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Cover to Cover: Submerge Magazine

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If you've been living in (or visited) Sacramento over the past several years, you've probably come across Submerge Magazine. The magazine, which is printed on good old fashioned paper, is what I like to call an anti-glossy publication.

You know what I'm talking about, right? When you thoroughly enjoy an article and then reach for your cup of coffee to find newsprint stains on your hands? Yeah, it's that type of publication... and I love it. Submerge comes out every other week and covers everything happening in the Sacramento region -- from music and art to food and style.

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I had a chance to ask the founders, Jonathan and Melissa a few questions about the magazine and, lucky for us, they were super candid!

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Q) For those who are just being introduced to Submerge Magazine, how would you characterize the publication? What can people expect to find between the front and back covers?

A) Submerge is an arts and entertainment publication available for free every other week all over the Sacramento region. We feature interviews, previews and reviews based around the music, art, comedy, fashion and food happenings in our region. People can expect national coverage blended with regional coverage. So in any given issue you might find an interview with a touring band or comedian coming through town mixed with plenty of regional coverage, as well as restaurant reviews, an entertainment calendar and we also have regular columnists. As cliche as it sounds, there is a little     something for everyone in every issue of Submerge.

Q) How long have you been publishing Submerge Magazine? What prompted you to start a publication like this?

A) We are currently on issue #135 (that's crazy to think about!) so it's been over five years. We launched this bad boy in early 2008, just as the economy was hitting rock bottom. We didn't care much about that, because we knew we had a strong idea and a solid business plan. Being a free publication, we rely on advertising dollars and right away we got the attention of some of Sacramento's best bars, venues, restaurants, retailers, etc. and partnered with them. We owe so much to our advertisers! It's a beautiful partnership that we've built with all of them. What prompted us to start a publication like this was just taking a look at the Sacramento region and thinking, "Wow, there is SO much cool stuff happening here between the music scene, arts scene, restaurant and beer/cocktail scene, etc." and we knew we could provide some fresh,     hip coverage of all that. My business partner (and soon to be wife) Melissa had tons of experience in the publishing world, specifically in the design and editorial departments. I've always been a natural at marketing and sales, so our two skill-sets combined really made launching a business like this possible.

Q) What were you both doing for a living before you started the magazine? (Care to share any funny career/education stories that led you to where you are today?)

A) We both graduated from CSU, Chico. That's where we met. Years ago when we moved to Sacramento and started thinking about doing Submerge, we had part-time "regular" jobs to pay the bills. I worked at a local brewery for a while (RIP Sac Brew!), Melissa did graphic design work for a local print shop. Eventually the mag got so busy   that we both were able to drop the part-time gigs to focus solely on Submerge. We don't make a killing by any means, but we make enough to pay the bills, and we can do so by supporting and promoting the regions arts and entertainment scenes, so we're pretty happy with how things have worked out!

Q) What are your favorite elements of magazine publishing? Is there anything you've discovered over the years that surprised you about the industry?

A) I love that we are one of only a few remaining print publications in town. As we all get more and more connected and dependent on our digital devices, it's nice to know that we are giving people an option of something to physically hold onto and read over a cup of coffee, or a beer, or at a boutique in midtown, or while waiting for a bus or train, etc. We do have a website as well as a digital flip book version of every issue available online, we aren't dinosaurs over here, but giving people something to physically hold onto feels nice.

Q) The magazine focuses on the Sacramento region. What is it about Sacramento that inspires you to continue creating a free, local publication?

A) We are so proud to call Sacramento home and to be able to focus on some of the cooler things happening here. Melissa and I both grew up in really, really small towns, so I think that helps us appreciate all that the Sacramento region has to offer. There are amazingly talented musicians and artists here, as well as countless chefs, bartenders and restaurants to be proud of. We get some of the best comedians in the world touring through on a regular basis, and on top of all that, this region is just so extremely diverse. We absolutely love it here and can't imagine doing Submerge anywhere else!

Q) Submerge Magazine is pretty involved in the community and Sacramento's summer event season is coming up. Any cool collaborations or projects coming up that we should know about?

A) We're excited to be involved with Concerts in the Park, which happens every Friday evening in downtown Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Plaza and features free live music from many of the region's best acts. We're also stoked to be a big part of Launch Music/Art Festival again this year, we truly believe in the vision of the event's founders and we think that it is only going to grow each year and help to bring more attention to what Sacramento has to offer. On top of that, we've got some cool stuff in the works: some killer interviews and features scheduled for this summer, possibly partnering with a local photographer to produce Submerge video content, as well as continuing to grow our circulation and distribution. It's an exciting time for us here at Submerge!

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Be sure to check out the Submerge Magazine website for their latest edition + archives. If you want to follow the publication elsewhere, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter. Looking for newsprint-stained hands of your own? You can pick up the print version at just about every coffee shop, record store, boutique, salon, book store or hip restaurant in Midtown and Downtown Sacramento.

Happy reading! 

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Cover to Cover: Off Switch Magazine {+ an interview with Founder and Editor-in-Chief Katie Michels!}

It's not often I find myself walking hurriedly to the mailbox. We usually get our fair share of junk mail and bills. Sometimes we'll get nice cards from friends and family members. On Saturday, however, I was expecting a copy of Off Switch Magazine's fourth volume. So, I walked quickly, heel to toe, to the mailbox.And there it was...

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{All photos in this post are courtesy of Katie Michels.}

I had read online previews of back issues, but I had been dying to get a print copy in-hand so I could absorb all of the stories and interviews at my own pace, away from the screen. I found Off Switch Magazine several months ago through the powers of the internet and when I heard that the publication was using Kickstarter to help move forward with Volume 5, I didn't hesitate to contribute. I have a deep respect for those working in print publications. My papa was a newspaper man and I guess I've always viewed print as something special.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the internet. I do. However, there is just something about physically turning paper pages midway through an article that gives me a feeling I simply cannot get from turning virtual pages.

After watching the video and pledging what I could, I reached out to Founder and Editor-in-Chief Katie Michels. I knew that I had to try to get a copy of the latest volume and feature it here on the blog. One special order of volume 4, multiple emails, some lovely photos shot by Katie, herself, and here we are!

Let me tell you: the magazine is beautiful. It's not only well-designed, but the content is also thoughtfully curated. Each issue is themed and offers everything from photo collections and book recommendations to interviews and creative non-fiction pieces. Volume 4 focuses on "Lessons Learned" and was a treat to read.

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From one couple's story detailing lessons learned from six weeks on the road to an interview with Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers, it was clear to me why so many others were supporting the Kickstarter campaign. While back issues aren't currently available for regular orders, several levels of contribution in the campaign will get you the entire collection and many include a copy of Volume 5!

Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, the publication and the Kickstarter campaign. I hope you enjoy her candid interview as much as I did!

1. How would you characterize Off Switch Magazine? What can people expect to find between the front and back covers?

We're relatable. Sure, we do our best to make things look good, but in the end our message — words, photos, and stories — is both human and honest. We want everyone who reads Off Switch to come out of the experience with a smile on their face and a stirring in their heart. A stirring that both inspires and motivates them to live passionately toward their dreams, big or small. At least, that's what we hope you'll find within our pages! If you like, you can simply enjoy the pretty pictures!

2. Tell us about your educational and professional background and how it prepared you for the challenges of the world of magazine publishing.

I am a twenty-three-year-old Midwesterner born and raised in a suburb west of Chicago, Illinois. I hold a bachelor's degree in graphic design, which beyond learning how to put together an editorial layout, didn't completely prepare me for running a quarterly magazine. School can be a great launching pad, but in the end observation and trial and error are the things that have taught me the most with regards to magazine publishing. I'm a strong believer in finding something you love and working hard to see it through. Trust your gut, know your limits and get ready to discover your capabilities!

3. What inspired you to launch Off Switch Magazine? Was it a single moment/incident or a collection of happenings that led you down this path?

Funnily enough, there was a single moment (or day, rather) where I decided to do this: my last day of college. While in school, I had taken a course in magazine layout/editorial design and fell in love with it. That passion for layouts and photos was the starting point. The hard part, I thought, was deciding what the yet-to-be-named magazine would be about. After tossing around idea after idea, I finally realized that the answer had been lying in front of me the whole time. I had kept a blog for the past couple years called Off Switch, a name that originated from a childhood phrase illustrating my inability to keep quiet. Over the years the term "living without an off switch" morphed from being about a chatterbox to living life fully and wholeheartedly. The blog chronicled my own pursuit of a life without an off switch, and now this magazine helps to chronicle not just my journey, but the journeys of my friends around the world. Looking back it's humorous to think I could have named the magazine anything but Off Switch.

4. You've launched a Kickstarter campaign for your next volume. Can you tell us what you hope to accomplish with a little help from readers and supporters?

With our Kickstarter campaign we will be able to give Off Switch Magazine a true shot at being a sustainable and profitable print magazine. Currently we print Off Switch in very small runs with an online-based printer, and have very little room to allow for markup, let alone be able to sell copies to boutiques at a wholesale price. Basically, funds generated through Kickstarter would help us to print the spring volume of Off Switch with a traditional printer at a higher overall price, but a much lower per copy price. As much as our dream is to be a quarterly print magazine, I am fully aware of the realities of life and money. I have plans in place should we not reach our goal. Let's just say things happen for a reason, and sometimes we have to adjust our plans and show a little patience. I'm open to whatever happens as long as I can keep working on Off Switch, whatever format that may be. Plus, it's a special thing knowing I've got the support of so many friends!

5. Tell us what we can look forward to in Volume 5. How will this volume inspire us to live life "without an off switch?"

Oh gosh! This volume is based on the super fun theme of "Come Celebrate." It's our second volume where we really adhere to a theme throughout, and that aspect very much makes each issue of Off Switch feel like complete and unique volumes in a growing series. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a good celebration every now and again? I have a feeling you will all LOVE volume five.

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I have a feeling she's right, don't you? If you'd like to learn more about Off Switch Magazine, please visit their website here. If you're as inspired as I am and would like to help, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign here (it wraps up on February 27, so hop to it)!

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Cover to Cover: Wayfare Magazine, Issue 1

Great news, my friends! I've decided to launch a new series around here called "Cover to Cover." The series will feature independent publications of which I just can't get enough. It doesn't matter if the publication is online, in print or both. If I like something, I'll share it. Sounds fun, right?

Well, wait until you get a load of the first publication: Wayfare Magazine.

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If you're new to this publication, you can find out all about the travel-focused magazine here. Their mission statement had me at hello:

"We recognize that travel is not defined by how many miles you cover. It’s about finding inspiration along the journey and celebrating the everyday moments. It’s about the spirit of discovery — breaking out of your routine to unwind, connect, and learn. It’s this desire to go, to celebrate, and to experience that drives everything we do." // Wayfare Magazine

I happen to find the design downright swoon-worthy in all of its over-sized, matte-finish glory. And the content is, of course, phenomenal. My favorites? Beautiful photography by Nicole Franzen, Mark Weinberg and Rick Poon, for starters. Not to mention the thoughtful travelogue by Wayfare's creative director, Peggy Wong and a stunning journey through Rome by Leigh Beisch. Honestly, the entire issue kept my attention from cover to cover (which is why I've decided to name this series as such).

The magazine originally launched as an online publication and with two web-editions behind them, the creators decided it was time to offer readers a print version as well. You can get a closer look at what's inside by viewing the online preview of Issue No. 1 here. Wayfare's online-only versions from last year are also available here and here.

Did I mention that a nice little postcard comes with the print edition? It reads:

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends... the mind can never break off from the journey." // Pat Conroy

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I love the sentiment, don't you? I really believe the cliché that travel is the only thing we buy that makes us richer. The memories we create along the way can keep us connected to the roads we venture down, long after the trip has ended. In the same vein, we can never un-learn something learned through travel -- about ourselves, others or the world around us.

I digress, however. Back to the magazine! If I have one tiny wish for Issue 2, it's that I want more. A few more pages, one or two lengthy travel features, more tips on travel goods...just more, really. :) I know...so demanding!

If you're looking to purchase the print edition, you can do so here. But you'd better hurry... I actually had to wait for them to restock the virtual shelves after the holidays. This baby is a limited-edition, people!

Have any of you read the latest print edition of Wayfare Magazine? What did you think? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section.

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