My July AD is now well into its monthly distribution cycle. From scratch, and after two years, we are now covering large towns in north Nottinghamshire and nearly a dozen villages. This month’s newspaper is the biggest we’ve attempted, with 24 tabloid pages and three front-page changes.
One problem, though: a key distributor is off sick. This means yours truly – with one helper – is faced with letterboxing the round. We’re doing 800 this evening and agree to mop up tomorrow. The walking is a welcome boost to my get-fit effort and counters the hours spent in front of my new G4 Mac, designing ads, writing stories and subbing pages.
Rain puts off the planned delivery walk but the bonus of extra time in the office is seized upon to design some more pages for August’s paper.
I receive a call from a local butcher who advertises regularly and has enjoyed significant success with his home-made pork pies campaign. He wants to run his half-page pork pie ad again! This time, though, in colour with a picture of a pie sliced in half. His pies are evidently excellent – though as a vegetarian I choose to rely on second-hand opinion. We’ll also think up a pie story line for him, I promise.
By teatime the sun is out so I shut the Mac down and we go out delivering until 8.30pm, then for a pint in the village working men’s club. There at the bar I encounter a bloke with one leg. He’s in a wheelchair. Curious as to how he came to be one-legged, I get chatting and discover it was as the result of a motorbike crash. Better still, he still rides a 1,000cc super bike, which, he explains, he’s modified so he can still ride. A good page-three story takes shape.
There’s a coffee morning on at the local Methodist chapel. I go down and take them a dozen copies, which quickly get snapped up. I pick up a “10-double” ad from a local landscape gardener and then enjoy some carrot cake. The landscape gardener asks me if I’d be interested in a possible story.
He recently uncovered what he thinks are the remains of a medieval priory in someone’s back garden. I can’t believe my luck! Another chapel-goer confides in me that her neighbour has put up a £500 reward for information leading to the safe recovery of the family pet – a West Highland terrier called Sam.
A nice warm sunny morning, so I get the Harley Davidson out of the garage and myself and partner, Julia, set off for Matlock Bath (a popular East Midlands resort for bikers). Upon arrival, we sample the obligatory tray of chips and wander up and down the prom, beside the River Derwent to inspect the rows of parked machines. So many bikers head here now that the local council have slapped on a one-hour limit enforced by a lady parking warden.
After 45 minutes, we take our leave. Back to the “office” at home and a quick check of the e-mails (not done since Friday morning) reveals two half-page space reservations, one from the local district council and the other from the county council.
The growth in popularity of the AD means more time out on the road visiting clients, to the point where I’m now a space sales rep more than an editor.
But this morning brings a welcome break in the office to sort out important, but dull stuff like invoices, phone calls to the printers, fixing a dental appointment for a week on Tuesday and then, at 11am, nipping the cat to the vets in the firm’s Maestro van. Self-publishing is a busy life.
Back in the office and mid-afternoon brings a call from the local garden centre wanting to discuss a deal on a further full-page colour ad. They’re usually half-page customers, but this month tried a full page with, it appears, excellent results. The AD, I’m pleased to say, enjoys an excellent rapport with local businesses and I was quite proud of the mainly pictorial job I did last time featuring a young lady employee with roses. I use a Sony 4.0 Mega Pixels Cyber Shot digital camera for all ads and editorial work now – though I still cling on to my old 1964 Leicaflex in case the Queen ever comes to the district!
August’s edition is already half-complete thanks to a blitz on the Mac last week. At this stage August could go to 24 pages again. I can’t plan the paper exactly until I get a better idea of the ad volume. But it looks a probability. Quite frankly, 20 pages is plenty to do in four weeks when you have to allow for time out of the office selling and setting up what are sometimes fairly complex ads for people. And that’s not to mention finding and writing news stories. Property ads are one area I avoid as these are pretty well sewn up by the local weeklies, but having said that, I had a local estate agent book a big display today at office closing time.
Normally, I’d treat all the staff to a pint, but as there’s only one, I crack open a bottle of Chablis for myself and Julia, and we light the barbecue by the pond.
On balance I reckon that 20 pages will do for August. It will be a bit heavy on ads – but with a holiday in France and Belgium looming, one doesn’t want to burn oneself out.