Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It Isn't All Roses

I worked at a factory when I started writing in 1969. One day at lunch I told my friends I'd gotten a check for an article the day before and now I could buy winter hay for my horses. A co-worker asked how much I earned and I said, "$180". There was a stunned silence. That was more than we were making for a week's work in a union shop. Finally the person who asked me, said, "If I could sit at home and write stories for $180, I sure wouldn't work in this hole!"

That occasion stayed with me because that's how most folks look at writing: they think writers sit down, type out a few pages, send the results off to an editor, and voilĂ , it's money in the bank. They don't visualize hours of painstaking research before writing an article or highlighting printouts and compiling fact sheets. They don't know about proofreading and rewrites. And they especially don't realize the crushing rejection attached to writing. It's worth it—but it's there.

Picture this. A company I write for has fallen far behind in payment—a lot of money we need to pay our bills. They are not up front about the delays, even to their editors, some of whom commiserate with their contributors and others who don't seem to care. I agonize over whether or not I should continue writing for this group of magazines. I like them and I've been with them for years. Finally I refuse a feature article that requires days of research to write; I can't afford the time in the event I don't get paid. A month later I receive standard rejection emails for all of my 2013 article proposals. Did I cut my throat or save myself a world of grief? Who knows!

Fortunately, I have Storey Publishing to fall back on. I can't say enough good things about Storey. Every person I've met there has been a dream to work with. And, Storey editors are kind when they copyedit my books.

Readers who have never been writers think what they read is exactly what the author wrote down. Not so at all. Copyeditors delete here and suggest additions there; they move blocks of text from one place to the next. Sometimes stuff a writer really likes gets left out. But copyeditors know what sells books and what doesn't. Although a copyedit is depressing at first glance, the wise writer gives her editors free rein to make changes. And the editors at Storey do publishing right.

There are days when I'd like to heave my computer out the window and try something else. But I won't. I plan to stay with Storey as long as they want my books. There are also self-published ebooks in my immediate future. And, agonizing as it is not knowing when (or if) I'll be paid, I like writing for one of those magazines.

Writing for publication is rewarding but it isn't all roses. Keep it in mind if you choose to write.


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