I've just come from replying to a friend by email who desires to write and make a bit of money
on the Internet, but is at loss to know how to go about it. I can identify with that feeling so well!
I keep meeting other friends who feel much the same way.
I'm no great guru, nor even a famous author yet:) - but I do have
+ I love to read and write like a gushing artisian well!
+ I've read and learned all over the Internet in many areas
of knowledge, like a house-a-fire since January of 1999
+ Like a squirrel, I've saved up lots of links and info,
+ I enjoy teaching others.
This is what I'm here for; while I'm trying to sell my novel far and wide, this site is dedicated to helping others out in much the style of her heroine, Ruthe in Ruthe's Secret Roses. .
[Broad hint: want to get know me? Read my book! I shared my passions and character traits generously with Ruthe].
SO!... Let's be done with intros, and learn already!
Let's say you're someone who has always wanted to write, and you've even done a few short stories, articles, poems, or even a book. Only no one is treating you like a celebrity. You begin to wonder if you missed the on-ramp to the Super-highway. You hear stories of people making $90,000 in 30 days, or a million dollars from a computer a back bedroom. Who is telling lies? Is there any kernel of truth to these trumpeted web ads?
Truth is: these have happened to certain individuals, but it's not a guarantee everyone will. Just as in the offline world, there are key rules or principles to success, and you must find the right ones for the doors you want to open. There are differences between principles and formulas.
Back to writing for money; it's a real temptation to say ~~ IfA. I study the markets (Magazines, web sites, etc.) B. send out query letters for an hour each day, and C. write an article a week, and D. spend the rest of my time sending out manuscripts and marketing myself ~~ Then the checks will roll in!
That is super-simplified, and leaves out a lot of details, but it's the jist of it. Assuming you are self-taught like myself, I need to warn you that in colleges and universities, they turn each of those steps into a semester or two of intensive study and practice. But if you are going to teach yourself how to make money with your writing, that's not a bad plan to follow.
Would you like me to suggest a little more detailed outline for your self-propelled studies and career launch as a paid writer? (There are plenty of other web sites that want to teach and train you, and I can give you links to some of the better ones, but since you're here and asking me ~~ sure, why not? I'm easy to persuade).
Determine what you already know sub-consiously by asking yourself these questions and
writing down (if you are really a writer that should come as easy as blowing
your nose, - yes, WRITE DOWN your answers!
1. What do I want to write most for the public?
2. What experience have I got so far? (Sure, volunteer writing for non-profits counts).
3. Do I read the types of materials I hope to publish in?
4. Do I know how to research and find out what I don't know?
5. Do I already know how to write and just need to market my work, or do I need to learn to write first of all?
(If you need to become a writer first, take a year or two off to just do that before you do any other steps!)
A ready writer is someone who knows how to put together sentences, paragraphs, and whole documents, and can spell-check, look up words, choose just the right phrase, title, and prepare a flawless manuscript without someone else having to do it all for her! She can prune and hack out every word that's not truly needed - even when the piece feels like it's her baby.
A prepared writer understands and has her own style, but is able to adapt when an editor wants it done in their house style. AND, someone who is able to discipline herself to keep schedules and promises.
(Editors HATE to babysit writers. Though they can make great friends once they accept your work).
I know. I couldn't afford to go to college, so I had to teach myself all that! It took me eons! One of the very best ways is to pour out your soul in writing every day. I started writing out my prayers, and filled boxes full of notebooks. All the writing teachers and university courses will tell you to Journal.That's how you learn to write fluently and get most of the grammar mechanics to automatic reflex.
Of course, you may start submitting fillers, short stories and articles in your learning stage too. It won't all sell, but some pieces will, and you'll learn from those experiences.
Assuming you can write, and you know what type of writing you will do, get on the Internet, and hunt fervently for all the sites related to your writing niche that you can find. There will be lots! Read-read-read! Make notes (copy/paste), and bookmark the best ones.
Subscribe to all the free ezines, (and as many of the magazines you can afford), that tie in with your writing area, or to which you want to submit manuscripts. Make charts, study what they will accept and what they won't. What word counts do they like. Always submit as close to that count as possible.
Block off time to continue your study of markets. You'll be doing that the rest of your writing career. But once you have that down pat add to your agenda, your queries and your submitting of manuscripts.
Some writers insist this is the only professional way, others find that they can send out their written pieces on speculation and editors will buy them without advance negotiations. I think it's a question of the type of writing you do, and the markets you want to deal with. Writing query letters is a good skill to have in any case.
It means you write up a succint one page letter to a specific editor describing the article you have in mind. A query is written before you write the article, because upon receiving this letter, the editor will write back and either say, no, we've just done a good article on this topic, or yes, but please slant it this way to go with our theme, and we need it by such a date. An acceptance at this stage is as good as a sale, but it gives you room to customize it for that market.
Some writers complain that editors will turn them down, then assign that idea to an in house writer, to save money. It probably happens; I don't have personal proof. I would recommend keeping informed, checking the Warnings pages at Booklocker.com as they make a public spectacle of editors who are not ethical, Just learn to discern!
Treat the editors that respond to you with respect and thoughtfulness. They will give you more assignments, or if they can't - they are a mobile sort - when they are in a different editoral office they'll remember you and get in touch.
Be very familiar with the work of your favourite publications that accept your freelance work. When they drop a hint that they'll have certain themes for upcoming issues, sit up! Take note. Can you provide just the piece they'll need? Quick, fire off a query for your suggestion.
Most of us are a little shy about things we're not used to doing, so be a bossy teacher or parent and set yourself some rules. eg. I'll sit at this computer between 9 - 10 a.m. and write one article draft a morning. The second hour I'll spend hunting for suitable markets, and preparing ready manuscripts to mail. Whenever I hit a writers' block I'll start filing... Make such an agenda and write it out in such a way that you feel it's official. Now do your best to stick to it for 21 days. That's how long it is said, it takes to form a new habit.
I know-I know! I used to wail too, "I'm a creative type! I can't sell or treat myself as a commerical package!"
Well, let me lift that eyelid of yours, and call down to the real you deep down inside, "Wakey-wakey! It's a new day and age in publishing. The Internet makes one- person busineses out of many people, writers in particular." If you have Literary agents ringing your doorbell, let 'em in. But if you can sell yourself to an agent, you most likely have the smarts to sell yourself to editors too, and should just resign yourself to learning these marketing skills.
Besides, one of the best ways is exactly for creative types like you. Teach yourself HTML, and learn to build a website. (Okay, if you can afford it, I'll let you hire somebody). Put up a sleek, trim writer's portfolio type website, that helps your fans to find you when they enter your name in a search engine, and that politely describes your books, or writing skills and how to get them if someone wants. Make sure your web pages have meta tags, even if they are done in a cookie cutter web editor, because those description and keywords lines are what the search engines look for when they send visitors to your site. No meta tags, no submission to the Search Engines, = no visitors.
Now put the URL (the www.address.com) on your business cards, under your signature in your emails, and mention it everywhere you go. It won't happen instantly, but you'll be astonished at the number of folks that will find you this way. No need to stand on a street corner with your thumb up at all.
I should add that you'll want to update those web pages whenever you have published something else, or have been interviewed, honoured, or whatever. You should have an index page with links to the other pages, a page about you as the author or writer, with a photo of yourself. You should have a page with a good sales letter for each book you've published, and how the media may contact you.
If at all possible, don't put your email on the web pages. There are robots sent around to read web pages and harvest such email addresses, which are then sold to spammers, who use them to inundate you with junk mail. I've switched to a small feedback form which allows them to write me, and when they click submit, it sends me the info via email, but my email address is hidden so the robots can't reach it.
One last thing; be flexible about your future. You may have to plod away a long time before fame and income rains on you. If you work hard, and you happen to be quite talented and productive, success could come on like a thunderstorm - very suddenly. Mostly though, you'll have to earn it . Can you settle for that?
Oh, and remember to network, or to make friends and be one. They are the ones that make it all worthwhile, and when they introduce you to their friends, they become stepping stones to your greater success.
Arbour Pages: Photos of My Parents ~ Dad at 90 ~~ Day of Dad's Funeral ~~ New Author Pics (2005-2006) ~~ Friendship - About Helping Your Friend Succeed ~~ Defining Mentor or Merea ~~ Let me learn English and READ! ~~ What it Takes to Write for Kids ~~ Writing Tips ~~ Publishing Tips for Do-It-Yourself-ers ~~ Successful Goal setting Spiritual Retreat ~~ Come Tour Hague, my Hometown~~ Arbour Index