If you haven't been following us for a while, you may not know that for every new issue that comes out, we work on a pre-order system. I wanted to go deeper into what that means, what it is, and why we do it, just so you can maybe get to know us better and see a little behind the scenes. As well, we're including a few photos from our workday today, as we finally shipped our spring issues, which is a direct result of our pre-order system.
Back when we first started the magazine in 2011, we had no idea if people would even want a print magazine. (This was back before the big explosion of independent magazines happened.) As well, we had no head(s) for business, had no resources, and had little knowledge as to where to print, how to ship, or how to manage orders. We basically just put it out there that we had this magazine and asked for a show of hands as to who would like it in print. We had no idea that printers need massive deposits (or whole bills paid) before we could even receive the issues, the shipping costs were four times the price we thought and needed to be paid in cash, and packaging & fees also needed to be paid up front. Since the beginning, we've never had that "up front" money, so we've relied on pre-orders to help us make it through.
Why we need pre-orders
- To print a magazine, you need a lot of up-front money. For the amount we print, it's a 5-figure number that we've just never had. (Remember, we don't have any advertising or investors!) If we sell a few before they're printed, we can actually afford our first payment, which gets the printing process moving.
- It lets us afford things like packing materials, without which we wouldn't be able to ship anything.
- It helps us gauge how many people will buy the issue, preventing us from ordering too many and wasting money.
- It makes us able to ship in bulk, which saves us an incredible amount of time.
- Making a quality publication takes time, and with that extra time comes a beautiful issue.
We're moving toward a place where we will no longer need a pre-order period. We've basically been building it to the point where we'll have all that printing money before we even put the issue out. We're figuring out this business stuff one small step at a time, and it's starting to really come together.
But until we get to that point, we thought it'd be nice if we laid out how exactly a pre-order works for those who have never ordered from us before.
How pre-orders work
- We put our new issue online for everyone to check out, buy digital issues, or pre-order in print. The main advantage of pre-ordering is that you get a discount on both the price of the issue AND the shipping cost.
- Our printer, who has already been working with us on color and content fixes before the online release, prints the issues. We order shipping materials and get them prepared for the day we get the issues.
- About 4 weeks later, we get the print copies to our studio, pack them up all by hand, and ship them out.
- Depending on where you live, issues come to you 1-2 weeks after we ship them out. (We ship them out of upstate NY, so the closer you live to us, the sooner you'll get yours.)
We hope that helps explain our process a little better, and that the high quality of the printing, the use of sustainable printing processes and recycled materials, and of course the great content will make it all worth the wait.