The discussion about the pay from article sites and from my attempt to figure out why there’s so much passion has also gotten me to thinking about how it was way back when. In my case, that’s over 30 years ago. Here’s some of how it was:
- Typewriters – first manual and then electric. When I went to college my parents gave me a manual portable Royal. Turns out you can still buy Royal typewriters – who knew!
- Self-correcting Selectric typewriters by IBM. Electric, of course, and in addition to the red and black ribbon, there was a second, white correction tape. A special X key would let you back-space so you could over type your error and begin again. I remember how delighted I was because prior to so-called self correction the only solutions were either a special white paint or retyping the whole page over again. Even so, if a page in a manuscript got significantly longer or shorter the whole thing had to be retyped.
- Writers Market Magazine which each month listed a different type of market for writers – books, greeting cards, health articles, etc. This and Writer’s Market, the annual, were the most reliable sources. And, of course, there was no online version as there is today.
- Buying and finding magazines. I bought a lot of magazines back then as I looked for places to sell my writing to.
- Finding other writers was problematic. If you freelanced you rarely met anyone else who did the same unless you went to a writer’s conference or joined a writing group. The sense of isolation was much stronger than it is today, at least for me. Heck, I don’t feel isolated at all, come to think of it.
- The easiest ‘market’ for beginners back then was the local weekly newspaper. Another strong possibility was the trade magazines. The same is true today. But with the addition of the web and the sites that pay, even small amounts, for articles, the market for beginners is much larger.
- Trade book publishers hadn’t been bought up by giant profit-only driven corporations. I think it’s true that back then it was easier to get a controversial book published, but I also think on the whole, the writing standards were higher.
- There were more opportunities for real journalism – that is, more large interdependently owned newspapers existed. Many of those had budgets that encouraged investigative journalism. The loss of independent news organizations is tragic and not replaced really by blogs. I have to work much harder to get a balanced view than I used to.
- I still have a few SASEs around – that’s a Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope. That used to be the only way to get a manuscript back. Today, with the ease of copying and printing most of us don’t want the manuscript back if the publisher isn’t going to buy it.
The biggest change is, obviously, the ‘net. I remember how excited I got when I finally managed to get My name is Anne on a webpage. I immediately recognized we had a truly new publishing medium. I never guessed, however how it would change things like research or networking (!) with other writers, finding publishers and agents. Nor did I realize how many new markets would open up.
I wonder what’s next?
What have I left off this list?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu