When I first started as a reporter in newspapers in 1974, my job was relatively simple.
It was then transported to the composing room, where it was set into type, read by another proofreader comparing the original copy to the new text, and given to layout guys who pasted it in its proper place on its proper page.
Finally, my story, along with all the others in that day’s paper on page plates, was sent to the back shop, where it would roll off giant printing presses, ready for the circulation department to get it to readers. Meanwhile, salesmen in the advertising department were selling ads so that the publisher would have enough money to pay my salary.
Today, as a freelance writer, my job is much more complex. I (most often) find the stories. I write the stories. I pre-edit the stories; Judy post-edits them. I lay them out and then publish them on my computer. Now all of that I don’t mind. In fact, it’s actually fun when I stop procrastinating and finally get around to doing it.
But then I must be my own circulation department, finding readers for my stories, and my own advertising department, trying to figure out how to get at least some of my articles placed in publications that will pay me so my writing can help pay our bills.
It’s this part of the freelance business that bothers me. I’m much more writer than salesman.
But I am sales savvy enough to know that you should have a slogan (preferably a catchy one) for your business. Here’s mine – Have Story, Will Write. It’s at the top of my business card.
Now, like so many things in this writing business, my slogan is something borrowed, revised, and then used in a new context.
It is takeoff of the title of the western TV show “Have Gun, Will Travel”, which aired from 1957 until 1963. Here is the IMDB plot summary for that show: Professional gunfighter Paladin was a West Point graduate who, after the Civil War, settled into San Francisco’s Hotel Carlton were he awaited responses to his business card: over the picture of a chess knight “Have Gun, Will Travel … Wire Paladin, San Francisco.”
So what does my slogan “Have Story, Will Write” mean for you?
Well, if you are an editor or publisher of a publication that has a story you would like written, I would like to be that writer. And if you don’t happen to be a publisher, but have a great story that needs to be written, I want to be the guy that does that. If neither is the case, you can follow me and my writings online. Writers always need readers. Lots of readers.
Unlike the Richard Boone character Paladin in “Have Gun Will Travel,” as a freelance writer for hire, I don’t carry a gun strapped low to my thigh. But I do have a pen, and a bunch of notebooks, and an Apple laptop. You know what they say: “The pen is mightier than the sword.
And my pen, like Paladin’s gun, is yours if you need it.