Apples to Oranges, Books to Magazines

As I’ve mentioned a few times in prior posts, I’ve recently begun working as an Editorial Intern at Baltimore magazine, located in the lovely Harbor East neighborhood of Baltimore. Prior to this experience, I had only small amounts of experience working with magazines. By and large, I’ve dealt primarily with books throughout my publishing experiences, and turns out, working in the magazine industry is very different from working with books. Sure, there are some similarities. For instance, fact-checking is always important no matter what media you’re working with. But overall, I’ve had to adjust my work style to the magazine industry, but found that despite my love of book publishing, there are many aspects of magazine publishing that I really enjoy. Here’s a rundown of some of the major differences between magazine and book publishing- see for yourself and consider which would be the best fit for you.

1) The deadline isn’t months away: It’s next week. Unlike the months-long process of assembling a book, there’s a new issue of most magazines every month. After a few years of experience in books, a new issue every month at Baltimore makes it seem like the deadline is always looming.

2) You must switch focus fast: Books are typically about one specific topic, whereas Baltimore has a diverse array of articles, with topics ranging from entertainment to healthcare to politics to lifestyle. This means everyone, senior editors and interns alike, need to be able to switch focus frequently and quickly.

3) The sense of urgency is higher: After reading #1 and #2, this might be obvious. At the book publishing companies I’ve worked at, it’s not uncommon to see people taking their time at lunch and stopping to chat with friends on the way to their office. It’s positively refreshing. Not so at a magazine. Think a of a (much) less dramatic version of The Devil Wears Prada– there’s no Meryl Streep about to verbally abuse you for taking too long, but there’s definitely a sense of hustle and bustle within the halls of Baltimore. 

4) But with that urgency comes excitement: There’s always something new and different going on at a magazine. For instance, last week the art department hosted a photo shoot of an up-and-coming local baker who brought her pet chicken along for the shoot! It’s experiences like that photo shoot that keep life interesting at a magazine.

5) There’s instant gratification: When issues are released every month, you don’t need to wait long to see your work in big, flashy print. With books, it can take months but with magazines, the gratification is instant. For example, see the picture below. It’s my first appearance on the masthead!

Rachel Schnalzer, Editorial Intern!

Rachel Schnalzer, Editorial Intern!

6) But your work also done in a month: You pour your heart and soul (or at least time and energy) into an issue and then what happens after it’s released? It’s back to work right away on the next issue. With books, there’s a little more time to sit back and enjoy your accomplishments. In the words of, “A book, in contrast, involves a much longer interaction between the author and the editor. The author keeps on working with the publisher till a satisfactory draft is achieved. This content is then ready to be published, and the book is then promoted so that more value can be generated.”

7) You experience many personalities: When pulling together an issue, you have the opportunity to work with a variety of different people and personalities. Oftentimes, editors interface primarily with their author, but magazine editors need to be constantly interfacing with many people at all times for the issue to be a success.

8) But there’s less of a relationship with one writer: When an editor works on an author’s book for months and months, they ideally develop a close, trusting relationship. Some of this is lost when switching to magazines. Because editors need to be working with so many people, it’s more difficult for close, personal artistic relationships to grow between editor and writer.

9) Team work is crucial: Working well with a team is important no matter where you work. But it’s especially important at a magazine, where deadlines may require you to step in and help out a colleague or vice versa. It’s no place for jealousy or worrying about who takes credit- there’s no time for that!

10) Books and magazines are equally gratifying, albeit in different ways: At this point, I could never choose which environment I prefer. I feel intensely loyal to book publishing, but am excited by everything I’m learning at Baltimore. In the end perhaps time will tell but for now, I can say confidently that both magazine and book publishing are incredibly satisfying fields and I look forward to future experiences in both.