Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thanks to Gillian Bishop, AMPA's freelance graphic designer, for this beautiful holiday greeting

Monday, December 20, 2010

Does Your Magazine Have A Unique Selling Proposition?

by Allison Onyett

Last week I came up with the idea of purchasing magazine subscriptions for a few friends and close family members for Christmas. I liked the idea of giving an affordable gift that they would receive all year long. My only problem was choosing which magazines to subscribe to. Most subscriptions can be purchased online (making it an easy gift to give for those long distance relatives), but to get some initial ideas I headed to a local bookstore to browse through their wide selection of publications.

There were so many options at my finger tips – especially for the fashion lover or teenager in my life. Part of me started to wonder how some of these magazines are able to make a profit considering the endless options to choose from. How can you tell one magazine apart from the other, since they all seem to offer the same regurgitated information? After purchasing a grab-bag of monthly issues, which will hopefully satisfy the recipients and cater to their unique interests, I began to think of how saturated the industry is. Would a new publication even be noticed amongst the hordes of already popular issues on the stand? What kind of market share would they get?

Forever the optimist, I do believe that if your long term goal is to launch your own publication (which mine is), don’t get discouraged but keep in mind that you need to have a “unique selling proposition” (USP) – a new angle or concept that is difficult to duplicate so that you can successfully penetrate the market, and reach out to potential investors. This isn’t easy to come by, and takes some serious business planning, market research and creative ingenuity.

For more information on creating your own unique selling proposition so that your cover or on-line publication will catch the attention of potential subscribers I highly recommend taking some marketing or entrepreneurship courses, searching the web and talking to friends and family about your ideas. What would make your target market choose your publication over all the others? Why is your magazine so special (besides the fact that you’ve slaved over it for the past month, creating the perfect edition)? One website that I noticed was – I felt that I got a really good overview of what a USP is and I enjoyed their excellent examples. They’re also certainly not the only website out there: as soon as I searched Google for some information, my screen was flooded with an endless stream of websites dedicated to the topic.

So, to all you entrepreneurs in the publishing industry, don’t become disheartened the next time you walk past a newsstand. I hold firm that it is possible to create a compelling USP, and look forward to seeing some new, original covers adoring local magazine stands – and potentially someday my own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

City of Edmonton Book Prize Increased to $10,000!

It is a momentous day for Edmonton’s literary community as the Writers Guild of Alberta and the City of Edmonton proudly announce an award increase for the 2011 City of Edmonton Book Prize. With sponsorship from the Edmonton Arts Council and Audreys Books the $2000 prize has now been increased to $10,000, making it one of the largest city book prizes in Canada.

This marks a significant achievement in Edmonton’s 10-year cultural plan, The Art of Living, which aimed to increase the size and profile of the book prize, making it comparable with other major city book prizes. You can access the The Art of Living by visiting the publication section of the Edmonton Arts Council’s website (

For more details, visit:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MagaScene: Story Slam, Mag Redesign & Social Media seminars, 20% off Promo + more Events, News & Jobs (Issue 78/Dec 2010)


Hope You Like Slammin' Too

Q&A Reveals the Art of Story Slamming


20% off Subscriptions AMPA Holiday Promotion

I Heart Alberta Arts & Lit Check Out the New Webpage

Alberta Views Website Redesigned


Edmonton Story Slam December 15 & January 19

The Art of Redesign January 19

Social Media Fundamentals January 26 & 27

Edmonton Story SLAM OFF February 16


National Magazine Awards deadline January 14

Alberta Literary Awards deadline December 31

Oilweek's Class of Rising Stars deadline December 31

FreeFall Prose and Poetry Contest deadline December 31


Editorial Intern, Where Calgary

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hope You Like Slammin’ Too

We knew that magazine editors were a diverse and talented bunch—but imagine trying to fit Associate Editor/Writer/Children’s Book Author/Champion Story Slammer on your business card. We recently discovered the many talents of Omar Mouallem, associate editor of Avenue Edmonton, and were particularly intrigued by this “slamming” thing (more on the children’s book and rapping later). You may have heard of it: brave souls test their five-minute stories in front of a lively crowd and a panel of judges.
The upcoming Edmonton Story Slam, December 15th at the Haven Social Club, will be the last of the year leading up to the SLAM OFF! finals February 16, 2011. We asked Omar to enlighten us on the art of slamming, and how it relates to his career in the magazine industry:

MagaScene: How did you become involved in Story Slam?
Omar Mouallem: I just showed up at the Haven Social Club and signed up, put five dollars in a hat, told a story, walked away with a wad of cash. Sure beats the editorial process of pitching, revising and waiting until publication for payment.
MS: Could you offer further insight on what takes place at a Slam?
If you've ever listened to The Moth podcast or radio hour, it's quite similar. It honours traditional, oral storytelling. No props are allowed and the only other rules are it can't be plagiarized or previously published, and it has to be under 5 minutes or you'll lose points from the judges, who are selected randomly from the crowd. The stories can be fiction, non-fiction or a little bit of both. Sometimes there's a theme, like when the society partners with a festival or publication, but mostly it's a medley of genres and personalities.
There are two story slam clubs, Edmonton Story Slam, every third Wednesday of the month at the Haven Social Club, and Blue Chair Slam, every second Wednesday of the month at the Blue Chair Cafe.
MS: How has your writing/editing career benefited from slamming? In other words, do you find similarities between magazine writing/editing and slamming?
I think the strongest stories, not just on stage but in print, are the ones written for the ear. The ones with good rhythm and cadence, and only use pronounceable words. Story slam forces you to do that, if you want to get the best reaction from your audience. I've learned to love simple oral techniques like alliteration in my writing again. It's also taught me to be more relentlessly sacrificial with my writing in an attempt to get a story down to 5 minutes or less, which is about 800 words, depending on how fast you can tell a story.

Omar Mouallem is the special guest host at the upcoming story slam. You’ll also find for sale at the event copies of his new book Q Without U, a juxtaposition of children's literature with playful illustrations by Josh Holinaty and a storyline intended to improve kids' vocabularies. Oddly enough, inside the book you’ll find the unique code to Omar’s downloadable rap album of the same title, but not intended for kids at all. Intrigued? Learn more at

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alberta Views Wants Readers To Get Involved

by Andrea Cubala

It’s no mystery that readers feel a strong connection to their favourite magazines. To keep this bond strong, it is important that readers be provided the opportunity to access magazines easily and conveniently. A Magazines Canada podcast, on the topic of reaching readers, describes a part of the reader-magazine connection: “Consumers access magazines on their own terms. They read their magazines when they’re ready. They read their magazines when—and where—they want to.” To learn more, watch their informative video.

In our web-driven society, the opportunities for magazines to enhance their accessibility are sky-high, and publishers truly are reaching. Just take a look around (on the internet, of course). How many magazine websites are under construction, or have even gone fully digital? Alberta Views is the perfect example of this new trend.

Recently, Alberta Views restructured its website to a digital-friendly version. With much more of its content now online, the multi-award winning magazine is hoping to increase its readers’ involvement. New and exciting features include a blog, a digital preview of the latest issue, a “Meet the Minister” page, and a “Brews & Views” section to keep up with the latest happenings. Each of the ten issues (per year) focuses on the social, political, and artistic views of Albertans. So if you’re an Albertan and you’re itching to contribute your views—whether they’re feature stories, book reviews, photos, or contest submissions—don’t hesitate. See the contributor’s guidelines and get involved!

To learn more about Alberta Views magazine, in the convenience of your own home (or anywhere, really), visit

20% off Subscriptions - Holiday Promotion!

Avoid the long line-ups, save those precious dollars, and cross a few off the list early this year. Take advantage of our holiday promotion and receive 20% off your subscription to any of our member magazines.

It's easy. Scroll through our listing of member magazines - there's sure to be a publication that's the perfect match for your loved ones. Simply "click here to subscribe," and don't forget the promotion code Holiday2010. Et voila - your shopping is done!

For all of your hard work, we'll even send you a special little gift to keep for yourself. These cheeky and cheerful handmade magnets from Calgary artist Paul Abrey are our gift to you:

Thoughtful and good-looking
Good in bed

Flippin' Sweet
We've got issues

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Heart Alberta Arts & Lit

There are a handful of longtime AMPA member magazines which we fondly refer to as our "arts/lits". These are literary and visual arts magazines, typically published in a press-run of around 500 copies per issue, lovingly and arduously assembled by a predominantly volunteer-based team. In other words, magazines published by people with a love for words who work their butts off to share those words with you!

In an effort to help promote their hard work (and this is just the first step) we've launched an Arts & Literary Promotion -- postcards and a website to start spreading the word about these unique and diverse magazines produced here in Alberta. At you'll find descriptions and distribution details for five magazines: dandelion, filling Station, FreeFall, Other Voices and Prairie Journal.

Better yet, subscribe to any of these five magazines at, enter the discount code "artslit" and receive 30% off your one year subscription! Plus, we reimburse the full subscription price to the magazine, so they don't lose a penny while you save.

Basically what we're saying is that Alberta offers some of Canada's most innovative arts & literary magazines. Each offers a unique perspective, from eloquent inspirational to edgy experimental. Share in their passion for the creative. Explore Alberta's arts and literary magazines:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Publishers Weigh In on Digital Mags

A recent post from FOLIO that I found interesting:

"Ten Years In, How Satisfied Are Publishers with Digital Magazines?
By Matt Kinsman

As the digital edition industry near 10 years of age, Nxtbook Media recently wrapped a survey called "Digital Editions: The State of the Industry," which polled 233 publishers on their overall satisfaction with digital editions as audience tools and revenue generators, and how mobile apps and tablets will influence their strategy going forward.
Interestingly, Nxtbook concluded from the results that there is great latent potential in digital magazines from the perspective of the publisher. In terms of priorities, Nxtbook believes, publishers are more focused on increasing circulation for digital magazines and selling advertising more effectively into the format, than they are on apps and mobile solutions.
When it comes to the circulation of their digital magazines, about 40 percent reported modest to great satisfaction. On the other hand, 38 percent were somewhat dissatisfied while 22 percent were quite dissatisfied.
However, b-to-b publishers seem more pleased with digital magazines at this point than their consumer counterparts, with 50 percent saying they are somewhat to greatly pleased with their digital circulation.
Still, the majority of respondents believe digital magazines remain an untapped circulation resource but aren't sure how to capitalize on it, with 59 percent agreeing that, "I'm confident there are many more digital magazine readers out there but I don't know how to reach them" while just 3.3 percent said, "I believe that our digital magazine audience has very little room to grow."