The reader favorite cover photos from Volume 3 are now available on shirts, mousepads, posters and prints.
Every New Year’s Eve, people all over the world decide to try new paths, make some improvements, bring some changes to their lives. Others, perhaps like me, have another annual moment when they do the same — the birthday. I now have a third “new year” I respond and react to — the birthday of Two-Lane Livin’.
I realize, my blogging has not been a priority for me this summer. Perhaps there are two things I should share about my blogging habits:
1. When I’m not posting, things are happening.
2. In Winter, I’ll likely wear you out with frequent updates.
This month, we released the second anniversary issue of Two-Lane Livin’ – Volume 3, Issue 1. (The September 09 issue.) By now, we’ve laid our foundation, and we’re ready to build.
By all means, the magazine is our main endeavor, and advertising is our main product. But not many realize that our business name is actually Stumptown Publishing, and their are other projects Frank and I want to work on that aren’t the magazine. Their are venues we want to explore and perfect, and we have been studying.
OUR WEB SITE
I have already mentioned current and pending changes for our web site. Two years ago, I didn’t have the knowledge to design a web site that could do all the things it could (should) do. I upgraded my design software and found that I hated the program. Then, my blogging brought me to WordPress, and I have been learning. This two-year anniversary seemed to be the right time to apply what I have learned to our magazine’s web site.
So, our online edition now has an RSS feed (already included at wvnewsline.com), better presentation, and allows for comments and interaction. Within a few weeks, we’ll be working to integrate audio and video projects created by WVU students.
By all means, when we started Two-Lane Livin’, with our web needs, I was certainly in over my head. Over the last two years, I have basically been treading water while the rest of the world was swimming competitively. I’m ready to see what I can do.
I know there are going to be glitches. I’m not completely happy with the new site as it is, but I still think it looks good enough to launch. I realize that it is a huge internet “faux pas” to launch a web site under construction, but I’m to the point where I think folks will understand. It doesn’t LOOK like it’s under construction, and I’ve come to look at our online edition as a work in progress — a creation that has to flex and grow with this publishing revolution and the new technology that appears every day.
When Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine launched, Frank and I also began some home-based internet courses through American Writers and Artists, Inc. Specifically, we have been fine tuning our education in travel writing and photography – me in the writing courses and Frank in the photography courses.
We are nearing the end of our training. Now granted, it doesn’t take most people two years to finish these courses. But Frank and I have been launching and producing a magazine in the same time frame. We’ve worked through the courses at our own pace, reviewing and renewing our knowledge when time allowed.
We enjoy travel. We enjoy traveling to secluded places, out of the way places, unpolished locations. Frank takes hundreds of photos wherever we go. It only made sense to develop these gifts and habits and use them in our magazine. But, everything in Two-Lane Livin’ is designed to be positive. And would mean travel articles we write would also need to be positive – not journalistic reviews from an objective traveler.
That’s why we decided to use our services for travel “advertorials.” Not as travelers come to review and judge the location and experience, but as professionals there to market and promote the features and benefits of the destination. We will be offering this service for a fee, however, a full page feature in Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine – reaching over 35,000 readers – is included in the package.
CUSTOM PUBLISHING NETWORK
In making the rounds for Two-Lane Livin’, I ran in to many, many people who were needing printing and publishing services. Business cards, rack cards, web sites, posters — you name it, it seems someone has asked me about it. At the same time, I have met folks who offer such services: proofing, printing, copy editing, web design, book cover design, etc.Each of these people has a special niche, skill, talent, ability of their own.
It occurred to me that really there just needed to be a way to connect the right project with the right person.
And so, we created a Custom Publishing Network. Project requests come in through our office, and we send the details out to our network. Quotes, turn around times, etc, come back in to us, and are then presented to the client. The client chooses the network option that best suits them.
It’s a simple concept really. The network (so far) includes four designers, two copy editors, two writing technicians, and five printers. We already have two book projects coming into the network, and have been approached for a new business marketing package. The book projects alone will need the services of at least three of the network members (who have never met by the way), and the client can find them all “under our roof.”
I haven’t yet created the web site for our network yet. That’s one of the “under construction” sections yet to come.
THE PRINT EDITION
All this talk about changes, some may fear that Two-Lane Livin’ in print is no linger a priority. Not so. The print edition is also seeing some improvements.
First, our spot color pages have all been converted to full color pages. Our Reader’s Page was a spot color page, but we began receiving so many beautiful photos, we really wanted to present them in color. Also, the requests for full color ads are on the rise.
We also changed the main body text for the magazine from Times New Roman to Gill Sans. This change will allow me to fit more words on the page, make it easier for the reader to read it and — hopefully give what so many call, “The Two-Lane Paper” more of a magazine look. I will likely never use magazine layout styles (too much white <wasted> space), but I do want readers to get a tighter grasp on the fact that we’re NOT the news.
Starting next month, we will also be featuring an antiques column, made possible by a “column exchange” with The Marietta Register. The Register will be using Two-Lane Livin’s “Only Organic” in exchange. This is a neat trade I think. The two publications serve different regions, so there’s no real worry about readers having read the piece in the other publication.
THREE’S A CHARM
I’m excited about these new developments. I see a whole new world of possibilities for us in our upcoming third year. The rest of the world may be gloom and doom about magazines and publishing venues, but I don’t see that for us. Here in Central West Virginia, we have the potential to grow. We’ve spent two years forming our roots, and it seems that we’re working to bloom and produce fruit just like our garden.
Oh – and speaking of the garden – that’s the other reason I haven’t been blogging so much lately. The garden’s coming on. Pickles, salsa, beans, peppers. Lots of canning and freezing happening every day.
In fact, I think I’ll wander out to the garden to see what awaits me now. And when I return? I’ll work on our new online edition a little more. I’ll have updates from the new issue online soon.