EDITOR’S COLUMN by Steve Lita
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet lots of great folks who work in the magazine industry. And not just the motorcycle magazine arena; my various paths have crossed with those of travel magazine pros, automotive and truck enthusiast mag writers, digital and webzine geeks, and even music biz journos. I like doing what we call around here seeing how the other guys do it. Sometimes I’ve been enlightened to new publishing techniques and processes and other times I end up scratching my head and wondering “How do they make a living?” But much like picking up tips for wrenching on your own bike, it’s a learning process.
Recently, a well-established, mainstream digital and print traveljournalist shared a tabulated report with me showing the results of data gathered from reader feedback and Internet hits. Lots of numbers and information on the page, some of which missed me completely. Over a drink at the bar, we discussed the meaning of all this confusing data. If you know what to look at, there is lots of valuable info on the page, and based on reader interest, future issues of that editor’s mag will feature more of the same items that rose to the top. It’s a high-tech version of combining the clichés: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and give the people what they want.
Well, with American Iron Garage (AIG) being so new to the newsstand and limited to three issues a year, it’s a little harder to cultivate lots of feedback for us to study. Sure, we can do all the spreadsheet manipulation the other guys do, but more time passes between each issue, so being the impatient lot we are, we need to take a more direct approach. We’ve added a new e-mail address to our list of contacts here at Garage@AmericanIronMag.com. And that will be our point of contact for your feedback and questions.
We need to explore directions for stories to publish in future issues of American Iron Garage, and I’m putting out the call for your input. So if you saw the headline of this column and feverishly started looking for the latest version of your résumé so you could apply for that dream-job magazine writer gig you always wanted, you can calm down and put it away. There won’t be any paychecks going out. But the return for your input will be future issues of AIG containing more of what you like and want. Bottom line: we can’t do it all ourselves. We’d like to hear from the riders of real-world garage builds and find out what your wrenches are turning.
Recently, some letters have come in via e-mail at Garage@AmericanIronMag.com requesting air ride suspension how-to stories. So we’re checking into the hows, whys, and wheres of making that happen. Our staffers’ bikes are pretty blinged out, but luckily, there are trick new parts hitting the market all the time, so we’re keeping the UPS driver busy with incoming packages. And we’ve been circling the wagons of employee buddies who own, ride, and wrench on Harleys (and even a Victory or Indian or two) to aid us with compiling the tech installs we publish.
Show us some things you did to your bike. Show us your whole bike. Show us what you’re building. Show us what you started with. Show us works in progress, or show us the finished product. We’re interested in the interesting.
Here are some tips. Use a real camera, which these days mean anything bigger than a 5-megapixel digital handheld. No cell phone shots. I don’t care what Samsung tells you, they are not good enough. Use a tripod. Ain’t got a tripod? Brace the camera against a stationary object, because, no, Photoshop cannot correct a blurry/out-of-focus image. Watch your background because we don’t want to see your neighbor’s Prius. (Don’t laugh, you should see what we get sometimes.) Can’t take a picture worth a darn? Drop me an e-mail and I’ll e-mail you a PDF of a great story we ran on How To Shoot Your Bike.
No matter what, tell us how you feel about American Iron Garage and help us put together the best do-it-yourself, real-world motorcycle tech mag on the newsstand.
This column appeared in our Spring 2015 issue of American Iron Garage, our all-tech/DIY publication, which will see four issues in 2016. While AIG is not available via subscription, you can find it on newsstands wherever American Iron Magazine and our sister mag, Motorcycle Rides & Culture, are sold, and also online, along with back issues, at Greaserag.com.