I've written columns for several different types of magazines--fan magaiznes, Fantasy Modeling (one of Starlog's mags), writers' magazines, and in several computer magazines, like Windows and PCM Magazine.
In every case but one, I was invited to write the column. The exception was my first column, which was in Computer Shopper.
Those of you who remember Computer Shopper (and I mean the classic Computer Shopper, on newsprint, before Ziff-Davis messed it up) will know what I mean when I say things were kind of wacky there. It was as near a clone as possible to something called Camera Shopper, published out of the Melbourne, Florida, area. The magazine was edited by a crusty old guy named Stan Veit.
(Stan was something of a pioneer in computer retailing, in New York City, and his autobiographical tome, Stan Veit's History of the Personal Computer, is a must-read. )
I had been reading the magazine since its beginnings, and in 1985 I decided the magazine ought to have a column about PC communications and the online world. So, I wrote two sample columns and sent them to the magazine's editor, about whom I knew nothing other than this name, Stan Veit. I included a cover letter offering a column like these each month.
I had sold articles and reviews to Stan before. In fact, up until them Stan had bought everything I sent him. I never queried; I just wrote something I thought fit the magazine and sent it in. A couple of months later, a check would arrive, and eventually my work would appear in the magazine. But I never really communicated with Stan. The whole thing seemed natural enough to me, since Stan was somewhat notorious for his unconventional approach to running a magazine.
I heard nothing about my column submissions for seven weeks. One day the phone rang; I pikced it up and the gravelly voice of Stan Veit roared. "Banks! Where the hell's the next column?"
I almost blurted out, "What column? Nobody said I had a column!" Instead, I said, "Oh! I was getting ready to send it out today."
As it turned out, Stan had put my columns in the next two issues--the first column in an issue that would be out within a week. Now nearing the deadline for the third issue ahead, he needed my column. Which is why he called. Details like notifying me that I had a column were unimportant; he needed that column.
So I wrote the column and sent it in the next day. As it turned out, the column ran for six years. The last few years it paid a thousand a month. How it came to an end is another story, for a later post.
Copryight © 2007, Michael A. Banks