I recently had an Oprah moment. After my fair share of reporting on county-board ditch discussions, interviewing CEOs and staying up all night because I had an article deadline and I’d left it till the last minute AGAIN, I realized I don’t LIKE reporting, or interviewing, or querying markets with half-hearted ideas. At age 33, my nasty habit of letting life get in the way of self-discipline was always going to be a bad habit, unless I wrote what I felt passionate about — unless I found my niche.
For as long as I can remember, back-page columns and personal essays have always been my favorite part of a magazine. And it’s the genre I love to write and have had most success. I didn’t think it was possible to earn a reasonable living writing essays, but one night, panic-stricken that it was time to “get real” as Dr. Phil says, I opened your books How to Publish and Promote Online and How to Publish a Profitable Emag, which had been dormant in my laptop for over a year.
“That’s IT!” I cried (epiphany). I would build a site for writers like me (no, not the undisciplined — writers who liked first-person and creative nonfiction). I woke my husband and told him I needed a domain name. To his credit, he suggested www.WritersLounge.com, which I loved but thought would be gone. It was available (a sign!), I bought it that instant.
By the beginning of September, the site went live, I found as much content as I could, and bravely set up my subscription list at Yahoo! with a membership of one. I wrote to as many people as I could think of, telling them about the site, and membership slowly increased. I announced a writing competition: “I Wannabe Erma” Essay Contest, (my husband thought I’d lost the plot by this point) but the day I put the information on the site, the first entry arrived. And more subscribers and submissions.
I soon realized there was a market for essay listings so I began compiling an e-book to sell at my site. When it was nearly done, towards the end of October, I put up a page saying “Coming Soon.” When I got an e-mail an hour later from someone wanting to buy the book, I stayed up all night getting that baby ready to go, and sold three copies the first day of “trading.” With a saleable product that would give me an income, I could now pay writers (not a lot, but it’s a start), and from November 1, The Writer’s Lounge became a paying market.
Towards the end of November, I’m thrilled to say that I have 590 subscribers and growing; site traffic is high, and submissions flow in, and I’ve sold over 85 copies of my book. Not bad for this 33-year-old, who at the beginning of August, sat thinking: “Hmm, what I am to do?” Apart from deciding to focus on my “niche”, there’s little to the secrets of my success — the answers are in your two books.
Cheryl Paquin is a nationally published writer in both the business and humor markets. Cheryl has a Master Of Arts in Journalism and has been writing freelance for over five years and contributes regularly to publications in Minnesota. She is editor of www.WritersLounge.com, and author of a new e-book: 101 Paying Markets for Essays, Columns & Creative Nonfiction, available at: http://writerslounge.com/101_markets.html