Community publishing

A community is a group of people that lives together or shares a common interest or objective. A community may also comprise of different organisations such as non-governmental organisations, government agencies or companies. Oftentimes, though these organisations publish as standalone entities, gradually, they realise that publishing as a community can enhance their individual efforts as they are able to reach a wider audience. Thus, they are able to complement what they publish individually.

Granted, publishing as standalone entities has its own hassles even though the publishing entities are able to hold themselves accountable by incorporating internal mechanisms towards this. Which is to say that collaborative publishing among different entities can even be more of a hassle than individual publishing among the entities that make up a community. That notwithstanding, these entities can develop guidelines to ensure that they are able to collaborate and publish successfully as a community.

The first thing towards publishing successfully as a community is to get buy-in from the different entities that make up the particular community. This entails having a common agenda for such publishing and ensuring that all the entities own the publishing venture or platform, say, a newsletter or journal. Doing so ensures that they actively contribute to this by way of content or other resources.

Once there is a common agenda and ownership of the publishing venture, the next step is to dedicate a team to the venture. Typically, the different entities will nominate one person to be in charge of the team. This person – the editor – normally directs the team in terms of curating content and liaising with a professional publisher or designer to achieve an excellently done publication. The editor also sets the tone of each issue by way of the editor’s note; thus, directing the reader on what to expect inside the publication.

The team that the editor heads is at the heart of the publication. In the case of community publishing, this team is made up of individuals from the different organisations that make up the community. As such, these individuals are tasked with curating content from their different organisations and which is collated into a unified publication.

Members of this team are also active contributors as, more often than not, they are in the thick of things in their organisations by dint of being programme officers for the different programmes undertaken in these organisations. This uniquely places them as ardent advocates for the publication as they are often experts in their field, profession or sector.

The team too, headed by the editor, is expected to streamline the whole process to ensure that each edition is published smoothly. One such way is to develop an editorial calendar. Thus, everyone is up to date on what is to be published and when, thus, simplifying the process of curating content for each subsequent publication. This means that the publishing team can curate content and imagery from their organisations to align with the theme for each edition.

Lastly, with the advent of online publishing, community publishing is able to easily reach a global audience of likeminded individuals or organisations. Which means that the team tasked with publishing for a community can reach this global audience by way of having this publication done in different languages. Thus, it is crucial to work with publishers who also offer translation services as they are familiarly with your publications, having interacted with them intensively.