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R.L. Stine: ERMAHGERD! My First Big Break

He makes his living scaring children and has been called the Stephen King of children’s books.

“Goosebumps” author, R.L. Stine sat down with mediabistroTV to talk about how finding a typewriter at the age of nine started him on his journey to becoming one of the most successful children’s book authors in history.

For more videos, check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

‘Freelancer’s Bible’ Released Today

We got so excited about the Freelancer’s Bible, we just had to share. And then we realized it’s not being officially launched until November 13th but guess what? We’re too excited to not share at this point! (Amazon’s release date is today so I suppose it’s all semantics at this point, yes?)

Written by Sara Horowitz and amassed from her nearly two decades of work on behalf of the freelance workforce, it seems this book provides steps to become more flexible in an ever-changing journalism landscape.

Some sections to highlight include the following: Seven start-up steps, building your portfolio, getting clients, marketing yourself, managing your work and your life and 10 steps to retirement planning.

In her blog post on The Freelancers Union, Horowitz wrote, “I’ve learned a lot about what makes a successful freelancer. It’s about networks, contacts, contracts, kindness, and so much more.”

How Famous Authors Made Ends Meet Before They Made It Big

We’re all about inspiration here at MJD so we really dig the fact that the inner author in all of us can truly make it big.

And so what if you’re scraping by right now? You’re definitely not alone.

Several famous authors proved they never gave up their craft while sucking it up doing menial jobs to pay the bills. Stephen King was a high school janitor after graduating from the University of Maine! In fact, according to Business Insider, his first book, Carrie, was inspired by his time spent cleaning girls’ locker rooms. Read more

Kate White, Former ‘Cosmo’ Editor, Dishes Career Advice in New Book

Now that Kate White is no longer the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan to focus on speaking engagements, digital media and her books, White’s been dishing advice to women in her new book.

The author of I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know explained to The New York Post:

“We’ve made incredible strides, but I think there are challenges that women face that are not the same for men. I think sometimes we can still have that good-girl tendency not to grab the seat next to the boss at a meeting or not to talk on that project. We sometimes worry about what other people will think. I think men are maybe not as prone to that.”

As for her top ways women can get ahead in the working world, here’s a succinct version. Although her tips are specifically geared toward women, men may likely benefit from her sage words as well. Read more

New Book Reveals the Inside Scoop of Working at ‘New Yorker’

Want to know what it’s like working at The New Yorker back in the day? Janet Groth, a former receptionist at the magazine, worked there for 21 years and outlined the comings and goings, triumphs and tribulations of the 18th floor.

In her new book, The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker, Groth (now a college professor), dishes the inside scoop during her tenure from 1957 until 1978.

Groth told The New York Times her receptionist’s chair near the elevator provided her with “a bird’s-eye view of everything and a hot plate, which I brought.” Read more

Part Two: Exclusive Interview with ‘TIME’ Editors

Yesterday we featured career advice from Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, TIME editors and authors of The Presidents Club. Today we’ll showcase how they managed to research and write their book about the world’s most exclusive fraternity in addition to having a day job.

Their book five years and as Gibbs points out, this meant working on weekends, during personal time, whenever it could be squeezed in. For those of us with intense schedules and a passion project on the to-do list, take note. Gibbs explains:

“We have day jobs so we pushed the deadline back a year at some point when we realized we were never going to finish. It was really fun to do. It was a wonderufl, I looked forward to Saturday coming and being able to just getting lost in the 1950s. It was really fun so it did not feel work.”

In addition to carving time to make this book a reality, the authors split their responsibilities. She adds, “By and large because Duffy has a tremendously rich rolodex, I did the dead presidents and he did the living ones. And then we swapped chapters, read the entire thing aloud to each other over the phone which is sort of our writing process. It’s how we hear what the language sounds like, we’ve been doing this together for TIME for so long, someone starts, sends it off, they work on it, sends it back, so it felt very natural.”

Plus, they’ve already co-authored another book together so their system works very well. “She and I have written hundreds of stories together so we have a pretty good sense of what it takes to get something over the bar,” Duffy notes.

“We’ve written a book together before so we have a pretty good sense of what a book should do….And when you have 14 presidents, all of whom have had complicated and interesting and sometimes difficult relationships with other men, we wanted to look at them each individually. We wanted to show them how they’re different. And we wanted to show how they’re human because they’re fundamentally human beings.”

As for sources, working with sources sounded pretty organic in terms of fascinating insight into the presidents’ rituals, relationships and oh yes — rivalries.

Duffy adds, “It helps covering the White House under Clinton and Bush, so I know all the players and I’m still in touch with most of them all these years but I was a reporter in Washington starting with Carter so I really was around….so I in some ways had the easy part and Nancy had to deal with books and records and people who were dead, I think she had the harder job.”

Exclusive Interview: Career Advice from ‘TIME’ Editors Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy

Last night at the book launch party at the New York Public Library for The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, we interviewed the authors for their insight on how to make your mark in a blossoming media career, leveraging sources, and of course, writing a well-researched narrative book on top of having a day job.

Aside from the fact their book reveals the fascinating private relationships and clubhouse (yes, there really is a clubhouse) among U.S. presidents, this is one of two posts since they provided tremendous insight on media careers and the writing process as well. Read more

A Cookbook Ghostwriter Tells All

Okay. Sit down. Hold onto your hat, and maybe even get a barf bag ready if you’re sensitive. What we’re about to reveal is…shocking.

Gwyneth Paltrow did not write her whole cookbook by herself.

Rachael Ray doesn’t do all her own stuff either.

We’ll ready the fainting couch. When you’ve revived, check this out: a cookbook ghostwriter has explained what it’s like to be her in the New York Times.

It doesn’t sound like an easy job: the ghostwriter must “produce a credible book from the thin air of a chef’s mind and menu — to cajole and probe, to elicit ideas and anecdotes by any means necessary.”

“‘Write up something about all the kinds of chiles,’ one Mexican-American chef demanded of me, providing no further details. ‘There should be a really solid guide to poultry,’ a barbecue maven prescribed for his own forthcoming book. (After much stalling, he sent the writer a link to the Wikipedia page for ‘chicken.’)”

The pay is not very good. The chefs can be abusive or prima donnas. But if you make it, you’re golden – chefs even put your name on the front of the book, like with Paltrow’s aforementioned ghostwriter, Julia Turshen (though, interestingly enough, Paltrow claims to have written every word herself while Turshen lists the book on her website under ‘Work’). After the success of ‘My Father’s Daughter,’ Turshen and Paltrow are working on a second book.

Kindle Singles Represent Legit Revenue Stream

So how much do Kindle Single authors really make? Even if you’re not a big-name writer, the money from joining the Kindle Single program can be significant.

As a reminder, the Kindle Single program requires authors to submit a pitch and wait for it to be accepted (in contrast to Amazon’s Kindle Direct program where authors can upload almost anything and make it available for sale). Sometimes Amazon pays an advance for a Kindle Single, sometimes it pays just royalties. The program has sold more than 2 million singles, with Amazon’s take reportedly around $1 million.

PaidContent recently interviewed a dozen authors about their sales figures.

Mishka Shubaly was approached by Amazon Kindle Single editor David Blum, who asked Shubaly to write something.

“I said, ‘Dave, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t know anybody who owns a nerd pad, and there’s all this free stuff out there so nobody’s going to buy anything, and if they buy anything, why would they buy my stuff? And I’m sober now, I don’t have any more stories.’

He said, ‘Don’t you have ONE more story?’ and I said, ‘Well, I did get shipwrecked that one time.’”

That story sold 20,000 copies. Shubaly, a musician who was working part-time in a bar, took his first royalty check to the bar and said he quit. “He was like why, and I was like ‘Look at this check, man,’ and he said, ‘I’d quit too.’”

Oliver Broudy, former managing editor of The Paris Review, has written two Kindle Singles and even though Amazon took a loss on the second, they’ve signed him up to write a third. “They’re trying to develop an editorial brand here, and this is the price they’re willing to pay, much as they’re willing to take a loss on e-books because they want to sell Kindles. There’s definitely a literary culture within the Kindle Singles program, and that’s a very good thing.”

The actual sales for authors varies wildly–Shubaly’s royalties have topped six figures while author Will Bunch is estimated to have made more like $8,000–but that’s still not something to sneeze at. Won’t pay the mortgage all year but as an extra revenue stream (and one that will continue to see sales every now and then), yeah. Not bad.

‘Book As Badge’ Means More Opportunities For Ghostwriters

Everyone needs a book of their own these days to be considered a thought leader, and everybody wants to be a thought leader.

That’s where ghostwriting comes in.

PaidContent reports that the ghostwriting industry is booming. One consultant launched Gotham Ghostwriters in 2008 as a “one-stop shop for executives, consultants and others looking for a book to burnish their reputation.” Last year, the company took in $700,000 of revenue on 11 book projects and seven book proposals.

The company takes a 15% cut on each contract and helps its freelance authors navigate the business side of ghostwriting. It is currently seeking an intern.