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BACK FROM THE (LIVING) DEAD September 3, 2017

Posted by markswill in About me, Cars and Bikes, Media.
9 comments

It’s been three years since I last penned one of these blogs, something anyone who’s still with me may recall I abandoned because I’d finally realised that it was a bit of an arrogance to assume that anyone would be interested in my pontifications. And on top of that there was also the rather less worthy realisation that I was running out of steam…

Well the steam has sort of returned, if only because after a strange but not unrewarding few years and a couple of false starts (which included nearly launching a custom ‘bike which simply had too much online competition, and failing to get the editorship of a ‘bike mag I wrote for, probably ’cause I’m too old and too bolshy), I’m launching another magazine – the same one I threatened to unleash three years ago!  In fact it’s the ninth title I’ve thrown at an unsuspecting world in a what I laughingly call my 45-odd (very odd) year publishing career, albeit some 26 years after Frank Westworth and I launched the amusingly-named but ill-fated Jalopy. And Frank and Jalopy now have a certain spooky resonance because my new periodical is also aimed at drivers (rather than riders, as most of the others were), and Frank’s writing for it. It’s called The Classic Motoring Review (CMR) and flying in the face of reason in this wilfully digital age, it’s a print magazine, and only available on subscription.

Cover front 170815 copy

I won’t blether on too much about CMR because if you’re remotely interested you can check out the website, www.classicmotoringreview.uk but I will just observe that the idea behind it is that car buffs of a certain age and inclination do, I believe, still like to hold magazines and newspapers in their hands and have attention spans not denuded to a few hundred words by a young lifetime of being glued to their smartphones. So CMR has long articles, averaging about 3000 words, by some of the motoring writers I’ve admired literally since my youth, including Steve Cropley, my ex-Melody Maker editor Richard Williams, Douglas Blain (who as Car‘s editor in 1971 helped shepherd Bike into existence), the late Leonard Setright and yes, good old Frank Westworth.

Mentioning the estimable if eccentric Setright affirms that CMR will publish great writing that’s appeared in books and magazines, often from decades ago, which will help set its literary tone. And something else that setting it apart from mainstream classic car magazines is that there won’t be any adverts or glossy photographs. Yes, it will be all about the writing, although publishing CMR is giving me an opportunity to commission some wonderful illustrations and paintings from some of my long-standing artist friends including Mikki Rain, Philip Hood and John James.

However rewarding this editorial process has been, I must admit it was overshadowed, and not in a good way, by the monumental and grossly time-consuming frustration of creating a website to market CMR and its subscriptions. I trusted the building of the site to a suitably web-savvy friend, but the obstacles  to getting it to do what I need, and especially the vital e-commerce elements, have taken many weeks and driven me crazy. The lesson learnt here is that inky old farts like me who still believe in the power of print need to choose their internet options very, very carefully and be prepared to pay accordingly. The print media mindset is almost anathema to digital fluency.

As it is, producing 47,000 subscription leaflets which are being distributed  in other mags, club journals, books and simply stuck under windscreen wipers at classic car events was a breeze compared to my onerous online antics. And it’s perhaps telling that coupons from the leaflets, accompanied by old fashioned cheques, account for two out of every six subscriptions thus far received.

But I’ve still got a long way to go to break even, so I shall shamelessly invite you to spread the word to anyone (or any website) you think might be interested in reading about motoring’s classic heydays.  Because I really don’t think they’ll be disappointed when The Classic Motoring Review appears in early October – which’ll be my one last throw of the publishing dice before I finally pop my clogs.

 

 

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