A few years ago, we ran a poll for our readers to see which section of WritersWeekly they liked the most. We were pretty surprised to learn that News from the Home Office was the most popular section. Of course, Paying Markets and Jobs for Writers was #2.
This week, I received this note from one of our authors:
A few years back, I discovered WritersWeekly.com. At first, I was especially attracted to “Paying Markets” but, as time went on, I gradually learned that the accumulated articles that you offer are a warehouse of practical writing knowledge. Now, I look forward to receiving your latest publication and reading the various articles. I barely notice “paying markets” and I have started doing occasional research in your past articles.
For pleasure, I tend to read and write articles of an historic interest. I would quite enjoy reading an article written by you and your husband on the history of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. I think your subscribers would enjoy such an article also.
William’s email reminded me that I haven’t written about our story in several years. I hope you enjoy this bit of our occasionally stressful, but always romantic, history.
A long, long time ago, I was an aspiring freelance writer and a mother of three. I was also in a very unhappy marriage (which is described in my book, The Emergency Divorce Handbook for Women). And, at that time, I was working full-time in the aerospace industry as an accountant. I’d work all day, come home to care for the children, help them with their homework, feed them, play with them, bathe them, put them to bed, read to them, tuck them in, and, then, stay up until the wee hours of the morning, trying to make a better life for my babies. I typed research papers for college students. I did accounting and other office work for two entrepreneurs in town. I picked up whatever extra work I could. And, whenever the steady-paying work was slow, I’d send queries to magazines. I was getting plenty of assignments. The pay wasn’t great but I loved it.
I’d decided in 10th grade that I wanted to be a professional writer. At that time, I’d written a book report on a book I never read and my English teacher, Mrs. Martin, gave me an A+. She wrote “Good B.S.!” at the top of my paper. I was hooked.
One day at the library, in February of that year, I picked up a copy of Writer’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books). I sent a query via email to a magazine and someone immediately emailed me back, saying, “You need to update your information. That editor left here a year ago.”
‘What?’ I thought. ‘That book is brand new!’ I later learned that Writer’s Digest sent those questionnaires out to editors months before the new book was published. Of course, by the time it hits bookstores, some of the information is old. I thought, “There’s gotta be a better way.”
I came up with a questionnaire, and started sending it to magazines via email. And, they were happy to respond. I created original market listings using their answers, had them approve each one, and then posted them to my brand new website, WritersMarkets.com, which I’d cobbled together with almost no HTML experience. Ah, the good old days when livin’ was easy!
One day, a man from Writers Digest Books called me on the phone, saying my website URL violated their trademark and that I’d need to give it to them. I disagreed, of course, because “writer’s markets” is a common term in the industry. I flat refused to give them MY website. I said, “Do you know who you’re dealing with? A single mother of three working out of her home. Sue me.”
I never heard from them again. But, I did change the URL to avoid future problems. We still own that old URL, of course.
Anyway, I started collecting subscribers, keeping the list in a spreadsheet.
My little hobby website quickly developed a following as the ONLY source of paying markets with each editor’s CURRENT NEEDS. There was no other source of brand new, fresh market information for writers at that time.
Pretty soon, I was writing books for writers, teaching them what I’d done. I would have copies of my booklets printed and stapled at Kinkos (and, later, at Minuteman Press). They were selling pretty well. So well, in fact, that I had to get a merchant account so I could start accepting credit cards. That was LONG before PayPal!
Around this time, I filed for divorce from my first husband. I then had to get an order of protection against him and the police had to serve that to him while I stayed in a hotel with the children under a false name. At that time, I was working with a cute, very sweet guy named Richard. He sent me an email one day to ask me out for lunch, and it said, “I know you have three children and, if things progress the way I want them to, I will be very happy to take care of all of you.”
He was an angel! Of course, I said yes!
One day, when I was putting another booklet inside another envelope, and pulling out my roll of stamps again, I had an idea. What if I sold my books as MSWord files to my readers? I could lower the price, my readers could avoid paying shipping fees, and they’d get the product instantly. I quickly implemented my plan, emailed my readers, and sales soared!
I had unknowingly created one of the first e-books – long before the term “e-book” was made famous by Stephen King.
A few months later, I lost my job. My ex wasn’t paying child support. And, my refrigerator was broken. I started skipping meals to ensure the children had enough to eat. They still (not so fondly) recall eating cereal in the mornings with warm powdered milk. I was still dating Richard but I was too proud to ask him, or my parents, or anyone for help, or to even tell them how bad things were. The only money I had coming in was from my book sales. I wasn’t receiving any government assistance because I was too proud for that, too.
Desperate for a bump in cash, I sat down and starting writing non-stop. The book I completed by the end of that weekend was called “How to Write, Publish and Sell E-Books.” (Note: That book is no longer for sale. Technology has changed SO much since then!)
I put it up for sale, sent the weekly issue out to my readers, and earned more than $700 on the very first day! With that book’s continued sales, and sales of my other books, I was able to support my children (and get the refrigerator fixed).
Richard got a job near Boston. He and I had talked about marriage but we didn’t have a date planned yet. I was going to miss him terribly. One day, standing outside of his apartment, we were talking about his new employer needing him right away. I told him to go ahead and leave that week. The kids and I would pack up his apartment for him. He’d come back down the following month to put his stuff in a U-Haul.
He said, “I can’t leave right now.”
I replied, “Yes, you can. I can take care of everything here.”
He responded, “I can’t leave, Angie.”
I asked, “Why not?”
He lowered his voice, took my hand, and said, “Because I’m marrying you on Saturday…”
We are now accepting entrants for the next 24-Hour Short Story Contest
1st Place: $300
2nd Place: $250
3rd Place: $200
+ 85 Other Prizes!
Limit of 500 participants so don’t delay!
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
ANGELA ON TWITTER
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
ANGELA ON TUMBLR
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE