SheWrites, is a kind of on-line support group for and about women who write. And while I'm pretty hostile to the idea of dividing genders -- especially in things professional -- there is, I have to admit, some logic in reaching out to women who share, sadly, a set of challenges that reflect the pathology of our culture, and make it just that much more difficult to produce, to be taken seriously, or more to the point—to support ourselves by our wit, creativity and craft.

Today there was a piece by an enterprising Amy Tiemann, who gave an account of self-publishing. . When she started, she knew no one and realized that she needed to build a bridge as a first step. Here are her own words:

"When I first pitched Mojo Mom to agents in 2002-2003, the response I got was "This is a good idea, but it's a crowded marketplace and you are not famous, so we'll pass."

That's a real chicken-and-egg dilemma. I knew for sure that I was not going to get famous sitting around waiting. I cared enough about the project enough to invest in publishing it myself. I didn't know anybody when I started out: no other writers, no agents, nobody in publishing. I "built my platform" with a ton of hard work."

She advocates building an audience by giving away (in her case, through downloads) content. I see it all around me. And I'm asked to contribute to blogs and magazines—all for free—in the name of spiriting my book around to a larger audience. But I have a book to sell. I am leading the people who care to follow (at least I hope I am), —to a place where they can get to know me in a deeper way, by actually buying my book. Something to warm the heart of my publishers, to be sure, but I'm not sure, in the effort of trying to "build an audience" that many writers aren't actually shooting themselves in the foot....

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Comment by Diane Meier on May 1, 2010 at 6:27am
Good hunting, T -- I'd love to hear what you come up with and learn how it works. I'll bet there are a lot of free-lancing women on this site who'll need to hear it too! And here's the really important thing to hold on to--- if your first idea doesn't work, or doesn't work right away, don't be discouraged. There must be many models and many possibilities and if we begin to share them, the fair and good ideas will come to the surface. Just remember to share your news back with us -- this whole new world of the digital proliferation of content is another country - and we need to make it a safe one. And eventually, at least -- we need to get paid. Wishing you wonderful, clear-eyed luck!
Comment by Theodora Filis on May 1, 2010 at 4:59am
Thank you. Throughout the years, I have not only written for organizations and publications in the US, but throughout Europe as well. You have just put me on to something! Bless you!
Comment by Diane Meier on April 30, 2010 at 6:21pm
I know. As Bill Clinton might have said - I feel your pain! I'm looking for a breakthrough in modeling here - and I'll bet there are many - maybe a v modest fee for downloads, the way music artists are going directly to their public with their music? Are you at all clear about what kind of community you might have built in the last few years of your writing? Can you reach them directly? That's the kind of thing to begin to think about - how many people - how important are you to them -- As content providers, we need to begin to add up our followers -- for so many very good reasons... But I'm sure there are other good voices out there - We'd love to hear from you!
Comment by Theodora Filis on April 30, 2010 at 2:28pm
Your article came on a day, and hour when my outlook on things had been going from bad to worse. I have been writing environmental articles for quite a few years. Do I get paid? No. Why? Well, other than the obvious fact that I'm an idiot, I tell myself that it's best to get the information out. After all, I write about important environmental issues that effect all of us. People will live much healthier lives knowing this information.

At least, that's what I tell myself. But, to be brutally honest without the fear of someone berating me... I had hoped a legitimate magazine would read my articles and offer to pay me to write for them. Publishing is a business. Everyone has their own agendas, and it seems to be who you know - not what you're writing. I would like to scream out "HELP!" but who would hear me? Let alone care? Thousands of women have their work published, and have gotten paid. Thousands more continue to write for free, hoping to get noticed.

Thanks for a great article.


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