Can a print magazine survive in a digital world?

In an ever-increasing digital world, can print books and magazines survive? “Yes,” says Keith Stonehocker, former chief strategy officer at Christianity Today International.

Magazines have these advantages for digital publication:
1. Ongoing content with the latest news that can be repurposed for the internet.
2. An advertising sales forces can post ads online.
3. The ability to advertise our own products and services online.

Take-away lessons:
1. Take content from magazines and make it available online. Don’t post it all at once, but stagger it so there’s always something fresh. Around that build commerce- advertising, sales and paid content.

2. Driving traffic to a website is critical. Free e-newsletters draw people to new content. Social media like Facebook and Twitter also draw traffic.

3. Offer types of paid content such as pdfs for download. Gather articles around different topics for specific audiences like pastors.

4. Sell print subscriptions online.

Don’t fear the digital world, but embrace it and discern how to adapt. It’s not an “either/or” choice, but a “both/and” opportunity.

This video is one of a series of 3-5 minute teaching videos based on workshops led by top international Christian publishing professionals at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya. We give thanks for the dozens of dedicated men and women who serve as our volunteer trainers, many of whom shared their expertise in these videos.

These mini videos on writing, editing, marketing, design, digital publishing, leadership, and more, were shot and produced by Good News Productions, enabling MAI to bring them to you.

Every Publisher Needs a Business Plan — All the Time!

Ramon photo

“Help! What can I do with lots of slow moving inventory?  Our declining revenues are not able to cover our monthly expenses!” “Our cash may run out in 4 to 5 months!”

MAI recently received these two urgent requests for help from two separate Christian publishers. These publishers serve in different regions but are both beset with a distinct set of difficult challenges. The boards of trustees of both houses required their respective CEO’s to come up with a “business plan.”

Business plans are usually required by venture capitalists so they can properly evaluate investment opportunities in start-up “for-profit” enterprises. However, clearly stated and thoughtfully prepared business strategy plans are much needed, even by ministry-oriented Christian publishing houses. Indeed, failing to plan is planning to fail.

The boards are likely considering the need for a fresh infusion of working capital to help tide the publishing firms over the hump. Thus, their requirement to develop a business plan.

I created a simplified template that any publisher could complete. It outlines a clear objective, an executive summary, analysis of the publishing house’s current challenges, a description of the market, and a financial plan.  Please see the Simple Business Plan Template for your use.

In addition to a business plan, firms must also discuss the actual publishing plans for the next 12 to 24 months: 1) the new titles, 2) how to maximize the bestsellers, and 3) how to sell out the slow moving titles (including, perhaps, a plan how to give them away!). Why focus on these three? They significantly affect the financial health of the company.

It goes without saying that filling in the columns of these spreadsheets would entail a lot of discussions, research and analysis. The nice thing about spreadsheets is that you can add more columns and insert anything relevant in your planning, implementation and monitoring.

Business strategy plans should be part and parcel of every Christian publisher’s year-round operations.

Email me at [email protected] if you’d like any of these sample spreadsheets:
1. 2-year publishing plan
2. bestseller marketing plan
3. slow-moving titles plan

What planning and measuring tools are you using to help you accomplish your mission and vision?

— Ramon Rocha III, MAI director of publisher development

Is your board a blessing or a curse?

Is having a board worth your time? Publishing consultant Barine Kirimi of Kenya discusses how you can help your board govern more effectively.

Do you have any tips on how to make your board more helpful?

This video is one of a series of 3-5 minute teaching videos based on workshops led by top international Christian publishing professionals at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya. We give thanks for the dozens of dedicated men and women who serve as our volunteer trainers, many of whom shared their expertise in these videos.

These mini videos on writing, editing, marketing, design, digital publishing, leadership, and more, were shot and produced by Good News Productions, enabling us to bring them to you.

Falling isn’t dying: Interview with Uganda poet Betty Kituyu

Betty Kituyu is a Ugandan writer who marries science and art. She is the author of theBetty Kituyi  closeup award-winning poem, Falling. MAI Trainer Lawrence Darmani interviewed Betty about her writing journey at our recent workshop with the Uganda Faith Writers Association in Kampala. 

Here is Falling:

The rain is gently
clapping at the rocks
outside my kitchen.

Its music
waters
my desert.

A new song forms,
the sound of raindrops
washing my face.

The rain is steadily
taking me home
by twilight.

I am learning
from the weeping clouds
that falling isn’t dying.

Q: What is the story behind your poem Falling
I wrote this poem when I was down with a migraine and in a lot of pain. The rain kept pouring steadily and gently the whole of this day. It was perfect weather for my condition. As I stood at my kitchen sink to watch it, I found I liked the way it fell – gently – and how it was received by the rocks. There was music in all that, and I liked it. It healed me. Then I heard a knock on the door, and Moses, my fiancé, stood tall before me. The rain had steadily brought him home. I cried.

But it is the last stanza that surprised me–I am learning from the weeping clouds that falling isn’t dying. Those words just came to me after much editing of the poem. They resonated with me and stood strong and powerful in meaning.

Later at the Beverly Nambozo 2012 Awarding ceremony, everybody was talking about Bududa, the rain and mudslides (a natural disaster that hit the area). Then it occurred to me that my poem was prophetic. As I stood up to give my speech as a third-place winner, I told the audience that I came from Bududa.  They were so surprised. I also told them, “The rain fell in my village and my people died, yet my poem said that falling isn’t dying.” At that moment I began to believe that the poem had a personal message for me and my people. “Maybe there was a meaning to this death in my village, maybe dying is not the end,”  I told the teary audience.

(See Betty’s remarks at the awards ceremony)

Q: How has the success of this poem affected your attitude toward writing?
I have learnt to pay attention to the small moments in my life.  My poem which began at the kitchen sink has traveled vast distances across the world and is being read by students and people from all walks of life.  This has both humbled me and uplifted me to write and share my work more.

MAI encourages creation of literature not only for Christians but for the general reader.  We also focus attention on publishing for other oft-neglected audiences, such as children, youth and the poor.

How to Care and Feed Your Flock via Social Media

Is social media worth the time and effort it requires? Bestselling author Robin Gunn shares how Christian authors can care for their readers, the flock that God has entrusted to them, via social media.

How have you used social media to connect effectively with your audience?

This video is one of a series of 3-5 minute teaching videos based on workshops led by top international Christian publishing professionals at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya. We give thanks for the dozens of dedicated men and women who serve as our volunteer trainers, many of whom shared their expertise in these videos.

These mini videos on writing, editing, marketing, design, digital publishing, leadership, and more, were shot and produced by Good News Productions, enabling us to bring them to you.