Loan bills, phone bills and dental bills for six cavities and a root canal were all piling up in my ramshackle freelance writing office. I was laid off from my part time job, a waiter at Fanatic's, a trivia bar turn strip club on the weekends in downtown Washington. The reason given: tough times. My writing career looked dim, and it appeared I would need a real job to pay the stack of bills.
So, I started a stock market.
I offered the public the chance to invest in my writing projects, effectively a test to see if people believed in me and to provide me with a little capital. I began with a web site, www.mywritingcareer.com, to circulate this announcement:
Initial Public Offering
I am offering 10,000 shares of common stock in My Writing Career, Inc.
In accordance with the wishes of the shareholders, I promise to make a good faith effort to generate revenue through My Writing Career, Inc. I shall maintain the right to generate revenue as I see appropriate, most likely by submitting articles, essays and short stories to magazines and books for publication. Revenue may also be garnered from royalties.
Company expenses incurred shall be copying, submission fees and postage.
Current stock ownership includes myself: 5,000 shares.
From the date of this announcement, shares of stock in My Writing Career, Inc. shall be offered by myself at 25 cents per share and fluctuate according to the net value of My Writing Career, Inc., to be evaluated congruently with all financial matters concerning it. Stock certificates will be issued and are transferable. They shall be redeemable through me upon demand.
Project descriptions and evolving story texts shall be made available via this web site on a daily basis.
Quel homme d'affaires! I sold five-thousand shares to eighteen different people, including my creative writing professor from college and generated twelve-hundred-fifty dollars, enough capital to keep me financially secure and typing happily.
It hasn't been all roses for My Writing Career, Inc. Last month I threw my investors for a loop when I informed them that "My Writing Career, Inc." is this story specific (note the title), and not encompassing of my writing career, as was believed.
My investors, who are luckily my friends, didn't sue, but there was a sell off of nineteen-hundred shares in two days, which is a bear for this one-man market! The price subsequently dropped to fifteen cents. Only when I announced that My Writing Career, Inc. was nearly ready for submission did the price level off.
The reception accorded my first public offering was an inspiration. I began soon after to offer shares in other works-in-progress. The process has become a real litmus test for marketability.
For instance, I recently offered shares in a story about dogs that learned to milk a farmer's cows while he was on vacation. "Udder Dogs" started selling at fifteen cents a share, but dipped to nine cents after shareholders read the dogs actually sucked the milk out of the cows. That was a clear sign to me that I needed to change that part of the story. Talk about market forces in action!
Another example is a story I called "Tippy Tippy Tom." I should have known that a story about a wino named Tippy Tom would never hold water. All he did was drink and say "Drinky drinky down." When the text of the story was released on my web site, the price per share fell to a vinegary one penny. I knew then that it wasn't a project worth pursuing.
On a more successful note, I wrote an article about running my first marathon and submitted it to Marathoner magazine, which is publishing it next month. That means that my friends who bought into "Marathon Munchkin" (I'm only four-feet tall), have struck gold! Two of my friends made over one-hundred dollars on the deal.
Of course, the fact that I have sold stock in my writing career means that I keep very little of what I make from payments, prizes and royalties. My friends, my friends' friends, and Dr. Tschampion, the now-retired creative writing professor, are the financial beneficiaries of my writing career, or so they think.
The payment for "My Writing Career,
Inc." came in the mail today: twenty-five dollars.
When I put that whopping total on my web site, I bet
there will be a panic. So much work for so little
money? That's right, suckers. I don't need a lot of
dough, it's speculative potential that keeps these
fingers tapping. But a word to investors: who knows
what the price per share of My Writing Career, Inc. will
go to if it gets published again?
© 2002 Tom Glick, all rights reserved
appears here by permission