SELECTING HIGH INTEREST SUBJECTS
Another important responsibility of an editorial staff is the selection of articles with the greatest reader appeal. This largely determines their reader acceptance, which in turn decides whether the editors have succeeded or failed. WORLD OIL devotes a great deal of attention to this phase.
Before acceptance for publication, every WORLD OIL article must pass rigid scrutiny to determine its reader appeal. The amount of reader interest determines the value of all articles. If twice as many readers are likely to be interested in one article, it is twice as valuable as another article with half as much reader appeal, unless there are other important considerations involved.
Helpful Articles Are Best
Long experience in the publishing business has demonstrated that articles which tell how to perform an operation or job better or more efficiently, or how to solve some operating problem have the highest reader interest.
Therefore, WORLD OIL's editorial aim is the publication of articles that will help people in the industry find, drill for or produce oil and gas. This may be in the form of faster drilling, reduced costs, recovery of more oil, etc. Such articles promise that the reader will benefit from reading the article. This is the reason business publications or company reports are read in the first place.
Because readers are seeking to learn something that will help them, articles that discuss new developments and new techniques have much higher reader interest than do articles that review well-known facts and practices. Many readers are prone to flip the page as soon as they discover an article or report is reviewing things they already know.
Determining Reader Interest
Extensive reader interest studies have made it possible for WORLD OIL to establish a rather precise yardstick for evaluating the reading interest on almost any subject related to the exploration-drilling-producing branch of the industry.
Basic Readership Test
WORLD OIL editors judge each article on the basis of how many of the following four basic questions can be answered in the affirmative:
- Will this article help to improve the operations of an oil or gas company, individual operator or contractor?
- Will this article help a company, individual operator or contractor to arrive at a decision or formulate a policy?
- Will this article be believed? Do the claims that it makes for improvement, cost savings, etc., come from the company that markets it, or from a company that has used it, or both?
- Will this article carry enough general interest to cause a large number of subscribers (at least half) to want to read it purely from an interest standpoint?
Each article must answer at least one of these questions in the affirmative to warrant consideration for publication.
A decision by the editors to approve a proposed article merely means that an article on the subject is deemed to have sufficient reader interest to warrant its preparation. Approval is only a green light for the preparation of the article.
Finished manuscripts must still measure up to expectations before the article is finally accepted for publication. This is true even if one of our editors has asked you to prepare an article.
To accept an article without reading it in the final form would be like signing a contract without studying its entire contents. Not only must the subject matter be of sufficiently high interest and value, but the article also must be prepared in a fashion that will attract and hold reader attention. Otherwise, it may be rejected for publication, or major revisions may be necessary before it can be accepted.