Freelance Writing - How to Tell if It's Right for You


If you love to write, your own freelance writing business probably sounds like the best job in the world.

And it can be.

But it's a good idea to find out if you're really cut out for the freelance writer's life BEFORE you invest too much time, energy, and money starting your career as a freelance writer.

Here are six questions to ask yourself if you're thinking of starting a freelance writing career.

1. Can you juggle?

No, I'm not talking about throwing things up in the air and keeping them from falling to the ground.

Although, that isn't too far off the mark for freelance writers.

What I'm talking about is managing a variety of different tasks during any given workday.

Full time freelance writers are always looking for new assignments and working on current assignments.

This means they need to manage a variety of tasks each day.

If they spend all their time working on an assignment, with NO time searching for new assignments, pretty soon the work dries up and the paychecks stop rolling in.

They have to be able to balance their time so they complete assignments on schedule and always have a steady stream of new assignments coming in.

If you want to become a successful freelance writer, get good at juggling!

2. Do you like to spend a lot of time alone?

Many people SAY they want to write a book.

But when it gets right down to it, very few of these people are willing to sit down at the computer and spend the hours and hours it takes to complete such a big project.

It's just too lonely.

Yet, if you want to earn a substantial income as a freelance writer, you will probably need to get used to spending at least several hours alone at the computer each day.

But you can take on smaller projects that take less time than books.

Write articles for magazines, become a professional blogger, write short children's stories and picture books.

Set aside short time frames throughout the day to work on your assignments.

Then, schedule an hour or so with friends or family during the day so you don't become a total recluse.

However, if you just can't sit still long enough to even write a grocery list, then freelance writing will feel more like constantly having a homework assignment hanging over your head than a dream job.

3. How do you handle deadlines?

If you can't handle deadlines, then freelance writing is probably not for you.

Editors generally tend to take their time getting back to writers with assignments.

But when they do finally give a writer an assignment, they usually want it fairly soon.

As a writer, you need to get used to fast turnaround of your work.

You also need to get used to working on many projects—all with different deadlines—all at once.

If you don't like deadlines, then freelance writing will drive you nuts!

4. How well do you take direction?

Many writers long to tell their story.

But professional writers learn to work with editors who can help turn these stories into marketable manuscripts.

If you think everything you write should be published AS IS, then professional freelance writing won't make you happy because you'll constantly be complaining about having to make an editor's requested revisions to your articles and stories.

5. How do you handle rejection?

Freelance writing is a business.

As such, your writing is a product.

To make a living from writing, you have to see that your product finds its way to the right customer or buyer.

It's as simple as that.

Sometimes your work can be well written yet it still does not meet the needs of a particular publisher.

Professional freelance writers quickly get used to constantly submitting a variety of queries and completed manuscripts to publishers, fully realizing that any or all of these materials will probably be rejected at least a few times before they make their way to the right buyer.

If rejection makes you take to your bed for weeks, then you'd better toughen up—or find another line of work.

6. Does talking about money/payment make you squeamish?

Like I said, freelance writing is a business.

As with any business, you expect to be paid for your products or services.

Yet, many writers have an underlying belief that writing is a noble profession and it's wrong to ask for and expect to be well paid for such a service.

If you believe this you'll be taken advantage of as a writer.

You'll either end up writing for free or you'll be underpaid all the time.

You'd be better off working at something you feel comfortable getting paid for.

As you can tell, freelance writing is NOT a dream job for everyone.

Yet, for people who like to juggle and revise, don't mind deadlines or spending time alone, can handle rejection, and feel they should be well paid for their work, writing can be a great way to make a living—and a life!

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 30 published books, and a writing coach.

Visit her online at www.writebythesea.com.

Twitter Chats 101

Want to step up your game on Twitter? Explore Twitter chats. They are a great way to meet new people, learn new things, and expand your network.

What is a Twitter Chat

A Twitter chat is a conversation on Twitter, noted by a particular hashtag. It usually revolves around a certain topic, and is hosted by the same person or group of people at the same time every week. While some are run by big brands, many are organized by individuals (experts, consultants, bloggers), who share a passion for a particular topic. 

Many Twitter chats have special guests who answer questions from the hosts. The format is simple. Q1 with a question is tweeted and people reply with A1 and then the response. Attendees are welcome to add there two cents - 140 characters - as well. Btw, not even addressing the news that Twitter is testing out expanding to 280 characters. Twitter will always be 140 characters to me.

You can use a website, like TweetChat, or a tool, such as Hootsuite. For TweetChat, type in the hashtag and then click to enter the conversation. It's very easy to reply and retweet messages. Plus your hashtag is automatically added at the end of each tweet. For Hootsuite, simply add a column with the hashtag you want to follow.

How to Find Twitter Chats

There are several different Twitter chat master lists, like this one from TweetReports and the Kneaver Chat Directory. Search the page for one of your keywords or read through the lists to see what appeals to you. Another way to find a specific type of Twitter chat is to simply search your topic of interest and then "Twitter chat." For instance, search for "Twitter Chats Writing" or "Marketing Twitter Chats," and you will find lists of top chats on the topic. 

Once you see a few chats that interest you, test them out. Make appointments with yourself to try one or two chats a week until you land on a few good ones to join regularly. 

Chat Etiquette

Before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

- Follow the hosts. This is something you can do before you even get to a chat. Find the hosts, follow them, and tweet that you are looking forward to their chat. You may want to retweet some of their tweets prior to the chat.

- Follow the guests. Follow the special guests, as well. And if they give you other ways to connect, like on LinkedIn, you might as well do that too. Just add a note that you met them on this chat.

- Introduce yourself. Usually at the beginning of the chat the host allows time to introduce yourself with some sort of ice breaker. Jump on in. 

- Observe. You may just want to read the tweets your first chat or two. As I previously mentioned, attendees are typically welcome to reply. However, depending on how fast the chat, you may find it easier to watch the chat and retweet the responses that mirror your beliefs.

- Engage. When you are comfortable, answer questions and reply to others in the chat. You will likely want to follow the other attendees and continue your Twitter conversations outside of the chat.

- Do Not Self-Promote. Twitter chats are all about having conversations and sharing information. Unless there is a specific request, keep your promos and sales pitches out of the chat thread.

- Have fun. Like everything in social media and writing, Twitter chats are supposed to be fun. Share the things that get you excited about your industry and specialty. You'll make a great impression, which is also kind of the point. 

Examples aka My Recent Twitter Chats

I was lucky enough to be a guest on three Twitter chats recently. I tweeted about Getting Unstuck on #MediaChat, Mobile Tools for Writers on #MobileChat, and How to Improve your Productivity and Time Management on #TwitterSmarterI embedded the links for the questions and my answers, as well as some of the responses from the communities, in the recaps. Just click the links.

Also, on Monday, October 16, at 12pm Pacific Time, I will be a guest on #ContentChat, talking about Goal Setting for Bloggers. It will be a blast, so feel free to join in.

* * *

If you want to meet and connect with leaders in your industry, why not give Twitter chats a try. They also give others a chance to meet you. And you never know where these new relationships might lead. 

What do you think? Have you participated in Twitter chats? Which ones do you like? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

A New Tool for Submitting Your Work

For all you writers out there submitting short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction, or poetry to literary magazines, I thought I’d share a new tool I found. It’s a (relatively) new feature on Submittable, and it’s called “Discover.”

What's Submittable?


If you submit your work a lot, you almost certainly already have a Submittable (formerly Submishmash) account. Skip to the next paragraph. For those of you who don’t know about Submittable, it’s a submission platform that many literary magazines use nowadays. On their website they’ll link to their Submittable page, and if you’re already logged in, you just need to fill in some basic information, paste in a cover letter if required, and upload your document. It also gives you a handy dashboard of all your submissions, the dates, results, etc. Accounts are free and some magazines will only accept submissions this way.

The New Tool:


The new Discover feature lists magazines that use Submittable and have open calls for submissions.  The listings don’t have quite enough information for my tastes. For example, they don’t break it down into paying and non-paying markets. You can’t filter by type of submission or other important factors, such “for locals only” restrictions or calls for the visual arts. It also includes opportunities such as writer's residencies. There are quite a few markets that charge reading fees or contest entry fees. So it’s a bit laborious. 

Why it's Cool:


Despite its limitations, the key is that these markets are all currently OPEN, and the listings clearly indicate when they close. Since temporarily closed markets are one of the big obstacles I run into when submitting my work, I think this is useful.

Check it out and see if you like it:



Here's a little screen shot of calls closing today:






Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Write What You Know or Write What You Love?

When they say write what you know, do you feel energized or stuck?

Sometimes the things we know best aren’t really the things we want to write about as authors. Take me for instance, I worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor for 10 years and always knew I wanted to be a published author. I, at first, considered writing a Self Help book because I was trying to follow the old adage of writing what I know. Maybe it would have been a very helpful self-help book and a best seller but it just wasn’t my passion (helping people is my passion but not writing a self-help book).

Anyway, I then changed professions slightly and became a High School Guidance Counselor. This fit in better with my family life and I enjoyed having summers off with my daughter. Again, I could write a book about the 7 Sure-Fire Ways of Getting Your Child into the College They Want but it’s not my passion. I love helping kids get into the college of their dreams, mind you, but not writing about it.

I was lost as to how to write what I know. So, I just mucked around for a while.

One day a kind friend encouraged me to write what I love. Ah—there you go! It’s all about the passion, not the head knowledge. Well, at least for me it is. And lo and behold a book idea came to me one night or early morning just as I was waking up called The Lilac Princess. I wrote as fast and as furious as I could and completed the essential story in a couple of hours. Let me just say I write children’s books—they’re not super long.

What was really incredible to me about this is that the story just flowed out of me. Not only that but it has a very positive message embedded in a fun magical adventure story—the message of forgiveness. I found my way to help people (the little ones we call children). I had gotten unstuck! All because of one simple change—moving from writing what I know, to writing what I love.

You can get unstuck too. 

Think about what really excites you, what makes you happy, and what you enjoy reading yourself. Make a list of all the things that you are passionate about. I’m sure a fabulous story will bubble up from inside you that has been buried there because you were trying to do something that just didn’t fit for you.

Find your passion, find your story! Do it today.

Please share with me your ideas, insights, and passions.

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.

Hoping to Inspire You to Give Back to the Publishing Industry


Early Year Resolutions: 
Tis the Season for Supporting the Industry

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Aha! You may not not be aware of it, but it's resolution time!

It's resolution time so you don't miss an opportunity to support the book industry.

I love to give authors advice on setting goals for the New Year. Here’s the thing: I’ve done that and—in the doing of it—realize that no one author can help another set goals because each author and each title is so different. And I also realize that it's easier if we start thinking about how we can help now,
rather than on January 1st.

I gave authors a whole book of possible resolutions when I finished the second edition of TheFrugal Book Promoter. I got general and told authors to pick and choose their goals from the book. That they wouldn’t be able to do everything that is in it to help themselves and their industry--and that they shouldn’t. I mean the whole idea behind writing that book was to keep other authors from falling in the same potholes I did. I advised them to choose promotions based on their personalities, the titles of their books (different books call for different kinds of marketing campaigns!), and the health of their pocketbooks.

The same goes for your early resolutions. Each of us is different. Still, I’m tackling this subject because I do think there is one thing that almost every author could and should put on his or her resolution list. Are you ready?

Number one is: Buy books!

I often get e-mails from authors saying that their fellow authors don’t buy their books. And I do understand how that can happen. The longer we’ve been writing, the more author-friends we have and, at some point it’s impossible to support them all. Having said that, we as authors shouldn’t expect fellow authors to buy books that don’t interest them. Books they don’t have time for. Or books that aren’t published the way they want to read them (paperback or e-books, anyone?)  That’s why we promote rather than just depending on friends and relatives—which, after all, isn’t the biggest pool of buyers in the world.

Still, we authors should buy some books each year and I think we should set aside a budget for that. It’s about Zen. It’s about supporting the industry that we expect to support us. I even tell authors that they shouldn’t limit themselves to buying only my book on, say, editing or book proposals or wordtrippers or the marketing of books. Even authors who have read extensively on a particular subject may very well get new ideas from a book on a similar subject or be inspired by it.

But there are other ways to support our industry besides buying books we want to (or need to) read. Authors on strict budgets should find books make relatively inexpensive gifts for holiday giving, for hostess and thank you gifts, for birthdays, and even to give to business associates on appropriate occasions.

We all know that we tend to get lax with our resolutions. So, to make your “Buy Books” resolution work all year, go to your gift-giving list for last year and see how many people on that list could get the gift of reading in this year instead of something that will be promptly tossed in the Goodwill bin or re-gifted. Staple your gift list to your resolution list. And then make another resolution to read your resolutions and that attached list of gift-giving idea list at least once a month.

Heck, you could even give your own book to folks on that list. You are proud of it, aren’t you?
If every author gave books as gifts, I could see a bright, shiny year ahead. A year where agents take on more clients because more publishers are selling more books. And when that happens, just think! Books will be the gifts that keep giving. Books will be the gifts that give back!

Here's another, less expensive gift to the industry. Nominate a few helpful websites, blogs, and newsletters for a Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites nod. I would love it if you'd include mine among them but there are many other great ones, too.

One of my favorites is Joan Stewart’s Publicity Hound (Letting you know about it is sort of my holiday gift to you. It offers ideas from other industries that authors can easily apply to their own campaigns.) 

Here are Writer's Digest suggested categories for nominations, just to help you get your thinking cap on:

Agent Blogs
Writing Communities
Publishing Resources
Jobs and Markets
Creativity and Challenges
Genres/Niches
General Resources
Fun for Writers
This WritersontheMove blog

Send comments and nominations for next year’s list to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with “101 Websites” in the subject line (deadline is Jan. 1, of each year. Learn more at
http://www.writersdigest.com/101-best-websites-for-writers-archive/101-best-websites-for-writers-2009

My SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com is a 101 Best Website pick and Ithank readers who support the industry for that. If you read or just love to pile sweet-smelling books on the stand near your bed, a nomination like this is one of the best gifts you can give.  Second only to reviewing a book you love or think will help others on Amazon.

Please let me know if you buy books, nominate literary websites for awards, or pass along books you love via reviews. I would like to thank you and mention your favorites in my newsletter.  It's part of the marketing fun, part of helping one another, part of the way to keep our marketing efforts rolling along. Part of our industry-aiding resolution putsch.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books, a series for writers and a series for retailers. Learn more about them at http://HowToDoItFrugally.com. You can subscribe to her #SharingwithWriters newsletter in the
window at the top right of nearly every page on the website.


And yes, she does give books for gifts. She often gives her how-to books to clients. She gives her poetry chapbooks on most any occasion, from Christmas to Valentine’s to Mother’s Day. And, she does buy others’ books for her own shelves or Kindle reader but only when she actually yearns to read them or needs to read them.

So, I Hear You’re a Writer?




How does that feel when someone at a party asks you? Do you own up to it proudly, or, change the subject?

I’ll admit I haven’t written a novel, but I am a writer. I’ve written countless short stories and poetry. I haven’t let my creative juices stop flowing.

Are you ashamed because you haven’t written a book? You shouldn’t be! I have been published and it has brought me joy. Would I like to make a lot of money writing…Yes? Who wouldn’t?

You are a writer if you’ve written something and posted it somewhere. Do you have a blog you are writing for? That’s a great step in helping your writing career. I used to be the assistant editor of Long Story Short ezine with Denise Cassino. We helped many new writers get published. I hope there are other ezines that do that, I just don’t know. I replied to every submission, whether to accept or not. The ones we thought needed a little bit of help, we helped them flesh out the story.

Here are a few facts that can help or harm your writing thinking:

1.    Are you getting any encouragement from your family or friends? A lot of families believe it’s just a hobby for you. Right? Do they take any interest in what you wrote? No? Get over it and write. If that’s your passion then nothing will stand in your way.

2.    Are you easily hurt by rejection letters or by family and friends? You need to realize that rejection is part of the writing game. I say game because then you must write and figure where this story or article would best be placed. Then you contact that magazine and see if they are interested. Stephen King was rejected 30 times for his book, Carrie.

3.    Join a writing group. This is important if you’ve had trouble with acceptances. I used to run a writing group where I would give out 4 topics to choose from and write about. Then members had to read each other’s stories and give critiques. Sometimes your own eye will miss a misspelling or grammar mistake, and the group will most likely find them. It helps to hear from other authors what might work in your story. Remember, don’t change your own voice to someone else’s in the group. And always leave the writer with something positive.

4.   Write what you know. Have you heard that before? I personally think research and reading can give your mind a boost and help you write about something you never knew before. Train your mind to discover new things. YouTube is an interesting place to find different subjects to write about. Use that part of your brain to learn more things. Don’t let your mind go numb.

5.   Write every day. Now, this is a phrase you hear a lot from writers. I work promoting author’s books, so I do some writing every day. It’s not the kind of writing like I do here. I really don’t write a story or article every day, but when I do, it feels good. I feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. I hope it’s worthwhile to you readers. I hope what I am writing is helping you, the reader.

The purpose of a writer is to connect with our readers. I like helping others. If you have a question about anything, I hope you leave a comment. Maybe there is something specific you want to know about. I’ll do my best to answer you.

Just remember, you are a writer when you put pen to paper, fingers to your keyboard, or voice to a recorder. Don’t worry about what other people think, keep writing. Even if it is a hobby, so what!  Do what you enjoy doing.

Your writing friend.





Linda Barnett-Johnson is a Virtual Assistant for authors and enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and making up quotes. Many of her articles and poetry have been published. She’s a former editor, former assistant editor of Long Story Short ezine, former administrative director of Long Story Short School of Writing. You can locate her website here: www.lindabarnett-johnson.com She also posts new books, writing articles and author interviews on her blog:  http://lindabarnett-johnson.blogspot.com/  Always looking for guest bloggers that would post writing tips, articles and anything to do with writing.

What Makes a Good Fiction Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven

Stories can be plot driven or character driven, so which is the best formula to use when writing a story? Knowing a little about both methods should help in making a decision.

Plot Driven Story

A story’s plot moves the story forward, from point A to point B. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a straight line; in fact a course that twists and turns is much better. This type of plot creates movement and interest. It’s the twists and turns that will keep the forward momentum fresh, as well as creates anticipation. Anticipation will hold a reader’s attention.

The plot also provides reasons and explanations for the occurrences in the story, as well as offers conflict and obstacles that the protagonist must overcome to hopefully create growth. These elements create a connection with the reader. It entices the reader to keep turning the pages. Without a plot it is difficult to create growth and movement for the protagonist. It might be comparable to looking at a still photo. It might be a beautiful photo and may even conjure up emotions in the viewer, but how long do you think it would hold a reader’s attention?

Along with this, the plot molds the protagonist. It causes growth and movement in the character. Assume you have a timid woman who through circumstances, the plot, transforms into a brave, strong, forceful hero. Where would the story be without the events that lead this timid woman to move past herself and into a new existence?

Character Driven Story

On the other hand, a character driven story creates a bond between the protagonist and reader. It is the development and growth of the character, the character’s personal journey, which motivates the reader to connect. There doesn’t need to be twists and turns, or fire works. The reader becomes involved with the character and this is all the enticement the reader needs to keep reading.

In addition to this, the character works hand in hand with the plot to move the story forward. As the character begins her transformation the plot moves in the same direction.

In some instances, such as short stories, a character driven story can work amazingly well, such as in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. In cases such as this, the connection developed between the character and the reader can be more than enough to satisfy the reader. But, all in all, it seems to be the combined efforts of a well plotted and character driven story that works the best.

The Best of Both Worlds

According to science fiction and fantasy writer, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., “The best fiction should be an intertwined blend of character, plot, setting, and style.”
I agree. All elements of a story working together create stories that will be remembered.

All the aspects of a story should complement each other, should move each other forward to a satisfying conclusion, and should draw the reader in. If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short. As with all things in life balance is necessary, the same holds true when writing a story.

What do you think makes good fiction?

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact Karen at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarencioffi/
GoolgePlus  https://plus.google.com/+KarenCioffiVentrice/about


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