Colorado Springs, CO – How can an American publishing professional serve as a "midwife" in India? Just ask Dean Merrill, who spent two weeks in Bangalore in February consulting with the founders of a new magazine for women.
Although the "birth" of Zoé magazine is still a few months away, Merrill provided the key impetus editor Juliet Thomas and her team needed to prepare for the magazine’s launch.
Merrill, independent writing and editing professional, traveled to India as a representative of Magazine Training International (MTI) to guide Thomas through the process of developing a Christian magazine that will address deeper issues and bring healing to the young urban women of India.
"We could not have had a better consultant than Dean! He is so discerning, experienced, wise, and patient," says Thomas. "If not for him we would never have done things properly. Our team had all the ideas; we just could not implement them."
Because Zoé is in the start-up phase, Merrill coached Thomas’s team on editorial content, the design feel, circulation development, administrative systems, financial feasibility, and finding a potential printer. Merrill sought a practical approach to make Thomas’s aspirations for the magazine a reality.
"It was invigorating to map out the future with Mrs. Thomas and see how to get this airplane off the runway!" says Merrill. "By the end of the two weeks we had interviewed a number of people for key positions, finding some excellent talent. And we had nailed down an 11-page Business Plan, plus a cash flow spreadsheet for the first 18 months of operation showing exactly what needs to happen."
"I’m delighted that Dean Merrill was able to go to India on our behalf to consult with the founders of the new Zoé magazine in the crucial months before the launch," says Sharon Mumper, MTI president. "Over the last 20 years we have deployed more than 50 Christian magazine professionals from around the world as trainers in our conferences and courses in the Developing World, and some of them have gone on to serve as consultants on their own. However, this is the first time we were able to place an experienced publishing professional in a consulting situation we organized with the help of local publishers."
Merrill currently offers consulting services, drawing on his expertise from years in Christian magazine publishing as a magazine editor for Campus Life, Leadership Journal, and Christian Herald, and as vice president of Focus on the Family’s publication group, where he started four new magazines.
Because Christian publishers often need more individualized hands-on help than a single conference or course can provide, MTI would like to be able to deploy more experienced Christian magazine professionals like Dean who have much to give and who have a vision for Christian publishing in the Developing World. Consultants volunteer their time and raise their own travel expenses. Local publishers are asked to provide accommodations on site.
MTI sponsored Merrill’s trip as part of a follow-up to MTI’s Bangalore training event in October 2011. MTI will offer three training opportunities in Bangalore in October 2012: a five-day Magazine Publishing Institute, a five-day Digital Publishing Seminar and Practicum, and a three-day Communicating through Comics Workshop. Bangalore 2012 is the second training event in a series of three annual MTI-sponsored training programs in India.