stiffed by fine wine

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A recurring blogger topic is how does one actually make a living at it? The commitment in terms of time and expense goes far beyond simply writing and posting an entertaining and informative piece of writing (and/or video) on a regular basis. Doing the research takes time. Costs money (for wines, gas, etc.) And it is all (or almost all) uncompensated.

I bless the good old print media daily for the support that they have given me (and continue to give me) that makes this blogging possible. I value my long term print media connections more than I can ever express. Over the years I’ve contributed to most of the major wine publications, and been fortunate to have a very beneficial relationship with Wine Enthusiast magazine, as a contributing editor and tasting panel member. The Seattle Times and their family of newspapers have also been home for my columns for a good many years.

I supplement these steady gigs with occasional freelance work. After writing this daily blog, my regular columns and reviews, and dedicating much of the past five years to book-writing, there isn’t much time left to seek out work elsewhere. But when a particularly prestigious publication makes an offer, I do my best to jump at the chance.

“The World of Fine Wine” proudly displays a “Best in the World” sticker on the front cover – a Gourmand World Cookbook Award. This is a beautifully printed, quarterly publication based in the U.K. The magazine costs $169 for a one-year (four issue) subscription. Among its regular writers are such notables as Hugh Johnson, Andrew Jefford, David Schildknecht and Tom Stevenson. Distinguished company.

So I was thrilled when I received an invitation from the magazine’s Deputy Editor David Williams to contribute a brief piece memorializing my friend and colleague David Lake, a Master of Wine who was winemaker at Columbia winery for many years. Short notice, quick turnaround, etc. but a wonderful opportunity. That was back in October. I quickly agreed to do the story, turned it in, and remained quietly hopeful that it might lead to further work with the magazine.

What actually occurred was disappointing. But as Ally McBeal's employer often said, "bygones." It has taken five months, and numerous e-mails, but finally the editors made good on their promise to send me a copy of the issue with my story in it, and as soon as this post went up, as I suspected it would, a check arrived. Bygones.


Anonymous said...

Does make me wonder if they might be going under.
I mean, it is hard to sell something of good quality to most people. To use the best, cost money, and most people are satisfied with something that cost less. The desire for the best comes from a small section of society.

They might be having a hard time selling enough of this particular type magazine to cover costs.

Stephanie LaMonica said...

why does this feel like it has all the makings for a guy ritchie caper comedy? where you roll into london, and put all your wild west eastern WA sensibilities to use and get your dough?! you guys still ride horses out there, don't you? heh heh.

Michele Rennie said...

As someone who has written (on behalf of Columbia Winery) about the incredible legacy of David Lake, I am thrilled at his inclusion in this significant journal! However, please share his email address with your readers and all of your Washington fans will urge him to make good on his contract with you.

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