The trick with planning and producing the editorial for a magazine when you’re not entirely sure what it’s going to look like when press day comes around, is to be organised and try to have a back-up plan in place in case things go horribly wrong. However, if there’s one thing I’m rarely good at – and I’m sure plenty of people can back me up on this – it’s at being organised. When it comes to contingency measures, far from pulling ideas from some mythical back-burner, I tend to scrabble around in desperation and see what turns up. Because, well, inevitably when a lead feature sized-hole appears in the contents list, there is never a shortage of things to write about if you look hard enough. Also, last-minute scrabbling is fun. Sadly, in the case of EON, lead feature sized-holes rarely open up.
For the redesign issue however things were a little different and I had to be a little more prepared than usual. Just a little. Whereas previously I would instinctively know how many words were required for each story, the number of images we’d need and the format of each item of page furniture (captions, cross-headings, headlines, etc), the new-and-improved EON designs were weeks away from completion. That meant I had to gather as much content as I could as early as possible, so that when the designers sat down to work on pages, they would have all things they could ever need. Not just words and ship graphics, all the module icons (labelled), character art, faction, corp and alliance logos and ship, corp and other information squirreled away in folders. Half of this stuff would unlikely be used, but had to be on hand in case it was. (Pro-magazine editing tip: Never give a designer a URL asking them to ‘get the info from this site,’ they will refuse to do it. If it’s not in a text file or in neat folders on their desktop it may as well not exist.)
My job was made immeasurably easier thanks to an understanding bunch of contributors that clocked my vague urgency and offered their writing in on time and, in some cases, earlier than usual. As ever, FinnAgain (The Rise & Fall of BRUCE, The 0.0 Report) came through an absolute treat, as did Kirith Kodachi (Testflight) and Angus McDecoy (Sisters of EVE guide). Even Winterblink (WDA) managed to only be two weeks late with his comic, when usually he manages four (the trick with Blinky is to ask for his stuff well in advance of when its required, so that he thinks he’s being reliably unreliable, when in fact he’s unwittingly become a model for good work scheduling.)
An added complication we had to worry about for this particular issue was Fanfest, which was to kick off just before we would normally go to print, but crucially too late for us to be able to include anything beyond the briefest of mentions that it had occurred. What to do? Well of course in the end we decided to put back publication by two weeks so we could properly cover as much from Iceland as possible – which had the added benefit of giving the designers more time to complete the pages that were already in progress. What with the ISK guide and updates, a fourth edition of the ESM book and a number of other secret projects being proposed and undertaken back at MMM HQ (not to mention the immediate need for Fanfest t-shirts, banners and everything else), in hindsight we needed the extra time rather badly.
What we’ve ended up nearly three months since we first sat down to talk about the all-new EON isn’t just a re-imagined spaceship magazine, but a kind of Fanfest souvenir issue as well – which wasn’t the plan we started out with. It was originally intended to be another Incarna cover, but when we got to Iceland and saw all the huge banners about the place, we just had to have them in the magazine.
Ironically, the re-scheduling added ample weight to the maxim that while planning may be indispensable, the plans that result are typically useless. With that in mind for issue #024, I‘m already planning a change of plan. How’s that for organised.