PRESS PASS Q
A Newsletter for the Gay and Lesbian Press Professional

May 2006 (Vol. 8, No. 2)
A Publication of Rivendell Media and Q Syndicate

TABLE OF CONTENTS


FEATURE: Taking time off
Turning the dreaded "publishing hiatus" into something good
By Eleanor Brown

Publications really can recover from skipping publication dates, or even from shutting down completely.

Take Lambda Book Report, returning this month after a year-long break.

The financially ailing Lambda Literary Foundation lost its staff and its Washington, D.C., office, while also shutting down both its publications, the book report and the James White Review. After all outstanding bills were paid, only its annual literary awards continued, which generally at least break even.

Then New York City's Charles Flowers was hired part-time in the fall, becoming the full-time executive director in 2006. His survey of some 700 foundation supporters showed very high interest in reviving the Lambda Book Report. A donation drive raised US$20,000 for the organization itself, and about a third of the book report's 1,500 subscribers renewed early (at $25 a year).

The new quarterly Lambda Book Report (down from being a monthly that never quite managed such regular appearances) will be mailed out later this month. It features reviews of 15 female-authored books, and of 16 written by men. Gender parity "is not easy, but it's not as difficult as some would make it seem," said Flowers. "You can make it happen if you want to make it happen."

Flowers said his focus is on building connections with individual subscribers. His survey found that they prefer hard copy, rather than cheaper Internet-only content (the majority of respondents were over 40 and want to leave their computers at work at the end of the day).

And while Flowers wants a presence in bookshops (Lambda's single issue cover price is $10, double the previous cost, for a 32-page, 8-and-a-half by 11 publication), he sees that as a marketing expense. A distributor's 500-copy order adds to print costs, yet the vast majority of issues will be returned unsold. Flowers would rather build a subscription list and sell space within the magazine to advertisers first. He sold $600 in advertising for the premier issue, though he budgeted for $1,000 in revenue (and double that for future editions). But he's not worried: "It's very hard to sell an ad when there's nothing to show people." Flowers said the second issue will be an easier sale. And he hopes to build goodwill by honoring ad and subscription deals that date back to the Book Report's previous incarnation.

The James White Review, however, remains in limbo. Founded in 1984, it was taken over by the foundation 14 years later and last appeared in 2004. A deal to transfer publishing duties fell through last year, and the survey found James White to be less of a priority for foundation members. Flowers also has a philosophical concern about the gay male literary magazine: "I don't think we should do a single-gender publication."

But yet another bookish read, the Wellesley College-based Women's Review of Books, which shut down in December 2004 due to rising debt, relaunched as a bimonthly tabloid in early 2006, thanks to a partnership deal with a book and journal producer in Philadelphia (called Old City Publishing).

Other publications have a less drastic production lapse from which to recover. The Mesilla, N. M.-based general-interest LGBT tabloid The Normal Heart is back on track after missing a month here and there.

While that sounds like a less serious problem than a total shutdown, a clean break can make it easier to begin anew. Irregularity can lead to complete havoc for advertisers who are expected to spend more cash for an unknown benefit. "When my partner and I took over in December of 2004," said co-publisher Richard Scramstad, "we thought, 'We've got to turn this thing around. We've got to get the paper out on time.'"

Staff members at the (now) 16-year-old paper were burnt out, and financial troubles further hobbled the publication. Scramstad and David Stocum were newcomers to the city, filled with energy and wanting to contribute to their new home.

As such, luck may have saved the paper, but smart work ensures its continuing survival. The pair focus on local and state news - including resource listings - to build local loyalty, and run regular columns and cartoons to add the comfort of familiarity. (Some of the content is syndicated, to cut down on their workload.) Coverage is farmed out to regional editors, who know what's going on in their areas (according to the latest masthead, there are editors in Santa Fe, eastern New Mexico and West Texas, and El Paso).

To further ensure that future issues aren't skipped, the co-publishers "never stop trying to recruit." Scramstad said that turnover is a given, and additional volunteers will always be needed.

Volunteers, of course, can't be blatantly ordered around. Scramstad sees his role as being about "cajoling. You want to keep them happy, with dinner parties and Christmas cards... let them know they're appreciated." And ad sales can't ever be neglected. The result is a monthly (up from six times a year - or less) with a slowly increasing print run of 2,500.

But Scramstad also said the co-publishers have gone as far as they can with the current staff structure, and the paper's board has applied for nonprofit status. The Normal Heart could then solicit grants and hire a full-time, paid editor in chief.

Of course, few publishers want to chat up their publication's tough times or their failures. But the catch-all phrase "publishing hiatus" rarely ends happily.

Queer Ramblings began as a photocopied 'zine in 2000, created by New York City's Sandy Garcia. "The very first issue was six pages long and I handed it out at queer events to anyone who would take one," Garcia notes on the Queer Ramblings website. "The first issues were filled with only my writing. I'm one of the few writers that can say that everything I write gets published."

It, too, seemed to survive a publishing break. "In order to expand, Queer Ramblings went on hiatus" in 2004, returning as a quarterly magazine. But publishing an expensive glossy with a $4.50 cover price turned out to be a problem, and its last print issue seems to have appeared in fall 2005.

The website notes, "Queer Ramblings will no longer be a paper publication. It is now exclusively online to reach a worldwide queer audience." Yet there doesn't seem to be any new content; e-mails from Press Pass Q to the publisher went unanswered; and the magazine's telephone line has been disconnected.

HAF Publishing's planned hiatus led to the 2005 relaunches of the national glossy magazines Girlfriends and On Our Backs. A year-and-a-half later, print publication was suspended as the owner negotiated a sale (still no news on that front).

Then there's the long break taken by national Latino magazine Tentaciones. The publication was advertised as preparing for a relaunch, but a March press release announced that Tentaciones last appeared in early 2005, and Tentaciones founder Luis Chavez is now backing a new bilingual and bimonthly magazine, You-Tu, due out this summer.

In Edmonton, Canada's Fresh Magazine launched with much fanfare in late 2003. Soon after, a note appeared on its website stating: "Fresh Magazine is on hiatus until further notice. Thank you for your interest and support."

Sometimes, a hiatus is forever.


IN THE NEWS

THE SEARCH FOR EXCLUSIVITY. Given the Internet and globalized media, can queer news outlets demand editorial geographical exclusivity anymore? Or is a freelance content provider doomed to sell a story once - and watch it proliferate around the world for pennies a word?

Tracy Baim, editor of Chicago's Windy City Times, said she's flexible with writers who freelance to multiple publications to survive. "Our exclusivity is mainly based on geography, even though the Web hurts them more than it hurts us," she said.

Windy City Times purchases first-time rights from freelancers, and all content is also put on the Web. And Baim expects that writers will refrain from publishing the same story in the Chicago area. "The majority of our readers would come from the regional area so the competitive issue is really just in this region. That's the basis of our readership."

Baim said she continues to buy syndicated content, even though it may run in more than one paper locally.

Syndicated lesbian dating columnist Jennifer Parello's "Dateland" is published regularly in four newspapers - including Nightspots in her hometown of Chicago, Lavender Magazine in Minneapolis, Gem Montrose in Houston, and Shout Magazine, which has a statewide Texas readership that theoretically might overlap with the Gem's readership.

Parello said that editors never worry about exclusivity with her syndicated column, but it is an issue raised with features. "It's understandable. You want most of your content to be exclusive... otherwise, what distinguishes your publication from your competition? I don't have a problem with it, as long as the editor tells me upfront that the publication will claim exclusive rights to the article."

She offers her columns on her own website, as well, and Parello is even now wondering how to offer a prize to the first reader who solves a mystery (related to a missing bra). The problem is that the solution might be posted on her site before readers of her monthly newspaper customers get to the punchline - making the contest unfair. Parello said she may not post the final installment until every publisher has printed it on paper.

- Tanya Gulliver


EXP GROUP IS SOLD. The three-print-magazine EXP group was sold to the Web-based Out in America Cities Network this month.

The deal was finalized May 5 and announced three days later in a press release.

Jeff Balk's first publication was the St. Louis biweekly EXP, launched in 1996. Seven years later, he bought and renamed the Rehoboth Beach Gayzette, and more recently, his J&J Publishing Inc. purchased the Denver, Colo., H ink -- also now named EXP.

Balk has been named president of Out in America's new print division, and said the opportunity "could not be passed up." He would not divulge the purchase price, but said that transactions specialists Nations Media Partners, Inc., in Kansas City brought "us to the table and within two weeks we had a deal signed. Nations Media also brokered our Denver purchase last year."

Balk also said he is already planning on launching "a monthly entertainment and travel magazine and [we] are also looking into expanding into other local markets with a magazine similar to EXP."

The press release touts the existing magazines as having "a combined monthly circulation of 48,000 that spans the Mountain, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States in 40 cities in 13 states as well as Washington, D.C." The Out in America Cities Network is based in Columbus, Ohio, and has 178 city-specific websites in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, and claims 7.6 million visitors monthly.

Out in America advertising and marketing manager Alana Haberman said her Internet company is second in size to PlanetOut Inc., but noted that Out In America focuses on local news, listings, and chat. Company CFO Gregg McConnell is quoted in the communique as saying: "The synergistic opportunity here is immensely exciting from all perspectives."

- Eleanor Brown


CAROLINAS MEDIA MERGE. The year 2006 continues to be one of closure and consolidation in the queer media, with two North Carolina publications merging this month.

The 26-year-old Front Page News published its last biweekly tabloid issue on May 12. The merger with the biweekly Q-Notes was signed eight days earlier, and the joint publication will carry the name of Q-Notes.

Front Page publisher and founder Jim Baxter wrote in a mass e-mail, "Hopefully, with less energy and resources spent duplicating services, it will be possible to concentrate on better serving both the readers and the advertisers." Front Page advertisers will receive a free ad in the first issue of the joint publication, which hits the streets a week after Front Page's final appearance.

Q-Notes publisher Jim Yarbrough said his tabloid, based in Charlotte, N.C., shared very few advertisers with the Raleigh-based Front Page, and he hopes to scoop up new business.

He also said the two newspaper owners have talked about merging for 15 years. "Money has changed hands," Yarbrough said, but he would not discuss details. He said that Baxter will continue as a writer for Q-Notes, but gives up his title as publisher. Baxter did not return Press Pass Q's call.

Yarbrough also said that Q-Notes will increase its 11,500 print run, but doesn't yet know by how much. He bought the 20-year-old publication in 1991. Prior to the merger, both tabloids covered North and South Carolina news, and Q-Notes now becomes the only LGBT publication to serve readers in the two Carolinas.

- Eleanor Brown



TRANSITIONS:

*The American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. have expressed support for COMMERCIAL CLOSET ASSOCIATION's new "Principle of Free Market Advertising Expression." The policy declares that advertisers must remain free to market their products and services regardless of a consumer's race, ethnicity, gender/gender expression, religious affiliation, physical disability, or sexual orientation. The move comes as the American Family Association and 18 other antigay organizations have reinstated a call to boycott Ford Motor Company, because it "supports homosexual publications with ads, including sexually oriented ads."

*The AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION is supporting Santa Rosa, Calif., blogger Justin Watt (Justinsomnia.org), who received a cease-and-desist letter from lawyers at Liberty Counsel on behalf of the "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International, after Watt posted a parody of a ministry billboard that advertised "reparative therapy."

*JACOB ANDERSON-MINSHALL's syndicated "TransNation" column was most recently picked up by EXP magazine. Minshall is also the film editor of the San Francisco quarterly LiP Magazine.

*DYANA BAGBY has been promoted to the position of news editor at SOUTHERN VOICE (Atlanta). Former Houston Voice editor ERIC ERVIN moves into Bagby's old job as Southern Voice staff reporter. NANCY FORD, formerly of the defunct TXT Newsmagazine, is now editor of Houston Voice.

*Writer KEITH BOYKIN has joined the cast of BET J channel's daytime talk show "My Two Cents."

*SALLY CLARK, former editor of the LESBIAN RESOURCE CENTER NEWS and of SEATTLE GAY NEWS, was appointed to the Seattle City Council in January. She was sworn in during a special ceremony by her partner of nine years, Liz Ford, a labor attorney.

*The Western Publications Association handed out its annual Maggie awards on April 21 in Los Angeles. The March/April edition of THE OUT TRAVELER picked up top spot in the Alternative Lifestyles/Consumer category (the competition included nominees INSTINCT, OUT, and THE ADVOCATE). The Supplements category was won by THRIVE: FIT LIVING FOR GAY MEN (summer issue). Other nominations included Out for its story, "Unsweet Homo Alabama" (Best Feature Article/Consumer), The Advocate's "Portia: Heart and Soul" (Best Interview or Profile/Consumer), ENVY MAN (Best New Publication/Consumer), the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Thrive (Best Overall Design/Consumer), Advocate.com (for Best Publication Website/Consumer ), The Advocate's "Honest, Abe Was Gay" (Best Single Editorial Illustration/Consumer), The Advocate's "Here in Sri Lanka" (Best Single Editorial Photograph/Consumer), FRONTIERS (Most Improved Publication/Consumer [Under 50,000]), The Advocate (Politics & Social Issues/Consumer), and The Out Traveler (Travel & In-Transit/Consumer).

*JONATHAN ALAN GREENBERG died Feb. 11 in Old Bridge, N.J. In the mid-1990s he lived in St. Louis, where he founded SLAM!, a queer magazine.

*The syndicated gossip column "Filth" is now known as "BILLY MASTERS," after its author.

*PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS publisher MARK SEGAL was recently roasted at the William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, to celebrate the renovation of a ballroom named for Segal.

*RANDY SHULMAN, owner and publisher of Washington, D.C's METRO WEEKLY received the local Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance group's 2006 Distinguished Service Award last month for his work on the 12-year-old publication.

*Longtime queer media freelancer RON JACKSON SURESHA, the Connecticut-based "Bear Soup" columnist for American Bear magazine, is celebrating the release of his nonfiction anthology, "Bi Men: Coming Out Every Which Way" (Howarth Press, also available as a double issue of the Journal of Bisexuality). Bi Men is co-edited by Suresha and Pete Chvany. Suresha said the book was banned from September's New London, Conn., literary event, Boats, Books, & Brushes with Taste. (In a letter to organizers, Lambda Literary Foundation executive director Charles Flowers condemned "such treatment of lesbian and gay authors.") Suresha announced that the book is now on the shelves of at least one New London bookstore.

*The spring 2006 issue of the quarterly glossy VISIONS TODAY is its last. It was launched in September 2001 and was based in Wilmington, Dela., but also served readers in Philadelphia and Rehoboth Beach. In an editorial, editor Robert DiGiacomo wrote, "There's a small chance Visions will return in revamped form." Today Media Inc. also publishes such magazines as Delaware Today Bride and Delaware Today Health and Fitness.

*The agency WITECK-COMBS COMMUNICATIONS has launched a marketing e-newsletter. And company principals Bob Witeck and Wes Combs were recently named the Potomac Executive Network's Business Leaders of the Year; the network is Metro D.C.'s LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

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Are there important changes going on at your publication? E-mail the information to editor@PressPassQ.com.


 
Re: Mark A. Lund Transitions (Press Pass Q, April 2005)

I find it interesting how you call yourself a publisher, but fail to get the other side of the story. Disgusting. Do not be surprised if you hear from my attorney on this matter. And for the record, not that it matters because you obviously don't care about reporting the other side when you know how to reach me, this amount was written off and will be defended as such.
 
And to think I actually had respect for your business. I'll be sure to speak otherwise.

Mark A. Lund, publisher, Scene Magazine (West Hollywood)

CORRECTION: In the last issue, we wrote that the New York Blade is owned by Window Media; it is in fact published by HX Media, LLC, which is only partly owned by Window Media. And, we quoted blogger Andrew Sullivan's note on new Out editor Andrew Hicklin's heterosexuality; Sullivan reversed himself and apologized to the gay Hicklin shortly after. Us, too.
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Send your thoughts, praise, and criticism to editor@PressPassQ.com. Letters should be fewer than 300 words and may be edited for style and length.
 

****** KEY WEST GLBT newspaper for sale. 10th year of publishing, solid history and revenue stream. Twice a month, 8000 distribution, great advertisers. One of the finest GLBT papers in America's only Caribbean island. Contact greg@celebratekeywest.com.

****** OUTWORD MAGAZINE (http://www.outwordmagazine.com) is looking for experienced full or part-time advertising sales reps in Sacramento. Requirements: two years experience in print advertising sales, excellent organizational and communication skills. Applicants must be self-motivated, yet community-minded, with proven abilities to generate leads, build a client base, follow-through and make the sale. Salary plus commission. Resume with cover letter to fax 916-498-8445 or email sales@outwordmagazeine.com.

****** ON THE WEB. At the Press Pass Q website - www.PressPassQ.com - you'll find back issues and subscription information. Also, at the Q Syndicate website - www.qsyndicate.com - you'll find up-to-date information on the 15 columns and features we distribute to gay and lesbian media: A Couple of Guys, Bitter Girl, Book Marks, Crossword Puzzles, Deep Inside Hollywood, Editorial Cartoons, Lesbian Notions, Now Playing, Out of Town, Past Out, Q Scopes, Sex Talk, Sports Complex, and Whole Lesbian Sex. For information about subscribing to Q Syndicate content, write to sales@qsyndicate.com or call 908-232-5974.

****** DO YOU HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT for the Bulletin Board? Are you trying to get your work published? Looking for job applicants? Promoting a special project? Press Pass Q is now distributed to almost 2,000 working professionals in the gay and lesbian press. Bulletin Board announcements are just a dollar (U.S.) per word per insertion, paid up front. Send a check payable to Rivendell Media, P.O. Box 518, Westfield, NJ 07091-0518.

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THE STAFF

Publisher: Todd Evans, todd@PressPassQ.com
Editor: Eleanor Brown, editor@PressPassQ.com
Consulting Editor: Paula Martinac, paula@PressPassQ.com
Associate Editor: Dave Brousseau, dave@QSyndicate.com
Contributing Writers: Robert DeKoven, Tanya Gulliver, Liz Highleyman, Fred Kuhr, Bennett Marcus, Frank Pizzoli, Christopher Tittel

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CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE

ELEANOR BROWN likes to take breaks. Only she calls them holidays.

TANYA GULLIVER (at tanyagulliver@gmail.com) is a freelance writer based in Hamilton, Ont. She is the Ontario regional director for the Professional Writers Association of Canada.

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