A Short History of the American Mensa Editor's Handbook

by Meredy Amyx

First Edition, 1975

The first edition of the AML Editor's Handbook was compiled, edited, and produced by Norm Pos in 1975 and consists of a selection of discrete articles on pertinent topics ranging from how to encourage writers and what to do about four-letter words to a variety of printing methods (spirit duplicating, anyone?) and a wealth of information about paste-up, graphics, and other topics that predate desktop publishing.  A large section is devoted to several editors' detailed descriptions of the making of their respective newsletters. 

Second Edition, 1982

The second edition was begun by Clotilde Clark, who did some preliminary gathering of material from editors.  At the request of the AMC Publications Officer, I picked it up and continued the research by publishing an editor's questionnaire in InterLoc.  Response was excellent.  Drawing upon Norm's edition, Clotilde's files, the editors' questionnaire, my own experience, and all I had learned from other editors in the course of ten years' involvement with M publications, I integrated the material  into a structured outline that covered all aspects of the process.  Original writing  introduced and discussed various topics and supplied context and transitions for the words of the many editor-contributors.  Reflecting on the work of two decades ago, I have described it thus:

The entire second edition of the handbook was based on the premise that editors were the best source of information for one another.  Shared experience is the mode throughout.  I still think this approach was sound, and I also think it doesn't matter that most of the contributors' names would be unfamiliar to editors now; they still speak to common concerns that have not changed much with time.

Published in 1982, the second edition came out at a time when few personal computers were on the scene, only a handful of bold editors had begun to venture into computer-based publishing, word-processing programs were rudimentary, and dot-matrix printers were standard.  Production was still presumed to be paste-up of hard-copy mechanicals.  Accordingly, most of the copy preparation and production information in the second editon is now obsolete. 

However, the second edition devoted significant attention to matters such as editorial philosophy, the editor's role, the editor's relationship to the group, exercise of judgment, cultivation of contributors, quality of material, the purpose of the newsletter, and ways of serving the membership.  As such, it deals with issues that still concern editors and offers guidance that does not go out of date. 

Third Edition, 1986

The third edition of the Editor's Handbook was the work of Hans Frommer.  Published in 1986, this streamlined edition omits much of the discussion of issues and lists all contributors without attributing individual comments.  The computer still figures only marginally in the sections on production.  Information on record-keeping and reporting and on mailing and complying with postal regulations was added or updated.  The focus is pragmatic rather than philosophical, and the book is more of a how-to handbook than a compilation of experience. 

Beyond the Third Edition

Of our own knowledge, we are unable to supply information on any subsequent editions of the handbook.  However, AMC Communications Officer Tyger Gilbert posted the following statement on the editors' list on January 15, 2002:  "[the American Mensa Editors Handbook] is
currently being revised by the Publications Committee."


Since Dick and I are both Mensa civilians, we think it is appropriate to identify ourselves for members who don't know us.  The following is a partial record of our service to Mensa.  By profession, Dick is a writer and I am an editor.

Dick Amyx
Joined 1968; life member
LocSec, San Jose, 1969-1970
Editor, Intelligencer, San Francisco, 1973-1975
Publications Officer, AMC, 1975-1979
Assistant Editor, Bulletin, 1979-1980
Publications Officer, AMC, 1983
National Service Award, 1988
LocSec, San Francisco, 1991-1993
Chair, San Francisco AG, 1992
Chairman, AMC, 1993-1995
Production Manager, Intelligencer, San Francisco, 2000
Meredy Amyx
Joined 1972; life member
Editor, Beacon, Boston, 1974-1977; Owl Award, 1976
Editor, Bulletin, 1977-1980
Distinguished Service Award, 1980
Editor, Editor's Handbook, 2nd ed., 1982
Editor, Intelligencer, San Francisco, 2000
Editor's Handbook Main Page