Welcome to another Behind The Scenes feature.
It’s my turn now to take you through my week. Every morning, I check my diary to see what tasks remain unfinished. I then put them into a new list.
A job on the Features Team requires a lot of plate spinning so task lists ensure I’m keeping on top of everything.
For obvious reasons, Mondays are most workers’ least favourite day. However, I have a new-found appreciation for them. Since we all started working remotely, we’ve kept in regular contact via Microsoft Teams. However, Mondays are different as we actually see and hear each other at our Digital Meeting, rather than having typed conversations. It’s a lovely start to the week.
The meeting starts with Angela going through the most-recent issue we’ve been working on and we have a chat about what worked well. It’s a good way of reminding ourselves what topics we’ve already covered so that our future features ideas are new and fresh.
Monday also sees me sending the latest Tea Caddy List to our Admin team. This is just the relevant information they need to know for sending out the prizes won by everyone who’s had a letter printed on the Between Friends pages. More of that later…
Mondays are also when I pull together the website’s Sneak Peek for the issue going on sale that week.
In case you’ve never seen one of these, it’s a quick summary of what goodies you’ll find in the magazine. I pick three or four features and write a few paragraphs on what they’re about. I also look after the Special Sneak Peeks every three weeks.
I’m usually pulling together any last-minute features ideas gathered by myself or freelancers at this stage, too. Monday is always a fast day. Actually, they all are!
Our whole week works around this one day. Features Meeting Day. Every Tuesday, at 2pm, we meet up with Angela and take it in turns to go through our lists of features to be scheduled and ideas we want to pitch. This is another part of the week I like as it’s nice to see everyone’s faces.
We try not to feature too many exotic locations. They are great armchair escapism but we try to mainly cover places you’re likely to travel to. We also like to try not to cover the same places all the time. Spain, France and Italy are all popular holiday locations but we need to ensure we offer plenty of variety.
At the meeting Angela will also look ahead to specific future issues that have spaces needing to be filled. So, for example, if there’s space for a three-page feature, we’ll keep that in mind for future ideas.
Once the meeting is over, I email the freelancers to let them know if their ideas were accepted and tell them the issue dates their previously submitted features will be appearing in. At this point I also put together payment forms to be passed to Angela for approval.
The hunt for new features ideas also starts again.
Wednesday and Thursday
Wednesdays and Thursdays are similar in that my first job is usually reading “Dummy” pages. These are just pages that are soon to go to press so we need to check them for errors. Our Production Team are very good. A lot of pages are “clean”, with no errors.
It may surprise you to hear that a member of the Features Team would have such a soft spot for reading Fiction pages. However, they are my favourite ones. Sitting with a cup of tea and reading fiction doesn’t feel like work and I sometimes have to remind myself I’m not skiving when I’m reading Dummy pages.
Another thing I like about this job is reading features written by the other members of the team. It’s always great to see how that story you remember being pitched one Tuesday afternoon has developed to a proper page in the magazine. It’s also nice to see what the Design Team have done with your own ideas.
Friday mornings are when we do Facebook Live. We take turns to appear on screen, but even when I’m not live myself, I tune in. Seeing colleagues – even virtually – is always nice.
I have a number of different pages/columns that I’m responsible for (in addition to any one-off features I’m writing up) and I work on these over the course of the week.
Behind the scenes with the Manse Window
Manse Window is one of the nicest jobs on “The Friend”. All the contributors are so friendly. We try to make the column suitable for all faiths and no faiths. There always has to be a moral message, however.
I also work with this lovely bunch for the “Fireside Book“. Believe it or not, I have already started commissioning material for the 2023 book!
Behind the scenes with Talking Point
Talking Point pages are my responsibility, too. They appear in the third issue of every month. Once I have a topic, I get in touch with various companies and individuals to request expert comments. The aim is to have experts of opposing opinions where possible, so that the page is balanced.
Iain, our Digital Content Editor also puts out a post on Facebook about it so you get a chance to have your say, too. One recent topic was a look at whether or not we can live in a cashless society. That one got a lot of comments on Facebook!
Behind the scenes with Between Friends
Between Friends is a great page, too. I like working on that as so many of you are so kind-hearted and it’s a page that lifts your spirits. There are a lot of lovely people out there. I also like seeing photos of the various projects you’ve completed. From crochet blankets to mosaics, you are a talented bunch!
We work to a set of categories to ensure the letters always have plenty of variety. There’s the star letter, of course. Plus we like to see pictures of pets and kids/grandkids. We always have a piece of poetry plus at least one Scottish letter and something from “Overseas”. Anything else falls into the “General” category.
Every day is different but no day is boring! We’re working on a new bookazine right now. I can’t tell you any more than that but you’ll love it. Watch this space…
Check out our Behind The Scenes series from the Fiction Team for a look at what else goes on in the mag.