May 30 9:00 a.m.
Inevitably, whenever I tell someone that I’m a writer, they will ask “Have you been published yet?” At that point in time, I will usually pause to reflect on my answer. I have been published, four times, but I rarely will go into the fine details about the publications.
I got my first crack at professional writing when I was in my early 30s and working as a secretary for the VP of research and development at a local company. She didn’t have time to write an article for the company sales magazine and she knew I was interested in writing, so she asked if I would be willing to take on the task of writing an informational piece about our company’s technology and products. It took a lot of research and interviewing company staff, but I got the job done and was paid $200 for the piece. I was thrilled beyond words (no pun intended).
Not long after that, I began searching the internet for publications that were looking for writers but as is common with the web, there were lots of shady websites, looking for writers who would pay out of their own pockets to be published. I did have a stint with “Noah Says,” an informational website similar to Wikipedia, but it was short lived. I managed to make $5.00 for writing five articles before Noah got on his ark and sailed off the internet.
When I began my dog walking and pet services business twelve years ago, I started picking up a free publication “The Pet Companion” at a pet store. The first thing I noticed was their call for writers, so I submitted two articles which were subsequently published. There was no compensation, but I figured it was good exposure as The Pet Companion boasted being “the nation’s largest regional pet publication.” This experience taught me that you don’t have to be an expert on a subject in order to write about it. Both articles I wrote were about fish (“Gamble on a Goldfish? You Bet!” and “Bring the Tropics Home – with Fish!”) and I have never been able to keep a fish alive for more than two weeks. Well, I guess my failure at “fishkeeping” makes me an expert in what not to do.
And finally in 2005, I was paid for writing a short article about bowling for a book about Michigan. This is where the embarrassment comes in. It’s not so much about the subject of my article (I’ve been a bowler since I was nine years old), it’s the book. Although I was compensated for my contribution to the book ($177.28), it’s not something I brag about as most people who read this book will be in a place that I prefer not to think about. OK, here it is – the name of the book is “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Michigan.” Now you know why I pause when someone asks me if I’ve been published. It’s difficult to say that what I’ve written is most likely being read by someone on the toilet. I suppose I shouldn’t be embarrassed but I don’t think this is something I should brag about either. And, I earned every penny of that $177.28; the article was less than 200 words and I probably had at least 40 hours into researching and writing it. The list of major resources (bibliography) was four pages long. Well, I did get credit – my name appeared in the front of the book in a list of other contributors under the heading “Hysterical Scholars.” I really didn’t think my article was that funny either.
Now that I’ve written this, I feel compelled to send out some queries again but I think I’ll stick with this blog a little longer before doing so. I’m still very trepidatious about submitting my published clips!