Today more than ever publishers are looking for ways to save time and money in production. There are several obvious measures that can reduce cost and increase margins, however some solutions can be so sweeping that they jeopardize the integrity of the title, which in turn could tarnish your brand’s identity. Such sweeping changes may also require huge fixed costs and enhanced training, which could lead to a host of several tangible and intangible problems.

That said, there are a number of simple initiatives that can be easily adopted and can reduce costs significantly in the long run. Production manager Cheryl Magiera is constantly testing and tweaking methods that have produced significant savings for Time Out Chicago.

1. Avoid proofreading after you have submitted a press proof. As Magiera states, “Don’t treat your press proofs like a final galley.” Press proofs should be used to correct issues with color and layout, but not copy. Copy mistakes and grammatical errors should be corrected before the press proof stage is reached.

2. Bundle and gang up when you can. Bundling your print jobs, whether it’s supplements, digests or special issues, can streamline your printing needs. Magiera stresses that, “Negotiating a discount for additional projects ahead of time will save money.” Doing this you can open the door to other cost saving measures, like buying wider rolls that can accommodate all of your jobs and be trimmed to fit each unique product.

3. Send PDF X-1A files to your printer rather than PDFs or native files.
Magiera says that her printer charges significantly more for PDF files, and more than double for native files. “For me, it’s a savings of about $1,300 a week, and you also save a lot of headaches and errors than when you are entrusting a printer with native files.”

4. Take full advantage of your CSR. Magiera says that you should “make your CSR your creative and problem-solving partner.” A quality CSR will recognize your needs and should work with you to deliver an efficient product. Depending on your publication, a CSR can help you reduce the number of press stops, plate changes or paper quantities needed to produce your title.    

5. Never stop reviewing your invoices, your process and schedule carefully. It may seem trivial, but carefully reviewing your invoices can yield major savings over time, according to Magiera. “It keeps the printer on their toes, and offers consistency in your billing.” Similarly, continuing to review your production process can expose inefficiencies, and keep your configurations “lean and mean.” When you identify a way to save money be sure to include your entire team and be sure that it does not create a scheduling problem.

The five methods discussed here should not be considered a one-size-fits-all silver bullet solution to cutting costs and increasing margins, but instead should illustrate that there are a number of incremental changes that can help you save money if you are willing to look. Magiera emphases that you have to “dig deep” to find what works for you, adding that, “The moral of the story for me is that even when you think you are economizing, never stop looking at ways to do better.”