Five years ago I wrote a blog on frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Gypsy Journal. We get some questions over and over about how we produce the paper, and why we do things the way we do. So I thought I’d update it and give it another shot. Here are some of our most often asked questions, and an explanation of the whys and wherefores of how we do what we do.
Q. How do I know when my subscription is due to expire?
A. We send out a renewal notice with your paper two issues before it is due to expire, and again with the last issue before expiration. There is also a number on the top line of your address on the envelope the paper arrives in. That number is the issue your subscription expires with. The issue number is always in our masthead, at the bottom right of Page 2. For example, the next issue is #96, so if the number on the top line of your address block is 98, you have three more issues to go before you are due to renew. For subscribers to our digital issue, we send an e-mail alerting them when it is time to renew.
Q. What does the letter C, G or R after my expiration number mean?
A. The C is a code we use to tell us you have a courtesy subscription (usually given away as a door prize at a rally). G means you have a gift subscription. R means you are a customer that has renewed in the past. You may also see a series of letters after the expiration number. LOW means you first subscribed at Life on Wheels, OW means you came to us from the old Out West newspaper, and TLR means you were a subscriber to Two Lanes Roads before that publication shut down.
Q. Why don’t you have very much outside advertising in the Gypsy Journal?
A. I have sold millions of dollars worth of advertising in my newspaper career, and even though I’m pretty good at it, I hate sales. I’d much rather spend my time searching out new things to write about. Also, when you have advertisers, they sometimes want to dictate what a publication can say. I’m too stubborn for that. If I think a particular product is junk, I say so. Not many companies want to spend their advertising dollars with a publication that may tell the truth about their products. If we could find an experienced, energetic salesperson, we would probably let them try to build up our ad count a bit, but we’re not trying to make a fortune, just get by, and our business model has worked so far for us.
Q. Why isn’t your telephone number included on your masthead on Page 2 so I can call you if I want to?
A. We do not have an established office; we run our business from the road. We check our e-mail several times a day, and we usually receive snail mail every week. Those are the best ways to reach us. At one time we did publish our telephone number, and it became a problem. We got calls at midnight when we were on the East coast from people on the West coast who were looking for a campground for the night and wanted recommendations. When we were on the West coast, we got calls at 6 a.m. from people on the East coast wanting to tell us about a funny sign they had seen and should include in the paper. It just became too much of a problem.
Q. What happened to Bad Nick and will he ever be back?
A. I miss Bad Nick and having the chance to spout off and get people talking and (hopefully) thinking. But between traveling and researching stories for the Gypsy Journal and then writing them, and putting each new issue together, my daily RV blog, and writing my books, there just are not enough hours in the day. I’d like to revive Bad Nick someday if I could find a way to add an extra eight hours to every day.
Q. You seem to be going in a dozen different directions at once, between the paper, books, your blog, and speaking at RV events. Where do you find the time for everything?
A. Everything in life takes some sacrifice, and one has to set priorities. In my case, I have given up dieting and exercise to squeeze in the extra time I need. Seriously, I’m pretty much a Type A person and I thrive on all of this.
Q. We miss your Gypsy Journal rallies. Will there ever be another one?
A. We miss the fun and camaraderie of the rallies, too. But we don’t miss the months of hard work that went into each of them and the fact that we were losing money on each event. And we LOVE having a much more relaxed schedule! If and when we ever do a rally again, it will be a much more informal, less structured event.
Q. I have all of your Big Lake books. Are you going to bring out any more?
A. I am working on book #7 in the Big Lake series and have several more rattling around in my head, just waiting for their chance to get out. And there are several other writing projects I also want to do.
Q. What do you see in the future for yourselves? Any long term plans to hang up the keys and settle down someplace?
A. When I first posted a FAQs blog back in 2010, Terry and I were both in agreement that we’ll continue to do just what we are doing for as long as we possibly can. That hasn’t changed. We’re both in pretty good health, we’re having fun, and we’re happy. Why would we want to do anything else? We have slowed down from the crazy days when we were teaching at Life on Wheels and following the rally circuit, and we enjoy sitting in one place for a few weeks to spend time writing and weaving. We’ve even talked about buying a lot in an RV resort in Florida for the winters, but at this point that’s all it’s been; talk.
Q. What about the Gypsy Journal? Do you have any plans to stop publishing it and focusing on your books?
A. Again, we’re happy with our lives just as they are. As long as we can physically continue, and as long as our readers keep on wanting what we produce, we’ll be out here exploring America’s small towns and back roads, and writing about our travels.
Q. How long do you plan to continue with the printed edition, and will the digital edition eventually replace it entirely?
A. Five years ago I said I’m a dinosaur who loves the feel and smell of ink and newsprint and could never see abandoning the print issue altogether. At that time the majority of our subscribers preferred the print issue over the digital. That margin is shrinking every year. And with the ever increasing cost of printing and postage, we currently make 7¢ an issue on each mailed subscription. The next postal rate increase will probably wipe that out. And as we get older, the physical demands of loading a truckload of newspapers into the Explorer, carrying them inside, stuffing envelopes, and then carrying them all out again to take to the post office becomes more challenging. So I have to backpedal and say that maybe somewhere down the road things will change. But if they ever do, we’ll give you all plenty of notice.
Thought For The Day – When people say something is “better than sex” it’s obvious that they’re not having the right kind of sex.