The Real Dirt Editor Road Map
by Cheryl Gross, AEMG
Volunteers: Keep a list of volunteers who have expressed an interest in contributing to the Real Dirt. Solicit volunteers in the MG Trainee Class and at MGANM Monthly meetings.
The Process: The Real Dirt is published 6 times per year, January, March, May, July, September, and November.
Draft an email on the first of the month before the next edition to solicit contributors. I often brainstormed topics that might be of interest in the upcoming 2 months. For Example, On December 1 I might suggest: indoor plant care, growing herbs on the window sill, house plant dividing or fertilizing, Poinsettia or Christmas cactus care, good books to read on gardening, and the like. Contributors could grab a topic of interest to them or suggest what they might want to learn about… such as growing sprouts or plant lights. Decide whether to invite outsiders to contribute. Occasionally, we have had contributions from Brian Zimmerman, Duke Elsner, Emily Cook, and the like.
The first draft due date is on the 15th of the month. Nudges and reminders begin then. Second call for content, if needed. Share all articles for editing by others. Remind President of the letter to be included and the Coordinator of an article.
Begin reading contributed articles and suggesting wording changes. Discuss with the writer via email or phone call. Send to Bethany for grammatical review.
By the 20th, begin cutting and pasting articles into the Real Dirt format.
Write article intros. Final content assembly. Often pictures are sent separately to Whitney. Send content to all committee members for a final edit to catch any glaring errors. Sent Final, FINAL to Whitney. Ideally allowing 5-7 days for her to load.
Whitney will test the email. I check every link to ensure that each one goes where it is intended. We discuss final issues on spacing, color, pictures, etc.
Whitney schedules the finished product email blast for 12:01 am on the 1st.
I have been very proud of the quality of the information made available through the Real Dirt. As we are all volunteers, there are never any problems. If we can’t blast on the 1st, we get to it as soon as possible. If a regular contributor needs a break, they take it. If we are short on content (really only happened once), I write more. We do not judge or rate contributors writing, we only work together to improve the readability and accuracy. Accuracy of the content is very important as it is with all we do as Master Gardeners. We have not published the recipe for weed killing with vinegar because it has not been verified through research. That may be the most important job of the editor. Knowing enough about the content to know when it is accurate…. or being willing to look into topics before approving the content.
It has been lovely working with all of the contributors and I have enjoyed it very much.