Most of my readers know me as a mommy blogger but only a few know that I am also associated with a children’s newspaper- My Paper. Today on the 8th of September we are celebrating My Paper’s 6th anniversary. I would like to share more about My Paper with all of you today, since its a very special day for us.
About: My Paper – A monthly newspaper for children.
My Paper is a monthly newspaper for children essentially to nurture the diverse needs and reading interests. My Paper studies, selects and publishes news, articles, stories, information that is important to children between the ages 4 and above. The lack of attractive reading material pushes children towards passive entertainment like TV, internet, mobiles. My Paper is a small step to promote reading, jog the brains and lead towards positive thinking by making reading an enjoyable experience. True to its name My Paper is what every child can call his own.
Me And My Paper:
I joined the My Paper team two years back as a support member of the editorial team. My friend Asha who heads the marketing at My Paper introduced me to the newspaper. I was extremely impressed with the content and subscribed it for my daughter – Mishti. Asha asked me to help them out with the ‘Fun Page’ which had puzzles and activities since I had teaching experience and I was very excited to contribute.
The Publisher, Suraj Lokare liked my work and the very next month I was surprised to see my name as a team member in the Paper. It was a feeling which cannot be expressed in words. It was one of the best surprises I had received in the past few years. This was a time in my life when I was exploring blogging as a full-time career choice and was keen to use my time productively. However, it was a phase in my life wherein I was very low on self-confidence. When Mishti pointed my name out in print, I was overwhelmed with emotions and suddenly I felt confident.
I started enjoying my work a lot. In a few months, I was in for more surprises. One day, Asha visited my home with a small cake and a gift. It wasn’t a special occasion so I was surprised. When I opened the gift, tears welled up in my eyes and the image of my name on the visiting card as the Sub-editor of the newspaper started to blur. I wiped my tears of joy, I had to see my name on my first ever visiting card clearly.
Today being the 6th anniversary of My Paper- I would like to share the story behind My Paper.
So, here it is straight from the horse’s mouth- The Publisher- Mr Suraj Lokare- the brain and heart behind My Paper.
The story behind My Paper, a monthly newspaper for children.
The idea of creating something valuable reading material for children sparked way back in 2003 when my son started imitating me reading my morning newspaper. I realised then that there are limited options for children to read on a regular basis. Of course, there were books, magazines, comics but a regular, consistent product was missing. The idea kept bubbling under for some time since I was engrossed in my job, but as years passed I realised that the challenge is not only in creating a newspaper but also to get children habituated to this practice.
By 2012 when I was on my own, I could devote time to this idea and started conceptualising a newspaper. Soon, my good friend who also comes from a background of children’s literature volunteered to edit the paper, another friend a designer willingly took up the designing of the same and so did yet another friend who volunteered to steer marketing. The focus was on creating the right reading material, content-driven product. A lot of research went in deciding the size of the paper (something a child can hold, handle with ease) The quality of paper (a thick art paper which will not get damaged easily) The style of content (positive, cheerful, fun and engaging) Oh yes, even the number of words that will hold a child’s attention. Finally, our own in-house illustrations customised for every piece of article (or photographs) to make it lively. And voila, a beautiful newspaper was on the table.
Then started the gruelling process of registering the name, licence etc. Towards the end of 2012, we came up with our first edition of My Paper. We wanted it to be ready on the 5th of September so that it shares the date with Teacher’s Day. But the licence registration and printing got delayed and we got the first edition on 8th Sept 2012. While we were a tad disappointed to miss the date, someone pointed out that 8th September is also the World Literacy Day! That lifted our spirits and we started churning out the editions month after month.
Now began the real challenge.
We began with a blind passion for creating My Paper, no funding, no investment, no office. Even the first set of copies we printed were on credit. Believing that anyone would want to buy a newspaper for his/her child, we set out talking about it in our own networks. We were appreciated, liked, complimented, congratulated but not subscribed to!!!
Parents would promise us to be back with subscriptions but didn’t take it. Not because they couldn’t afford it, neither was the product bad. But for sheer laziness of writing a cheque. Friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues… were the earlier subscribers of My Paper. Soon we realised that the larger audience is in schools. We started visiting them to introduce the paper. Most of them didn’t even show interest in the idea of a newspaper for children. ‘We already have an XYZ newspaper coming to our school’ was the reply. We insisted at least take a look at the paper, to see the quality of content and raw paper, but failed to even get it under their eyes.
This continued for months n months, with production costs piling up since we ‘had to’ publish a minimum count of copies every month. Fixed Deposit savings were exhausted, piggy banks were broken, money borrowed… to keep it going. Not to forget, none of the team members was taking any money yet.
But, there were some schools (their promoters) who were extremely passionate about such initiatives and happily agreed to subscribe it for their students. These were schools who fell in love with their paper and started recommending it in their networks too. Soon, after 3 years of gruel and toil, we grew in numbers slowly, and the profits were used to pay off the earlier outstanding amounts. As the name spread, more passionate people joined voluntarily to help strengthen My Paper. Soon My Paper started travelling places. Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, Gujarat, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Gurgaon and more and more.
Today (2018) My Paper is 6 years old and reaches to over 8000 subscribers all over India and abroad. Parents, teachers call on a regular basis to compliment the team saying their children now enjoy the reading habit. Children send us their drawings, poems, stories to be published. Specialists write to us to share their expertise with readers, parents. That is exactly what we wanted! A platform where children exchange ideas, knowledge and fun.
Even now, we are far from being big but still aspire to create more and more readers all over, through a simple and beautiful product; their own newspaper. Because it does not belong to one single person. It’s yours as much as it is mine.
Suraj Lokare (Publisher)
Suraj has spent close to 20 years in the media industry. Worked with a leading newspaper group and media consulting group, handling sales, marketing, HR, content etc. He has also illustrated several children’s books for publishers in India and abroad.
Shweta Joshi (Editor)
Shweta has always been a passionate writer, her specialisation being children’s literature. She has spent her time in India and US creating beautiful reading materials for different age groups. She along with her editorial team compiles the right content for My Paper.
Asha Dalvi Vasudevan (Marketing Head)
Asha is a seasoned media professional who has worked with the country’s leading media house handling marketing, brand promotions and events. Her passion towards the cause of reading and fiery enthusiasm fuels My Paper’s growth among readers all over.
Prabhakar Bhosale (Creative director)
Prabhakar is an amazing artist and has worked with leading media houses designing their publications. He is an expert in making a simple book look amazingly attractive. He runs his own design firm and creates My Paper every month with innovative ideas and designs.
Aesha Shah (sub-editor)
Aesha comes from a teaching background and now is a full-time blogger, mother and a writer. She assists the editor in compiling and creating interesting content for My Paper every month.
Priyanka Date (Operations Head)
Priyanka takes care of the task of dispatching the copies every month to the right reader. Thousands of copies are sent all over India through postal service, courier or by hand. She also takes care of queries, complaints, coordinates with schools in receiving contributions from children.
It has been a journey with hurdles but the team at My Paper is committed to making it a huge success. My appeal to all my readers is to support us in our journey to promote reading amongst children.
Visit My Paper website or our social media channels for regular updates and for subscription details as well.
I hope you will enjoy reading My Paper and make it yours soon.