>Back in the old days, people used to ask me why I didn’t start my own newspaper. It was tempting, but all I had to do was think about the business end, and I let that idea go. I did not want to sell ads or worry about the budget. I just wanted to write. Actually I had my own little newspaper as a child. Someone had given me a toy printing press with rubber type you set letter by letter. I put out a couple issues, but I’d run out of letters, especially e’s and s’s, and it’s hard to spell things without them. Plus I’d get ink all over myself, and nobody cared what I wrote anyway. Lesson: don’t start a newspaper unless you know who’s going to read it.
These days, people don’t start newspapers; they start e-zines, online publications, like blogs in fancier clothes. We can all be freelance publishers if we want to. You can do it without advertising, without a lot of money, and without getting ink on your fingers. Your Internet service provider probably offers free space. However, you still have to think about who’s going to read it. If you’re just writing for your own enjoyment, why put it online for free? If you’re writing to inform, enlighten and entertain, you need to attract readers to your site. To do that, you’ll have to advertise the zine’s existence wherever you can, and you’ll have to keep coming up with fascinating content. If you build up a big readership, soon you’re dealing with constant correspondence and technical issues. Certainly many zines have been quite successful, but the publishers thereof always have the same complaint: they no longer have time to do their own writing.
The Internet offers so many temptations to publish in myriad ways. It sounds so much easier than creating queries and writing articles to fit editors’ requirements, but if you want to build a career as a writer, you’re going to have to do the work, send out the queries, write the stories, build up the clip file, and move up the ladder.
If you want to publish your own paper or zine for fun, go for it. I have a monthly newsletter that I truly enjoy putting together, but don’t forget to keep sending out those queries.