Editing Timbrel :: The Nitty Gritty Details

I love being editor of Timbrel. It really does bring me a lot of joy and not only because I care about the written word and creating a beautiful pastiche from women writers across the Anabaptist spectrum. I also love the nitty gritty details of aligning text in the layout, of making certain names are correct and page numbers are sequential. I love meditating about possible themes and praying over the writers gathered for each issue.

I am tickled when God inserts a message I didn’t know MW USA was meant to share. I appreciate how the care of each other emerges in small ways…all within the pages of this small 32-page magazine.

Someone recently asked me what editing really entailed. So as I was moving through the process of editing the latest edition I thought I’d share a sneak peek into what it is like. 

While there are many steps to publishing a magazine, here are the top 10 steps I take to get you the finished product in your hand:

1. Six months prior to publication: Choose theme and get approval from my Editorial Advisory Council.

2. Three months prior to publication: Tap and assign 12-15 women writers with detailed instructions and due dates for a single issue.

3. Two months prior to publication: Gather assets and images for use in layout. Choose two main colors for the issue.

4. Six weeks prior to publication: Schedule blog posts to correspond with print issue.

5. Four weeks prior to publication: Read and proof every article before inserting into layout, then pull quotes as well as edit articles for length.

6. Three weeks prior to publication: Work with copyeditor and design consultant on not one, not two, not three, but four rounds of edits (oh the errors Rosalie and Cara find!!).

7. Two weeks prior to publication: Receive a printed proof where I find EVERY mistake I missed while reading the magazine cover-to-cover on my little MacBook Air screen. (See image above and below for how the printed proof appears after I have my hands on it.)

8. One week prior to publication: Read the entire issue aloud one more time. Package the magazine in a high-resolution, print-ready PDF and send to press.

9. One week after going to press: Worry I’ve missed something that will now be printed. In ink. Forevermore. (Oh the terror!)

10. One minute after receiving Timbrel in my mailbox: Love it.

Here’s what the printed proof looks like when I get through finding all the errors and things I need to fix:

photo 2 (22)



This latest issue has one glaring error (gasp!) which I discovered in that frantic worry week when it was off to the printer but, alas, it was too late to fix. The first person to correctly identify the one glaring error (I hope there aren’t more!) in the Autumn 2014 issue of Timbrel will receive a one-year subscription to Timbrel paid for by me (either a renewal OR a gift subscription). Email me with your guess! (Updated post on 10/23…after two weeks I received two emails with notes about errors in Timbrel from readers BUT they weren’t the errors I was looking for!! The challenge is now closed…but thanks for playing along!)

9 thoughts on “Editing Timbrel :: The Nitty Gritty Details

  1. Marian Brendle Hostetler on said:

    I worked for WMSC as Ex Sec’y from 1987-1996 and just last week had my first interview with Anita Hooley Yoder who has been commissioned to write a history of MW. So my head is swimming with all the things we talked about, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your run-down of your job. I wasn’t an editor, but I do remember the deadlines, and all that. Sounds like a very different process in this day – with all the electronic components. I love Timbrel and am eagerly looking for each new issue, and am so excited about Sister Care, scholarships and lots of other new frontiers we are pushing out. (I wonder whether I can spot your error?) Blessings!

    • Claire DeBerg on said:

      Marian! How wonderful to make your connection in this way! So glad you can appreciate the deadlines…phew…there are so many and so worth it. Thank you for reading!

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