Crafters now have a new website to visit

eHow logoeHow Crafts is a new “vertical” on the eHow website.

“It will include everything, from tips on making felt flowers to learning how to make a yarn painting. The new channel will offer step-by-step text articles, video demonstrations, original photography, and even templates for printable coloring books,” a spokesperson said.

Prospective contributors: Be aware that eHow is owned by Demand Media, one of the so called “content farms,” but if you want to contact them for work, you can do so here.

Writers beware: Conde Nast looks to cash in on content

Yes, it is still about content.

Condé Nast CEO Charles Townsend talked this week about the company going in to 2013. He mentioned a rate-base increase for several brands; making more money from subscriptions, and forecasted the success of the Condé Nast Entertainment division (CNE.)

“Our print business, even in the worst moment, continues to grow and the margins are sharper and the gross profit margins are mouthwatering,” he said, according to wwd.com. “When this economy recovers, the print business is going to be on fire.”

But then, he said the same thing at the beginning of 2012, which was going to be “exceptionally sunny.” We now know that it wasn’t so with layoffs and most everybody taking budget cuts, and the web business coming in at about half the rate the company expected (15% growth versus 30%.)

And he’s hot on CNE, which develops, creates, produces and distributes original television, film and digital initiatives based on the company’s brands. Articles in Conde Nast magazines have already been turned into movies (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Eat, Pray Love” and the just released “Argo”) – but not by Conde Nast. That will change now with the creation of CNE.

CNE President Dawn Ostroff has said her division intends to take “some of the great stories from our magazines and do them for the screen ourselves.” She also has pointed out that there are some 80,000 articles in the Condé Nast archive as well as new content every week in their various magazines. All of which are now being read and considered for new endeavors.

But, Townsend said, there are still questions about who owns these stories, the company or the writer? According to wwd.com, “many contracts are expected to come up for review by the end of the year. Townsend said Condé is still working through the intricacies of those questions and clarified it’s trying to propose a partnership, not outright ownership. That means ‘more income for contributors but also ourselves,’ he said.”

Do we really believe he’ll be that charitable?

Writers, check your contracts.

The more things change…

Is it time for a new revolt?

Back in 1970, 46 female employees at NEWSWEEK* sued the magazine for discrimination in hiring and promotion.  The suit was brought by the talented, well-educated young women who distributed the mail, clipped newspaper stories or worked as researchers doing fact-checking, because that was the most they could aspire to at that time.  There were no female writers or editors at Newsweek.

After quietly planning their uprising for weeks—in the ladies restrooms—they announced the lawsuit on March 16 of that year, the same day Newsweek hit newsstands with the cover story, ‘Women in Revolt.’  The timing was not an accident, but was orchestrated to gain maximum publicity for their cause.

The story of this groundbreaking episode in American media history, and how it brought about change, is chronicled in the recent book, ‘Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace’ by Lynn Povich, one of the leading ladies of the revolt.  It’s a tale that offers context for younger women, who may take for granted the benefits that redound to them from the struggles of their Mad Men-era sisters.

But before we get all smug and self-satisfied about how far we’ve come since those days, let’s fast-forward to 2012, and the latest editorial salary survey released by FOLIO:* magazine.

The survey revealed that female magazine editors make, on average, $15,000 less than their male counterparts.  Using data from 513 editors, the differences between men and women’s salaries span all editorial levels.  And sadly, as Folio: editor Bill Mickey told the Atlantic Wire in an interview, the gap is where it historically has been.  But Mickey doesn’t provide any insights into why this is so, and simply said it reflects “national trends across other industries.”

But, even if others do it, it isn’t right.

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”

This quote from famed American humorist, writer and Algonquin Round Table member, Robert Benchley, proves that not much has changed for freelancers in the 80 years since he said it.

Pity the poor freelancer, coping with unpaid invoices, unanswered pitches and 1099 tax forms, trying to maintain some semblance of organization and still have time to actually write.  But an LA startup company is attempting to make things easier.

Meet Assignmint.com, a new pitch-to-payment cloud workflow system, with the optimistic tagline, ‘We’re going to fix freelancing.’

Designed to target the most frequent and pervasive issues, writers will be able to manage pitches, editorial calendars, contracts, assignments, invoices, payments and expenses.

Co-founder and former New York Press editor Jeff Koyen says editor-side tools also will be built into the site, allowing them to “filter incoming pitches, issue assignments and then handle all related fulfillment right from their dashboard.”

Plans are in the works to add a clip and algorithm service, capable of matching freelancers with potential new clients, and to offer a variety of premium and custom services.

Initially the site will only serve writers and editors, but later in 2013 will expand to freelancers and employers in other fields such as IT, financial services, academia and fashion marketing.

A private beta launch is planned for June, and anyone who is interested in taking the new system for a test drive can sign up at www.assignmint.com.

The gender gap in print

Where are the women?

It’s a line we hear often in news and commentary when people are talking about business, politics or the sciences, fields where it seems like we should see greater numbers of women in positions of authority and influence.

And we can add to that list the fields of publishing and journalism, where the glass ceiling is covered in 12-point font.

A recently released study from the non-profit organization VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, exposes the continued—and disappointing—disparity between men and women in the rates of publication.  For the second year in a row, the VIDA Count looked at prestigious publications and tallied the bylines according to gender.  They found that 2011 looked much the same as 2010.

The results paint a lopsided picture. In 2011, THE NEW YORKER* published 613 articles by men and just 242 by women.  THE NEW REPUBLIC* printed 344 pieces penned by men, but only 78 written by women (we hope the new owner, Chris Hughes, will notice).  HARPERS* had 141 for the males and 42 for the females, more than a three-to-one ratio.

This story isn’t new.  Back in 2006, editor Ruth Davis Konigsberg took note of the fact that national issue-oriented and political magazines were, on average, publishing three stories by men for every one written by a woman.  She began the now-defunct WomenTK.com, as a project to keep a running total of women’s bylines.

Other studies have looked at editorial assignments for women and the subject matter they are given to cover.  More often than not, they are relegated to gender, marriage, motherhood, family and health, the so-called hearth-and-home topics.   Is it any wonder female writers gravitate toward women’s magazines?

Beyond the question of why this problem exists, is the bigger question of how to change it.  If installing more female editors was the magic answer, then THE NATION*, led by a woman, would do better than a male-to-female articles ratio of 440:166, and articles by women at The New Yorker, under Tina Brown, wouldn’t have fallen from 40% to just 20%.

Some think it’s time for magazines to set quotas as a way of closing the byline gap, making a commitment to place a minimum number of articles by women in each issue.  The theory is that it would force editors to seek out more quality content from women, and broaden the editorial pool.

Will some magazines, under pressure, try this type of journalistic affirmative action?  We shall see.

To view the VIDA Count and read more, visit www.vidaweb.org/the-count.

Constant contact: In times of change, Twitter identities remain stable

“My, people come and go so quickly here!”

While Dorothy spoke those words in The Wizard of Oz many years ago, they could just as easily apply to the current world of magazine publishing.

The established contact you have at a magazine today could be out the door tomorrow, the victim of cost cutting, staff shuffling, acquisition, or—heaven forbid—a self-inflicted wound.

Most of the time they find new positions and other staffers replace them, and so it goes in the magazine publishing circle-of-life.   Unfortunately their email addresses vaporize, vanishing into the ether, and contact information is rendered obsolete.

But, increasingly, one thing stays the same, no matter how many job changes or career moves someone makes: Their Twitter handle.

Just like a cell phone number that remains the same, no matter how many times you switch service providers or home addresses, Twitter handles have proved to be reliably stable.  An editor may work at three different publications in the same calendar year, but his or her Twitter handle stays constant.

A Twitter handle is inextricably linked to an individual.  It’s so closely connected, in fact, that Twitter has policies in place if a user claims that their brand is being impersonated (yes, each of us is now a brand!)  A Twitter handle becomes part of the user’s identity, and although it can be changed, few people ever take that step.  It is a great way to keep track of a favorite editor.

So beginning today, wherever possible, Wooden Horse will include the Twitter handles for editorial staffers.  It’s part of our continuing effort to provide our customers and readers with the information you need to be successful.

Thriving Latino-themed magazines are are a bright spot

Think all magazines are struggling?

It may depend on their target audience.  In figures released this week, Publishers Information Bureau reported impressive, double digit gains in revenue and ad pages for magazines targeting Latino readers.  Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the US, comprising 16% of the population, and advertisers have taken notice in a big way.

Meredith’s SIEMPRE MUJER, with a rate base of 550,000, saw advertising revenue jump by 51% in 2011 over 2010, and a 32% hike in ad pages.  Parenting pub SER PADRES, another Meredith property, has a rate base of 800,000 and upped ad revenue by 17%, with 13% growth in ad pages.  LATINA*, an English-language women’s magazine from Latina Media Ventures, experienced a similar rise, taking in 15% more in ad revenue and selling 13% more ad pages.  Time Inc’s PEOPLE EN ESPANOL racked up an added 37% in ad dollars in 2011, and boasted an increase of 32% in ad pages.

Is it any wonder that COSMOPOLITAN* last month announced plans for COSMOPLITAN LATINA, a new bicultural English-language glossy?  An eagerly awaited test issue is scheduled for release in May 2012.

So for freelancer writers and PR pros trying to find new prospects in a shifting market, you don’t have to look far.  Opportunity is here, and it looks like it’s moving to a Latin beat.