Behind the Scenes

Payton Miller: Executive Editor, GUNS Magazine

A brief intro from Brent Wheat:

As Editor, I get to ‘steer the ship’ but there are several folks working tirelessly behind the scenes. Today, I’d like you to introduce you to Payton Miller, the second-in-command here at GUNS.

Payton is really the person who keeps things on track while the editor is out to lunch and/or drinking large quantities of cheap bourbon.

Seriously, Payton is a key part of the editorial process and he doesn’t get enough accolades for his work here at America’s Greatest Gun Magazine. Here’s Payton in his own words:

Payton Miller, Executive Editor, GUNS Magazine. A favorite perk: Being able to shoot the newest guns before they go public.

I’ve been working on magazines for most of my adult life and a huge percentage of that time has been in gun magazines. I’ve been up and down more mastheads than I can remember and have made various pit stops at various titles — associate editor, assistant editor, managing (or “barely managing”) editor, special projects editor, senior staff editor and now, executive editor.

My pat answer when asked what — exactly — an executive editor does goes kind of like this:

An executive editor executes those tasks not specifically relegated to the editor in chief (or anyone else on the masthead). His failure to do so can often lead to being “executed” himself!

Seriously though, the job entails stuff that sounds kinda boring in a list.

But I’ll try to put things into some kind of context. Here goes:

• Editing — This calls for tightening and cutting copy to fit —while doing as little damage to the author’s “voice” as possible. Basically, if the piece is ostensibly about Colt single actions, you want to seriously tone down an overabundance of extraneous info about Colt double actions. In other words, toss out what doesn’t advance the original concept.

• Writing features —When a specific issue’s budgetary restraints preclude paying for outside talent, this is sometimes necessary. And sometimes it’s necessary on very short notice. Regrettable, but I do what I can.

• Taking photos —OK. Maybe I don’t do cover-worthy studio beauty shots, but I can take a photo of a nice group as well as the next guy. Or a pic of hot, glinting brass flying out of a 1911.

• Selecting photos — This is pretty self-explanatory. You want to pick what’s as close to technically “right” as possible. Sometimes cropping and lightening is needed And avoiding redundancy is just as important as it is in editing the actual copy. After all, space is a valuable commodity.

• Field trips — As close as it gets to what could be considered a “perk,” this entails traveling to industry sponsored shooting events, hunts, plant tours, trade shows and unveilings of new shooting irons to the “firearms press.” It can be a lot of fun. Plus, you get to see guys you’ve known for years and catch up on gossip—although the gossip, to be honest, gets progressively less and less exciting the older you get. But fun is fun! And you get to actually shoot using somebody else’s ammo! No small consideration indeed.

• Fielding questions/complaints from readers — This may sound simpler than it actually is. Why? Our readers are usually extremely well-versed in the subject matter. After all, they don’t pick up a magazine called “GUNS” because they want to read about interior decorating. I’ve got a pretty fair memory bank about a lot of different gunny trivia, but I’ll make this one critical observation: We have no shortage of readers who know infinitely more about a specific “corner” of the gun world than I do. My secret weapon? Instant access to our stable of regular contributors — in other words, guys who can bail me out. Examples? Say I get a thorny question or a “you screwed up” complaint about vintage Smith revolvers. I go and get John Taffin, Mas Ayoob or Roy Huntington on the horn. Problem solved.

Here’s a hearty ‘Saaaaaa-lute!” to Payton for all his hard work.  Thanks! - BW