A few weeks ago, one of our regular contributors to RUBY magazine, Joan Leotta, suggested that we include an article about me. Me? Who would be interested in knowing about me?
But after I thought about it a while, I realized that we probably do have lots of readers and some of our writers who don’t know the history of RUBY magazine and how this ministry came about.
So, here is Joan’s interview with me, Nina Newton, Sr. Editor, RUBY magazine.
I hope you enjoy learning a bit about RUBY!
When did you start RUBY Magazine?
Actually, I didn’t start RUBY magazine. It was started back in 2007 or 2008 by another woman who began with a newsletter that she created for her friends and family. The name of her newsletter was Ruby Women, and it included devotionals, craft and quilt patterns, recipes, and humorous articles.
I connected with her in 2009 after I lost my job at a local bank when they closed all of the branches in our area, and she asked me if I would be interested in helping her do some marketing and promotion for her little “ezine.” At that time, it was a PDF file that she would create and send to the people on her mailing list.
At the time, that sounded like a good thing to do, in light of the fact that I was not working away from home, and I kind of like to write and do that kind of stuff – so I agreed to help out.
Within just a few weeks, however, she emailed me and said that she was having some health issues and would no longer be able to keep the Ruby Women ezine going unless she could find someone who would be interested in taking on the full responsibility of publishing it.
Well, why not, I thought.
So in 2009 I took over as the senior editor for Ruby Women ezine. It didn’t take long for it to begin to grow and develop into a full-fledged online magazine with writers from all across the USA as well as several other English-speaking countries.
In September of 2009 we expanded our readership when we began publishing RUBY as a digital document, available on the RUBY blog, as a monthly publication.
The ministry of RUBY continued to grow with more and more writers and readers until in the summer of 2016 we began making RUBY magazine available as a print publication. It is still published monthly, and we have over 120 writers who have contributed to our magazine as well as over 600,000 impressions over the lifetime of our publication.
RUBY magazine is a small publication, with limited resources, but God has continued to use this ministry to reach and touch the lives of thousands of women around the world. Today we continue to publish both the online digital document as well as a print publication every month.
The digital document is always available for FREE to read online on the RUBY blog, and the print publication is available for purchase through Amazon each month.
Did it grow out of your other business? (Tell us a little about that too)
No, it was quite unexpected that this ministry opportunity presented itself to me when I wasn’t looking! My other businesses include free-lance writing, editing, and teaching as well as adjunct instructor of writing at a local Christian university.
In addition I have recently started working as an ESL teacher for children in China. That is a perfect job for me, as it allows me to work from home where I continue to be a “stay-at-home-mom” with our two teen-age daughters.
I also have an Etsy shop where I design and create refashioned garments, shoes, and accessories for women and children. Along with a few other “hobbies” which keep me busy most days!
What is the editorial philosophy of the magazine? How does the magazine’s philosophy line up with your Christian world view?
That’s a great question! Since this was all quite unexpected for me, I just picked up where the other editor left off . . . devotionals, short stories, crafts, recipes, book reviews, inspirational articles, and humorous pieces. As things have evolved, I have felt very comfortable with the direction RUBY magazine has taken.
I like to describe RUBY as a Christian Women’s Day magazine. We offer advice, encouragement, and inspiration primarily for the woman in her home, for whom the primary ministry in life is her family.
Of course we have readers who are single, and women who are not mothers, women who are moms and grandmas, and all different ages. But our focus is on the traditional woman who finds her greatest joy and fulfillment in her ministry within her home and family.
What do you want readers to see in the magazine? Is it a tool to help them grow closer to Christ?
Our primary objective is to encourage women to realize that their ministry within their home and with their family, for many, is the greatest service they can offer to God.
So, we want our readers to grow closer to Christ through the inspirational articles and devotionals, and offer all Christian women a voice where they can tell their own stories. It is primarily a platform for Christian women to express the stories that God has given them to be a blessing to other women.
The magazine is beautiful. What made you decide to go to a four-color magazine?
Because the original magazine / newsletter was designed to be not only informational but inspirational, it just seemed natural to go with a full-color design. In the beginning, when RUBY was an online digital publication, it was easy to create it with an artistic feel.
When we decided to put the magazine into print, having an aesthetically attractive publication was a consideration that was important for the continuity of the image of RUBY.
I think the answer to this question is . . . . because I think it’s pretty like this!
Where do you get your art? Do you work with specific artists? Do you do the art placement (layouts) and cover design yourself?
Again, many things have come together out of necessity, including the art work. I have found numerous websites where I can obtain images for free, sometimes I purchase art work, and frequently we have contributors who send in art work.
I try to find just the right image for every article that we include in each issue, so that our writers know that their work is respected and appreciated.
Yes, I create the layout of each issue myself. I choose the cover image and do all of the text placement.
It might be interesting to note that I am not a trained graphic designer, so I’m pretty sure there are easier ways of doing what I do each month to create RUBY magazine, but I do the best I can with my experience and resourcefulness, and I think it usually turns out pretty good!
I know you have a basic core of freelancers, but are you open to other submissions as well?
Absolutely! We are always open to new contributors, especially because our primary focus and reason for existence is to offer Christian women a voice.
Our vision is somewhat different from other publications, as I’ve discovered over the past several years of attending writers’ conferences and connecting with other writers, some traditionally published and some just getting started.
We are not looking for “perfection.” We are listening to stories. Every woman has a story, and often times those stories are lost when the voice doesn’t quite measure up to some standard that some editor somewhere has determined to be good enough.
So, we want to hear every woman’s story, even if she has not achieved a high level of eloquent expression, grammatically correct sentence structure, syntactically excellent phrasing, or an artistic turn of phrase.
I teach college students to write, and I have also edited numerous fiction books, so I understand how important all of these technical skills are for a writer. But if we don’t capture the stories, we truly miss so much of our heritage.
Are you the only editor?
Yes, at the minute I am. I have had help from assistant editors in the past, for which I am truly grateful, but it is a lot of work and a lot of time commitment, and since we do not have any funding sources, these have not been paid positions.
I have been designing and creating RUBY magazine for over nine years and I have never received any financial compensation. All of the expenses for keeping the ministry of RUBY going have come directly from my family’s household budget.
So we keep expenses low, and pray that God will bring someone along who shares the vision for this work and who also shares the passion that I have for providing a platform for Christian women to tell their stories.
You publish articles, devotionals, poetry, reviews, food articles, DIY, crafts, and even some fiction—how do you select the mix for each issue?
Another great question! Each month I encourage writers of all ages and writing skill levels to submit articles for an upcoming issue. Then I go with what comes in.
Usually we have several inspirational articles, a couple of book reviews, several poems, sometimes a short story or two, and occasionally an article on fun things to do with a family or a few recipes or a new craft project.
That’s one of the things I enjoy the most about putting each issue together. There is such a variety of articles that we receive, and that keeps it interesting, I think, for our readers.
What advice would you give to a writer of any particular type who wants to publish their work with you? In addition to the guidelines, of course.
The most important thing when submitting an article for publication in RUBY magazine is to just send it in! I know that writers are afraid of rejection, but here at RUBY magazine we WANT to hear your story. We have a place for YOUR voice, so send me an email and let’s talk! I love to meet new writers. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have an editorial calendar? Themed issues?
Nothing that is rigid. We, of course, go with the flow of the seasons, so the December issue will always focus on Christmas, and the May issue will always focus on Mother’s Day, and the September issue will always include back-to-school articles as well as harvest recipes. That kind of thing.
We really are rather low-key and if something comes in that isn’t quite right for one issue, we’ll save it for another issue.
What do you look for in a writer?
As previously mentioned, I am looking for an honest, heartfelt, sincere story. That’s the main ingredient for getting an article published in RUBY magazine. I’m an editor. That’s what I do. I can help a writer with things like split infinitives, dangling participles, and prepositional phrases.
What I can’t create on my own is YOUR story.
Everyone has a story, and that’s what we’re looking for in a writer. Someone who feels God has called them to share their story with other women so that in our struggles we might be an encouragement to one another.
What publishing organizations do you belong to in order to promote the magazine?
The only place other than our own social media sites that we promote the magazine is www.christianwriters.com And even then I am not always able to keep up with the promotional aspects of this project.
Sharmelle Olson continues to help me with that by keeping the RUBY Facebook group and community updated, but I have not had time to do as much promotion and marketing as I would like.
That’s another area of this ministry that needs someone else to come along side and share the vision and the goals of RUBY.
What are some other ways you promote the magazine?
Primarily we promote the magazine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.
Right now, Ruby is free—do you intend to sell ads at some point?
RUBY is free to read online. It always has been and, as long as I am the editor, it always will be. The objective is to get the stories and the words of encouragement and hope into the hearts and minds of as many women as possible.
The print publication, however, is available for purchase each month from Amazon. It is typically priced at $8.99 which covers the cost of publication. There is no profit in the sale of RUBY magazine.
We do have opportunities for advertisers in RUBY magazine, of course for family-friendly businesses, but this again is an area that I have not had time to pursue.
I would love to have a few advertisers each month to help offset the cost of publication, but at this time that would require more “woman power” than I currently have available.
How many subscribers to you have? How has the number of subscriptions / readers grown since the magazine began?
We do not have subscribers for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it would be difficult to encourage people to subscribe to a magazine that they can’t see ahead of time.
When you go into a grocery store and pick up a magazine, you might decide to purchase it once you see what is in it and see that there are articles that interest you.
Because RUBY is a digital document, on the one hand, it doesn’t seem that people would subscribe to our magazine if we restricted it only to those who paid for it.
On the other hand, to set up a system for subscriptions to the print publication would, again, require more time, energy, and expense than we have available at this time.
It would require keeping track of all the subscribers, and then purchasing the magazines and paying shipping costs to my office, and then repackaging each magazine to the individual subscriber, and then paying shipping costs again to send out the individual magazines.
I’ve given it a lot of thought, but right now subscriptions are just not a possibility.
Thank you, Joan, for suggesting this interview. There is a lot of information here about the ministry of RUBY magazine and community; I hope our readers find it interesting!