Tuesday, July 24, 2007

INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER REED

JENNIFER REED IS AN INSTRUCTOR FOR THE INSTITUTE OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, PUBLISHER/EDITOR OF WEE ONES MAGAZINE, AND AUTHOR.

Shari: How long have you been publishing Wee Ones Magazine?
Jennifer Reed: Seven years.
Shari: What was your motivation for starting Wee Ones?
Jennifer Reed: We had young kids and were searching for Internet sites that catered to children’s literature. We couldn’t find an online children’s magazine, which seemed obvious at the time since e-book publishers were popping up everywhere. So, we decided to start our own. I had worked on magazines before and thought it would be fun too to own my own magazine.
Shari: What obstacles have you had to deal with as an ezine publisher?
Jennifer Reed: People taking us seriously- as a “real” magazine. Coming up with money to support the magazine since we didn’t want to have advertising on our site- that would just “cheesey” it up.
Shari: Wee Ones is free, why? Did you ever consider asking for money for subscriptions?
Jennifer Reed:Yep, but who would pay? We did several surveys early on and found that the general mentality of people going online was that information is free, so e-zines should be too. We found that most people wouldn’t pay for such a subscription and that is why today very few e-zines charge one.
Shari: Are your problems as an epublisher different from those of print publishers?
Jennifer Reed: In some ways yes- like figuring out a way to earn money to keep the magazine afloat. Most of the time, the money came out of our own pockets whereas print magazines sell subscriptions. I think it’s easier to produce an e-zine and if there are mistakes, they can easily be fixed. I’m sure there are many more differences, each has its own pros and cons.
Shari: I understand Wee Ones will be closing its door soon, why?
Jennifer Reed: Several reasons- Wee Ones has become a chore to produce and since no one is getting paid, we realize we’re putting a lot of work into making the e-zine with little reward. We also haven’t seen an increase in readers, but with little to no money, it’s hard to pay for advertising. My heart just isn’t in it anymore, although I would like to see it continue, it just won’t be for me. We would consider selling the magazine as well.
Shari: Do you think there is a future for ezines for children?
Jennifer Reed: I do. Kids today love being on computers and online and if the stories and articles are age appropriate, short and easy to read, they will read. I visit many e-zines that have long chunks of text- I can’t stand reading long pieces online and kids certainly don’t. They also like graphics, so if you just use clip art all the time, well this makes your e-zine unprofessional. There is a future for e-zines but editors have to always think of the child-reader and what will draw a child to the site.
Shari: Do they have anything to offer that print magazines do not?
Jennifer Reed: Instant gratification if a child wants to read a story or article. They can refer to information quickly. Sometimes we offer other resources or websites for kids to visit. Most are free too, so you have quality writers and illustrators that sell their work to print magazines like Highlights, also publishing with magazines like Wee Ones.
Shari: You have done an excellent job with Wee Ones. How have you managed to wear so many hats and still do a good job?
Jennifer Reed: By God’s grace only. I don’t know. I do a lot but I am super organized. Wee Ones is all laid out on a schedule, when to find illustrators, when to put the html source codes in and text for the stories and articles, when to find photos and graphics, right down to when we upload the site.
Shari: Without the responsibility for turning out Wee Ones where will you spend that extra time?
Jennifer Reed: Ha! That’s funny. Actually, I teach two courses at our high school already and they just asked me if I would be the yearbook editor. I said yes. Also, I intend to continue with ICL, write more fiction and nonfiction- another book publisher just contacted me today to write for them, so I’m not lacking in writing/editing jobs.
Shari: I know you have at least one book out, can you tell us about it?
Jennifer Reed: Well, I have about 16 published and 6 more under contract. At this very moment, I have finished the final edits on four books- 2 for Capstone Press and 2 for Enslow. I do have an agent now too and he is busy trying to sell my middle grade novels. My focus has been on writing nonfiction for educational publishers, which I love to do.
Shari: What projects are you working on now?
Jennifer Reed: Inspired by the biography I wrote on Paula Danziger, I decided to look at my own childhood for ideas. I found one and am writing a loosely based autobiography- a middle grade fiction. It’s almost done- I’m at the climax of the story, but just can’t seem to get beyond it, however I will finish this book this summer. I am also reading a great book- The Secret Lives of Bees. I haven’t read a novel in a while, and decided this summer I was going to read one.

*Wee Ones will continue to be online for another year and a half. We are not accepting submissions at this time, but we do hope and encourage people to visit, enter our book giveaway, and read with their kids!

Jennifer Reed’s work:
The Falling Flowers, Shen's Books, Shen's 2005

Mighty Machines, Bombers, Capstone 2007
Mighty Machines, Submarines, Capstone 2007
The Wright Brothers, Enslow 2007
Elizabeth Bloomer, Young Heroes series, Kidhaven Fall 2006
Visit www.jennifer-reed.com and Wee Ones Children's Magazine, www.weeonesmag.com

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