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Charitable Musings, Rants

If you were a real writer, you’d be writing for magazines

I’ve just bought the latest import of WIRED magazine; I haven’t even opened it, I’m just staring at the big-footed skinny woman on the front and dancing my eyes across the ‘Get Internet Famous‘ headline.

If I was a real writer, I’d be writing for magazines, surely? If you’re good at something, never do it for free*, says the Joker and countless other entrepreneurs. I do get paid to write, edit and design, but writing is much more to me than a pay-cheque; writing connects me to countless others, and allows me to help create the world wide web, which feels great (yes, if you have a decent website, you’re contributing to the WWW – nice huh? Just having a MySpace page doesn’t count, see).

I always say that you’re a writer if you write; I mean if writing is what you do, if that’s what you tell people when they say “hi, what do you do then?”.

But considering the low low barriers to web publishing, is it fair to say that it’s too easy to dump dross online and consider yourself a published writer?

So if I’m concerned, why don’t I just write a few articles for some magazines of choice and see how that feels?

I did start to early this year, but I wasn’t confident in my subject choices, and even though I’d read everything I could about how to write cover letters and send in submissions to editors, I wasn’t sure about the whole thing. So I’ve not yet been published by a mag, and I’ll only be able to move forward on the idea (ambition?) if I know what article I must write for what magazine.

Seeing yourself in print

Sure, I’ve been in magazines, a few of them I’m sure over the years, and so have my colleagues within my voluntary organisation, FirstSigns. I was in ‘Best‘ magazine earlier this year, and for your information, I wrote the short interview piece they did on me, but of course the journalist took the credit (rightly so I’m sure) and they did say they’d donate a goodly amount of money to FirstSigns (must check if they did!).

The first time I saw my name in print (outside of the local paper) was when I was thumbing through the Virgin Alternative Guide to Universities some years ago to find out what they thought of my Uni, when I found my own words and name on the page! I nearly dropped the book, and I certainly bought it!

“When considering the surroundings, Wedge, a young man from (North) Yorkshire puts it nicely – ‘Why do people smirk and look away when I mention that my student house is in Hillingdon? Sure, there are gun shot holes in the corner store, syringes in the gutter and my house often gets mistaken by limo drivers for the big drug dealer (it’s number 54, idiots) but people are friendly and it’s convenient for the town centre'”

(Paraphrased)

Virgin we’re able to publish my words without paying me, and without my knowledge or permission because they were of course only ‘quoting’ an article of mine from the student paper.

Damn those free quotes!

So will I ‘break into’ the magazine industry? Is that the pinnacle of success? It pays well enough if you can keep the gigs rolling in, and for each article published, it must be easier to convince the next editor that you’re worth giving a go.

But no, I’m not ready just yet. I’d be interested to hear if you’re ready, and what steps you’re taking to boost your success rates, but I’ve got my blog and my novel to concentrate on. Yeah, I’d like to re-draft / edit my short fantasy novel and find a Literary Agent for it. I’m also committed to developing this very blog and securing advertising / sponsorship of some kind.

Starting out with big ideas

I launched FirstSigns (as LifeSIGNS) back in 2002 with a niaivety of how influential it could be – i.e. I launched with the intention of changing the world – now, after 6 or 7 years of writing and training about emotional wellbeing, coping mechanism and self-injurious behaviour, FirstSigns has definitely had an impact on the UK and beyond. We’re very busy supporting individuals and organisations who need to know about this difficult subject.

What can kilobox communiqué achieve? Well, I’m not certain, but I do have confidence in the message I’m giving out, and I have a development roadmap that will drive me to work hard 6 days a week to get my website known, respected and adored.

I mean, I’ve got two chances right? I can succeed or I can fail. We’ll know in 12 months won’t we?

I am published

One piece of good news is that some American company (Cengage Learning) wants the rights to re-publish the ‘Male Self-Injury’ factsheet that Jules and I wrote for FirstSigns. Jules laid out a good deal of content for all our factsheets but as I’m male and she’s not, I think I took the lead on this particular one.

So, the FirstSigns’ Male Self-Injury factsheet will be in print all over the USA thanks to ‘Introducing Issues With Opposing Viewpoints: Self Mutilation**‘ from Cengage Learning, and FirstSigns has only modest promotion channels; good stuff.

* I do lots of things for ‘free’ – I volunteer my time and ‘expertise’ so as to create and maintain the services FirstSigns provices, and I donate over 1% of my salary to good causes. How ’bout you?

** What an atrocious term for self-injury! Ugh, how awful! It’s not about damage and ‘mutilation’, it’s about emotional distress and trying to cope. Idiots.

[Wedge]

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

2 thoughts on “If you were a real writer, you’d be writing for magazines

  • Every day your blogs are giving me something new to think about! I’ve never really tried to get anything published, but I’m beginning to think that maybe I should. I have had one article/story published in a magazine a few years ago, but it was a writing competition and publication was part of the prize.

    Writing competitions are a great way of getting one’s work noticed and I’m wondering whether it might be something to try again now I have Google to search for them and a decent word processing system (my old manuscripts were typed on an Olivetti typewriter!)

    Hmmm, something to think about….

    P.S. Yes, we did get paid nicely for your article in Best :)

  • Good post Wedge, really interesting viewpoint. It’s a funny old thing this getting published business isn’t it? We really write for our own benefit and because we love doing it, but it’s nice to aim for that goal. And to be honest, as much as I love the digital, as you say yourself, there’s something beautiful about getting that first byline and your name in print. Is it something about having the actual ‘artifact’ in your hands that the digital can rarely deliver on? You and I have done plenty of stuff that will never carry our names but people read at work, so it’s not as though we aren’t read…. but it’d be nice to be appreciated as the author’s of more of our own personal writing every now and then eh?

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