It's Your Turn to Be the Editor!
One of the many, many tasks involved in being the editor of Country Business magazine is choosing the cover for each issue. The cover of a magazine is its most valuable real estate. It should grab the readers' attention and encourage them to dive further into the issue. It should be eyecatching but not over-the-top. It should reflect what's inside the magazine but not merely duplicate the inner pages. It should showcase merchandise that is interesting, but also looks good in the setting chosen.
Over the years, we've had some fabulous covers, and to be honest, we've had some that I've looked at later and questioned what we were thinking. Not all product types work well on a cover. The best cover products are three-dimensional, relatively simple in shape and have strong rich colors. Flat items, extremely vertical or horizontal products or items with long thin obtrusions simply don't work out. Likewise, while vibrant colors are nice, too much color or pattern in one product is overwhelming.
Creating a magazine cover is an intensive process that involves almost everyone on the staff. Months before each issue, we meet to discuss the various articles that will be in the magazine. We decide which articles are likely to have the most appeal to our readers, and then we immerse ourselves in a multitude of catalogs and websites to find appropriate cover products for those articles. We narrow down the cover choices to five or six companies, and then select the best two out of those choices. We contact the vendors to send us merchandise, and then our photo stylist, art director and photographers go to work.
Our stylist Nancy Borsodi sketches out different settings for the products, finds appropriate backdrops and props and sets up the vignettes. Our photographers, Brian Nightengale and Maurice Victoria, position the lighting, tweak the camera settings and establish the focus. Our art director Regina Haskell oversees the photography to ensure it will work with the text and other cover elements. Several photos are taken with various lighting and positions until finally we have one or two that we can all agree on. Next, I and our editorial assistant Jessica Moorman, write different cover lines and copy blurbs. Again, we want wording that is clear and to-the-point, but also interesting and exciting. Regina blends the various cover copy with the images, tests out different fonts and colors and creates three or four cover options for us all to review. Finally, we decide on the one cover we believe is the best for that issue.
As you can tell, it is a long process, and although we review and analyze all the elements of the cover, we are never really sure if it is the best choice until we hear from our readers. So here's your chance to play editor for a day (and for us to see if we are on the right track). Below are the two cover choices we considered for the September/October and the November/December issues. If you look at the Magazine section of the website, you'll see what cover we chose for the September/October issue, but the November/December one is still a secret. You'll have to wait a bit for that reveal. In the meantime, though, we want to see which covers attracted you most. So take a look at the images (there are two options for each month), and let us know your favorites for each issue!