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Writing

11 Strategic Ways to Get New Clients as a Freelance Writer

Whether you’re learning how to become a freelance writer or an experienced freelancer slogging through a slow period, figuring out how to get clients can be nerve-wracking.

Here’s the hard truth: You have to hustle to get new writing clients. Even the most experienced freelancers have to expand their circles on a regular basis to ensure they have a stable stream of paying work.

Websites that post freelance writing jobs are plentiful, but require a critical eye. It’s easy to get sucked into a trap of getting paid $1 for every 300-word post you research and write. And while that might be a good place to start, especially if you’re looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners, it pays to take a more strategic approach once you’re ready to level up your income.

How do freelance writers get new clients?

If you’re going to get high-paying writing gigs and repeat clients, you’ll have to think beyond the job board.

While these strategies can be more effective in the long run than job sites, they might take longer to show results. A job board offers the possibility of an immediate project, while the ideas outlined below sometimes return client opportunities months or even years after you put in the effort.

When you’re ready to go the extra mile, here are some fresh ideas for how to find clients.

1. Personalize your cold calls and emails

Don’t send your pitch to a generic inbox. Do some research to figure out which editor will review your pitch, and then spend more time sleuthing to find their contact information.

“Make sure the right people — the decision-makers — see your message,” advises Francesca Nicasio. “If you’re dealing with a small business or startup, the company’s founder is usually a good bet.”

Yes, this takes more effort than dashing off an email to a company’s inbox for general inquiries. But it’s far more likely to land you a byline.

2. Partner with other freelancers

Do you know any project managers, web developers or graphic designers? Their projects often require top-notch writing skills, which opens opportunities to work together.

If your web development buddy knows you’re willing to team up for a website redesign project, she can recommend you to the client. By sticking together, you might find ways to help one another.

“I have a list of writers I trust to get my clients to hire,” writes Paul Jarvis, who specializes in web design. “I know writing makes or breaks websites and I know the difference a professional makes. So I always suggest experienced writers to all my design clients and they often hire them.”

Supporting other writers can generate referrals, too, as writers who don’t have the bandwidth for a project often want to pass along the name of a qualified writer who can do it instead.

3. Volunteer your services

Volunteering may not pay the bills, but it’s a useful way to network without having to deal with small talk at happy hour.

“Volunteering is a great way to get to know influential people who can help with your freelancing career — especially if you volunteer to do the writing and promotional duties for those projects,” writes Narendra Motwani. The people you meet while volunteering could turn into connections at companies you’d love to write for.

4. Book a speaking engagement

This tip only works if you’re comfortable in front of a crowd. But if you’d rather give a speech than approach strangers at happy hour, it could be a fit. And remember, even speaking in front of 20 people counts; you don’t have to keynote to an audience of thousands of people to be effective.

In an ideal world, you’d speak to audiences that could become clients. For example, if you write in the healthcare space, look for opportunities to speak to people who work at healthcare companies.

But even if you can’t find a perfect match for your niche, getting in front of any audience could pay dividends. Share knowledge that shows you have something to offer, and the people who see you speak might pass your name to someone who needs your expertise.

5. Get back in touch with former clients

If you’re not in regular contact with previous clients or organizations you’ve volunteered for, you could be leaving business on the table.

This outreach can be as simple as a short email or LinkedIn message to check in with someone you once worked with. Look for a way to mention that you have bandwidth for additional work. “You never know when a client might send work your way simply because you popped up on their radar at the right time,” writes Samar Owais.

6. Search for opportunities on Twitter

You’ll never get any work done if you spend all day on Twitter. But by scheduling time each week to use Twitter’s advanced search, you might notice when companies are looking for help.

David Masters has a quick how-to that will get you started and help you refine your search terms. Or you could lean on a service that aggregates Twitter opportunities, like Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter.

7. Use your skills in a different way

If you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to land a certain type of paying work, push yourself to be more creative about how you use your skills.

For example, can’t find a freelance writing job you feel good about? Consider going after transcription jobs instead. You might find a new niche you enjoy!

8. Write a niche blog

If you’re looking for work as a blogger, you should certainly write a blog of your own. Your blog should focus on a niche, says Carol Tice of Making a Living Writing, although the topic doesn’t have to line up exactly with your target market.

“Clients love to see that you understand how to develop many strong story ideas on a single theme, stick to a topic, write great Internet headlines, attract subscribers, and how to get engagement — comments and social shares,” Tice says. “[Potential clients] will want you to do all that for them.”

9. Sell a product

You only have 24 hours in a day, but selling a product you created help showcase your expertise, which can lead to clients over time. Plus, it never hurts to make money while you sleep.

Consider writing an ebook or white paper as a starting point. With so many online platforms and tools available to digital sellers, it’s never been easier to collect money for your work. If you’re not sure where to start, check out GumRoad, ConvertKit or Substack.

10. Pitch guest blog posts

Guest blogging might not bring in revenue — only some sites pay for guest posts — but it will get your name in front of a lot of potential clients. In fact, some businesses find freelance writers by looking at who writes for their competitors’ websites.

Don’t spread yourself too thin by guest-blogging for everyone, though. After all, you’ll need plenty of time for paid work as it comes in.

11. Sharpen your skills

Still getting nowhere? You might consider investing in yourself by taking some online writing courses.

Of course, you never want to put yourself in a position where you’re spending more than you can earn, but sometimes it’s worth paying for training to set yourself up for success. Many online courses offer feedback from the instructor and interaction with other students, and that could lead to insight about your own skills or approach.

What are your tried-and-true methods for reeling in new clients?

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via fizkes / Shutterstock 

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Writing

Half-Digested Thought Gruel, Ladled Into Your Blog Bowl

Been a while since I came here and just sorta painted the walls with a erratic spatter of thoughts and news musk, so here we go, let’s do it.

Hey, you can find me talking about writing in a couple places this week. First, The James Altucher show had me on, and it’s always fun to do a podcast like this where the curiosity level is off-the-charts and you get such good, brain-chewing questions. Then! I got to sit down with good buddy and writer extraordinaire Delilah S. Dawson for Gotham Writers and get into crunchy process questions about writing across both genre and medium and we even dig into some business-related writing stuff. Bonus: on both shows I talk about Star Wars, too, which leads me to…

The Mandalorian Has [SPOILER] In It?! I created the character for the Aftermath trilogy and now I guess that character is in the show, played by Timothy Olyphant of all people. I always envisioned the character with a bit of Raylan Givens in him, so this is a damn fine fit. It’s funny, the news about this had been percolating for months, but I truly, truly disbelieved it; it’s very rare in my experience that something makes the jump from the pages of a Star Wars book to the Star Wars screen. The reverse is a constant flow, but the content doesn’t usually swim upstream, so to speak. So, that’s very cool. It’s admittedly also… you know, a bummer, and I sorta wish that I could be just 100% all YAY about it. I have a lot of complicated feelings about it, ranging from harassment and death threats and then how you just sorta get left out there to deal with it, and soon you realize that it maybe exacerbates anxiety and depression and — you know, this isn’t fun to hear. Star Wars is supposed to be fun, not fuckin’ bummertown, so I’ll just say, yay, this is exciting, even if I don’t really get anything for it besides the Cool Points. It’s nice too because the Aftermath trilogy was always at the top of a ladder of really wonderful storytelling and character-building throughout the franchise’s legacy, and part of that ladder includes a lot of references to Clone Wars and Rebels, so to come full-circle and to have something from Aftermath then feed back in, as it were, is pretty rad. I’m excited to see the episode later today with the fam. (Some have suggested the story in the show for him is somewhat different, so I can’t speak to that. But I know despite people demanding canon be a rigid act of historicity, it’s generally far more flexible than that, and must be for any of it to exist at all without exploding.) If you want the spoiler character, here’s the sentence — just plug it into ROT13. Pboo Inagu vf va Gur Znaqbybevna. And actually PBOO INAGU sounds like a great Star Wars name, doesn’t it?

And in case anyone wants to be mad at me about this, for some reason: hey just fuckin’ relax, I’m not in the sandbox anymore, I don’t think I’m even allowed in the sandbox anymore, I’m not breaking your toys, calm down. I’m doing my own thing and you can go on not giving a shit about that and being cranky about space wizard social justice or something.

Let’s talk about writing advice for a second, by the way. There’s been a thing recently where people have been going through my writing advice and, I dunno, fisking it, taking it to task, ripping it apart — and please let me be the first to say, that’s good! Do that. I try to be very clear up front about writing advice that it’s all nonsense. As I’m wont to say, it’s bullshit, but for some people, bullshit fertilizes. Both of my writing books open with me pretty clearly saying, hey, don’t take this stuff too seriously. It’s why I write it in a way that’s absurd and obscene, so nobody reads it like I’m telling you WHAT MUST BE DONE LEST YOU DIE IN THE ABYSS. This is a lawless place and art is re-invented by the artist every time they choose to make something new, and I like to think I’ve been clear again and again that we need to constantly question the Sacred Cows of Writing Advice, because for every thing you MUST DO or CAN’T DO, there are countless authors who have gone the opposite way to great success. Shit, I don’t even agree with half my writing advice anymore — as I write more, I know less, and I’m good with that. Every book I write reminds me that I don’t know how to write a book. It’s as designed, I suspect. And the writing advice is always just a toolbox full of random tools; maybe you need that weird screwdriver, or maybe you don’t. Throw it away if it doesn’t help you. Stomp on it like it’s a baby. Wait no don’t stomp on babies. That is also bad advice. Unless you hate babies. In which case, ennnh, yanno.

Who doesn’t like scary stories? Been watching a handful of horror movies recently, some favorites, and some new stuff. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is the standout, I think — astonishingly creepy fucking movie, though I’d also argue it maybe wavers a little in the third act. (Though the third act waver is a horror movie problem in general, and probably deserves a blog post unpacking that problem at better length.) I won’t spoil, but I had NO idea what it was about going in, and it threw me for a couple good loops. Apostle on Netflix was great, if utterly brutal and dour. Ready or Not is a fave, and I’ve watched it a buncha times now — serves really well in a two-fer with Knives Out (which is not a horror movie, I know). Scare Me on Shudder was so fucking great — it’s hard to know if it’s even a horror movie or a movie about horror, but it’s funny and weird and twisted and entirely relies on the performances of its capable actors. It’s arguably better than any of the movies I watched, but I also wonder if it’s really even a horror movie at all. I feel like there’s something else I watched, too, but now I don’t know what the hell it was. WHATEVER. Yay horror movies. It’s weird that right now they’re comfort food? That, too, demands a greater unpacking — during times of stress and upheaval, horror stories do well. Again, I’m surprised Wanderers has sold as well as it has through the pandemic. It’s sales have been, up until the last couple weeks, ridiculously steady. Which boggled my bits, but hey, cool. Thank you for reading.

Oh oh wait, I remember! The last movie was One Cut of the Dead. Again, no spoilers because — well, I just can’t spoil it. You need to see it to know what I’m talking about.

Let’s talk fun horror stories. Let’s say I’m still in the mood for a fun horror movie — what’s your favorite? By fun, I mean, not a movie that crushes your soul. Not something that wrecks you after, but something that’s a blast to watch, even if it’s gross or scary or whatever. Also, was the most recent Halloween any good? Thinking on checking that out today.

You got your vote plan in place, right? Too late to mail a ballot if you haven’t, so go to a drop-box, or your polling place on the day of, or the electoral office nearest to you — get it done. Get those ballots out. Vote! Vote for your democracy, vote for your friends, for the kids of this country and the world, for the people at the border in cages, for climate change refugees, for those sick from COVID and those locked down trying not to catch it and those forced into more dangerous situations because there is no safety net to help them, vote for Senate and local and president and every initiative you think can help people and not hurt them. Vote, vote, vote. Have a plan. Talk to friends and family. Make your case, plead your POV, get it done. Love you all, whatever happens. We’ll figure it out.

And that’s it, I think.

BYE.

Categories
Writing

Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #121

self-publishing

Welcome to this issue of the Carnival of the Indies blog carnival. This issue is for October, 2020. We welcome your submissions on topics related to writing, self-publishing, book design or marketing books.

A collection of outstanding articles recently posted to blogs, your reading here will be richly rewarded.

See the end of this post for links to submit your blog posts for the next carnival, or for participating Bloggers and Featured Bloggers to grab your sidebar badges. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Featured Posts

Darcy Pattison presents Illustrator: Finding and Working with an Illustrator posted at Indie Kids Books.
 
 
 
Hannah Lee Kidder presents Book Mockup Generators: 5 Free Tools posted at Self Publishing School, saying, “A complete guide to generating free 3D book mockups for use in marketing materials.”
 
 
Helen V presents Best Facebook Author Pages: 16 Examples That Inspire posted at MiblArt blog.
 
 

Book Design and Production

Jennifer Navarre presents How to Map Out Your Picture Book in 32 Pages posted at bibliokids, saying, “Your picture book will benefit from you paying attention to layout now.”

Indie Author

Darcy Pattison presents A 5-Year Publishing Plan posted at Indie Kids Books.

Terry Whalin presents Six Keys to Consistent Social Media posted at The Writing Life, saying, “Prolific editor and writer Terry Whalin has over 200,000 twitter followers and over 18,000 LinkedIN connections, He gives six keys to consistent social media.”

Marketing and Selling Your Books

Sandra Beckwith presents 3 REASONS YOU AREN’T MARKETING YOUR BOOK (AND HOW TO FIX THAT) posted at IndieReader.

Belinda Griffin presents Author Newsletter: How to build an email list FAST posted at SmartAuthorsLab.

Frances Caballo presents 105 Hashtags for Writers posted at Social Media Just for Writers, saying, “Are you still confused by hashtags? If so, I list 105 hashtags just for writers that will make the chore a breeze. This post will explain everything you need to know about hashtags and give you a comprehensive list of terms that you can use immediately.”

Angelica Hartgers presents Social Media For Authors: How To Use Social Media For Promotion posted at SelfPublishing.com, saying, “A brand new guide to help indie authors promote their books successfully on social media. Covers classic platforms like Twitter and Facebook as well as newer options such as TikTok.”

Pauline Wiles presents Your Author Website: Why Your Greatest Strength Is Also Your Weakness posted at Nonfiction Authors Association, saying, “As an author, you probably love to write! When assembling the content for your website, be careful you aren’t leaning too heavily on words, and ignoring the other structural and design considerations that encourage your reader to take the action you want.”

Self-Publishing Success

Jennifer Navarre presents 6 Questions to Ask When Looking For a Kidlit Editor posted at bibliokids, saying, “When the time comes for your book to be edited, here are some questions to ask when looking for a kidlit editor.”

Jo Finchen-Parsons presents Writing a book as a business marketing tool posted at The Exchange, saying, “A good proportion of my self-publishing clients are writing books to market and develop their businesses. It’s a bold and brave move but you’ll see from the first-time authors featured in this article that the potential rewards are long-lasting and well worth the effort.”

Jo Kelly presents Converting one author to self publishing posted at Authors A.I. Learning Center Blog, saying, “What are some of the reasons fiction authors choose self publishing over traditional publishing? Author John Logsdon dispels some of the myths associated with self-publishing.”

Writing Tools and Tips

Dave Chesson presents HOW TO FIND YOUR WRITING VOICE posted at IndieReader.

Anne Meick presents On Writing: A Comparison Between Committing to Writing a Book versus a Workout Routine posted at Writers’ Connection, saying, “Making the commitment to writing a book is very similar to committing to a workout routine. Whether you want to write a book or you want to get in shape and be healthy, both efforts benefit from a phased approach and plan to achieve a goal.”

C. S. Lakin presents 3 Ways to Bring Out Theme in Your Story posted at Live Write Thrive, saying, “Theme is such an important element of story, regardless of medium. Even visual arts, such as paintings or sculture, tell a story and often center on some theme. Yet, you’ll find few blog posts or podcasts discussing what theme is in a story and how to showcase it. I feel theme is so crucial to a great story that I chose it as one of the four corner pillars of novel construction. And while some novelists may argue that the genre they write in really doesn’t require themes (suspense/thriller, mystery, for example), for a deeper, richer story, themes are the ticket.”

Connie B. Dowell presents Writer Wellness with Joy E. Held posted at Book Echoes, saying, “A healthy writer is not just a happier writer, but often more productive and creative as well. Guest Joy E. Held talks about the crucial areas of writer wellness and how it interacts with our creativity.”

Donald McKenzie Jr presents 4 Simple Ways to Build an Email List posted at Digital Marketing Industry Blog – U Visibility, saying, “Many business owners believe that building their emails lists would take hard work and a lot of time. It takes a bit of patience and strategy, however, you open your website to a whole new world of prospective targets.”

Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. presents 6 Simple Tips For Writing Non-Fiction In Plain English posted at The Business Of Self-Publishing, saying, “Writing in “plain English” is a great way to make a good impression on your audience. This means writing in a way that makes your message easy to read and understand. It doesn’t matter who your audience is or what your subject matter is about. Every audience will benefit from writing that uses plain English. This will help you build a bigger audience and sell more books. Here are my 6 favorite tips to help you start.”

Louise Harnby presents Should I use a comma before coordinating conjunctions and independent clauses in fiction? posted at The Editing Blog, saying, “Are you confused about when to add commas before coordinating conjunctions linking independent clauses? This post offers guidance and a few examples to show you the way.”

Louise Harnby presents What are expletives in the grammar of fiction? posted at The Editing Blog, saying, “Want to use grammatical expletives in your fiction? These words serve as place holders or fillers in a sentence. They shift emphasis and can affect rhythm. Used injudiciously, however, they can be cluttering tension-wreckers. Here’s how to strike a balance.”

Tambra Nicole Kendall presents Get Ready! National Novel Writing Month is Coming! posted at Tambra Nicole Kendall: Writing and other lovely creative endeavors, saying, “National Novel Writing Month gives me the chance to write something different, start or finish a project. The comraderie of other writers and the energy has helped me as an Indie author.”

Zara Altair presents Scene Dynamics posted at Write Time, saying, “The three components of every scene in your story. How to check you scene if it doesn’t feel right.”

Well, that wraps up this issue. I hope you enjoy some of the great articles here, and let other people interested in self-publishing know about the Carnival—Use the share buttons to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Link to it!

The next issue is November 27, 2020 and the deadline for submissions will be November 15, 2020. Don’t miss it!

Here are all the links you’ll need

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Categories
Writing

Scary Reads For Your Halloween Weekend | Writer’s Relief

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Scary Reads For Your Halloween Weekend | Writer’s Relief

What better way to spend a Halloween Saturday than reading a scary-good book while munching on candy corn? Writer’s Relief found a great list of creepy novels at popsugar.com that you should definitely read with the lights on!

Whether you want to spend the night with vampires, ghosts, or witches—choose your next spine-tingling read here.

 

Categories
Writing

How Writers Can Connect To Create An Effective Emotional Support System | Writer’s Relief

How Writers Can Connect To Create An Effective Emotional Support System | Writer’s Relief

You’ve probably heard this time-worn stereotype: Writers are solitary hermits who spend their days, nights, and weekends hunched over keyboards and shunning social interaction. But even the most introverted author will benefit from human connections and emotional support. At Writer’s Relief, we know it’s important it is to interact with others—even if it’s only virtually! Here are some easy ways to connect with other creative writers to create an effective emotional support system that will help you fight writer’s block and beat the rejection letter blues.

How To Form Connections, Gain Emotional Support, And Make Your Writing Life Easier—And More Fun!

Join a trade group for your genre. Consider joining a national organization for your genre. Some examples are Romance Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Become a member of a local critique group or writing workshop. If you prefer something less formal than a national organization, consider joining—or even starting!—a writing group in your area. Many are meeting online as well, so you’ll still have the opportunity to connect with other writers and get feedback on your writing. You might also consider signing up for an online writing class.

Consider online social network groups for writers. Whether it’s through an established organization for writers or a more casual group like our Writer’s Relief Café on Facebook, getting support and encouragement from other writers online is just as valuable as meeting in person. Just be sure to exercise caution about divulging personal information online—and be careful about where you post your own writing!

Hire a writing coach or developmental editor. Do you have trouble motivating yourself to write or with sticking to a writing schedule? Many writers do! In addition to getting emotional support and writing advice from your peers, consider hiring a writing coach. A writing coach will help you stick to a writing schedule and guide you in solving issues you may be having with your writing.

Find a critique partner or mentor. While joining writing groups and attending conferences can be so helpful, sometimes you need one-on-one help with your writing. Look for a critique partner—someone to email and swap manuscripts with—to help with editing. If you’re looking for expert, knowledgeable guidance, consider a writing mentor. Any author with experience and a good publishing record in your genre could be a great choice!

Get acquainted with the pros. Consider outsourcing the tasks that drain your energy and spirit so that you’ll have more time to simply write and network with other writers! Working with the experts at Writer’s Relief might be the best choice you’ll ever make for your writing career—we’ll format and proofread your work for publication, and do all the time-consuming busywork to create a personalized list of submissions perfectly targeted for your work. Best of all, our experts will always be professional, courteous, and friendly colleagues on your writing journey. Submit to our Review Board today!

Dealing With People Who Just Don’t Get The Pressures Of Being A Writer

Sometimes your friends, family, and coworkers simply can’t grasp the ups and downs of the writing life or why you love it so much. So it’s important to build yourself a community of writers to guide and support you along your writing journey. You’ll be a lot more successful—and have a lot more fun!—if you don’t try to deal with the pressures of writing (and the unavoidable rejections) all by yourself.

 

Question: What writing community connections have you found most helpful?

Categories
Writing

Tweets From The Grave: Authors Speak From Beyond | Writer’s Relief

Tweets From The Grave: Authors Speak From Beyond | Writer’s Relief

It’s the witching hour, and the darkness is suddenly broken by a pale, sickly glow as the sound of incessant tap…tap…tapping echoes through the night. Oh wait—that’s just a writer taking a late-night break and tweeting! As Halloween draws near, the social media sorcerers at Writer’s Relief have wondered: What if long-dead writers could send us tweets from the grave? Here’s what we imagine our favorite authors would reach out from the beyond to tweet about today! (face-with-tears-of-joy emoji)

17 Tweets From The Grave From Our Favorite Authors—Gasp!

Maya Angelou: There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. That, and having an alien burst out of your chest. #BothNotGood

Edgar Allan Poe: Watching my fav football team—Go #RAVENS!

Robert Frost: Thank heaven neither path took me to 2020. #Blessed

Lorraine Hansberry: Never be afraid to sit awhile and think (before tweeting!) #TuesdayThoughts

Charles Dickens: I can’t believe I’ve been #ghosted! That’s three times!

Agatha Christie: Miss Marple is going to have a much harder time catching the murderer with everyone suddenly washing their hands all the time. #NoEvidence

George Orwell: It’s even worse than I thought. They now carry Big Brother around in their pockets! #Not1984

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Nay, let them only see us while we wear the mask in the grocery store. #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan

Emily Dickinson: Because I could not stop for death, he had to call an Uber. #RidesHere

J.D. Salinger: You aren’t just phonies. You’re cellphonies!!! #MondayMood

Jacqueline Susann: Just got a #newbook idea: “Valley of the Tweets!”

Gabriel García Márquez: Love in the time of quarantine. #NoThanks!

Jane Austen: They made HOW many movies of my books!? #Clueless

James Baldwin: Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. But please wear a mask when you go out! #StaySafe

Leo Tolstoy: 50K words in a month? No problem. #20thYearOfNaMo

Louisa May Alcott: I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ghost ship. #HalloweenSpirit

Shakespeare: Definitely ready to shuffle off this mortal coil in favor of a warm down jacket. #BardsOfAFeather

With these dearly departed authors haunting your Halloween, you might be interested in something that doesn’t leave you chilled to the bone: Have some fun in the sun and check out what these literary characters are tweeting while on vacation!

 

Question: What would your favorite dead author say on Twitter?

 

Categories
Writing

Boo! These Are The 10 Monsters Your Book Editor Fears Most

As Halloween draws nigh, I’d like to introduce you to 10 monsters that haunt my nightmares.

Now, these guys and ghouls don’t regularly visit me, but they are a source of fear from time to time. And what’s often most troublesome is that I can seldom tell if they’re going to turn into a monster when we first meet.

Plus, I’m not the only one they visit.

I surveyed a group of editor friends on Facebook and discovered they’ve been visited by these monsters too.

Editorial monsters

1. The ghost

This possible editing client frightens me with their exuberant abuse of the exclamation mark in their first email. They’re so excited to work with an editor that they can hardly wait to take the next step.

But when I reply, the ghost vanishes, never to be seen or heard from again.

The ghost silently glides by the cardinal rule of working with an editor: At all steps in the editing process, seek to communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

2. Frankenstein’s monster

This would-be client has written a book that’s a monstrous mishmash of genres, styles, tone or plot. The editor (and therefore the eventual audience) doesn’t know what to expect from one chapter to the next, or even one sentence to the next.

And the monster’s creator, thinking that what he’s made is the pinnacle of creation, doesn’t see the readily apparent flaws in the book that everyone else sees.

Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t truly know what he is, but he expects someone else to make sense of it for him. When editors start doing that, they effectively turn into ghostwriters.

3. The werewolf

After receiving edits, the werewolf bares his fangs. He turns from a reserved client into an irate animal.

In less time than it surely takes to review his edits, he fires off an email of unprecedented anger and bile. He can’t believe how ruined his work is now. He may be nicer the following morning.

The werewolf has failed to learn respect for experience and expertise or just doesn’t know how to argue his point without being combative.

4. The vampire hunter

She questions an editor’s rates. The vampire hunter believes most freelance editors are bloodsuckers who move from one paycheck to the next, seeking their next victim, er, client with little regard to the dripping-red pages they’ve left in their professional wake.

The vampire hunter may rely on outdated numbers or unfounded anecdotal evidence for their beliefs about rates. Instead, she should have an honest, open conversation with her chosen editor about the value that editor offers for such a rate.

editor fearseditor fears
5. The zombie

Barely alive, the zombie doesn’t want to do much work on her own. She may not do any work. She’s slow to accept changes or reply to time-sensitive communications. She also wants to dine on an editor’s brain so as to somehow consume that knowledge without doing the educational work the editor has done.

The zombie needs to realize that the work of creating a book is work all the way through. Handing off the book to an editor does not mean the zombie’s work is done. She still needs to be involved, especially when an editor asks a question. Don’t make an editor wait more than one to two business days for a response.

6. The witch

The witch demands magic. She knows her prose is as awkward as a three-eyed newt, but she believes an editor can turn even that into something princely.

The witch may need to ride her broom into a writing workshop before submitting work. Or she may need to enlist some beta readers to see if her work is even ready for an editor.

7. The shapeshifter

He agrees to one thing but asks for another. For instance, he may request and sign a contract for copy editing but ask for “just a quick read through” as well.

The shapeshifter should understand the different types of editors, what kind of editing they need, and what kind of editing their hired editor offers. This should be done when vetting an editor.

8. The mummy

Wrapped up in their own little world, the mummy takes so long to reply to emails or calls that the editor is certain they’ve fallen asleep — or worse.

Like the ghost, the mummy fails at the chief commandment of working with an editor: communicate!

9. The (copy)cat

This fabricating feline sprinkles plagiarized content around their books like catnip, hoping no one will notice.

Never plagiarize. Editors can sniff out that content almost instantly. Even if they can’t, plenty of online tools exist to help editors doublecheck suspected plagiarism. Plus, once you’ve plagiarized just a little, it calls your entire manuscript into question. The result? An editor won’t want that cat to cross their path again.

10. The blob

This ever-growing monster keeps adding content to his manuscript even as it’s being edited. Even worse, they keep adding content after it’s been edited!

The blob needs to know when to say when. He should do his best to achieve his best work before sending it to an editor. Any substantial changes during or after the editing phase should be — you guessed it — communicated to the editor.

How not to work with an editor

Now, this isn’t a complaint article about editing clients. Rather, it’s meant as a curtain-parting glimpse into what editors deal with in terms of unprepared, underprepared, or naive clients. It’s what not to do when working with an editor.

Additionally, many of these “monsters” come by it honestly. Because they don’t live, breathe and eat writing and publishing as editors do, they just don’t know what’s conventional or expected. Most editors understand this and are glad to help new authors learn the ropes — so long as the author is receptive to expert advice.

Be a monster this Halloween, but don’t be a monster to your editor.

We frighten easily, which is ironic given how much red we see.

Photo via fizkes / Shutterstock 

Categories
Writing

With One Week To Go, Here’s My Prediction Of What Happens On Election Day

We are at the hinge point — the door is opening, or the door is closing. We are seven days away from Election Day, and millions of people have already voted. The Senate is up for grabs. The presidency is up for grabs. Our current president thinks women’s body parts are up for grabs. It’s a lot. So, I figured, why not offer my thoughts? Why not dig into the polls, do some nitty-gritty, examine the possible outcomes, and lay out what I think will be the likeliest course of action on that day.

Ready?

Here it is:

I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA

AHHHHHHHHH

I am a wildly vacillating ping-pong ball in a table tennis game played by angels and devils — my heart goes from table side to table side, from WANTON FOOLISH OPTIMISM to GUT-CHURNING SOUL-CRUSHING PESSIMISM, with little chance to settle on either. My hope is Schroedinger’s Cat in the goddamn box: it is dead and alive at the same time, its fate unknown until the box is finally opened and the cat is revealed. I have literally no idea what is to come. How could you? This is 2020. This is the year of CHAOS INCARNATE. Come Wednesday we might’ve elected a hive of giant hornets to the highest office in the land, and honestly, it’d be an improvement on what we got.

I mean, in a logical year, I see how this goes, right? The polls are strong for Biden, stronger than they were for Clinton, and more stable across vital districts and states. None of the shit they’ve tried to stick to Biden has stuck, and Trump appears, from my window at least, to be flailing — and I don’t say that as a Triumphant Liberal, because generally liberals are the first to be like OH GOD MY CANDIDATE IS DROWNING IN THE ABYSS THE OTHER GUY IS GONNA WIN. There’s a stink around Trump that’s like what you get off a car-struck raccoon — a rotten, bloated odor. Doesn’t help that he’s incredibly unlikable, and has accomplished almost nothing in his four years. Certainly nothing good. Oh, rich people are getting richer, that’s nice, if you’re mega-rich. Otherwise, where’s his health care plan? Where’s his COVID plan? Where’s Infrastructure Week? Anything?

His priorities have been:

a) rich people

b) bigotry

c) judges

All in equal proportions.

Beyond that, he’s got nothing. He’s proposed no agenda for 2020, and the GOP’s agenda for 2020 is, “uhhh, what’d Trump say?” and round and round we go.

So, in a normal year, in a normal country, the writing is on the wall.

But this is America in 2020. The writing is centipedes. The wall is a glitching TV screen. There’s no stability. No sense to what’s going on. Part of that is intentional — it’s not that 2020 is some kind of CURSED YEAR (except it totally is), but that the Grand Ole Party has committed a violent psychological assault on our brains. They are hypocrites at every turn, they are liars, they question expertise, they lie, they turn their face from basic facts — the ground beneath us is unstable because they have committed to its instability. If we are unstable, they can get away with more bullshit. If we’re trying to catch a bunch of falling plates and cups from rattled cabinets, they can steal our money and jewels and pets while we flail. We’re constantly on the defense because they’re constantly on the offense. All we can do is block punches because it’s INFINITE PUNCHES.

Could Trump win? I didn’t think he could win the first time. Hell, one could argue that he didn’t — between losing the popular vote and a bevy of inference, it remains unclear how “legitimate” that election even was. Do I think it’s possible he’s built on his coalition from 2020? That he’s gained voters instead of lost them? It’s hard to envision, because I’ve seen anecdotally (local and nationwide) a number of Republicans who have bailed — they saw a “businessman,” wanted some change, and got nothing for the bet. He’s withered on the vine and spends his time just shit-barfing on Twitter all day, and meanwhile farms and factories and small businesses are kicked to the curb. So it’s really hard to imagine people getting onboard a hayride full of manure as it totters drunkenly toward a cliff.

But, it’s 2020. And white supremacy is a helluva drug.

Further, they’ve created a pipeline that pumps shit into people’s heads while convincing them it’s caviar. Fox and OANN are just a steady parade of lies, lies, lies, there to lube up King Dump and keep him slick and gooey. People have built for themselves not so much an echo chamber as a Jonestown enclave with all the “””definitely unpoisoned””” Flavor-Aid you require. I mean, you try to tell people “hey that’s not a true thing you just said” and they snap back with WELL DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH despite the fact they did literally no research at all except reading an e-mail from Old Uncle Dave who said that the Democrats are aborting babies in Brooklyn pizza ovens in order to appease the Demonic Socialist Treaties. “Someone on Facebook said that masks don’t work so I believe them unreservedly and that is my idea of ‘research,’ please and thank you. COVID is a hoax and it’ll disappear on November 4th like magic!”

So, in a normal time, he couldn’t win.

But this ain’t normal.

Could Biden win? I didn’t think he could back in the primaries. I was wrong. He’s run a far better campaign than I expected. He’s taken serious steps to actually bring onboard a diverse coalition of voices, and he actually did move in a more progressive direction in places it counts. He’s made it clear he’s the guy who embraces compassion and science and while normally I’d hope those would be obvious picks for campaign planks, it’s 2020 and we’ve got a president who jerks off to Q-Anon propaganda and who lacks basic competency in nearly everything. (God, I really wish for a journalist who would simply ask him to explain basic facts about our government. A journalist who plays dumb and who asks for his explanation, and then you watch him just stammer through some gibberish answer like an 8th grader who didn’t read the book he’s currently giving a report on.) So, Biden could win too. The numbers favor him. Sanity favors him. Basic humanity favors him.

But the Cursed Year 2020 may have other things in store.

And part of that is down to the fact that this binary outcome is by no means the only, or even likely outcome. We have far greater shenanigans that could occur, friendos. Biden could win, and Trump could contest it, and now that he’s got Supreme Court Justice Handmaid’s Tale in the seat, she could throw the election to him. Especially if Biden doesn’t win in a landslide, the kind that ends up decided on Election Night, even though no election is ever actually decided on election night. If we have anything approaching Bush V. Gore, they’ve packed the courts so hard with corrupt bastards, that fate is written. They’re glad to do the devil’s work on this one.

Then there’s all the extra fun add-ons — protest! General strike! Civil war! Shit, if I woke up on Wednesday and the news said, “Both presidential candidates were eaten by starving polar bears, which throws the election to Kanye West,” I’d be like, yeah, that tracks. Because I don’t know! I don’t know what’s happening! I don’t know what’s coming down the pike! It’s probably not going to be great. Shit’s on fire! We’re under the boots of a burgeoning theocratic kleptocracy, and even just saying those words makes me feel like I’ve lost my marbles. It sounds too extreme, too fearful — it can’t be that bad, right? Except the majority is ruled by a minority who is increasingly pushing religion over science, who urges white supremacy and misogyny over inclusion, who is continually working to undermine the vote rather than get the vote out, who is expecting grand overtures of gratitude for doing literally nothing except hurting people, who supports a president that routinely makes comments about being president for an extra four years, or eight, or for life, or demanding his children become president next, or, or, or. It’s seeing a house and saying, “Well, that house is clearly fine, it’s a house, it’s just standing there,” while simultaneously realizing the whole thing is riddled with termites and will fall down in a stiff breeze. It looks okay from the outside, but it’s rotten to the core.

I don’t know what happens! I have no prediction! Revolution! Coup! Evangelical pogroms! Trump eats babies while accusing Democrats of eating babies! Democrats treating all this as normal until they’re thrown into jail! Boogaloo-slash-Proud Boy TV network! Fire bees! Laser bears! Holes! Holes opening up underneath all of his, holes from whence goblins crawl, holes that stink of sulfur and moan and gibber! Aaaah! HAhahahaahAHAHA AAHHH WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING WHAT THE SHIT IS GOING TO HAPPEN ARE WE GOING TO BE OKAY ARE WE NOT GOING TO BE OKAY JESUS EFFING CHRIST ON A CRAPWAGON THERE’S STILL THE PANDEMIC AND STILL THE RISING BOIL-TIDE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND AAAAAAAH PLEASE MAKE THE SHITTY PRESIDENT SHUT UP AND GO AWAY I NEVER WANT TO HEAR HIM OR SEE HIM OR LAY EYES ON HIS MAGGOTY FUCKING TWEETS EVERY AGAIN AAAAAAAAEEHhhghghhhrrble

Ahem.

I got nothing.

What I got is this:

The one place I have some hope — some persistent, steady hope — is in each other. I’ve seen that in the last four years a lot, where people — a lot of people — come together and stand for one another, and who have stood up for what matters most, which is a democracy that benefits not only the few, not even the many, but a democracy that serves everyone. And I know that if the shit hits the fan, we can count on the people to get on some comfortable shoes and a jacket and hit the streets, particularly for those who can’t. And I think we need to be ready for that. To raise a ruckus. To cause that good trouble. To disobey non-violently and to choke the gears of the machine until it shudders and breaks. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I know it could. Anything could happen now. This is the final run-up and the chaos will continue. The chaos will worsen. We must be there for each other and for our democracy, in the voting booths, on the streets, in the charities that need us, for everyone who is reaching out and will be hurt by four more years of this venomous, inept administration.

You’re not alone.

I’m not alone.

I have hope in you.

Also, the laser bears.

I have hope in laser bears.

Because, I mean, at this point, why the fuck not?

LASER BEARS 2024

pyoo pyoo

*bear noises*

Categories
Writing

Registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge Is Now Open!

I just opened up registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge, my new live class in November. You can find the sign-up page here:

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CREATIVE COMMITMENT CHALLENGE

I’m still answering questions about the class too, so if you have any, please contact me HERE.

(P.S. Registration will be open until Saturday October 31, but after that it’s closed and I can’t let in any late-comers, so if you know you want in, register now!)

Categories
Writing

15 Daily Writing Exercises to Unblock You, Improve Your Craft, and Trigger Your Next Big Idea

Writing can be grueling.

Some days you feel you have what it takes.

Other days, you want to go back to bed.

Even after writing almost 200 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, some mornings the blank page just stares at me.

I feel like a fraud, fear I’ve lost it or never had it to begin with.

Can you relate? Few writers escape it. Not even the legends.

Hemingway wrote, “There’s no rule on how it is to write … Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Margaret Atwood says, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

Yet fear holds back so many.

Am I good enough? Will I ever be?

You’re not alone. There’s no magic to successful writing.  It’s all about hard work.

Even when you don’t have the energy.

Even when you’re second-guessing yourself.

All writing is rewriting, and you can’t rewrite a blank page.

So what to do?

Some writers motivate themselves with prompts or other exercises, just to start getting words onto the page. Might that work for you? Try these and see.

Here is a writing exercise for each day of the week, designed to keep you at the keyboard and producing.

Need help getting more words on the page when you write? Click here to download my free guide: How to Maximize Your Writing Time.

Daily Writing Exercises 

writing exercises

writing exercises

1: Answer these Questions

See if these stimulate you.

  1. Who just entered your office?
  2. What is he or she carrying?
  3. What does he or she want?

2: Write a Letter To Your Younger Self

Tap into your emotions and imagine this as a real, separate person you might be able to move with your words.

3: Imagine a Scene

  • An ex-love walks into a coffee shop but hasn’t yet noticed you. Should you greet them? What do you say to someone whose heart you broke five years ago?
  • You’re a child who’s been told Santa isn’t real. Write about your feelings and how you might interact with younger kids who still believe.
  • You find a peculiar device in your pocket and have no idea how it got there. You feel someone’s watching you. What do you do?
  • In fewer than 250 words, describe a defining moment in your life.
  • Write about how your character’s best friend’s body shows up in front of their house. What will they do to find out who’s responsible?

4: Write a Story Someone Once Told You

Exercise your storytelling muscles.

5: Write From a New Point of View

If you find yourself most often writing from the same perspective, try a different voice.

  • First-person (I, Me, My).
  • Second-person (You, Your). This POV is more common in non-fiction, rarely used by novelists .
  • Third-person limited (He, She). Common in commercial fiction, the narrator uses the main character as the camera.
  • Third-person omniscient. The narrator has access to the thoughts of ALL characters (not recommended except as a writing exercise).

6: Write About Someone Who Inspires You

  • a family member
  • a friend
  • a historical figure
  • a teacher
  • any hero of yours

Try writing a short story in first-person from their perspective.

7: Write About Someone You Know

With this exercise, you create a story with a lead character based on a family member, best friend, or anyone else you know well. 

8: Free Write

Set a timer.

Write the first thing that comes to your mind.

No agenda, no filter. Ignore the urge to self edit, and don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

Just write.

9: Omit needless words

Find a piece you’ve written and edited but still needs work.

Ferociously excise every extraneous word and see if that doesn’t add power. This is a fun exercise that should be the hallmark of every writer.

10: Blog

Blogging is a great way to get yourself in the habit of writing regularly and sharing your work with an audience.

11. Analyze Your Favorite Book 

Evaluate what kept you interested.

  • Favorite character? Why?
  • Setting?
  • Theme?
  • The writing style?

12: Create a Timeline of Significant Moments for Your Protagonist

The better you know your main character, the richer your story will be.

Go beyond birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. Focus on events that make a real difference in her life and how you tell her story.

13: Write About Somewhere You’ve Been

Mine your memory for every sensory detail.

14: Use Writing Prompts for Practice

They’re all around you. In real life, in magazines, online lists, even six-word stories.

A writing prompt is simply a starting place. An idea.

The rest is up to you.

15: Write About Something You’re Good At

What’s your expertise? Write about it in detail.

16: Play Devil’s Advocate

Write a strong argument for the other side of an issue about which you’re passionate.

These exercises should get you unstuck and writing like never before.

Need help getting more words on the page when you write? Click here to download my free guide: How to Maximize Your Writing Time.