This is how a recent weekend went: She hosted a lunch on Saturday to meet the New York-based sales staff of O, then took the whole crew to a Tina Turner concert. Sunday morning, she ran a race ("Pitiful, not enough training for that one"). Flew out that afternoon to New York to shoot the cover for the second issue, then turned around and flew back to Chicago to tape two episodes of her syndicated show. Only then did she turn her attention to story proposals for the July/August issue.
Starting a magazine, even with the resources of Hearst Magazines behind her, was not what she expected. Contrary to what some may think, Ms. Winfrey is not just lending her name. "I am amazed, absolutely amazed, how involved I am," she said.
For her, the whole process of assembling the first issue was a tutorial. "I started this in the middle of a huge learning curve. I didn't know a TOC [table of contents] from an FOB [Friend of Bill]."
Besides learning the basics of magazine publishing, Ms. Winfrey needed to discover how to translate her brand of inspiration to print. "Finding a way to communicate effectively was the most strenuous and frustrating part for all of us. We needed to all be able to recognize, to get a sense of clarity about what my voice really was," she said.
The first issue, she said, "is good. But I feel it can get even better. And it will."
She and Editor Ellen Kunes want to position O as a personal growth guide for women. "What we need is to have every single piece in the magazine improve lives, but be presented in a way that's inspirational but not preachy."
O will be the same size as Hearst's Town & Country, and cover topics such as inner well-being, motivation, health, relationships, finances, beauty, fashion, fitness, even celebrity.
Although the magazine will not tie in to Ms. Winfrey's book club, there will be a section called "Books that made a difference," with a book recommendation and excerpt. Another section, "Phenomenal Women" -- the title was taken from a Maya Angelou poem -- presents the story of a woman who has overcome adversity.
Ms. Winfrey will appear on every cover "for the foreseeable future . . . to establish it."
But despite the increased stress and time, she said she can't wait to work on the next issue.
"Now that we're in the heat of it, it feels like I've always been doing this. The day the first issue closed and I could go home I thought, `Now what do I do?"'