After more than 30 years working in book publishing—from executive positions in distribution, marketing, and business development to Web and digital publishing—David Wilk found himself out of a regular job. But like a lot of experienced—but now former—publishing executives, Wilk created a postpublishing career, redefining himself as a hustling freelancer, since 2007.
Since leaving his last salaried position, Wilk has created a constellation of Web sites, some of which bring in revenue—like BookTrix.com, which shows off the full range of for-pay book services he offers—while other sites such as LiveWriters and WritersCast aggregate audio and video book content, drive traffic, and keep his name in front of the industry. When you're freelancer, Wilk said, "You have to make sure you're part of the industry's social flow."
Wilk has worked predominantly in distribution, both as president of LPC Group and later as a senior v-p at CDS. His last executive position in publishing was v-p, business development, at Resolution, an e-commerce firm, where his job was to introduce book publishers to Resolution's services. "They let me work from home so I got an early introduction to the world of independent contracting," said Wilk. "There's no office and you have to do everything yourself!"
BookTrix.com is Wilk's revenue generator. He said it "describes all the things I do, from writing about the book business to providing lists of all the services I offer, from production to packaging to marketing to how to use social media and online communities." He said, "If you write a book about golf, I'll find 300 golf blogs for you," Wilk said.
LiveWriters is a site that aggregates any kind of video documentation of writers, from book trailers to home movies and old video news reports. Anyone can upload videos to the site along with comments—"it's like YouTube," he said—and the site draws about 20,000 visitors each month. While the site does not generate revenue, Wilk said, "we use it to show publishers and authors what video can do for their books."
WritersCast is similar, but aggregates spoken word audio as well as releasing new podcast interviews with writers every week. "I created the site to force me to read a book and interview a writer every week," Wilk said. Authors can upload audio files of themselves reading from their own books. The site also features a blog (the Pipeline) and Publishing Talks, a podcast series of Wilk interviewing book industry figures—from Ruckus Media's Rick Richter to OR Books publisher John Oakes—about the business side of publishing today. "It's like having your own radio show, and it's syndicated on iTunes—for free," he said. Wilk said the site generates about 2,000 downloads a month, and if you subscribe the site notifies you when new material is available.
"All of this stuff keeps me active and thinking books and connecting to people," Wilk said, describing his new career as a freelancer. "I'm online or on the phone every day," he said. "You have to be flexible and make things happen for yourself. Follow every lead, but be selective and do things you're passionate about," he said.