****It was a blazingly hot day in August of 1999, and I was sweating profusely all over my equally overheated computer. It was so hot, that as I transferred my thoughts from mind to machine, literal streams of sweat were following a similar path from my head to my computer, as if perspiration were a natural byproduct of thinking. My fingers, like the wavering branches of a wet weeping willow after a storm, served as little tributaries to the growing sea of perspiration that was beginning to pool atop my keyboard as we worked to put together our little guide to the city. We hoped people would read it, and that it would, in turn, inspire them to get out of their hotel rooms and see the sites. Had we hoped for more venture capital (or knew what venture capital was) we might not have folded after only a few months. Fast forward to 2001, and we were again running another publication, but this time we were under a big corporate umbrella. Had we known then that our parent company would be bought out by an even bigger company that subsequently gave our little magazine the old heave-ho, we probably wouldn’t have bought that chalet on the shore of Lake Zurich. Fast forward three years to a freezing, snowing, in fact, December of 2004. We were renting a computer in one of those small copy shops you see around town to do the first edition of MORE Magazine. Apparently the rental fee for the computer didn’t extend to the AC unit on premises, because we put the finishing touches on our inaugural issue only after we’d lost our own sense of touch. The glass top table could have been ice for all we numbly cared. It started to snow on the day our magazine hit the street, and my partner braved the streets in her high-heeled boots, distributing the magazines we’d so carefully worked on for the previous six months. She had insisted on going door to door, showing her face to each new place, and giving them a name card. I simply dropped off the magazines at hotels, by the bundle, from the back of a “bread” truck.
The magazines went so quickly that we thought we’d be rich in no time. After all, our ad prices were (and still are) competitive, and the magazines were going directly to the advertiser’s potential clients. So why not feel optimistic? Well, it’s not that easy. I remember August 2005 very clearly. I was sitting in my apartment with nothing but a few coins in a bowl, and I had something like 2.9RMB in the bank. It was summertime, so there weren’t many teaching jobs open to supplement my income. I was completely broke, financially and spiritually. Then an advertiser called me and said that they wanted to sign a year contract. Finally we could breathe again, but it wasn’t until September 2006 that we were finally able to get out of that copy shop, and buy our own computer, which, turned into two, and then three. In time we were able to purchase a camera, and pay my partner’s rent. We then hired a full-time editor/writer to lighten the load, and then a full-time secretary to lighten that load. Fast forward to today, and I’m still freezing because our office is too full of people for me to sit in it. After five years, I’ve still not made a dime off of this thing, or a kuai, or a fen for that matter, but what a wonderful five years it’s been.
By Tim Hoerle
****This month’s Warnings never showed up in the magazine. Our partner thought it was too revealing, and I was way too pissed off to write another one. In its place went an ad for our magazine’s website ironically enough.