Live Blog: Deadline week for Issue 50

Time 6:21 am, April 6, 2012

Mission control: My Desk. I'll be here a while

As if deadline week wasn’t bad enough, the editor has decided to run a live blog of the highs and lows of putting Issue 50 of Car Dealer together. Follow this post for his updates as and when he can fit them in.


11.03: Back in the office. Have a serious headache (self inflicted). It’s just Dave and I at the moment trying to finish the last few pages off. We’re down to the new Workshop page, a Finance feature piece on Oracle Finance and the Coming Next Month Panel. Then the whole thing needs reading and uploading to the printers. Could be here a while.

Now that's some impressive tank size...

12.47: Midway through proofing my chunk of the mag. @CarDealerDave has got the other lot. Already spotted some clangers. One of which is the Seat Ibiza with the 14-litre engine. Impressive, but not sure on the economy that would get. And this little beauty was on the VW Passat review. I would hate to think of the cost of filling up the tank on this one. And how long would it take to pump 700-litres into it?

14.12: Right, that’s my chunk of pages read. Now to make the corrections – not forgetting those mentioned above. Then McDonald’s.

15.14: Late lunch devoured. My corrections have been made to the master document. @CarDealerDave sorting his. Meanwhile Batch is struggling with his Happy Meal…

16.08: Uploading the completed magazine document to our printers. Now all the pages have been corrected the entire magazine is built in one master document alongside our valued advertisers’ messages. It’s the first time we really get to see it all together. Looking at it, I have to say I’m really proud of the 50th issue. There are some cracking features in there and the cover looks stunning. Now we have to wait for the pages to transfer across and then refine in the printers online system before we can finally sign them off.

17.20: PDF has now uploaded to the printers. Currently waiting for the 100 pages to filter through their system and drop into our approvals window. Then it’s a case of one final check. Nearly there.

18.21: Major problems with the printers. Pages uploaded but we couldn’t sign them off. Had to email them as they’re not back until Tuesday and I’m out of the country then on the Peugeot 208 launch. Not exactly the end of the week I was planning, but still at least I think it’s done. So there you have it – production week for Issue 50. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the issue when it arrives on your desks around the 15th.


08.05: Early start (for me, anyway) in the office. After totting up the page count to go tally last night it’s clear there’s a massive mountain to climb today. Batch and @CarDealerDave are here too already cracking on. The SMMT new car sales figures are out at 9am – they’re always released on the fourth working day of the month – so Batch will be keeping an eye out for those so we can report them as soon as possible.

09.10: Once again we’re first with the SMMT new car sales registration news. At the time of writing our rivals had yet to post a story about the 1.8 per cent rise in sales in March. Not that we’re competitive or anything. Ok, we are. A lot. Here’s the story – with a video no less.

@CarDealerDave on his way to second loss of the week

09.38: It’s cold in the office. Very. Second cup of coffee helping. Just beat @CarDealerDave in the second pool game of the week. It was a black ball game this time. He’s getting better. Currently laying out my editor’s page. Not at the same time. I wrote my column last night at about 10pm. That probably explains why it doesn’t make much sense. Also, just heard from our App developers – he’s been emailing me all week, but none of them have arrived. The good news is our App was submitted to Apple yesterday. Fingers crossed it goes live in time for this issue hitting desks as it’s promoted all over the issue.

10.32: Writing about our Lead Generation event being held on May 18. We’ve got more than 100 delegates signed up to the free event now. We’ve signed up more speakers this month too and there are still some places available for delegates. If you want one, let me know via this link.

12.05: Production moving swiftly along. Probably helped by the lack of Live Blog updates… I’ve moved on to the news section of the mag. Adding our Tesco stories, an update on Car Dealer Power and then trying to work out what else to include. Not quite on the finishing straight, but getting there. Now, what to have for lunch. Roast?

13.44: No roast today. Just a foot-long Subway. Was seriously tempted by a two footer, but held back. Bought three cookies and a packet of crisps instead. Fat. Anyway, lunch update over. Mag pages left to do now at 14. A few are half pages, so making decent progress. Batch has already moved on to trying to sort next month’s cover shoot out. On the iPad App front I’ve been told that there’s a 60/40 chance in our favour of it being live in time for the mag dropping on desks. Do I take the gamble and promote it or not? Still undecided.

14.04: New Jaguar F-Type. Wow. That is all.

Monkey business: I've had too much sugar

15.00: Got bored of layout. Decided instead to see if I could scare Batch with some monkey climbing on the office roof. Failed dramatically at scaring him, but hurt hands. Think I may have had too much sugar and/or Subway. Currently laying out ad for our iPad App for the magazine – still scared the magazine will arrive with subscribers and there won’t be an App live in the iTunes store.

16.09: We’re down to the last nine pages. Just about to sort the Contents page. Quite like this one, but always forget I’ve got to write something for the Picture of the Month… Time to get thinking.

18.27: Still four pages left to do. Got to leave the office in the moment for father duties. Built the master document for the magazine now. All that’s left to do is slot in the missing pages, proof read the whole lot, upload it to the printers and sign it all off. Good Friday could quite possibly be not so much fun for me and @CarDealerDave.


08.34: Today starts at home checking emails before I head to the office. Sorry for the lack of updates yesterday afternoon, but the Tesco Cars story caused a few issues. Our web gremlins meant that despite posting our exclusive story only those in the office could see it. Apparently we were updating the site on the ‘old server’, whatever that means. Anyway, the story finally did go live and caught many people’s attention – including The Daily Telegraph, which quoted our piece directly today.

11.09: I’ve drunk three coffees. Hands shaking, so excuse typos. Anyway, most of the morning has been taken up with more email woe (it’s still not working properly, but we seem to be getting there), as well as keeping an eye on who has been using our Tesco Cars story. It’s now popped up on Sky News and MSN Cars too. I’ve yet to open a page of the magazine for subbing, but @CarDealerDave is cracking on. At least one of us is. Batch is still struggling to get hold of some Ford dealers. This deadline week is proving pretty tough.

11.28: Tipped off by that another site has quoted our exclusive story. This time it’s This is Money – shame they didn’t link to our site like the others did. Meanwhile I’ve seen a first draft of our cover. It’s been put together by Mike Askew and he’s done an amazing job with it. Here’s a sneaky peak for you. We’re even using a special ink for the gold parts. Hopefully it’ll look as good as it does on screen.

12.05: Finally a spread under my belt and Wednesday’s layout is off the mark. This time it’s a piece about Nissan’s Sunderland factory celebrating 25 years in the UK. The factory now runs six days a week, 24 hours a day with three shifts, churning out hundreds of thousands of cars. When many people think we don’t build anything in the UK anymore, just point them towards the car manufacturing industry. I’ve also included my first drive of the Juke R at Goodwood recently. Now on to our cover feature – the Ford v Vauxhall special – which Batch is STILL writing…

Ever wondered what a Twiglet would look like with a beard? Wonder no more!

14.33: Back to the office after another pub roast dinner (pork again), and straight into double maths (meeting with accountant). About to get cracking with the main feature, but Batch STILL writing it. His scampi lunch has delayed things. Also of note is Batch’s beard – which only seems to appear on deadline week. Strange. We’ve also been visited by Martyn Collins off of Autoblog fame (he had liver and onions for lunch if you’re interested).

16.22: Mid-way through the Ford v Vauxhall feature lay out. Actually, I’m lying, I’ve done two pages and am just starting another spread. Batch has been sent out for Costa – he had a pint and half with lunch and is most certainly, in his words, ‘squiffy’. Thankfully he finished the feature before drinking. In other news, I think email woe may have subsided for now. But then that could be the kiss of death.

17.49: Still working on the Ford vs Vauxhall feature. Haven’t even looked at the words yet, but the pictures from Matt Richardson (@alfesti) are pretty special. I’m determined to get it laid out and subbed before I leave tonight. Also, just remembered I still need to write my leader column and a news story about our Lead Generation event. Will this week ever end?

18.45: Right, that’s it. End of Deadline Day Three. I’ve finished laying out and subbing the Ford v Vauxhall feature. Batch has done a cracking job on the words (again, don’t tell him). The 50-year sales fight between the UK’s two biggest selling car manufacturers is a gripping one – and the cars from each decade look great. That leaves 23 of the 62 editorial pages left to finish by the close of play tomorrow. Looks like it could be another long day tomorrow.


09.24: Well today has started with quite a few four letter words. For some reason we decided it was a good idea to swap servers for our website and email on deadline week. How I didn’t see this wouldn’t cause problems is beyond me. Now emails I received last night on home Mac are nowhere to be seen, my iPhone is working perfectly, but my office Mac refuses to even let me set up the email account. And it’s not just me that has problems – most of the office are struggling too. Not sure what I’ll do without my fix of 45 Newspress emails…

09.36: Email woe continues. iPhone now given up sending emails – possibly rejecting rubbish grammar in content – office Mac seems to have forgotten email even existed, and iPad has become a pretty photoframe as it’s in no way of use as a communications device any more. Production of magazine has ground to a halt as a result. LARGE coffee needed. And a pint.

Seriously tempted to sink these in the office fridge. Note booze to milk ratio is weighted in a student's favour

09.55: Email woe update. It couldn’t be more broken if it tried. Have just entered the bowels of my Mac and reconfigured DNS and caches. Whatever that means. Not fixed it either. Now being told by IT that it could take 48 hours to ‘sort itself out’. Tempted to sort myself out by raiding the fridge (see right), and not for milk…

10.14: Just realised several things: Firstly, Scotland is actually really quite big (was looking at map of CD distribution on the wall), @CarDealerDave doesn’t like the sound of his own voice (we told him neither do we), and James Batchelor has actually stolen Quentin Wilson’s voice (proof here) and, it seems, Mark Lamarr’s quiff too. That led us to Google (again) to find out what actually happened to Mark Lamarr? Answer: Inconclusive. Oh, and email’s still broke, and I’m yet to lay out any pages…

11.47: Already thinking about lunch. Email still Donald Ducked. Page layout slow. Kia feature just finished though. Got some more pictures from the press office sent last night which have made it look a little more interesting. Started work on the Trevor Finn interview spread too, but words need a slight tweak first.

11.56: Desperately seeking Ford dealers who sold cars in the 80s, 90s and 00s for our cover feature. Ford press office has tried to find them but our deadline has long passed. Batch needs to interview them today if we’re to get this feature sorted. All getting a bit nerve wracking. If anyone can help, please get in touch.

12.39: Finally a bit of progress. That’s the Trevor Finn feature laid out. Batch has done an excellent job with the interview (just don’t tell him). Finn has been in the top job of the UK’s biggest dealer group for 20 years and has an incredible story to tell.

14.24: I’ve eaten quite possibly the biggest roast dinner ever. Plus the morning meant a pint was called for too. Back to the tea now and laying out the 50 Motoring Milestones of the last 50 years. Lots of pictures to process for it, but it’s a decent read. It’d taken @CarDealerDave and Batch a good few weeks to pull them all together.

15.19: Still subbing the 50th Motoring Milestones pieces. Couldn’t help but laugh out loud at @CarDealerDave’s headline for Honda’s partnership in 1979 with British Leyland: ‘Sign Honda Dotted Line’. I had to read it twice before I got it. But then I’m a bit slow.

15.47: News breaks that Tesco Cars – the website we revealed would be selling used cars – has closed its doors. Team frantically working on a news story for the website.

16.35: Just got off the phone to an excellent inside contact at Tesco. He’s given me the full lowdown on why he thinks the site closed and what went wrong. Currently transcribing my notes for a story on the website. Bear with me avid Live Blog reader…


10.09: For some stupid reason I’ve decided it’s a good idea to run a live blog so you can see what it’s like putting Issue 50 of Car Dealer Magazine together. Instead of laying out the flat plan – the sheet we use so we know where the ads and features go – I’m instead writing this. Please don’t mention it to the rest of the team as they’re waiting for me to sort the aforementioned.

10.16: Still writing this instead of sorting the flat plan. We haven’t started any pages of the mag and it needs to be sorted and with the printers before Easter. I’ve already called the printers and they said it’s ok to send it on Good Friday, so it looks like I’ll be working then.

10.24: Can’t decide whether a Live Blog should be run earliest update first, or latest update first?

10.33: Second cup of tea of the day. Already had three Americanos. Hands shaking a little. Still not flat planned. Been shouted at by Batch for blogging instead of ‘working’.

11.15: Flat plan finally sorted. It’s another 100-page issue. We’ve got loads of good stuff to get in our anniversary edition. There’s a Ford vs Vauxhall special detailing their sales battles over the last five decades, an interview with Pendragon chief exec Trevor Finn, and the launch of our new challenge to trade up cars for charity which will see the editor take on Mr Wheeler Dealer himself, Mike Brewer.

Batch has his cake and eats it. Noisly.

11.25: There are a few advert spaces left to sell in the 50th issue too so ad manager Duncan Chappell is on the case with his team. He’s devised some special offers and with some premium spaces still available he’s sure they’ll be filled.

11.43: Cake break. Seat kindly sent us a massive sponge to help us celebrate our 50th issue. It’s been left on the side all weekend, but still tastes good. We’re ignoring the mice footprints. Third cup of tea of the day.

12.01: My flat plan errors now fixed (thanks Dunc), we’re ready to get started on the layout. Not sure which feature to crack on with first. Could be our exclusive feature on Kia’s brand new dealership in a very unique place…

12.11: Just received a few words from They were the dealers who sold our charity Porsche 911 for us. I needed some detail from them on the sale of our car and it turns out a young chap bought the 911 – his first Porsche. The warranty that the kind chaps at Car Care Plan supplied help clinch the deal.

12.28: Just read through Batch’s Kia feature. It’s a fascinating story about a new dealership in the heart of London. There really seems to be no stopping Kia at the moment. I’m still thoroughly enjoying our long term Rio. We drove 500 miles in it around the UK on Friday and it still entertains.

Me snapping Brewer for a Tweet

13.00: Interweb goes down. But then comes back again. So you’ll have to put up with my live blogging this afternoon too. Sorry about that. Currently laying out the Mike Brewer feature. Snapper Matt’s pics are nice – it helped it was beautiful weather on Friday. Brewer was his usual legendary self when we caught up with him – he even recorded us a special video to go with the iPad version of the mag, which will hopefully be live in time for the 50th issue’s publication. More on that later.

13.08: Told off by Car Dealer Dave for caption typo under Batch’s pic. Left it in there, just to really annoy him…

14.19: Lunchtime walk of @CarDealerDog complete. The sun is shining on the south coast making deadline week even harder. And to make matters worse I’ve got a box of salad for lunch. Mmm crunchy.

15.17: Just remembered I am writing a live blog. Layout of mag pages a little slow. Fourth cuppa of the day on the desk. Just had a long debate about what to call Batch’s new column – he takes over from Alex Goy this month. Finally settled on Batchelor Backfired – which sort of sounds like something he needs to see the doctor about.

Keeping Costa in business. And the CD team on a high.

15.51: First feature laid out and subbed. It’s the £50 Car Challenge piece with Mr Brewer. It’s nice to get the first green lines of completion on the flat plan. Just 62 pages of editorial left to complete…

16.38: It’s got that bad – a monster Costa run was needed. Two iced lattes, a flat white, a hot chocolate, a medium caramel latte and an Americano. And a bag of back up coffee – just in case… Today’s caffeine intake would worry my doctor. Best hope he doesn’t read live blogs then.

17.37: Kia feature half laid out. Just realised we’re lacking a lot of the pictures we needed for the piece. Emailed the press office and hoping they’ll pick it up asap. Might have to come back to this one tomorrow. Can’t decide whether to have another cup of tea… or piece of cake.

18.02: Its not all bad news today. A pool triumph against @CarDealerDave cheers me up. He’s left with five yellows on the table. If it had been seven , house rules dictate a lap of the table with no trousers. Thankfully that has NEVER happened.

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18.09: Can’t decide if the Kia feature looks too boring. The lack of really engaging pictures is causing a bit of a struggle. Think I’m going to call it a day and come back to it fresh tomorrow. Of the 62 editorial pages we need to complete by the end of the week, we’ve finished 13.

18.11: It has just occurred to me that Batch described the music on this video of the new Seat Ibiza (uploaded to our YouTube channel, so it’ll display on our iPad edition) ‘funky pop’. I think I need to introduce him tomorrow to Katy Perry via the joy that is Google Images… the boy has led a sheltered life.

This blog will be updated when the editor can be bothered…

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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