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                      W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 9:01            7,262 subscribers          January 2, 2009
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THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
FEATURE: Writing in a Recession, by Dawn Copeman  
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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Welcome to the New Format!
Welcome to the new, biweekly format of Writing World! You'll still
be getting all the same features and information, just split
between two issues every month instead of crammed into one long
issue.  (Contest listings, for example, will appear in the second
issue each month.)  Actually "biweekly" is a misnomer; the
newsletter will be issued on the first and third Thursday of each
month, NOT every other week (meaning we'll have a maximum of 24
issues per year).  Dawn will still be the primary newsletter
editor, but I'm back at the helm as the "chief selector of
articles, proofreader, ad salesperson, and bottle-washer." 
(Actually, I'm more likely to recycle bottles than wash them...)

The Best-Laid Plans...
I hope your Christmas or other midwinter holiday went well!  For
quite a lot of folks, apparently, it didn't; nearly everyone I've
talked to so far has had at least one person ill during the
holiday.  Our own holiday was an exercise in "the best laid plans"
going astray.  We had planned for a nice family reunion at my
sister's home in Arkansas, since it had been more than a year since
we'd seen our various family members.  My sister spent weeks
cleaning, decorating, and cooking -- only to learn that our in-laws
were snowed in and unable to escape Seattle.  Well, we thought, the
three of us can still have a good time -- whereupon, on Christmas
Eve, my husband came down with food poisoning, which pretty much
knocked him out of action for the next two days.  On the day after
Christmas, my sister and I sat in her kitchen munching on what
should have been the Christmas dinner turkey, and commenting, "If
you had told us it would just be the two of us, we'd never have
believed it..."

Why am I telling you this story?  Not so that you can pity my
plight; I actually had a very good time in spite of it all! 
Rather, I'd like to pass this along as an example of just how
dramatically our plans can fail -- a lesson that we need to keep in
mind as writers!

I've always advocated developing a business plan at the beginning
of each year (and you can find out more about how to do that at
http://www.writing-world.com/rights/plan.shtml).  A good business
plan helps you decide what projects you want to tackle in the year
to come, what markets you want to exploit (including tried-and-true
markets that you'd like to sell MORE to, and new markets that you'd
like to break into).  It can help you determine what types of
projects are worth doing because they give you good value for the
amount of effort required, and, conversely, areas of your writing
that you might want to shelve because they're costing too much time
and effort for the return they offer.

However, no matter how carefully you plan, it's important to
remember that plans CHANGE -- often through no fault of your own. 
That "old faithful" magazine that has been giving you regular
assignments suddenly folds, or hires a new editor who isn't so
interested in your contributions.  That new market proves
impossible to crack -- or once cracked, impossible to work with. 
The book deal you were certain was within your grasp suddenly falls

Nor are all such changes negative.  New opportunities may arise
that you couldn't predict: A single article submission might turn
into an opportunity for a column; an idea turns into a long-term
book project; a local assignment turns into a job opportunity. 
Suddenly you are faced with having to make trade-offs as you try to
juggle the projects you MEANT to accomplish with these new options
that have come your way.

Where planning is concerned, I don't believe in making "New Year's
Resolutions." I'm pretty convinced that if I'm actually going to do
something, I'll do it whether I "resolve" to do it or not -- and if
I'm NOT going to do something, no amount of "resolving" is going to
change that.  This year, with so much uncertainty ahead of us, I
suspect that the best resolution we can all make as writers is make
sound business plans -- and then plan for how we're going to adapt
when those plans go astray, or when unexpected opportunities arise
that offer us something far better than what we originally planned

Happy New Year!

-- Moira Allen, Editor


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Last month our question came from Moira, who wanted to know if any
of our readers have had any experience with Amazon.com's
'Createspace' publishing program?  

Several of you suggested we check out Angela Hoy's publishing
company, Booklocker. We are aware of the existence of BookLocker,
but wanted to learn more about Createspace. 

Thankfully, one of our readers, Pearl Harris in the Czech Republic
(our newsletter really IS for writers around the world!) has used
Createspace and here are her comments on it: 

"Having despaired of getting a regular publisher for my
travel-memoir, 'From Africa to Bukova', and definitely not wanting
to pay for self-publication, when I read about Amazon's
CreateSpace, I decided to investigate further.

"It all seemed too good to be true:  Nothing to be paid, apart from
purchasing a proof of one's book!  There seemed to be only two
disadvantages: i) a huge slice of the royalties to be taken by
Amazon and ii) The setting up of the book and cover files.

"Being fortunate enough to know some helpful and knowledgeable IT
experts, I got my MS Word manuscript converted to a PDF file, with
the photo images inserted in the same PDF file. My cover was
created by another kind and creative family member and converted to
PDF format.

"On 30 November, the two PDF files (text and cover) were quickly
and simply submitted to CreateSpace. Less than 24 hours later, I
received an e-mail from them 'approving the files'.

"On 1 December, I ordered a proof of my book ($3 + postage). It is
now 12 December and I have the book in my hands - in the Czech
Republic! Someone living in the USA would obviously receive it much

"I do not think many other publishers can beat this record!   The
quality of the color cover is superb and the paper used is of a
high quality. The black and white photos in the interior are of a
very acceptable quality.  In fact, the whole package is far better
than my wildest expectations!

"The service I have had from CreateSpace is absolutely amazing. All
my queries have been answered within hours - and these were
personal answers, not stock replies either! Their website is easy
to navigate and extremely user-friendly.

"Now I simply have to approve the Proof and then with one click, my
book will appear online for sale on Amazon, and I will be given a
link to my E-store as well. The book comes complete with an ISBN -
but apparently this number is only applicable to Amazon. If one
later gets a regular publisher for your book, (CreateSpace only
have e-rights) then you will need another ISBN.

"Personally, thus far, I have only very positive comments regarding
the service, speed and quality of Create Space."

Thank you, Pearl! And now some comments from Moira herself, who has
begun to experiment with the site:

"I agree with Pearl that the site is easy to use, and it's easy to
get your book set up if you have the expertise (or can find someone
with the expertise) to design the cover and interior and convert it
to PDF.  I prefer Lulu.com's approach to cover design, in which you
can upload JPGs for the front and back covers separately and create
the spine directly on the site; on CreateSpace you must upload a
complete one-piece cover.  Fortunately, they provide easy Photoshop
templates, once you know EXACTLY how many pages your book contains.
 They also have a nice variety of trim sizes.

"On the negative side, their shopping cart (which you need to use
to order your proof, and which your customers will need to use if
they buy books from your 'e-store' (i.e., directly from CreateSpace
rather than Amazon) is cumbersome and lacks the finesse of the
Amazon experience.  Since this IS affiliated with Amazon.com, I
would think they could design e-store pages and a shopping cart
that would make the reader feel as if they were having the same
level of shopping experience that you get on Amazon.  And since
they take a much larger share of royalties from Amazon.com sales
than from direct CreateSpace.com sales, you really WANT to direct
people to your e-store.  I hope they'll improve this over time.

"I still haven't received my proof, so can't attest yet to the
quality of their production compared to Lulu, but the fact that you
can get an ISBN and Amazon.com distribution at no extra cost is a
definite plus.  Hopefully I'll have more to report next issue!"

This month's question is related to our feature article "Writing in
a Recession." Were you working as a writer in the recession of the
early nineties?  If so, how did the recession affect your writing
business? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers this time
around?  Has the current recession already had an impact on your
writing? If so, what?  E-mail your responses with the subject line
"Inquiring Writer" to editorial@writing-world.com

Until next time, 



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The Mouse Is Forty Years Old 
You might have missed this during the holidays but the computer
mouse celebrated its fortieth birthday in December. The mouse was
first developed by Doug Engelbart and his team of researchers at
Stanford Research Institute in California.  Apple was the first to
bring it to the public's attention and Microsoft made it the 'must
have' control gadget for their pcs.  Now, however, experts are
predicting that the mouse could soon be extinct. Apparently it
could soon be superseded by touch screens, facial recognition and
even the type of gloves worn by Tom Cruise in the film 'Minority
Report'.  For more information on this story and to get a glimpse
of the future of computing, visit: 

Magazines and Newspapers to be decimated in 2009
The worldwide media sector is in for a hard time in 2009 according
to a report by Deloitte that was featured in the Financial Times. 
With advertising revenues set to fall by 20%, one in ten of every
magazine and newspaper will either have to close, reduce its
frequency of publication or become an online-only publication. In
the US, it is feared that many local media publications will fold
following a downturn in car advertising revenue. For the first time
in US history, more people are getting their news from the internet
rather than newspapers. A report by the Pew Research Centre
(http://www.journalism.org) states that 40% of respondents get all
their news online, as opposed to 35% from newspapers.  The figure
for online news has increased 16% since September 2007. The
situation regarding job losses is so bad that the UK site
http://www.journalism.co.uk has started a special page listing job
losses in the media sector on both sides of the pond.  For more on
this depressing story visit: 
http://www.journalism.co.uk/5/articles/533044.php and

From Check-Out Girl to Bestselling Author
Finally I have a heart-warming, true-life fairy tale for you. A
French check-out girl who started a blog about her observations in
January 2008 has become the best-selling author in France with her
novel "The Tribulations of a Check-Out Girl."  Anna Sam spent eight
years working the till at a large French grocery store and now
hopes to become either a full-time writer or at least get a job in
a bookstore.  The book is soon to be translated into English and
there are even talks of it being made into a film.  For more on
this uplifting story, that shows it is all still possible visit:


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FEATURE:  Writing in a Recession 
by Dawn Copeman

There can be no doubt about it: the recession is finally here and
it looks as if it will be here for quite some time. 

While this means that things in the writing world are tough, it
does not mean that making a living as a writer is impossible. We
just have to work harder and be wiser in how we approach our work. 

Now is not the time to be a niche specialist.  Now is the time to
diversify and earn your cash however you can.  In addition to
article or short story writing, you should think about adding copy
writing or resume writing to your portfolio of services on offer.
With so much unemployment going around, some argue that the need
for resume writers is only going to increase as people strive to
impress to gain those ever more elusive jobs.  Whilst advertising
budgets have been cut, there will still be a need for some form of
advertising: press releases, leaflets, posters, brochures,
newspaper ads, etc. If you are affordable, professional and can
deliver the goods, the work is out there.  What's more, when the
good times are here again, you could find yourself with some happy,
long-term clients.  

But what about mainstream magazines: is it possible to sell
articles to them in a recession? As advertisers reduce the amount
of money they spend on advertising, magazines have less money to
pay for articles.  Some may lay off staff, but they will still need
content.  As a freelance writer you can provide their article or
story needs for less than a staff writer.  

Remember, however, that there will be many more freelancers
pressing for each job now, so professionalism counts.  Ensure that
your work is as good as it can be and get it in on time.  Also
remember that now is NOT the time to ask for pay rises; now is when
we can either accept a pay cut or lose the work altogether.  Don't
act like a prima donna, and accept that pay per word or per article
may be less than it used to be. 

Previous recessions have shown that magazines still sell well
because people hunt for stories to take them out of themselves or
hints on how to survive on less money.  And this time around we
have another huge source of information: the internet.  Online
magazines and newspapers are becoming increasingly popular, as
people prefer to read things for free. Don't dismiss writing for
ezines as a way to make a living and get those vital clips. The pay
online might be low but it's better than nothing.    

What should you write about in a recession?  Whatever you want to,
really, but remember that austerity is the keyword, so unless
you're selling to a luxury magazine (the type read by people
unaffected by recessions), this probably isn't the time to pitch
articles on luxury cars, exotic foreign holidays, 101 ways with
truffles, champagne for every occasion or unusual gifts for the
person who has everything.   

Below are some suggestions for nonfiction articles that people will
want to read during tough times:

Economics and Property
If this is your area, then there is a HUGE market out there for
you.  People want to know more about the recession, how long it
will last, what stages there are to a recession, what people buy in
a recession, comparisons to previous recessions, etc. As for
property, anxious sellers and hesitant buyers want to know what
happened in the last big recessions, what you can do to make your
house more saleable in a downturn, how to avoid repossession, how
to make do instead of move up, when to buy, what you need to know
about renting (both as a landlord and as a rentor), how to rent out
a room in your house, how to haggle on prices, and so on.   

Think cheap, filling and delicious.  With food prices rising and
disposable incomes falling, people want to relearn how to make more
with less.  There is, in the UK especially, a whole generation who
desperately needs and wants to learn how to cook on the cheap.  The
big publishers are already aware of this; Delia Smith's 1976 book
"Frugal Food" is about to be re-published in the UK, and one of the
UK's bestselling cookbooks in 2008 was "How To Feed Your Whole
Family a Healthy Balanced Diet With Very Little Money and Hardly
Any Time..." (The title goes on and on.) What readers and magazines
want is meals that can be made from leftovers, food that can be
stretched to make two or three meals, or how to cook delicious food
from the contents of their cupboards.  For recipe writers this
could be a boom time.  Look at pre-war or Depression-era recipe
books for inspiration and give these recipes a modern touch.  I
have a cookbook from 1927 that I'm currently working through and
adapting to modern needs (although I'm skipping the sections on
brains, tripe and trotters).  

Home Crafts and DIY
According to The Daily Telegraph, sales of sewing machines have
risen by 70% on eBay in the past three months alone.  People are
trying to relearn the skills of "make do and mend" and need to know
how to make clothes, toys, household furnishings, etc.  Sales at
DIY stores are also increasing as people take on more home repairs.
 People are looking for how-to guides and hints.  If this is your
area, your expertise is needed, and not just in the specialist or
craft magazines; now is the time to and pitch your articles to
other magazines too. 

This isn't the time for long-haul articles.  Today it's more about
free activities for you and your children, must-see sights in your
local area, how to have a holiday for less than $20 a night, London
on the cheap, how to get the cheapest plane/train tickets, etc. 
People still want holidays and they need travel writers to help
them find one they can afford.  

People want to learn from what has happened before.  They want
things explained to them, and articles on the Great Depression will
be hot topics.  Think about pitching your history articles to
mainstream magazines, as the main history magazines will have
covered this with their own experts unless you can come up with an
unusual twist. Think about such topics as foods from the
Depression, or relating the South Sea Bubble to the credit crunch. 

IT and Technology
Think about articles to explain how people can use the internet and
technology to save money, such as printing off money saving coupons
from sites such as http://www.moneysavingsexpert.com.  Also think
about articles reporting the effect of the recession on technology.
It's not all bad: sales of Wii and other games systems have
increased and helped some stores to remain profitable.  

Short Stories
People want escape more than ever in a recession.  Sales and
rentals of DVDs have rocketed over the past few months, most
noticeably in comedy.  In a recession people want cheering up.  If
you can write it, now is the time for humour. 
However, as a rule, general book sales also tend to increase. 
People stop going out as much, but they still want entertainment. 
For novelists, whilst books are still getting published and being
sold, expect any advances and royalties to be lower than you might
previously have expected. [Editor's Note: Also watch out for ways
by which your publisher may try to avoid paying those royalties; my
husband's publisher sent a notice this fall that as per their
"policy" (hitherto unstated), they would not be sending out royalty
checks if the amount was less than $600.  My husband complained and
will get his check, but publishers are seeking ways to hold onto
your money as long as possible.] The market for short stories stays
pretty much as it was before, but expect pay rates to be cut. 

If I haven't covered your particular area, I apologise, but the
general idea is the same.  Think about what people need to know to
survive the recession in relation to your topic area. As I said at
the beginning, writing in a recession is not impossible; we just
have to work a little bit harder than we did before. 

Good luck and good hunting. 


Copyright (c) 2009 by Dawn Copeman

For more information on writing in a recession visit: 


WORLDWIDE FREELANCE WRITER - You can download a free list of
writing markets if you subscribe this week. Discover almost 2,000
writing markets from USA, Canada, UK, 
Europe, Australasia. http://www.worldwidefreelance.com



A free-to-join online writing review group where you review other's
work as well as submit your own for review. You can even take it
for a 'test-drive' before you join. 
If you have any questions on writing books, chances are you will
find the answers here.  Bobbie Christmas is a book doctor and has
answered questions on all sorts of things from point-of-view,
technical problems with email to handling editors and agents.  You
can also subscribe to her free monthly newsletter. [Editor's note:
Bobbie is a former Writing-World.com columnist.]

This is a great site and was in fact, a winner in the Writer's
Digest's 2008 101 Best Writing Sites.  Unlike many other job sites,
this one is free and updated regularly.  I know many freelancers
who have gained work through this site. In addition to job listings
there are articles, tips and blogs too. 


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AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

The Paper Canvas: A Book of Poems, by Brett B. Anderson

Prayer is our Power, by Lonnie Pruitt

Find these and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know:
just click on the link below to list your book.


how to reach 60,000 writers a month with your product, service or
book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors@writing-world.com)

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial@writing-world.com)

Copyright 2009 Moira Allen
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
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For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor