Special Report - Magazines: Launch secrets

Understanding your market and being brave enough to trust your instincts are some of the qualities needed to take charge of a new title. Two editors share the secrets of their success.

AMANDA MORGAN - Editor, Debenhams Desire

- What's the most difficult decision you've had to make before or since your magazine launched?

Leaving one dream job for another.

- What are your main ambitions for the magazine over the next 12 months?

Ideally, I would have loved Debenhams Desire to pick up this year's Association of Publishing Agencies award for Launch of the Year (especially as Publicis Blueprint has had a great track-record in this category, having won it for the past two years with Homebase Ideas and Toni & Guy magazine). But now, I want to produce a magazine that's trusted and enjoyed by our readers, that does the job we set out to do for our clients and is the envy of the industry, with great-looking pages produced by the best team and contributors in the business.

- What does it take to be an editor of a successfully launched title?

You have to love the job, fully understand your market, keep on top of emerging trends and, above all, recruit the right team of talented people and allow them the freedom to do what they do best.

- Which past experience has helped you to cope with the challenges of your role most?

My four years as the group editor of Asda Magazine. This was (and still is) a huge account with many, many spin-offs, all with tight budgets and even tighter schedules. It was different and very rewarding.

- Which piece are you most proud of that has run in your magazine so far?

I love the denim shoot we did with Grey Zisser in our spring issue - it's stylish, sophisticated and sexy as hell. It pushes all the buttons as far as "styling the nation" is concerned.

- Which magazine do you see as your main competitor?

Every single one of the fashion and lifestyle titles, homegrown and international. They're all important in their own way.

- What advice would you give to anyone thinking about launching a magazine in your sector?

Do your groundwork. Before we launched Desire, we produced a full-colour, glossy, perfect-bound dummy edition that we put into research, so by the time we went live, we knew exactly what we needed to do to tick all the boxes for the client and the readers. And, of course, make sure the ad revenue is in place.

- Which magazine launch of the past five years do you admire most, and why?

The handbag-sized Glamour (I wish I'd thought of that one!). It was a great attention-grabber.

- Your favourite magazine (other than your own!)?

Eve for the features, Red for the fashion, Vogue because it's Vogue and American Allure for the beauty.

- What do you love and hate about your job?

Loves: the variety of the subject matter, getting to travel for shoots, meeting great photographers, writers and stylists. Hates: deadlines. Even with only five issues a year, they come around far too soon ...

SUSIE FORBES - Editor, Easy Living

- What's the most difficult decision you've had to make before or since your magazine launched?

To be honest, there hasn't been a decision so far that has been outstandingly difficult. We spent so long thinking about and researching the launch that we have been able to make each decision in a very measured way.

- What are your main ambitions for the magazine over the next 12 months?

That we continue to exceed our circulation goals. That we continue to excite and surprise our readers. That the brand of Easy Living becomes synonymous with glossy style and practical solutions.

- What does it take to be an editor of a successfully launched title?

Being brave enough to trust your instincts.

- Which past experience has helped you to cope with the challenges of your role most?

Having children has trained me for the sleep deprivation. I often wake up at three or four in the morning and spend an hour thinking about the magazine. It's the only time that I can do that alone and in peace.

- Which piece are you most proud of that has run in your magazine so far?

I really liked the "What's a Generation Between Friends" story in our launch issue. The USP of Easy Living is to be very glamorous, yet remain anchored in reality, and getting well-known women (Tracy Emin, Anita Pallenberg, Betty Jackson, Lynn Barber etc) to talk about a very real, very emotive subject perfectly unified those two strands.

- Which magazine do you see as your main competitor?

I don't see any single title as our main competitor. With Easy Living, we are hoping to grow the market rather than cannibalise readers from any other magazine in particular. We learned from our lengthy research process that there are vast numbers of women who have given up buying monthly magazines because they don't really feel that there is a title out there "for them" and, gratifyingly, hundreds of them have already contacted us to say that Easy Living has changed their mind.

- What advice would you give to anyone thinking about launching a magazine in your sector?

Sorry, but I simply can't imagine a scenario when I would give advice to a competitor. And since, to my knowledge, Conde Nast has no plans to launch a second title into this sector, my secrets will remain safe.

- Which magazine launch of the past five years do you admire most, and why?

Glamour. The small format was a masterstroke and Jo Elvin is an editor who perfectly understands the needs and desires of her readers.

- Your favourite magazine (other than your own!)?

British Vogue.

- What do you love and hate about your job?

I love everything about my job and hate the idea of one day not doing it.