Book Reviews

Making Money Freelance Writing

The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Making Money Freelance Writing, from the editors of Writer’s Digest magazine, offers insight for writers seeking to turn to a freelance writing career.
For those starting out in the business, or those looking for inspiration from other freelance writers, this book offers information from various authors on how to keep the money flowing in; how to call an editor; guide to copyright, work for hire situations; the art of negotiation; how to make time for writing; beating taxes; work expenses and so on.
There are three sections in the book covering the above aspects and many more: Section 1- Conducting the Freelance Business, lists twenty-two articles on how to bring in the money, tips for the beginning freelancer, setting your rates, billing your clients, tax tips, making a full-time impression even though you are a part-time writer, and many more.
When I started my freelance career, the most important article to me in this section was, “Four Tips for Beginning Freelancers”, by Liza Galin Asher.
In her article, Liza reveals some good tips for new freelancers to keep them on the right path. The first tip, Writing is a business, she talks about how freelancers are actually like salespeople only their ideas are their “products”. This really is key to remember because if a freelancer doesn’t work selling their written work, their talent and creativity will not be printed and thus, will go unnoticed. The more experience the freelancer gets in selling their work as well as writing it, they will become more proficient and will not have to focus so much on selling their work.
Think small and Local. Here Liza urges the freelancer to remember their goal is to get published and to jump to writing articles for big time magazines like Vanity Fair, or Vogue. Freelancers should start out writing for newspapers, trade newspapers and magazines in their neighborhood. It is good to start small and work your way up.
Liza says the best way to get the most out of what you write is to keep re-selling the articles you have already written. Once you sell and article, go back to it and re-write it with a new angle and submit it elsewhere. An article is never retired so long as you can keep putting a new spin on it each time your write, or add important information that has recently become available. Also keep in mind to resubmit rejected articles to other publications. Just because one place didn’t find a need for your work, doesn’t mean someone else will reject you.
Lastly, Liza reminds novice freelancers that just because you sold your first piece, doesn’t mean it is time to quite your job. The freelance writing life is uncertain and there are many lulls from when you make your first sale until the next time you make a sale. She does mention that if your salary from freelancing makes at least fifty percent of your regular job’s salary, then you would probably be safe in quitting your real job.
Section 2 – Freelance Opportunities, lists fifteen articles on: the market for writers, expenses, work for hire, ghostwriting, using pictures with work, as well as a few others.
One good article from this sections is Dennis E. Hensley’s “Simple Steps to Multiple Marketing”. Here Dennis, lists the various levels of smallest local publishers to the largest circulation periodicals as well as their pay ranges.
He also talks about the four requirements freelancers must have in order to sell their work to more than one editor. Freelancers should make sure their previous work doesn’t overlap too much with the reprint readers market’s audience. He states how he did this by selling a piece to Detroit Free Press and then selling the same piece to The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel as people in Indian didn’t receive the Detroit Free Press.
When you are selling the same piece of writing to a different editor than you did before, be sure to send in different photos than you sent in last time with the submission. This will offer a new visual perspective to readers who may have already read the article somewhere else. Yet, if you don’t have new photos, it is best to send in the same photos you used before with the manuscript than to send in no photos at all.
When you are writing for a new publication, freelancers should re-write their article in the style of their target market. Freelancer should study any back issues they can get in order to determine the correct tone and slant to use when re-working their piece.
Adding news items relevant to your readers is also a good idea.
Hensley urges writers to remember to sell only their one time rights as selling all rights, removes the author’s say in how their work is used. The author also will not be able to use that work elsewhere.
Lastly, Hensley talks about seven ways for freelancers to get multiple sales from their work.
Section 3 – The Freelancer’s Lifestyle, has eleven articles covering the topics of: making time to write, home office, handling distractions and interruptions, quitting your day job and so on.
The most important issue I find among people who like to write is finding the time to do so. Robyn Carr’s article “How to Make Time to Write” approaches this obstacle. She talks about how some people don’t sit down to write because of the lack of time. They don’t want to start writing in fear that they may not have time to continue the following day. Other reasons include being too exhausted at the end of days work to think straight and many writers fear they will be interrupted when they do sit down and begin scratching pen to paper, or typing on their computers.
As well as their being many reasons not to write, Robyn also talks about different kinds of writers such as all-or-nothing writer, scheduled writer, catch-as-can writer, and the super writer. No matter what kind of writer you are, you probably have a busy schedule that either includes a little time for writing, or none at all. Robyn suggests rearranging your schedule to fit writing time when it will not be of an inconvenience to your spouse, your boss, etc. For example, you can write a bit before going into work, on your lunch break, or before bed. If rearranging your schedule doesn’t work, try taking time from something else you are doing, but may not be enjoying as much.
Though writing is important, Robyn makes sure her readers understand that writing is not more important than the job that brings in steady cash flow; it’s not more important than you marriage or your children. It’s all about balance and finding what works for you and your family.
There are many more great articles in Making Money Freelance Writing, that will be helpful for the novice freelancer. The information is invaluable in educating any freelancer as well as keeping them on the right track. I highly recommend reading this book if you are a freelancer in search of insightful articles from other authors in your field who have been where you are and understand the situations you may be facing.


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