There’s a rhythm behind the scenes in the Features team.
There are seasonal “surges” to our work – busier spells during late summer for Bookazines, and then working on the annuals through autumn – but on ordinary weeks things generally revolve around the Features team meeting on Tuesday.
I’ll give you a rough idea of how the days go!
As with the start of every day, it’s a “hello” to the rest of the team over our internet chat, then a check-through the emails.
We don’t get as much of a glut over the weekend as the Fiction team might. Public Relations and other media folk are also off at the weekend, so there’s not much contact from them. Perhaps there’ll be a few commissions coming in from freelancers, or some feature ideas.
PRs and the like generate most of our mail. Although lots of great ideas come from them, once you’re on a few lists, you do get a lot of contact!
Other features team folk will agree. I’ve not long returned from 4 months of parental leave, and came back to an inbox with just over 20,000 emails!
Monday is the Issue Meeting, when Angela runs through the last one we’ve been working on.
Then Iain takes us through the digital stats from the previous week and any events we should be talking about in the week ahead. There’s a competitive side to me that’s chuffed if one of my Facebook, Twitter or blog posts has done well!
Then it’s on to working on a number of things. Issues that have cropped up with pages being worked on in the Weekly or the Special – pic captions, etc.
Commissioning features or discussing issues related to commissions. Writing features, or doing the admin around bought-in features. Picture research for features. Social media posts. Working on any upcoming special issues – the Diary, Calendar, Bookazine, Annuals. Or the big job of coming up with ideas.
This is our bread and butter work!
Features Team Meeting day! As well as gathering and scheduling all the features submitted by freelancers in the last week, it’s our opportunity to pitch ideas. Then we meet with Angela and things get scheduled into issues and ideas get approved for follow-up.
As well as a flurry of research in the morning – before the meeting after lunch – I’ll be looking for ideas all week.
Idea research is a great way to break up the heavier work of admin or writing, or to do if you’re flagging at the end of the day.
Scrolling through Twitter, trawling websites, checking out the press releases or books that have been sent in. Good ideas can come from any of these places and more.
As websites, emails and social media change all the time, it’s a constant job to keep an eye out for the next great idea.
So after the meeting, it’s a question of doing the payment admin for bought features.
It’s also the bigger job of telling freelancers their ideas have been approved (or not), or giving them commissions and explaining how we’d like them done. In some instances, it’s also the start of us having to write up the features ourselves, or pursue leads and interviews with PRs.
This admin can easily fill up Tuesday afternoon and often bleed over into the rest of the week.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Notwithstanding any further meetings, the rest of the week is back to our bread-and-butter work of writing/ commissioning/ processing features. Plus we’ll be making sure our copy is with our Production Team before the deadline for the next week’s issue or Special.
Sending through features to Production is a fairly straightforward process, but has a few steps.
We’ll put instructions on the copy regarding layout, captions, pic credits and where to find pics. Then we’ll process the pics through a system that stores the ones we have the rights to keep, and another folder for the ones we don’t!
Wednesday is new issue day! So I do the post on Facebook, while Thursday sees me doing my Features Ed Blog. On Friday I’m also occasionally joining in on Facebook Live. These days it’s even more enjoyable as a chance to catch up with colleagues.
Behind the scenes on special occasions
As I mentioned, certain times of year have extra things going on.
We’re currently at work on another Bookazine project (all hush-hush at the mo!), and have just finished the copy for 2022’s Desk Diary. If you’ve ever bought a calendar or a diary from us, the Features Team are the folk who write the little caption about the place in the pic!
And as the year rolls on towards autumn, we’ll start work on the annuals. The Manse Windows and Country Calendars from the Fireside, and the wee themed filler pieces and the Manse Windows for the main annual.
Behind the scenes with our cover features
One job that’s uniquely mine (and Manon’s) is the cover feature and cover image.
I work with a small handful of writers who travel the country for us, writing about the many fab places across the U.K. and Ireland. We choose destinations together, then I trawl the image agency website to find a great photo of the place. Then Manon mocks it up, we get Angela to pick one and Manon sends it off to an artist.
I hope this gives you a little insight into what I do as Features Ed.
Of course, I’m also approving hols and the like for the rest of my team, and organising meetings with regard to upcoming events. Come October/ November, it’ll be time for a big Christmas meeting about festive features for 2022!
Check out our Behind The Scenes series from the Fiction Team for a look at what else goes on in the mag.