The New Guerilla Writer:
by D. J. Herda
Other Books in This Series:
The New Guerilla Novelist (In Progress)
The Book in One Sentence:
How to learn to write like a best-selling author and live like a king.
Tired of writing and not getting published? Frustrated with getting published and not getting ahead? Best-selling author D. J. Herda reveals the little known secrets on how to do both. Herda combines the tongue-in-cheek satire of Dave Barry with the attention to details of Stephen King. The results: an imminently readable and enjoyable book bound to become a classic.
The New Guerilla Writer:
Life, Love, Death,
by D. J. Herda
Getting published, as the bard once remarked, ain't easy. Making a good living from writing is even tougher. And, if you happen to be one of the vast majority still struggling to earn a decent living from your writing, congratulations. You are your own worst enemy.
People often ask me, as a writer with a modicum of success in having gotten things published, what it takes to break into print. I've thought about that very question on numerous occasions, and I believe I just may have a few positive suggestions on the subject.
For starters, begging is good. I know. I'm a past master. True, it never got me published, but it did get me quite a bit of sympathy. ("Oh, I know times are tough and markets are tight, but you've got to hang in there ... something will break eventually!")
Windows are also a pretty good bet--not the Bill Gates kind, but the doing-them variety. Washing windows for an editor who hates to wash windows will get you in good, no doubt about it, unless you happen to miss the Doberman snot smeared all over the patio doors. In that case, you'd might as well stop wasting valuable time and just go ahead and take the plunge.
Some writers I know also swear by that time-tested means of getting whatever you want from whomever you want it--blackmail. I never thought much of blackmail myself. For starters, it's difficult for an outsider to know just exactly what the hell to try blackmailing an editor for. Not just anything will do.
If he's male, I suppose you could assume he's having an affair and try to make that stick. But the going gets rough if he doesn't buy into the story outright and asks for some tangible proof that you know just what the hell you're talking about. Like photographs. The kind where the editor is dressed in a rubber chicken suit while his naked paramour jumps up and down on his chest in the middle of the bed. Let's face it, if you had photos like that, you wouldn't be reading this book in the first place. You'd be too busy autographing copies of your new book at Barnes and Noble.
Another way you could blackmail an editor is to tell him (or her, for that matter--this one is non-denominational) that you know about the skeleton in the family closet and that, unless he publishes your book, you're going to go to the Globe with it. Some possible suggestions: The editor's mother has been having an affair with Mr. Gilpie, the family auto mechanic, for the past 35 years. The editor's father has flat feet and never did serve in the Pacific during World War II, as he said. The editor's brother has dyslexia and still signs his name Havingsford Chester. The editor's sister is a ho.
The only problem with the whole notion of exposing familial skeletons is not that it's immoral or unethical, but that most editors have so many skeletons in their closets that going public with even a handful of them isn't worth a hill of beans. At least, that's what they keep telling me.
More ways to skin an editor
One published writer I know swears that the best way to blackmail an editor is to entice him into having illicit on-line sex. This guy went so far as to set up a phony identity, hang out in some sleezy Bondage-and-Discipline chat room for a few months, and wait for the editor to log on. As soon as he saw the guy's handle (it was something like "EditorForU2Use"), he knew the time was right. After letting the editor know he was interested, the writer made arrangements to meet the pervert at a local bar. He promised to bring some of his under-age "buddies" along so they could take turns tying him up and whipping him.
And it worked. The writer went to the bar with his camera and got a picture of the editor just as two FBI agents were escorting him out the front door. The editor promised to publish his book just as soon as he gets out.
Of course, as potentially lucrative as blackmail might be, there are other ways of breaking into print. One that apparently worked for Charles Manson was to write a book so chilling, so upsetting, so unnerving that the editor couldn't possibly turn him down. Charlie also sent along a cover letter, concluding, "And remember: my people know where your people live!"
When I worked as an editor in Chicago, I personally found that struggling young writers who asked me to go to lunch with them so they could discuss their new projects was a pretty fair means of catching my eye. Of course, damned few of them had enough money to pick up the tab, so I usually ended up putting it on my expense account, which I then had to justify to my publisher at the end of each month. Come to think of it, I never did buy anything from those deadbeats.
I do have a chiropractor friend in New York who just signed a healthy publishing contract for a new book called A Crushing Affair. It's about this chiropractor who opens up a practice on New York's lower east side, does exceedingly well, meets a young female editor working her way up the ladder at a leading publishing house, showers her with diamonds, woos her and wows her with a trip to Tahiti, and finally marries her. Head-over-heels in love, she decides to produce his book, which garners him a seven-figure advance and an option for a film deal from a major Hollywood producer. I lied and told him it sounded like a pretty good novel.
"Novel, my ass," he replied. "If it were a novel, I'd still be a chiropractor!"
Alas, this book--The New Guerilla Writer: Getting Publi$hed All the Way to the Bank--is not about learning how to get your work into print. It's about learning how to make money from your writing, and enough of it to live a comfortable lifestyle, by teaching you how to become a better, more bankable (i.e., marketable) writer. Along the way, you will find yourself getting published more often, because you will have learned how to produce what publishers want, how to produce it in a manner that they can't help but notice, and how literally to sell the hell out of it.
It won't be easy; it won't feel natural. After all, your timidity has been bolstered by thousands of years of societal precedence. Did Homer write The Odyssey and The Iliad to make a killing from the screen adaptation? Did Machiavelli write The Prince to catch the eye (and the bankroll) of David Lynch? Did Joyce Kilmer write that paean to trees to score a three-book deal with Random House? Of course not. Admittedly, we, too, write for the mere love of writing, for the poetry of it all, for the purity of the act. We would write, after all, if we knew we would never make a cent.
"I've dated rich women, and I've dated poor, and believe me,
Thankfully, not all writers throughout history have felt that writing for the sheer love of it is writing's own reward. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that writers write for fame, fortune, and the love of beautiful women. He probably came as close as anyone to getting it right. The point of this book is to show you how--if you write for fortune (or at least a decent living)--fame and love will surely follow, whereas if you write for fame and love, you're probably destined to wind up a pauper.
But how does a writer learn to kick that "struggling artist" mentality and start earning a few bucks? The first step is to re-examine what, exactly, a writer is.
Forget all that garbage about tortured souls and sensitive beings. Sure, we're all of that. But we're also wily competitors. We are the backbone of the publishing and entertainment industries. We are the forces behind the books and magazines, behind television and radio and film. We are the engines that drive commerce. Would the president and CEO of AT&T show up for work every morning for the mere love of the game? Uh-huh, sure.
One of the most successful writers I've ever known was a short, funny-looking guy who lived modestly on the west coast. He drove a ten-year-old car, dressed casually in Docksides and chinos, had a wife, 2.5 children, a house in the suburbs, a receding hairline, and an abrasive personality that you couldn't help but dislike. He also had a knack for turning his research--and that's the time-consuming part of writing, doing the research required to complete a project--into gold. From a $300 article sale to The Elks Magazine, for example, he'd milk thousands more from non-competitive magazines, newspaper pieces, radio shows hungry for guest commentators, and even book spin-offs. And he did it all by learning to be the kind of writer his publishers could bank on.
A bankable writer. That's the key to success. First becoming one, then letting everyone in the industry know you've arrived. You're here to make money from your writing, and by backing you, so will they. Publishing, after all, is a game of marketing played between suits whose goal it is to raise the bottom line on their corporate tally sheets. Tortured souls be damned.
So gather up your courage, grit your teeth, and let's get started. Because you are the very next New Guerilla Writer to emerge from the rubble of financial despair.
Novels and Single Titles (32)
Rings of Fire ("Rings" Series -
Unpublished, Film Rights Optioned)
Published Books in Series (47)
Landmark Supreme Court Cases Series (Enslow Publishers)
Famous Supreme Court Justices Series (Enslow Publishers)
Historical America Series (Millbrook Press)
Published Magazine Articles and Short Stories (400-Plus)
Published in Parade, True, Ski, Consumer Guide, Conde Nast, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Northshore, Chicago/FM Guide, Detroit Monthly, Miami Southwest Florida, Milwaukee Magazine, Denver Magazine, San Antonio Monthly, Mpls/St. Paul, Twin Cities Magazine, San Diego Magazine, Rockford Magazine, Utah Holiday, Holiday/Travel Magazine, Catholic Digest, The Elks Magazine, VFW Magazine, The Lions Magazine, Computers and Electronics, Outside, Success Unlimited, Cross Country Skier, Organic Gardening, The Writer, Writer's Digest, Writer's Annual, etc.
Published Newspaper Articles and Short Stories (4,000-Plus)
Published in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Oakland Tribune, The San Diego Union, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Milwaukee Journal, The Milwaukee Sentinel, The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, The Miami Herald, The Dallas Times-Herald, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Star, The Toledo Blade, The Houston Post, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Arizona Daily Star, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Denver Post, The Rocky Mountain News, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, Orlando Sentinel, San Antonio News-Express, etc.
Published Newspaper Columns (260,000-Plus)
Former author of several nationally and internationally syndicated columns, including "In Focus," "Photographically Speaking," "Skiing Today," "Traveling Today," "Travelers' Cove," and "Traveling Photographer," appearing in as many as 1,100 newspapers and reaching more than 20 million readers weekly.
Former writer, director, producer of nationally syndicated weekly television spot, Skiing Today.
Writer, director, producer of two consumer videotapes on photography.
Exhibits in the Russell Rotunda, Dirksen Senate Building, U. S. Capitol Bldg., Washington, D.C.; Nikon Galleries, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY; Graff Fine Arts Center, St. George, Utah; and in galleries and collections throughout the U.S. More than 50,000 photos published in most major magazines and newspapers.
Designer, producer, and co-publisher of the award-winning 18-book children's series, "The American Scene," examining key issues affecting Americans and their country.
Reporter, The Southtown Economist, Chicago; Articles Editor, The Elks Magazine, Chicago, producing an award-winning monthly publication for the B.P.O.E.; Managing Editor, The Madison News, Madison, Wisconsin; Book Editor, The Raintree Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Wrote and directed The Trouble with Pirates, Chicago, 1969; wrote for production The English Carpheads, Muse Theatre in the Flats, Cleveland, 1972.
Award-winning creator of paintings, sculptures, pottery, and miscellaneous art pieces in galleries, shops, and private collections throughout the country. Represented worldwide by Galleria Eros Artists Lounge.
Former Editor-in-Chief and exclusive provider of travel content for several high-end web sites, including Traveler’s Cove, Galleria Eros Writer's Lounge, and Galleria Eros Artist's Lounge, with combined visitor hits of more than 20,000 monthly.
Former ghost writer for Ronnie Schell, Lawrence Welk, and Art Linkletter, etc. Former ghost writer/photographer for Sammy Davis Jr. Scriptwriter for educational and consumer cable television, in-flight airline, etc.
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NOTE: All material is copyright protected. No portion of this material may be copied or reproduced, either electronically, mechanically, or by any other means, for resale or distribution without the written consent of the author. All copy has been dated and registered with the American Society of Authors and Writers. Copyright 2003 by The Swetky Agency