How to Start a New Publishing Venture
Question: My husband and I want to start an advertisement paper called Pet Gallery. It would be geared for the pet lover, and as far as I know, there's no paper like it in our general area. This paper would consist of photos and bios of people's pets and would also contain advertisements for pet cemeteries, pet shops, vets, pets for sale (with photo), classifieds for used pet supplies, pet-sitting services, kennels, dog training, grooming services and upcoming pet shows. I've already found a printer outside our area but am concerned with the layout of the paper. What else do I need to do to get this project off the ground?
Answer: What a fun business concept! As you've probably discovered, getting a new publishing venture off the ground can take some time. There are important plans to put in place in at least four critical areas: distribution, sales, editorial content and layout.
Since your advertising rates will be based on your paper's circulation and the quality of its readership base, distribution is a key element. Not only is it important to have a large number of readers but they must also be individuals who can use your advertisers' services. To achieve this goal, you should set up agreements to distribute the newspaper in the places your target audience frequents--pet shops, groomers and veterinary clinics, for example.
As publisher of your newspaper, your principal job will be advertising sales. Initially, you'll need a prototype or first issue of your publication to use as a sales tool. You may have to offer free ads to compile this initial issue, so its publication will require a financial investment on your part. Your prototype issue should be presented to potential advertisers in your "media kit," the standard tool used for advertising sales. Contact your local newspapers and ask for copies of their kits so you can get a good idea of the necessary content. Typical kits include information on rates, publication and advertising closing dates, editorial calendars, readership surveys and testimonials.
To make your publication one readers will reach for time and again, its content must be useful and interesting. Include features and interviews with local pet experts and invite pet professionals, such as a local veterinarian, to submit regular columns. As for design and layout--these aren't do-it-yourself jobs and should be put in the hands of professionals. It may cost more, but your new paper will be an unproven advertising vehicle and the better it looks, the more readers and advertisers it will attract.