Reflections on a Live Project: Making Siren Magazine

This year I have taken part in the Magazine Publishing module as part of my MSc in Publishing. For this trimester, the Magazine Publishing module has been revamped at Edinburgh Napier University.

Instead of the whole class working on one magazine project together, as they did previously, we were told we could pick our own production teams of between four and five people. These small groups would lead the design, project management and editing of a whole magazine each. Every Thursday, our class sat in the Edinburgh Napier publishing computer labs which functioned in a way akin to a little magazine publishing house for the day.

While this may sound terrifying, my personal experience was quite the opposite as I had the opportunity to work with three fantastic and charismatic classmates. Jackie, Ann and Hannah were my dream team in many ways. We worked very well together because though we are all very different, we are also good friends who are very much on the same page, excuse the publishing pun.

There was nothing but good spirit and determination in our team throughout the project, as we decided to be strong-willed, level-headed women with a dream of creating a magazine that would inspire other women’s voices through its content. Thus, Siren Magazine was born!

Creating a magazine from scratch is something that very few people ever have the opportunity to do. Even those who have worked in magazine publishing for years will usually find themselves working with publications that already exist in some form, andsiren cover while working in this way can often be just as incredible, there is something very special about seeing your own idea go from concept to creation right before your eyes.

At the beginning of the trimester, our little team had a lot of fun spending a day sitting in a coffee shop thinking of names and concepts for our magazine. In a year as stressful as one spent pursuing a Masters’ degree, that is a day that sticks out as one full of team spirit, ideas and probably a little too much laughter…which soon became the coping mechanism for our team of witty women.

We decided that day that it would mean a lot to us to create most of the content by ourselves. As a result, we put a lot of ourselves and our individual personal interests into the magazine. This can be seen in the tone of the design and content, as well as in Hannah’s talent for photography, which was put to good use!

It was an extremely unique and challenging experience to put together a real publication with three inspiring classmates, and have it end up as a professional publication and viable publishing portfolio piece. I really like the way our resulting magazine shows how people of different backgrounds and interests can create a coherent publication together in the way that we did. I am especially proud of Siren’s cover, which is an empowering photograph our team took in relation to an article we wrote about the laws surrounding online facilitated sexual violence in Scotland.

Working on spreads and designs for the magazine really improved our technical skills, and through several copy editing sessions and “urgent” moments of changing proofs, we really got to experience the demands and high pressure environment of magazine publishing.

During the project I also had the opportunity to design the magazine’s website and manage several social media accounts to promote it. While our main focus was on print, an online presence is something we knew our magazine would really benefit from. This experience provided me with skills transferable to many other publishing areas too.

At the point of writing this, Siren has been sent off to the printers and our team are waiting the infamous wait that all publishers must at some point experience.

To find out more about our magazine you can catch all our content in the coming weeks over at sirenpublication.wordpress.com.

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