Laboring on Labor Day
I had a break this week in my normal duties, as the youth publication I edit for the Denver Post was taken over by the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture, one of the four weeks a year they do that.
So, with nothing to do but catch up on neglected work, I wrote a couple of chapters of the serial I'm working on, and struggled with the last chapter, which is always the hardest.
I also redid the website for those serial stories and would like to invite you to visit and marvel at www.teachup.com
It's not a very sophisticated website, but then I'm not a very sophisticated guy. The last one was a little fancier, harder to navigate and full of broken links. The layout also required some redesign in order to add new stories as they were published, similar to adding stars to the American flag. Worst of all, when I needed it fixed or updated, I had to find someone.
I approach the web like I approach my car -- I know what's wrong, I know I could probably learn to fix it myself, and I don't. Fortunately, there are some shortcuts and plug-and-play site builders that are made for people like me, so I just redid the thing with what I suppose is the digital equivalent of duct tape and paper clips, but it's up, it's up to date and, unless someone finds a busted link I missed, it's working. And, if someone does find that busted link, I can fix it.
The prime audience for the site is the Newspapers-in-Education people who continue to run serial stories. This is a somewhat shrinking group, but that simply means you have to be a little more aggressively available. Broad-side-of-the-barn marketing isn't as effective when the barn has shrunken down to the size of a detached garage. My revenue from this work is about a quarter of what it was four years ago. The good news is, I was splitting with my artists and my newspaper back then. Now I only split with my artists.
Speaking of whom, you'll get a chance to see some nice artwork if you check the samples on that site. I've been fortunate to catch a few people on their way up over the years and they're given me an advantage in that area. Some of my competitors use "talented relatives" to illustrate their work, and the quotation marks are there for a reason. But even those who hire professionals often end up with a kind of generic kid art that I find uncompelling, though kids have been taught that this is what illustrations look like and so it works well enough. I'd rather offer them a little more.
Anyway, come have a look. Now, I've got to run. My break is over and I have to start putting together the next issue. A few weeks ago, we had a new writer, a fifth grader, turn in a story about his baseball team's elimination from the state tournament. He's enthusiastic, loves baseball and enjoys writing, so, when Ken Burns came to town, we sent him out to get the interview.
Getting back to work, when work includes something like that, isn't really so painful.