Magazine design costs

Magazine design from just £9 per page…

by Dean Cook, June 8, 2017
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Ever wondered why there are different magazine design costs? Well, Dean Cook can explain.

The price of £9 per page* for professional magazine design and production services with us is certainly possible. We’re not just going to offer a fictional carrot-dangler — that’s just not our style. For this level of pricing, it is likely to be based on finalised copy supplied by the client and apply content to pre-formatted text-only reports so we can swiftly generate PDF files for its intended output as we currently do with a some of our business and financial publishers.

For a publication requiring a greater essence of design and creativity would naturally attract more time. It could typically include:

  • the sourcing and processing of images, illustrations and infographics;
  • processing and checking of advertisements;
  • constructing, positioning and fitting elements;
  • being creative with formatting and applying typography;
  • proofing and making amendments;
  • managing surrounding production; and
  • preparing, uploading and technically approving pages at prepress.

As contributory factors, it all leads to increasing page rates. We need to accurately assess what is involved first, including the development of master pages if required, rather than pluck figures from the air. Every magazine is different and each is handled with individual attention.

Naturally, we would all like to aim for the best possible price for a professional and personal magazine design and production service to help you attract readers (and advertisers). However, to be enticed by very low rates offered by single-handed magazine designers possessing minimal publishing/commercial print experience, or back-room production companies located in other continents, could be a false economy. Read our article here.

A frustration aired from our commercial print contacts is that non-compliant artwork is repeatedly being submitted, therefore resulting with the printing company applying further time to assist the magazine designer to resolve common technical issues so the publication can be replicated as close to client expectations. In this environment, there should be no excuse.

This industry is not regulated so it’s open to all to try their hand at being a ‘magazine designer’. Worryingly, looking through some websites offering magazine design services, there is naturally a keen element to gain your business by offering unsustainable low rates. While it may be an incentive, caution should be applied. A lot hinges on the magazine designer. While their abilities may serve a function, the low rates may reflect hastily prepared pages and include technical errors that could slip through the prepress system later. It’s likely that they may not possess commercial production, prepress or print experience.

“…typically four out of five magazine designers are not able to meet compliant standards for commercial printing.”

So, why is that around 80% of magazine designers are not able to meet compliant standards? One leading factor is that many have not gained essential technical prepress knowledge. It’s a scary thought. We regularly ask about competence levels with several prepress managers, and their feedback barely changes year on year. Read more here.

‘Placing adverts for free’. Where’s the catch?

We are aware that some magazines designers offer to place adverts for free. While it may sound easy, attractive and appear to lower magazine design costs, it should be viewed that the magazine designer may not take the time to inspect and technically check all incoming artwork as part of their service. As a result, it bypasses a perfect opportunity to flag some common technical problems such as size, colour, bleed, resolution, font issues and other anomalies that may translate through to print.

BE CAUTIOUS: If any advert prints differently as the advertiser intended and they complain, then, unless the error can be externally proven, the publisher may be left to recompense the advertiser. Would your designer know what caused the problem? If so, why wasn’t it picked up before it went to print in the first place? Any good magazine designer/production artist would highlight issues before placement and advise with a solution to correct.

It’s because of technical issues caused by various magazine designers that it only becomes apparent when it is too late. It is just one of the reasons why we are contacted.

“We are actively dealing with technical issues on-the-fly way before the artwork reaches prepress.”

For us, it is critical to check every single advert before positioning on the page because artwork may contain a variety of technical problems. If we spot something that isn’t right then, if we’re unable to resolve correctly, we will provide the advertiser with a solution to correct — and ahead of the print deadline too. Naturally, this will take time; we need to ensure artwork prints as the advertiser intended as well as doing our bit to protect the revenue for the publisher. We are actively dealing with technical issues on-the-fly way before the artwork reaches prepress.

As production artists, each member of our team has each benefitted from more than 20-years commercial experience having worked with repro houses, prepress departments and working alongside print-minders. Some of the idiosyncrasies encountered in the ’90s are still a part of our working practices today. Just one example; we never use JPGs when preparing pages and with good reasons too. We fully appreciate the commercial standards required to ensure all artwork remain free of technical errors. As such, as soon as the magazine is signed-off, we can upload print-compliant PDF files to any printer’s prepress system in the world, technically approve and queue the pages for plating within just a few hours. If you are experiencing anything different, then give us a call.

Armed with details of your publication, we can evaluate and hone in on the best price. If you already have a price, then let’s see if we can match it — who knows, wouldn’t it be great if we could beat it?

To find out more, drop us a line via our contact page or call 01273 911730.

* Price is based on a regular title of at least six issues per year, containing at least 48pp, submitting approved copy to pre-formatted master pages, the client supply of an average of one high resolution image per page, up to three rounds of proofs and subject to VAT if applicable. Pricing subject to sight of content supplied.

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