Friday, October 2, 2015

3 Tips to Making a Living as a Writer & a Funny Story About Making Money as a Poet

.
Howdy, Campers ~ and Happy Poetry Friday!  My poem's below, as is the link to today's Poetry Friday round-up.

The topic we TeachingAuthors are knocking around this time is Making a Living as a Writer.

Carmela starts us off with a TeachingAuthors' Book Giveaway of the 2016 CWIM which includes two of her articles, once of which is aptly titled, Making a Living as a Writer; Esther addresses the many ways she's made writing pay...and other pay-offs that result, and our Wednesday Writing Workout, written by former TeachingAuthor Laura Purdie Salas, is titled Is Writing on Assignment Right for You?

So--what are my 3 Tips to Make a Living as a Writer?

1) Write a Classic.
2) Find a Secondary Occupation which actually pays.
3) Define Making a Living

(Hmm...maybe Define Making a Living should come first.)
from morguefile.com

And now for a story about making money as a poet.

I've sold poems to anthologies, testing services and magazines.  Between 1995 and 2011 I sold 30 poems to Carus Publishing Company (publisher of Cricket Magazine and many others). I'm going to brag here because it still makes me proud: in 2003 they asked me to write a poem for a progressive story in honor of the 30th anniversary of Cricket.

At the time, they paid $3 per line.

In 1997 I asked John D. Allen, my all-time favorite editor, if I might possibly be given a raise.

John's response: "As for $4.00 per line...well, I'm afraid we can't do that. Our policy is to keep the same pay scale for all poems.  Sorry. I hope that's not too much of a problem."

Okay, I wrote. Could you give me a free subscription to Cricket? My son was then eight years old.

He replied: "I wish I could offer you an author discount or a subscription credit against your sales, but I'm told I can't. We don't give out much of any discounts besides the early renewal one you checked on your form.  And shifting author payments toward subscriptions would create some sort of accountant's nightmare around here. (Actually, that's all a lie. I was told I could offer you any sort of discount I wanted, as long as the difference came out of my salary. So I thought, Well, I could make April's life a little easier, and it wouldn't cost me much--probably just the price of the cinnamon Pop-Tarts I was planning to buy for an afternoon snack. But then, well, one thing led to another, and to make a long story short, the Pop-Tarts were delicious.)

I loved working with John.  I loved seeing my poems in BabyBug, Ladybug, Spider and Cricket. I surrendered.  Sort of.

In 1998, I responded to his suggestion that I cut a repeated stanza from a poem he'd accepted:

"I'm so glad you like the poem, "Music Critic"! I have enclosed the poem as it reads without the repetition and also another version to see if there might be some way we could keep the repetition in the poem.  Do the new repeats make it any clearer for your readers? If not, I'd be glad to omit the second stanza. I do like the repetition and will probably re-insert it if it gets published again...but I also trust your judgment for your readers.

My husband Gary, who is a CPA (deep into Tax Season as I write this) asked me to ask you if you were going to pay me for the invisible stanza."



Here is the poem John critiqued--without the repetition:

MUSIC CRITIC
(THE OCEAN’S  OPINION)
by April Halprin Wayland

This guy drags his drum set onto the sand
so that I have a front row seat
takes off his jeans jacket
snaps his wide red suspenders
and lets loose:

he is in his space
sun is on his face
gulls in the air
clouds in his hair
                                                                                               
Go man, go! 
I clap against the shore,

rise up and give him a standing ovation 
More!

published in Cricket Magazine December 1999
© 2015 by April Halprin Wayland. Used with permission of the author, who controls all rights

This poem was subsequently awarded SCBWI's 1999 Magazine Merit Award for Poetry. (You're right, John!  I take it all back!)

*  *  *


If you haven't already done so, enter our latest Book Giveaway of the 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrators Market

Now, click over to today's Poetry Friday on my juicy little universe ~ thanks for hosting, Heidi!

posted with love by April Halprin Wayland, who just got home after a beautiful and challenging six mile hike in Malibu followed by an electric car adventure (long story)

14 comments:

jama said...

What a great post! Loved hearing about the backs and forths with John. :) And thanks for sharing "Music Critic"! Totally faboo poem!

April Halprin Wayland said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
April Halprin Wayland said...

Merci dear Jama ~

Buffy Silverman said...

Love #3: "define making a living." Words to remember come tax season. And I love the ocean's standing ovation.
John Allen accepted the very first poem I wrote for publication (and a couple of stories) after I met him at a conference. It bugs me that the bug group still pays $3 a line, and no longer shares money from reselling/reprinting stuff....but the magazines are beautiful and it's an honor to be in them. Just not very profitable.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Buffy ~ do they still pay just $3 per line? *sigh* I hope you liked John as much as I. I miss his feedback. It was always helpful and hopeful, too.

Linda Baie said...

And I was hopeful, April, in my retirement (te he). I love hearing the stories about this poem, and am at least happy it won a special award.

Keri said...

A fun poem from a different perspective than usual. I loved hearing about your relationship with John -- a thoughtful and funny editor makes such a difference!

CS Perryess said...

I love this poem -- I could absolutely see that final wave rising up too high for comfort, crashing over the stage, lingering around the performer's ankles when it's time to head off to the next gig. Brava!

Jill said...

April, I remember that poem! LOVED it that much. Your published poems taught me a LOT about writing poetry, honestly, while I was submitting like crazy to Carus, too.
Your 3 tips made me laugh out loud. :)

Carmela Martino said...

WONDERFUL poem, April. I especially love the MORE! at the end.
The post made me laugh, too. What a great story.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

April, I love the way your posts are so readably not-too-edited! By that I mean I always feel I'm getting the true April low-down, not a polished, presented April. It's very refreshing, and this one is entertaining and educational too! Thank you.

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

April, an excellent post. What a joy to work with a great editor.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda ~ may you REMAIN hopeful!

Keri ~ yes, the poem is written from a different perspective; I admire writers who stand upside down and look at things from a surprising point of view.

Wow, Jill ~ it's startling to realize that when one is published, there are lots of invisible people who know your work! (Hopefully!)

Carmela ~ thank you. Thank you, thank you!

Oh, Heidi... your comment helps me so much! I was frazzled when I wrote it. I had planned on giving myself the afternoon to write the blog post, but because of my "electric car adventure," I got home at night. In fact, I ditched the topic I'd planned to write about, and reached deep, deep, deep into the past for this one.

Carla ~ yes, a true joy. It's like having that one teacher in elementary school you'll never forget. John D. Allen--are you out there?

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda ~ may you REMAIN hopeful!

Keri ~ yes, the poem is written from a different perspective; I admire writers who stand upside down and look at things from a surprising point of view.

Wow, Jill ~ it's startling to realize that when one is published, there are lots of invisible people who know your work! (Hopefully!)

Carmela ~ thank you. Thank you, thank you!

Oh, Heidi... your comment helps me so much! I was frazzled when I wrote it. I had planned on giving myself the afternoon to write the blog post, but because of my "electric car adventure," I got home at night. In fact, I ditched the topic I'd planned to write about, and reached deep, deep, deep into the past for this one.

Carla ~ yes, a true joy. It's like having that one teacher in elementary school you'll never forget. John D. Allen--are you out there?