It is my pleasure to introduce you all to Steve Holman, the Editor in Chief of Iron Man Magazine. I’ve had the pleasure of having a few shots appear in the publication and working with Steve briefly over the past year and wanted to connect with him to to see what sort of advice he can offer to up and coming talents looking to get themselves into the print media. He talks about what should be in a pitch, what you should know about pitching to Iron Man, what should be on your website, as well as some of the new directions for the magazine.
James Patrick (JP): Originally, what got you into writing? What are some of the things you would write about early in your career?
Steve Holman (SH): My mother was a high school English teacher, and my father was the sports editor of our local paper. I didn’t have a choice but to go into writing. Of course, being a rebellious youth, I fought it. I was actually an accounting major in college for awhile, then finally switched to journalism. I also got a business degree, so I was very suited for the position at IRON MAN when it came along. In college I wrote a lot about weight training. I was obsessed. In fact, I remember one of my journalism professors telling me that I needed to get out of the gym. Luckily, I didn’t listen.
JP: How did your writing career lead you into being an editor and how did you come to be the Editor in Chief of what is one of the premiere men’s fitness publications in the world?
SH: I was graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with my second degree in business and was going to accept a position with the university. On a whim I had sent a resume to Iron Man because I knew it was in transition–that was in 1986 when John Balik bought the magazine from Peary and Mabel Rader. I remember John calling me at my apartment in Austin. I thought it was a friend playing a joke on me. He flew me out to California for an interview, and I got the job.
JP: You’ve been with IMM for quite some time. Could you describe what your typical duties are in any given day at the publication?
SH: I’ve been with Iron Man for almost 25 years. It’s a niche publication, so we don’t have a giant staff. That means I have my hands in almost everything–from creating ads, to laying out pages, to writing the cover blurbs, to creating the Contents pages. And, of course, I write my columns and the occasional feature, as well as books and e-books.
JP: What do you truly enjoy most about what you do at Iron Man?
SH: I really get lost in the writing. When I’m doing that, time flies. That’s when you know you’re in the flow. I enjoy writing to teach, help and inspire others. That’s pretty much my passion–as well as working out. It all ties together.
JP: A lot of my readers are talents who are interested in pitching themselves to publications for consideration. I’m sure you no doubt get plenty of pitches from writers, photographers and models. On average, how many pitches (e-mails, calls, letters, press releases, etc.) would you say you receive in a given week?
SH: I get sample articles and photos constantly. It varies from week to week, but I mostly get e-mails from people, usually competitors, who want to be featured in Iron Man.
JP: What are some things you see people do that stand out in a positive way?
SH: They make it turn-key for me–they provide me with a well-written article and quality photos; however, most of those we feature in Iron Man must be photographed by Michael Neveux, who also is part owner of the magazine. That makes it a bit more difficult because he has to approve of the subject look and then take the time to photograph them. Once that’s done, I can assign the story.
JP: Alternatively, what are some big mistakes you see people making a lot?
SH: The send crappy photos of themselves, which makes Mike Neveux think they are not worth his time.
JP: In your opinion, with your length of experience in the publishing industry, what are some tips you could give to modeling talents, or even photographers or writers, looking to pitch themselves to a magazine such as Iron Man?
SH: That goes back to the previous question and answer: Get professional photos taken, preferably by someone who knows physique photography.
JP: Onto some more specific questions about what should be included in a pitch; do you prefer talents attached photos in an e-mail, send a link to images or actually send physical copies of their photos?
SH: A few of the best photos in an e-mail is best–and if there is a link to more photos at a Web site, even better.
JP: How do you feel about cover letters from talents? Should they be included?
SH: Short ones, yes–and if there’s anything that makes the person different or interesting or they have a story of a problem they’ve overcome. They should think of what would appeal to readers of Iron Man, why we should feature them. They shouldn’t just present themselves as another one of the crowd looking for publicity.
JP: Same question with a resume, would you like to see that from talents as well?
SH: Not really necessary.
JP: If someone is meeting with you in person, do you prefer them to have a print portfolio or a digital portfolio on an iPad or tablet?
SH: Either works, but they should have something to leave with their image and contact info.
JP: If you are reviewing talent’s websites; what things do you want to see as an editor of a magazine, and what are some things that you definitely do not want to see?
SH: They should be easy to navigate. And the photos should be easily accessible. I don’t like when I go to check out photos and a slide show begins. I want to page through them at my own pace–and the photos should be large enough to actually see detail, not just thumbnails.
JP: How do you as an editor use social media to look up prospective talents?
SH: We have someone assigned to that at Iron Man.
JP: Could you give some DOs and DON’Ts to talents for social media practices?
SH: Not really my area, but friending me can help. If I like your look and story, I may refer you to Mike Neveux.
JP: Parting, are there any final comments you would like to extend to readers or things you feel they should know or that you would like to share about Iron Man?
SH: Getting into print is still a very big deal. It carries a lot more weight than just appearing on a Web site. Heck, who wouldn’t want to see themselves in the pages of Iron Man–or better yet, on the cover! We are also expanding the magazine to the digital world. It’s now available for the iPad and iPhone via Apple’s Newsstand. We’re excited about that and adding perks like videos and other multi-media to those issues.