Louis 'Skip' Sander
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Lou's Interests...

Writing and Editing

Writing and Editing

Lou started reading when he was three years old, and he was writing not long after that. As an adult, he has written two books for McGraw-Hill, and he has over 500 other published items to his credit.

During the 1980s he was a prolific writer on personal computer subjects, and he became the world's best-known writer on Commodore computers, which were the best-selling computers of the decade. His Magic column was consistently the most popular feature in Run magazine, the country's second fastest-growing magazine in 1985.

His subject areas include computers, careers, politics, public libraries, light verse and serious poetry.  

Since elementary school, Lou has had a talent for writing and editing. In high school, he won an award from the Pittsburgh Advertising Club, for "originality of thought, accuracy of information and clarity of expression in the preparation of the essay Advertising, A Force For Democracy." Since 1981, his writing has brought him celebrity, distinction, and a significant second income.

During this time, he has been a prolific writer for more than a dozen magazines of wide circulation; he has written two books and made contributions to several others. One of his books was translated into Italian. In addition to writing, he has done a significant amount of work in the selection and editing of material originated by others, and he has been an Associate Editor of two national magazines.

His work has been extraordinarily successful, and has been read by millions of people in countries all over the world. Among editors, it has a reputation for rock-solid thought and extraordinary creativity, expressed with crystal clarity and a flair that can captivate readers. He has a particular talent for communicating difficult material to average people. Also, although it is usually factual or even technical, his writing can have literary merit that sometimes approaches art.

People like to read what Lou writes. His work is often the most popular and widely-read material in the publications in which it appears.

The specifics of Lou's writing activities are described below.

Throughout Lou's business career, he has produced:

Dozens of successful sales proposals, typically for products, programs and services in the $20,000-$500,000 range. They have produced millions of dollars in sales, and many of them have become standards in the organizations for which they were written.
Numerous reports on meetings, studies, and projects, for both internal and external use.
Over a hundred newsletters, policy manuals, instruction manuals, and similar business documents.

In 1981, Lou wrote his first article for a national publication—a technical article for Compute! magazine. Beginning with that one article, he became a regular writer for popular computer publications, eventually producing over 200 articles in magazines of wide circulation. His work covered all the popular computers of the 1980's: Apple, Atari, Commodore, IBM, Tandy and others. Commodore computers were the biggest sellers during the early days, outselling all others worldwide in the decade from 1979-1988. Lou became the most authoritative and best-known writer in the Commodore field.

His articles covered a broad range of technical and non-technical subjects, including dozens of unique programs and techniques for BASIC and machine language programming. They were published in magazines of wide international readership, with monthly circulations in the 200,000 range. Such magazines are typically found in shopping center bookstores and all but the smallest public libraries.

In 1984, Lou began a regular monthly column in RUN magazine. Market studies showed his column, MAGIC, to be the most widely-read feature in this publication, which in 1985 was the USA's second fastest-growing magazine. Although publishing a major magazine requires the cooperative effort of hundreds of people, Lou takes a certain amount of personal credit for RUN's commercial success.

After several years, Lou moved his column to another magazine, and started a second monthly column, GOLD MINE, which had similar success to MAGIC. Ultimately, he moved GOLD MINE back to RUN, where it continued its initial success.

The high point of Lou's computer writing came in 1989, when McGraw Hill's TAB / Windcrest division published two of his books. These were compilations of much of his magazine work, augmented by a large amount of new material. The books sold well, and they continued to sell from the backlist.

Outside the computer world, three of Lou's contributions appeared in a St. Martin's Press folklore anthology which spent several months on the New York Times best-seller list.

During 1987-1988, Lou had a weekly column of political commentary for the North Hills News Record, a Gannett newspaper with 25,000 circulation in suburban Pittsburgh. The column inspired more comments and letters to the editor than any feature in the publisher's memory.

The Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have been printing Lou's letters to the editor for years.

In 1990, Lou presented a scholarly paper on one of his poems at the Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, a national conference of university teachers of writing.

From 1993, and continuing for over 300 issues, Lou created, edited and published a weekly newsletter for PAPEN, a networking group of 2,000 executives, managers, and professionals.

Writing has brought Lou many rewards, both personal and financial:

It has let him make his mark on the world. During the most active days of the microcomputer revolution, millions of people were using Commodore machines to learn about computers. Good fortune, good timing, and good writing made Lou one of the best-known and most widely-read Commodore writers. That, in turn, let him provide these millions with vital information and guidance on computer matters. Many of them still use that wisdom today, in their work with more sophisticated computers.

Lou's computer writing has also changed lives through influencing careers. Readers have written that they went on to study computer science in college, inspired by what they had learned from Lou's writings. Others became writers themselves. Still others moved into the computer field from other occupations, in part because of what they learned from Lou.

These "marks on the world" can be seen in the thousands of letters Lou has received over the years, from every U.S. state, from every Canadian province, and from 63 countries throughout the world.

In another field, Lou's political columns helped achieve significant improvements in his commuinty's local government. The effect can be seen in the makeup of his municipality's Board of Commissioners and of its Republican and Democratic committees.

Financially, Lou's magazine writing has paid for his son's and daughter's educations in private colleges.

And finally, Lou's writing has strengthened some of his personal abilities:

Having achieved repeated and significant success with the products of his own creativity, he has gained absolute confidence in the value of his ideas and in his ability to put them into practice.

Having sustained a magazine column into its eighth year, he has confirmed his endurance and staying power: Magazine writing is known as the most rigorous kind of writing, and columnists have the most rigorous requirements in the magazine—to produce sustained excellence on a regular, unvarying schedule. Few people can do eight years worth.