Size / / /

Sassy Magazine was the first magazine I ever subscribed to. It was 1990, I was in eighth grade, and somehow reading that magazine felt a little bit like talking to the cool older sister that I didn't actually have. Fourteen years later, I've acquired enough of a writerly vocabulary to say that Sassy had a clear and personal narrative voice; at the time, the best I could come up with was that the staff talked like real people. Part of what made Sassy special that way was that all of the magazine content was signed (that's incredibly unusual in fashion and lifestyle magazines) and each staff writer had a distinct personality. I knew the difference between Karen Catchpole's writing and Christina Kelly's, I knew that Mike and Margie hated each other's taste in music, and I knew that the point of the Cute Band Alert wasn't actually that the band members were cute.

And running the whole show, in some manner of speaking, was Jane Pratt. Every issue had an editorial by Jane, telling some story about the staff or explaining some aspect of the magazine publishing process. Jane's editorials were chatty and personal, and I loved feeling like I was peeking backstage. Jane Magazine, the grown-up version of the old Sassy, still runs very similar editorials by Jane Pratt, and whenever I read Jane (I don't subscribe, but it's an airplane-reading favorite of mine) I get a little bit of that old feeling back.

When I agreed to take over as Editor-in-Chief of Strange Horizons, one of the things I thought about was whether or not I wanted to write regular editorials. It wasn't one of the first things I thought of -- my first few thoughts on the issue were all on the lines of "my god, Mary Anne Mohanraj is an impressive act to follow" -- but eventually it came up. We don't necessarily need regular editorials, many magazines get by fine without them, but I think there's some value to that personal contact.

From there, though, I had to figure out what kind of editorials to write. I certainly didn't want to write one of those "check out what's in this issue" pieces that a lot of my other airplane-reading magazines have (Sunset, I'm looking at you); those are boring to read, and I can only imagine that they're even more boring to write. The Atlantic Monthly has only irregular editorial columns, but the magazine's managing editor has a monthly column of personal essays and commentary. Robert Silverberg's column in Asimov's is similar to Cullen Murphy's in The Atlantic, the only real difference being that Silverberg isn't actually on the Asimov's editorial staff. Every issue of Cook's Illustrated contains a piece by one of the magazine's editors, usually a Garrison Keillor-style meditation on life in rural New England that has little or no connection to cooking. Both Jane and Maxim have monthly short editorials that talk in equal parts about the backstage world of magazine production, details of the editor's personal life (or the personal lives of the staff members), and general social commentary. Most of the magazines I read regularly just don't have any editorial column.

Where that leaves me is with a lot of possible models and still no clear idea of which one to use. Model or not, though, I've staked out the third week of the month for editorials. I'm sure that I'll talk about magazine business from time to time. More often than not, though, you'll probably just get a monthly column on whatever's on my mind. I'll try to make it interesting.

 

Copyright © 2004 Susan Marie Groppi

Reader Comments


Susan Marie Groppi is Editor-in-Chief of Strange Horizons.



Susan Marie Groppi is a historian, writer, and editor. She was a fiction editor at Strange Horizons from 2001 to 2010, and Editor-in-Chief from January 2004 to December 2010.
No comments yet. Be the first!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Current Issue
6 Jul 2020

And they all knew about it.
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Stephen O'Donnell's “Last Orders in the Green Lane.”
Landing feels like getting off a trampoline, / The weightlessness fading to muscle memory
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Thomas White's “After.”
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 1 Jun 2020
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Strange Horizons
Issue 25 May 2020
By: Dana Wilde
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 18 May 2020
By: Johnny Compton
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jong-Ki Lim
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 May 2020
By: Gabriela Santiago
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ashley Bao
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 May 2020
By: Vida Cruz
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Raimo Kangasniemi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: