Location
Friday, Nov 29, 2019 1:00pm-4:00pm Room 1700, SFU Harbour Centre 515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver
Reception to follow, in third-floor lounge (room 3010)
Best wishes, Scott Steedman & the 2019 MPub Cohort
The PUB 431 exhibition explores different facets of memory while investigating the formats of publication and the act of publishing itself, to explore how form and content can affect the experience of reading the material at hand. The exhibition features unique student projects on the theme of memory.
Nostalgic candy will be provided to enhance the experience while supplies last.
It’s been around a month now since the classwork portion of our Master of Publishing degree wrapped up, and now that I’ve had some time away from the intensiveness that was the last few weeks of school it seems like a good time to talk about the Media/Tech Project.
In the fall semester we devoted six weeks of our lives to starting fictitious publishing companies complete with a detailed list of books. But what to do in the second semester of a publishing degree?
In the spring, the program moved away from books to focus on media and technology (in the past, the program focused more heavily on magazines). As the publishing industry changes, it has become clear that in order to for publishers to remain relevant, they must understand how technology impacts all aspects of their business. It’s not enough to focus on print and traditional forms of publishing. We have to look ahead to what publishing could become. And so, our class became Media/Tech Project guinea pigs.
While we started off the semester working on the Media project and finished with the Tech project, for all intents and purposes they were the same thing—the second was simply an extension of the first, which meant the project ran the entire course of the semester.
On the second day of class after the holiday break, we were divided into our groups and told to form media companies based on direction we pulled out of a hat. One group was assigned B2B (they pivoted and become NFP2NFP instead), another group got arts and crafts, and the final group pulled politics. From there, the groups were tasked with building a media entity from the ground up.
How do you build a brand? How do you become financially viable? How do you grow sustainably? What gap in the market are you meeting? What will your product be?
In our groups, we began to answer these questions and sketch out our business plans. Nearly every week, groups met with instructors to pitch their updated businesses, which evolved as we completed more research and received more feedback. At the beginning of the project, it was stressed that our start-ups would need to be agile, and that became our mantra as the semester progressed and the work piled up.
And every week, we were given additional pieces to complete. Brand guidelines. Marketing and advertising plans. Financials. Websites. Podcasts. The list went on.
Halfway through the project we were divided into additional groups with specific skills (this is where the Tech project came in). The Web Development, Analytics, Media Production, and Ebook teams provided focused support to their media entities following a series of mini lectures aimed at providing them with hands-on skills. Of course, all students were invited to attend the other teams’ lessons.
And just like the fall book project, we made it through to the end of the semester, presenting our launch-ready companies to panels of industry guests. Some of the most rewarding feedback we received was that our final companies were even pitch-worthy to potential buyers. And some of the best presentations I’ve ever seen were on that final day as well: one group even “recorded” the beginning of a podcast as part of their presentation.
While the Media/Tech project will undoubtedly look very different by next spring as our field continues to evolve and the skills that are in demand change, what I hope future classes also take away from the project is the importance of being flexible and ability to find creative solutions.
While it may be pitched as the most intimidating and largest of projects, looking back on it from the other side, I can assure that the MPub Book Project is more than manageable. Future cohorts take note: you will make it through the next six weeks.
The Book Project is a compilation of everything we learned throughout the semester, and so nearly everything you do in the project has already been taught in class. It’s a way of putting things into practice in a mock real world scenario. While the eighteen or so assignments spread out over six weeks sound impossible at first, remember that you are sharing the workload with five or six highly competent classmates, and most of the assignments build on the previous assignments. These assignments are not marked but rather are opportunities for feedback from industry professionals and course instructors who lecture twice a week throughout the project.Read more
The 2016 cohort has now dispersed to begin the personal projects or internships that they will be writing their project reports on. Students are spread across Canada, working at small presses like Arsenal Pulp and Anvil, large houses like Scholastic and Penguin Random House, literary and lifestyle magazines, content marketing agencies, and non-profits that are building new models and technology for publishing. But before they left, the cohort presented their magazine projects to their classmates and some members of the publishing community. This year the magazine project was combined with the tech project, to expand upon the digital possibilities of marrying print and tech, and to explore the future of magazine publishing in a digital world.
The groups presented to three panelists: Anicka Quin, Editorial Director of Western Living and Van Mag; Michal Kozlowski, Publisher of Geist; and Joanna Riquett, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Hayo Magazine. The three panelists weighed in on all aspects of the business plans and presentations, including the editorial tone and voice, circulation strategy, financial statements, and digital strategy.
The first magazine to present was Somata, a charmingly-offbeat food culture magazine that encourages you to “play with your food.” They kicked things off with a rousing game of “Mission Statement Mad Libs” which set the tone for their editorial style. They went into detail about their irreverent tone, events-based funding model, digital-first strategy, and in-depth social media plan in a lively presentation which included a PowerPoint that featured many gifs.
Next, Boundless, “the magazine for women wanderers” detailed how they planned to target backpackers as their main audience and differentiate themselves from other more luxury-focused travel magazines. They cited how millennials travel less often, but for longer periods of time, and crave immersive cultural experiences. While they are a print magazine, they have a thorough digital strategy, particularly with creating brand awareness on Instagram.
Lastly, START is a not-for-profit digital magazine that both serves and supports the emerging artist community in Canada. With a focus on art students, they provide an online space for a community of tomorrow’s artists to connect and communicate. Featuring webinars of art skills or career tips, spotlights on recent gallery openings, and a user submitted gallery of art, essays, classifieds, and events, START wants to be as indispensable to artists as sketchbooks.
The presentations made for a day full of entertainment and education, and each of the magazines illustrated the breadth of interest and experience of its group members, and of the MPub itself. This included the different ways publishers are using technology–from entirely digital first strategies to using social media to create brand engagement and awareness. And after the presentation, the cohort mingled with our valued industry guests, and looked towards bright futures in an evolving publishing landscape.
Join SFU’s Master of Publishing students as they present their final magazine media projects. This year we have combined the tech and magazine projects to expand upon the digital possibilities in marrying print and tech. Our students have created their own “maga” projects that explore the digital possibilities of magazine publishing today.
Friday, April 7th in room 2270 and running from 1:30 to 4:30.
Like, Tweet, Read: Exploratory Analyses of Social Media Data as an Indicator for Readership Behaviour in the Newspaper and Periodicals Industries
By Tilman Queitsch
MPub Project Report, 2014
Magazine and newspaper publishers benefit from readership studies conducted by large research organizations. They help publishing professionals keep track of readers’ habits and their competitors’ success. In most areas, surveys of readers and Internet users generate the findings that the publishing industry is interested in. In recent years, market research has developed a new approach combining such survey data with social media data. This approach offers new ways to analyze how social media audiences can be segmented, how readers choose between different media, how they use mobile devices, and how magazines or newspapers compare to their competitors.
Tackling each of these research scenarios, this report summarizes a series of analyses conducted at Vision Critical, a multinational market research technology company. By using basic functions in R, a freely available statistical programming language, the analyses show how this approach enriches results in a way that is useful for publishers.