8 episodes

The world of publishing in digital and analog form changes underneath us seemingly every day. Sorting out the flux is regular host Glenn Fleishman, the owner and editor of The Magazine. With a rotating set of co-hosts, the Periodicalist will explore breaking events and long-term changes in publishing, whether periodicals, print books, ebooks, or one-off projects. Produced by Aperiodical LLC.

The Periodicalis‪t‬ Glenn Fleishman

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

The world of publishing in digital and analog form changes underneath us seemingly every day. Sorting out the flux is regular host Glenn Fleishman, the owner and editor of The Magazine. With a rotating set of co-hosts, the Periodicalist will explore breaking events and long-term changes in publishing, whether periodicals, print books, ebooks, or one-off projects. Produced by Aperiodical LLC.

    8: The Neverending Story with Tom Standage (The Periodicalist)

    8: The Neverending Story with Tom Standage (The Periodicalist)

    Tom Standage is the digital editor of the Economist, responsible for its appearance in many electronic forms: web, native apps, digital audio, and more. Tom also regularly writes fascinating non-fiction titles that teach us about the present through the lens of the past, such as The Victorian Internet about the business and culture of telegraphy and Writing on the Wall, about the first 2,000 years of social networking.

    Host Glenn Fleishman spoke with Tom about finishability, completism, and the raging endless river of content. We also discuss the reasoning behind the Economist's new bite-sized daily Espresso app, pulling back from blogs, and the importance of audio — both podcasts and the professionally read-aloud versions of every article.

    The Periodicalist is an irregularly produced series looking for a sponsor to help underwrite regular production of episodes. We would love to find a partner that wants to feature the podcast as part of their larger efforts at looking at the future of publishing: listen@periodicalist.com

    • 41 min
    7: Episode IV: A New Hope (The Periodicalist)

    7: Episode IV: A New Hope (The Periodicalist)

    Jason Snell just left his editorial career of 20 years, most of it spent at IDG, and most of that at Macworld magazine. He's happily retooling his professional life to meet his interests: expanding The Incomparable network of pop-culture podcasts; launching Six Colors, his editorial site featuring reviews and reporting about technology, centered around Apple; and co-hosting the Clockwise and Upgrade podcasts on Relay.fm. He tells us about rebooting and starting new things.

    Glenn Fleishman, your loyal host of The Periodicalist, is shutting down The Magazine after 18 months of ownership and trying to make it thrive. He's learned a lot that he shares in this episode. He's also recently put The New Disruptors podcast on hiatus after nearly two years of weekly episodes, when sponsorship flagged. Glenn talks about the joy of ending things when the time comes, and some of his thoughts about the future.

    Jason and Glenn spend the first half of this episode reviewing why periodicals, including the IDG empire, couldn't escape the innovator's dilemma, and see the freight train of the Internet bearing down on them; and the second half, looking into the limitations of the current methods of reaching readers and listeners. Their conclusion: email newsletters and podcasts still have a lot to offer.

    The Periodicalist is an irregularly produced series looking for a sponsor to help underwrite regular production of episodes. We would love to find a partner that wants to feature the podcast as part of their larger efforts at looking forward at the future of publishing. Get in touch if you're interested at glenn@glennf.com.

    Show notes

    Pat McGovern was the beloved founder of IDG, genuinely well liked and respected. He died in early 2014.

    Glenn's long-time editor at the Economist, Tom Standage, wrote Writing on the Wall: Social Media — the First 2,000 Years (2013), which explains the remarkable predecessors of what we think of as modern social networks.

    This marvelous obituary of Carl Schlesinger, a New York Times typesetter, tells of his role in capturing the last night of hot-lead typesetting at the Times. He later became an amateur tap dancer.

    Subscribe to Lisa Schmeiser's newsletter, "So What, Who Cares?"

    Ben Thompson has built a nice business, Stratechery, on writing smart things and offering an affordable subscription to his analysis.

    The death of the Web/rise of apps news cycle featured the Wall Street Journal's Chris Mims' provocative "The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It"; a rejoinder at Quartz by Zach Steward, "The web is alive and well"; and John Gruber's dissection of Mims' story at Daring Fireball, "Native Apps Are Part of the Web."

    Marco Arment created the Overcast app for podcast discovery, subscriptions, and listening. I highly recommend it.

    Monument Valley is a lovely game that recently added an expansion set of levels.

    The Magazine adopted TypeEngine as its app in the summer; TypeEngine is an periodical publishing platform that pushes to custom apps.

    Windows 93 is an excellent parody of what Windows 95 would have looked like in 1993, constructed entirely in JavaScript.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    6: Publishing Cartoons (The Periodicalist)

    6: Publishing Cartoons (The Periodicalist)

    Cartooning (and more broadly illustration) has a long history on the Internet: people seem to have figured out how to send images in part to send comic strips and other cartoons to each other before LOLcat photos became dominant.

    Glenn Fleishman is joined this episode by Matt Bors, a long-time political cartoonist and illustrator, a Pultizer finalist, the recipient of the presitigious Herblock Award for political cartooning. Matt is part of the team at Medium that is redefining online publishing, and is where he runs the section called The Nib.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    5: Curb Your Enthusiasm (The Periodicalist)

    5: Curb Your Enthusiasm (The Periodicalist)

    5: Curb Your Enthusiasm (The Periodicalist)

    Glenn Fleishman is joined by Jason Snell, the editorial director of IDG's consumer division and impresario of The Incomparable Radio Network, to talk about how publications can appeal to people who aren't the most obsessed about a topic. Cultivating a community of slightly interested people, who represent the largest potential audience segment, is hard to do.

    Sponsor: This podcast is made possible through the generous support of MailChimp, which is underwriting our first six episodes. MailChimp lets you manage email lists of any size. They also make hats for cats and dogs.

    Let us know what you think and your ideas for future shows: send email to listen@periodicalist.com.

    Show notes

    Jason has a rich background in experimenting with web sites and early content-management tools.

    Jason started the short-fiction online magazine Intertext in 1991.
    He was also one of the folks behind Teevee.org.
    Jason created a version of TeeVee run by NetCloak.
    TidBITS was fed from a FileMaker database.
    Glenn once helped try to put the Yale course catalog online (in 1990), and Prodigy was a reasonable suggestion as a place to host it.

    Film.com was incubated by Glenn's first Internet company, and later purchased by Real Networks. (The domain was sold at some point to MTV.)

    Back in the day, subscription revenue had high margins for a few reasons:

    Captive market for advertising (no other places to advertise).
    Second-class periodical mail was cheap.
    Newsstand prices weren't unreasonable for single issues.
    The publication cycle used to be frenzied as one approached the date (weekly, monthly, etc.).

    Jason describes changing from a punctuated cycle to a continuous one.

    Originally there was separate print and web staff.
    The Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer had this odd joint venture run by the Times that handled the web side for both.
    Wired Digital was run and owned separately from Wired magazine for eight years.
    Glenn: "A blog is a ravening maw that demands to be fed." Jason: "The process monster will eat a month's worth of food in a day."

    Glenn helped produce the 1991 Time magazine man-of-the-year cover.

    Jason and Glenn both came from backgrounds involving enthusiasm, whether professional, consumer, or personal.

    The gadget sites might have set the tone for how news sites developed.

    Gizmodo posted constantly.
    Posting all your stories at once, one time doesn't work.
    You have to spread out posts across a day.
    But that creates a medium in which "enthusiasm for a subject is required on some level."
    Dozens of stories every day.
    The old value proposition for publications was based on yield. You paid a small amount of money and got a thick bunch of stuff, only some of which was interesting to you.

    New York Times Innovation report was leaked, maybe strategically.

    The current approach drowns out those with mild interest.

    Yahoo Tech's launch caused tech writers to roll their eyes, but it's aimed at a general audience.

    Jason walked away from comic books, but returned in recent years. But no site is focused around the casual visitor who wants to know what happened in the lst month: "we roll stories onto the site, and roll them right off."

    Where is the revenue pipe for making a site that is casual? Compared to a magzine that was general in focus but appealed to narrower and broader audiences at once.

    Publishers love:

    People who come all the time.
    Those who have a specific need and come and find a single page.
    Glenn has three examples of publications that may fit a more casual, but interested audience:

    TidBITS has a long-running weekly mailing list that grew into a web site, but its mailing list continues to remain very important. Take Control Books as a division of the publication is outside the churn…

    • 1 hr 6 min
    4: Have Words, Will Travel: Freelancing (The Periodicalist)

    4: Have Words, Will Travel: Freelancing (The Periodicalist)

    Modern publications — print, born digital, and hybrids — survive typically with a small amount of staff and small to large armies of wordsmiths for hire. In this episode, co-hosts Glenn Fleishman of The Magazine and Jane Friedman and Manjula Martin of Scratch magazine talk the freelance life with guest Jen A. Miller, a successful technology, medical, and running reporter. Can people make a living as a freelancer? And what’s the different between a freelance writer and a freelance reporter? Have rates really not gone up at some publications for 30 or more years? And much more.

    Sponsor: This podcast is made possible through the generous support of MailChimp, which is underwriting our first six episodes. MailChimp lets you manage email lists of any size. They also make hats for cats and dogs.

    Let us know what you think and your ideas for future shows: send email to listen@periodicalist.com.

    Show notes

    How has freelancing changed recently?

    Growing realization that most high-quality reporting is done in-house
    Newspapers had 25% or more profit margins, which allowed for:

    A huge staff
    Ability to fund investigative journalism
    Relied on stringers who were spread across the country/world
    Freelancing is on-demand and is often paid a better hourly wage than in-house staff

    Big publications have stringers do some news reporting nowadays

    Taken to court

    Tasini v. New York Times
    National Geographic lawsuit against photographers
    Contracts now insist on perpetual electronic rights

    First North American Serial Rights

    Worthwhile to buy non-exclusivity

    When you aren’t an employee, the employer is not obligated to take care of you

    Pay rates for online work is now much less

    Jen’s Notes from a Hired Pen
    Check the per hour rate
    Jen’s best paying client is 50 cents a word
    Newbies tend to work for lower rates
    See yourself as a premium brand
    Be sure to define your terms!

    Newbies are getting social media/content marketing jobs

    Is freelancing now more marketing than writing?

    Ethics

    New York Times Ethics Guide
    Use common sense and take questions to your editor
    Protocol with accepting freebies and gifts
    ACA/Obamacare’s effect on freelancers

    Now guaranteed coverage, if you can pay
    As a freelancer, you are starting a company of one
    Today’s high student loan debt is a major issue
    Are many publications open with their pay rates?

    Rise of digital publications

    Yahoo News
    The Atlantic’s Quartz
    Vox
    The Intercept
    Grantland
    Bleacher Report
    “Don’t save the newspaper, save the news”

    The CIO.com gig taught Jen that:

    Her major selling point was being proficient at concise and clear copy
    Passion projects can be funded by other types of writing
    How to specialize?

    Start by finding your niche
    Community driven by the internet age
    Start with something you already know, but with an edge
    Art of Nonconformity

    Kathleen Tinkel co-produced a fax newsletter for years, MacPrePress, that was extremely valuable and lucrative

    The Information by Jessica Lessin

    Your blog can be your calling card and an important platform

    How to keep up with “the next thing”?

    Integrate the global with the specific

    Should we get a degree in journalism/writing?

    Final thoughts: Make your own path and don’t go into debt

    How do freelancers get paid?

    Who Pays Writers
    Katie Lane episode of the New Disruptors
    Deposit your checks
    Consider taking a deposit at the beginning of the project
    Vet publications and their paying history
    ASJA

    • 1 hr 17 min
    3: Perils and Delights of Self-Publishing (The Periodicalist)

    3: Perils and Delights of Self-Publishing (The Periodicalist)

    Publishing your own work has never been easier, but easy is a relative term as co-hosts Glenn Fleishman and Matthew Amster-Burton discuss. Glenn recently produced a hardcover book with ebook and print-on-demand editions. Matthew has a series of ebooks underway. The two have both worked with conventional publishers in the past. The devil is in the many thousands of details: one wrong move and countless hours can be wasted.

    Sponsor: This podcast is made possible through the generous support of MailChimp, which is underwriting our first six episodes. MailChimp lets you manage email lists of any size. They also make hats for cats and dogs.

    Let us know what you think and your ideas for future shows: send email to listen@periodicalist.com.

    Show notes

    The Magazine: The Book ultimately appeared in three editions:

    Hardcover
    Ebook
    Createspace (print on demand)

    The fork is your enemy.

    Matthew's story

    Started with Hungry Monkey
    Turned rejection into self-publishing
    Fan base from Spilled Milk Podcast
    Freelance food writer

    Things publishers consider:

    No guarantee of sales
    Niche market is tricky and risky
    Profit and loss

    The Magazine: The Book:

    Subscribers help as patrons
    Kickstarter lessons learned: long post-mortem published on Medium
    Dance troupe analogy

    Know your audience:

    Don't overestimate the size of your audience
    Don't underestimate the size of your audience

    Non-perishable books.

    Why crowdfund and not self-fund?

    Copyediting expenses
    Cover design expenses
    Vanity project
    Is there another way?
    To gauge interest
    Pre-sales are awesome
    Looks are pretty damn important

    Pages from Apple is pretty decent.

    The quality of bookiness

    Codex
    Type
    Interface to words and thoughts

    Project Gutenberg

    Budget needs to cover

    Copyediting
    Developmental editing
    Cover design
    Interior design
    Software

    Glenn's tip: Choose the correct trim size!

    Forks galore!

    Matthew and Glenn's Saga of Unintended Budget Consequences

    Print budget additionally needs to cover:

    Printing (for offset)
    Shipping (for offset). Note: International shipping will cost a million dollars.
    Startup costs (for some print-on-demand providers)
    Additional cover and interior design
    ISBNs (may also need for ebook)
    ISBNs image (EPS, typically)

    Kickstarter price discrimination

    Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools
    Tidbits Publishing
    Rewards

    Glenn's thoughts on The Magazine: The Book, Year 2.

    Amazon's inertia, power and domination

    Createspace
    Fulfillment by Amazon
    Kindle Store

    Thoughts on distribution

    Print on demand option
    Ingram Spark

    Glenn's New Disruptors podcast episode with Ada's Bookstore owner

    Matthew's new ebook: Child Octopus

    Book thoughts: Matthew vs. Glenn

    For immortality, choose wisely.

    • 1 hr 5 min

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