WoodCentral "Editors Chat Series"

Editor, Woodshop News

May 16, 2004

Ellis Our guest tonight is Woodshop News editor, AJ Hamler
Ellis AJ, how long have you been with Woodshop News?
ajhamler Let's see, I started in Feb of 97, so it's going on 7-1/2 years now.
ajhamler Editor since 2000.
Ellis You've done a great job over there. What's your circulation, at this point?
ajhamler Our circ is somewhere between 65,000 and 75,000, targeted mainly to the pro shop. But we have a goodly number of serious amateurs (like me) who also read.
Ron_Meadows how does an amateur obtain a subscription ?
ajhamler Well, it's subscriber-based just like any other mag...
Ellis Woodshop News is an excellent, ears-to-the-ground publication about serious woodworking issues.
ajhamler You can e-mail me and I'll be happy to send sub forms out. Also, you might be able to subscribe through WoodCentral.
ajhamler Is that true, Ellis?
Carole_in_VA Is your mag too advanced for beginners? (Like me!)
Ellis AJ< I would like to create a link to all the mags subscription pages. Let's follow up on that.
ajhamler Carole> Well, it depends on your interest .. that is ...
Ron_Meadows I'm a hobbyist, but usually end up making 4-6 kitchens a year
ajhamler we have a lot of news about the WW industry ..
Ron_Meadows for my toy fund
ajhamler but we don't do plans and projects...
Sam-S I don't recall any major changes in apperance that coincide with 97 or 2000, not that there needed to be:)
ajhamler We have lots of tool news and profiles of shops.
Carole_in_VA Right now just learning techniques, want to get into furniture.
ajhamler Sam> one of the things I did after taking over in 2000 was to ...
Ellis WSN is more of a news journal.
ajhamler improve the covers. That was my number one priorty, as I was always kinda disappointed in them.
ajhamler I think we've come a long way. I've also tried to make the contents more accessible and meaningful to the readers... I'd like to think that ...
Ellis You did a good job, AJ. Your covers are compelling.
Sam-S yes, they do semm a little more lively of late
JohnP what might an amateur hope to gain by reading such a professional publication?
ajhamler I eliminated a lot of the fluff. Since most of our readers are pros, I've tried to give them what they need.
ajhamler John P> That depends. A regular subsicription might not appeal to you, but ..
Sam-S I'm A pro, and you certainly aim it right up my ally
ajhamler you might find looking at it from time to time will give you and insight into the industry. Also, book reviews, tools, wood markets, and the like.
ajhamler [Thanks, Sam S!}
JohnP thanks
Sam-S I find the jigs tips and hints page is very good, and certainly a good thing for amatures
ajhamler I'll be happy to send a comp issue to all of you if you'd like. Just e-mail me.
Ellis Who do you consider to be WSN¹s audience?
JohnV e-mail add aj?
Sam-S and the letters,, well that's kida like logging in here
Carole_in_VA Isn't it hard to fund the publishing of a magazine and not rely on any ad income? Do you expect to carry ads in the future?
ajhamler Our audience is basically broken into three parts: Cabinetmakers, furniture makers, and millwork shops. ...
ajhamler Although we do have a healthy share of serious amateurs, too.
ajhamler Carole>
ajhamler we have a healthy ad income, in fact it's our main business as far as a profit-making sense is concerned.
Carole_in_VA Oh...I thought for some reason your pub was ad free. Must be another one. Sorry!
ajhamler E-mail is ajhamler@woodshopnews.com
ajhamler Carole> S'okay!
Ellis AJ, what do you consider your editorial mission at WSN?
JohnP what's the annual subscription rate?
ajhamler Well, my five year mission is to explore strange ...
ajhamler oops...
ajhamler got sidetracked.
ajhamler Lets se...
Ellis Strange is fine...:-)
ajhamler Our subtitle, the one under our logo, reads, "News for and about people who work with wood." That really says it all. ...
ajhamler If it has to do with those who live with, work with, and have wood as a maor part of their lives ...
Ellis I'm a big fan of subtitles myself
ajhamler that's what we address ... what they make, what they earn, what they plan and how they do business.
ajhamler For example ...
Ellis Woodshop News is kind of a reality check for people who make woodworking their business, right?
ajhamler When we profile a shop, we list what their annual gross is (if they'll tell us), what the cost of a typical piece is, what they buy in the way of tools and supplies.
ajhamler Ellid> exzactly.
Ellis This has great value for hobbyists too, because it gives them an insight into the business side and the bigger picture.
ajhamler That kind of info is valuable to other shops ...
ajhamler Ellis> Exactly, plus ...
ajhamler a lot of the seroious amateurs hope to become pros. We show them how others have done that by ...
Ellis Small shop pros are a very discrete part of the market for ww journalism.
-e- do you have a website??
ajhamler the shop owners telling us in their own words what they did that was right, and, sometimes more importantly, what some of their stumbling blocks were in getting started.
ajhamler -e-> Yes, www.woodshopnews.com
Ellis http://www.woodshopnews.com
ajhamler Hi, Mac.
Ron_MacKenzie hey MacS
MacS Hello AJ
MacS Hi Ron
MacS Hi You all
ajhamler Mac has an article (if this is the right Mac) in the current issue.
MacS Yes, it is, A J
ajhamler Mac's current article is onpigments and ..
Sam-S It's OK Mac, he can't edit you here hahah
MacS Understanding Pigments
MacS LOL, Hi Sam
ajhamler is one of the article that just might appeal to a serious amateur in that it gives a lot of basics. Frankly, I learn a lot from Mac's articles.
MacS A j, Is the best
ajhamler Mac, I'll give you just 30 more minutes to quit saying stuff like that.
MacS He is easy to work with..
ajhamler Ok. 45, but not a minute more.
JohnP lol
-e- aj ... how do you come up with ideas for the stories ... ever feel like you'll run out?
ajhamler Ellis> Never! ... When it comes to things like ...
ajhamler finishing, business issues (which we explore monthly in the "Pro Shop" column ...
ajhamler Tools, new books, sure they go in cycles that need to repeat at regular intervals. But ...
ajhamler the shop profiles are always fresh. There are a million shops out there, and no two are exactly the same. Every time we do a new shop, I'm amazed at the talent and great ideas out there. That never gets old.
ajhamler As far as things like the ...
ajhamler technical feature we do monthly, well those repeat too. For instance, the next issue will have a feature on ...
ajhamler wide belt sanders. We just did that two years ago, but there's a lot new now on them, plus a lot of shops are getting now than two years ago. Same thing for ...
ajhamler drum sanders, CNC machines, shapers, etc. So we repeat topics and themes, but they're never really the same articles.\
MacS Hi David
-e- aj, how far out do you have your issues planned?
Sam-S I'm always interested to see those articles,, it keeps me up to date with the latest offerings
ajhamler It varies with the topic and department. The technical features are planed a year in advance ...
Carole_in_VA Ellis has this thing about dropping out for a bit! LOL
ajhamler The finishing columns about three or four months in advance ... the profiles can vary from seven months to, believe it or not ...
ajhamler two weeks. I've been know to look at a shop profile that one of my guys has just turned in and ...
ajhamler decided to run it immediately.
MacS Bob Flexner has a finishing column every other month
Ellis I dropped my connection big time. Luckily I'll have the log file...
ajhamler Things like tools go ...
ajhamler depending on what comes out. After one of the big shows or a particular company's ...
ajhamler introduction of that year's line, we'll have a folder crammed with tools waiting to do stories on. Then, in the dead of winter when ...
Ellis You are in a good position with the monthly frequency to do that, AJ
ajhamler few companies introduce anything, the waiting time is much shorter.
ajhamler Ellis> Yes, the monthly ..
ajhamler frequency allows us to do things very quickly if we need to. For example ...
ajhamler We wrap production of the magazine around the 28th or so of the month, and it's in the readers' hands within two weeks. That gives us a ...
ajhamler very "newspaper" kind of approach to things. We can have a full report on, say, the ...
Ellis That's what I love about your format, AJ
ajhamler Philadelphia furniture show on the streets in less than 20 days after it's over. No other magazine has that kind of turnaround time.
Ellis Except WoodCentral
Ellis Sorry
Sam-S now yer talkin'
Ellis I still haven't put up my Philly pix
ajhamler <grin> Beat cha again!
Ellis Where do you get your leads for your cover stories?
ajhamler Although, you beat everyone with your Anaheim coverage!
ajhamler Cover stories ...
-e- wow --- thanks for this insight into the building of each issue ...
Ellis I only do that for fun
ajhamler The cover is either the lead shop profile or the topic. The current issue is on the topic of selecting hardwoods, so I set up a photo shoot that matched that theme. I decided that ...
ajhamler I wanted a shot of your average shop guy look at some gorgeous wood, so I went to the local Woodcraft and "borrowed" <g> their hardwood bins for a couple of hours and ...
MacS A J Hamler is the editor of Woodshop News
ajhamler set up the photos around the stacks. (The model is really my daughter's boyfriend. Shhhhh..... don't tell anyone.)
Ellis I figured :-)
ajhamler For the shop profiles, we try to show the shop owner working on ...
ajhamler his or her signature piece. It doesn't always work, depending on what they have in stock, but we try ...
ajhamler to have him working on a piece, with a finished version of the same piece also in the shot. Like I said, it doesn't always work, but when it does, it's fabulous!
Ellis How do you decide what stories to put into production?
ajhamler Mainly, the one's I like best. <g>
ajhamler Seriously, we try to balance ...
Ellis How'd I know that?
Ellis Hello, Dan
MacS Hi Dan D
Hogrider Excuse my ignorance but is your magazine/news available in Canada? I'm not familiar with it.
ajhamler the kinds of shops and the kinds of products they make. Chairmaker one time, then a five man shop with lot's of people working, then a single guy carving a headboard, that sort of thing.
Dan_D Hi Everyone
ajhamler Hog> Yes, it is. we have many, many Canadian readers.
Hogrider I'll have to find a better newstand.... lol
Ellis I've always liked your mix, AJ. After a while it defines the focus of the magazine.
ajhamler Well, our Newsstand distribution is weak, as we're mainly ....
ajhamler subscriber based. But you'll generally find us in the larger Borders and Barnes & Nobles stores, and in woodworking outlets.
Hogrider do you a website link I could check out then?
ajhamler Thanks,. Ellis.
ajhamler www.woodshopnews.com
-e- aj, how did journey from radio broadcaster to editor for a ww mag????wow ...
Hogrider tyvm
Ellis Are you still publishing regional editions?
MacS Wow, A J ..you're fast
Dan_D If you look for it on the news stand, It looks more like a newspaper than a traditional magazine. May be why you did not see it.
ajhamler Have you got an hour -e-? <g> Yes, I was a full-time broadcaster for 25 years before starting at the magazine ... (I'm still on the air part-time in Hartford). I did a talk show for 10 years, but when ownership changed the format, it was adios.
ajhamler Since I'd been writing for ...
Hogrider I'll check out one of the local larger bookstores for it tomorrow
Ron_MacKenzie Hey, maybe I have a chance in changing to woodworking :)
Ellis AJ, what part of your circulation is newsstand?
MacS Hogrider, get the June issue also
ajhamler ten years already (nonfiction of various types, two science fiction novels, and about two doszen sc-fi short stories, I decided to jump to publishing full time. Luck for me, it worked.
Ellis You giving up aviation, Ron?
Hogrider I'll definately look for it
Ron_MacKenzie Ellis, I hope not..just hoping it doesn't give ME up hehehe
Ellis Remind me to check out your novels, AJ
ajhamler Ellis> Hmmmm... I honestly don't have that figure, but it's small.
JohnP aj, you are truly an interesting person.
MacS Ok..
Ellis Another side of AJ is his participation in Civil War reenactments
ajhamler Yes, reenacting --- as is American history in general -- is a passion with me. I'm a corporal in the 27th Connecticut volunteer infantry, and I ....
Dan_D AJ, have you ever participated in the Civil War stuff at the Greenfield Village?
ajhamler am a regular living history roleplayer at Mystic Seaport.
Ellis I'd like to see that too.
MacS can you get Ellis in
Ron_MacKenzie ditto
ajhamler Dan> No, I'll have to check it out. Is that Greenfield Village in Mich.?
Dan_D Yes AJ, they have a big Civil War reinactment every year.
ajhamler Sure, I can get Ellis in as General Groucho.
Hogrider lol
Sam-S hahaha
Ellis :-) oh shucks
Ron_MacKenzie hehehe
Ellis ar ar
MacS Remeber he is General Ellis
Ellis Do you need outside authors, AJ?>
Ron_MacKenzie yes sir no sir!!!
Ellis At ease :-)
-e- wow, aj, i'm impressed (i'm requesting a blood transfusion from YOU!)
MacS Attention, for the General
ajhamler Ellis> Yes, all the time. WSN is mostly staff-written, but we need outside writers for a few areas, which are ...
ajhamler Pro Shop, which addresses a business issue of a different topic each month (not always written by a ...
Ellis Hmm.Yes. I've had one article there myself.
ajhamler woodworker, btw. The finishing column is always freelance-written (but you'll have to fight with Mac, though). At least five of the profiles each year are freelance.... and ...
ajhamler maybe five or six of the technical features, too.
Ellis You don't direct them, AJ?
ajhamler Ellis' article on fire insurance was one of our best.
ajhamler Direct them?
Ellis Yeah, in the sense of assigning them to freelancers?
Ellis Or do they come in over the transom?
ajhamler Oh, I see. Yes, I ...
ajhamler do it two ways. First, for freelance stuff, we get a lot of queries, mostly on profiles ...
ajhamler if I like what I see -- meaning, the type of shop, area of the country, etc. -- I might go for it. In the case of ...
MacS You should do a profile on Sam
Ellis Good idea, Mac
MacS Sam, is extra talented, can do it all
ajhamler Pro Shop, we have a list of topic areas --- tax issues, personnel, buying supplies, etc -- and we solicit writers. Same thing for Finshing, although Mac and Bob Flexner, plus some of my other regular finishing writers come to me with their own topics.
Ellis So if someone has a lead for you on a possible cover story, they should just e-mail you, AJ?
JohnP I must run, but want to compliment two people in one sentence here..."Ellis, you did a great job in getting a very interesting guest tonight."
ajhamler Ellis> that's exactly right.
ajhamler Yes, Ellis, this guy is great.
ajhamler Oops.
Carole_in_VA lol
-e- great 'links' link on your web site!!!!!
ajhamler Thanks. It's getting huge, isn't it?
David_Barnett I've gotta go, too, but I'm re-subscribing (I haven't found a newstand copy in two years since leaving W. Ma). Nite.!
ajhamler Nite Dave.
Ellis Oughta have WoodCentral in there, though, eh? :-)
ajhamler We don't???
ajhamler ??!!
Carole_in_VA Uh oh...you screwed up AJ!
Ellis Nope. And you have the ancient URL for Woodfinder.
ajhamler I'll take care of that first thing Monday!
Ellis You da man//
ajhamler Aaaack! Why didn't you yell at me?!
Ellis You think I police this stuff?
ajhamler <g>
Ellis We've got over 1200 links here, and it's the same story
-e- do i sense some jealousy here???/
ajhamler Link envy.
Dan_D No
Ellis If Dan weren't on the job as linkmeister, our links would be half dead
Ellis So, where do you go from here, AJ? What is WSN looking toward?
ajhamler Well, first off .../
ajhamler some of our best profiles have been written by non-woodworkers, so don't think you have to be a pro to write for WSN.
ajhamler As to what we're looking toward, a couple of things ...
ajhamler There's the big IWF show in Atlanta coming up. I'm heading to the Sears Craftsman tool expo in about a week and a half (where I get to play with lots of new toys).
Ellis Please file a report. I'm not going there this year.
ajhamler Will do.
Ellis But IWF will be on the sked
Sam-S I never get to go,,, always working,, so I'm glad of the reports
ajhamler Great, the first beer is on me. The next one you.
Ellis We'd like to provide a good analysis of the show.
Ellis It's a deal.
-e- now i'm jealous :>(
Ellis OK, does anybody have any burning questions for AJ before we call it a night?
ajhamler Fire away.
Sam-S don't say fire on this site,,, please :)
ajhamler (small joke there... buring questions... fire... never mind.)
Ellis Oof
-e- so do your skills as "General" in the reinactments play more into your role as editor, or your skills as writer (snickering)
ajhamler "The pen is mightier than the musket."
AndyL Nite All, Thanks Ellis and AJ for another great special guest chat
Ellis You bet, Andy. See ya
Dan_D night Andy
Ellis How does a would-be author approach you with an article proposal, AJ?
ajhamler Very simply. If it's an article you already have in mind ...
MacS Bye Andy
ajhamler just send an e-mail describing it fully. This is most often how the freelance profiles come it. For the business articles, same thing. (Most of our ...
Hogrider Well A.J. i want to thank you for your time and I'll be looking forward to reading your paper this week. Good night all
ajhamler writers for the Pro SHop are not WW pros, but rather pros at something else -- but they like wood as a hobby -- so they direct their business topic to the woodshops out there.
Ellis Well, I'm hoping to do some things with WSN in the future. And I will encourage any would be authors I run across.
ajhamler Yeah, I'll be bugging you to do more for us.
ajhamler You're such a busy bee, though.
Ellis I wish I had time to do more of anything. :-)
Sam-S BTW AJ,, it was an article in your mag that put me in touch with WC
ajhamler Great!
Ellis Hey, there's a happy happenstance
ajhamler ...As it happens.
Ellis So when people e-mail you a query, you direct them as to what you want/need for an article?
ajhamler Ellis> Exactly. I've gotten some great ideas out of the blue, especially with some shops. Next month's cover story was a query from a freelancer out of the blue like that.
ajhamler "with some shops" should have been "with some shop profiles." Ack, getting sloppy.
Ellis There are a million stories out there. You can do them on a shoestring. It makes for exciting journalism compared to mainstream magazines.
ajhamler You're absolutely right.
Ellis That's the edge I like about WSN
ajhamler Edgy. That's me.
Ellis We'll have to work on that
ajhamler <g>
Ellis OK, I guess we're coming to a close here. Any other questions for AJ?
Ellis Well, I sure want to thank you for joining us tonight, AJ.
Dan_D None here. I enjoy the mag, have been a subscriber for several years now.
Sam-S Thanks a million Ellis and AJ,,, I'm off up the wooden hill
ajhamler Hey, it was my pleasure to help kick of editor's nite here at Woodcentral.
Ellis We appreciate your participation here at WC and wish you continued good fortune with Woodshop News.
ajhamler Thanks Dan
ajhamler Thanks all, and good night!
Ellis We'll do it again in the fall and invite your subscribers, too.
ajhamler Sounds good.