TLB32: The Ledger


Photo by 401 (K) 2012. Image reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

As part of TLB32: the Capital Issue, we have attempted to enumerate the labour and costs that have gone into the production of this issue, in order to examine the conditions of its existence and to provoke greater reflection upon its worth.

Below you will find a breakdown of the number of hours of labour by contributors and staff that have gone into the issue; the outgoing costs, income, projected revenue, and further analysis including the average hourly wage of contributors. This data was published in a ledger at the centre of the print edition, and has been slightly expanded for a web audience.


For this issue, we asked all contributors and volunteer members of staff to record the number of hours of labour that went into its production. We have attempted to quantify this, although we recognise that negotiating where “work” begins and ends is a slippery, often impossible task.

Each clock in the graph below represents twelve of the 1729 hours of labour spent creating the issue, which can also be understood as seventy-two round-the-clock days or 10.3 straight weeks. Colours signify the twenty-four Brow members in various departments involved in the production of the issue, from editing, design to social-media and publicity.


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TLB’s publisher reported eighty hours directly spent working on the issue, which breaks down to seventy hours devoted to grant applications, managing interns, overseeing promotional activities and events, and an additional ten hours soliciting print advertisements.

TLB’s two editors reported a combined 336 hours labour over a three-month period, i.e. two hours a day. This time is split equally between evaluating, editing and soliciting submissions and later proofreading work (168 hours) as well as internal communication with other editors and staff members, including office hours, Skype meetings and emails (168 hours).

TLB’s two fiction editors noted a total forty-four hours work: editing and evaluating submissions; negotiating contracts; and internal communication. The three art editors recorded a collective seventy-two hours, and the poetry editor twenty hours labour, split fifty-fifty betwen soliciting and editing work and internal communication. The two designers reported a total 120 hours labour, divided between the actual designing of the issue (sixty-five hours) and internal communication (fifty-five hours).

TLB’s two copy editors noted thirty-eight hours spent copyediting and proofreading TLB32. The digital editor recorded twenty-five hours spent coding up TLB32 for three instalments of the digital edition. The two online editors spent 15 hours each editing and coding up print excerpts and news posts for The Lifted Brow website. The social media manager recorded ninety hours posting about TLB32. The events manager spent sixty hours planning and running the TLB32 launch party event. The publicist reported twelve hours corresponding with media, mailing promotional copies and maintaining databases.

The five interns each spent ten hours directly working on the issue, on tasks such as fact-checking and proofreading pieces, posting magazines and communicating with other Brow staff.


The outgoing costs for all aspects of the production, distribution and promotion of TLB32 were compiled for this report, with a total of $33,375. This figure is broken down in the graph and data below.


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For this issue of the Brow, a total of $5,600 was paid in contributor fees to twenty writers and fourteen visual artists, who each received an average of $165 in payment for their work. Artist fees made up 16.7 per cent of outgoing costs.

The greatest costs were for printing and binding the 6,500 copies of TLB32—$17,005—which are printed by Printgraphics in Mount Waverley, Australia. Printing costs account for 50.9 per cent of outgoing costs, before an additional $350 in freight fees. The Lifted Brow is printed using alcohol-free vegetable-based inks on paper which is FSC Chain of Custody certified and monitored from the paper mill to the end user.

Totalling $7,440, distributing the issue to both Australian readers (via Trident Magazine Services) and to overseas readers (via Eight Point Media) makes up 22.3 per cent of the issue’s outgoing costs, a number which includes $2,240 spent on posting issues to 700 print subscribers.

Promoting the issue accounts for $1,100 or 3.3 per cent of outgoing costs. This includes posting promotional copies of the magazine, printing 500 A3 posters to display in Australian outlets, and a professional photo shoot of the issue by Alan Weedon.

While each issue launch is unique, parties accompany each issue and are generally free for subscribers and ticketed for non-subscribers. TLB32 launches tonight at Donkey Wheel House Events in Melbourne, a Kinfolk business that donates all profits to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Urban Seed. Costs for venue hire, bar staff, catering (food only) and payment for the two performers on the night total $1,500, or 4.5 per cent of outgoing costs.

The Lifted Brow website currently uses a free Tumblr-based platform which is maintained by volunteer staff, though incurs costs of $300 (0.9 per cent) for the Shopify plug-in to directly sell copies of the magazine from our website.


The Lifted Brow is supported by various funding bodies, some of whose assistance directly funds the print publication. TLB32 recieved a total of $17,181 in direct funding: a quarter of an annual grant from Creative Victoria to assist print magazine production costs ($8,602) and a quarter of an annual Australia Council grant to help fund contributor costs in 2016 ($8,579).


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This income is bolstered by projected revenue from TLB32, which is estimated to be $26,700. The anticipated $23,300 in sales includes $600 from 100 digital subscribers (via The Lifted Brow 29th St app), $6,000 from direct sales via our website (individual issues and subscriptions), $15,000 in retail sales, and $600 in direct sales of magazines and merchandise at events. Sales are complimented by $3,500 revenue from six full-page colour advertisements in the issue.


Each of the 6,500 printed issues of TLB32 collectively required 0.266 hours or sixteen minutes of labour from staff and contributors.

If the outgoing costs and projected revenue prove correct, there is a unit cost is $5.13 and income of $6.75 for each issue, with a profit margin of $1.62 and $10,530 in total (if all 6,500 copies are sold at their full value).


The thirty-four contributors to TLB32 were each paid between $100-$400, depending on the nature of their work.

Collectively, the twenty text contributors reported 509.5 hours of labour, which was understood to be the research, composition and editing of pieces, as well as email communication with editors. On average, they were paid $6.87 per hour.


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The fourteen visual art contributors reported a total 242.5 hours of labour, made up of generating artwork and communicating with art editors. On average, they were paid $8.66 per hour.


Every effort has been made to ensure this information is accurate and informative, in order to provide an insight into the print publication of The Lifted Brow, and thus this post includes updated data from that published in the ledger in TLB32. We welcome comment from publications, contributors and readers. Please note, expenditure and revenue fluctuates issue to issue.

This report reflects on the labour and costs that go directly ito the production of the print magazine, and as such does not include the labour and costs that go into the running of the not-for-profit organisation behind and around the print magazine, including those TLB people who do such important work for the organisation’s operations, for our website, and other areas. It would be remiss of us not to properly acknowledge them here.

TLB32 launches tonight at Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne, from 6pm with capital-themed performances from Emilie Zoey Baker and Bronwyn Batten – book your ticket now!