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How to Make a Magazine: A Tour of COSMOS

Australian Science Communicators Newsletter | 10 September 2006

Wilson da Silva (centre) shows ASC members of  through the COSMOS production process
Wilson da Silva (centre) shows ASC members of through the COSMOS production process

By Phil Dooley

THIRTY writers, eleven photographers, and nine illustrators: that's what it takes to put together an edition of COSMOS magazine. And nearly all of those are freelancers, worked and whipped into shape by Wilson da Silva and Sara Phillips, the editor and deputy of COSMOS.

Then there is the 15-step process of taking the raw material and scribbling on it, moulding it and crafting it into the magazine that, on its first birthday, already has three awards hanging on its meagre wall space - including 'Best Editor' for Wilson da Silva.

These are some of the fascinating facts from the Australian Science Communicators (New South Wales branch) tour of COSMOS' office.

I was wondering how we could spend an hour in the office, but imagining the pieces that make up the bi-monthly jigsaw bouncing around the room between the single person departments - editors to the art department to the 'grumpy' subeditor to the IT department - made for quite a journey, fully illustrated by Wilson and Sara's enthusiastic and colourful commentary (They're wasted in print!).

And there on the wall is the full set of proofs laid out side by side to show graphically what a sizeable body of work goes into each issue (or 'book' as Wilson lovingly calls it). Opposite is the whiteboard divided into tiny boxes, each one needing a tick before print day.

It made me want to give up my day job, seeing Sara and Wilson's passion - freelance writing here I come! And I know there are 19 other people on that tour that are just as fired up to try for the 700-word department spot in the next issue too.

Thanks Wilson, Sara and COSMOS!


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