“It’s tough for small presses to get attention for their authors,” said Dean Lunt, publisher and editor-in-chief of 17-year-old Islandport Press in Yarmouth, Maine. He’s found it particularly hard with staff cuts at newspapers and magazines.
A former journalist with the Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine, among other publications, Lunt decided to create his own media excitement by launching Islandport Magazine to promote the press’s books and authors.
“At heart we are storytellers,” said Lunt, who views the 72-page glossy magazine, which is just out, as another channel for telling stories about people and places in New England. The premier issue includes an interview with 99-year-old children’s author and illustrator Dahlov Ipcar, the story of how a Maine illustrator convinced Walt Disney that Bambi had to be a Maine deer, an essay by Maine novelist Cathie Pelletier, and a book excerpt from Josh Pahigian’s Strangers on the Beach.
Although many of the pieces in the magazine are based on Islandport books and authors, a healthy portion are not. Going forward, said Lunt, “I would hope to have 35% of the editorial not be directly tied to our authors.”
A large amount of the magazine’s advertising is not linked to the press either. Audi is featured on the back cover, Window World of Maine on the inside front cover. That’s because Islandport Magazine is being published in partnership with MaineToday Media, which manages the advertising and distribution of the magazine through its newspapers.
A portion of the 21,000-copy first printing of Islandport Magazine was included as a free insert in the Maine Sunday Telegram and in some issues of The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, Maine. MaineToday CEO Lisa DeSisto plans to expand distribution in 2017.
Islandport has received a couple dozen orders for the magazine, which is listed as a free item on its website. The press is also giving away the magazine in seasonal kiosks that it operates in the Bangor Mall and the Maine Mall.
Lunt, who serves as editor-in-chief, of the magazine, is currently planning to make the magazine a quarterly. But he said that he would consider publishing it bimonthly. That would mean additional hires to publish the magazine along with the books, since both share staff.
One question Lunt has yet to resolve is if he will make the Islandport Magazine available online. That may be because of his inspiration for it, which he describes as “the wonderful [print] magazines of old that featured interesting, well-written stories as well as brilliant images.”