Freelance writing can be a highly satisfying and rewarding way to earn money, either as a part time or full time career. Some of the qualities you need for success in freelance writing are good writing skills, marketable ideas, and an ability to meet obligations and deadlines.
CATEGORIES OF FREELANCE WRITING
- Fiction – adult and children’s books, short stories for magazines and newspapers
- Non-fiction – newspapers, technical (specialist) books and magazines, government publications, trade journals, general interest magazines
- Copy writing– advertisements, press releases
- Script writing – TV, movie, video and radio scripts
- Web writing – ezines, advertising copy
The following steps are a broad guide to getting started as a freelance writer:
1. Identify the area(s) of writing that interest you.
2. Research the market place to get a feel for what other successful writers are doing. Visit bookshops, and buy newspapers and magazines to see what’s currently being published. Get a feel for what publishers want and look for gaps in the market.
3. Develop your writing skills. Start off small and hone your skills by contributing to newsletters published by your school, work or social club. You could enter short story competitions or even try writing short articles for local newspapers or hobby or trade magazines. Don’t be disappointed if your articles are rejected – at this stage the aim is to practise your writing and to get a feel for what is acceptable in the marketplace.
4. Develop a personal reference library. Collect examples of other writers’ work in the areas that interest you. Books, newspaper articles and magazines are not only a useful information resource, they also help you to develop an awareness of how other successful writers write!
5. Develop your selling skills! Build up contacts with publishers and organisations in your chosen area of writing.
Do the Job On Time!
Writers who supply work in advance of deadlines will earn a reputation as being dependable, and that will translate to more work opportunities. Writing is a business, so editors and publishers need to know that they will get the work they want, in the style they want, when they want it. Imagine a bestselling author of romantic fiction.
They are writing a book about a romance at Christmas. The publisher needs the book by February, so that it can be in the shops and online bookstores by October. Before it gets into the shops, they need the book to be published, edited, cover designed, marketed, and so on. The author does not get the book to the publisher until June. The publisher has to pull out all the stops to get the book ready for the prepared marketing. It causes a lot of inconvenience for everyone else. The book does not sell well, in the end the publisher decides not to use the writer again and terminates their contract. If the book had sold well, the publisher might have used the author again as the sales might have made the inconvenience worthwhile, but not in this case. Another scenario is that if the writer does not send the work to the editor and publishers on time to meet the set rollout time for the book, the editors may decide to take on another manuscript they have almost ready to publish and can use in the time frame to meet their deadlines for Christmas sales. They may then contact the freelance writer to say they have decided to run with another writer now, for this year, and put the freelancer writer’s running late copy on hold for another twelve months. Possibly by the time the twelve months comes around, they have a couple of other prospective book manuscripts on their desk and decide to go with one of these instead. This is especially likely if they are the work of already established writers, so the freelance writer may miss out altogether.
So when writing, the author has to be aware of what they want to write and their audience, but also who is publishing or producing their work. Knowledge of what other writers who are writing similar material, and their writing style, will help in assessing the competition for opportunities too.
Read a book, do a course, join an organisation; talk to people, observe the world.
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