Magazines have always fascinated me. In my skateboarding days, reading every single copy of Thrasher and Transworld cover to cover, from interviews to reader mail, kept me occupied with something that I truly loved. Later, when I was bit by the performance automotive bug and discovered the import world in the early '90s I can recall flipping through Turbo and Sport Compact Car religiously, consciously soaking up every vital scrap of information. It was during this time that I began building my first project and often looked toward my trusty pile of magazines for inspiration. I always thought that the owners of these pristine project cars must be beaming with pride because they were magically cast into a full feature and interview, breaking down every aspect of their build, completing their journey toward automotive bliss. Call it the end of the road, a mission accomplished, the cherry on top, but to me it meant they'd arrived and the magazine held in front of me was the mark they left on the automotive world, forever immortalized. OK that's probably taking things too far, but in all honesty having someone tell you that the blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention money) that you've poured into the chassis of your choice is "good enough" to grace the pages of their magazine and show the world your handiwork seems pretty damn cool to a regular car guy like myself. Fast forward 15 years or so, the magazine racks are busting with import-related titles and the amount of feature cars doesn't seem to be losing any steam. There's more than enough to go around, and just about everyone feels they deserve to get a feature. Whether that's true or not, is debatable.
As I've slowly tiptoed behind the scenes in the automotive magazine world, I've soaked up a little bit of understanding when it comes to what cars get featured and what cars get overlooked. So this month, I figured why not go over a few different scenarios and maybe clear up a few misconceptions that seem to run rampant throughout the Honda forums.
"It's all about who you know."
This is one that I see on the regular. Many people assume that the only way in the door is to personally know a photographer shooting for a particular magazine. Although it doesn't hurt, since the photographer can get samples of your car and specs over to an editor pretty quickly, the majority of the cars we find are pulled out of a track event, car show, build thread, or by the car's owner e-mailing sample pictures and a spec list to an editor. It's that simple.
"If I hold out, I'll get cover."
Everyone feels that their car should get a cover. Here's what you don't need to do. You don't need to inform the editor that your car deserves a cover. The editor is in that position for a reason and knows exactly what he or she is doing. If your car is cover worthy for his or her magazine, he or she will certainly let you know. Pestering an editor about this subject can cost you a feature, and word travels fast so tread lightly.
"It's cool, I've got my own people."
So your car is finished, it's ready to be featured, and you're positive some magazine will be dying to pick it up. You contact the magazine of your choice and explain to them that they need not send someone to shoot the car, because you'd prefer that your personal photographer take care of it. Remember, magazines have reliable staff photographers and a team of freelancers and contributors armed and ready. Unless you're in an obscure location they shouldn't have a problem getting someone sent to shoot your masterpiece.
"This magazine lags! They shot my car six months ago!"
Let's face it, nobody likes to wait-especially in the automotive world. We wait for parts to come in, we wait for painfully slow body shops to finish, and we wait for more money to fill our bank accounts so that we can keep building. Getting you car shot doesn't guarantee it will run in the next issue, the issue after that, or even the next six issues. Keep cool and be patient. The magazine you're dealing with might have a pile of cars still waiting to run; many titles will stock up whenever possible to avoid running out of cars during the slower months.
"Those guys only shoot JDM cars."
Actually, that's true (just kidding). Trends are, well, trendy. They come and go so quickly that sometimes it's hard to keep up. We've seen the combat kits and wings come and go, and currently the JDM influence that inspires some, while sickening others, has left a lasting impression on the Honda community stateside. While we don't go hunting for these types of cars specifically, there's no denying that they represent a large portion of our reader's builds, and in turn we feature cars that our readers want to see.
Well-balanced, tastefully thought-out builds will always be in style, and will always be feature worthy. If you feel your car is up to snuff, put together a few basic pics along with a spec sheet and start e-mailing your favorite magazines' editors to see what they think.
That's it for this month. As always, let me know your thoughts.