6 Hidden Magazine Printing Costs: Avoiding Unforeseen Expenses

n a story about hidden printing expenses a woman looking stressed in front of a stack of magazines.

Publishing a magazine is an exciting venture that allows you to share your passion, knowledge, or creativity with a wide audience. However, amidst the exhilaration of content creation and design, it’s crucial not to overlook the hidden costs associated with magazine printing. These costs, if not carefully managed, can quickly erode your budget and impact the overall success of your publication.

1. File Preparation

Before your magazine can go to print, your digital files must be meticulously prepared to ensure they meet the printer’s specifications. File preparation involves tasks such as color correction, image resolution adjustments, font embedding, and bleed setup. Neglecting this crucial step can lead to unexpected issues during printing, resulting in costly reprints and delays.

How to Avoid: To minimize file preparation costs, work closely with your printer and follow their guidelines for file submission. Ensure your team is well-trained to create print-ready files. Conduct thorough preflight checks to catch any potential issues early in the process.

2. Proofing and Corrections

Proofing is an essential part of the printing process. It allows you to review and approve the final layout, colors, and content before the magazine goes to press. However, multiple rounds of proofing and corrections can quickly add up in terms of time and expenses. Remember the proof you get from the printer is not to check for spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. By that point you should be looking for three things.  Bleeds, pagination, and low res images.  Everything else should be checked and double checked before sending.

How to Avoid: Set clear expectations with your printer regarding the number of proofing rounds included in your contract. Communicate effectively with your design and editorial teams to reduce the need for extensive revisions. Everyone on the team should be involved in the proofing process to help catch errors early, saving you both time and money.

3. Print Run Quantity

Determining the right print run quantity can be tricky. Ordering too few copies may result in higher unit costs, while ordering too many could lead to excess inventory. The cost per unit decreases with larger print runs but magazine distribution can be unpredictable, leading to returns and overstock. Unsold copies returned by distributors or retailers can result in both financial loss and additional logistics expenses.

How to Avoid:  Monitor distribution closely and adjust your print run accordingly. Develop a return policy with your distributor and make sure they account for the undelivered. Analyze your target audience and distribution channels to estimate your magazine’s demand accurately. Striking that balance between cost-efficiency and avoiding overproduction is a team effort.

4. Paper and Material Selection

The choice of paper quality and materials significantly affects your magazine’s overall look and feel. However, premium paper and materials often come at a premium price. Failing to account for these expenses can strain your budget.  With shorter print runs paper cost is a smaller percentage of the job but with quantities over 1,000 reducing paper weights even slightly can result in a decent savings.

How to Avoid: Research paper and material options that strike the right balance between quality and cost. Ask your printer about their house stock.  There house stock is usually a very high quality sheet that they buy in volume and can save money. Consult with your printer to identify suitable alternatives that align with your budget constraints while meeting your publication’s aesthetic and tactile requirements.

5. Storage and Fulfillment

Once your magazines are printed, they need a place to go before they reach the hands of your readers. Storage and fulfillment costs can add up, especially if you have a substantial inventory or require specialized services like pick-and-pack for subscription orders.

How to Avoid: Evaluate your storage and fulfillment needs carefully. Consider outsourcing these services to a fulfillment center with scalable solutions, which can help you manage costs more effectively as your publication grows. Ask your printer if they offer storage.  Sometimes the cost to house your product with the printer is less than it would be to rent a storage facility.

6. Postage and Mailing

If you mail physical copies of your magazine, postage costs can be a significant expense. The price of postage varies based on factors like size, weight, and destination. Ignoring these costs can eat into your budget.

How to Avoid: Calculate postage expenses accurately by working with a postal service or mailing house. Consider using bulk mailing rates and explore options like Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) to reduce physical mailing costs.

In summary, successfully publishing a magazine involves more than just creative content and design. By being aware of these 6 hidden costs in magazine printing and incorporating them into your budget and planning, you can navigate your publication project with confidence and financial stability.



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Gal Shweiki

Shweiki Media, Inc. President/CEO

Gal Shweiki is the president and founder of Shweiki Media. In 1984 as a Student at the University of Texas at Austin, Shweiki began his career in publishing by starting a college guide book titled, The Student Guide to the Best in Austin. After graduating, Shweiki founded Study Breaks Magazine, a monthly college entertainment magazine. In 1999 Shweiki grew the publishing business into Shweiki Media when he purchased a five color web printing press. Currently a leader in publication printing Shweiki Media prints over 350 different magazine titles throughout the year for many different publishers all over the world. As a publisher himself Shweiki enjoys the interaction and understands the concerns of his clients.

Shweiki completed his education at the University of Texas at Austin and currently resides in San Antonio with his wife, Col. Bonnie Hartstein, M.D. They are proud parents of two daughters, Jacqueline and Aimee.

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