I left Rebel.
Now this isn’t meant to be a slandering post against them, because I really do love the concept of the magazine. In my time there, we produced 2 excellent issues, one better than the previous. In fact, I’m really pretty proud of what we did in the December issue – pictured left – so go out and grab it at your local Barnes & Noble. As an added bonus, most of my content for the January issue is going in place as well, under the direction of the new guy. But I do feel that I should explain.
Ultimately, this was a bit of a learning experience for me.
I’ve been an editor twice now in my career. First, I was the executive editor for Six Degrees magazine, a publication that 944 bought in 2009 and absorbed into the 944 brand later that year. I was in charge for three issues, and it had its share of ups and downs. But in that time, I took the magazine through some pretty cool little changes, and was able to put in some pet projects of my own that really made it shine. That was cool for me.
But Six Degrees wasn’t really a challenge. The pagination was set, so I didn’t have the opportunity to move around pages and change up the book. I could change out sections, but that was really it. I was managing multiple local editors and tons of freelancers, but I was only responsible for a few pages in the middle of the book. I also didn’t choose who was the cover story, nor what the focus of the book was. So it was a stepping stone, but it wasn’t a huge leap for me.
Rebel was that leap. I knew when they called me frantically after they had fired their last editor in July that the situation was pretty dire. I had read the first issue after my father recommended that I call them because, “They need some help.” When I was offered the job as editor in chief, I really had to take a pause. There were some personal issues that I knew might become a problem later, so I brought them up. I also mentioned that although I produce high-quality work, I do have tattoos and that may not be the face of the mag that they wanted to present. I told them every single concern I had and they were all addressed right then, so I knew that everything was out in the open. Now I just had to talk it over with the wife.
The magazine was going to be a challenge. Their previous editor was both their editor and their designer, so they had no structure in place. There was no workflow, no deadlines, no scheduling in any way. I had to create a magazine essentially from scratch, add a bunch of other sections to the book, repaginate it, come up with issue plans for 2011, and so on. It was started from zero, and I wasn’t sure I could do it.
But I did. I had two months to get the first issue out there, and in that time I created everything. We broke the book down into three sections, each spaced out by burn pages and proper placement of advertisements that both myself and the designer managed. I created a workflow that included multiple copy checks, and a schedule to go with that to fit the owner’s needs. I also assembled an amazing staff of freelancers, which really helped to make the magazine shine.
In the five months I was at Rebel, many different things happened. The magazine went from a local book with a small distribution to 10,000 copies sold nationally at Barnes & Noble. We stopped taking advertiser’s money, and put in ads for companies that gave back to the community. We decided to donate 50% of the profits to charities that we featured each month. We went monthly earlier than I anticipated. We expanded from 64 to 96 pages, which effectively doubled our editorial content with the new advertising model. We went from a men’s only book to a men’s book that could also appeal to women. We began a plan for a nationwide tour that I really wish I could still attend. The magazine went through a lot of changes, and there were still more in the works.
Now I can’t take credit for all of those, and some were definitely a group decision. But at the end of the day, I was able to rise to the challenge and take the publication to a better place than it was before. I wasn’t sure that I could do it, but I did, and that’s something that I’m really proud of.
In the end, all of the issues I brought up in that first interview came to fruition, and I decided to leave the company. There’s no reason to bring up what those issues were, because I don’t hold any hostility towards the crew over there. In fact, I plan on picking up the next few issues of Rebel and seeing how it goes. I really do hope that the new editor takes the brand even further than I did, because I think it’s a cause that deserves it. No one is doing what they’re doing right now, and I wish them all the success in the world.
As for me, well it just means that I have one less client to work with. Ultimately, Whipps Industries has done substantially better than I ever expected in its first year of operation, and I have some pretty lofty goals for next year as well. Do I still want to be an editor of a magazine? Definitely. And in the coming years, I think that just might happen. But for right now, I’m pretty happy with where the company is, and where I’m at professionally. It’s not the perfect life, but it’s working out just fine for me.