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Piles of Time: A Visit with Antiques Writer Susan Eberman
by Megan Kopp

Her eyes twinkle, her advice is wise and her approach is direct. I first met freelance writer Susan Eberman on a press trip to Pennsylvania. Because of our diverse interests, we didn’t spend any time together until near the end of the trip. But one evening, while strolling through an herb garden at the back of a beautifully restored Victorian-style inn, her wit and wisdom caught... and held... my attention.

"Do you know how do you sell a topic more than once?", she asked without preamble. Not waiting for an answer, she continued. "I go in with the idea of how many slants I can put on this one interview. Are they alumni, ex-military, Rotarian, left-handed? Do they breed dogs, grow herbs, volunteer for a particular organization? Each of these slants has a different market."

And she knows what she’s talking about. Susan has written over 350 articles, published in 40 different markets, since she began writing in 1996. This retired Freshman College English Composition teacher sold 17 articles about one topic -- the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. How? She wrote articles on everything from the history of the Corvette to tourism overviews. The fob on her keychain now sports a Corvette, symbolic of the topic that has produced the most articles to date. It’s a motivational tool. Number two rates a mousepad -- currently an Oreo cookie motif symbolizing Nabisco collectibles.

The birth and growth of her writing career is inspiring. After retiring early from teaching, Susan became an antiques/collectible dealer at a local Indiana antiques mall. For six years she was an auction and yard sale addict. "When I found out about the 450 mile yard sale held in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, I was in hog heaven," she quips. When a friend mentioned offhandedly that her neighbor was an editor who might be interested in buying an article about the topic, Susan went to work.

"Five minutes later I was on the phone with an editor, doing lots of things professional writers shouldn’t do. I submitted the article and some adequate, not good, photographs from my point-and-shoot. He published it and asked me to submit more articles. I was hooked and it didn’t take me long to realize I enjoyed writing about auctions and sales even more than I enjoyed buying at them. My wallet liked it better, too."

Her writing success isn’t all serendipitous. Susan subscribes to (and reads) 35 antique publications and 4 writer’s publications every month, in addition to visiting countless websites. She recently purchased a collection of Antiques Magazine that includes the first issue in 1922 through 1969. When she heard about the collection going up for sale, she submitted a bid and walked away with the entire collection for $200. It took 3 car loads to move the magazines, now stored in what was once a walk-in closet in her home, organized by decades. She has piles of time.

Each article is entered into a database organized by subject. "When I’m planning a trip I can type in the state or province I’ll be visiting and see what historical articles I have from that area." Susan’s main reference library is housed in one of the three upstairs bedrooms, now an office. Large decorative wicker chests hold press kits full of information she might need in the future. In addition to two full bookcases in the guest bedroom, "Susanville" is a double garage a half block away that serves as the library annex and mini photography studio.

A typical day starts around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. Email is downloaded and Susan spends several hours writing while "guzzling" Diet Dr. Pepper. By 9:00 a.m. she breaks and will come back to the computer later in the day for 2-6 hours, depending on deadlines and what’s going on in her other life.

Susan freely admits that there are downsides to freelance writing -- like being away from her husband, grandson and two cats, or trying to talk about her work with neighborhood friends. "People who punch a clock from 8-5 don’t think press trips could possibly be work." The best part of being a writer she says is "the chance to meet interesting people throughout North America who are willing to share their knowledge and their hometowns with me."

Susan shares her writing expertise and knowledge in her e-book, How to Make Money Writing About Antiques and Collectibles (available at http://www.booklocker.com/bookpages/seberman.html).

© Copyright 2000, Megan Kopp

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