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Friday, April 15, 2005
On average I sell 63 news stories a week plus one feature story and I usually have a market study, brochure, or speech writing assignment in progress to boot. And, I have the clips to prove it. What’s even better is I have the checks too! So, what’s the secret you ask?
First you figure out how much money you want to make and how many hours you want to work per week to earn that amount. Personally, I rarely work more than 30 hours a week. I don’t believe in living to work; it’s much more fun to work to live!
You must start by calculating your money goal or you are going to be overwhelmed by your opportunities and you will end up working all the time for very little cash. So, do the money part first.
Here’s an example of a formula you may want to use: To gross $100,000 a year, you needto earn about $1924 a week. Assuming you only want to work 40 hours a week the weekly goal ($1924) divided by 40 hours gives you an hourly rate of $48.10. If you only want to work 20 hours a week, your hourly rate must be $96.20.
OK, hold it right there! If you don’t believe you can earn that, you won’t. So get your head and heart straight about that. DECIDE FOR YOURSELF WHAT YOU WANT TO EARN. I’ll show you how you are going to earn that in just a minute. But for now, don’t get all gobblygooked over the pay – think of it only as a number. It is your quota and it is defined solely by you. Now all you have to do is reach your quota.
Next, take inventory of both your skills and your assets as a writer. Do you have articles you can sell as reprints? Or, can you generate new articles with only a simple rewrite from another angle (as opposed to needing all new research and interviews)? Do you have notes from interviews and recent research you can leverage into related but completely new stories? Do you have contacts you can reach quickly to generate fast stories?
List them all. Write your inventory down.
Now list the topics you are most comfortable writing about or that you have “ins” to. Do you know a CEO in any industry? Do you have access to professionals of any kind? (Include your family doctor, school board members, local butcher, and anyone else you can call that is likely to actually take your call). Do these people match the inventory list you just made a moment ago?
If you have a match – great! If you don’t have a match –great! What you have is a good measure of the inventory you have to sell to editors. You have an understanding of your immediate options in turning fast stories and fast bucks.
Each of the people you listed as your contacts know other people in their fields on local, regional and national levels. Each can tell you who to call for your stories within their professional realm, where they are and how to contact them. Learn to leverage everything and everyone you know!
Now make a list of the editors you write for, or have written for in the past. Strike the losers. Don’t judge losers by the amount they pay – but rather how well they actually pay. For example, if an editor pays $1700 an article but you have to move heaven and earth to collect – that’s the loser, not the guy who pays you $30 an article but pays like clockwork.
Ahh, but you say you can’t make $48.10 an hour with a $30 assignment. Yes, you can. Your quota is really the hourly average for the entire week. It is not an hourly quota per se and it certainly is not a per article quota. The editor that won’t pay up will kill your quota. So will writing for clips only.
Start with your cleaned up list of paying editors and look for things in your inventory to pitch that actually fits the pub’s style, tone and audience. Now go pitch it!
But while you are at it, offer to produce sidebars or related short-pieces and cameo articles or teasers…for additional pay of course. Think of it as your version of McDonald’s “Would you like fries and an apple pie with that?”
Now that $30 article has grown to about $65 or more. And it’s really no more work. You are simply breaking the information in your story down into several pieces as opposed to one story. If you are doing this from your existing inventory, it will take almost no time at all to complete and you are well on your way to your hourly earnings quota.
Another good tactic is to let all editors know that you are a “pitch-hitter.” Tell editors via email, postcard or letter that you can “fill-in” for them should another writer (staff or freelance) fail to meet deadline due to illness, car wrecks and other accidents, vacations, holidays, maternity leave, etc. Never, ever put another writer down. Simply say you are a team player and you will be happy to fill gaps as needed for the good of the team.
Congratulations! You just created freelance positions for yourself that didn’t even exist ten minutes ago – and no one is competing with you for those slots because no one knows about them!
When you are done with that, make a list of publications you would like to write for. Study each publication’s editorial calendar (it’s often easier to get the editorial calendar from an advertising rep. You’ll find them listed on every periodical’s masthead and often online as well. Simply order an advertiser or advertising kit, which is always free and often contains sample issues as well. But be prepared to get pitched yourself, that ad rep wants to make a sale too). Look to see where your inventory fits in the editor’s grand plan. Tailor your pitch to the calendar and tell the editor where the piece would fit well according to his own calendar.
At the end of the week, do the math and see what your actual per hour rate turned out to be. Now do the math on the checks you are expecting to receive this month and figure your hourly rate average from that total. Drop the slow pays and really work the good pays. Build each sale into something larger than it was initially and you’re off and running.
But always watch your hourly rate average. If you are working 60 hours a week for an hourly rate average of $1.15, you would be better off taking a job at the grocery store. If you are earning an hourly rate average at or above your personal quota then you would be nuts to ever take a real job again.
By the way, those 63 news stories I told you I sell a week – they come off the wires (PR Newswire, Press Pass News from Business Wires, etc) for free and require minimal editing for “Off the Wire” sections of printed and online publications. It takes me about two hours a day, five days a week and earns me about $1200 a week total.
Find the money, skip the glitz and glamour. Then go live a little!
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Every writer out there is trying to go over the transom and through the spam filters to get to the editor with the big dollar assignments. Less than one percent of the writers trying for those jobs will even get a two-line filler assignment. Yet that is where the dreams lie and the writers flock.
It doesn’t make sense really. Why go down the ego-bruising, rejection-laden path when you can make it big easier on the road less traveled?
The secret works on the same premise as the trick question “had you rather work for a small amount doubled everyday or get a half-million dollar a year paycheck?” The correct answer is take the smaller doubling sum – it adds up to far more in the end.
Instead of pining for the big paying jobs, make your own. For example, if a wire posting assignment pays $10.00 a story (which is the average) most writers will not bother to even apply. So the competition is minimal, relatively speaking. But, if you can take that measly assignment and convince the editor to let you take over the wire posting hassle then you can make a very decent living. By posting 10 wire stories daily (making minimal edits from stories pulled directly off wire services) at that same $10 rate you will make $500 for a five day work week. That’s $2000 a month for very little effort. Yet, all your competition saw was $10 a story.
Another good road seldom traveled: look for people who are required to generate a great deal of writing, yet who aren’t writers. Analysts at research firms are usually terrific at number crunching and making market forecasts, for example. Yet they are typically lousy writers. Fortunately for good writers, the analysts have to generate market studies which are then sold and generate income for the firm. It is easier for the firm to sell studies that are easy to read, well written works then it is to sell cumbersome, wordy technical pieces.
Pitch research firms on letting you write the studies and reports for the analysts. Everyone wins! Typical pay for a writer to write the qualitative portion of a market study is $10,000 to $25,000. In the normal course of things, the writer is paid 1/3 at contract signing, 1/3 at midpoint, and the remaining 1/3 of the fee on final delivery.
The same applies to professors and scientists at large universities, and compliance departments at big corporations.
Start by going after the cheaper assignments like a marketing brochure or a press release, whatever you can get. Once in, start pitching the big deals. Don’t overlook the human resources departments. Often they have to translate legal pieces into easy to read pamphlets and manuals for an undereducated workforce to use. There’s your opportunity.
Once in, look around and then go for the mundane work that pays big. None of this work is ever advertised, yet it’s easy to get as the people stuck with the writing never want to do it. They’ll gladly pass it on to you.
Writing for analysts, professors, scientists and human resources departments has its drawbacks too. Usually you don’t get a byline or credit and you can’t use the work as a clip since its really secretive stuff most of the time – not to mention that analytical firms sell market studies for $6,000 dollars or better a pop. They don’t want you to give away the goods just because you’re looking for more work, especially if you are pitching their competitor. But you can usually get a reference letter or someone at the organization to stand as a reference for you.
In any case, $10,000 a pop or better buys you a lot of comfort while you seek fame for that novel you keep threatening to write.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
You need work fast (every freelancer does) so I’ll cut the chat and get to the chase.
Get a website. Most website services have templates you can use to simplify things.
Put your clips on there and a bio plus contact information. I list email only, no phone numbers, maybe a mailing (not my home) address. That’s because I don’t want any nuts or stalkers to come calling. I can always give out my number after an editor has contacted me by email and I’ve checked them out.
Organize your clips into folders by topic (business, sports, relationships, lifestyles, fashion, news, whatever). Editors are busy people. They do not have time to search all over your site for a specific clip. But also list the publications by title prominently on the web page if you have impressive pub credits, or a long list of publishers. If not, post clips by topic in folders only.
If you do not have clips on a subject you would like to write about, create spec samples and put them in a folder titled only by the topic. Note that it is a sample or spec copy on the actual page, not as the folder title. That will allow editors to judge your work in a new area but you still haven’t given anything away for free.
Now create two to three short email queries all including your new website address (URL). I have one email query geared for copywriting positions, one for journalism, and one for speechwriting.
Next, go to website listings of job openings. Let’s look at journalismjobs.com for example. 95% or more of the listings are for staff positions. That means 100% of the listings are potentially freelance jobs.
Each job listing is a cry for help. A real need exists and the lister wants to fill it ASAP. All you have to do is explain briefly how a freelancer is a better choice than a staffer (usually because there are no benefits for the employer to pay, that sort of thing) and why you are the better freelancer for the job. You might not get the job as advertised, but you might get other work the employer has yet to list on the site. Call it creative serendipity.
Remember this is a numbers game. The more often you apply, the more likely you are to land something. That’s why you need several email queries of different slants and your resume on hand. Do not put your resume on your website. Remember the crazies out there!
Set aside some time each day to apply to as many job announcements as you can. Sometimes you will need to slightly modify your email message, other times you can use it exactly as is.
I average 15 queries/applications a day, which totals 75 for the week. I net on average 6 new assignments per week. It is what salespeople call “cold-calling” and it works.
I do not track the applications or note where I applied, nor bother to follow-up, unless of course it’s something I really have my heart set on. But mostly, I just play the numbers and wait on the catch. More out, more in. That’s the rule. Do it everyday religiously.
I do the same with sites like Freelance Daily which lists freelance jobs only. Play the numbers, everyday. Apply, apply, apply. Query, query, query. Just takes a few minutes when you have a website of clips, and some easily modified but canned queries and an updated resume on hand.
Check your email regularly. Be quick to respond with price quotes or additional information as requested or with acceptance or a “I pass, but please call again.” But, always, always respond.
Just remember, the only things that really count in the job listing are the job requirements. Can you perform the job? Then answer the ad. Don’t worry about things like “a college degree in journalism needed” or “full-time staff position.” None of that matters. Just show the editor/employer you can do the job and do it well.
Things that do matter are “this is not a telecommuting or freelance job,” “must work onsite,” and “must have x years experience.” Pay attention to those words and act accordingly. Your intent here is to create opportunity for yourself, not just irritate everybody out there (plus that editor may move to another publication but still remember his annoyance with you. That’s a bridge you don’t need to build).
Once you get everything set up, this daily exercise should not take longer than 30 minutes a day. Yet, if done faithfully, the effort will keep you working steadily and profitably for years to come.
Monday, April 04, 2005
“Two weeks ago a guy posted asking for a PhD dissertation editor. He wanted a 10-page sample edit from the middle of his dissertation…It took me a couple of hours to do. I never heard from the guy again…This guy would only need 30 sample edits to get his whole dissertation edited for free.”
Saturday, April 02, 2005
You have just completed a draft of an article. It seems flat, even to you. It needs some spunk. Needs to be more alive. Possibly youre at a loss on how to spruce it up so that it creates an emotional connection with the readers.
A flat fiction character is easier to fix with emotional language than a nonfiction article. Especially if the nonfiction article doesn'tt include a character or an emotional story. Keep in mind that if you have written the article from a personal experience perspective, then there is a chance you have already included some emotionally charge language. Then all you need to do is ask, "Does the article have enough emotionally charged language to touch my readers, to pull them in, to keep them reading, to move them to action or possibly a conclusion?"
Why would you even want to add emotion to a nonfiction article? Its sure easier not too. Adding emotion to your writing, any type of writing, fuels the readers attention,helps them connect with the action. It gives the reader an experience. Experience is why people go to the movies or watch TV. More importantly, it keeps them reading.
"What does emotionally charge mean exactly?" Emotionally charged means using language that stirs the reader in some form. Not to sound flippy, but when and how frequently emotions need to occur depends on what the subject, tone,and angle. Yes, even tone matters in a nonfiction article. Is it to be terse, confident, or are you talking as an expert? Maybe its a learning tone? From a previous student now teacher. An informing tone, usually over used in nonfiction, turns off readers if used consistently, like in a column, or multiple articles, on your web site, or in a newsletter.
Step 1: Find the Emotion
Begin by defining what main emotion you want the reader to feel or to understand. Were you peeved about something and it set off the writing of this article? Maybe you see a wrong and want to set the record straight, or to convey a different truth, a truth from your perspective. Is it compassion oriented or spiritually based? Maybe you want to convey an inspirational or motivating tone. Is it love that you want to convey? Love for a topic. Love for a hobby or something youre passionate about. Your love, someone elses, the worlds, whos, and how much love do you want to send out?
You can limit the number of emotions according to the word count. Heres a common calculation: 1800 three or four. You can choose the emotion you want before the first draft. Yet, many writers, including this writer, prefer to add emotion during the second draft or first edit.
Close your eyes and feel your own inner self on your topic. Find the emotion, the tone, give it one or two words, and then write it in the articles margin for easy access. I fits a personal experience, think back to that time,reconnect with that emotion. Did you feel numb, affection,anguish, excitement, shame, guilt, remorse, violent? How about confused?
One of the many reasons I love writing marketing articles is because I see so much misinformation on the topic and itriles my feathers. When this occurs, I write from this emotion and that language naturally flows into the article. Since this isn'tt the emotion I want to convey to my readers,I rewrite a second draft in the emotion that I truly want to convey. Usually, from a more loving and patient persepective.
What did you hear, smell, touch, see or even taste during the experience? If you personally didn'tt experience what you are writing about, do you know someone who did? Ask them to share their emotions with you. Put words to those feelings. The taste language doesn'tt necessarily have to be food related either. Your lips could be dry. Youre tongue can taste like you just liked a stamp. Relate the taste to something that the readers can understand because they have experienced it as well. Weve all licked a stamp sometime in our life and remember the icky dull bad breath feeling it left on our tongue. My face is curling up just thinking about that taste.
Another way to find the emotion is to relate the article,topic, to music. Does it remind you of a fox trot, waltz, rock and roll, jazz, R&B, what? It could even remind you of a particular song. Can you access the song, or remember the lyrics? Musically lyrics are great places to find emotional words and language.
Step 2: Connecting
Close your eyes, sit quietly with the article. Sense yourself reading the article in your mind. No, not the identical words but the idea, the vision, the thoughts. If thats a challenge, read the article out loud, very softly,as if reading it to an angel. Even notice where you take breaths. These are places where new paragraphs begin,commas or periods needs to occur. If you run out of breath,maybe the sentence needs dividing, eliminated, or even combined.
You can even tape record your reading. Listen with your eyes closed. This is also a great way to hear the flat places in the article. Identify the emotion from what you hear. Record all the emotional words you hear or feel in the margins. Every word is right, so dont miss any. Place all judgment in a shoebox for now.
Step 3: Adding In The Emotion
Review your words. Brainstorm with a thesaurus, synonym finder, or dictionary. Continue your list in the margins. Now its time, before the editing process to add in the emotion. If the first draft is very dry, this is a good time to realize that itsnot uncommon for writers to rewrite the article completely because the emotion conveyed was too far off at the beginning. If this is the case, consider the first draft a brain dump, a warm up session. And now youre ready to roll. Your hot, the feelings are sizzling.
Step 4: Editing
Usually, editing is to help clarity and tighten. Caution though, it is easy to remove the emotionally charged elements that you painstakingly added. Sometimes, when using an outside editor, someone that doesnt hold the same emotions as yourself, they remove the emotions. Andsometimes too, there are too many emotions. There is adelicate balance. However, many editors walk this tightropecarefully and with honor.
Most writing needs energy, needs emotion, that convey thestory, the information, so as not to put the reader tosleep. Or even worse, stop them from reading. And yourpassion is what needs transitioning from you to them. Watchthe magic when you read someone elses material that conveysemotions. See how they use the words. When Im in theflow, I feel the emotion pushing the pen as fast it canacross the paper. I know, through experience, when this is occurring and Im writing so fast, I have a tendency toleave words out. I use to stop at the end of everyparagraph and reread and add them. Dont, let the flowoccur. Trust that whatever is needed will again be therefor you to filling in any missing blanks. Let the magiccome through. Your readers desire it.
(c) Copyright 2004, Catherine Franz
Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing & Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internetwriting and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newsletters and articles available at: http://www.abundancecenter.comblog: http://abundance.blogs.com Permission for off-line not granted.
This article is reprinted with permission from www.WritingCareer.com
In the ten years that I've taught people how to get on with their books and creative projects, I've noticed a phenomenon that I'll call "Author's Block." Would-be writers can, indeed,sit down and work when pressed to it. The problem is thatthey're not so sure they want the pressure of being an author. But they do want it. But they don't. And so on.
Ah, the agony of getting on with your book.
Well, I'm here to diffuse that situation with a list of the key reasons we have trouble sticking to our writing or other creative projects. Perhaps this will help the next time you find yourself polishing doorknobs instead of sitting down to work.
Check all that apply to you:
You Lie To Yourself About Why You Can't Write The Book
You think your stalling is about lack of time, or too muchpressure at work, or not enough solitude in the evening. But guess what? Chances are a deeper, darker reason may be at play, like 'I'm not supposed to be bigger than Mom' or 'What if this thing really takes off?'
You Fear The Impact Your Book Could Have
Sometimes when I coach writers in my Self-Help Author's Crash Course I'll ask them what's impeding their progress. And after some probing, it will come out that they're afraid of the big exposure a book can have if it takes off. I'm here to assure you that should that happen, (and chances are your book will notu nleash wild mobs of millions) you will be able to handle it. How do I know? On that deep level where psyche meets karma, you won't create a single reader more than you're ready to receive.
You Think Your Book Doesn't Matter, So Why Bother?
One writer I know put this succinctly: "I've tried getting up at5AM to write, or staying up late, or even leaving my home, but none of it works. I have this tired feeling that none of myeffort is going to amount to a hill of beans." In fact, writing and publication can be an entirely self-determined activity these days. If the publishing pundits don't go for your book, there's always the option of self-publishing paperback editions or e-books and selling them on online booksellers or your Web site. In other words, your book DOES matter, and you really have no excuse. (Acid test: if the book keeps on patiently urging you to sit down and write it for months and even years, chances are you'd better do it.)
You Think You Don't Know How To Write A Book
Guess what? Neither does any other first time writer. And that may be a wonderful thing. As a beginner, you don't approach your book project with a carload of professional expectations and demands from your process. You can just be open, like… well, a nice blank book. All you really need is your intuition to guide you, and the will to write your book as honestly as you can.
You Have No Support
You need someone in your corner, cheering you on, to get through the long and somewhat tiring process of birthing a book. Because writers need a way to show up and be accountable for their progress. They need someone to keep saying, 'Yes, you really can do this," or even "How's it going?" Minds can be tricky and difficult when fully challenged by something like a book. Andsteady external support is the best way around that.
You're Afraid You'll Run Out Of Material
There isn't a writer out there who hasn't had this fear. And I'm here to say that if you just stay loose and open, and willing toreceive the ideas, they will show up. All you have to do iscommit - really sit down, and begin to bring that book intobeing - and the work will magically appear. Sometimes it won't flow that easily, and sometimes it will scare you with its speedand power. But it will, indeed, show up.
You Think 'Who Am I to Write a Book?'
And yet, you are the perfect person to write your book, because you're the one chosen to receive this material. (You don't have to be spiritually inclined to believe this.) I personally believe that books are given to us when we're ready to receive them… and when we do, our lives are changed by that process.
You Fear Uncomfortable Moments
Ah, but that's the most exciting thing about writing your book. You will be given challenges and lessons that just seem untenable along the way. And if you're committed enough, you'll rise above them and so become stronger in the process. This is especially true for self-help books: we naturally write what weneed to learn.
Got a few categories checked off from the list above? Good! Awareness is the first step to diffusing your fears. Meanwhile, PLEASE do get on with your book … despite your misgivings.
Not only do you deserve this work - so do we.
Suzanne Falter-Barns co-leads The Writer's Spa, a week-long, nurturing retreat for anyone with a book on their mind. Taos,NM, August, 2005. Learn more at http://www.howmuchjoy.com/writerspa.html.
©2005 Suzanne Falter-Barns LLC. This article is reprinted with permission from www.WritingCareer.com
"I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me."-- Anna Quindlen, Living Out Loud.
When aspiring writers tell me they lack time to write, I pose “The Miracle Question”:
Let’s say you go to sleep tonight and during the wee hours, a miracle occurs. When you wake up, everything that has been sucking time from your day and driving you crazy has miraculously evaporated and you have as much time as you want to write. How much time would that be?
What has fascinated me as I’ve asked this of a dozen people, is how little time they ultimately realize it will take to satisfy what they claim to be their heart’s desire.
“Ah,” most muse quietly, not believing, but wanting to, that a miracle could really take place, “enough time to write.” I can hear the smile in their voices. (I mostly coach over the phone). They usually begin by enthusing how, given the chance, they’d start writing and never stop. I question them. “Assuming you’re awake 16 hours a day, you’re saying you want to spend every moment writing?” That usually stops them. “Hmmm, well, now that I think about it, I guess not.”
A little more probing generally leads to the realization that an hour or two a day, perhaps a morning, would feel like enough. If they could devote only sixty minutes out of 1,440 to writing, it would satisfy the itch, make them feel as though they are accomplishing something, give them some control, bring a bit of peace and satisfaction or any number of other benefits. It might not generate a thriving career, but it could certainly jump start one.
My next question, and one I suggest you ask yourself if you’re in this situation, is “On a scale of 1-100, how badly do you want this time? Do you crave it? Is it a hunger? Is it worth sacrificing for?” If it’s a yearning, not a passion, you may need to accept that it is not important enough to fight for. That’s why it’s critical to ask yourself the question and be honest with the answer.
What many of us long for of course, is a real life miracle—preferably one for which we need do nothing more than open our arms and rejoice when it comes to us. But in a world powered by myriad demands, how is it possible to achieve our dreams if we are not absolutely sold on them? If gaining time to write is not as important to you as eating, spending time with friends or loved ones, doing for others; if it is not a healthy obsession, a fire in your belly, an overpowering urge, then you are unlikely to make the necessary commitment, much less stick with it. If writing feels like a preference, rather than a burning, hot blooded craving, it can be all but impossible to find the time, much less justify it to ourselves.
So may I suggest that if you want to write, but haven’t been able to consistently work the time into your life, that you take a few minutes to address these questions:
1. How much time would I need to devote to writing to make me happy?
2. How committed am I to taking this time? (Scales work well for this, try 1-100, 1 being “not at all” and 100 being “I am fully committed.")
3. If I am committed, how will I make time for writing?
4. What will I do if I do not live up to my commitment; who or what can I call on to keep me accountable?
It is as simple as this: If you want to find the time, you will. If not, it is best to accept that this is where you are right now in your life. You can always ask the questions again another day. Who knows, maybe then, you’ll come up with different answers. But at the very least you will act on your true beliefs and will relieve yourself of the burden of pretending that you can’t get what you truly want.
(c) 2004 Lynn Colwell
Lynn Colwell is a life/personal coach and writer. After a career including public relations and corporate communications with hospitals and high tech companies, she decided to devote herself to making a difference in people’s lives. Her complimentary online newsletter has been called, “An inspiring, exciting, fun, pick-me-up.” Sign up for the newsletter or contact Lynn at www.bloomngrow.net.
This article is reprinted with permission from www.WritingCareer.com
Friday, April 01, 2005
Thursday, March 31, 2005
I would look at the magazines my teenage neighbor and her friends stashed away in their cupboards and think, “Heck, I could do that!” So one day, while she was away at school, I broke into her room and “borrowed” the magazines.
Teenage magazines have changed since we were teens, I can tell you that. No longer do they advocate sex after marriage and accepting everything for what it is. Teenage magazines today are a whole different gamut. So, if you go into shock mode quickly, this market may not be your cup of tea.
If you want to get published in the teenage market, you have to be familiar with the slang that kids these days use. Gone are the days of the grammar appropriate “I have a crush on…” Now girls are crushing on guys, hanging with their friends and trying to achieve super cool status. And if you’ve got a problem with that, take a chill pill!
Forget vocabulary, forget grammar. Throw all the rules your English teacher taught you in the trash, because you’re not going to need many of them. That’s the deal. When writing for teenagers, you’ve got to be one. You’ve got to think like a thirteen-year old trying to figure out if the guy she’s crushing on really likes her or not. It might not be a big deal for you, but for that thirteen year old, it’s her life. It’s important.
Which brings me to another important aspect—you have to give importance to the subject matter. If you think fighting with your best friend is no big deal, you have no place writing for this market. On the other hand, if you whole-heartedly believe that the sole reason of your existence is the guy you can’t take your eyes off, then you might have a chance. Don’t misinterpret this to mean that teenagers aren’t involved in serious issues, though. You’ll often find articles and issues for the serious teen—community service, road rage, drinking and even drugs—all topics that are given their share of space in these magazines.
Writing articles, quizzes and short stories for this particular market can be a lot of fun. Connect with the younger side of you and write about the ups and downs of high school, making and breaking friends, dating and dumping guys and most importantly, accepting the person you are—in mind and in body. Teenage girls have many more issues with their bodies than do boys, and this is the reason that girl magazines far outnumber magazines for boys.
Before you start though, you might want to meet up with some youngsters to get a hold of their priorities, their interests and their lifestyle. Until you don’t have the mindset of a teenager and aren’t capable of the thought processes of one, you’re not going to find success here.
In writing a query to the editor, the most important aspect is your idea and its presentation. Through your query, the editor has to know your voice, your talent and how much you understand this particular age group. It should be apparent from your query that you understand the publication and its requirements. The study-your-market rule applies even more strictly to this market as each magazine has its own lingo and voice.
The pay rates of these magazines, like other consumer magazines, vary widely depending on the publication and its requirements. In general, you can earn anywhere from $10 to $2,000 for a single piece. Quizzes are very popular among teens and again pay quite well. If you’re a cartoonist or illustrator, you can add even more. And you know what, you can get rich writing for teen magazines!
Once you’re hooked though, you’ll find that writing for teenagers is so much fun, that you’ll want to do it over and over again, money or no money. This is one market, where the fun simply exceeds the work factor. So, what are you waiting for? Bring out those high school photographs and like, get writing already?
Mridu Khullar is a full-time freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com. Sign-up for her *free* 12-day e-course "Write Query Letters That Sell" at http://www.writerscrossing.com/ecourses.html
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Monday, March 28, 2005
Excerpted from Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters That Sell
You know that you’re not supposed to start your letters with “Dear Editor,” need to follow proper formatting protocol, and should always send your queries to the correct person, right? You’ve no doubt also mastered the art of kicking out embarrassing grammar goof-ups, know more about your word processing software than you do about your fiancé, and have learnt the dangers of the begging routine (also known as the my-mom-thinks-it’s-fantabulous syndrome).
Why then, do most of your neatly-crafted, SASE-containing queries come boomeranging back? Maybe you’re making the mistakes no one’s telling you about. Here’s a rundown.
Not Moving Beyond the Bible
Writer’s Market is pretty much the most referred-to book in the history of writing. Yet, it’s probably the most incorrect. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I don’t like WM. The fact is I do. I religiously run over (okay, log on to) the bookstore every year and pay $35 plus an obnoxious $30 in shipping to get the darn thing, all-inclusive with its online version. Converted to my Indian Rupees that’s almost a month’s rent, and converted to normal non-writer Indian standards, some would consider me a freak. I then read every inch of every chapter, earmark every second page and underline every e-mail address until I’m positive I haven’t missed a single entry.
Yet, I know from my own experience, coupled with the experience of others that while a fantastic resource worth investing in, you can’t afford to make it your only resource. I learnt this the hard way, when I finally came up with what I thought would be my breaking-in idea for Family Circle. I’d almost given up on them so this time I decided to contact another editor who may be a little more receptive to my pearls of wisdom. But when I logged on, I found that—surprise—Family Circle was no longer accepting submissions. Darn, just when I almost had them!
Two months later, I logged on to a writing message board to get another unwelcome shock. WritersMarket.com was incorrect. Turns out, Family Circle never did stop accepting submissions. They were happily looking at queries, which would turn into $1 per word articles, while mine lay in a 1-cent-a-word editor’s Inbox somewhere in cyberspace. I was not pleased.
Now, I adopt a smarter route. I find the name of the markets that I’ve never heard of from Writer’s Market and look up their guidelines by searching online or checking out the market resources mentioned in Chapter 3. WM is in no way current; the listings are at least a couple of months old, and in publishing, many editors just don’t last that long. They get promoted, fired, retired—any possible scenario. You need to be up-to-date in this business. So don’t make a fool of yourself by relying on an outdated listing and addressing your query to the wrong editor.
Putting Too Much on Offer
Many of us are so desperate when we’re starting out, we’ll promise the world for a non-paid byline in a local newspaper with a circulation of fifty. I’ve been guilty of over-hyping my queries, too. One of my first queries to Woman’s Day (via e-mail, no less) promised a brilliant new twist on cancer prevention.
Foolish, I know.
I researched online, located some high-profile experts and sent off my neatly crafted query with the promise of interviewing a prominent author (who never responded to my four e-mails), tips that had never been featured in the magazine before (I’d never laid eyes on the magazine) and quotes from real people who’d used these techniques. Okay, you can laugh now.
Boy, was I glad that query never pulled through.
The first sign of danger is when you’re extremely anxious and praying that the assignment doesn’t come your way rather than the other way around. But more importantly here’s why mine didn’t: the editor probably knew right away that I was new to the game. I had no similar clips, no major publications in my resume and yet, here I was proposing not only a tough article but one with all the bells and whistles. Ambitious maybe. But I wasn’t giving any evidence that I was actually equipped to be handling such a well-researched idea. The editor was wise. She never responded.
That’s not to say that I’m unprofessional. If that editor had taken her chances, she’d get an impeccable article with quotes and tips on her desk at sharp 9:00 a.m. two days before deadline, even if had to travel to the other end of the world to get them. But she had no reason to believe that just based on my query letter.
Editors know how to distinguish hype from fact. If she’s working in a health magazine, there’s no way you’re going to give her health advice she hasn’t heard before. If you’ve just received a press release on the best foods to be eating to prevent cancer, she probably got it a week before you did. Keep the over-sell out. Pitch your topic and your idea, but don’t promise the world. You sure as heck can’t deliver it.
Making it a Grocery List
Being enthusiastic and having a notebook full of wonderful ideas is one thing. Irritating the crap out of an editor by sending her a laundry list of thirty is quite another. While you may think that you’re giving the editor a good choice of articles that she can file away for later use, she’s probably thinking that you have no clue which ideas will fit into her publication. While you may be happily assuming that she’s going to think that you’re capable of coming up with not just one, but many, many good ideas, she’s probably wondering, “Why is this writer wasting my time?”
In fact, even if an editor does like most of your ideas, chances are, she can’t assign all of them right away. She’ll probably pick her favorite, reject the rest and send them back to you. The next time you’re querying, you’ll need to come up with more ideas because you don’t know whether she rejected them because she didn’t like them or because she couldn’t afford to buy them. What a waste of effort!
I advocate sending one, maximum two ideas at a time. Exceptions to this rule however would be when the editor has requested that you send her a list or if you have a regular working relationship with her. Unless you’ve worked with someone before, they have no way of knowing whether you’re really capable of writing the article, or you’ve just bought a freelance writing book and copied query formats from there. Sure, you have some good ideas, and yes, you’ve even managed to write two coherent paragraphs. But will you stick to the deadline? Will you provide references and phone numbers for the fact-checker? How much editing will your piece need? An editor might take a chance on a new writer with one assignment, but she’s unlikely to give you another one until you’ve proven beyond doubt that you’ll be an asset and not a pain in the ass-et.
Not Following Up
It isn’t enough that we get rejected a gazillion times before an acceptance, write and rewrite articles and essays to perfection, deal with the loneliness of the profession and work with editors who can’t string a straight sentence together. But now we have to send e-mail after e-mail to stingy editors to remind them of our queries when they don’t have the decency to send a simple “No thank you”? Why should you be bothered?
Because you’re the one trying to make the sale.
Sorry, but that’s just the way it works. You’re providing a service, you’re trying to make a sale, so you’re the one who needs to follow-up. If it increases the chances of making a sale by even 0.5%, do you really want to miss out?
I’ve received word on a number of queries simply by e-mailing and asking their status. I’d rather have the satisfaction of knowing whether my proposal is in or out. Even if it’s a rejection, at least I know. Or it might actually bring a quicker acceptance. Just yesterday, I wrote to an editor asking him about the status of my piece. Within minutes, I had a response. They wanted to buy it. Would this editor have written to me had I not e-mailed? Yes, probably. Maybe that’s the reason it took so long in the first place—they were pushing it through the senior editors. But by being proactive, I knew right away. Had the editor rejected it, I could have sent it off to a competing publication, guilt-free.
Maybe the editor just misplaced your letter or lost your e-mail in transit and has no way of contacting you. By following up, you’ll get another shot at acceptance. It takes a minute to do, so just why wouldn’t you do it?
Not Making it Personal
In my first year of freelancing, my querying habits went a little like this: send a query, do the assignment, query another magazine, do the assignment, and so on. When the assignment for the first magazine would be finished I’d neatly wrap it up, complete with thank you notes and meticulous records, and then concentrate on the next assignments I had in line. Next time an idea struck for the same magazine, I’d query them again.
But in my first year of freelancing, while I did write over a hundred articles, I also lost out on getting personal with my editors and in turn, commanding more assignments. Once you finish an assignment for an editor, you stand double the chance of landing another one immediately. Since I’d keep on waiting for another hot idea to strike, I was beginning each new assignment on a fresh note. Too much time would be gone by and I would then have to re-build each relationship, re-create the trust, and re-negotiate each contract. I was getting frustrated.
Had I chucked that “an editor’s the boss” advice right down the drain where it belonged, I’d be getting more assignments with less effort. Now, I finish each assignment with an informal, “Great working with you! Is there anything else you might need for upcoming issues?” or I’ll just send another query. Every time I get my contributor’s copies, I’ll write to the editor to thank her for sending them and quickly mention something like, “I really enjoyed the piece on studying techniques. Here’s another idea that might work well in that section.”
This way, my name is constantly in front of the editor, and the next time I send a query, I won’t have to remind her that I’m the writer who wrote the cover story last year. She’ll already know.
More query writing tips included in Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters That Sell
Mridu Khullar is a full-time freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com. Sign-up for her *free* 12-day e-course "Write Query Letters That Sell" at http://www.writerscrossing.com/ecourses.html
Friday, March 25, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
If you didn’t need the work, you wouldn’t be poring through Freelance Daily, would you? But when you have pride in your craft, and in your own perseverance, work ethic and quality of output, it’s important to realize that, no matter how you push or pull the project, you sometimes have to choose to pass it up.
Conditions that determine a big, fat, pink No slip include impossible or dangerous conditions of work, unrealistic deadlines, belligerent employers, psychologically damaging colleagues or supervisors, and payment rates that are far below industry standard.
You not only save yourself the agita and life-curtailing stress that comes with unrealistic projects and the snafus that go along for the ride, but you give yourself the blessing of endorphinic zest when you don’t succumb to the lure of putting yourself under an unappreciative thumb.
Feel you “must” take any work, no matter how appalling the pay or conditions? Consider what you do to others in your field if you can’t think of yourself: You ‘train’ the world to think less of you and your craft every time you accept a substandard job. In so doing, you make it easier for every potential employer to downgrade your skills, and the skills of your colleagues.
Net-net? Don’t hobble yourself—and the universe of other writers or editors—by accepting a demeaning wage or other condition of temporary or permanent employment. You’ll boost your self-esteem, lend yourself to better treatment in the future, and be free of the suppressed rage and resentment that unhappy projects invariably engender. And you won’t need so many vitamin supplements to lift you out of the basement depression that often follows.
Earning a fair recompense is as important for writers and editors, copy readers and proposal managers as it is for manicurists, cable companies and dentists.
Remember: Past is prologue.
Marion D. S. Dreyfus is a journalist, writer/editor, poet, film critic and intrepid world traveler. She is currently in New York City after returning from several semesters teaching at universities in China, and hosting a call-in talk-in radio show.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Some clients are just plain difficult to work with. It's not your fault, but it becomes your problem. Have you met the "client from hell" yet? No? One day you will. He pushes for unreasonable deadlines, communicates poorly as to what needs to be done, and vents his anger and frustration out on you if a job isn't up to his standards. ("Rewrites" or "redos" do not exist with this type of client - he expects perfect completion on the first shot.)
When I know I am dealing with a difficult client, I charge more. I have every right to, and so do you. I call this the Frustration Fee. It's better than turning down a project that will pay your next bill; besides, dealing with irate, difficult clients who put you through hell can be a great experience.
How much more should you charge for your services? It depends on the situation, and what you feel like charging. Some freelancers charge an additional $5-$25 per hour or add a fixed percent - like 20% - to the total bill. Here's when you should charge the Frustration Fee:
. A client for whom you already have done an assignment or project and you know he or she is difficult to please.. A client who wants you to redo another freelancer's work because the client decides it's "unsuitable."
. A client who pushes for unreasonable deadlines. If you're going to be up nights working on a project and popping Advil, you better make the client pay for your extra stress and effort.
. A client who needs you for a project immediately - but you already have exceeded your workload. Make the client pay more if you have to find time or work at odd hours of the day.
The Frustration Fee is supposed to help vent your frustration and soothe your stress. As I always say: Extra pay can make your day more enjoyable. Instead of calling it the Frustration Fee, maybe I should rename it to the "Client Accommodation Fee" - after all, a freelance business ought to be built with the client first in mind.
Brian Konradt is a former freelance copywriter and graphic designer, and founder of FreelanceWriting.Com (http://www.freelancewriting.com), a free website dedicated to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
A few people have written to complain that certain readers have been reposting Freelance Daily or portions of FD on other writing sites. This is a clear violation of the disclaimer that appears at the top of each issue and the copyright notice that appears at the bottom of each issue.
PLEASE READ: I have a zero tolerance policy for readers who repost FD content. If you post FD or portions of FD on other Web sites, list-serves, bathroom walls, etc., your subscription will be cancelled and NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED.Drastic? You better believe it. Subscribers are paying for a competitive advantage, and posting this content elsewhere lessens that competitive advantage (interestingly, none of the offenders I’ve identified have paid for subscriptions so far, and one even emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that she would never, ever pay for something she could get for free on the Internet).
I realize 95 percent of what I offer is available for free on the Internet (that should be changing after April 1 and we get our new Web site up and running). But for now, that’s not the purpose of the newsletter – the purpose is to collect all of the information in one place and save you time as you look for freelance work. So if you want to post these ads elsewhere, DO YOUR OWN DAMN RESEARCH.
I was able to remove a few of the more blatant offenders over the weekend; if you suspect someone is reposting this content on other Web sites, please LET ME KNOW.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Freelance court reporter, $500-$600/week (
): Part-time freelance writer/ reporter needed in Orlando , to cover area courts. Must be available afternoons, early evening. Must have news and/or business writing experience. Pay: $500-$600/ week. Apply by: March 14. Email resume and samples to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants may only apply via email. No phone calls, please. CONTACT INFO: Orlando, FL Christine Blank Court House News http://www.courthousenews.com 1111 Post Lake Place, Apt. 311 Apopka FL 32703
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Summer faculty coordinator (
) New York
FACULTY COORDINATOR FOR SUMMER PUBLISHING INSTITUTE -- BOOK PROGRAM
Center for Publishing NEW YORK UNIVERSITY Seeking an individual to serve as adjunct faculty for a three week intensive course in Book Publishing and to coordinate administrative aspects of the course (e.g., identify, invite and schedule about fifty guest speakers; prepare teaching materials and confirm curriculum). This course, which enrolls 100 recent college graduates, runs from June 6, 2005 to June 24, 2005. Qualifications: experience with all aspects and functions of book publishing and management, previous experience teaching adults and good interpersonal skills required. Please submit resume to: email@example.com. NYU appreciates all applications, but can only respond to qualified candidates.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Interested in breaking into writing or breaking into a new area? You can't go past writing fillers. Fillers are one of the most overlooked opportunities in the freelance writing world and offer one of the best opportunities for new writers.
Fillers Are In Demand
I've spoken to hundreds of editors and been told over and over again that fillers are the one thing they never get enough of. Most publications tend to publish more freelance fillers than they do freelance articles. Yet, they often receive 100 times more articles than fillers. This is a gap in the freelance market that you can take advantage of.
Fillers are a Great Place to Get Started
Many publications are careful about publishing feature articles from writers they don't know. Even if your article is good, an editor might decide not to publish you because they don't know you as a writer. This is especially true if you don't have a lot of experience or any clips. But even without experience or clips, most editors will consider a filler. In fact, many editors treat writing fillers as the testing ground to see if a writer can be relied on to write feature articles.
So not only can writing fillers get you some clips, it also has the potential to turn into a long-term writing opportunity. Consider fillers a stepping stone to much bigger things.
The Smart Way to Write on Spec
Fillers are almost always submitted on spec. This means that you avoid the problem of having to query the publication and sell yourself as a writer, because your filler is doing the work for you and showing the editor your writing skill.
The big argument against writing on spec is that you spend your time writing pieces that might never sell. Fillers reduce this problem because they are short and take less time to write. So even if your filler doesn't sell, you haven't wasted as much time as you would have on a longer feature article. Fillers are also more flexible, with few publications having set guidelines for fillers. This means that a filler will often be suitable for more than market. So if it gets rejected once, it's not a waste of time. You can just send it to a new market, often without having to make any changes.
Fillers Rely on Information, Not Writer Qualifications
Fillers usually rely on information, not on the writer's qualifications. This means that you don't have to sell yourself when you submit fillers. Instead, the information you put in the filler sells it for you. This makes fillers a perfect option for writers lacking the experience or clips to sell themselves to an editor.
You Can Write a Lot of Them
Since fillers are short, you can write a lot of them and submit a lot of them. You could literally have hundreds of pieces out in the market for consideration in a short time. And if you write them well, you could have a lot of them published in a very short time. That means you can build a list of clips fast.
And one other benefit is that magazines don't have as limited a space for fillers as they do for feature articles. So if your filler gets accepted, it's likely to get published fast. The same isn't true for feature articles, where an accepted article will often be scheduled for an issue a year or two away. That's one more good reason why fillers are a great way to build clips fast.
Once you've got the clips, then you have a few more options. Until then, fillers are a great place to start.
And one final tip. Once you have the clips and start moving into feature articles, don't forget about fillers. As you're researching a feature, take note of interesting facts, trivia, or anecdotes you come across. These can make fillers and be an added bonus, bringing in some extra cash and some extra clips.
Shelley Wake is the editor of "Getting Published Without Clips." Packed with inside information, proven methods, hidden markets, and more, it's successfully launched hundreds of freelance careers in record time. http://www.writingstuff.com/fs02m.html
Monday, March 14, 2005
Still, some ex-office drones might be missing certain creature comforts of cubicle culture, so I present the Freelance Daily NCAA Anti-Office Pool (I promise, no Freelance Daily Secret Santa or blood drives!).
Because enough of you have sent venomous emails telling me how evil I am for beginning to charge for FD, I have done two things:
1) There is no entry fee, so you can’t report me to the proper authorities for running an illegal gambling operation. Likewise, this is very much a “no purchase necessary” contest.
2) I have made first prize a one year subscription to Freelance Daily. If you’ve already paid, don’t worry. The grand prize subscription will be tacked on to your existing subscription.
3) Second prize is six-month subscription and third prize is a three-month subscription.
To play, you just need to visit http://bracketmanager.com/enterBracket. You will need to set up a free user name, and then fill out your bracket online. After you have submitted your bracket, you need to click on “Edit League #.” When asked for a league number, enter 680. When asked for a password, enter officespace.
I should note I have never organized one of these online and have never used this company’s software, so I have my fingers crossed it will work. As best I can tell, it looks like we also have a chance of winning $250 (I’m not certain on this), so even if you have a comp subscription, it might be worth your while to play.