Production process

The process starts with a production meeting for the whole team: Editor, Production Editor, Features Editor, Sports Editor, Advertising Manager, Subscriptions Manager, Deliveries Manager (a new role in 2021: it used to be covered by the Subscriptions Manager), Sales Manager, and Accounts Manager. Everyone gives a brief update on the area they cover, and then we discuss the previous issue and any feedback we’ve had, and talk about ideas for the next issue.

In our January meeting before the February–March issue, we agree prices for the following year for sales, subscriptions (hand-delivered and postal), and advertisements.

The Advertising Manager sends out emails to advertisers in February asking if they want to renew. Payments are made by cash, cheque or bank transfer, and ads are confirmed for the April–May issue: the Advertising Manager also sends the Subscriptions Manager a list of advertisers, as those in Sawston and Pampisford get a free subscription, and those elsewhere one free copy.

The deadline for ads is a week before the copy deadline, and the Advertising Manager sends any ad changes and new ads to the Designer then.

Our copy deadline is last thing on a Sunday. We ask contributors to send copy to the Production Editor and pictures to the Picture Editor for easier processing.

The week following the copy deadline is our print production week, when the Production Editor processes copy (though a lot of this work has been done as it came in), the Editor edits it, and the Designer lays out the pages. The diary deadline is noon on the Wednesday: the Production Editor downloads the events and sends them to the Editor.

The Sales Manager and Subscriptions Manager work out how many copies we will need to print, and tell the printer. The Subscriptions Manager also prepares delivery sheets, adding new subscribers and advertisers and taking off cancellations.

Any major articles are usually sent to the subject or the author for approval during this week. We often ask on the Sawston Facebook page for people to submit pictures, and sometimes get pictures good enough to go on the cover.The magazine is sometimes finished on the Friday; sometimes over the weekend. It goes to press around lunchtime on Monday. The design is done in Quark XPress and we send a PDF to our printer, Plumridge’s in Linton.

Printing takes two to three days; our Deliveries Manager collects the copies on Wednesday afternoon, bundles them up for deliverers and takes them round on Wednesday evening. Each deliverer gets a sheet showing all the places they will deliver to; we also give them one spare copy to deliver to anyone they think might like it, along with a subscription card.

The deliverers take copies to subscribers from Wednesday evening to the following Sunday, which is always before the beginning of the cover month (we work out the other dates backwards from this one).

The Sales Manager takes the magazines to go on sale in local shops from the Monday, two weeks after the copy deadline, and puts up posters along the high street. They refill the boxes and collect the money during the two months the magazine is one sale, then collect them all to refill. All the sales are from boxes except for Spar, which scans the barcode on the back cover at the till and pays us for copies sold. The cover price is £2.

Subscriptions are for six issues starting with the April–May issue. Renewal forms go out with the February–March issue: subscribers can pay their deliverer; take money to the Subs Manager or Sawston Post Office; or pay online by credit card or debit card via Stripe (not by bank transfer) – we moved from PayPal to Stripe during 2023 to save on fees. From April–May 2024, subscribers will get the magazine only if they have paid: the Subscriptions Manager will mark unpaid subscriptions on the delivery sheets and reminder cards will be delivered. After that, subscribers can renew online or contact the Subscriptions Manager to renew.

The Subscriptions Manager collects subs forms and payments from the post office, and gets forms and payments from the deliverers. All the information is kept on a spreadsheet (new in 2022!) and then cash and cheques are passed on to the Accounts Manager. Stripe payments are logged by the Subscriptions Manager.

Subscriptions run from the April–May issue and cost £5 for a year, a saving of £7 on buying each copy in the shops – less than half price, plus free delivery. If someone subscribes during the year, they pay for the issues remaining:

  • June–July – £4.50
  • August–September – £4
  • October–November – £3.50 
  • December–January – £3
  • February–March – £1.50, but we ask you to subscribe for the next year as well, so in 2022 this was £6.50.

We print about 1,100 copies and have nearly 900 subscribers, many of whom tell us that they share their copies with family and friends: the rest are sold in shops in Sawston, with a few sent further afield to our postal subscribers – one goes as far as Edinburgh!