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The Great Magazine Lecture. An adventure into the real world…. Overview. Business Models Editorial Models Implications for the Professional Writer. Business Models. Open “circ” (short for “circulation”) Sold to anyone with the cover price Closed circ Selected audience Often free. Costs.

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the great magazine lecture
The Great Magazine Lecture

An adventure into the real world….

  • Business Models
  • Editorial Models
  • Implications for the Professional Writer
business models
Business Models
  • Open “circ” (short for “circulation”)
      • Sold to anyone with the cover price
  • Closed circ
      • Selected audience
      • Often free
  • Money is the lifeblood of magazines. Costs include:
    • Production and sales staff
    • Materials of production (paper, ink)
    • Distribution costs (postage, trucks, cost of shelf-space)
  • Sales
  • Advertising
  • Donations
    • Usually in the form of a “real” contribution, such as office space granted by a college to a literary journal
critical pause
Critical Pause
  • Why aren’t the thickest magazines—the ones that cost the most to produce—the most expensive to buy?
  • How do closed circ magazines that give away copies stay in business?
  • If these questions puzzle you, go back to the slide about Income.


ad rates
Ad Rates
  • Advertising rates increase with circulation.
  • Magazine circulation is audited just as independent accountants audit finances.
  • Closed circ magazines can guarantee a niche market to advertisers, and so can charge advertisers more $$$ per reader.
ad edit ratio
Ad – Edit Ratio
  • Gauge a magazine’s financial health by comparing the number of advertising pages to the number of editorial pages.
  • A “healthy” ad-edit ratio is about 6:4
  • Some magazines have ad-edit ratios of 9:1
who cares i just wanna write
Who cares? I just wanna write!
  • Expect little or no pay from magazines in financial straits.
  • Expect few readers if you publish in low circulation magazines.


  • Knowledge of business models = knowledge of audience = more effective writing.
editorial models
Consumer magazines

Broad demographics




Niche magazines

Narrow demographics



PC Gamer

Editorial Models
magazine feature qualities
Magazine Feature Qualities
  • Urgency
  • Up to date information
  • Primary sources
  • Specific details

Critical Pause: Ah-ha! Could this be why so many cover lines include a specific number?

kinds of articles
Kinds of Articles
  • How-to
  • Personality profile – interview or narrative
  • Op-Ed and reviews
  • First person witness, such as travelogue
purpose of articles
Purpose of Articles
  • Entertain
  • Persuade (foment attitude)
  • Inform
  • Provoke (foment action)

A feature article can have multiple purposes.

NOTICE: Purposes affect the reader.

  • Know the magazine’s audience.
  • Know your sources.
  • The writer is never the subject.
  • An article must give readers “value.”

A reader who takes away no value, won’t buy the next issue, circulation sinks, advertising rates go south…


good magazine writing
Good Magazine Writing
  • Effective – achieves purposes
  • Collaborative
  • Timely
    • No one wants to read yesterday’s news