This is our first in a series of quick-take interviews with local authors, editors, and publishers.
Today we have the pleasure of sitting down with Managing Editor of Backwoods Home Magazine,
Hello Jessie, what is something that you’ve been involved in recently that excites you?
The publisher of Backwoods Home Magazine always says that his biggest expenses are the three Ps: payroll, printing, and postage. There’s not much I can do about the first P, but the second two can be hugely reduced with the advent of print-on-demand companies like CreateSpace. Right now, I’m excited to be putting together a few books and magazines for print-on-demand to see how feasible they could be for our company. It’s exhilarating to be part of the evolution of our magazine and to envision how it could grow in the next few years.
Adam: That sounds adventurous!
Willingness to try new things is obviously a theme with you and of course Backwoods Home Magazine.
I must say, I learned answers to questions I didn’t know I had (or rather, should’ve had) while reading about your own foray into building and homesteading.* From this day forth I shall no longer underestimate fencing!
Jessie: I still have nightmares about digging fence posts by hand!
What are your favorite kinds of projects?
- My favorite project is when an author submits an article about building. I’m a novice builder, so reading about the kinds of projects an experienced author completes is a learning experience. As I edit these types of articles, I have to do a huge amount of research to make sure it’s safe and to make sure I don’t edit out something important. Plus, the pictures are always fantastic, which makes for an awesome layout.
Adam: Do you mean that you personally verify all of the building methods to ensure they’re safe to replicate? (Or fit-to-print?)
Jessie: Safe for our readers to replicate. There have been a few times where the article deals with something way too complicated to learn from a few hours of research, so in those cases, I ask someone more knowledgeable about that particular subject to review the article.
Can you give us an example of the power of a good story and how it’s affected your life?
- When I first started working at Backwoods, I read one of their books titled, Starting Over: Chronicles of a Self-Reliant Woman. In this true story, a woman named Jackie Clay buys some remote, off-grid mountain acreage. In quick succession, her husband dies, her aging parents move in with her, and she gets cancer. But none of that stops her from building a cabin, raising livestock, growing and canning her own food, and raising her youngest child. When I finished reading her book, I knew that was the kind of life that I wanted. Six years later, my husband and I live in a remote location where we recently finished building our house. We have a garden, a pantry, and a few chickens, and we’re happier than we’ve ever been, thanks to the story of Jackie Clay.
Adam: That’s incredible. It’s amazing how such stories have an effect on us and shape our lives in unimaginable ways. It’s inspiring to think of how many stories like Jackie’s are transforming lives as we speak, including your own.
Jessie: We get calls and emails from our subscribers all the time saying how Jackie or one of our other regular writers has changed their lives. I love working for this magazine because we make such a tangible difference in the world. We even have one subscriber in Colorado who uses our magazine to help train missionaries headed to third-world countries; articles on creating keystone gardens, purifying water, saving seeds, and setting up solar power are immensely valuable to them when they’re out in the field.
What is one thing you would recommend for writers interested in submitting to publications?
- To writers interested in submitting articles to magazines, I would say to not let rejection stop you from submitting more articles! Many times, we have to reject good articles simply because we already bought a similar article or because it doesn’t align with the theme of our magazine. Don’t be afraid to ask the editors what kind of articles they’re looking for or how you could re-write your article to be a better fit.
Adam: Sage advice. Persistence pays off, right. I look forward to hearing more about this at the conference.
Jessie: When we made the transition of our magazine from print to digital, some of our more regular writers stopped submitting articles. We are always on the lookout for new writers, but we are especially looking for them now. So I hope to encourage at least a few people from the conference to submit articles to us!
How do you rank stories as companions?
Also, do you have any pets?
- I recently had a conversation with a friend in which we decided that if I was a superhero,
my superpower would be reading. I am constantly reading – I love all genres. However, after reading non-fiction articles all day at work, I prefer to read sci-fi and fantasy books in my free time. I am currently tearing through The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. My husband was trying to get my attention the other day while I was reading, and I yelled, “Leave me alone; I’m hanging out with my friends in space!” When I’m not spending time with my literary “friends,” I have two cats and a giant Newfoundland/Great Pyrenees dog to keep me company.
Adam: I love it. That sounds like a superhero for “Library Land.”
So when can we expect to see you on the cover of Backwoods Home in a cape?
Jessie: Ha! The only cover I’ve been on was the first issue of the digital edition. Between issues, a cougar tried to eat one of my cats, and I had to shoot at it to scare it away (I totally missed, though). Our publisher loved that story so much, he wanted our cover artist to depict me in the act of shooting at the cougar. Unfortunately, this resulted in no shortage of “cougar” jokes at my expense on our Facebook page. I think a cover with me in a cape would have a much better reception!
*Issue #160 • July/August, 2016 http://www.backwoodshome.com/the-adventures-of-a-first-time-homesteader/
This is Adam Thorsfeldt, Signing off for the Port Orford Public Library. In the coming days & weeks you will see more interviews as part of our Spotlight Series Featuring; local authors, publishers, and editors.
Jessie will be presenting at our upcoming Indie Press Writer’s Conference, 4/21/2018 10:30AM-6:00 PM
Managing Editor, Backwoods Home Magazine
Jessie graduated with an English major from Oregon State University. As she desperately searched for a job that would put her major to use, she started working part-time for Backwoods Home Magazine putting together a series of small books. That morphed into converting some of their print books into Kindle versions, which led to proof-reading articles, which landed her a full-time job as Associate Editor. From there, she eventually became Managing Editor. More recently, she has taken on the additional title of Webmaster. Although it is a lot of hard work, she is thrilled that she ended up using her major!
You can find Backwoods Home Magazine online at http://www.backwoodshome.com/ or check out a copy at The Port Orford Public Library.