Towards the end of June, the group was having a wine and cheese party at one of the local restaurants and I decided to attend in the hopes that I’d meet somebody who needed work. Unfortunately most of the people who turned out were people I already knew, and they knew I was looking for work. But sitting at the end of the bar were two people I didn’t know and decided to introduce myself. They introduced themselves as Earl and Ethel Krooks (names changed to protect the guilty). I inquired as to what kind of business they had and where they were located on the street. They said they were in the publishing business and ran it out of their home, which just happened to be in a condo about the restaurant. Earl explained that they produced a monthly boating newspaper as well as several online publications. Earl was the managing partner and publisher while Ethel was the chief financial officer. Earl asked what I did and where I was located. I told him I was a graphic designer and that my office was just down the street. I asked Earl whether they were a members of the association or not and he said no that this was their nightly hangout. Every night you could find them here at the bar having a few cocktails.
Earl handed me a copy of the latest edition of their newspaper and asked what I thought of it. My first response was it wasn’t something I’d likely pick up or read. Explaining that the layout was to jumbled and hard to follow. Ethel jump into the conversation by agreeing with me. Both Earl and Ethel stated that they were looking for a new designer. They explained that they currently had two different designers in Miami who their editor had hired. He had one person doing the print work and the other the web, but they wanted to combine everything to one person and/or firm.
Ethel went on to say that they wanted to work with someone that could give them a flat rate and stick to it. She said that they never knew how much the two designers were going to charge. Every month it was different and all she could rely on was that their statements would be at least $500 - $1,000 more over the prior month.
I was a little perplexed and didn’t understand why they weren’t able to get bids from the two designers and have them stick to them. Ethel stated that they had been asking for months, but were told it was impossible to do because they never knew how much time the project was going to take. Earl admitted that they had no experience in publishing and only had to go on what their editor and the designers were telling them. I asked whether the paper’s page size changed from month to month. Earl stated no its always 32 pages. Now this really didn’t make sense to me and I told them so.
I questioned that if they had no experience in the publishing industry how did they come to own a newspaper. Ethel explained that they had been one of the lucky people who came up with an IPO at the right time. They were looking for their next investment and decided to try the newspaper business. Ethel said so far that the business had been nothing but a money-losing proposition. I asked why the ads weren’t paying for the paper. Earl explained that most of them were either given away for free or the people never paid. He said he hoped with a better layout of the newspaper they would be able to start charging for the ads. He also said the current designer made numerous mistakes in the ads that people were paying for were and consequently the advertisers refused to pay for them. Both Ethel and Earl said they had the money to back the project and wanted to see the paper become a success.
Earl asked whether I’d be interested in submitting a bid. Yea, but don’t you want to see my portfolio first, flew out of my mouth. Ethel said, oh yea how about tomorrow afternoon I come down and see your work. I found it strange that they wanted me to bid on work before they had seen what I could, but I still wanted to pinch myself; if Ethel like my portfolio and I was sure she would, my prayers would be answered. I’d have a steady paycheck.
The next day Ethel came down, reviewed my portfolio and liked it. She asked me to prepare a written bid for doing just the print layout. I agreed.
Since I had never prepared a bid for something like this and didn’t know where to start I called Lucy for advice. We discussed that the current market rate was $100 per page, but that would total $3,200 per month and probably more than they were willing to pay. We decided that $2,000 was a fair amount, after all that was $2,000 I could count on every month. With the proposal completed I called Ethel and told her I was ready to meet with her and Earl. Ethel suggested they meet at 5:00 p.m. at the bar and discuss it over cocktails. I agreed.
I presented my proposal first to Ethel who was ecstatic. It was just the price they were looking for! Earl joined them shortly and too was very happy with the price. In the proposal I laid out what my job duties would be and we all agreed and I would start with the July paper, which was just going into production.
I was elated and couldn’t wait to get home and tell Andrew. I finally had what he had been asking for, a steady paycheck. I told everybody I knew the business was going to make it, that I had found a steady client.
My prayers had been answered.