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Do the Hustle

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By Mike Carlson

Published Oct 1, 2009 8:00 AM


Like a ballerina who changes her own oil, writing and getting published are two different skill sets that seem to be at odds with one another. Writers may be master of their own creative landscape but actually getting published takes an inordinate amount of organization and follow-through.

Enter Anne Walls '01, co-founder of www.wordhustler.com, a website devoted to getting writers back to writing by making the trip to market fast and efficient.

Wordhustler was birthed out of a gripe session between Walls and fellow writer John L. Singleton. Both were hip-deep in Xerox copies and manila envelopes as they burned out their desktop printers preparing multiple submissions of various short stories and screenplays.

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"We were like, why isn't there something online where we can find the market, upload it and send everything from one place?" Walls recalls.

Since both were intimately familiar with the process of submitting stories, articles and screenplays and Singleton had previously worked as a computer programmer, they decided to do it themselves. Wordhustler.com was launched in May and already has 5,000 members.

The website works like this: After becoming a member you gain access to the thousands of available markets on the Wordhustler website, such as publishing houses, literary journals, agents and screenwriting contests. For a small fee, writers can choose as many markets as they'd like and then upload their content, be it a single poem or full novel. The Wordhustler staff professionally prints it, binds it, and mails it for what it would cost to make copies at a local Kinko's.

Writers love it for its efficiency, cost-effectiveness and user-friendly features. Publishers love it because they will no longer receive unsolicited song cycles written in blueberry juice on tree bark parchment.

"The actual majority of our clients are children book writers, although lately we've had an onslaught of journalists, professors, poets, screenwriters and novelists as well," says Walls. "We have a lot of people sending out articles to all sorts of magazines, mainly literary journals. The thing we probably have the least of is nonfiction writers."

The website has been a boon to international writers who no longer have to decipher foreign addresses and postage rates and deal with editors who refuse to mail correspondence across borders. One Wordhustler client who lives in Nicaragua uses the service to send drafts to a stateside editor since her national post is both spotty and expensive.

Wordhustler will soon unveil Digital Reading Room, a tool that will help publishers, agencies and publications manage submissions from writers, which will be distributed electronically. It will also help publishers interface with an author's work submits in its intended format.

"I think the publishing industry is very aware of what happened with the music industry and what happens when a big industry is resistant to technological change," says Walls, laughing. "We just want to revolutionize the publishing industry. Nothing big."

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