combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones

Magazine Business Structure

"You should not try to explain your personal goal to others, because if they're not intuitively sympathetic to your arduous enterprise, then they'll criticize every aspect of it; and you'll divert too many resources in justification, when these need to be devoted toward advancement. You should not recruit partners or solicit sponsors, because genuine contributors will be drawn by common affinity to your heartfelt aspiration. If you ultimately fail, leaving your endeavor unrealized, your detractors will be vindicated; but if you succeed, the critics will forget that your objective was impossible, and they'll be cheering with the rest."
paraphrase of Pete Goss, Close to the Wind (©1998)

The essential aspects of the COMBAT venture are imbuing participants with the magazine's mission, being creatively dedicated, and not foreclosing options or opportunities. The legal protocols, business organization, operating modalities, and location are more incidental than inessential.

Because COMBAT is filling a vacant niche in the publishing market, the optimal implementation of the mission is crucial ... and that entails good leadership and good teamwork. Although the principals do not have extensive publishing experience, they are well schooled in preparation, and quite experienced with the subject. Being combat veterans and published authors, the staff is very sensitive to the elements of accurate expression. Having met other challenges successfully, from physical rehabilitation to career transitions, the staff is exceedingly competent to deal creatively with new and unexpected trials. It is understood that a good idea needs good people, and good people need a good execution, but excellence may be inadequate to counterbalance unpredictable external factors. The benefits of this publication are an aggregate audience, interactive networking, psychosocial history, counter-propaganda, tax and other financial returns to investors.

The projected market share for COMBAT, of 7,000 to 35,000 subscribers, is contingent upon attracting an audience with the probable reader profile. Psychographically, COMBAT will appeal to intelligent and mature adults, with a strong moral foundation, and some personal interest or connection with the effects of war. These individuals will be aware of the subtleties and complexities of armed conflict. Furthermore, they will recognize the necessary mix of fact and nuance, of humor and pathos, in depicting lifestyles altered by warfare. Readers of COMBAT will not be brazenly ignorant brutes indulging in irresponsible fantasies about careless mayhem! Neither will the staff and contributors be uninformed or insensitive. The purpose of COMBAT is not to profile its components, or to celebrate any causes, not to advocate or champion, but to preserve expressions, so others may ultimately know through sharing.

Modern technology enables the magazine to be accommodated anywhere, so staff and contributors do not need to collocate in order to function. The magazine can launch with as few as three staffers (ie: publisher, editor, art director), and will add positions (eg: proofreader, poetry editor, bookkeeper, etc) with growth, but assignments are subordinate to organization ... and organization is subordinate to funding.

Most commercial magazines, from Vogue and Playboy to Cosmopolitan and Gentleman's Quarterly, exist chiefly for their advertising, and their articles are mainly style promotions or product endorsements. Most general readership magazines of higher quality, from Atlantic Monthly and New Yorker to Sun and Harper's Magazine, are commercial. Most genre magazines, from American Legion and American Scholar, are subsidized by a sponsoring organization. Some non-profit magazines, from American Prospect to American Literature, accept advertising. Most literary magazines, from Yale Literary Magazine to Parnassus Literary Journal, are not commercial and do not accept advertising. With sponsorship, COMBAT can organize as either a commercial or a tax-exempt corporation; and without sponsorship, COMBAT can be established as either a sole or partnered proprietorship. An intriguing option is a corporate symbiosis with an existing veteran's organization. The tax advantages, from educational deductions to disabled veteran deferments, for a corporate partner are substantial.

All magazines must sell twice: first to their sponsors or advertisers, and then to their readers. Despite this double-jeopardy, the major portion of most magazine income derives from subscriptions. Advertising usually constitutes about 17% of a magazine's contents, and major advertisers are normally disinterested in periodicals circulating less than 100,000 copies, but literary magazines are not generally oriented to commerce. Literary magazines seek to promulgate their contents, and as such, COMBAT should distribute full-text website versions and, if practicable, complementary print versions to as many associates and repositories as possible, as soon as finances permit.

New ventures traditionally schedule seed funds to test market receptivity, which necessitates further capitalization for launching the next stage of the development. Since COMBAT is neither creating nor encroaching upon the extant market by filling a niche with available modes, such test marketing is superfluous. Under sponsorship, basing incremental disbursements upon progressive achievements would be prudent; as would any management or operating lessons tendered by investors. Risk reduction is also a factor in plotting a proprietarily launched enterprise. In either case, it is understood that editorial and artistic direction shall remain the province of staff discretion, regardless of fiscal autonomy. Most start-ups do not earn a profit during the first three years, and most new magazines do not earn a profit for the first five years. It is crucial that earnings be retained, and returned to capitalization for continued growth and stability during this period. It is further accepted that development will be parallel, instead of sequential; and that productivity will be geometric, instead of linear. The potential scaling of COMBAT is a fundamental consideration; and may be manifested by writing contests, anthologies, seminars, maps, notecards, occasion cards, and books (eg: "Combat Cuisine, Great FrontLine Recipes").

Projecting actual costs is always a dubious proposition, since price changes are erratic and material availability is contingent. Fixed costs in publishing are low, and COMBAT plans to exploit the variable costs by unconventional subcontracting. The normal overhead in typical office-based operations, such as rent and utilities, will be borne by staffers at their own places of work. Further, staff salaries will need to cover their personal withholdings and premiums. When established, content contributors to the magazine will receive either a fixed honorarium or a nominal word fee as payment. Since newsstand sales are normally low (@30%) and heavily discounted (@40%) to vendors, COMBAT will opt for direct subscription of full-text issues at not less than competitive rates. Distribution of print copies by Second Class mail [nb: factored by piece, weight, distance, and advertising content] depends upon the inclusion or exclusion of advertising, and the approval of a postal permit. Distribution of electronic copies by a top-level domain website depends upon consortium registration, and the requisite leasing of adequate server space on a host computer. Although the average cost of production for national magazines is low (@$0.53/copy), limited printing in local shops varies markedly, and quality is not correlated with price. Despite the fact that unit costs could be somewhat reduced, it is equally true that growth will incur greater costs from increased staff and improved styling. These projections are not unreasonable, and the COMBAT magazine project is positively feasible.

"A structure becomes architectural, and not sculptural, when its elements no longer have their justification in nature."
by Guillaume Apollinaire, "New Painters" in The Cubist Painters (©1913)


C O M B A T, the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones