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Interview with Meg Weaver of Wooden Horse Publishing

Please tell us a bit about your experience in the writing industry?

I wrote my first general interest article at age 12. It was of course total luck that it was published but it really sparked my love of writing.

Since then I have written hundreds, if not thousands, of articles in magazines all over the world, but primarily in the US.

Most of my articles have a foundation in science, which is another life-long interest of mine. But that doesn't mean I only write for boring trade magazines. There is some of that, of course (except I don't think they are boring) but mainly I write for consumer magazines, teaching readers how they can apply new scientific discoveries to improve their daily lives. I have, for example, become quite an expert in the science of sleep and I have written articles for Health, Prevention, Cooking Light, Family Circle, More, AARP The Magazine and others about falling asleep, staying asleep, how long to sleep, etc. It's a lot of fun.

I don't write as much now as I used to because I have to run Wooden Horse, but I keep up-to-date on the freelance writing lifestyle. Many of our customers - although not all - are freelance writers.


What is Wooden Horse Publishing?

Wooden Horse helps anyone, who wants to contact US and Canadian consumer and trade magazines. Primarily, we do it by maintaining a huge database of magazines, logically named the Magazines Database, which contains contact and selection information.

Access to this information is available online by subscription and you have a choice of subscription lengths: 1 year, 6 months, 30 days, 7 days and even 24 hours for only $1.99. The longer you subscribe, the less it costs you per day. We try to maintain these prices so that writers, who are usually not very well paid, can afford a professionally managed and updated media source. But it's getting more and more difficult to justify having that 24-hour subscription as labor costs are going up. But so far, the writer side of me has won over the business manager side.

We also have various other products, such as my ebook and Special Reports, which help customers contact magazines. Our first offerings have primarily addressed writing for magazines, such as querying and how to get the most money out of time spent researching. But we are beginning to roll out more of these helpful products for other groups of people, including photographers, illustrators, PR professionals, and entrepreneurs.

Also, we don't leave our customers all alone to roam around this massive database. We are constantly adding product and programs - most of them free - that help them find the most profitable magazines and to interpret the data they find. We just added a free 39-page quick-reading guide called "The Magazines Database FAQs and Insider Tips" which goes out to all 6 months and 1 year customers.

We also have plans to add other types of media to our Database. In fact, we are right now testing including websites and digital magazines. But the Internet is a wild and woolly place and it is difficult to get consistent quality in our data. But we will keep trying.

Quality is very important to us because there is nothing as frustrating as having spent precious time on a query and then having it bounce back as undeliverable. So, we make sure that we can consistently deliver up-to-date and correct information.

Wooden Horse Publishing was founded in 1997. What gave you the idea for this project?

That frustration I was talking about. I was burned out in my day-job as a marketing executive and decided to freelance fulltime. I had done it before but in those days magazines were the primary writing opportunities and they were fairly stable. The existing printed market lists were satisfactory.

But in the late 90's, things were changing. Not only the Internet but increasing mergers and acquisitions made the markets much more volatile and the old tools weren't keeping up. So, I decided to do it myself.

I have learned a lot of things about this industry since then but even in those days, friends asked why I was so successful in querying and wanted to use my data; little by little acquaintances, and eventually complete strangers began to ask. So, I put the information on the Internet, first for free, then for pay, but always with an eye to keeping the cost as low as I possibly could for fellow writers.

Why 'Wooden Horse'?

(Laughing) I am asked about that all the time.

It has nothing to do with the Trojan horse from Greek mythology, or even the University of Southern California's football team.

I wanted a "quirky" business name to be memorable, so I named it after my constant companion, a seven-inch wooden "dala" horse from Sweden, where I was born. Family legend has it that it was my first toy, but I'm not sure about that. But clearly it has been abused by a small child because its paint is faded, one leg has been knocked off and glued on numerable times and its ears are almost chewed off. But it still stands proudly next to my computer.

How has your database grown over the years and where do you get your information from?

You can read our detailed history on our "About Us" page on the website (http://www.woodenhorsepub.com) but basically it grew from 348 magazines in 1998 to almost 2,500 now. And now, we have a lot more information about each title, including an expanded description, reader demographics, writer's guidelines and editorial calendars.

Anything else you'd like to add?

It is one thing to list a mailing address, phone number, a website URL and so forth and another to provide the complete information customers need to be successful in contacting prospective markets.

I started the business with magazines because they have the most complex market positioning, so this is where customers need most help. Anyone, who's ever been rejected because "your piece doesn't fit our magazine" have queried with the wrong, or at best incomplete, editorial positioning knowledge. Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel and National Geographic Adventure may both be travel magazines, but they need articles with completely different slants.

After having the correct contact data, this editorial positioning is the key to being successful querying. And yet, no other market listing for writers has anything but the most rudimentary information about the magazine's purpose and its readers. No wonder so many queries are rejected.

I understand why the positioning is so seldom included: It costs money to have experienced marketing people research and clearly communicate these complex concepts. But what good is a market listing without them? We have chosen to give our customers *all* the help they need, even if - at first glance - it makes us a little more expensive than the traditional writers' market directory.

But don't take my word for it, writers can check us out by themselves for only $1.99 (as long as we can offer it.)

1 comment:

  1. Wooden Horse and Meg Weaver seem to have disappeared. Does anyone know anything? Is Meg okay?

    ReplyDelete

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