Since I'm going to give you professional advice, maybe I'd better tell you just how I learned the things that I will share with you here on tis site.
I decided early on that I wanted to earn my living "with words and books." And with hard work and a lot of trial and error, I have done just that.
In the beginning, I took the usual detour that many would-be writers take: I became a teacher of literature. In my case it was comparative literature in the University of North Carolina system. I published the usual "scholarly" articles in journals that nobody reads, but soon discovered that I was far more interested in the writing than in the scholarship. I decided to branch out. I began sending out queries and sold my first article, "How to Teach about Poetry" to a magazine called Teacher's Scholastic. Not long thereafter, the University of Georgia Press published my first book, Mallarmé and the Language of Mysticism. Then, in a great stroke of luck (but luck that came about because I was a relentless sender-out of queries) I sold an over-the-transom article to Esquire magazine that managed to be featured on the front cover. With that clip to send out, I was a made man in the freelance business.
But like an actor who itches to try directing, I wanted to try my hand at editing and publishing my own periodicals. In 1979 I was able to buy a weekly newspaper with no cash up front, by assuming some of its debts. As it turns out, I was a pretty good editor. I increased circulation by 400% and ad revenues by an even larger percentage over a three-year period before selling out to one of the newspaper chains. I started and published many magazines, including Tar Heel: The Magazine of North Carolina (a statewide magazine), The New East magazine, NCEast Magazine (regional magazines) and Washington Magazine (a city magazine). I published Welcome to Wilmington, a newcomer guide, and the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Guide. I wrote extensively of my own magazines, dealing with freelancers from the other side of the editorial desk. I know what freelancers need to learn about querying magazines and writing saleable articles because, in my role as editor, I saw almost everybody doing it wrong.
I started Venture Press, my home based publishing company, to self-publish my own books. This worked well. Titles such as How to Make $100,000 a Year in Desktop Publishing and How to Publish Your Poetry became Writers Digest Book Club selections. Reports like What Happens When Your Book is Published and What You Can Do about It became successful eBooks. I later expanded Venture Press and began to publish books by other writers as well. Two years ago I rechristened the company Williams & Company, Publishers.
The result of all of this? I learned, step-by-step and from both sides of the editorial desk, how to succeed in freelance writing and in writing and publishing books, magazines and newspapers. Now my web site, PubMart.Com, will offer you every trade secret I have mastered, a very great deal of it free to you.
In order to support myself in the modest but delightfully civilized style to which I have become accustomed, I still write, publish and sell my books, and I do one-on-one consultation, workshops and seminars for a fee. But mainly I "gladly learn and gladly teach" (as Chaucer said of his clerk of Oxenford). If you want to learn how the writing business really works, the Williams & Company website is a good, friendly place to start.
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