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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 didnt 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
And she knows what shes 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. Its 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 shouldnt 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 didnt
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 isnt all serendipitous.
Susan subscribes to (and reads) 35 antique publications and 4 writers
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
Each article is entered into a database
organized by subject. "When Im planning a trip I can type in the state or
province Ill be visiting and see what historical articles I have from that
area." Susans 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 whats going on in her other
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 dont 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
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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