Stephanie Land is a single mom who used to clean houses for a living...and she just sold her memoir in a pre-empt. 
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The BinderCast
Elif Batuman and Porochista Khakpour, in conversation with Allison Wright at BinderCon

Meet Stephanie Land 

If you attended our LA conference this spring, or watched the livestream from home, you might remember my opening remarks about Stephanie Land (pictured above, watching BinderCon at the Missoula viewing party!) Stephanie is a single mom who, just a few years ago, was living in a shelter with her two daughters, after she left her abusive partner. Stephanie used to clean houses for a living, but now supports her family as a freelance writer, with help and support from the Binders community. Today I am thrilled to announce that Stephanie has sold her memoir, MAID, in a pre-empt to editor Krishan Trotman at Hachette. 

Barbara Ehrenreich says, "We need more books like MAID, with the view from behind the fridge and under the couch. Stephanie Land has something to teach us about both sides of the inequality divide. Neither is what you are expecting."

I talked to Stephanie about this unbelievably exciting news!

Hi Stephanie! In March, when I was at BinderCon LA, I told the story of your journey to supporting your family as a freelance writer. Now you have a book deal for your memoir! How did you go from writing essays and op-eds (for places like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Vox) to thinking of your story in book-length form?

I've wanted to write a book since I was ten, so it sort of happened the other way around. When I got a rejection for the MFA program at the University of Montana (where I received my bachelor's), I decided I'd do everything I could to build my platform with freelancing to support the book I wanted to write. Then, of course, it was one of three books, which I think is common with lifetime writers. After the housecleaning essay went viral on Vox, and my agent Jeff Kleinman at Folio Lit reached out to me, MAID surfaced as the book to hopefully launch other books. 

What role has Binders played in your freelance career? 

The support I've received from the Binders community has been the backbone of my freelancing career. To be immersed in a supportive atmosphere like that one, when you're first starting out, takes all the fear out of the leap to making a living off of pitching, writing, and publishing articles and essays. I've met countless friends through the Binders, some I talk to daily, and many who I engage with in some way more than once a week. I experienced some dog-eat-dog type of atmosphere in the creative writing program at my college, and it was life-changing to not only be cheered on to every next step, but to be lifted up as well.

I know that the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and Binder Melissa Chadburn, played a role in your career success as well. Can you tell us a little bit about the work they do, and how Binders can learn more, and/or get involved?

Yes! I first learned of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project through Barbara Ehrenreich's article in The Guardian, and it physically affected me with a yearning or passion to get involved. So I spent days working on a pitch to them, sent it through their contact form, and felt like I'd tossed it into an abyss. Then I saw Melissa's post on her Jezebel article that she wrote for the EHRP, and I boldly sent her a message asking if she'd be willing to share any editor contacts there. She did, amazingly, and I sent the editor the pitch. I spelled her name wrong, but it's still the pitch I share with friends who want to know how to get started out. 

The EHRP supports writers financially and editorially. These are writers who have experienced economic hardship first-hand, who would otherwise not have the opportunities to be published in bigger platforms. Since even the larger platforms don't pay all that much, the EHRP works hard to obtain funding to support the writers to get paid at fair amounts--usually depending on their funding. Their website is incredible, and they support stories written and in film. 

The editors there have become a support team, and Barbara Ehrenreich herself blurbed my book proposal. Getting that email with her few sentences starting with "we need more books like MAID," was...I still have no words. I feel that way every time I publish something through them. Their work is so important, and so vital, and it's work like what they do that will hopefully change the narrative of people in poverty.

For more on Stephanie's exciting deal, check out her blog post and be sure to follow her on Twitter @stepville!

Stephanie and I will be co-facilitating a Women Who Pitch workshop at the Montana Book Festival on Friday, September 23! More info here

Stephanie's planning to come to BinderCon...are you?

General admission tickets are on sale for one last week! Then prices go up to $250. 

BinderCon NYC is made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors:
The Harnisch Foundation
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Out of the Binders is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the careers of women and gender non-conforming writers. We organize bicoastal conferences called BinderCon, and administrate a private Facebook community of writers. We rely on volunteers to make our work possible; currently, we operate without an office or paid staff.

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