Trials of a Newsletter Editor

By Steve Davies

This is divided into three sections: first, what we expected, second, what actually happened, and third, what we learned from it...

Part 1-In Which Martin Tempts Me With Egoboo and Fiona (Sensible Girl) Tempts Me With Money

When Martin asked me to do the Intersection newsletter, I agreed without a great deal of thought. I'd worked on Worldcon newsletters like Confacts and ConFictions, I've done fanzines, I like reading convention newsletters and I've been pretty outspoken about how crappy some of them have been in the past. Shouldn't require much pre-planning, just a matter of wading through the deluge of copy and sorting out the printable bits.... I learned, several days into Intersection, that the Newsletter is often given to aspiring Worldcon Chairs as a test to see how good they are. Maybe that accounts for why some newsletters have been so bad. First, I needed some editors, C&CF had run a system with 4 shifts so that there were 3 shifts each day and one shift got the day off. A good scheme, I recommend it (though as you will see later, it rather fell apart in practice). To do this, I needed shift leaders and I picked myself, Mike Scott, Chris O'Shea and Alex Stewart. I wanted people who could write, who could use DTP/word-processors and who had a sense of humour, but most of all they had to be people who could get along with each other. So we got together and discussed what to do. We looked at Chaz Baden's Baby Newszine Steps and we looked through my massive collection of old convention newsletters identifying what was wrong with them. We came to a number of decisions:

If you want to know more about our pre-con planning, I've attached the minutes of our one and only meeting to this document. Something that did become evident was that the great Ministry of Truth spoof was a non-starter (a short digression here: The Confabulation committee had realised that between us we controlled most of Intersection's channels of information distribution, we had the Information Desk, the Newsletter and a pretty good chance of influencing public announcements in Hall 5. We decided that it would be a fun idea to run the whole thing as a 1984 parody with Newspeak in the newsletter [to be called 'The Information Bulletin-All The News We're Going To Let You Know'], pre-censored posters, completely re-written newsletters [we are at war with Dragon*Con, we have always been at war with Dragon*Con], Security in the role of MiniLove, ourselves as MiniTrue and so on. It could have been fun, but it would have been a great deal of extra work and I felt that somehow the Party [the board] just wouldn't be very happy. So we canned it. I throw out the idea for free to anyone who wants to make a convention committee really jumpy. Oh, and that explains the 'Ministry of Truth' ad in the Confab programme book, by the way). We did come up with a whole lot of silly filler stories that we could include if we needed them, running gags like the colophon, piss-takes etc. So here we are back at the newsletter, which still didn't have a name by the way, I was dithering over Voice of the Mysterons right up to the point where Ian Sorensen phoned demanding to know what it was so he could put it in the pocket programme which was about to go to press. I think it was a good choice for a name, it gave us an opportunity for various puns (the Voice of the Mysterons says that...), it sounded like the name of a newspaper and it reflected the GoH who was getting the least attention. However, I was very concerned at the time that it would be seen as too frivolous. Having used the AB Dick duplicator in Holland and seen the various Gestetners used at assorted cons in the US and the UK (and having heard horror stories about the photocopiers used at Conspiracy and Magicon) I decided that I wanted a Gestetner and by Ghu I was going to kill for one if I had to. ("Okay, so what's so great about Gestetners?", I hear you cry. You've obviously never tried photocopying several thousand copies at once. Photocopiers are meant for making a few copies of a multi-page document. Ask one for a thousand copies and they start to overheat terribly since the toner has to be fused onto the paper at high heat and this results in their sensitive electronics suddenly stopping working. Gestetners use a cold ink process which is designed for running off hundreds of copies. Copiers also have a convoluted paper path which results in frequent paper jams, Gestetners run the paper straight through which not only prevents jams but also gives them double the throughput of an equivalent size of copier. There's lots more reasons, I'm sure I could bore for Britain on the subject given half a chance...). For a long time, it looked as if the con was going to get sponsorship from Xerox in the form of a couple of office copiers, I bent John Stewart's ear and told him I was going to have a Gestetner or else. For a long time nothing happened. Then Gytha phoned, asking me what kit I required since she was now in charge of acquiring it; my cup ran over. With unmatched efficiency, she got me a quote for hire of Gestetner-2000 for the week. Around this point, it suddenly occurred to me (for no obvious reason, you understand) to wonder how large my budget was. I phoned Fiona and was told that I had about 600, most of which appeared to be earmarked for postage of some sort. We both boggled at each other over the phone, 600 would possibly, if we were very lucky, cover the paper costs for the newsletter (and even that wasn't certain since the price of paper was skyrocketing at that point and had more than doubled in the previous six months). Clearly there had been a budgeting error at an early stage and nobody had noticed, equally clearly something had to be done and fast. So Fiona stole most of the At-Con Office budget which seemed to be excessively large to both of us, and, in exchange for me compromising my principles and agreeing to do Fan Repro, gave it to Newsletter. It was just enough-particularly since we'd now also learned that we couldn't bring our own PCs but were going to have to rent them (out of my previously next-to non-existent budget). Phew! Right, now we had money. Gytha ordered me a Gestetner, a small photocopier (in case of emergencies) and two 486 PCs (fortunately, I remembered to ask for one of them with a CD-ROM drive since most of my software was on CD-ROM, it nearly didn't occur to me that in this day and age a PC might not have a CD-ROM. They actually wanted more for the CD-ROM than the damn things cost to buy, Gytha bargained them down to a merely exorbitant figure after I bellowed in agony) and I ordered 400 worth of ink (about 10 litres) and stencils (2 rolls) for the Gestetner. Fiona ordered paper after we had thrashed out how much we would need. This is hard, by the way. This is when "sale or return" really comes into its own. I think we ended up ordering 120,000 sheets to cover the newsletter, the Programming pink sheets and Fan Repro. We reckoned that the newsletter would run to 12-15 issues of between 2500 and 5000 copies each and that if we were going for 3 issues a day we would need a minimum of 4 colours (not including pink which was reserved for Programme). This ended up as something like 15 x 4000 sheets of assorted colours for the newsletter, 6 x 5000 sheets of pink for Programme and 30,000 white for Fan Repro and unforeseen emergencies. I think we finished the con with about 15-20,000 sheets, but some of it was in fairly poor condition which we hadn't allowed for. We also ended up with 5 litres of ink (we used 7, since 2 came with the machine) and a roll of stencils (we used 1-2 since a fresh roll came in the machine) but we couldn't safely have ordered much less and we had to go on the worst case scenario-we had to assume that there were no Gestetner supplies closer than London, 400 miles away.

Part 2-In Which We Arrive At The Con And All Our Plans Go Awry

Wednesday: Arrive at con, find that no-one knows where our rental computers are. Nobody knows where the paper is and nobody knows where anything else is. Ask Giulia to sit on all my gear in case it disappears as well. Take my own gear to be electrically tested. Told there's a three hour wait. Privately told that the wait is more like half a day but that they'll try and hurry it for us. We find the newsroom, not quite what we expected and "Oh shit!" there's only two powerpoints, one at each end of a long thin room. Fortunately I brought lots of 4-way blocks with long cables (assuming they pass testing) and we'll just have to hope that the fuses don't blow. Chris from Gestetner has arrived and shows us how to work the duplicator. He keeps trying to sell the features of the machine and I keep telling him that I sweated blood persuading Intersection to pay 2000 pounds for a Gestetner instead of getting a copier for free from Xerox. He leaves us the phone number of someone who'll come out and fix it if anything goes wrong, Bank Holiday or not. Go and hunt for the other supplies. Discover vast quantity of paper in secure store. Little by little Mike and I take it upstairs to the newsroom. No stencils or ink. I go hunting and discover find them in the film programme along with... two computers! Go and ask Ops if they are mine. Ops tell me that Gytha is looking for me to tell me that she can't find my computers. Eventually return to Hall 2 and find the computers being hauled away. But not to the newsroom. Discover from Richard the Rampant that yes these are my computers but they have to be PAT tested. It appears that when they tested a random rental machine, it failed the PAT test so now all the machines have to be tested. Fortunately, I brought a lot of spare power leads, just in case. At least the testers have been told to give me priority. Set up and arrange newsroom. Scrounge two tables from Hall 4 (despite having ordered five, we haven't got any). Eventually the first machine comes back so we can start work at last.... It's the crappy 8086 I brought only for use in emergencies and it doesn't run anything remotely usable for layout. At last we get one of the rental 486s back. It's got Windows installed but has no mouse. Go to box of assorted computer gear I brought with me (notice a trend developing here? I packed every bit of spare computer/electrical kit I could lay my hands on, and used most of it) and retrieve spare mouse. It doesn't work. Look at mouse, mouse looks back. It's a 3-button mouse and needs a different mouse driver. Remove mouse and plug in trackball brought for mouse-haters. It works! Start to install Office. Insert CD-ROM. Turns out to be NT version of Office. Try floppies. Turn out to be upgrade only and it won't install onto this clean machine. Panic. Go hunting round convention for copies of Word. MSN offer copy of Win95 to use with NT version but it won't arrive until tomorrow. Eventually get Wim van der Bospoort to install via Interlink from his laptop which has a full install set and 8 user licenses (one of the benefits of working for MS Netherlands). We're up and running but wait... I load in the template and no sign of our font (Zapf Humanist). Bugger it. Decide to use Times Roman and to hell with it. Start entering text for Wednesday issue of VoM, it's about 6pm now and we're all getting frazzled, but I'm determined to get an issue out tonight. People keep coming up with new stories that absolutely have to go in and so we keep reducing the size of type and stripping out the silly filler stories that we prepared in advance. Eventually, we try and do a test-print. We attach the rental laser-printer and discover that it's leaving a streak down each page, indicating that a nozzle is blocked in the toner cartridge. About this point we realise that the printers didn't come with spare cartridges (unlike every printer we've rented before) so we can't change the cartridge. Try other printer. This one seems to be using some obscure emulation and just produces pages of gibberish. We go back to the streaky one. We look at the printout and realise that our watermark number isn't there. Look at the screen and realise that Wim's version of Word doesn't understand Corel Draw and all our numbers are Corel graphics. By now, it's about 8pm and we were supposed to be going out to eat at 7pm. We don't have a number, we don't have our typeface, we don't have a masthead but we do have a lot of text. We say "Sod it!" and print (removing the streaks from the printout with Tippex fluid). Nine pm. Issue 0 hits the Concourse and the VoM editorial team head for Mr Singh's India in a heap of frazzled nerves. Can we keep it up for the whole con? Thursday. In the light of day and following a dubious night's sleep on the 24th floor of the YMCA, everything seems a lot better (even if the lift has stuck on the 25th, due to being full of Croatians, and we have to carry all our luggage downstairs). We go back to the newsroom, find and install the missing font, set up the assorted computers so everything is accessible, Chris O'Shea fixes the problem with the watermark numbers, Mike Scott fixes the problem with the printer emulation and we abandon the streaky printer to its fate. We still don't have a masthead picture so Mike goes looking for Sue Mason who does one on the spot and we size it to fit using the photocopier. Just in time, because shortly afterwards, the photocopier starts churning out black sheets and we have to call the engineer. But the Gestetner is still chugging away happily (having done about 5000 sheets as opposed to the 50 sheets that the photocopier's done)!

We start to do our first real issue...and run into our first real problems. Our logo has large areas of black, which means that the ink is still damp when it comes out of the Gestetner and bleeds through to the back of the page. We decide that we can live with it. Various people want things copying, and we have to set up the system for them to pay and a log-book for the Gestetner to keep track of where all the paper and ink is going. We place a table across the entrance to the room so that people can't come in and bother us. And we try and sort out the flood (I wish) of volunteers into shifts. We do have some volunteers and these rapidly divide into the essential (like Jan van t'Ent, Kathy Westhead and Tom Becker) and the occasionally usable. We manage two issues on Thursday and set the tone for the whole con. Basically, I eat, drink and sleep in the newsroom, occasionally getting away when it's not my shift. The shift leaders run their shifts and help out on most of the other shifts. We keep having to pad stories out because the long articles submitted by some people have to be cut right down to make them at all readable. We also have to chuck out a fair proportion of stories because they are either too cryptic, too insulting or just totally uninteresting. At this point we're running a system based on PostIt notes-we attach a PostIt to each story and put the scrap of paper it's on into a tray (lid of copier paper box), when we use the story it goes into another tray-which does have some major disadvantages. We're also having to cope with supplying electronic copies in Word format to MSN, since they're being very helpful, and text-only copies on disk for the computer-room to put on the net (except that for some reason this didn't happen until I did it a week or two later). Distribution is proving to be a problem. Chaz Baden's notes said it would be and suggested a solution-hardboard racks, about 6 foot high and painted blue. We thought we knew better and decided to go for photocopy boxes with "News" in huge letters on a fluorescent pink background. If I was doing this again, I might see what I could do with the idea of distribution racks, the problem with boxes is that they sit on a table and aren't visible through a crowd. And hand-distribution just doesn't get to as many people as you want it to. We're mainly distributing to boxes at Information Desk, Registration and Hall 4 plus a number of copies going to Ops, Fan Room etc. We also hand-distribute to places like the Dealers' Room (they're very grateful), the Moat House hotel and the main concourse. The evening issues get hand-distributed to the party hotels, unfortunately most of us are headed for the Central and so the Forte Crest sometimes loses out. A number of people, throughout the con, kept coming to the newsroom for issues they'd missed. Fortunately, we arranged with the Information Desk that they would carry back issues and so we sent everybody there (we had a firm rule-no copies of any edition to be issued from the newsroom, it made life a lot easier). Friday. Things seem to be going smoothly... and then various members of the committee start taking me aside and whispering contradictory stories about John Brunner's health and what we can and cannot print. I'm also handed two separate party reports for the previous night (I've never really seen the point of party reports and I wasn't going to bother) so since Dana Siegel is there being useful, I run hers. Big mistake. It appears that (i) she's been rather derogatory about some parties which, it appears, just isn't done in Worldcon newsletters. But also (ii) Scott Bobo and Kurt Baty have committee approval to supply party reports to the newsletter. Deep sigh. Promise Kurt and Scott that I'll run their reports in future, apologise to Dana and make mental note to blame her if anyone complains about the review.

(Fiona: actually it's news to me that *anyone* had committee approval to supply any reports to the Newsletter. I had naively assumed Steve had the final say as to what got printed and what didn't, as he was Newsletter Chief...)

Then Martin Easterbrook turns up and hauls me away to the SFWA suite and breaks the news. John Brunner is dead. Things get very emotional for a while and then we discuss what to do. This isn't something we'd considered, it isn't even a scenario in If I Ran The WorldZooCon. We decide to do a short announcement so we can have it out in the SECC before any rumours start flying around. We also agree that we will do a proper memorial edition the next day. Martin and Vince want me to do the announcement in secret, but there's no way to keep something like this hidden from the rest of the newsroom. I bind them to secrecy for the next half hour, lock the newsroom door and we get to work. We make it just a short announcement, with the quote from the obituary page in the Souvenir Book at the foot. I also decide to use the VoM logo so people know this is official, but remove the masthead cartoon as being out of place in a formal announcement. Then we distribute by hand, with the board's assistance, to as many places as we can reach. I think this was the best solution and I think we did a good job. The only problem we had was that someone with more feeling than sense takes it upon themself to go around removing all copies of the previous issue in which we announced that John was sick in hospital. I nearly hit the roof, check with the Board that this hasn't originated with them and prepare to reprint that issue. Fortunately, we find the missing newsletters under a table in Security and redistribute those instead. (This still annoys me, months later, you don't destroy newspapers because they refer to someone who's since died do you? you just print the news in the next edition). Saturday. The newsroom is packed with people typing in stuff for the John Brunner tribute. It quickly becomes obvious that we're going to have too much material and we're trying diplomatically to get all these famous authors and BNFs to restrict themselves to a single paragraph. We're also trying to get a morning issue of the newsletter out at the same time and we're so short of real copy that we're reduced to lists of videos and dubious gossip. A member of the team, who shall remain nameless, scrapes the bottom of the barrel and fills in the final hole with a couple of lines on how we were so late getting out the Friday night issue that we missed the free booze at the publishers' party. In the end, we manage by an amazing feat of layout to get all the pieces intact into the Brunner Special, albeit at a much reduced typesize and not in the order that we had been trying for. Everybody totally exhausted and emotionally wrung-out. We go to press. We distribute. Everybody very happy with Brunner tribute. According to our schedule, for the Saturday night issue we have to include the Masquerade results and the site selection. The site selection's not that much of a problem, Kevin Standlee turns up with the figures early on-except that Kevin tells us that the figures are unofficial until the next day's business meeting. We decide to run the Eurocon site selection as the main story and put the Worldcon site selection in a box. We have fun putting in lots of "allegedly"s and "from a usually reliable source" into the Worldcon story. The Masquerade, on the other hand, is a problem. We send a couple of newsletter people down to be in the audience and try to arrange to get the results from the MC or the judges. However, the usual masquerade confusion messes everything up and we can't get hold of anyone to give us an official list of prize winners. Eventually we have to put together a list and hope it's right, we make a couple of minor errors but mostly it's correct. Sunday. Today we're doing the spoof as well as the usual three issues. Fortunately, we've mostly sub-contracted it to Alison Scott and Steven Cain so it's not nearly as frantic as Saturday. The system for submitting stories breaks down around this point, so we invent a new one which works much better. We run off a hundred or so submission sheets with boxes for who submitted the story, when it was submitted, when it expires by etc. and we attach one of these to each story instead of a scrappy PostIt. Everything suddenly becomes lots more organised and efficient. We really should have been doing this from the start, life would have been ever so much easier. Since we also insist that anyone submitting a story writes it out on the sheet, we're getting better source material because it's forcing them to do a re-write. So today, we have to print the Hugo results and what I want to do is have them ready at the doors as the audience leaves the Hugo ceremony. Mike Moir took a lot of convincing before he would agree to give us the results in advance but eventually he saw my point of view after I swore a terrible oath that I would keep them secret until after the ceremony. But anyway, just before the Hugos, Mike comes to the newsroom and gives me three sealed envelopes (one for us, one for Locus and one for Science Fiction Chronicle) each containing a disk and a printout. He leaves and we lock the doors and wait for the ceremony to start. Tension mounts. Eventually we reach the agreed hour and break the seal on our envelope. Nothing really surprising. Alex takes the disk, sticks it in the drive... and all hell breaks loose. The memory-resident virus checker starts screaming its head off, I punch the eject button on the drive closely followed by the off-switch. I dig the anti-virus stuff out of the box of bits and we check the hard drive. Clean. We check the floppy. Form virus detected in the boot sector. Oh shit. We start to type in the results from the printout. Then it occurs to someone, what about those other two sealed envelopes? So we open the other envelopes, check the disks (both clean, by the way) and reseal them with me signing my name across the seal together with an brief note saying "opened for virus check". Be still my trembling heart. And we go to press not a moment too soon because the ceremony is nearly over. We do a short run of 500 copies and take them out still slightly wet, just in time to catch the first people leaving the hall. Phew! Go and watch fireworks while trusty Jan prints the other 2500 copies. Oh, and I explain to Mike Moir how the other envelopes came to be opened, and circulate a general virus warning to all areas of the convention using computers. Monday. After all that, anything would be a relief. Things go swimmingly, Dave Kyle comes upstairs and is complimentary about VoM as are a number of other people. Ah! Egoboo! Actually, nothing beats the feeling of distributing a newsletter and having hordes of people descend on you for copies and go away laughing at the jokes you've spent several hours agonising over. We were only going to do two issues today, but we end up doing the usual three, anyway (even if we do have to include a big picture of Samuel Delaney to fill up space). Jan even has time to do some reprints of early issues for people who missed them. Of course tonight's is the last issue... Tuesday. Oh, come on, we've got to do an issue today. If only we can get to the newsroom before Gestetner come and take their machine away. So we do. We even get it out before Kurt and Scott come around with their dead dog party report (which I've still got lying around somewhere, come to think of it. Shame to waste it...). I think we're the last area to clear out of the SECC, but everyone seems to appreciate having a post-con issue. Chris from Gestetner turns up and is more than mildly boggled when he discovers that we've run the machine well past its next service point (80,000 copies, we've done over 100,000) over the weekend. I tell him that any time Gestetner want a testimonial I'll give him anything they want and personally I want that machine's babies. It's given us incredibly good service and never complained (unlike the photocopier which broke down twice and ended up doing about 600 copies, max., mostly fan repro and resizing fillos). Then he wheels it into the lift and for us, the con is over.

Part 3-In Which We Wonder What We Learned From It All

Well, never to do it again, obviously. Still, think of the egoboo... we had two Worldcon committees asking us to do their newsletters (we said no) which seems to me like a reasonable seal of approval. What else?

Title: Voice of the Mysterons

Frequency: 3 times a day when possible
WP/DTP: Word for Windows 6.0
Main Typeface: Zapf Humanist
Point size: Mainly 9 to 11 point, use 8 point for boxes.
Headings: Arial Bold, 18pt for main heading, 14 point for others
Appearance: A4 portrait, three columns, possible box at top right of page
Masthead: Sue Mason is drawing us one.
Pictures: We can put in fillos but will need to be careful not to obscure the edition numbers. Using the desktop scanner means that we may be able to put in photos or sketches from around the con.
Reproduction: We have a Gestetner duplicator capable of doing 150 sides per minute. We also have a small photocopier for doing small runs of things like fliers.
Paper: Fiona Anderson is currently looking into ordering paper. We'll print large issue numbers on each sheet so we could use white if we have to, but I'd rather use pastel colours (yellow, blue, green; with pink reserved for programme change sheets).
Location: The newsletter is up above the main passage through the SECC, next to the Green Room.
Spoof: There is traditionally a spoof issue of the newsletter. It would be more fun if we do it ourselves than letting someone else do it badly. The current plan is to do a '1984' style zine (Bulletin from the Ministry of Truth). Please keep quiet about this.

Daily Schedule

Time
Notes
Shift
9:00 - 10:00
Shift 1 open Newsroom.
Check that all equipment is still present
Send someone to talk to Ops and get the previous night's scandal, disasters, anything that's fit to print
Talk to Programme and kick them into producing master for Pink Sheet (programme change list). Find out if anything needs to go into the newsletter as well as the pink sheet.
Go to Information desk and pick up anything to go onto the newsletter.
Refresh distribution points with copies of previous night's newsletter.

Shift 1

10:00
Print 200 copies of Business Meeting agenda.

11:00
Print Pink sheet

12:15
Finalise masters, panic

12:30 - 13:00
Print newsletter

13:00 Shift 1 go off duty carrying copies of newsletter to distribute round SECC
Shift 2 come on duty, read newsletter. Finish copier run. Start work on next issue

Shift 2

16:15
Finalise masters, panic

16:30 - 17:00
Print newsletter

17:00 Shift 2 go off duty carrying copies of newsletter to distribute round SECC.
Shift 3 come on duty, read newsletter.
Finish copier run. Start work on next issue

Shift 3

20:15
Finalise masters, panic .

NB On the nights of the Hugos and the Masquerade we will probably slip the time of the last issue so we can get the results in. It is particularly important that we get the Hugo results.

20:30 - 21:00
Print newsletter (except on Saturday & Sunday when we print late in order to include Hugo/Masquerade results)

21:00 Shift 3 go off duty carrying copies of newsletter. Distribute at least 50% to hotels.
Sad bastards stay in newsroom preparing for next day.
If WSFS have provided the masters, copy the next day's business meeting agenda.

?

Close up newsroom. Secure equipment.

Print Schedule

Issue
Day
Time
Min copies
Max copies
Notes
0
Wednesday
4 pm
500
500
Pre-written (MOT?)

1 Thursday
2 pm
2000
3000
Newsletter

2 Thursday
8 pm
2000
3000
Newsletter

Friday
9am
600
600
Business Meeting Agenda (200)

Friday
10 am
3000
3000
Pink Sheet 3

Friday
1 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

4
Friday
5 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

5
Friday
9 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

Saturday
9am
600
600
Business Meeting Agenda (200)

Saturday
10 am
3000
5000
Pink Sheet

6
Saturday
1 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

7 Saturday
5 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

8
Saturday
9 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

Sunday
9am
600
600
Business Meeting Agenda (200)

Sunday
10 am
3000
5000
Pink Sheet

9
Sunday
1 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

10
Sunday
5 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

11
Sunday
9 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

Monday
9am
600
600
Business Meeting Agenda (200)?

Monday
10 am
3000
5000
Pink Sheet

12
Monday
1 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

13
Monday
5 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

14
Monday
9 pm
3000
5000
Newsletter

Tuesday
?
0
500
Copier goes back

Incoming Copy
Name:

Text:

Day/Time:

Expires by:

Contact name:

Can we edit? (Y/N)

Must Run? (Y/N)

Bribe paid? (Y/N)

Newsletter Meeting

Date: Saturday 29th July

Present:
Steve Davies
Mike Scott
Alex Stewart
Chris O'Shea
Giulia De Cesare

The Intersection Pocket Programme (Read Me) is going to be in an A6 ring binder. Steve to arrange an A6 template and to ask Ian Sorensen about margins, ring separations etc. SD Discussed the possibility of taking the piss out of the 'Gaying The Worldcon' theme e.g.

Marinating the Worldcon (for foodies)
Supermarionating the Worldcon (for Gerry Anderson fans)
Graying the Worldcon (for Fifties fans)
Playing the Worldcon (for gamers)
Baying the Worldcon (for werewolves)...

Discussed putting the newsletter on the net. John Bray was discussing a World Wide Web version. Steve to contact Science Programme and see if they still want to do this. (This got raised on CIX and it seems that it is still a goer-SD)

SD

We need to get the names and addresses of local print shops so we can deflect requests for copying at times when we are busy.

? People are going to want to submit articles for the newsletter. Where can we put this? Steve to contact Jenny Glover to see if we can set up a submission point in the fan room area. What about Fan Repro? Can we get Fan Room to handle this as well? If we are charging for printing, would it be possible for Fan Room to take the money?

SD

SD Discussed rules about what can be printed for free and what to charge for. Agreed that private printing would be charged at approx. 4p a sheet (or 5p to make accounting simpler?). All rules can be waived at the discretion of the duty editor.

We will put the 2nd spare roll of stencils aside and refuse to use it for non-newsletter stuff before Monday. We will need to keep careful track of how much ink/stencils we are using even though we are theoretically over-ordering by 50%

We have agreed to print the 'Pink Sheets' of daily programme changes. Print only, not format, lay out, edit etc. Programme have been advised of this repeatedly and still seem to be vague on the subject. Steve to prepare an emergency template in case the information arrives as raw data (Fiona to provide back up/machete in case Programme expect us to type it in). SD Saturday afternoon newsletter to include awful warnings about the problems of getting back to the hotels. Contact Ops etc. about what arrangements are being made.

Contact Charles Stross to see if he can lend us his Apple Powerbook (to give us Macintosh capability).

Produce large notices (and put in newsletter) saying that we reserve the right cut all copy (or not include it at all). If you don't want it cut then don't submit it.

Possibly keep changing the colophon so that it becomes the Interjection newsletter, Interruption newsletter etc. Mike has list of appropriate words.

MS

Discussed Chaz Baden's system of newsletter distribution boards. Agreed that we would use traditional methods of piling newsletters in heaps/copier paper boxes. Back issues will only be available from the Information Desk and the Newsroom.

Tuesday-we'll try and put a dead dog issue out. However, this depends a lot on when the Gestetner has to go back. Anyone can turn up but you may be asked to shift boxes instead.

Ask Mike Moir for Hugo result on disk, in advance. We'll open the disk when the ceremony starts and try to have copies available to distribute as people leave. (I've talked to Mike about this and he is unenthusiastic but prepared to cooperate so long as we have a strict embargo until the end of the Hugo ceremony-SD).

We agreed that we would not run small ads (unless we are desperate for space).

The idea of spoof Magic-The Gathering cards was suggested. Unfortunately none of us know anything about M-TG so we'll probably have to drop this.

Alex has no experience with Word for Windows and will need someone to help with layout on his shifts. We should identify this person as early as possible.

Agreed that every issue shall be checked over by someone from a different shift-before printing starts!

We have been allocated the Clyde Room in the SECC. The advantages are that it is above the main concourse, next to the Green Room and the SFWA suite. It is also lockable. The downside is that it is only about 10' x 20' (3m x 6m) and may get a bit crowded/hot. Depending on how much space we need, we may have to restrict access in order to give us enough room to work. However, if good, interesting writers offer to do bits for us, we let them in regardless.

Most of us are going to get to Glasgow on the Wednesday before. Giulia and I'll be leaving Chester early in the morning so we should get to Glasgow by about 2pm. I'll try and start setting up as soon as I can, however any help will be much appreciated.

Other developments:

We now have a number of additional volunteers, putting us up to around 14 people (some of whom will not be able to do a full set of shifts). Of course, it's quite possible that some of these will be unable to show on the day or won't be able to do many shifts (16 hours gets you a T-shirt, BTW). We could still use a few more, preferably people with experience of writing under pressure and with a sense of humour. Dave Langford has sent a parcel of Ian Gunn fillos, extracts from the pessimist's almanac and a copy of an article on newsletters which he did for Mimosa. I have put together a binder with examples of previous con newsletters. This will be kept in the newsroom where we can raid it for good ideas and say how much better we're doing it. If anyone has copies of past convention newsletters and is prepared to donate them, please bring them along. We already have near-complete runs for the '90, '92 and '93 Worldcons with a promise of a set of '94 ones. We also have full sets of Heliograph and Moose Droppings plus assorted issues from other Eastercons. In addition, there's a set of Chaz Baden's Pteranodon Ptimes and a variety of other oddments. I'm particularly interested in getting a set of 'Plot' (the '87 newszine) if anyone still has them.

Finally, please keep in mind that the newsletter is meant to be fun for us to produce and fun for everyone else to read. Don't be afraid to re-write something until it's at least vaguely amusing.