After reading Graphic Design Paradoxes, I was inspired to write a post about yearbook day paradoxes. Yearbook Day – the day we all look forward to and dread with equal measure brings with it many paradoxes:
1) There’s no such thing as a bad yearbook, just bad execution – Sometimes the yearbook staff tries too hard to create a book that is too ambitious, other times the theme that seemed so great in September, just doesn’t work in May. It takes such an effort from each staff member over 7-8 months to pull off a great yearbook. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
2) The best way to create a great yearbook is to buy a yearbook – Staff members who have bought a book are much more likely to work hard to create a good book. Encourage every staff member to buy a book as early as possible.
3) If we want to educate our students about good yearbooks, we must first educate ourselves about our student body - What do the students who are NOT in yearbook really want in the yearbook? Once you know that – then you can really create a great yearbook. It’s not about winning awards, although those will probably come too. It’s about sales.
4) If we want to sell more yearbooks, we have to concentrate on making a great yearbook – not on selling yearbooks. A really good yearbook, like any good product sells itself. Especially in this age of viral marketing, let the book speak for itself. If it doesn’t sell well, then you need to rethink what you are doing.
5) Yearbooks are about more than just pictures, you need to write well too. Kids hate the words in yearbooks, not because they are words, but because they are boring. Write about things they care about and they will read it.
6) Yearbooks don’t always sell because of a good cover, but they will almost definitely fail because of a bad cover. Like it or not, kids judge the book by its cover. Every book’s cover is about tradition and cool factor. As a 40+ yearbook teacher, I know how hard I have to work to keep up with what’s cool with the kids. You better study and just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean the kids won’t love it.
7) The yearbook staff knows best. This is a sure path to failure. Don’t include the students in the process and you will pay the price in sales. It is not the yearbook staff’s book. The book belongs to the students.
8 ) Other schools have it easy because their parents just buy books without thinking. Even if that is true, you work at your school. This is your book. Take some pride in it. Make the book you have the best it can be regardless of the level of technology you have, support you get from the administration, etc.
9) The best way to be a yearbook editor or adviser is to tell everyone what to do and keep on their butts ’til they do it. This just breeds resentment and distrust. Try to include every staff member in as much as possible. Give them a chance to give their input as often as possible. The more they are invested in the book, the more they will work to make it a success.
10) Believe in yourself, set standards and try to live up to them. People have no respect for those of us who don’t live up to our ideals. Don’t be lazy when it comes to checking names, spelling, grammar, facts, etc. Send your book to be rated. Look for the good and try not to take the bad too personally.