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MIA Blogger Returns: SPI Part I

qs0gghAfter seven long weeks of hibernation, I am finally reemerging to first catch up on what I have been up to and then get back to blogging about the intriguing industry of publishing that I am so earnestly seeking to be a part of. During the course of the past seven weeks I have been on a whirlwind ride of a deep and intensive immersion in the world of publishing. NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute was the most absorbing and wonderfully challenging experience, as evidenced by my lengthy stint away from my beloved blog. This is of course by and large my fault for not continuing to blog during the program. However, always the consummate perfectionist, I poured myself into the program and was completely disconnected from the outside world.

Though I regret my absence from my blog, I cannot begin to articulate what an incredible experience I had throughout the course of the program. We were lucky enough to have leaders in the magazine and book publishing industries take the time to come and impart some of their wisdom. It was, I must admit, a bit unnerving to be sat in the same room as Editor’s-in-Chief and Publishers of some of the most high-profile magazines and publishing houses in the industry. The most amazing thing was their willingness to be a part of the program and to invest their time in aspiring young professionals. It is a testament to their dedication to the essence of publishing and to their desire to ensure that the up and coming members of the publishing world are filled with the same passion that they have. Passion was the theme that ran throughout the six-week course. Credentials, experience, networking etc are all important elements, but it is the passion that we have for this industry that keeps it alive. To me it is incredible that an industry that touches people all over the world can be fueled on passion. As a reader, writer, and let’s face it, a bit of a romantic, this touches me.

It’s difficult to encapsulate in one blog post a six-week program that certainly included at least a semester’s worth of information, but I will attempt to give a good snapshot. In the interest of making this blog post a manageable read I am going to split the magazine and book sections into two posts, otherwise I will surely loose readers’ attentions along the way. The magazine program was a high-speed operation from day 1. It was certainly what I would call trial by fire. It was time for us to all show what we were made of as we set out to launch a new magazine in a mere three weeks. We were guided through this process by industry experts from editorial, marketing, publicity, web development, and finance who shed light on the complex world of magazine publishing. If we were magazine illiterate at the start of the program, we certainly had a new vocabulary to show off at the end, complete with acronyms such as CPM, P&L, FOB, and many others that at the start seemed like a foreign language.

As we sat in the freezing classroom in the historic Woolworth Building, publishing giants Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief of Martha Stewart Living, Michael Clinton, President, Marketing and Publishing Director of Hearst Magazines, Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire, and David Granger, Editor-in-Chief of Esquire, gave us a glimpse into that magical, glamorous world of magazine publishing and the behind the scenes actions that breathe life into the books each month. We were also fortunate enough to get to go on visits to magazines’ headquarters, and the foodie that I am I eagerly scrambled through the crowd of students to sign my name for the Bon Appetit visit. As I walked through the test kitchen where scents of pecorino risotto wafted through the air I was overcome by how surreal the whole experience was. We continued our tour through the art department where the creative gurus were deep in discussion about an upcoming issue and wanting to push the envelope with a certain design technique. We passed the Editor-in-Chief’s office where Adam Rapoport sat engaged in a meeting detailing his creative vision. We truly were in the midst of a magazine at work, seeing the heart and soul of the people who work tirelessly each month to create an exquisite issue that provides readers with ┬ámuch more than just incredible recipes.

Of course it was easy to get engrossed in all the wonderful presentations and tours, but there was the small nagging detail of that magazine we had to create in three weeks. I was selected as the Editor-in-Chief of my magazine group, a role that I was equally excited and terrified about. Falling in line with my love of food, I was in the food group and couldn’t have been happier. After many hours of brainstorming, bandying ideas back and forth we settled on creating a wine magazine. This would not be your typical wine magazine, however, this magazine would be for twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings that were interested in learning more about wine, but were put off by the snobby culture surrounding it. And thus, Genuwine: Wine Without the Snobbery was born. During the next three weeks I certainly got much less sleep than is advisable and may have forgotten to eat a meal or two. This may sound hyperbolic, but for anyone who has been a part of an intensive graduate program they know that they mean intensive.

It was the most challenging, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding project to see our amorphous idea come to life. We began with our name, mission statement, and reader as the foundation of our identity and then built the magazine from there. From writing articles and creating a design aesthetic to developing a publicity and marketing plan and creating an online and social media presence, and don’t forget the money side of things advertisers and finances, we created a full-fledged magazine that we were incredibly proud of. As I stood bleary-eyed and stomach-aflutter in Fed-Ex the night before presentations and watched our magazine emerge from the printer, I felt tears wet my cheeks. I will admit to being a sentimental person, but this experience truly warranted my tears. It was another surreal moment to actually see all the hard work and late nights come to fruition. What had started out as merely a vision dreamed up by 13 aspiring kids had somehow turned into a beautiful, tangible magazine.

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July 23, 2013 · 3:58 pm