‘The Minute You Play It Safe, You’re Done’ – MagFest 2018

MagFest 2018 is the biggest (and arguably, the best) magazine festival in Scotland and acted as the first main event on the postgraduate publishing calendar. If I’m speaking honestly, I haven’t read a magazine since Mizz and Blush circa 2003. However, after a talk from Laura Dunlop, who came into university to tell us about the event, I was really excited for MagFest and the opportunity to learn about this area of the publishing industry that I have never before explored.

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I made it to Central Hall in Edinburgh bright and early for registration and the atmosphere was already buzzing. I was worried about looking out of place but I soon found some familiar faces from the course and, after a much-needed caffeine hit, I was ready for the day. The schedule was broken down into different talks and Q&As held in the main hall. Throughout the day we heard from some very prominent figures in the publishing industry as well as many new, up-and-coming publishers which was great to see. The theme of the day was ‘Ideas Factory’ and many of the keynote speakers touched upon what some might call the ‘uncertain future’ of magazine publishing. It was encouraging to hear that, despite differing opinions, everyone felt optimistic and committed to working harder towards maintaining the future of the industry.

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As a newcomer to world of magazine publishing I don’t pretend to know all the key players just yet, but I was certainly dazzled by the all-star line-up which included Mike Soutar from Shortlist Media (and The Apprentice!), Joanna Geary, head of content curation at Twitter, Mark Frith, editor of Radio Times, Marion Reilly, art director at Hello! Fashion and finally the legendary Mark Millar, best-selling author of Kick-Ass and Wanted – to name a few!

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As the day progressed, I began to feel more comfortable and my initial hesitation to speak to other attendees gradually subsided – although certainly didn’t disappear completely! I knew that we should take this opportunity to ‘network’ and I had built this up in my head to be much worse than it actually was. I quickly realised that everyone was friendly, open to having a chat and actually excited to speak to us because in reality, as scary as it sounds, we are the future of publishing!

All in all, I had a really great time at MagFest 2018. It was great to meet some of the leaders in the industry and I even managed to overcome my apprehensions and speak to a handful of them! I discovered a whole new side of publishing that I had never even considered before and, without sounding cheesy, left the event feeling really inspired. And to make things even better, I entered the raffle and won a free ticket for next year – hooray!

Finally, I’ll leave you with my takeaway comment from the event which, of course, came from Mark Millar, ‘The minute you play it safe, you’re done’.

Thanks for reading!

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