FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Hiya writer friends,
Every year, I go through a business reset.
I take a holistic view of my career and my business and do a gut check on what I still like, what I don’t, and how I’m going to change the things that no longer align with my desires and my vision.
Typically, these changes are to bring the business up to speed with the growth I’ve experienced over the year. I’ve learned that if I’ve grown, either personally or professionally, but my business has not grown with me, then I’m in danger of getting bored, getting dissatisfied, or getting disconnected.
I have crashed my business, my income, and my mental health far too many times to not have taken this lesson to heart.
(Sam and I call them my burn-it-to-the-ground moments. They’re not pretty.)
Anyway, so as per schedule, I’ve been looking at everything I’ve been doing in my business and I realized that in 2022, I didn’t run my famous annual sale. This is an annual event I look forward to with much excitement. I come up with a theme, do a massive discount on a bunch of programs, and basically give people a one time opportunity to purchase courses that may have otherwise been out of reach. I’ll do an annual sale again in September, as I always do. (I’m Indian. I love a good sale.) But I wanted to do something right now as well.
Particularly since my Inbox is full of worried writers asking me for help getting assignments and clients, what with the double threat of AI and the cost-of-living crisis. So I’m running a massive promotion on 30 Days, 30 Queries.
30 Days, 30 Queries is my signature program. In the last ten years, I have helped 1,000+ freelance journalists from 49 countries break into pretty much every major publication in the world. Including, but not limited to, The New York Times, TIME, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, National Geographic, The Washington Post, The Economist, Wired, The Guardian, Vogue, Smithsonian, CNN, BBC, and more.
I have collected 300+ testimonials. 400+ celebratory screenshots. 700+ thank you emails.
Plus, I gave the course a massive upgrade earlier this year and added 50 sample pitches, a training on breaking into your dream publication, recordings of pitch critique calls, and an entire workshop on idea generation.
What’s more, for the next 3 days, I’m offering the course at a 75% discount!
30 Days, 30 Queries is special to me, not only because it has launched countless award-winning and six-figure journalism careers, but because it is also what launched this business.
I will never forget those first sessions, those first students, those first New York Times bylines, those first celebrations. I remember journalists who had all but given up trying to make a career in freelancing come to me in desperation and get back-to-back $1,000+ assignments within weeks of joining the course. I knew then that I was on to something.
Which is why I want to get this course into the hands of as many writers as I can. Especially now.
Remember, the sale is time sensitive.
3 days only.
Enrollment closes on Saturday, May 6, 11.59 pm EST.
Success stories + all the details here.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Editor, The Wordling
WHAT DO YOU READ?
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NEW ON THE WORDLING
How to Believe in Yourself as a Writer
How do you know with certainty that you have what it takes?
Lessons From My Toughest Year in the Freelancing Business
The more I panicked, the harder it became to get back on track and bring in the assignments I needed.
NEWS & VIEWS:
Why would someone turn down a $200k book deal?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how instead of finding and nurturing new talent, big publishers are now actively seeking self-published authors who’ve done well, so they can piggyback on this success. I wrote at the time that the problem a lot of these publishers are facing is they don’t know what to offer indie writers other than bookstore placement.
Last month author Paul Millerd, who self-published his book The Pathless Path, turned down a $200k book deal from Portfolio (a Penguin Random House imprint). His reasons perfectly illustrate the point. More than that, his analysis is incredibly important to understand, especially if you’re a career author who treats their writing like a business.
In this Twitter thread and a post on his newsletter, Millerd outlines his reasons.
Portfolio offered Millerd $200k for all lifetime rights to The Pathless Path. The devil is in the details, however. Only $70k of that was for this book. The remaining $135k was offered for a second as-yet-decided book. Millerd made $40k in the last four months, so this (rightly) seemed like a terrible deal to him.
Millerd writes, “Instead of a plan, they really just pitched me on the fact that other good authors are working with them and the fact that self-publishing is hard (not my experience so far). They also pointed out that I shouldn’t only focus on trying to make money from a book and that other authors make money from speaking gigs and courses.”
A book publisher trying to convince an author not to expect to make money from a book? While trying to get him to sign with them? After he’s averaged $10k a month from a single book?
Millerd has sold 20,000 books so far and made $101k in royalties because, as a self-published author, he averages $5 net profit per book. With a traditional publisher, he’d earn $1. So, in order to make the same amount of money, he’d have to sell five times the number of books.
Which would be fine if there was a plan. There wasn’t. The publisher showed no desire or ability to do this. Signing this deal would actively lose Millerd money unless the publisher put creative and marketing muscle behind it.
For me, the biggest takeaway from Millerd’s experience is this: “They are not in the business of buying the rights to self-published books and taking them to the next level. They’ve done it but not many examples. They wanted to take it out of distribution and run it through the launch new book playbook.”
Plus, they kept telling him to get an agent. At this stage, there is literally zero value to giving away 15% of the lifetime income from this book to someone who has had no involvement in the process. Had Millerd chosen to sign the deal, it would be far better to pay a media or entertainment lawyer $300 an hour to look through the contract.
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming your goal is not simply to publish a book, but to create a business doing work you love. That being the case, you need to evaluate each deal with a simple question:
What is my goal with this project, and does this offer allow me to reach that goal faster and more easily?
Or, as Millerd says, “… the bottom line for me is that since I’m already on a path I love doing work that matters to me and making enough, the price is going to be really high for me to want to change course.”
You can read Millerd’s full post here.
The big news this week is the Hollywood writer’s strike, with 11,500 television and movie writers going on the picket line. The negotiating committee wrote in a letter: “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing.”
Elsewhere, Vice is headed for bankruptcy. And publishers are creating task forces to oversee AI programs.
INDONESIA: One of the group’s key tenets is that the spread of false information is a societal problem, not something that can be fixed top-down by government. At a World Health Organization event in 2021, Mafindo board member Santi Indra Astuti outlined the organization’s overarching belief that solutions to misinformation should “avoid government intervention as much as possible.”
NICARAGUA: “In Nicaragua, press freedom has faced attacks from all sides and is only getting worse under president Daniel Ortega, now in his fourth consecutive term. The country now ranks 160 out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index. At least 185 journalists have fled the country since 2018, with at least seven going into exile in the first three months of 2023, free press advocacy group Voces del Sur found. As of February, at least 22 journalists had been stripped of citizenship due to their reporting on Ortega’s regime.”
RUSSIA: “Following President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian presidency in 2012, and especially after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, many Russian science journalists have quit the profession entirely, and AKSON itself closed its doors in late 2022. But others have found new support in communities of science communicators abroad, building on the support AKSON provided during its six years in existence.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”
– Gustave Flaubert
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