Happy New Year!
I know, I know, it’s already almost the end of January. The holidays and New Year’s Eve probably seem like a distant memory. Certainly many resolutions have already been broken, and life is back to normal.
I’ll be adjusting my monthly column from romance to practical ways to make money as a writer, as well as offering up some suggestions for books on writing. And on the heels of everyone else’s “writing resolutions” posts, and Lori’s new “Making A Living” series, I thought I’d start my 2012 columns with some tips to launching your own writing career this year.
There are a number of ways to make money as a writer, but sometimes a good strategy for first steps is to open your own doors. So, assuming you want to make a living as a writer, or step onto the path that leads to that goal, here are some very basic suggestions to get you started creating opportunities.
1) Buy a Writer’s Market (or sign up for them online, www.writersmarket.com or read one at your library – if you buy the Deluxe Edition book version, it gives you access to the online information, too) – The Writer’s Market is a big whopping book that gives you basic information about just about every kind of writing there is – non-fiction, fiction, editors, agents, magazines, journals, etc. Just picking up The Writer’s Market puts you in the game. It helps you understand publishing jargon, gives you practical tips about all sorts of professional writer~ly (yes, I know, I made that phrase up) things, and may help you believe that being a paid writer is possible. “Wow, look at all those magazines! Surely I can write for one of them?!”
2) Evaluate what you know and what your strengths are. This is valuable no matter what kind of writing you’re doing. I know a Harlequin Blaze author who submitted to that line because her critique partners told her that she wrote fantastic sex scenes, so she researched Blaze, read a whole bunch of them, and reworked her romance so that it would be a perfect match. I also know a magazine writer who got started writing about her mother’s bipolar disorder and had it published in a regional magazine. That first clip served as a platform for a writing career. Consider writing an article or two on a volunteer basis, especially if there’s a non-profit you feel strongly about or have contacts with. If nothing else, the work contributes to your portfolio and can be used as clips when you start querying for paid work.
3) What hole can you fill? I’ve basically created my own small business writing for small businesses, and I did so by approaching owners who had great products or services, but whose online marketing was sporadic or lacked vitality. I did research before approaching them, then offered my writing services to support them in what they were already trying to do. My first client was an acquaintance who hated to write, but my next two were basically cold calls to small businesses who created products I loved, and whose blogs hadn’t been posted to in a long time. So I offered to help them by promoting things I love, which was an easy sell for me, and started us out on a good footing. Win/win. Look around you. Is there something you can do that supports your own aspirations and might be a service to someone else, too?
4) Believe in yourself and take risks. I also write the occasional article for the “niche” sections of our newspaper (The Wisconsin State Journal). One day I was reading an essay that was basically a friendly, human-interest piece, and I thought, “I could do that!” I read the section carefully for a few weeks and noticed the writers were the same few people, and mostly freelancers. I found the editor’s contact information, called her up, and gave her a little of my writing background. I asked how she worked with her writers, and whether I could pitch a story. She told me she mostly assigned stories, but that she’d give me a chance. She did. What do you think you could do? What first step could you do today to get there?
5) Do a good job. (This is why I’m still writing for the niche sections of my local paper, and the cold calls ultimately turned into long-term clients.) Whether you’re writing for fiction or non-fiction editors, or clients, or your own personal epub fan club, no amount of getting in the door is going to do you a speck of good if you don’t follow it up with quality writing, a respect for deadlines, and good manners. No one wants to work with writers who are hard to get along with, or who can’t be counted on to do good work in a timely manner. Make a good impression and always be professional. Repeat.
It seems like half the people I talk to want to be writers. If this is your goal this year, or in the future, then get started. No time like the present. Or a new year.[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://howtowriteshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/bobbiColumn.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Bobbi Dumas loves good writing. Of all kinds. She also loves romance, a mesmerizing story and the company of friends. When she’s not in the virtual world or one of her own making, she can usually be found in Madison, WI with her husband, two boys, and a clan of great writers she feels grateful and honored to know (some of whom you get to meet here, too). Lucky you![/author_info] [/author]