Volume X, No. 1, Fall 1982
I believe that one of Sylvester Stallone's statements in the movie Rocky III is one that can't be overlooked. The saying, "Go for it," inspires me a lot. In the movie, Rocky struggles to reach the top again by working hard for the big fight. Me, I worked hard to become story editor. That was my own personal fight. I had to go through some tough obstacles such as working hard on my stories to prove that I was capable of handling the position, and making decisions that are very important. I made it to the top of the staff, just as Rocky won his fight.
Whenever I feel a little skeptical toward making a decision or anything that has both a good and bad point, I think of his saying, "Go for it." That is good advice for us on Bittersweet staff, for how else will we find out if it will be for the good or bad if we don't try? We have many decisions to make, like whether or not we should try a new layout plan, who should be the new staff members, what we will do in order to fill the empty editorships, and the most important, making a budget that does not have a deficit.
To "go for it" Bay seem like the easiest way out of a problem, but usually it comes out to be for the best. For the worst, we get experiences from our mistakes. It seems that Bittersweet lives on mistakes because we learn what to do and what not to do in the future. When I make a decision and if it's not for the best, then I, too, learn.
One of the major decisions we've had to make has to do with our budget. I am sorry to say that Bittersweet will soon be having some financial problems. At the rate we are going now, we simply can not survive more than another year. We are finding that the high cost of printing, postage, labor, supplies and all the other expenses that go into the production of our magazine is greater than our projected income. For example, the cost of postage has gone up 500%. The first issue of Bittersweet mailed in 1973, cost two cents each for about 500 magazines. Our last summer issue, for 3,296 magazines cost us ten cents for each.
Postage is not the only expense that is increasing. Our printing bill has been caught in the world of inflation, too. During the first year of business, we had about 12,000 magazines printed. Our grand total bill was $7,174.00, or $.60 each magazine. This year, our total bill for 18,000 magazines was $20,149.83, averaging $1.12 each. Much of this extra expense is having more color photos, which in turn comes to you, the reader.
You will notice this is less than 100% increase, thanks to our printer, Virgil Murphy at Master Printers in springfield, Missouri, who has been helping us tremendously by keeping the costs as low as they are. No other printer has come near meeting his bid.
All other costs have risen in the same proportion. Our total expenses our first year were $12,686.11. This year they were $40,676.78.
We don't want to increase the price of the subscriptions again to make more money, because we will lose some of our subscribers. In 1978 when we did actually raise the price from $6.00 to $8.00 a year, we made a little more money, but the total number of subscriptions remained the same. Before then, our subscriptions were increasing each issue by about 200. But with the price increase, the number has been staying about 3,000. The problem is that costs have increased but income hasn't though we have done four and five times as much promotion.
Neither do we want to cut down on the quality of the magazine because we know that the appearance and accuracy is a factor to our subscribers.
As a result of making the magazine the best we can and the continuing high costs, at the end of this fiscal year, as it looks now, we will have dipped into all of our savings plus have a deficit of about $2,000.00. Unless we can find a way to make more money, this year's staff, and I, as editor, will have to make one of the biggest decisions yet made--whether or not we can continue.
In spite of the gloomy outlook, there is some very gratifying help and encouragement from our readers who give us tax-deductible donations. Since the first year of business, we have been get-tinq an average of $600.00 a year.
Then we continue to be encouraged by the faith the Missouri Arts Council has in us. Once again, the Council is helping us just as they have for eight previous years. We will be receiving $3,000.00 this year from them which is the most they have been able to give. For the last two years we have asked for financial aid instead of sending subscriptions to various libraries. This money will be used to help pay our half of the assistant advisor's salary. The Lebanon R-III School pays the other half.
A part of our income for the past three years has come from Doubleday and Company for royalties and sales of Bittersweet Country. This extra income has offset the rising costs, even creating a small savings. We were very disappointed to hear that both the softback and hardback books are out of print, and there are no plans to reprint. We have another book in manuscript form, but to date cannot find a publisher. Therefore, we have lost part of our income.
But our misfortune can be savings to you. Through a remainder house, we were able to purchase 200 of the last hardback books at a reduced price. We are passing this savings to you by selling the books at $7.95 plus $1.25 for postage, instead of the regular $12.95 price. This is good while they last.
The books make great gifts, and since Christmas is imminent, why not buy one for your sister who reads yours when she comes over? Or for your mailman who always seems to talk to you about his life when he was a boy on a farm when you really don't have the time to listen?
Another decision we made was to accept our superintendent's offer to use his office personnel and the school computer for addressing labels. For the last two issues, instead of the staff members having to write about 3,500 labels all by hand, we had to write only about 200! It's quite a difference with a computer helping us. I would especialy like to thank Dr. Vic Slaughter, our superintendent of schools, for making this possible. This was a good decision that has saved us much time, trouble and writer's cramps.
We are always sorry to hear about the deaths of our friends. One that we are especially sorry to hear about was the man on the cover of our book, Elva Hough. We featured him in several stories in the Spring, 1974 issue. He was an invaluable source of information on many other stories, and he was also on the cover of the Fall, 1977 issue. Mr. Hough was ninety-six years old when he died June 18, 1982. He leaves many memories at Bittersweet. I only wish that I could have met him.
I will leave you now so that I can make my logo fit. Mrs. Massey had a picnic for the summer staff for getting all of our work done. I felt that it was well-deserved because we had a very ambitious staff and everyone was busily working at all times. The picnic was fun, and it gave us a change after a hectic six week rush. I guess I chose an appropriate logo for all of the clowning around I usually do.
We thank the following for their donations to Bittersweet.
Lebanon Welcome Service, Norma Woosley, Hostess,
A. O. Zimmerman, Overland, Missouri
James Gergesen, Killeen, Texas
John Fowler, Kansas city, Missouri
Mrs. Robert Doss, Bridgeton, Missouri
V. L. Sell, St. Joseph, Missouri
Mrs. Lawrence Mayhall, Grafton, Illinois
Helen Henderson, Kirkwood, Missouri
Kathryn Dudley, New Canaan, Connecticut
James E. Hudson, West Simsbury, Conn.
Lee Akey, Arlington, Texas
Mary E. Davis, Fort Worth, Texas
Miriam Gray, Nevada, Missouri
Don Brostrom, Roseville, New Mexico
Mrs. Robert L. Doorn, Bruce, Wisconsin
Mrs. Frances E. Coe, Chilhowee, Missouri
Mrs. G. C. Folkert, Bay City, Michigan
Francis Balcom, MD., Anaheim, California
Jim O'Quinn, Lebanon, Missouri
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.