Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Everything You Know About Magazine Covers Is Wrong.

...at least that's what seasoned publishing exec Steve Blacker says, who wrote a fabulous and acute study of magazine covers that I pulled from MinOnline.

There's been a nice healthy amount of magazine-focused stories lately, and this is a great lesson for magazine editors-to-be and really, all creative types, editorial or visual.

Some highlights:

1. The more time spent working, planning, and strategizing on a cover, the better it will be. Too many editors put their covers together at the last moment. Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Kate White, who will celebrate her 10th anniversary in August, plans her covers a year in advance.

4. The cover image. You should be constantly testing "out of the box": think the Esquire legend George Lois; think cover images. To test the "same old" will just replicate the "same old" in sales. If something seems too "out there," then do an "in market" test in 30% of the country.

6. Are you overwhelming the buyer with too many cover lines? Research has shown that crowded covers are often stated as the reason an impulse buyer did not purchase a current issue.

8. Is your editor-in-chief the best person to be orchestrating the creation of your cover? Many top editors are not top cover creators, nor cover-line writers. Why not bring in a George Lois, Milton Glaser, or Steve Frankfurt? Have them produce some alternate covers and test them in market.

The bottom line? Covers are supposed to sell the magazine. So why aren't we working harder on them?

And an even better question: Why aren't we considering the same strategies for magazine websites?

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