Canadian Magazine Industry News
4 March 2009,     FISHER BRANCH, MB.
Getting an education pays off for first-time publisher
Cindy McKay was thinking about creating a publication that would speak to women in rural Canada. As the daughter of an Alberta grain farmer and the wife of a B.C.-born, Manitoba-based cattle rancher, McKay knew a thing or two about country life. She also knew a thing or two about writing and editing, having won five awards for her work at the Interlake Spectator community newspaper. What she didn’t know much about was the business of publishing a magazine.

This led McKay to Toronto and D. B. Scott’s “So You Want to Start a Magazine?” course at Ryerson University’s School for Magazine Publishing. McKay continued her education on subsequent visits to Canada’s most populous province, taking part in Magazines Canada’s School for Advertising Sales, School For Professional Publishing and School For Circulation.

McKay is printing 5,000 copies per issue.
McKay says the courses provided more than knowledge: “They gave me enough confidence to do this.” Last November, she reached her goal of becoming a publisher when the first issue of Hearts of the Country came back from the printer. And now, as tends to happen when new magazines are launched, the title has “taken on a life of its own.”

Among other articles, the 24-page premiere carries a service piece about deterring mosquitoes, a travel piece about rural life for women in Japan, pickling recipes and a humour piece about gardening addiction.

What it didn’t carry was advertising; McKay felt she needed a product to showcase before she could start selling. “I took a bullet and bit it,” she says of her decision to fund the first two issues out of her own pockets. A full-page colour ad is now available for $1,185.

About 500 subscribers have signed up to receive the magazine so far and McKay is planning to hit local fairs this spring in the hopes of finding more readers. Subscriptions are priced at $15 and single copies sell for $4.95.

McKay has also added a barcode to her second issue, currently at the printer. She hopes this will lead to newsstand distribution through Magazines Canada. With four issues planned for 2009, McKay is hoping to take the magazine bimonthly by next year.
— M.U.
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