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, saleable 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.
Extract from Course Notes:
Freelance writers are dependant on publishers to buy their work and to get it into the marketplace so it is important to get an overview of what publishers do and how they do it.
Publishers are in the business of editing, designing, printing and marketing books, magazines, reports, newspapers and other written works. At one end of the scale is a desktop publishing business run by one person who does all the writing, editing, artwork, printing, promoting and distribution; at the other end are the multi-national companies that publish thousands of books and magazines worldwide each year.
The people who work in publishing include editors, proof readers, designers, graphic artists, typesetters, printers, literary agents and marketing executives. Allied businesses include distributors, book sellers, newsagents, libraries and public relation companies. Depending on who you sell your work to, you may have dealings with these people.
WHAT DO PUBLISHERS WANT?
Money comes from both advertisements and sales of the magazine or paper. The publishers look for articles that improve circulation figures and/or advertising sales.
NOTE: In general, there is more work for new authors in writing for periodicals than for books.
Money comes from book sales only. Publishers specialise in different markets, so find out what areas they deal with before you send your manuscript.
Some publishers aim at short term sales, others look at long term.
As a freelance writer, always keep in mind that you have to sell your work to a publisher. This means that to some extent you will need to tailor your writing to meet their needs. Publishers only publish work they can easily sell, and until you are an established writer, they call the shots!
Unless you have a published work, the best way to approach a new publisher depends on the particular market you are writing for:
Magazine articles – write a complete sample article and, if possible (and appropriate), supply samples of high quality artwork (photos or sketches). Also submit a list of other proposed articles. This shows the publisher that you have more ideas so even if they don’t publish your sample article, they might ask you to write something else.
Fiction writing is extremely competitive and it can be very difficult for first-time writers to break into the market. Be prepared for rejections – it happens to almost all new fiction writers! In most (but not all) cases, the submissions editor would want to see the entire manuscript before accepting a new author for publication.
Publishers are always looking for new good quality specialist non-fiction books, so if you’re an expert on a particular topic and have a marketable idea, it may not be too difficult to get your work published.
Look for niche publishers, such as, publishers who specialise in gardening, craft, travel or whatever your area of interest is – they may not pay as well as the larger publishers but are more likely to accept your manuscript.
Write an outline and one or two chapters. If you can provide good quality artwork – photos or sketches – include these with your submission.
SAMPLE PUBLISHER'S CONTRACT
The following is a typical agreement you might expect to sign with a company that publishes your book. ....................................."