Articles by John Brady

Non-Photo Finishes

All things being equal, most editors opt for a photo instead of an illustration when designing a cover or layout. "If the story is about a noun-a person, place or thing-you should take its picture," says magazine designer (and longtime colleague) Greg Paul.

What’s So Special?

All issues are created equal, of course, but, to paraphrase George Orwell, some issues are more equal than others. We call them special. Special issues can bring new readers and advertisers into your pages-or they can be editorial oddities, even turn-offs.

The Q&A

The Q&A style interview is a much maligned and misunderstood form, yet it can be an editorial brightener, whether in long or short form. One increasingly popular format is the quick-hit ‘Twenty Questions,’ or ‘Five Minutes With...’ Because of their brevity, these appear easy to do.

Tagging Along

Magazine titles are occasionally unclear, or even misleading. I am told, for instance, that Penthouse is not a magazine about apartments atop high-rise buildings. While a title should be timeless, the tag line can be timely and change whenever a magazine shifts editorial direction, telling the reader at a glance what the current editorial attitude is.

Print Is Not Dead

I turned 65 last month and, looking back, I find myself among a fading breed of magazine editors who witnessed firsthand the evolution of magazines from hot type and paste-up to pagination and the Internet. That makes me a "legacy" candidate, a word that I find mildly pejorative and patronizing.

Cover Blurbs That Sell

Cover blurbs are the most important copy in the book. They are consummate editing, the sizzle on the editorial steak. They determine whether or not the reader goes to the inside or even picks up the book to browse. They should not read like afterthoughts or the first thing that came to mind as the issue hurried off to the printer.

Telephone Tactics

Phone interviews give you quicker, easier access to sources, no matter where they are, and with far less expense. According to telemarketing stats, an average telephone sales call costs $15 compared to $230 for an average business-to-business field call, a ratio roughly applicable to journalistic interviews as well.

It’s All in the Name

The first word in magazines is the name on the cover. As a flag leading the editorial and marketing parade, it should be clear, easily pronounceable, memorable, and not confused with other existing names. It should also tell, at a glance, what the magazine is all about.

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