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:
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 As such, it deals with issues that still concern editors and offers guidance that does not go out of date.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
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.