November 14, 2011

Professional Milestone

Today marks a professional milestone for me; Publishers Weekly published my very first—and bylined—feature article. Here's how it happened.

One of my PW editors, Rose Fox, emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in working on a feature article for the upcoming romance issue of the magazine. The topic? Author online self-promotion. With a two-week turnaround time and a brief to include authors from a variety of imprints/lines/publishers, and a list of publicists for the major publishers, I jumped in.

Emails back and forth to the publicists, my suggestions and theirs, and I put together a list of more than 20 authors. They represented all romance subgenres, included debuting and long-published authors, those who kept it strictly professional online and those who treated readers to personal or off-the-cuff commentary, those who started blogging for fun and those who began to blog as part of a plan to become published. Some intrigued me for other reasons; one because she found a unique way to promote herself by not actively promoting herself, another because she'd sold a quarter of a million ebooks before being picked up by a mainstream publisher, and a third because of her pop culture connections. I did not know most of the authors, but some I knew from my years at AAR.

Twenty interviews later, with 36 pages worth of Q&A and follow ups, I sat down to actually write the article. It took me two eight-hour days to complete it, and another couple of hours to come up with the sidebar of do's and don'ts Rose asked me to pull out of the article itself and use to create a sidebar, along with quotes from the interviews to match.

My draft was due to Rose on Monday, November 14th; because I'd exceeded the 2,100 word count by 500 words (what else is new?), and didn't have a clue if it was any good whatsoever, I emailed it to her the Friday before so she would have plenty of time to edit (and I could rewrite if necessary). And then spent a sleepless night wondering if she'd hate it or approve.

I woke up at 5:30 that Saturday morning from the pain of a dreadful, full-frontal headache, presumably a tension-release headache like those that plagued me after finals all throughout college and graduate school. I checked my email and discovered a couple from Rose. First, and I'm totally channeling my one-time baby-sitter Sally Field here...she liked it, she really liked it! Next, she asked me to secure print-ready cover art for the article. I took a migraine pill and went back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that I hadn't fucked up my chance to prove I could write a magazine-quality feature article.

Over the next few days I gathered up all the print-ready cover art, and went through Rose's edits to clarify certain points. As always, her edits transformed my lowly draft into something terrific. Today the print version of the magazine went on sale, and those with subscriptions to PW can access it online.

The payday for the article is roughly the amount I receive for a year's worth of reviewing, and while the money itself isn't what's important, that my writing is worth it means a lot to me. It only took me fourteen years to get a gig like this; hopefully it won't be another fourteen years to get another.



Anonymous said...

Hurray for you, Laurie! And congratulations on achieving that professional milestone. As a longtime reader of your work I can attest that your words are worth every penny of what they paid you. Your insights have always been invaluable to me in my work as a Readers Advisor, and I'm looking forward to reading your feature.

CLM said...

So pleased to hear this! I will make a point of reading the article, which I am sure I will enjoy.

Laurie Gold said...

Thanks so much for your support.