How To Make a Living Writing, Part II
- Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Oh, no: This piece is getting too long already. Bummer. (Another great thing about book writing is you can babble on forever. As you know, if you tend to read modern nonfiction books, which all have to be the same length, which is something I hope to one day go on a lengthy tirade about because even though it's a business necessity it drives me insane since it ruins the writer's organic relationship to his topic ... but whatever.)
Anyway, here's the deal (or one of the deals) on magazine publishing: Nobody cares about you as a writer. Magazines rip through writers like ... well, like elephants rip through hay. You don't want to even care about you as a writer. What you want to care about is the editor of whatever magazine you want to publish in (or, in a larger magazine, the editorial head of whichever department in that magazine you'd like to publish within). That's who you care about.
Your job -- your goal, if you're starting from the outside -- is to make that person's job easier. Because everything about an editor's life is working against his job being easier. Freelancers are late with their stuff. Photographers send in shots of their feet. The graphics department decides the next cover would look good with everyone's face bright red. The PR rep for the star about whom you were going to run a feature is suddenly insisting their client be on the cover of the magazine. The people running the ad on your back cover want that ad changed. Your rep at the printer's quit, and her replacement is color blind. The publisher -- your boss -- decides at the last minute that you need to switch out a story you'd planned on running with a story about his wife's yoga teacher.
For an editor, life is an endless series of issue-swallowing holes forever opening up around him.
But you! You,with your tight writing style; your timeliness, your outstanding story ideas; your flawless execution; your blessedly low-maintenance personality; your flexibility; your plain, good ol' fashion, astoundingly rare professionalism.
You're someone who's actually helping that editor, for a change!
Thus do you in very short order become invaluable to that editor. You become one of the editor's go-to people.
You develop a steady income as a writer. You build a portfolio. You have a book idea. You write a proposal for that book. You send it to an agent. That agent takes you on, and sells your book to a publisher for Humongous Smackers.
And voila: You've got yourself a whole new world.
Next - Part III: Writing: Don't Get Me Started
John Shore is the author of "I'm OK--You're Not: The Message We're Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop" (NavPress), "Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do The Things I Do, by God (as told to John Shore)," (Seabury Books), and is co-author of "Comma Sense: A Fun-damental Guide to Punctuation" (St. Martin's Press). He is currently co-authoring a book with Stephen Arterburn.
A former magazine writer and editor, John’s life as a Christian writer began the moment when, at 38 years old, he was very suddenly (and while in a supply closet at his job, of all places) walloped by the benevolent hand of God.
Visit John online at http://www.johnshorebooks.com.
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