GWAS Girl In Media - Amanda Nicholls (Editor, Total Girl)

Just like the teen celebrities her readers idolise, Total Girl editor Amanda Nicholls knows if you want to get the attention of tweens, you have to be across all media – from TV to online, books and the magazine itself, Nicholls is a walking, talking brand ambassador. Here she answers Jenna Templeton's questions about what it takes to run the TG show.

Jenna: How did you get your start in magazines?
Amanda: As soon as I graduated from university, I started applying for everything – sub-editor roles, feature writers, editorial assistants – even editor’s roles! I had no shame and certainly had nothing to lose. After working on a title called The Australian Acreage Review and completing my BComm at UWS, I got an invitation to interview for a Deputy Editor’s position on a tween girl’s mag called Girl Power, and I went for it. I remember staying up the night before my interview making DIY craft activities to show them in my first round. Honestly, I think that’s what won them over! I was there for about a year before I got promoted to editor. After three years at Next Media, I was lucky enough to score the role as deputy editor of Total Girl, and within a year I was promoted to editor. I’ve been here now for three years and still loving it!

What does an average day as Total Girl editor involve for you?
An average day would be liaising with my team to make sure we’re tracking well to meet our deadlines, checking their work, meeting with our advertising team, chatting with my Brand Manager about covermounts and marketing opportunities and lots of cups of tea. Also, I get a lot of emails from our readers and I try to respond to all of them – mostly they want to know how they can become a model or a magazine editor. They’re too cute!

Who is the Total Girl reader?
She’s fun, loves her besties, is passionate about making the world a better place for everyone to live in, she’s smart, tech savvy, creative and embraces everything it means to be a girl today.

What sets Total Girl apart from other tween magazines on the stands?
Total Girl is number one in its category and has been for the past eight years. As the market leader we are constantly setting trends that excite tween girls and we endeavour to always have exclusive opportunities for our readers that none of the other mags can offer. Most importantly, though, we take pride in creating a magazine that is considered a safe environment for young girls. Parents trust us and both readers and their parents know that we take our responsibility to communicate with tween girls extremely seriously. We go to lengths that other magazines don’t necessarily, to make sure Total Girl is always age appropriate.

What’s popular now in the tween scene?
Justin Bieber! Every second shout out on the Total Girl website is dedicated to Justin. Taylor Swift is also high on their radar this year.

Do you think tween magazine sales would fall if covermounts were not included?
It’s become the norm in our demographic – having said that, I do believe that the Total Girl brand has always been a very strong one, and a lot of our readers choose to read the magazine based on the content and also because they are brand loyal.

What qualities do you need to be a successful editor?
I think you have to have a good balance between being a creative minded person and a business minded person. Your goal is to produce a magazine that your readers will enjoy and you need to be able to put yourself into the mindset of your readers and think, ‘What do they want to get from the magazine?’ ‘What will excite them most in this issue?’. But then you also have to be the person who makes all the calls on budgets and advertising, and considering whether spending $10,000 here is going to deliver a good return on investment later. Most importantly, you have to have a real passion for what you’re creating.

Tells us about Total Girl TV.
Total Girl TV was a dream that I had in a strategy day a couple of years ago. At first we all had a giggle and thought, yeah, right. But when the giggling had subsided, we thought, well why not? We approached Boomerang with the concept of creating a branded girls-only block of cartoons and they loved the idea! We launched the block in September 2009 and after our first three-month trial and ratings success, we’ve agreed to extend the partnership into 2010. We’ve recently reworked the program to include viewer shout outs, Total Girl star signs during the commercial breaks and a couple of the TG team were cartoonified and appear throughout the block with lovely little comments – it’s very sweet! For us, it’s an amazing achievement to be able to extend our brand onto television, which is something that not many other magazines have been able to achieve.

Tell us a bit about your new book Totally Stylin' Book 1: Style Files?
Style Files is the first book in the Totally Stylin series and my first book as a published author! It’s about a young girl who discovers she has a talent for making magazines and goes on to make a very popular school publication called Style Files. You have to read it to find out what happens.

How did publishing a book come about?
Writing a children’s book has been on my to-do list for about five years! I couldn’t believe my luck when Allen and Unwin approached Total Girl to create a fiction series aimed at our readers. They actually already had an author for the project, but I convinced them that I could write a book, too. They extended the series from four books to six, and I’ve shared the series with Rebecca Lim, who is the other talented Totally Stylin author. So we have three books each. My second book is called Fashion Snaps and is due out in the July school holidays. I have to say, now that I’ve had a taste of what the fiction writing process is, I’m addicted! I definitely want to continue writing books in the future!

Which magazines did you read as a tween/teen?
I wish when I was a tween there was something like Total Girl, but we’re only eight years old this year, so my first magazine experience had to be with TV Hits and Smash Hits. I collected the lyrics and the posters covered my bedroom ceiling. Then my friend introduced me to Girlfriend and Dolly when I was 13. I started collecting every issue – not surprisingly, I became addicted to magazines.

You’re an editor, TV presenter and a published author. Where do you find the time?
That’s a good question! I wrote some of my first book on my honeymoon, when we were in transit, of course. My poor husband had to read Style Files on the flight from LA to New York. I’m sure he was riveted. I’m starting a Masters degree in July – I think that will be a fantastic challenge, so we’ll see how time-poor I am soon!

Your top 5 blogs?
Well, in no particular order…; 4 Inch Heels Only; Frangipani Princess – TG once got a cool piece on this teen blogger’s spot; As Seen In; and Girl With A Satchel, of course!

Total Girl is published by Pacific Magazines, circulates 55,140 copies per month (ABC Dec '09) and has 244,000 readers (YAS Dec '09).

Yours truly,
Jenna @ Girl With a Satchel


frangipani princess said...

I'm not ashamed to say I'm still a massive total girl fan at sixteen. I've read it since the first issue (when i was, well, a little more in the targeted age range)and still think it's fabulous. it features such rolemodel-esque celebs, and everything that tweens (and child-hearted teens) could want.
Amanda has done so much; she's such an inspiration.
Very chuffed to get a shoutout :) Thanks Amanda!


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your interview posts, they are very enjoyable!

frangipani princess said...

wow, very excited to get a mention!

and i agree with anonymous, love the interview posts :)


Anonymous said...

How old is this interview that she mentions 4 Inch Heels Only as one of her favourite blogs?!