freelancerforhire

Posts Tagged ‘freelancing’

Get Your Writing in the Hands of Readers

In Getting started on August 20, 2010 at 1:46 am

Before I jump right in, I wanted to remind everyone that I am hosting my first giveaway to celebrate the re-launch of this blog.  You can win a copy of Christina Katz’ book Get Known Before the Book Deal.

Breaking free of the “beginner” or “aspiring” writer titles can be tricky.  It requires that you have actually done a fair amount of writing, and if you’ve gotten paid to do so that’s an extra boost. 

Querying is a necessary evil in the writer’s life.  But it is not the only proactive step you can take.  Getting published is not only about pure ability and persistence; it is also about demonstrating that you have an audience.  So, it would stand to reason that building your audience would be a worthwhile endeavor (I talk more about that here and here).

In the posts linked above I talk a lot about building your audience through Twitter and online networking – which is great.  But it doesn’t get your product into the hands of your audience.  Having hundreds of followers is lovely, but those followers are an untapped resource if they’re only reading your tweets.  You want people reading your work.  You want to show editors and publishers that you are writing, and people are already reading/buying your work.  Show them you’re a good investment!

Now for the “how“.  I have chosen to start with blogging, which is an excellent example of getting your writing into readers’ hands.  However, you’re options aren’t only limited to blogging. 

If your goal is to become a best-selling author, then a good place to start would be with an e-book.  There are some opposing opinions on this, but if you ask me it’s a great way to get your first book in the hands of readers, at no cost, and build fan base in the process.  Bare in mind that “e-book” doesn’t mean you put in any less effort.  You will sill have to promote it and make sure it’s flawlessly written.  You can get away with making it shorter than your average full-length book though, depending on how much you decide to sell it for.  Smashwords is a great resource for selling your e-book.

You can produce an e-newsletter, or an e-zine.  The benefit of the newsletter is that it gives you the opportunity to collect the email addresses of potential customers for when you do have a product to sell.  You can search out online writing opportunities as a contributing writer (in most cases larger sites will be looking for more experience).  This gives you the growth potential of a blog without the pressure of facilitating the site yourself.

Whatever avenue you choose to take – keep the mission in mind.  You want people reading your work.  How are you going to get your writing out there?

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The Breeds of Writer

In Blogapalooza, Getting started on August 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm

So you want to be a writer, but what kind of writer? And how do you get there?

There are many different breeds of writers: authors (fiction & non-fiction), screenplay writers, bloggers, grant writers, journalists, etc.  So which is the best fit for you?  And bare in mind that in most cases writers dabble in more than one area.

I, for instance, primarily write blog posts as a means on acquainting myself with my audience.  But I also have an interest in journalism (editorials & personal essays mostly), and authoring books.

It’s also important to consider the “less glamorous” writing jobs like grant writing, technical writing, business writing, and the like.  How does one break into one of these fields?  The best way is to research first.  Talk to other writers in the field.  Do internet searches. Read books.  This alone will give you valuable insights into your intended field.

Until you feel sure of what kind of writer you want to be try a few different assignments.  In the beginning your primary goal is to accumulate experience. And diversity in a writer is not bad.  There will be times when writing jobs in one field are sparse but others may be available.

Q&A with Published Author Barbara Watkins

In Q&As on February 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

How many books have you had published?  

As of today that would be three, Behind the Red Door, Thorns of an Innocent Soul, and my latest release Nightmares and Daydreams.    

What other work have you had published?  

Some of my short stories and poetry are included among other author’s in such Anthologies as “Hope Whispers” “The New York Skyline Review 2008” “WOW Anthology 2008” “Cold Coffee Magazine” second issue, and soon to be released “Another Time, Another Place” from Mythica Publishing.

When were you first published, and how did it come to pass?  

After submitting my manuscript to several publishers, I chose to go with the first publisher that answered back, Publish America. My first novella, “Behind the Red Door” was released in 2005.   

**Do you have a literary agent?**  

No, but I’m working on it. At the time I wrote my first two novellas I didn’t really have a clue how the publishing process worked. I didn’t understand that an agents job was to negotiate you a fair deal with the publisher, to make sure you receive adequate royalties and hopefully a nice advance. Currently, without an agent to represent you, it’s almost impossible to get your manuscript in the hands of a traditional publisher such as, Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster,etc. Not to say it is impossible to be published without one, several million authors and I have, but I believe I could have received a much better deal if I’d had one at the time I submitted my work for publishing.     

How long did it take to write your books? How soon thereafter did you see them in print?  

It took me approximately six months to write each of my novella’s Behind the Red Door and Thorns of an Innocent Soul. Nightmares & Daydreams is a collection of short stories and poetry I wrote several years ago over a period of about a year. My first two novellas were published quite quickly after the submitting process, within about six months. Unfortunately, they were published in print with formatting and grammatical errors. At the time I assumed all publishing houses appointed an editor to your work and that any mistakes would be corrected before being released – not a smart assumption on my part. Not all publishing houses are created equal, if you catch my drift. Not to take away from my first two books, they both acquired rave reviews for their storylines, but in all honesty, they should have never been accepted with all the editorial mistakes. After hiring my own editor to polish Nightmares & Daydreams I submitted it to a different publisher, which in turn assigned yet another editor to my work before going to print – six months later I had a book in my hand I could be proud of.        

How do/did you handle writing with children underfoot?  

I do almost all of my writing late at night – and I do mean late at night! I have six small grandchildren and at any given time, I’m usually watching at least one or more. I write anytime I possible can get a free minute, usually that means while they’re napping, or glued to the TV set watching Spongebob. Thank God for Spongebob! Although, most of my productive work I do late in the wee hours of the night.       

How much time do you spend writing daily? Weekly?  

I try to write at least three to four hours every night, including weekends. Recently I’ve taken on some book reviewing jobs and it’s becoming more difficult, but I feel it’s important to write everyday in order to keep a rhythm going.    

How do you juggle your other responsibilities as a writer (marketing, bookkeeping, etc)?  

I have a lot of help. My niece, Christy Bradshaw, is my publicist and web designer – my go to girl, so to speak. My sister, Angela Shuffit, is a tremendous help to me by making sure my book keeping is in order, and has scheduled several successful book signings for me. It really is a family affair.      What has been most helpful to you as a writer?   For me it was joining a writers group. I joined The Heartland Writers Guild shortly after writing Behind the Red Door and Thorns of an Innocent Soul. I attended my first conference in June of 2006 and from the very first minute, I was hooked. These groups are dedicated to educating and promoting published and unpublished writers. I can’t say enough about how important joining a writers group is if you’re looking to perfect your craft.         

From a financial standpoint, does your writing afford you the opportunity to live comfortably?

 The average book sells 500 copies. If you sell tens of thousands (extremely decent) it’s still Chickenfeed! By the time you figure in your costs for promoting, deduct agents cut (if you’re lucky enough to snag one) not to mention hiring an editor – well, you catch my drift. Therefore, no, I’m not getting rich, but I am living my dream. Besides, you never know, your next manuscript just might be THE ONE!    

What more do you hope to accomplish as a writer?

 As of now, I just finished my first full-length novel entitled Hollowing Screams, a paranormal/psychological thriller. It’s being edited as we speak. Last week I received an e-mail from an established literary agency asking to take a look. Maybe Hollowing Screams could be THE ONE? 

Any final thoughts for aspiring writers/authors?  

Write as much as you can. Read as many books as you can when not writing. Always edit your work, edit, edit, edit. Query an agent that is interested in your genre. Beware of publishing scams and always research whom you’re sending your material to. Most of all write in the genre that you know and are comfortable with. I would like to share an e-mail I received from Anne Rice shortly after Behind the Door was published.   “I congratulate you on your success with your books, and I know you will go on having success.  It’s wonderful, this world of being a writer, without doubt.”

You can learn more about Barbara Watkins by visiting her website or reading her blog.

The Balancing Act

In Writer Challenges, Writing & Motherhood on February 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Long time no post, huh? I figured it was time to post an update for those interested in the life of a freelance writer breaking into the industry.

One of the reasons I haven’t been able to update my blogs as much as I’d like is a very cranky 17 month old in the house. He’s recently developed a jealousy of my computer and begins screaming at the top of his lungs whenever he sees me sit at my desk. Thank God for a internet capable cell phone (and thank my husband for buying it) – otherwise I wouldn’t even be able to write this, as I’m pinned under a sleeping little one in bed.

Other than that, the little one spilled hot chocolate on my keybaord and I was out of commission for a bit until I could get a new one. I came down with a stomach virus that had me sequestered to the sidelines for a bit. And as some of you may know, I am back in school working on my Bachelor’s which is taking up some of my time.

What have I learned from all this?? Juggling life, motherhood, and career can often be much like a dance or a tight rope walk – lean too much in either direction and there can be disastrous consequences. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way.

As it stands now I am still trying to help the little one overcome this phase he’s going through and figure out the cause. I am in the process of reviewing Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents by Karin Piper (parents can check back for that in the next few days). I am still moving forward with my book, and I have been in touch with a few other talented writers/bloggers about some possible collaborations.

Is it everything I wish I could be doing? Not quite. But some progress is better than none. Balance is not an easy thing to master, especially with children – but I’m getting there.

Not Another New Year’s Post

In Writer Challenges on January 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I will resist the temptation to write a “year in review” post for writers, or share my resolutions or anything of the sort.  I think there’s enough of that to go around already.  Don’t you? 

In any case, here’s the skinny on my absence: I got offered a job – sort of.  I got an e-mail stating they were looking for someone to write articles for real estate websites.  They asked about my prices, policies, etc.  I sent an e-mail back 2 days later after agonizing over the e-mail.  I want this job.  Two weeks later, now word back.  I’m assuming that’s not a good sign.

The silver lining?  Someone thought of me.  Someone came across my information somehow and was intrigued enough to get in touch with me.  All my work trying to build an online presence and audience has not been a  complete waste of time (if it wasn’t already evident by all you lovely readers).  So while I am still not a millionaire behind my writing I’d like to take this as a cue that I am doing something right.

Besides that?  I started another blog.  (Another one?!  Yes, another one.)   It’s an education blog, all about what I’ve learned in raising my little one and the endless reasearch on infant/toddler development, early childhood education and otherwise how to aid in his development.  It was long overdue.  ou can head on over and tell me what you think: Brain Food…Simplified  My hope is that between the two sites I’ll be able to keep you all updated daily.

I also have a couple book reviews in the works (stay tuned folks).  And of course the never-ending cycle of queries.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I hate queries.  It’d hard for me to get past the pressure of it.  But there’s nothing else to do but keep trying.  

In my case I can only trust that slow success is the best kind. 

My Pearl of Wisdom for the day: Try not to become discourage my what may seem a never-ending cycle of “grunt work”.  The not-so-painless self marketing, query after rejected query, the websites that no one seems to visit….it will all pay off.  It’s practice writing (which is the only way to get better), practice building relationships with reads, practice building relationships with other writers.  It’s all practice for the day when you become rich and famous (or at least that’s what i keep telling myself).

Pitch, Pitch, PITCH!

In Step-by-Step on November 23, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Phase 2, Step 2-

In the last installment of my Step-by-Step series I discussed getting your feet wet by blogging, contributing to some smaller websites, or writing for residual income sites like EHow and Infobarrel.

In this next step we’re assuming that you’ve gotten some good practice for formal writing, you’re feeling confident, and you’re read for the big leagues…not quite the big leagues but close enough for the moment.

Now get out there and show ’em how its done!

By this point you should already have some publications in mind (if not hop over and read this post).  For even more on where to go hunting for your first clip you can read a previous post on promising opportunities for beginners.

Once you have your sites set on a publication it’s time to consider which route to take – the “complete manuscript route” or the “query route”.  Both can be challenging.  For beginners it may seem less daunting to go the “complete manuscript route”; since a query package calls for clips that you may not have.

In the case of sending out a complete manuscript you have to be sure that you’ve completed these steps:

  • Set your sights on a publication who’s subject mater you feel comfortable tackling.
  • Study at least 3 back issues for their tone, and to avoid duplicating a recently run topic.
  • Pick an idea that fits their intended audience.
  • Review the publications writer’s guidelines and editorial calendar, if they have them.
  • Write an accurate, engaging, and error free manuscript that fits the publication – in terms on word count, tone, sidebars. etc.
  • Finally, you must write a well executed cover letter (for more on the cover letter check back soon).

A query package is similar to the cover letter, except a cover letter is written to accompany a complete manuscript and a query is written before to actual article is written, describing tot he editor in question an idea that you have.  If you don’t have any clips can you still send in a query?  Of course!  there’s no rule otherwise.  But, it may be easier to sell something you’ve already written as opposed to an idea, without some practice selling yourself and your writing first.

It’s easy to procrastinate and get hung up on this step, but no writing gets into print without first pitching.  My suggestion?  Write a couple queries and cover letters for yourself first, with no intention of sending them out, and give yourself a deadline.  Ask a friend or family member to hold you to that deadline.  Maybe even hand over that $50 you were going to spend on a handbag until you finish it.  Once you have it written without bloodshed it’ll be easier to write the next one (you may have to implement the same $50 dollar routine to get you moving on mailing out the real cover letter).

Go get ’em tiger!

Opportunities Are Everywhere

In Getting started on November 17, 2009 at 6:02 am

The hardest part for many writers is getting started.  The first clip is usually the hardest one to obtain, after that each writing assignment should become less and less intimidating.  In the spirit of getting started, today I thought I’d share a couple places that beginning writers can showcase their talent.

Most writing books and websites I’ve come across suggest pitching your ideas to smaller local publications first – which is a phenomenal idea.  But where do you find these small local publications?  If they’re not terribly popular they may also be more difficult to find.

Tip #1:  Call or visit small organizations.  If you know of a local organization, stop by or give them a call.  Chances are they’d be open to having you write for their newsletter – or if they don’t have one they may even like for you to start one for them.  Approach these jobs with caution, you will have to do some research on newsletter formatting before promising to deliver a fabulous project.

Tip #2: Pick up free papers.  It’s very likely that your town or city is the home to at least a couple free publications.  When you’re out at the supermarket or walking around, instead of walking by those free papers, pick them up!  Peruse them, if the subject matter is something that you could write about, pitch to them.

Tip #3: Go back to high school.  For some of us that last statement may have cause dry heaves.  But for the beginning writer it’s worth considering.  Some high schools have a newsletter for their alumni, sponsors, or donors.  You can call and ask if there’s an alumni newsletter of anything of the kind and if they’re looking for writers.

Tip #4: Apply for Examiner.com.  Okay, this may sound like a cheesy plug, but it’s not.  It’s a good way to build your expertise and readership.  Not to mention, Examiner does pretty well on search engines.  I can’t say how selective their application process is, only that the application does take some time and planning.  Give it your best shot, pick a topic to examine that you feel comfortable with, and try not to over think it.  Work on your application for 2 weeks TOPS.

Wrangling Interviews

In Learn from my mistakes. on October 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

Just as deadlines are a fact of life for a writer – in most cases so are interviews.  I can’t imagine that any successful writer has gone their entire career without having to do at least a few interviews.  Which brings me to today’s lesson learned the hard way: make sure the bulk of your work is done before you begin soliciting interviews, or t the very least be able to give your interviewees a realistic finish date.

I have been working on an article to be featured on my web zine for a couple months now.  I put the horse before the carriage a bit and started contacting people for interviews before I even had a complete list of people I’d like to interview.  As a result I landed the first interview in August expecting to be finished in a couple weeks, and wasn’t. 

It’s taken longer than expected to get the interviews I wanted for this piece.  Just finding the right people for my needs has been harder than I expected, and then a  few people weren’t interested or didn’t have the time to participate. 

Why is this so important?  Your interviewees may want to see the finished product, and you don’t want to seem unprofessional by delivering it late (in my opinion it’s good form to offer to send the finished product or notify them after publication – preferably the former).  If that’s not reason enough, you want to be reasonably certain that this article is going to happen.  Imagine taking the time to participate in an interview with the expectation you’d be quoted in an article, only to find out that your time had been wasted.  That’s exactly the situation you want to avoid with your interviewees.

Finally, If you conduct your interview in a professional manner from beginning to end and the turn out a well-written article that provides your interviewees with some promotion you may build a worthwhile business relationship.  If you don’t conduct your interview professionally, well…you won’t.

What do you do if you find yourself in my position – with one or more interviews under your belt but behind schedule to meet the date you’ve given your interviewees, or even worse the finish date you’ve given them already passed?  Do what I did.  Be sincere, and apologetic.  Remember, they are doing you a favor and their time is precious.  I sent an e-mail to the person I interviewed explaining that I fully expected o be finished by now but it;s taken longer than expected to complete the interview process for my article.  I let her know I was still moving forward with the piece and would notify as soon as I was finished.

It’s a lot easier said than done.  But to avoid this situation altogether try taking these steps:

  • Do your research and compile a list of possible interviewees.
  • Write out a list of juicy questions considering what kind of quotes you’d like to include in your article.  You may even want to consider slighly varrying the questions for each person on your list.
  • Consider how many interviews you think you’ll need and then add a few, just in case some decline.  (as a general rule interviewing 1 person only works if it’s an article about that person)
  • Create your outline and write as much of the article as possible before hand so you can insert quotes in some places.  You can probably get your introduction written if nothing else.  Getting started can be the hardest part.

Think toward the future!

In Getting started, Writer Challenges on September 1, 2009 at 2:36 am

  When you think of a business plan you might think of corporate businesses and chains….not your freelancing career.  But the truth of the matter is a business plan is a very important tool for a freelancer writer.  The difference between the business plan for company vs. your business plan as a freelance writer is that your business plan is meant for your eyes only (unless you opt t share with others).  You’re business plan doesn’t have to win over a loan officer or anyone else for that matter.

  BUT, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put some time and thought into it.  The purpose behind this exercise is to  get you thinking & give you some direction.  With your goals in mind you can work more efficiently than if you don’t really know what you’re trying to accomplish.

  How do you go about writing this business plan?  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  You can type it, or write it if you feel more comfortable.  You can use a time line, or just some “finish line goals”.  Basically whatever format you can dream up for your business plan that’s how you do it. 

  I wrote my initial business plan over a year ago when I first began my research into the freelance writing industry.  It had undergone lots of changes since then and that’s okay to.  Don’t be afraid to make changes to your business plan.  As long as you have a plan.  Here’s what mine looks like right now:

“Finish Line” Goals:

  • Successful parenting website/blog
  • good following for my blog(s)
  • published books
  • Mommy Writers (large following, conferences, seminars, etc)
  • Trade Magazine
  • syndicated column
  • at least 2 assignments per month
  • at least 3 monthly newsletter assignments