Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"... create an online monthly Ancient Egypt magazine ..."
It took me a while to fully appreciate Andie Byrnes' idea but, once I did, I realised it's a wonderful idea and something I have been wanting as both a reader and a writer. It can only happen though with your support:

  • Writers - a magazine can only exist if people are willing to write for it.  We'd welcome both experienced and inexperienced authors - and can provide editorial support and coaching if needed.  Please contact either Andie or me  if you are interested.

  • Readers - the bigger the likely readership, the easier it will be to attract writers, so please leave comments here or on Andies's blog if a magazine is something you would want to read.  It will also help Andie and I to plan the bandwidth we need.
Writers may be interested in some stats from this blog.  With Christmas and Thanksgiving, December was an odd month so November is a better guide.  During November, there were 2,900 unique visitors to News from the Valley of the Kings. (Thank you so very, very much.)  Many of course returned several times during the month.  My suspicion is that, once established, a magazine will attract more readers than this blog, although I cannot promise anything of course.

For those who are interested in knowing more, please click here to read on.  

What makes a great online magazine?  We'd be interested in your thoughts.  I thought I would share my own initial thinking here.
  • Strong Focus - our focus would be Ancient Egypt and Egyptology.
  • Regular Editions - we are planning monthly editions.  While other frequencies are possible, we think that it is best to have set editions rather than slipstreaming articles on random days like a blog.  (We will probably have a companion blog for articles which don't meet the editorial policy - eg for book reviews.)

  • Visually Appealing - the site needs to look attractive and be an enjoyable place to visit.  Moving around the site should be intuitive and easy.

  • Print Layout - some online magazines are in PDF format.  We've rejected that because people cannot link to individual articles but it should still be possible to print an article to read on paper on the train.  The print option should be neat, layout well on paper and not print un-necessary items like sidebars and menus.

  • Quality Articles - articles should be well-researched, informative and accurate.  They should be of a reasonable length, not short news reports, and the standard of writing should be good so that people find them enjoyable to read.  (Andie and I can coach less experienced writers if necessary.)

  • Editorial Policy - in order to support quality, editorial standards need to be set and applied.  Occasionally that will mean suggesting an article goes on the companion blog rather than be featured in the magazine but maintaining a reputation for quality articles on the magazine is important for authors.  There needs to be a clear visual and functional distinction between the featured articles on the magazine and anything else published alongside.

  • Indexed - this is my pet requirement and is what can set an online magazine above print-based magazines.   It should be easy to find an article about a particular subject - that is, the magazine should have a strong index taxonomy (rather more than tags/labels that are used on Blogger blogs like this one).  Articles should also suggest some potentially related articles so that new readers are encouraged to read the archives. 

  • Free - it goes without saying these days that an online magazine should be free and available without subscription.
If you read that list, you'll understand that developing the magazine would be a lot of work.  I'm delighted to be working with Andie who not only is amazingly knowledgeable about Ancient Egypt but has also managed the launch of some major corporate web sites.  Between us, I am convinced we have the ability to create a special site.  If we get it right, my sense is that the magazine could become one of the premier Ancient Egypt sites on the Web attracting most of those who have an interest in Ancient Egypt.  That would depend on a snowball effect - the first six months will be critical and all support really will make a difference.

Of course, if you think we are wrong and that an online magazine isn't a good idea or there are already too many sites, then telling us that is important too.

I don't want to keep posting progress reports here, although I'll post again before launch if we proceed, so if you would like to know what Andie and I decide to do and follow any developments, we have set up a site news blog at  (That's not the magazine; nor is it an example of the format we expect for the magazine which would be much, much better!)


Colin Lea said...

yes please. sounds wonderful. good luck.

Erik said...

Oh, definitely!

Dennis said...

I think that is a great idea. Can you find field researchers to add the new discoveries portion of your magazine? Seems like there would be lots of those not on the 'A' list with the requirement to publish. Will you be doing the "web gleaner's" digest column? Perhaps someone can contribute the tech 'tools of the trade' articles.

tim said...

Hi Kate

You bet I would read it and as a D list Egyptologist I would offer any help I could give.

Ben Morales-Correa said...

A free subscription magazine by two passionate and knowledgeable blog writers about Ancient Egypt and Egyptology. Why couldn't it be successful?

Anonymous said...

But basically you would just get a
copy of Heritage Key..? And there
lay authors get paid... and I suspect professional writers have surely better things to do (like write for the many online journals). And what's the real difference between a "magazine" article and a blog entry?

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Anonymous re Heritage Key
Even though nothing has gone on Andie’s blog yet, the response has been positive already. Readers and writers alike seem to be welcoming an online magazine which is focused entirely on Ancient Egypt.

Anonymous said...

Me again. I hope it will be a success. But my point
would be that positive reactions
of readers are irrelevant and should not guide you -- of course people say YES to a free
lunch (ANY free lunch)! The only thing that should concern you
are potential writers, and with a monthly mag you would need
some 50 GOOD writers per year, which is not a small thing.
As you also aim at inexperienced writers, I suspect the editing
alone would cost you a week per article. So a quarterly magazine
might be more realistic. But who knows. D.V.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I agree. Support from writers is critical. To be successful in the long-term, the magazine has to be an attractive place for writers to have their articles featured, somewhere that can increase thier profile and encourage visitors to their other sites.

You are also right that it's going to be a lot of work. It's not just editorial assistance. Building the site would be an enormous amount of work to get a site we - and the writers who publish there - will be proud of.

Andie said...

Great feedback. Thanks. I've posted on my blog as well now and it will be good to see all the comments, both positive and negative. At the moment Kate and I are just testing the water but I do agree that without writers we will be in serious trouble :-).

styler78 said...

This is a wonderful idea. I agree that both the very informed and the Amateur) enthusiasts get a chance to write. I would be interested in contributing/ commenting on articles and look forward to seeing the finished model. Please consider "older stories" also so that we can go back in time to remember discoveries and news from the past.


Kate Phizackerley said...

Thanks for the comments so far - please keep them coming.

As Andie says, she has floated the idea on her blog as well. We are each reading both sets of comments so don't worry about which blog you comment on - just pick whichever suits you best!

Danielle said...

Yes I would definitely be interested in reading articles of this nature.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a great idea to me also. I'd definitely support it in any way I can.
Good luck,

ali_gata said...

I think this is a wonderful idea. Is very rare to find anything here in New Zealand magazine wise on Ancient Egypt in paper form and when you do they are expensive as hang. Would definitely support.

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