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By Herman Holtz
The Freelance Writer
as an Independent Consultant
Why This Book?
I have had two main career interests in my life, and been fortunate
enough to be successful in both: They are writing (and I use that word
to refer to and include the whole spectrum of publications activities)
and consulting. In fact, I consulted as a proposal writer and of all
the more than 60 books I wrote for publication, the best-selling ones
were books on consulting. So it is hardly strange that I associate the
two careers, writing and consulting, quite closely with each other.
In the pages that follow, you will find frequent observations that
certain kinds of writing work and writing projects are consulting
tasks at least as much as they are writing projects. Having made that
observation over and again in my writings, spontaneously and without
contemplation, it has finally come home to me that many writers are
actual consulting, and doing so at far lower rates than they are
entitled to earn. As you read on, I think you will see the truth of
this. My intention here is to encourage all writers to get a more
accurate look at what they do, and start seeing that they are and
should be paid as consultants.
History of This Book
This book is based on and is largely a compilation (supplemented with
new material) of many how-to articles and reports I wrote and
published (with periodic updates, as necessary), over the past 20-odd
years. About one-half of those pieces were on the subject of writing,
on some of the many aspects of writing as a career profession or
sideline activity. The remaining one-half were on the subject of
independent consulting and sundry business subjects, such as public
speaking, marketing, and contract negotiation, but also touching
frequently on writing.
I have presented these articles and reports here in a rather random
order, with some revisions and additional new material to round out
and focus the main emphasis of this book, which is this: Freelance
writing and consulting are both ancient and honorable professions, and
the pages of this book will guide the reader to many markets for
writing and consulting functions, explaining their needs and
opportunities. In today's complex world, the modern freelance writer
often functions much more as a consultant than as writer or editor in
writing and publications matters. I hope to inspire and guide you to
upgrade your skills and knowledge to the status of consultant in some
Whether your own greatest interest lies entirely in writing per se,
part-time or full-time, as a freelance or to supplement your job
skills, or for the higher purpose of becoming an independent editorial
consultant, there is useful information and guidance for you in the
pages ahead. It is my hope in writing this book, however, that I will
inspire you to become a dedicated, independent consultant, to the
enrichment of yourself and your clients. Or, if you are already an
independent consultant of some kind, I hope that you will use the
information in these pages to supplement your consulting skills and
the services you provide your clients.
What is an Editorial Consultant?
The term editorial consultant is my own coinage, as far as I know. At
least, I do not recall encountering it elsewhere than in my own
writings. I define it as one who offers consulting services in
writing, editing, or other related skill, including publishing. Of
course, that raises two questions:
What is an independent consultant?
What are some examples of an editorial consultant?
Both questions will be answered in these pages, answered abundantly,
in fact, as we explore the many ways and byways of writing and related
How Does One Become an Independent Consultant?
At one time, hardly anyone ever planned to be a consultant (although
universities now offer courses in the art of consulting). Most of us
stumbled into consulting, somehow, as I did. I became a proposal
consultant by chance, because many of the proposals I wrote as a staff
tech writer were successful in winning contracts. That inspired
friends and acquaintances (and ultimately, strangers) to call to ask
for my advice, and then my writing help, until it became too much and
I began to say no. Then they offered to retain me as a paid
consultant. That put things into a new light, and I began to charge
for helping people write proposals, and soon expanded into marketing
in general, especially marketing to the federal government and its
many agencies. I found, soon enough, that I was also in demand as a
lecturer on the subject, and conducted many lectures and seminars at
my then daily fee of $1,000.
Why Make the Change?
Almost any kind of writing/editing/illustrating or other publication
experience and skill can become the basis for and be developed into an
independent consulting specialty: Skills in general in writing and/or
editing, illustrating, training systems development, speech writing,
public relations, technical writing, medical writing, news writing,
and other skills within or related to editorial and publications work
have been so translated successfully by others. Moreover, the
metamorphosis need not stop with the initial upgrade:
A gentleman named Howard Penn Hudson became one of the (if not the)
leading authority on newsletters, and has written widely on the
subject in books and his own newsletter about newsletters. Open to the
advertising sections of direct-marketing periodicals, such as DM News
and Target magazine, and see how many writers are today high-paid
consultants in writing sales letters and other elements of direct
Hubert Bermont, founded his own independent consulting career
But it is not necessarily the only reason. although I suspected that they would continue to grow. I first expressed this basic idea of growth from writing and related skills to independent consulting in my writings of some 20 years ago. e. whereas freelance writing is often a completely lonely activity. ultimately becoming a publisher himself (The Consultant's Library) and founder of an association of independent consultants.as consultant on book publishing. and laser printers. but others . sales promotions. and publishing. than writing did. proposal writing. conventional consulting specialties. the fax. Fax and email are cutting sharply into surface mail and may soon obsolete it. One other reason many consultants have reported to me is that consulting gives them greater satisfaction. desktop publishing programs. Money--the higher fees you can and should command as a consulting specialist--is alone a perfectly valid reason to choose independent consulting over freelance writing as a career.. and those who write the new direct mail of online advertising for clients. to name a few. as are the big. Too. Much less could I have foreseen the many new opportunities for independent consulting that would be created almost overnight by the many new specialties that have overtaken us and made old methods and systems obsolete. Of course. mainframe computers. The list of examples is almost end-less in its size overall and in its diversity of independent consulting specialties. I know now how prophetic my words were. clients and often clients' staff people. More and more commonly. consulting means working with others. Revolutionary change has come about far more rapidly than any of us could have foreseen. but they were much more significant than I knew. They are being replaced by personal computers with word processors. and the change has affected writing and related functions as much as it has any other activity of our society: Typewriters and typesetting machines are almost museum pieces today. after I had applied this idea successfully to my own career. Their work has greater significance for them. writers can also upgrade to the older. The personal computer and the advances it has inspired. Some writers handle the loneliness well. But not only are those words as true today as they were then. Among today's newer breed of independent consultants are the designers and creators of Web sites for clients. a greater sense of achievement. Subscribe to some of the mailing lists and news groups on the Internet and read the posts of technical writers who became independent consultants in technical publications. I could certainly not have predicted how much both writers' specialties and independent consulting itself would burgeon. speech writing. public relations. writers of manuals for users of new equipment. the developers of materials to train people in the new technologies and method-. the electronic bulletin boards and commercial online services. Fax machines and fax boards in computers have largely replaced clumsy older systems of rapid written communication. and the Internet and Web alone have inspired many new independent consulting specialties. such as conventional direct mail. broadcasting. advertising or publicity notices and business cards and letterheads include the address of an Internet Web site. copywriting. g.
you do not become a consultant simply by calling yourself a consultant. as much as any experience could. much more. Unfortunately. a number of years ago. although that was the major service I provided my clients. Anyway. In the case of editorial services. But more than a title is required. I solve the problems that inevitably crop up. covering some of the kinds of activity in which many writers have chosen to become specialists and offer consulting services: . Here is a case in point: As a freelance proposal writer. I gave it up. and there was no point in wasting more time. The consultant is not only expert at whatever he or she does. for I delivered far more in services and results than would be expected of a writer. and otherwise cover the entire waterfront for the client." I explained. After a few more minutes of this kind of exchange. I was able to charge and get fees of $1. "No writer is worth that much. as necessary. I analyze the requirement. Of course.find it depressing and have great trouble enduring it. an expert in winning contracts. you can decide to offer your services as a general editorial consultant. especially government contracts. It's pretty difficult to be knowledgeable in all fields. Here are a few ideas. the dramatic effects of turning your writing know-how into consulting know-how." My prospective client was unmoved. I presented myself as a proposal consultant. "But writing is only incidental to what I provide you. is more. a sizable daily rate even in today's highly inflated marketplace. but in today's world that is biting off quite a lot. a consultant in all matters and kinds of writing an publications. people in our society may be impressed by a writer who is published between book covers. or any consultant. than simply a freelance practitioner of some skill or craft that is the basis for the enterprise. Once (but only once). I devise strategies for you. a writer. writing or any other skill. "I am a consultant. I did not represent myself as a proposal writer. as such.000 per day. but in general. lead your proposal effort and write some or all of it. but did not dispute that a consultant offered services of greater value than one would expect of a writer. I was obviously not going to prevail. although equally significant: There is much more prestige in being a consultant than in being a writer. but is also able to design. however. it was the first and proved to be the only time I ran into this problem. and the difference between the two know-hows. solve problems. Consultant or Writer? One other factor is more subtle. and even more difficult to be credible as that far-ranging an expert. What I told this woman was entirely true: A proposal consultant. rarely commands equal respect. advise. Note that this client insisted that I was "only" a writer to support her unwillingness to pay my fee. The fact that it happened at all is significant in that it illustrated." she insisted. a prospective client balked at my fee: "That's too much money to pay a writer!" she exclaimed indignantly. Even as the most expert of freelance writers.
Computer help files
Web site design
A Few Duties of Consulting
As a consultant in any given field, you do have to be more than a
writer, editor, or other specialist who is knowledgeable and skilled
in your craft. You must be also creative, inventive, and resourceful.
If, for example, you decide to become a consultant in the newsletter
field, as Howard Penn Hudson did, clients would expect you to be able
to design a newsletter, select typefaces, set up sources for input
information, advise clients on what to do and not to do with regard to
all matters concerning newsletters, and solve any problem that arises
in connection with the project. (You can set the limits on what you do
and do not do by defining to clients the services you provide, but if
you place too severe a limit on what you offer, you make your
marketing rather difficult, of course.)
My own experiences as a proposal consultant are perhaps a bit extreme.
I believe most consultants are not called upon to do quite as many
support subtasks as I was. In truth, I soon developed into the general
marketing consultant, specializing in federal government markets, than
a proposal consultant per se, but my functions illustrate the
diversity of services some consultants must provide. In my case, my
functions and services varied from simply aiding the client in
determining whether to pursue a lead and write a proposal to designing
the client's program and writing the entire proposal presenting it.
(Today, the proposal consultant would find it most useful to become
familiar with desktop publishing programs most in use in proposal
preparation, some of them actually mandated by clients.)
The diversity is dependent on the client's needs and expectations, as
well as on other factors. Sometimes I was the only individual working
directly on the proposal. At other times, the client assembled a team
of dozen staff people to write the proposal under my guidance. If the
proposal requirement called for a description of my client's
purchasing procedures and my client had never written a procedural
document for purchasing, I wrote one spontaneously for the proposal.
In writing proposals for clients, Especially for clients who operated
very small companies and had not yet formalized all their internal
procedures, I was often forced to create various kinds of backup
documents, such as training manuals, quality control documents,
purchasing standards, and sundry other items required for the
proposal. In general, my major task was often writing all the things
the client's staff could not write.
That capability of being an effective trouble shooter and problem
solver, is the essence of the consulting function. It's a creative
skill. The ideal consultant is enough of an expert, analyst,
innovator, designer, trouble shooter, and problem solver to handle a
reasonable range of problems and needs that may arise. That is why you
are entitled to and must require a much greater fee as a consultant
than you do as a freelance writer. You should expect much more of
yourself, as your clients will.
Do All Consultants Handle Such Diverse Needs?
There is no great rule book that dictates what a consultant must do or
provide. In fact, there is a wide gulf of opinion about what a
consultant is or should do. On the one hand, there is the purist who
believes that the word consultant must be taken literally to mean
counselor or adviser. This school insists that the sole function of a
consultant is that of problem solver, advising clients on what to do
about a given problem, as in the case of a medical specialist called
in to offer his or her opinion on a diagnosis.
On the other hand, there is the view that most clients are inclined to
take (and with which I happen to agree) that the consultant is morally
obligated to do anything and everything he or she can for the client
who is paying the bill, even to working on the client's premises in
close conjunction with the client and/or the client's staff. This
latter idea represents and describes a large class of individuals who
call themselves consultants, but who are also known as professional
"temps" or "contract professionals." They are, in fact, temporary
employees, providing their specialized skills and working for a few
days, weeks, or months on a client's premises, although on the payroll
of another firm, a provider of such help.
Among the most common of such individuals are engineers, technical
writers, designers, drafters, and computer programmers, but there are
many other specialists who work in this same manner. Ordinarily, this
kind of consultant is not called upon to be a trouble shooter or
adviser, but only to practice his or her specialty on the client's
premises during the client's normal business hours. Payment is
generally at an hourly rate that is substantially higher than
permanent employees usually earn at similar specialties.
"Substantially higher" generally means from one and one-half times to
twice the rate usually paid to permanent employees for similar work.
There is a variation on this theme. There are many writers, engineers,
programmers, and others who do this kind of work without an
intermediary supplier. That is, they contract directly with clients to
provide their services, on the client's premises or on their own
premises, most commonly at an hourly rate, but often at fixed
There is yet another common arrangement in which independent
professionals work through brokers. The broker signs a contract with a
client, calling for certain classes of people or kinds of work,
usually to be performed on the client's premises. The broker then
subcontracts all the work to independent consultants, who are
self-employed and are not on anyone's payroll, but are paid as
contractors and attend to their taxes themselves. (There has been some
difficulty about this arrangement with the IRS.) That means that there
is a wide spectrum of situations and conditions under which
consultants work today, and a spectrum of kinds of services
consultants render. That gives rise to the great number of definitions
of the word consultant.
The Scope of Your Operations
As an editorial consultant, you can be a specialist or a generalist
within some broad field of writing. You might choose to write for
business ("business writing" or, to some, "corporate writing"), and be
able to develop any kind of business writing the client requires, or
you can specialize in newsletters, marketing copy in general,
direct-mail copy, publicity, book design, or other. The field of
writing and writing specialties has become too diverse for anyone to
know and do it all, and to be expert in it all. (Go back and look at
the list presented earlier.) Moreover, the central idea of consulting
is specialization, and may not depend at all on one's skills as a
writer or even as a proposal writer. Someone who is a perfectly able
proposal writer might call on me to solve a problem or render an
opinion that requires specialized knowledge.
The client expects the consultant to be a specialist, and will be
reluctant to place faith in a consultant who professes to do it all.
Even if you were that wise and that experienced, it is not effective
from a marketing standpoint to claim it. Thus, I think "Editorial
Consultant" is too broad a term. More suitable to the image of a
consultant as a specialist are such terms as direct-mail consultant,
or publicity consultant. It's a kind of balancing act: You must make
your consulting specialty broad enough to address a large enough
market, but still it must appear specialized enough to make it clear
that you are a consult-ant specialist, expert in your specialty and
able to handle clients' problems.
Must You Specialize in Products?
The concept so far presented here suggests that as an editorial
consultant, you must specialize in some type or class of products,
such as newsletters, direct-mail packages, or audiovisual scripts and
storyboards. That is not entirely true. You can choose to specialize
in other ways or along other parameters. For example, one consultant I
knew a few years ago specialized in writing services for associations.
He was familiar with and experienced in association operation, and he
offered help in any and all writing and editorial functions an
association normally had need of.
You can specialize in that manner, seeking clients in a given
industry, business, craft, or profession with which you are familiar.
A woman who was familiar with office operations specialized in
organizing offices, and she wrote complete procedural plans for office
operations. And, of course, there are speech writers who specialize in
the world of politics, and write speeches for people in or running for
public office There are those who are "book doctors," and help
individuals trying to write a book about something or other, but many
are ghost writers, and do the entire writing job for others, whose
names will then appear on the books as the authors.
That, being familiar with and experienced in some given sector of the
business and professional world, is very helpful to your marketing.
You have something of a head start in knowing where and how to get the
and may even know some key people who should know about your new venture. You might opt to target all directors of marketing or sales managers. this simplifies your own marketing efforts to the extent that it brings focus to it. brochures. Of course. and the like. But do not depend on this for your only or even your main marketing address: Despite the commonly made claims of 35 or 40 million online visitors to the Internet and other cyberspace areas. Consulting is a very special kind of enterprise. you can turn to online —search of clients. the most effective marketing medium is the informal network--word of mouth. specialize in marketing support (call yourself a marketing consultant). despite their inability to define or explain consulting. if you are not intimidated by modern high-tech devices and have learned to operate a pc. there was a government-wide dispute and discussion of what the term meant in relation to government use of consultants. to build your professional image and raise your visibility. also enables you to broaden the scope of what you do without appearing to dilute your focus of specialization. They are the print media--periodicals and direct mail--and networking via associations.) Marketing Online Today. and that might include owners of small businesses. conventions. Marketing Your Services Success in consulting. There are at least two reasons for this: . and may be a factor to consider in deciding how to specialize and focus your targets. One that clients often do not understand because the very term consulting has so many different definitions and interpretations that those who offer up such definitions are always in conflict with each other. for example. Networking For most independent consultants. For example. for example. by industry or corporate function. You can decide to specialize in the kind of clients in another way than by industry or business: You can appeal to a given office or functionary of businesses. as many consultants do. In no venture you can undertake is your professional image and level of visibility more important than it is in consulting. Again. You can publish a free newsletter. in finding clients for your services. You must reach them via the more conventional seas in which to cast your net in search of clients. and word of mouth. while still maintaining the image of the specialist. You could. (In the Carter Administration. there are millions of prospects who are not online and may never be online. commercials. and write any or all kinds of marketing and sales materials. as in any enterprise. who are often their own marketing and sales managers.word out. you must be careful to identify a market target that is abundant enough in numbers to ensure that you will not soon run out of prospects. which the Carter Administration found to be excessive. suppose you wish to consult on marketing materials--sales letters. That is not a small consideration in itself. depends on success in marketing. Specializing in these ways.
They read your frequent posts in relevant newsgroups and mailing lists on the Internet and/or in forums on such other cyberspace media as CompuServe and America Online..) Thus. You publish articles and even Letters to the Editor in periodicals read by those you have selected as prospects. Consulting is one of those fields where a client tends to judge the worth of your services--to judge you as a consultant. and are well impressed with what they read. For these reasons. making people aware of your existence. Probably no single factor in marketing yourself this way is quite as important as patience and persevering consistency. typically. or fifth appeal. your represent yourself to be both an expert in whatever you claim as your specialty and a wise counselor.As a consultant. You publish a free newsletter. You respond in these posts to others' requests for help. They get brochures and other literature from you frequently enough so that soon your name and what you offer to do becomes familiar and remembered. A spin-off of such activities is word of mouth. from any consultant: That is implicit in the very idea of consulting. brief letter. The small effort--e. (More than one independent consultant has reported greater success in closing sales when he or she raised his or her fees. It's a strange phenomenon to find yourself recommended by strangers. but it happens quite a lot when your name becomes well known and your image well established. . It is again the growing familiarity and increasing sense of comfort and trust. It is an even bigger mistake to underprice yourself than to overprice your service. either online in cyberspace or in ink on paper sent by mail. clients do not usually retain consultants about whom they know nothing more than that the consultant exists.g. if not slightly more. the large advertisement or thick direct-mail package. fourth. These are all networking methods that help you accomplish both goals of creating a favorable professional image and raising your visibility. you are compelled to charge at least as much as your competitors do. that is what the client expects. Even if you do not make such claims specifically. that is--by your price. small brochure--repeated regularly with the same central them or even without change is almost always more successful than the single or only occasional large effort. even when the appeal is unchanging. furnishing samples of your skills and evidence of your friendly and helpful attitude. Many prospects who do not respond to a first or second appeal will respond to a third. the small advertising notice. Even those who have never used your services but have become aware of your existence via some of the methods described will recommend you to their friends and associates because they want to be helpful to both you and their friends and associates. Here are a few of the ways prospects begin to develop that sense of comfort with you as an independent consultant of whom they knew nothing heretofore: They see your quiet advertising notice (shun hype and loud claims in your advertising) steadily and unchangingly consistent until it becomes a familiar and reassuring symbol of reliability. The prospect must get an image and develop a sense of belief in and security with you as an independent consultant who is otherwise a complete stranger and an unknown quantity.
and so we must provide here some guidance in both the profession and the business of consulting. nothing is quite as important as marketing. but the other fields will be covered too. any business. print advertisements. you are a professional and. the one kind of writing that all businesses need and use is advertising/marketing/sales writing. you probably have never heard of me. I do want you to emerge from reading this book prepared to convert your writing abilities and knowledge to the pursuit of a career as an Independent consultant. first of all. In the business world. it would have to be persuasive writing. but I have lived a long time and thus have had time to have many experiences. which is also a quite honorable career. and/or broadcast commercials and nothing else. it then goes on to delve into using your writing know-how to do more for yourself and for your clients by guiding them in and solving their problems in connection with writing and associated functions and tasks--a brief course in setting up and running a successful independent consulting venture. I am the author of over 60 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. but devoted primarily to helping you become familiar with the writing needs of business. Therefore. the purpose of business. the writing of business. of . If you are not yet prepared to make that change.What is to Come All the foregoing has been orientation and preview. you could upgrade that knowledge into a consulting practice more easily. Who/What am I? Unless you are a consultant or happen to have read one of my books. In that case. if there were only one subject of writing I was permitted to present. As noted business/marketing guru Peter Drucker has observed. Thus. you will have lost nothing here and. Therefore. What is to come is preparation to hang out your shingle as an independent consultant. two classes of information to be covered in the pages to come: here is. There are in that respect. there will be great emphasis on these things. more importantly. than any other writing specialty. gained a good bit from your reading. is to create customers. However. probably. If you learned how to write proposals. brochures. As an independent consultant. if you are ready to make the change immediately. as I have known it. So please forgive me if I appear to be bragging. The following are factual notes. In that respect. On the one hand. I hope. the subject matter: those classes of writing and associated work that are suitable as specialties in which you may consult. it is possible that you are quite content with simply being a good freelance writer. a businessman or -woman. sales letters. with occasional excursions into consulting as a specialty. It's an obvious truth that needs saying. and it needs repetition. That accomplished. But you have a right to know why I presume to impose so many of my opinions on you. this book begins and may be viewed as a conventional course in writing for the business or "corporate" world. this book ought to provide you with the basis you need to upgrade your skills until you are ready to make that change.
S. OSHA Job Corps Environmental Protection Agency U. Federal Systems Div. brochures. USDA Forest Service. I have written extensively on marketing subjects. consumer product safety programs. in the course of writing a successful proposal for that center. reports. technical writing. Communications & Weapons Remington-Rand. Inc. large and small. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. and many other programs for the Air Force. EPA programs. Defense Electronics Products Philco. colleges. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). EPA. including selling to the government generally and on proposal writing especially (I was the author of proposals that won more than $360 million in government contracts for employers. audiovisual presentations. clients. and many other agencies.S. lecturer and seminar leader on the business subjects about which I have written.Postal Service. the U. Educational Science US Labor Department. training. and of many magazine articles and custom/contract assignments--. and myself.S. the U. I have developed a reputation as an authority on government contracting. brochures. Michigan Employment Training Land Improvement Contractors Assn. Dept of Commerce C&P Telephone Co.Postal Service Georgetown University Saginaw State University U. proposal consultant.S. and training programs. GE.S.) I am still called upon by corporations. including the following: IBM. but especially on the how-to of building a successful independent consulting practice. newsletters. my experience includes newspaper work (Philadelphia Inquirer) and many years of employment since in engineering.S Navy. I have been employed by or been a consultant to many organizations. the Job Corps program. Overall. RCA. Sterling Associates United Communications Group Prince Georges Community College Schoolcraft College Salvation Army U. NASA. FAA. BMEWS.. proposals. reports. I won contracts for and directed numerous other projects providing engineering support and related services for NASA. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer.S. Army. audiovisual presentations. General Services Administration. Michigan).g. speeches. Civil Service Commission Training Magazine New Jersey Professional Engrs Assn. training programs. and other federal agencies. as well as in my own independent ventures. Reentry Vehicles Division Dun & Bradstreet Volt Information Sciences Control Data Corporation Chrysler Corporation Vitro Laboratories Hercules Aerospace Division US Industries. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting firm. and other organizations as a proposal consultant and seminar presenter. Army. Apollo moon-landing program. I designed the vocational and academic training programs for one of the first U. Navy. Automotive Accessories & Parts Assn. Typhon and Titan missile systems. Atlas.manuals on complex and sophisticated defense and space systems. Analysis & Technology. Job Corps Centers (Fort Custer. and other such material. . and others to write manuals. winning many contracts with the U.
and Contracting Opportunities Digest. 1991 Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. I published the newsletters. 1989 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. McGraw-Hill. Bob Adams. 1990 Choosing and Using a Consultant. (One of my more novel projects was the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. 1986 ***Computer Work Stations. 1981. 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. while also designing a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. Government. 1986 **The Direct Marketer's Work Book. 1983. Dow Jones-Irwin. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. John Wiley. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. 1983. 1993 Doing Business with the U. John Wiley & Sons. 1992 Databased Marketing. 1995 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. 1995 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully. A FEW BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Priced to Sell. McGraw-Hill. 1982. 1984 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business.. 1985 Beyond the Resume. Greenwood Press. Dearborn Trade. John Wiley. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. John Wiley. Scott Foresman.S. Mail Order Magic. Prima. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. AMACOM. John Wiley. Greenwood Press. Chapman & Hall. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. Consultant's Library. McGraw-Hill. a High-Profit Business. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. Inc. Upstart/Dearborn. 3rd Ed. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability. Second Edition. John Wiley. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. The Consultant's Library. Facts on File. 1982. 1991 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. John Wiley & Sons. Upstart/Dearborn. 1994 *How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. 1988 The Business Writing Problem Solver. Arco. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. John Wiley. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. John Wiley. 1992 Marketing Without Money. 1996 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer.I was also a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for nearly a year. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. The Complete Guide to More Profitable Pricing.. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. John Wiley. . Prentice-Hall. John Wiley & Sons. Scott Foresman. John Wiley. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. 1987 Speaking for Profit. 1991 The Winning Resume. Prima. 1987 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. John Wiley. John Wiley. 1981. John Wiley & Sons. Dow Jones-Irwin. John Wiley. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. now part of the Energy Department). 1983. John Wiley. 1993 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. Prentice-Hall. 2d Edition. Profit-Line Management. Government Marketing News. l983. Scott Foresman. 1986 Advice. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. John Wiley.
000 a Year in Editorial Services 7: How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles 8: How to be Your Own Publisher . I have also added some new material. 1980. although there may be some redundancy. Each chapter was originally a complete an independent discussion and how-to revelation of some subject pertaining to writing. an editorial consultant. __________________ *Best seller. I updated them as I saw the need. and it is my main theme that the virtuoso freelance writer. as one chapter reinforces some point made in another chapter. translated into Indonesian **Translated into Italian ***Translated into Russian PREFACE This will be a mercifully brief author's preface because there is an Introduction to serve some of the purposes a preface might otherwise serve. and go on beyond these brief introductions to so many writing specialties to much greater enlightenment in them. such as this preface and an Introduction. l980. the one a client may call on to satisfy almost any writing need or to be an outstanding expert at one or more. From time to time. AMACOM. CONTENTS CHAPTER TITLE PAGE Introduction: The Freelance Writer as an Independent Consultan 1: A Few Tips on How to Succeed as an Independent Writer/Consultant 2: Tricks of the Trade 3: Finding Your Niche as a Writer 4: Freelance Technical Writing 5: About Literary Agents and Contract Terms 6: $60. My goal in offering this book is to encourage all freelance writers to become independent consultants in some writing/editorial/publications area or combination of related areas. I hope this because each chapter focuses on treats a different subject of writing. I find it difficult to refrain from making these few remarks. But as a writer. is in fact an independent consultant. One point I wish to make immediately is this: There is no particular logic to the order in which these chapters are presented. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. This book is made up of chapters that were each reports about writing that I published originally over a period of about 20 years.The $100 Billion Market AMACOM. I hope you will read them all. So you need not worry about starting at the beginning and reading the book in the order in which the chapters appear: You may read them in any order you wish. eventually. and I have made some changes to them again in making chapters of them. and there is no direct connection between or among the various chapters. or read some and not others.
and I have been doing it full time as an independent or freelance writer for a respectably large number of those years. but I far prefer the term independent. the hopefuls often do not know which are the most important questions they ought to have asked. And finally you do it for money. The questions come mostly from hopeful aspirants to writing or beginners who are not necessarily beginners or tyros as writers--quite the contrary. It spells out more firmly that the freelance writer is self-supporting and a free agent. some of the how-to books and articles on the subject of writing lay so much stress on the more trivial matters of formats and such items that the reader gets a mistaken idea as to their importance. I am going to try to answer a few of those familiar questions here. columns. and for what rewards. I have been writing for more years than I ever thought would be granted me. (Unfortunately.000 a Year Thru Self-Syndication How to Write a Press Release How to Write a Book Proposal Make Money Writing about Your Troubles The Tools of Writing The Evolution of Writing into Freelance Consulting CHAPTER 1 A Few Tips on How to Succeed as an Independent Writer Writing is like prostitution. many are highly proficient writers--but are usually quite naive about the practical side of freelance or independent writing.9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: The Magic of the Lead The Truth About Copyright Law Government Markets for Writers How to Make it Big with Your Own Newsletter How to Sell Your Book Before You Write It $75. later. Moln r What About the Rules of Writing? Freelance is the popular term for the independent writer. Then you do it for a few friends. and I am going to extrapolate from these a few more questions that I think the hopefuls should have asked. how to work. One result of this lengthy exposure and modest celebrity status is that I am constantly being asked questions about writing professionally and independently.) First will come those routine items. when. controlling his or her own life. (Not too surprisingly . the more critical and important ones. with many articles. what. Certain of the questions asked are definitely of the deja vu variety: I hear them again and again. F. and books published under my name as the author. First you do it for the love of it. .
the page number might appear here or elsewhere on the page. (That is taken to mean when you have a completed manuscript. The typical manuscript format today ought to carry a running head that identifies the ms and author.) Many of the guidelines laid down years ago were influenced by the Stone Age practices imposed on us by the Underwood and Remington typewriters. heads. i. if someone infringes and you want to sue or if someone claims you infringed and sues you. e.) About Copyright and Protection The "new" copyright law says that you own copyright in your written work automatically as soon as the work is in final form. special symbols. to "how it is done. as white space for the editor to use. When you publish a copyright notice. unless your editor objects to that. g.or triple-space copy so the editor can make his/her cabalistic marks. it is easy enough to print out corrected pages. The first page of the manuscript ought to bear your name. for example." All nonsense. and other details--according to their standards. If I am writing a piece called "Selling to Senior Citizens. as far as I am concerned. address. you may also offer a footer identifying the chapter to which the page belongs. (I know of one who does. Use your true name here. you can use the right corner). registering the copyright only at that time does not document when you created the work. (Your computer can count them for you!) Start well below the top of the page.) Place your name and address in the upper left corner (my preference. at the top.. centered in caps on about line 18 or 20. (My own practice is double-space.. allow one-inch margins all around and minimize pen and ink changes.) You own that copyright whether you do or do not register it with the Copyright Office. Of course. If you are writing a book. the one you wish to have appear as the payee on the check! But the title. With typewriter composition we used underlines to indicate italics and other devices to indicate our desires for boldface and other typographical preferences. so you may wish . It is a must to double-or triple-space copy." Depending on your word processor and your preferences. trying to maintain control over paper and postage costs. (I customarily leave about one third of the first page. titles. except the admonition to double. you advise everyone that you are reserving your right to the copy. especially for magazine pieces. and we should do so. and other such preferences. and telephone number." at the head of each manuscript page there will appear something along the lines "Senior Citizen Holtz. boldface. is followed by the name you wish to use in the published version. they make it difficult for copy editors. With today's computers and word processors. with word processors we can actually reproduce italics. What may have been difficult detail in that time is now easy routine. feet. It is necessary to register your copyright only if you get into a legal dispute over the copy--e.Manuscript Formats I have been urged by countless alleged experts to prepare my manuscripts--margins. (If you have them. and insists on using the old methods. include fax number and email address. if you use one.) It is usually expected that you will include the estimated number of words. Other than that. Most of us (I hope) now use computers and printers. your nom de plume.
it is unnecessary to register your copyright. however.) A nonreturnable deposit of ù One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. despite Ferenc Molnar's jest. not merchants. (So many of us waste years trying to compete in writing fields that are all wrong for us. Selling What You Write. Many of them will deny it. His/her business is buying from authors. that is. Plagiarism and infringement are relatively infrequent and usually not serious matters anyway. and 2) what I was best suited to write and should make my main writing niche. you sell it to them. Editors don't buy your work. Marketing The most important part of being an independent or freelance writer is marketing--selling your work. I have known some who become indignant at the idea that they deliberately set out to write something salable. ù Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. They want to think of themselves as artists. But that is not to say that you prostitute your art. they hate the very idea that theirs is a commercial enterprise. I learned that when I was still a technical writer.to register it when you create it. Certainly. You can find many books and articles that promise to teach you how to sell what you write. not cash. and everything I advise or suggest here is in the interest of marketing your work--being successful. that they sully their art with money. Perhaps they have never consciously studied their craft as a process of learning how to write what the public (and the editors) will buy. You can be a sincere and dedicated writer. whether your write fiction or nonfiction. As many do. Far from it.) The following subjects are all part of marketing. and I wrote a how-to article on the subject. That's backwards. no reputable publisher will do so. Successful writers are writers who have learned how to write what will sell. . write to the Copyright office and request forms and instructions: Register of Copyrights Copyright Office Library of Congress Washington. It won't happen. Ordinarily. If you do wish to register a copyright. you must write what you can sell. I went on for years studying writing when I already wrote well enough to be published anywhere and should have been studying methods for marketing and getting a better idea of 1) what and where there were good markets. A nonrefundable fee of $20. (Send check or money order. It doesn't happen that way. It doesn't require compromising your standards. It suggests that you can write anything you want to write--even literary garbage--and learn tricks for selling it. sending it to an engineering journal. Ask yourself how likely it is that what you have written is so valuable that someone else is likely to plagiarize it and infringe on your copyright. But consciously or unconsciously. DC 20559 You will learn that same address: you must send the following three items to that A completed application form.
I have had many of my working titles changed. a much-to-be-desired reward for it. That title for the proposed book or article is solely to help me sell it. He bought it immediately! Here. For another. as long as it lives up to its promise. sometimes you can compress a good lead into a title or a headline. I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. For one thing. A good lead will always open with some kind of grabber related to what the piece is all about and link it to the reader's interest immediately. especially not in the case of the "working" title. with the promise of revelation. I knew it to be a tightly written piece. approximately. That is what a good lead does. Editors are reputed to tend always to change the author's titles. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. "You!" to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. The Elements of the Lead. Editors try as hard as you do to attract readers to your book or article. then. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. it is what sells your work. and nothing else.The Magic Lead. and sent it straight back to the editor who had rejected it. we will probably use an entirely different title to attract readers. Titles are an important element in marketing your work. the one that will probably be dropped later and replaced. "Hey!" is to get attention. confronting the reader with this: "The U.S. is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. (Some of it was two years old!)" The text then went directly into an explanation of what that title meant." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. writing is a distasteful task that many people would avoid. I need one to use in my proposal to help me sell my idea to the editor. Editors try to come up with good titles. The article on technical writing came back promptly. I was saying "Hey! Mr. but I have also had many of my working titles retained as final titles. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. That is unlikely. Later. I changed the brief lead. with some tips to solve your problem. They probably simply have . Yes. and "See?" to explain why and how that is so. titles that are good leads or almost leads. sometimes very good ones. titles that contribute to the Hey! You! See? Idea. Some believers expressed the idea that this is because the editor is a frustrated "wannabe" writer who feels a drive to leave his or her own imprint on the author's work. In my lead. One interesting way to explain the elements of the lead is the "Hey! You! See?" concept offered by a writer whose name I no longer recall. firmly rejected. But engineering usually requires that you write.000 to Answer its Mail. this is about/for You! and that distasteful writing chore. See?" And then I did that. But when I am writing my proposal. And I do not fear using a long title. Government Paid me $6. I was not only stung by the rejection. About Titles. editors are often also writers. brief and to the point. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. that venerable writer's periodical. I studied it and suddenly got an inspiration. I was truly puzzled. Engineer. so here are a few suggestions to make the task a bit easier for you. Engineer. That works especially well.
a synopsis/outline. Make your proposal sell.a more objective view than you do in choosing titles. you probably must submit the whole manuscript. not manuscripts. "Would you be interested in the following article?"--is a negative approach. and I have never had trouble over this. they would rather have the lead to sample your style and approach. rather than proposing. and a synopsis/outline of the story. Simultaneous Submissions. and others ask that they be advised if the manuscript is being submitted elsewhere at the same time. we submit query letters or proposals. A book proposal can be lengthy. A few editors object to it. That doesn't mean that those who recommend 25 pages are wrong. Many use the term query letter to refer to that inquiry into an editor's possible interest in an article idea and proposal when soliciting interest in a book idea.g. the lead. I am opposed to use of the term query letter because I believe it bad psychology to think in terms of querying. Some editors prefer not to get the whole ms. Querying--i. today. You don't really need much else. Some sources urge you to devote at least 25 pages to the effort. I would not submit a manuscript to more than one editor. e. A proposal for an article is usually a lengthy. either. If you are trying to sell a novel. A frequent question is about simultaneous submissions: Is it permissible to make simultaneous submissions? Is it ethical to do so? What if you do so and two editors want to buy your work? What then? It was once taboo to make simultaneous submissions... I don't think it's any of their business. Check reference sources (e. I have been successful in selling more than 60 books with proposals that rarely ran to more than one-half that number of pages at most. I don't bother to tell them. I think that is my right. write a . Consider what it is you are submitting: Usually. I choose what I think is the better offer. Experiment and discover what works best for you. It is no longer taboo. That was unfair: An editor can sit on your submission for a long time before deciding that he doesn't want it. However. your ms will speak for itself. I am aware that the rules are slightly different for writers of fiction. don't worry about it. If you happen not to have clips. Think positively in marketing: Shun querying. and proposal are the way to approach an editor. Once in a while two editors have wanted the same piece. If you are trying to sell a short story. and a ton of clips won't sell an article idea the editor doesn't like. two or three pages. perhaps. Writer's Market) to find out what the editor prefers. but the matter is still not that simple. with enclosures. usually clips of published work to demonstrate your professional capabilities. just make your proposal as strong as possible. if it is based on an actual happening or main character. whereas proposing--"I propose to write for you the following article"--is a positive approach. The editor who likes your proposal won't worry overmuch if you don't send clips (I never do). To do that. you probably ought to explain that to the editor. Think proposal. Most editors want queries and will not read unsolicited manuscripts. but I have no hesitation in submitting a proposal to several editors simultaneously.
The argument is not completely valid for at least two reasons: A writer's income depends on his/her productivity. That will be the most decisive influence. You can sell newspapers the right to publish in their own area. In either case. Their complaint is that they can't turn a profit or even eke out a reasonable income on word rates that range as low as 10 to 25 cents per word. you can sell the thing again as a reprint. you own all the rights. When you are ready for an agent. but sell the story to newspapers in other areas at the same time as self-syndication. When you create the piece. but the typical agent today does not keep up with these markets. Rights and Rates. The second reason is even more cogent: You may be able to sell the piece over and over. In any case. newspapers. A dollar a word is not enough for an article that requires exorbitant research. you are halfway to a go-ahead. and relieve the writer of the marketing task. movies. and 10 cents a word may be profitable on a task that can be written without research. Many writers work such markets regularly and earn a substantial living doing so. and even some of the smaller consumer magazines. They have it backwards. a periodical publisher buys first rights or serial rights. If you have retained all the other--secondary--rights. as is so often the case with conventional wisdom and popular myths: You get an agent when you have begun to become successful. no matter how promising or well recommended. Rates for reprint rights are lower than for first rights. of course. getting the right to publish the piece first. and use it as the lead for your proposal. It's when you begin to sell that you need this service. It does not pay an agent normally to represent writers of magazine articles and short stories. make the best bargains. no agent can sell an unsuitable manuscript. Here is why: There are various rights in publishing. But agents are listed .great lead for the article. in the end. Must You Have an Agent? Beginning writers often think that they need an agent to become successful. however. your publisher can suggest some suitable agents. and TV shows. Agents will accommodate their regular clients--writers of--the clients want help in marketing to periodicals. and may even if you don't ask. If you capture the editor's attention and arouse immediate interest. Generally. plays. and will return all secondary rights to you after they have published the story. but you need only furnish another copy of the manuscript. Some publishers insist on buying all rights initially to protect themselves. earning dollars per word. Be advised. Most agents are reluctant to take on a client who has not yet had any significant success. many writers resell their articles over and over as reprints. and you should probably handle this kind of marketing yourself. A great many writers balk at the rates offered by trade periodicals. protect the writer's interests in negotiating sales and contracts. that most successful agents represent only writers who turn out books. There are also area rights. What a good agent can do is find the best markets.
I must be honest and say up front that self-publishing a book is expensive and difficult. and some authors have been so successful at this that they started successful publishing businesses. Literary Marketplace. However. Some agents advertise in the writer's periodicals and in the telephone yellow pages directory." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. that there was currently a spate of "home offices"--businesses based in offices in private -. new methods of all kinds. News & World Report. when you come across stories in your field. because the editor knew of a successful book in another publishing house and wanted one of his own to compete directly with it. You have to edit your copy. in fact. I can do better than that. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i. illustrate it in some cases. Self-Publishing It is far from easy to find publishers for your books and articles. "Hey. therefore. you are almost entirely on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories.in the annual. design the .) Generally speaking. there are those who think it is by far the best way to get their work published. and many have done so quite successfully. Here are a few: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. the benefits and costs of self-publishing a book depend at least partly on how much you can do for yourself. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. Above all. probably. There are always better ways to do things. Winning Through Intimidation and Up Your OWN Organization! are just two outstanding examples of that kind of success. Some best-sellers were self-published. work consciously at searching out new ideas. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. that's only half the story. a great many people would like to know about it. and elsewhere. To a degree.) Getting Ideas The editor has been described as someone who doesn't know what he wants until he sees it.. There is some justice in that sardonic observation: Only three times in the years that I have been writing books has one been inspired by a suggestion or specific request from an editor. Often. You may also find help in getting an agent if you belong to one of the many writer's associations. You think.S. a news magazine. (List appears here later. when I read an article in U. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers. It drives a great many authors to think of publishing their own books and articles. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea. publishing the work of other authors. Many people therefore ask for guidance in self-publishing their books and articles. e. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination. For example. (And that. set it in type. Be alert for new products. new services. However. they provoke ideas.inspired me to research and write my own book on the subject.
one of the established book publishers who provide that service to smaller publishers. including getting your book reviewed." and will be bound into books only as sales justify. you would have to offer them as monographs or white papers. are published in letter-size format on 8. Distribution is hard work. g. usually) in quantity. Self-publishing articles your write is a much different proposition. associations help in other ways. and distribute it. and some publishers distribute for the publishers too small to have their own distribution systems. You can distribute through book wholesalers--there are several of those (Ingram and Baker & Taylor are two wholesalers. Most such guides. these are of the how-to variety--e. There are a number of national associations with . (Those brokers who specialize in selling remainders often buy the flats and have them bound as inexpensively as possible. you can turn out a professional-looking product with suitable fonts--e." Usually. since you can produce copies as you need them. captions. but bind only part of the printing. Writing is a lonely activity.) You can. which includes marketing it. If your monographs are large -. for example).. you can often find large printers--book manufacturers--or fulfillment houses who will provide storage for a fee and ship for you. The economies of scale are in printing. Too. Avoid the vanity presses. something most small print shops can do for you. You can find lots of help offered in the advertisements at the back of any issue of Writer's Digest. package. was distributed by St. you do not have to carry an inventory. and group health plans. when you have suitable equipment. not in binding. many of the book review editors are reluctant to review self-published books. if you have the wherewithal.covers. The rest remain on skids as "flats. Many mail-order dealers do just that. Therefore.x 11-inch pages." in the jargon). bound with a single corner staple. incorporate.a large fee. And you can sign up mail-order booksellers to act as dealers for you.10. calling them "reports. for example. to name just a few. You can also sell your books by direct mail.000 words or more--it is worth considering publishing them as bound booklets. To self-publish them. and ship your own books. job opportunities. those "publishers" (the quotation marks are thoroughly justified) who promise to do it all for -. Times Roman in various sizes for body copy. There is a great advantage in the latter kind of printing and binding: It can be done with today's typical office equipment--computer with word processor and printer. with services that help you: Seminars and conventions at which you can learn many things. Writer's Associations Belonging to a writer's association is a great help to many writers. g. and you may not get all the reviews you wish. many printers print (32-page signatures. books are a very good mail order item. since articles normally appear in periodicals. and other guides. Martin's Press. with or without a copier--and if you have a modern laser printer. especially in cloth bound (hard cover) books. and many freelancers feel the need to get out and associate with others. In fact. hire a PR firm to handle the promotion. however. find a printer ("book manufacturer. how to minimize your taxes. However. If you don't have space and facilities to store. get rid of gophers. and headlines--and even print on both sides. A book I did for Prima..
San Francisco CA 94122 (415) 681-5364 Editorial Freelancers Assn. Washington Independent Writers of the Washington. Lauderdale FL 33310 (305) 485-0795 Independent Writers of Chicago 8137 S. and there are also many independent groups. Yates Blvd. DC area. as in the case of WIW. Suite 1200 Columbus. although not all. High St.local chapters. but even the independent groups can be quite large. Ohio 43215 (614) 221-1900 Computer Press Assn. American Society of Indexers 1700 18th St. Following is a list of such groups.. PO Box 3535 Omaha NE 68103 (402) 390-1000 ext 290 National Assn. NW Washington DC 20009 (202) 429-6639 415) 524-4195 Aviation/Space Writers Assn. National associations tend to be large and have the power of large groups. Chicago IL 60617 (312) 374-8850 Independent Writers of Southern California 13856 Bora Bora Way #226C Marina del Rey CA 90292 (213) 827-0747 Midwest Travel Writers Assn. 17 S. PO Box 9844 Ft. of Science Writers PO Box 294 Greenlawn NY 11740 (516) 757-5664 . PO Box 2050 Madison Square Sta. New York NY 10159 (212) 677-3357 Florida Freelance Writers Assn. 1260 25th Ave. by any means.
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or some new servicing kink I had learned or even developed on my own. and several times that today. A tip on writing for computer magazines. when I was in the radio-TV service business (in its infancy). two popular newsstand magazines read widely by those in the TV servicing trade. They were easy sales to electronics periodicals. Many years ago. usually worth about $15 to $25 in the dollars of that time. or industry. Sometimes it was an unusual service problem that I had encountered and solved. and they welcome contributions to those sections. Most periodicals. CA 91226 Monica Gullon (213) 281-6901 A Few Tips on How to Succeed as an Independent Writer CHAPTER 2 Tricks of the Trade In this report you are going to find a lot of ideas that might normally take you many years to learn. ideas that can put many extra dollars in your pocket and shorten the time you need to become a true pro of a freelance writer. I have met many veterans of freelance writing who were not aware of many of the ideas you will be reading here. There may or may not be popular newsstand magazines related to your profession. trades and general interest alike. is that many have columns or sections featuring special tips on using your computer. In fact. for example. Many. I learned that many technicians had trouble understanding the concept of decibels and logarithms (they are related) and I wrote a couple articles explaining these and the links between them. regardless of your work or life style. tabloids. Many Markets This idea works in every area. but you can bet that there are trade publications--newsletters. After experimenting a bit. for which a magazine paid me $150. more than the equipment had cost me! (That $150 would be at least $500-$600 today.) On another occasion. it was a rare week that I didn't sell an item or two to Radio Craft or Radio Electronics. are highly receptive to small items. But it is not only computer magazines that have such columns or departments. such as tips for solving problems.Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale. I got those items from my everyday working experiences. and other such material. brief news items. Tips For Breaking In An easy way to break into freelancing for any periodical is by writing short pieces: fillers. I got some ideas for other uses. and magazines--covering your . of course. On one occasion I bought a new piece of service equipment and while learning to use it as the manufacturer explained in the manual. business. but there was always something. and other fillers and squibs. I wrote an article about it. tips. short-cuts to getting things done.
full-time freelancer will not usually offer anything to these because not only are the rates low. What else you can do with it. Just browsing through it will provoke some ideas. but you will get published. You Can Make Money Even at Low Word Rates Many markets. usually not more than 50 to 100 words. It's a practical approach to writing. Solving the common problem. such as 3 or 5 cents a word. They recycle virtually every piece several times. Notice how many of these ideas are twists on others. Search out the most well-stocked newsstand in your town or in the nearest urban area. too!) . (And some manage to do that. pay low rates--10 or 15 cents/per word and even less. They can take the same idea and write it or rewrite it in several ways. Whatever your career. but newsletters are easy to write for and easy to sell. You won't get rich in these markets. although some simply pay flat prices. and go browsing there. Finding and solving the novel problem. possibly as a humorous piece. but the items they buy are little items only. such as $5 for an item or some fixed fee for a photograph or cartoon. You'll be quite amazed at the selection. you will collect a few clips to show other editors as your bona fides. for example. third. They think it not worth their while to research and write an article of 1. They manage to do so by either or both of two methods: Knowing that the rates will be low. Ask your librarian for help. Humorous ideas or situations. It is perhaps not the best copy of which they are capable. Where/how to find it. selling it a second. One kind of periodical that many writers do not consider is the newsletter. It's also a way to sell the same piece several times! The pros in the business soon learn how to slant material for different readers. selling it each time to another market. many free-lancers earn a full-time living in these markets. How not to do it. Novel ideas or experiences. even at the low word rates. One outdoors writer reported selling a canoeing article 37 times! That's almost like self-syndication.industry and career field. That's one way to find new ideas or salable short pieces. It's not that hard to find them. but the editors will therefore not be too demanding. you will earn a little money. but it's acceptable and they can produce it quickly enough to make it worthwhile to do. A how-to item sold somewhere may be reversible as a how-not-to item sold elsewhere. including many of the trade journals and newspapers. However. How it works. and you will get a start as a freelance writer. Among the many kinds of short items to look for are these: How to do it. research all the trades and other periodicals for your business or industry. they develop the ability to write acceptable first draft copy. many pay tiny word rates. she'll guide you to the directories and guides to periodicals. The professional. A restaurant kitchen trick for Florida Restaurateur may be adaptable as a home-kitchen idea for Family Circle. In fact. Many freelance writers therefore refuse to write for them. and often even more times as a reprint at about one-half the original rate.000 words for $150 or $200.
And there were still others. if ever. in itself. and whatever else was available. As a rule in research. and manages to make even the lowest rates pay him in this manner.000 to 5. so that I was able to write and sell about a half-dozen articles from that one research effort. photographs. Many of those books you see on the remainder shelves and mid-aisle displays in book-stores are the result of that failure to sell out the first printing. The needs of each are quite different. (However. so the experience described here is not a rare one. and you try to make that clear in your title--try. One book was written for large companies pursuing government contracts. and still another designed especially for the needs of independent consultants and other self-employed professionals. if you do a thorough job of research. an energetic and skilled writer can earn a full-time living even at the lowest rates paid by the trades and other small publications. but is commonplace. . I found material for several other articles most of them suggested by the residue. Putting all these tactics together. Remember that you rarely. which generally runs from 3. I gathered data and photographs for a technical article on transducers. if you plan for it). I use these techniques today in writing books. you wind up with a great deal of residue. finally runs out of steam and sells so poorly that book-stores return it to the publisher. another for small companies who wanted to break into government contracting. with permission to use them in my writing--with proper attribution. and several on selling to the government. Books and Advances A book publishing executive reported recently that 80 percent of all books fail to "earn out" (earn back their advances on royalties). One was about an ultrasonic security system. but the three different kinds of books were based on the same basic methods that are required and salable as separate books. even a best seller.000 copies. was unbelievably easy: I simply wrote to a dozen manufacturers and asked for data. another on a power sequencing device.There is still another way to work at low word rates and still come out ahead: You undertake pieces so broad that the research data gathered for them will provide you with material (and often ideas) for a number of articles that you can write easily and swiftly after you have completed the original piece. For example. Quite often. drawings. for example. that is. which. to appeal to that chosen reader. brochures. Manufacturers are understandably cooperative in such circumstances: It's free advertising and publicity for them. some remaindered books are those left over when a successful book. In the residue of research materials that didn't fit the transducer piece. of course. I have written several books on proposal writing. write for everybody: You usually write for a specific audience. the residue includes material you can use for other pieces. What this means for the average book is that it does not sell out its first print run. That fellow who sold the canoeing article 37 times has made a fine art of this. if you are alert to detect opportunity (and even more so.
The stores are therefore required by the publishers to return only the front covers of paperback books (that is. and on many others. to tax tips. But it doesn't always mean that. . As orders come in.Books Without Covers You may wonder how it is that you see many paperback books and magazines sold without covers for cut prices. one for each report. from favorite recipes. which most of us who do this (I am only one of many) refer to as "reports. "self-publishing" means writing and publishing one's own books. a number of how-to-do-it monographs. by mail and now online.500 to 3. But if you had more than a few such reports. Although my main work in recent years has been writing books for publishing by the major book publishers. It's actually illegal. one of both storage space and investment tied up in inventory. too. since these. over the years. It's gotten much easier and much different in recent years. I write and sell. and usually highly specialized on specific topics. I print out the reports. spare-time or full-time business. One man I know once sold about 14. It's not difficult to get started in this comfortable little business. the mass market paperback books) and magazines to get full credit. we typed these little reports up. From that beginning. it could easily become an inventory problem. cheating both the publishers and the authors. some of them quite easy to do and within anyone's means to get started on a modest scale. to how to how to make money writing. I happen to have had a lot of experience in selling to government agencies. if you are equipped with a modern computer and printer. had them printed at a local copy shop. he went on to start a newsletter that has been his main business for quite a large number of years since.000 copies of his $2 report (which would be $5-$8 today) on how to get rid of gophers. (You may even have a copier of your own. I do a much more sophisticated printing job than formerly: Most are very professional looking. They therefore shouldn't be selling the coverless books and magazines for which they've already gotten full credit. And since I use a laser printer. so I started with reports on subjects related to how to do that. The reason is that it doesn't pay to ship unsold paperback books and magazines back to the publisher. but some small bookstore owners do it anyway. An Easy Way to be Your Own Publisher For many people. are cheap enough now to be affordable by anyone who is serious about running a small. my "inventory" is in my computer as a collection of files. They are on a wide variety of topics. But as I got experience in mail order. as well. Years ago. bind them (corner staple). There are many kinds of publishing. I do some specialty publishing myself as a self-supporting hobby. I wrote reports on that subject." These are normally of about 2 to 10 pages (most of my own run 6-8 pages) of single-spaced copy. and then advertised them for sale.) Today. with Times Roman fonts.000 words. so the typical such report is about 2. and ship them out. and it's fun to operate.
with a release form. I would send out a letter. But there are other considerations. It is one of the major problems of freelance writing: Editors understand that there is a cost element of the time required to write something. and other material available. I have done that many times. the problem is still yours. If I wanted to do an article or book on the fishing industry. with permission to use them in my manuscript. more and more printing is being done by laser printers. and another is to use the computer to gather information online. either because I am already quite familiar with the subject or because I have most of the needed source materials already on hand. you may have invested four hours in researching it before you began writing. explaining the book or article and requesting any literature. Writer's Research Writing research is always a topic of controversy. and so are too slow for large-scale printing of many hundreds or even thousands of copies. with far more extensive used of these planned for the future. If you think your time is worth a minimum of $50 per hour.) Editors may disagree. So while you may have spent only two hours in writing a certain piece. photos. In any case.There is also the possibility of publishing a newsletter. They may take the position that they ought not to pay for your research time. However. Again. and produce it as you do your reports. but they don't seem to give equal consideration to the time spent in necessary research. such as making sure that my research serves for more than one article or more than one book (mentioned earlier). to the marketing directors of commercial fishing and fish-processing firms. The laser printers that most of us use with our desktop computers run from 4 to 10 copies a minute. from which I culled what I needed and could use. which eliminate or minimize the leg work and the time that requires: One is to use the mail to get source material. . it is quite easy to start one on a modest scale. you need to get a minimum of $300 for the piece. and even to persuade some people to write forewords or sidebar pieces for me. and it simmers down to a rather simple question: How can you minimize research time? For me. and it has almost always resulted in a deskload of material. Thus you have six hours invested in the job. Or the converse. I have also used this method to gather quotable opinions from experts and well-known figures in the relevant fields. Researching by Mail. at least until your circulation has grown to a point where it makes more sense to have it printed in quantity by offset press. the answer lies in several shortcuts I have developed. and to the relevant trade associations. today there is increasing use of high-speed "production" laser printers that are being used more and more to turn out commercial printing and what is being called "demand printing" of individual printing jobs. I started and sold several newsletters. which is undertaking only those articles or books where the research burden is a light one. Today. something I have learned to do increasingly. (A good argument for writing about subjects you already know well.
Most need resumes today in their job hunts. through such facilities. The copier copies the image of the original onto the electrostatic drum. there are some other relevant observations: Modems and fax machines have become inexpensive. For the most part. and charging fees for usage. CompuServe. by companies as promotional efforts." a common term used today to designate an electronic bulletin board system. and even enter into writing collaborations with other writers in distant places. and many are fairly costly. you can have a modem and fax together on an inexpensive fax-modem card inside your computer. and copier. with modem. and some are public databases. And today there is the Internet. (They are virtually standard computer items now. by associations as conveniences and services for members. the laser printer and the xerographic copier have a great deal in common. through the various online utilities now in existence. as we become more and more specialized and there . The Modern Writer's Shop Thus the modern. You need to have a modem and telephone to use your computer for researching outside sources. get answers to questions. when it is outfitted with all the useful facilities now available) would include a modern computer. the BBS are free. since installing a laser printer several years ago. Business For the Times Despite the ups and downs of the economy. However. and by government agencies as a public service. Actually. Copiers are now available at under $400. whereas the laser printer paints the image on the drum.) Laser and bubble-jet printers are available today at reasonable prices--many well under $400--and they turn out high-quality copy. and they turn out copy of quality equal to that of the most expensive copiers. since it is even more convenient and less expensive to print multiple copies of anything I print. printer. combining the BBS and the public database ideas. get help in tracking down information. respectively. which has already become the dominant online entity. There is also a kind of hybrid. find experts. such as America Online. One great advantage of this is that you can send out an appeal to individuals on a national basis.Researching by Computer. and Prodigy. to conduct small-scale surveys. but the easiest way to transfer files by computer is by email. under direction of the computer. You can send and receive files directly. well-equipped writer's shop (I like to think of it more as a shop than an office. with both using somewhat similar disposable toner cartridges. starting at about $100 and $300. Some of these sources are "BBS. it is almost always a good time for the resume-writing business because there are many people looking for jobs in good times and bad times. fax machine. I have used all such utilities for research many times. Many of the sources are free. run by individuals as hobbies. my need for copying has dropped sharply. However. included with every computer. That said.
and other considerations. perhaps 2 to 10 copies. To accommodate clients fully. with clear acetate covers enclosing each sample to enable them to withstand repeated handling. paper selected. and so many businesses cutting back and laying off employees--"downsizing. But there are other services that will help you build your business: Resume writing. you can create a large portfolio of sample resumes. the market is better than ever because there are so many unemployed. You can offer a variety of services. However. a choice of papers is appealing to most clients. for which you can charge extra. and otherwise get the full story. Cover letters." If you are suitably equipped with a modern computer and the usual ancillary devices. have an assortment to offer. including various qualities. to be produced in your own office or to be printed in some local copy shop. and then interview the client to clarify what you don't understand. Doing so will put you above and apart from most resume shops. you can charge for extra copies. address. types. and other such data. However. have some standard letterhead styles into which you can fit the client's own information to create a distinctive letterhead. Many people believe that a resume ought to be accompanied by a cover letter. You will want to show all the possible formats and all the possible type sizes. (Of course. Here. few of which offer this refinement. This is based on interviewing the client and/or on copy supplied by the client. . The most basic one is simply composing the client's resume from copy the client supplies. You need to have a supply of paper of good quality.are fewer and fewer jobs for anyone who "can do anything. but can modify the ones shown or design your own original formats. job sought." At the moment. Number them in some manner so that clients can easily identify the style they like. You can make the process much more efficient by having a form for the client to fill out in advance with the routine data--name. styles. With resume-writing software that offers variety in type styles and sizes as well as variety in resume formats. As an added feature. Setting up a Resume-Writing Venture You will have to have a set of sample resumes for your clients to choose from. and that is an extra item for which you can charge a fee. Prices for these services vary widely. the job of creating a professional-looking resume can be made much easier by using one of the many resume-writing programs available. you are not restricted to the suggested formats. ask for elaboration. again.) The most convenient way to organize your samples by placing them in a 3-ring binder. some typical prices are $65 and up for a resume and $10 up for a cover letter. and colors of paper. You will probably include in the standard fee some small number of copies of the resume and letter. and fonts. You review this. "up" depending on number of pages. employment history. qualifications.
and holidays to get them out of trouble. They are then more than happy to hire almost anyone on extremely short notice and to pay a premium for someone who will work evenings. Many. if the individual can give you a note to the other party or make a telephone call in your behalf. weekends. It's a way many have used to break into "business writing" (referred to by some as "corporate writing") quickly and establish a relationship with clients. That can be important: It makes quite a large difference. Oddly enough. libraries. You can make up and mail out a brochure that stresses your availability for quick-response jobs. and quite often they have no one in-house to work late or over a weekend to met the need. in a great many cases. home-based resume writer. join the local business club (e. clients finding answers to troublesome problems of this type tend to be quite cooperative! There are several ways to pursue and win this kind of work. also. Companies are especially prone to discovering at the eleventh hour that they are not going to meet their deadline for a report. if you ask. and call on companies in the area to talk to purchasing agents or other executives and leave your business card and brochure. be sure to ask everyone you talk to for referrals or suggestions as to whom else might be able to use your services. For the small. however. Jobs of this class may be done in your home with your own equipment. advertise in publications read by college students and trade publications for industries where job turnover is great and resumes are a must for job hunting. Quick-Response Services One way to win writing assignments in the business world is to offer what the trade refers to generally as "quick response" or "quick reaction" services. or you may wish to suggest one or the other work site as more conducive to getting the job done on time. you must ask them for it: It simply does not occur to them. becoming a virtual recommendation. Ask. notices posted on bulletin boards in supermarkets. The client may have a preference. and elsewhere produce results also. or they may be done on the client's premises with the client's equipment.. run some advertising locally. when you get a referral. Lions or Rotary) and/or a trade association. In their distress and relief at getting someone to help. a logical place for it. a surprisingly large number of people will not volunteer their help. that you would appreciate their suggestions. Many of the profitable writing jobs I won in government offices and elsewhere were the direct result of my asking for such referrals. rather than a mere referral! . proposal.g. You will be surprised how eager many people are to help. in most cases. or other important document. When you do so.Resume shops tend to do most of their advertising in the newspaper sections carrying the help-wanted advertising.
A fellow technical writer I introduced to proposal writing became highly successful at that and is today highly paid proposal writer and consultant. To find your niche as a writer without wasting time.CHAPTER 3 Finding Your Niche as a Writer A most common difficulty beginning freelancers encounter is that of finding their metier--the writing niche or specialty that is right for them. and the flexibility to take advantage of opportunity and make appropriate adjustments is often the important key to success. and did write and publish several novels. you ought also to be always flexible. making little progress in any direction and wasting many years. Perhaps you will have to identify and explore many avenues and niches of freelance writing success. when he started. you must seek it deliberately. Elisha T. As the auctioneer says in accepting a too-low opening bid. . And the computer had not yet been invented when IBM began in business. the successful often wind up doing something quite different than that which they started out to do. we look at just one broad area of freelance writing opportunity: custom or contract writing. Succeeding in business is a learning process for most entrepreneurs. but they tend then to flounder about almost aimlessly. as they gather experience and encounter problems. Otis tried and was unsuccessful at a number of ventures before he invented the safety device that launched him into the elevator business which still carries his name. and growth usually means change.. without a plan or pattern. Fate May Take a Hand Remember. obstacles. ready to adapt to and take advantage of unexpected opportunity or need for change..) It works that way with writers also. he did not find fame and fortune in writing those. Montgomery Ward started as a mail order entrepreneur. too. (There are plenty of well-known examples for that. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was an itinerant printer and newspaperman before he became an outstanding novelist. "It's not where you start but where you finish that counts. and eventually found a more successful and satisfying writing career in writing about Hollywood and movie stars. Most businesspeople change direction. and opportunities. and the stubborn ones who refuse to read the signs wind up failing. One of my writer acquaintances of many years started out to be a novelist. Milton Hershey was in the candy business. as you proceed to develop a contract-writing business--it is a business. but not in chocolate. remember--that almost all ventures wind up somewhere other than where the founder expected. The Hoover vacuum cleaner company started as leather-goods manufacturers." Progress means growth. Thus. Here. Many start with only the vague notion that they are going to become freelance writers. While you ought to never start out on a venture without a specific goal. In The Beginning. However.
The Several Avenues There are a number of paths you can follow as an independent or freelance writer. but it may be the wrong choice for you. or book to a publisher. custom or contract writing is the writing of almost anything a client will hire a writer for. (Or perhaps it is the other way 'round. much neglected by beginners but offering great opportunities as means to make a beginning. You never write "on spec. In fact. journalists.. no matter what direction you take later." but are always sure of being paid for your work. e. even some that you think are not what you want to do. It is likely that you will do best at something you enjoy doing. There are almost innumerable opportunities--i. One is to write things entirely at your own initiative. I learned rather early that fiction was not my forte as a writer. . many who do this kind of work get a substantial part of their fees in advance. Keep your mind open. I truly did not enjoy writing fiction. You may be quite wrong about the kind of writing you think you do best and will enjoy most. as retainers. such as the following few examples: Resumes User instructions Newsletters Theses.We do not start out knowing whether we will be happiest and most successful as novelists. dissertations Reports Training programs Catalogs Audiovisual scripts Speeches Direct mail packages Salesletters Product descriptions News releases Brochures Presentation packages In practice. and offer them as products to publishers. It offers many immediate advantages: It is easier to sell your services as a writer than it is to sell a story. whether it is fiction or nonfiction. i. experience that will be useful to you as a writer. The alternative. which is itself an indication that it was the wrong choice for me. in the beginning. but there are two immediate choices you can make. playwrights. clients who need writing and/or editing help. is to do custom or contract writing for clients. I found more rapid and greater success as a writer of how-to business and professional books than I had in other specialties. You might very well do better in some other writing specialty. Classic or traditional freelance writing is the writing of articles and/or short stories or novels. you may wish to be a playwright or novelist. most independent writers find it easier to break in to freelance writing success by this latter route. In my own case.) Try your hand at every kind of writing you can. e. article. writing to order. or in other writing specialties. You may or may not have a given aim as a writer. You gain experience every day.. that you will enjoy doing that which you find you can do most successfully.
that is. train others. Two Ways to Specialize Specializing as a resume.Generalist or Specialist? Opting to sell your custom services as a writer for hire need limit you. newsletters. I am a marketing writer. on proposals. principally. speeches. whether I am asked to write. or newsletter writer is specializing in an end-product. (Who knew. catalog sheets. etc. the broader purpose or arena of your work." The individual who needs a new resume may demand a resume specialist. and other such materials. you must identify. term papers. fit into more than one category. you can and may even find yourself forced narrow your field a bit by making a few choices: You may have decide whether you want to work across the entire spectrum of writing for fees or prefer being a specialist? not to to custom There is no overwhelming argument for either alternative. usually unforeseen. speeches. and my success in that role resulted inevitably in my future work as a proposal consultant. Serving marketing needs of companies for salesletters. on your credentials as a specialist: It is the day of the specialist and many clients are not comfortable with a writer who writes "anything. Most writing needs can be fitted into one or the other of these general categories. direct mail packages. and other relevant materials. that I would be so successful as a proposal writer that others would offer me money to help them with their proposals?) But even that is not the end of the tale. advise. and most of my consulting assignments are so linked to proposal activities and marketing to government agencies. As a generalist. Fate alone cast me in the role of proposal writer. as you have probably noted. indeed. In fact. there are pros and cons in both choices. and some. often dictate the outcome. press kits. Here are a few suggestions of how you might do that: Serving individuals' needs for resumes. Whether you choose to be a generalist or a specialist is up to you. you can't expect to be equally knowledgeable and able in all areas. And so generalizing and specializing as a writer for hire each offers some benefits. for it was proposal writing that eventually led me into a career . early on. speech. and the company executive who wants to launch a company newsletter wants a writer with lots of newsletter experience. Still. a large part of your marketability as a writer for hire depends on your special experience. of course--or so you think. obviously. You may find that it is not entirely up to you: Circumstances. for example. lecture on. you certainly can: To do that. in some manner. but you do maximize your marketability in terms of the kinds of writing work you will accept. but can you widen your area of specialization and still be identifiable as a specialist? Yes. and there are writers in both modes who are successful. letters. or lead proposal-writing teams. That may tend to make your field a bit too narrow for comfort: You may not find enough resume work or speech writing to keep you busy enough to earn a living. Serving PR (public relations/publicity) needs for releases.
government agencies. and others. outlines. I might have chosen not to write that first book. for example. The marketing specialist. Without those circumstances. who helped me run the office. while I was off on a consulting assignment. As a writer or writer/editor you normally work from client-supplied format. and public relations. Before long. but sometimes the chance circumstance of Fate proves far more beneficial than your conscious goal or planned objective. some of these fields are so broad that specialists in them normally specialize further. I might never have written my first book. There are salesletter specialists. it is always your choice. now numbering more than 60 and occupying most of my time for some years since. let alone more than 60 others. where I did writing and consulting for individuals. associations. may specialize in direct marketing. At least. The Editorial Consultant Should you pursue the role of specialist. for example. your writing experience and skill is very much a part of what you are. You . as I did not realize immediately that I had advanced from proposal writer to proposal consultant. Quite the contrary. What is an Editorial Services Consultant? Becoming an editorial services consultant does not mean that you give up writing. and/or notes and draft copy. Still. brochure specialists. One day. and other organizations. and publishing their newsletters. that you have had prior experience working for a newsletter publisher or that you just happen to find a great deal of newsletter work and soon become quite expert in that field. happened to meet a publisher at lunch. consider the opportunity carefully when you reach such a crossroads. you may find yourself evolving into and actually functioning as a consultant. which field is dominated by direct mail as the most active and largest segment. although you may not realize that immediately. DC. You have then become a consultant. private companies. We can always reject the "decisions" of Fate if we choose to contest them. And it does not always stop even there. launching. That led to a second book. and her conversation with him led to a contract to write and publish a book on proposals. my wife. Among the many fields in which writers most often become consultants are marketing. specifications. audiovisual scripting and storyboarding. for example. Suppose. and advertising copy specialists. you may find clients seeking you out for more than writing and editing help with their newsletters: They may begin seeking you out to gain your advice and guidance in designing. speech writing. Of course. either because you have some reason to opt for some special field or you happen to have fallen into it and prefer it. However. with resulting great increases in the value of my services as a specialist with a day rate of four figures. and press on to pursue whatever goals we have set for ourselves: In the end. there is a definite distinction between being a writer or writer/editor and being a consultant in that field.of writing how-to-do-it business and professional books: I had offices in downtown Washington.
rather than merely a writer! It is ironic. if you prefer. that many clients will be happier to pay higher fees when they feel secure in the knowledge that they are in the care of a consultant and not "just" a writer. Even so. as opportunities arise. and otherwise act as a counselor. and rewrite. and do the final copy. (You can be both. As a consultant. Always pay attention to your image. teacher. however. As a consultant. newsletter. catalog. Consultant Vs Writer for Hire These all present opportunities for growth. you work with far less. and specifications necessary or guide the client in doing so. see you. The Advantages in Being a Consultant You can and should charge larger fees as a consultant than you would as a writer or editor. has itself at least two avenues of approach: One is undertaking individual tasks under individual contracts--writing a resume. will accept your representation of what you are. submit the material for client review. But that is not all. Most. clients especially. who must decide that you are a consultant. therefore. One thing you may be sure of is that it is you. or other such creation. lecture. and present seminars. there is a broad gray area between status as a writer and status as a consultant: It can be most difficult to draw the line. arising out of being a writer for hire and/or an editorial services consultant. you write as the agent of your client. you may be asked to make presentations to the management of the organization or to train the client or the client's staff. notes. Their perceptions establish your value. marketing presentation. You render a more valuable service when you develop a style guide or specification for some publication. but true. you have many more skills and services to offer than writing itself. if you are a consultant. As an editorial consultant. make appropriate presentations. or other end-product for an agreed upon fixed price and schedule. direct mail package. Therefore. however. That requires you to prepare training materials. when y on the client's premises as a temporary employee. I have known a client to insist that I was a writer and not entitled to collect the high fees of a consultant. what you write belongs to the client (unless you have some special agreement to the contrary). a report. often must yourself develop the outlines. formats. to how others. You are then a writer for hire in legal terms. a newsletter. Those higher fees are merited because you render more valuable services as a consultant when you design or advise a client on the design of an annual report. write. The client has contracted with you to do a specific job for an agreed-upon price. accepting both writing assignments and consulting assignments. You design the end-product. freelance entrepreneur working under a contract for each job. not your client. entitled to be paid as a consultant and not as a "mere" writer: A consultant merits higher fees than does a writer or writer/editor by definition. even though you are an independent. adviser. What you write. and many will find you and your services especially attractive. You are then a writer for hire in more practical terms.edit. . advise the client. You are a writer for hire (or a consultant for hire) in a more literal sense.) Being a writer or consultant for hire.
on what service you want to sell. You do at least part of the work on your own premises. You are incorporated. in small towns everywhere. in this modern day there are many ways to do this and even other ways than conventional advertising to find business and win clients. Today. rather than provide a number of hours of general writing service. If you undertake to work on a client's premises as an independent contractor entitled to get a Form 1099 and take care of your own taxes. under the client's work schedule. the client is not your employer of record and does not deduct taxes from your fees nor pay taxes in your behalf: You are not a W2 employee. freelance writer or editorial consultant who offers your services to all. That is. usually without a specific end-product. "Hanging out your shingle" is symbolic of announcing to the world that you are now an independent.although you are employed under contract and not an employee in a legal sense. and requiring the clients to issue W2 forms and treat the for-hire workers as employees. If you wish to write resumes. including graduating students who will soon be seeking jobs. an independent contractor: You have short-term assignments with many different clients during the year. This situation applies whether you contract as a writer for hire or as an editorial consultant. How to Market Your Services All businesses require marketing. working people. If you also offer to edit term papers. the phrase means to advertise somehow. and the business of selling your writing services is no exception. and . and you are an independent contractor. of course. are likely prospects. Today it is not enough to hang out a shingle. Once upon a time. and do whatever you are ordered to do by the client for as long as you are wanted or have agreed to stay. with the client required to issue a Form 1099 to you and to the IRS at the end of the year. You have a diverse mix of assignments. Fortunately. You are usually contracted for a daily or hourly rate. In this arrangement. The following conditions will help greatly to prove to the IRS that you are. insisting that they are really temporary W2 employees. not all on clients' premises. There has been some difficulty with IRS over this arrangement. rather than long-term assignments with only one or two clients. nor is it even always possible to do so when you work at home and live in a residential area where commercial signs are banned. with the IRS reluctant to recognize many independent contractors as such. The first step in marketing is to identify your targets: Who are your most likely prospects? That will depend. You must attend to paying all taxes yourself. You contract to produce some end-product at a fixed price. theses. be aware of the potential problem. one literally hung out his or her "shingle" (sign) and waited for customers to notice it and come calling with business. as the means to tell the world about what you offer. indeed. you work on the client's premises.
Advertising your services to organizations is a bit more difficult. and otherwise satisfy their needs. libraries. associations. get one and learn to use it. Some libraries provide places to leave cards and brochures for anyone interested. and see if you can attend a meeting as a guest. For these and many other services. For example. if there was a story about jobs and careers in the publication. it is students you wish to reach (although they may also be working people. perhaps. distribute your cards. Contact all local business clubs--Rotary. But there are a few other methods: Make up a news release announcing your services and send it out to see if you can persuade editors of local newspapers and other periodicals to give you some publicity. On the other hand. Here are a few ideas for inexpensive and even no-cost ways you can advertise your offerings and attract individuals as clients: Run classified advertisements in newspapers and magazines--e. supermarkets..) Write Letters to the Editor and let it drop there that you are a freelance writer offering services. you must advertise where you can reach these prospects. (See if you can leave your business cards and brochures on display there. . executives. resume-writing for job seekers. talk to members. and other organizations you can locate in your area. You would have to take out expensive display advertising in newspapers and magazines to use print advertising effectively. write a letter to the editor discussing the need for a good resume and sign it "Joe Jones. attract new members.) If you have a computer and modem. train their people.) Spread the word through all your family and friends. join all the local BBS (electronic bulletin board systems) and make your services known to all others logged on there. Join. if possible. can help you compile a list. and wherever you can find space to put up your notice. or professionals taking advanced or special courses). Do the same with stationery stores and other businesses whose customers are likely to be good prospects for you. Make deals with local merchants. (You local Better Business Bureau and others.dissertations. etc. Be sure to distribute your cards and brochures freely to them so they can pass them on to others.g. (They are cheap enough now. colleges. such as copy shops: You will send them printing customers. Send out brochures and announcements to all the companies. promote their organizations. many other things you may write are items that organizations want written to sell their products. Lions. including local government agencies and business clubs. Post signs on bulletin boards in schools. and they will send you writing customers. If you have a computer but no modem.
a thesis. Advertise in papers other than your local ones. One day a scheduled guest will cancel at the last moment. the Wall Street Journal has a national edition that goes all over the country. Or they are temporarily short-handed. county seats. you might find a membership manager. Keep trying and keep calling. on travel. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times are two that circulate widely.) A Few Special Tips on Marketing Here are a few ideas taken from years of practical experience that you won't find in most books on marketing: Don't hesitate to call on organizations that have their own publications departments and staff writers.) Use some of the methods recommended for reaching individuals. in many cases. also. Invariably. and holidays. out sick. Actually. Keep in touch with them and keep reminding them that you are available and eager to help. such as in the case of resume services.) . Don't neglect government offices." a willingness to work nights. with staff on vacation. In the small organization. Persistence is the key to success here." Call the producers of local radio and TV talk shows and try to get on as a guest. (Think up a subject of general interest to discuss. and city halls. Be aware. that companies sometimes get in a bind that requires them to work evenings. Most federal agencies have their own procurement offices on their premises. if you write marketing materials. and holidays. and often you reach the organization in the same ways you reach individuals. State and local governments have centralized purchasing and supply departments in state capitals. such organizations get overloaded frequently and are delighted to pay for help. these are very good targets. and the producer will be glad to get you! Do some cold-calling on organizations. you need to find the owner or chief executive. Offer a "sudden service. But all contract for help. and you will get assignments and win some new clients who will be back for more. carrying your cards and brochures. such as how to write a good resume. or otherwise unavailable. weekends. The sales manager or marketing director are good targets on these calls. (Individuals own or work for organizations. (In large membership associations.Joe Jones' Resume Service. a term paper. week-ends. etc. You can do business by mail. and local government procurement offices and talk to the people there about getting on bidders lists and otherwise winning some of their business. They have such departments and staffs because they write a great many things on a regular basis. state. Visit all federal. In the larger organization it may be the purchasing agent or some other office. (In fact.
et al--the clients .Pricing Your Services Most freelance writers seem to have difficulty deciding what their services are worth. to become an editor in a technical writing organization.) The term technical writer has thus become much broadened in its meaning. When I was a freelance technical writer a number of years ago. designers. Some who claim to be experts and offer advice start by saying something to the effect. especially when they must write to an official agency to straighten out some problem. CHAPTER 4 Freelance Technical Writing What is Technical Writing? Everything changes. That's not all of it." Technical writers today still interview engineers. while others charge less and some charge more. (The former English teacher or journalist with no engineering training was more likely. RCA. In a $65 market. and rates apparently run from about $35 to $75 per hour. there will always be one or two operators who are able to win all the business they can handle at $75. but instead of the work being almost exclusively with high-tech companies--e . It was necessary then to be an engineer or at least a trained engineering technician.. There are some people who want professional help in writing a simple letter. most of us signed on with the high-tech companies as consultants and functioned as temporary employees. and other professionals who create products and design services. the market varies with the area in which you operate and with the type of writing called for. and more. GE. General Dynamics. There is the matter of what you do as an individual to build the customers' perceptions of what you are worth. writing highly technical manuals." That is obviously useless advice. either. and includes much of what some call "business writing" or "corporate writing. $100. You can be one of these. and may or may not be endowed with an engineering education. Today's tech writer may be a former English teacher. but that was a number of years ago. IBM. or other individual with writing skills. One resume writer I know of charges from $65 up for his resumes. I wrote letters of that sort at $25 for the first page and $10 each additional page. for technical knowledge was as important as writing ability and perhaps even more so. I can't give you more than a rough idea. "Decide how much you want to earn a year. and you must find out what it is. clients don't care how much you want to earn: The client wants to pay what he or she thinks your work is worth and not more.g. and I would be forced to charge considerably more today. and the profession was fairly new. It's plain enough: There is "a market" for such services as you offer. a journalist. Technical writers usually charge by the hour. in those days.
Writer or Editorial Consultant? Note that you may be asked or volunteer to go beyond the limits of what would be classically described as "writing" and "editing. and many tech writers make good use of some knowledge of programming for that kind of assignment.) What is Required to be a Technical Writer Technical writers of today thus tend to no particular background. of course." The term "editorial consultant. Originally. Many writers and editors sell themselves short in this regard.) Among the many specialized functions or capabilities you might provide are writing. and both in many cases. and production services of various kinds. parts lists. and others prominent in commerce but not "technical" in the sense formerly implied by that word. and other documentation required to support the increasingly more complex and sophisticated automobiles. much of technical writing is devoted to the development of computer software manuals. parts lists. the tech writer may be called on to produce catalogs. proposals. you may be and are probably justified in regarding yourself as a consultant and pricing your services accordingly. user manuals. specification sheets. missiles and their launch systems. mainframe computers. but you have ample competition and so must compete effectively to win your . illustrating. You are not alone in the field. layout. satellites. design. when writers were hired to develop the maintenance manuals. Give this serious consideration. and other such developments of earlier decades. aircraft. editing. and sundry other items. If you are familiar with and skilled in dtp--desktop publishing software--it would a welcome service to clients and the best tool for design. indexing. However. tech writers were the authors of maintenance manuals. as well as the truly technical items that have been classically connected with technical writing. the range of kinds of writing is so broad that one may specialize in any way desirable. is a broad one that offers you many possibilities to expand the service you provide and the fees you can command. (In fact. Today." which I use here. but may come from academic or technical backgrounds. radar. Selling Your Services Marketing--winning clients and assignments--is at the heart of any service business. even making arrangements for printing and solving a variety of the typical problems that arise in publications projects. Knowledge of and skills in using desktop publishing software is a valuable asset in any writing or publishing work. it would be difficult for anyone to handle every possible kind of writing assignment. and other such end-products. a valuable asset. annual reports. newsletters. layout. (The profession of technical writing is believed to have origins in Detroit. operator's guides. technical writers wrote manuals for automobiles. If you provide services beyond simple writing and editing services per se. audiovisuals. training items. Today.today may include Pepsi Cola. Traditionally. Levi Strauss. policy manuals. Campbell's Soups. and composition.
rather than as a self-employed individual." It is perfectly acceptable to use the latter singular terms. At the minimum. and the technology has affected or become part of many industries that are not themselves developers of high-tech products or services. if you are imaginative enough. Markets. and their qualifications in brochures and proposals. Some entering this kind of venture use their personal resumes as brochures. One way to start is to market yourself to clients indirectly by going through agencies such as "job shops" or brokers. laser printers. if you are going to approach and contract directly with clients as a consultant. In this manner.x 11-inch sheet folded into three panels. hiring out as a true temporary and working on the client's site. That is not a businesslike or professional approach. you will need a resume. For example. you will need a brochure. if you plan to function as an independent contractor for writing and/or related services. scanners. You will actually appear on the agency's payroll as an employee and be assigned to their client. In many cases. and learn to think of yourself as a business organization. rather than a resume. To a large degree. instead of "I" and "my. but using the plural terms may help you perceive yourself as a business and present yourself properly as a business. despite cutbacks. fax machines. depending on how you propose to approach your marketing. the practice of medicine is today more and more dependent on electronic and other high-tech equipment. (Actually. since you print on both sides. six panels. you need a business card and either a brochure or a resume. specification sheets. It can be an 8-1/2. Of course. and product descriptions written. Use "we" and "our. just as if you were in pursuit of regular 9 to 5 permanent position. even though you function alone. Sales/Marketing Literature. Be careful that you do not shut your mind to prospects without being sure of your conclusions. How do you market your services and products? Let's look at some conventional methods first. your markets will depend on you--on what you can do and on what you prefer to do. by educating . You must change your thinking when you change from someone's employee to independent practitioner. There are many possible markets for technical writing. modems. Your basic brochure does not have to be an elaborate affair.share of the market. You must have some basic sales literature to support your marketing efforts. But so are many industries. This is a high-tech age. their offers. brochures. and companies serving the military are prime targets for your services. and all the complex software necessary to operate these. Most organizations today use computers. as it does many other newly launched independent entrepreneurs in a variety of solo ventures. Industries that were once somewhat pedestrian and mundane have been forced to become high-tech operations. Businesses explain their services. For that kind of selling yourself. including some who may seem to be unlikely prospects for technical writing. and the marketing departments of the manufacturers of such equipment need manuals.) Describe what you offer as a business organization. However. the military will continue to contract for many high-tech products." for example. you can induce what might have seemed an unlikely prospect to decide that he or she can make good use of the technical writing services you provide.
The newly launched independent technical writer often gets his or her first client and assignment from a former employer. it will be a . after they told me that they had nothing for me if they could recommend me to someone. If you were laid off for lack of enough work. and I got some very useful referrals that way. There are many other kinds of organizations who make good prospects for technical writing services. if you can steel yourself to it. In fact. It happens quite frequently because your former employer can also benefit from this new arrangement. you can often actually create a new market or niche. and simply procrastinated. The whole problem in cold calling is your own mental set. the fastest way to get your first assignments is usually the direct method. often on the first day. Find the Right Individual. but didn't know how to go about finding a technical writer. If you are one of these. Consider all of these in your service area. the method will work for you. Cold Calling. and non-profit corporations. But even if you chose to resign and start your own venture.) I have found that many clients for writing jobs and related editorial services are also individuals. Marketing Methods. it is a terrible experience. I asked everyone I talked to. a serendipitous event. You simply start calling on each company you can reach and solicit work openly and honestly. It's true that not everyone you approach will have need for what you offer. I was myself not delighted to undertake canvassing for business. and not all the writing you will do is truly technical in the strict sense of high-tech activity. Don't confine yourself to corporations and for-profit companies. at least not in the early stages of researching markets and finding your niche. your former employer may welcome the opportunity to reduce costs without losing services. You need to be persevering and to have faith that you will meet with eventual success. associations. In some companies. cold calls are most likely to produce results. Other than this. You have to find out which individual in the company would be the one to see. I was to them manna from Heaven. that traditional and time-honored method of making cold calls. are quite pleasant and try to be helpful. your employer may welcome the opportunity to use your service is on the less-expensive basis you offer as a contract writer or consultant . However. approached properly. but I was most surprised to discover that there are many people out there who were delighted to see me: They needed some help with writing chores. Most people. government agencies.prospects in what you do and how it can benefit them. If you can do that. the probable reason you find it so offensive a prospect is because you anticipate rejection. You may eventually find it expedient to specialize in one or two as niche markets. Most people find making cold calls on prospects a distasteful business. but keep your mind open in the beginning and be ready to sample all while you search for the most hospitable niche. and even when you try to prepare for it. but you need not take that as a rejection. (Bear in mind that "technical" is a flexible term here.
The more you have. Networking.) Don't overlook the Commerce Business Daily. the easier time you will have to win new clients and assignments. Nowadays. a great many people suddenly accept an obligation to help you and go to extremes to do so. Research and add the names of all individuals you can identify in the organizations and record them. as a source of leads for many federal government contracts and subcontracts. Search them out by all the available methods. of course. quite often. In time that database will be among your most valuable business assets. Subcontracting. organize. The modern way to gather. As you read the trade journals and the local newspapers. Belong to as many associations as you can. it is much easier to both gather the information and keep it up to date. (The information all gets added to your marketing database.) Market Research and Market Intelligence. the associations. (Amazingly. and large contractors must subcontract what they do not do themselves. and you will eventually find the right party. and any others--and record them in your database. focusing on those that will bring you in contact with prospective clients and other writers. and the more complete and up to date your information is. But don't join any more groups than you can find time for: The memberships . Subcontracting is an option you should be aware of. The Marketing Database. Marketing success depends on information. you will find if you ask pleadingly for help. and you might have to talk to several people in turn before you reach the right person. No one--no organization--does everything. but watch the business section of your daily newspaper too. while in others it might be the personnel manager or a general administrator. features. available in paper and online editions. be conscious of every contract award in your area and identify those prime contract awards that may hold the promise of subcontracting opportunities for you.purchasing agent who would contract for your services. and build a suitable resource of marketing intelligence today is to set up a marketing database in your pc. with personal computers. Gather the names of all prospects for your services--the companies. The most important thing to do in marketing is to research the market possibilities. It is usually necessary to make inquiries to find the right party. You must keep your data growing by adding to it and updating it as you get new information. such as advertisements. Keep asking for help. Networking is a method of marketing that works for many. and news stories in a variety of sources: Newspapers Magazines Trade journals Observation in your travels Local government publications Association directories The Yellow pages Help-wanted advertising Word of mouth from friends and associates Such listings age quickly. the government agencies.
but they also bear importantly on other matters. It ought to be on a good grade of paper.. Many pay large sums to designers to create these delightfully ornate and distinctive manifestations of their glorious professions and businesses. and other such gatherings are good prospects for this. licenses. There is an inevitable hazard in going a bit too far in impressing prospects with your "front. Ostentation. I have known elaborate ornamentation to play a role in a prospect's decision to do business with a supplier. Be careful that you do not "protest" your professionalism and appearance of success too forcefully. Association memberships are an important element in networking and making valuable contacts otherwise. information about taxes. accountants. an attention-demanding business card. Take advantage of every opportunity to meet and mingle with people who are good prospects to be come clients or to furnish good leads for new business. Even worse. may backfire on you because they will alarm discerning and sophisticated prospective clients. In any case. your stationery. tastefully done. They can be in black ink on any good grade of card stock. Through the relevant associations you can get guidance and help in determining what fees to charge. but be restrained also. with an arty logo.g. Yes. many prospects will see this as hype and be amused. whether they are tech writers or not. such as those disgracefully costly cards and stationery. and not ostentatious. In short. sole proprietorship versus corporation). There are many small business people who believe that it is important to be incorporated and to have expensive stationery.won't help if you are not active in the associations. for example. Associations. It is necessary to be dignified and businesslike. Conventions. Nor does it guarantee that he or she will remember that business card much longer than it takes to have lunch. Likewise. and a distinctive logo with which to adorn everything and mark your business distinctively. Creating the Right Image. and insurance. setting up your business organization (e. You must project an image that commands the respect of your peers and your clients or prospective clients as a serious professional. will bring you leads for clients and assignments. I am not one who believes this. who often tend to see such trappings as evidence that you lack good business judgment and might be too expensive a supplier. rather than impressed. There is no doubt about that. but you must always appear as the respectable and completely professional specialist.. I think you will do best to keep it all businesslike but . sample and recommended contract forms. but that is not likely to have much to do with the other's sales decision. Your image is important. They don't have to be unusual. Your business cards should be prepared by a good print shop. I shudder at what many beginners in business spend so naively for these unnecessary refinements. and many other supports that would cost you a great deal of money to buy individually from lawyers. and other specialists. someone may note your business card and even remark on it." Be professional and businesslike. Not only must you make yourself highly visible as a specialist. trade shows. Mixing with others. seminars.
Writing for Publication. write a letter to the Letters to the Editor column. craft. although apparently most tend to charge by the hour. free of charge. Let's talk about rates first: . I worked to become known as one of the people to consult when one needed help with a proposal to government agencies. Writing and speaking are among the best ways to make yourself well known_--o become highly visible and be recognized as an expert. Certainly. You can offer seminars.) What Can You Charge? You can charge by the hour. The concept is simple enough: Become well known as an expert in what you do. My consulting assignments came to me almost entirely by referrals then because my name had become familiar to many who needed such help. Set yourself up as a one-person speaker's bureau. trade. They had read my articles and books and attended my seminars and other public speaking. by the day. Publication there helps too to make your name--who and what you are--known to the readers. business. (The impact of well-written Letters to the Editor is greater than you might imagine. directly and forcefully. If you can't sell articles to the editors of these publications. craft. they can be brief ones of an hour or two. which kept my name always visible. (You can find reasons to write press re leases if you work at it. and they don't have to be day-long. business.) Send press releases to these journals. making yourself available as a speaker. I prefer to charge by the day or by the job. This is especially important for a writer. and profession. preferably in some niche or specialty. and try to get articles published in them. publications about an industry. who is or ought to be a specialist at getting to the point. or by the job. as this helps me avoid some of the difficulties. Be active on the speaker's platform. Write articles that manage somehow to make it clear to the readers that you are a freelance technical writer/consultant who is expert in whatever is your specialty. Readers need to know who and what you are. which produce word-of-mouth marketing: referrals. to local groups of all kinds. Others tend to be well impressed by your writing for publication and speaking publicly. at annual conventions and trade shows--as often as possible. or profession. Search out those most likely to reach the people you want to reach. releases that will reflect your name and what you offer to do for clients. There are trade journals. (You can use a press release to announce this service and invite groups to call on you to learn about technical documentation or whatever topics you offer as subjects. your stationery and literature ought to be the best of all witnesses to your ability to do this! Writing and Speaking. as the big companies do. Many freelance technical writers do no direct marketing.. They market indirectly through such measures as networking and active PR--public relations and publicity--efforts. trade.simple and direct. g. for every industry. if the article is to serve you as helpful publicity.) Speaking Publicly. Be active in the associations to which you belong and speak there--e.
(Make no mistake about it: . It is possible to do better. by subject matter. such as an inkjet printer. you should set the goal now and work toward reaching it. as a minimum. to give you maximum dtp capabilities. That is what drives many to favor the hourly rate. Of course. The technical writer with a reputation as a consultant in the field will command higher rates than the technical writer who has not yet earned a reputation as a specialist. and by individual. it is less and less difficult to get my rate.The rates that represent "the market" or the accepted "standard" rates for technical writing vary widely by industry. accessible directly or via one of the commercial online services. There is equipment. What you need in the way of equipment depends on what services you will offer and what it takes to provide those services. a great many work for $35-$50 per hour--you probably need to work on your image and your marketing. Miscellaneous Considerations There are some other practical considerations that are necessary to conducting a business of any kind. g. Most freelancers charge time and one-half for overtime and even more for working Sundays and holidays. modem. There is software needed for these. However. but merit that rate. and will probably want to run Windows on your system. I take a different tack: I demand a rather high daily rate. Still. you should have a fast machine with a great deal of RAM and disk storage.. much of what you need to gave access to online is available via the Internet and the Web. by region. If you will do a substantial amount of layout. Until recently. even if you are not yet ready to command a top rate. of course. fax. In fact. which you may not exceed with approval. but it does take time to build. What Resources do You Need? There are several kinds of resources you need. Getting my rate means I must sell aggressively. and will want an estimate. That is the best kind of reputation to get. by market. And the technical writer who has gained the image of the only one to handle the especially difficult and demanding assignment can and will command the highest rates of all. and production support. but I usually avoid headaches later. which must include computer. you will require a laser printer or its equivalent for print quality. for one. and that must be reasonably up to date software. you will probably need some fairly sophisticated dtp software and adequate hardware capability to use the dtp software well--e. Today. You might also find a scanner indispensable. One problem we all encounter is difficulty in estimating the amount of time required for the job. one high enough to permit me to "eat" a few extra hours or some late-night effort without experiencing excessive pain in the pocket. but it does require doing the right things and working energetically at it. If you cannot command $500 or more per day--and. illustrating. as prospects learn that I do demand a substantial rate. and printer as a minimum today. And there is access to a variety of information sources for research. clients do not give you a blank check. frankly. that was represented by a number of public databases.
I have found it best to keep our own books and use a CPA to do our taxes. Probably. and they can be quite restrictive. It is labor. you will have no problem. you intend to operate as a sole proprietor. however. and that is still before you pay taxes and take a profit. Paying yourself $25 an hour does not mean that you can make a $10 profit by charging the client $35 an hour (unless your overhead is almost zero. such as Quicken or the Dome program. heat. you can probably do your own taxes. Mistakes to Avoid Many beginners in business make more mistakes with regard to their accounting systems than with any other aspect of their operation. to go down to city hall and get a copy of the relevant zoning laws. travel. INDIRECT COSTS are the costs you can't assign to specific jobs. the least complicated business structure. and I can do that only by keeping my own accounts. and that is almost always the major cost in a service business. and no excessive number of delivery people calling on you. These are also known as OVERHEAD COSTS and they are as real as the direct costs are. I need to know continuously how I am doing. printing. A visit to a CPA to discuss your accounting needs and probable tax liabilities is an option you may wish to consider. It does not hurt. You might also visit the nearest Small Business Center. If. That wasn't good enough for me. Whether you do or do not use a CPA or a commercial software package to handle your accounting. no procession of clients visiting. if you have no signs. taxes. I turn them over to my CPA to do my taxes at the end of the year. which are usually set up at local community colleges. a most unlikely possibility). depreciation of equipment. using any of the popular programs. I think this because my experience in using a CPA to keep our books meant that I got reports from the CPA about every quarter. or other costs incurred solely and exclusively for the job. insurance.Providing independent service of any kind is a business. such as rent.) Freelance writers generally work at home--have done so traditionally--but there are zoning laws in every community. and other such items. It is part of cost. Never forget that. It is more likely that your overhead is $20 or more per hour. such as your salary for the hours you spend on the job. . and must be conducted as such. DIRECT COSTS are what you spend directly and exclusively on a project. however. and so it wasn't until three or more months after the event that I found out how I was doing. you should understand a few basics facts relevant to accounting: COSTS AND PROFITS: The salary or "draw you allow yourself is not part of profit. Profit is what have or should have left over after you have paid yourself and covered all other costs of the business. PRICING or the fees and rates you charge are dependent on both direct and indirect costs. light. probably the major item of cost.
C. Suite 304 Arlington. but accountants get busy and may not notice the growing problem soon enough. Contact the NASW Administrative Secretary. your accountant should warn you. VA 22203-1822 703-522-4114 The National Association of Science Writers. Stuart Street. National Writers Union National Office 13 Astor Pl. chapter. Presumably. Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Bldg 733 15th Street. Diane McGurgan. Washington Independent Writers is a good group to belong to if you are in the Washington area. one of which is that an effective writer's association helps you get business. national organization. Greenlawn. DC 20005 202-347-4973 Isolde Chapin. many of whom will be technical writers. they are not always able to recover. highly recommended for technical writers and with many local chapters. the DC-SWA (pronounced Duck-SWA). if he or she is keeping your books. Associations for Writers There is at least one association for technical writers and many associations for writers in general. The Headquarters office is in Washington. Society for Technical Communication 901 N. Belonging to any relevant association is a good idea for anyone who is in business. P. they sometimes do not find out about this soon enough. Unfortunately. and by the time they do. NY 10003 . Belonging to a good writer's association is an even better idea for you as a technical writer.e. New York.O. (516) 757-0069 (fax) for more information.Box 294.Why is it necessary to keep close contact with my accounting records? It is necessary because far too many businesses fail because they have not kept close contact and they get into trouble_--. NW Washington. including freelance writers.. Belonging to a writer's association benefits you in many ways. they start losing money. NY 11740. (516) 757-5664. has a strong local D. One bad experience convinced me that I must hold my business close to hand in this manner. The Society for Technical Communication (which began life many years ago as the Society of Technical Writers and Publishers or STWP) is now a large. Executive Director The National Writers Union is also a writers' organization with many chapters. all or write the headquarters listed here for help in finding your nearest local chapter.
MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. Lcl.(212) 254-0279 New York Local 799 Broadway #222 New York. NY 10709 Sarah White. Box 292 Eastchester. Cambridge. Chair (612) 222-0581 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley. MN 55408 Marc Hequet. NJ 06848 Eric Lerner (609) 883-8878 Boston Local Box 1073 Harvard Square Sta. Chair (914) 682-1574 New Jersey Local 20 Pine Knoll Drive Lawrenceville. IL 60654 (312) 348-1300 Twin Cities Local #13 PO Box 80026 Minneapolis. NY 10003 (212) 677-9705 Westchester Local P. MA 01035 Steve Simurda (413) 586-9354 Wash DC Local 1924 Park Road NW Wash. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 (703) 532-4571 Chicago local PO Box 3454 Chicago. PO Box 398 Hadley. CA 93924 (408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 .O.
CA 94127 Stacy Frederick (415) 654-6369 Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale. There are many false beliefs revolving around the question of literary agents and their role in one's writing career. able to bring instant success in selling the writer's work. Be an expert editor. CA 91226 Monica Gullon (213) 281-6901 CHAPTER 5 About Literary Agents and Contract Terms One of the elements of a freelance writing career that concerns many beginning writers is the question of whether and how to find an agent. What is an Agent? Many beginning writers think of literary agents as magicians.236 W. They perceive of the agent solely as a marketer. but they do or ought to furnish other important services. the ones most agents focus on and most writers expect. The ideal literary agent would have all the following characteristics: Know and thoroughly understand the publishing industry and its markets. That's a tall order. The corollary of that belief . Agents are primarily marketers. Be an effective marketer. able to guide the writer. and probably no agent meets all these "requirements. yes. Be an alter ego. Portal Ave. That's an image only partly true." The last two are probably the most essential ones. Have a great many "contacts"--editors and publishers--in key positions in book publishing. Be an expert negotiator. The first two are probably the key to the last two! What an Agent is Not The most widely held false belief by many freelance writers is that they need an agent to become successful. able to guide the writer's career. Understand contract law and know what belongs and does not belong in a publishing contract. SF.
their respective strengths vis a vis whatever kind of material you write and offer. Here are a few facts of life that agents probably would like you to understand and writers don't want to know: Many books. These are considerations when seeking an agent. Those interests may represent or reflect an agent's main strengths: He or she may handle all kinds of books. I have always marketed my articles myself.is the myth that an agent can sell what you write much more easily than you can. Editors have sometimes called me many months--even a year--after I had sent then queries. I happen to know one of the editors who was unable to sell what became a runaway best seller. when we were all pretty hungry. although he or she may be able to make suggestions for changes that would make it salable. but in more than one subsequent sequel and alternate edition. asking if the article I had originally offered was still available. and that is as true for articles. Some handle novels only. Hardly ever does one excel in all departments. for example. But let's get to a consideration even more basic than that. agents would represent writers of articles and short stories. Today. except as an accommodation to a writer client whose main work was books of some sort. the thirties. it would be a rare agent who would do so. in re agents. if editors do not perceive its worth. the question of whether you need or ought to have an agent at all: For one thing. you may have to seek out an agent with compatible interests. even some that later turned out to be blockbuster best-sellers. Thus. Even that is only a part of the truth about selling. That often embodies the further belief that an agent can sell anything you write--that the agent is a magician in the marketplace. During the days of the Great Depression. A good agent may not be able to sell even a good book. Or a given agent may be a great marketer but a poor negotiator. Let's set the latter mythology at rest immediately: The best agent in the world cannot sell anything editors do not want to buy. Most agents specialize to some extent. an agent cannot sell it. Sometimes it's a matter of timing. while others handle only nonfiction. Chicken Soup for the Soul) in not only its original edition. even if you have an agent. persistence and patience are often much more responsible for sales success than is any special genius or contact and agent may have. it is appropriate to consider having an agent only if you write books. were turned down by many publishers before they found one with faith and a sympathetic ear--or perhaps more insight and vision than others. and it is not easy to determine in advance how good a given agent will be for you. If something you write is unsalable. but they may specialize further within one of those categories. It is not easy to get an able and established agent. It is probably wise to do so. Thus. Agents vary quite widely in at least three respects: The kinds of books they handle. as for books. . but be especially effective in some given kind of book and not too effective in the kind of books you wish to write or have written. It can be the right book at the wrong time. even when I had an agent representing me for my books. and in their general competence.
especially the first part of that theory: You can and should sell without an agent's help. Real Agents and Reading Fees Some agents charge "reading fees. That is simply not true. Again. Don't assume that if you write well." These are fees to pay for their time. and thus depend on reading fees. The latter class of agents generally will refund or credit the reading fee if they succeed in selling any of the manuscripts for which the client paid a reading fee.Can You Get an Agent? It's no secret that it isn't easy to get an agent when you are in an early stage of your writing career. working on commissions. But here again is the basis for another myth. busy editors do not think in terms of quality as much as they do in terms of such questions as how well the piece fits their needs (in terms of space. but can't afford to spend their time reading unsalable manuscripts and trying to coach the authors of "almost" manuscripts into revisions that will make the manuscripts salable. unpublishable manuscripts. that demonstrates why charging fees is not unreasonable. Do Lawyers Make Good Agents? . the myth that no "real agent" charges reading fees. Unfortunately. and the experience of most agents is that the odds are against that time being well invested: Few of the hopefuls work out in the end. An agent is in business. that the quality of your work will be readily recognized and eagerly bought by editors. Thus the quandary the agent faces between the desire to sign up new clients and the difficulty of evaluating prospective clients. A piece that wins immediate and enthusiastic acceptance in the right market will win immediate and unhesitating turndown in the wrong market. especially when you have not yet built much of a track record and can not point to a list of published material that you have sold. That is not an unreasonable requirement. far too often. which is so often wasted reading unpublished and. and probable appeal to readers) and how much editing it might need. except by your track record or by studying your manuscripts and making a judgment. There are two kinds of agents who charge reading fees: There are those who are not agents at all or are quite unsuccessful in trying to earn commissions. success is assured. especially in the beginning Work as hard at learning to market as you did at learning to write. But that takes time. But there are those legitimate agents who want to add new authors to their client list. Is the Dilemma Solvable? Many writers believe that this situation represents a chicken-and-egg or Catch 22 proposition--that you can't sell until you have an agent and you can't get an agent until you begin to sell. subject matter. and has no way of knowing whether you can write salable material or not. style.
I object to that latter burden and I will not pay it. the primary nominal duty of an agent is to represent us in the marketplace: find buyers for our work and negotiate acceptable contracts. Logically. and as much effort as possible by the author to work with the agent in the marketing of the work. although there are a few exceptions. applied to all money received by the author. but these are not great qualifications as literary agents representing authors. that would make it appear that they believe the agent's primary job is to negotiate or. mother and father confessor. alter ego. press agent.) What Should You Expect of Your Agent? Hollywood has given us a false idea of what an agent is and does. I don't think one can justify logically demanding that much larger a share of the author's income. According to some of the film dramatizations. such as an express delivery or other . dresser.) One does not have to be a lawyer to understand and negotiate a book contract. at least. and the lawyer who does not know writing and publishing. who believe that they can use a lawyer. not content with that substantial increase. where it had been for years 10 percent. errand boy. instead of an agent. or even that a lawyer makes a better agent than an agent who is not a lawyer. but they are exceptions. I think there should be continuous dialogue. with our agents. is poorly qualified to act as a literary agent. both as a craft and as a business and industry. A truly professional agent will also guide your career. (There are some lawyers who specialize in copyright law an the publishing industry as consultants. but it has become virtually a standard. and perhaps a few other things. some of them quite experienced. Probably most writers leave almost all marketing responsibility up to their agents. but most will not. I believe the agent's cost for postage and telephone calls is a normal cost of doing business. It ignores the fact that few lawyers know anything about professional writing and the publishing industry. nursemaid. That is not to say that there may not be an occasional exception. financial manager. business manager. For you and me. Some agents may do more than this. normal overhead. some agents also ask for expense money from authors to cover postage and telephone calls. joint planning of marketing strategies between agent and author. However. an agent is a hand holder.I am always surprised and puzzled by those writers. I happen to believe that to be totally wrong. much less marketing and publishing contracts. Perhaps that is a partial truth when the client is a multimillion dollar star and the agent is earning at least six figures in commissions. (This is not to say that there are not some agents who happen to be also lawyers or lawyers who have learned the publishing industry and become agents. with suggestions for projects and all efforts to sell additional rights to your works. It certainly is not true for you and me. Fees and Charges There seems to be today a strong tendency by agents to ask for 15 percent commission. I think the author-agent relationship ought to be closer than that and integrated to work at its peak efficiency. pass judgment on the contract offered.
(Your agent would submit the proposal normally. But then they urge one to double-space their book proposals. you may get an offer. Nonfiction books are generally sold by submitting a book proposal to the publisher. you can sign for another book or for a term of months or longer. but that ought to be an exception and authorized in advance by the author. and instructions to the typesetter. I hesitate to do that now. although it is not necessarily true. They will then deduct their commissions and send the rest on to the author. comments. explain the market for it and the anticipated sales. Certainly. I think it in your interest to insist on this arrangement. you may be asked to submit two or three sample chapters for approval. at most. many publishers are none too swift in paying. It is possible to sign with an agent for a single book. whether you have an agent or not. although some writers recommend proposals about twice or three times that length. If the publisher is interested but your credentials are not impressive. I found that to be unworkable for me. In fact. My book proposals generally run 8-12 single-spaced pages. Businessmen writing business books are quite likely to be their own agents. Getting Paid Getting paid can be a touchy proposition. and present your credentials for writing the book. more than one publisher with whom I did business was a little surprised to learn that I had an agent. If that arrangement works out well. First of all. but no editor is going to work on your proposal! If your credentials are strong enough and the publisher is interested enough. How do I know that I will find the arrangement suitable? I have found some unsuitable. it is possible to sell a book without an agent. I learned.) In the proposal you describe the proposed book. I believe it is by far the better arrangement. Publishers were perfectly willing to pay author and agent separately--85 percent to the author and 15 percent to the agent. Selling Without an Agent It may be easier to sell a book with an agent than without one. in the light of my experiences. which suggests that they are a bit confused: Manuscripts are double-spaced to enable the editor to make changes. Or you may be asked to discuss . for several reasons. That is a common belief. so I was apparently the exception. But then most businessmen and -women who write books are likely to write only one or two books. Contracting With an Agent Some agents ask you to sign with them for a year or longer. so perhaps I am atypical. whereas I planned to go on writing one book after another about business. provide a reasonably detailed outline.extraordinary expense. I learned that it didn't have to be done that way. The traditional practice of agents adds delays: They generally ask that all checks be sent to them.
. (If he or she did not want it. But they will negotiate when it is necessary--. and have licensed someone else--i. Negotiation Obviously. They will impose these when they can get away with it--when the author does not know better and will accept these terms. when the publisher wants the book and you. have sold--certain rights. you own the copyright to anything you write as original work. and it is your property. more or less standard--contracts and practices For example.your proposal and possibly to revise it. Under the law.000 copies sold. one the other party wants. Mail order sales usually pay 5 percent of dollars received by the publisher. The secret of success in negotiation is attitude: Know that you have a valuable property to offer. there would be no negotiations!) Your job is to find out how much the other party wants your property.000 copies sold. He will be reimbursed the advance out of those royalties. Thus you trade back and forth until you find that point.5 percent for the next 5. the book club usually pays the publisher a royalty.e. You are or should be still the copyright owner of record. and 15 percent on all copies sold thereafter. which is not an uncommon problem for . not at all. If the book goes to a book club. under which you relinquish all rights. will not sell on the terms offered. Are you stuck with these "standard" terms because you do not have an agent? No. and distribute it--you do not normally convey all your rights. the author. Typical or "Standard" Terms There are standard--well. Bear in mind that the advance is not a gift nor a fee. Suppose your publisher sells a magazine the right to publish an abstract of your book. Whatever the publisher gets for that license is normally split 50-50 with you. although he will write off the loss should the book not "earn out"--not sell well enough to repay the advance out of royalties earned. such as a movie sale. with an initial advance against royalties. That is legal. It is a portion of the royalties the publisher expects your book to earn. it is possible that a publisher will want to buy your book outright for some fixed price. (You should be so lucky!) There are many secondary rights. according to suggestions made by the publisher. e. (You don't have to pay the publisher the difference if your book does not earn back the total advance payment. These are the terms they would like to persuade you to believe are standard. The same thing generally applies to other subsidiary rights.. but it is usually a mistake. and the contract should state that clearly. and even when you contract with someone else to publish your work--print. if that is what you wish to do. 12. the price the other party is willing to pay for your property. no matter what publishers say. Book authors are generally paid royalties. Typical "standard contract" scales for hard-cover books are 10 percent of the publisher's net (the net is usually about 60 percent of the cover price) for the first 5. bind. you always have the right to negotiate for your property. but not all of them. and you split that equally with the publisher.
This does not mean that the new author cannot get an advance against royalties. That could make the total royalty earnings larger than they might have been otherwise. large investment--to motivate the publisher to work hard at making it a success in the marketplace.. That is not unreasonable when the author is new and without a track record--i. (Some publishers insist on paying advances in a different manner--e. in thirds. In general. there is an advantage in getting a large advance (aside from the obvious one of not having to wait a long time for the first income from your book): The advance represents a substantial portion of the publisher's investment in your book. (Even after signing a contract. Typical Terms on Advances Well-established authors can negotiate book contracts and all terms. the author prepares a proposal and sends it out to one or more prospective publishers. the author is usually paid one-half the advance. e. the third portion paid only when the book is finally released--but those are exceptions. some authors never produce the manuscript. Front.) The remaining one-half will be paid when the author has submitted the manuscript. At the same time.publishers. Mid-. my own principal publisher orders the second one-half of my advance paid when my manuscript is sent to production. but it means. There are no hard and fast rules about this.) Grants and Expenses Occasionally a publisher provides money for extraordinary expenses. that the advance negotiated and contracted for will be paid only when the manuscript has been delivered and accepted for publication. and so you can expect a large advance--e. regardless of the size of the advance----.) If your book does well. and the manuscript has been accepted. g.000 books published every year do not earn out. including advance money. and is given only in exceptional circumstances. Thus it is in your interest to work as hard as you can at getting the largest advance possible. money that is not counted against royalties nor paid back in any way. as yet unpublished.. however. and Back Lists The harsh fact is that a majority of the 50.) The new writer is not likely to get paid advance money on the strength of a contract only. and do not even return all the publisher's costs. it probably doesn't matter whether you got a large advance or not: Eventually. g. and the back list. but usually the new books . usually.. Once the contract is negotiated and signed. before writing the book. you will probably earn the same amount.e.. It is not the most common event. It is usually in the form of a grant. (Typically. Usually. a publisher's books in inventory fall into three lists: the front list. The only thing that makes commercial book publishing viable is that the profit margins on the books that do earn out is large enough to overcome the losses on the other books. whatever the total of royalties the book is able to garner for you over its lifetime. the mid-list.
book stores.) Typically. the trade paperback will sell for about 25 percent less than the cloth bound edition. it is a good backlist that is the real strength of most publishers. and that depends on how the publisher assesses the market. and with a glued back. although a few have been. and is the most expensive method of book manufacturing. Cloth bound books are expensive to manufacture and are generally produced with a low initial number. technically. e. as the cloth bound book does.a publisher releases are the front list. Mathematics for the Million. Many books are produced in one version only. The Lancelot Hogben book.. especially if it becomes a best seller and the publisher continues to publicize it. revised editions--while others merely require fresh printings. Those are usually the sturdiest of backlist books. usually 3. to see how well they go (unless the publisher has some compelling reason to believe that the book will sell in much higher numbers).) But there are two paperback versions. however.000 to 5. . Trade paperbacks are generally conceived as books that will reach substantial sales volume in "the trade"--i. A book may remain on the front list for a long time. Alternate Versions From the manufacturing viewpoint. a classic of its kind. Some require updating--new. in a paperback edition. the "trade" or "quality" paperback version. If the publisher has reason to believe that the book ought to be a trade paperback. The mass market paperback is the kind you see in the supermarket and drug stores. for example. recently released books that are still doing very well in the market are the mid-list. and finally became available. there are three classes of books: The hardcover edition is. However. a "cloth bound" version. many years after its early printings. the publisher will produce a number of cloth copies as a "library edition. and the "mass market" or pocket size paperback version. There are books that sell well year after year. but the cover will be of paper or light card stock. with sewn signatures. It may even have sewn signatures. called "perfect binding. None of this means that every book is produced in all versions. The trade paperback is printed on the same quality of paper as the cloth bound book. has been a solid backlist book for many years." (Trade paperbacks may also have this less expensive binding. (That does not mean that quality does not vary." although focusing the marketing effort on the trade paperback edition. and the mass market paperback will sell for one-half or less than a trade paperback version might sell. Mass market paperbacks are a practicable proposition only if they can be sold in large quantity and distributed widely. such as Frank Bettger's How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. and books selling in modest volume but steadily as staples are the back list.000 copies. Frank Bettger's How I raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling (mentioned below) has turned out to be another perennial favorite that will go on for years in various editions. cloth versions can range from inexpensive to very expensive editions. but that libraries will want a cloth edition for their shelves. printed on a pulp paper similar to the newsprint of the daily newspapers.
and they can hurt your cause more than they help it if they are disliked by editors. There are also agents who are very aggressive and abrasive. As in the case of most professions. a story or an article. but it does mean "gets along well with editors" in every sense of that phrase. that is. I have had occasion to learn of various editors' reactions to certain agents. If a publisher bought it. I am frequently confronted by aspirants pleading for help in finding an agent. there are good agents. If you go this route. he or she provided editing. By far the best way to get an agent is to write a blockbuster of a best seller and wait for an army of agents to seek you out and offer to represent you. and far more than the 15-percent commission the agent earns. and there are poor agents. That doesn't necessarily mean popular or well liked. for an effective agent gets you far more than you can get for yourself. and other services to prepare it for production and distribution--publishing. Like every successful writer of books. be sure that you are ready for an agent! CHAPTER 6 $60. Most freelance writing then was "on spec"--you wrote something. An agent who truly knows the ropes and is a good negotiator costs you nothing. when you are finally ready to be represented.More Insights Into the Agent's Job Now you can begin to understand some of the duties and responsibilities of a conscientious agent: The process is somewhat complicated. usually. How to Find an Agent Finding an agent is a major problem. Most agents who advertise for clients ask for reading fees. layout. then peddled it. typemarking. It is not an easy task to explain that I cannot recommend a stranger to any agent I know unless I have good reason to have faith in the individual's ability to turn out salable books. there are fairly good agents. if you have an agent.000/Year in Editorial Services A Vigorous Business Market for Writers Today When I started out as a freelance writer the market for such services was different than it is today. the agent knows all these things we have discussed and is a good negotiator as well. and there is a great deal to learn. Those are not agents you want. and at least some of them are interested in reading fees more than in developing and representing successful authors. A second best and more practical approach is to have as a friend a successful writer of the same kind of books you write who likes your work and will recommend you to his or her own agent. Presumably. you were finished with it. . Finding the right agent may be even more of a problem. Once the publisher bought it. A good agent is also one that gets along well with the editors.
as you wish. that he or she doesn't write at all well. I discovered the writers' magazines. you do rewrites of someone else's bad or incomplete writing. of just what a writer was and did. (Most of us begin by working the entire market until we finally settle into some specialized segment. So while I may talk of writing throughout this chapter. scripts. reports. for one reason or another. You can work this entire market or you can specialize in segments of it. that I would be a writer. storyboards. It was . either. It is in your interest to be expert in as many kinds of business writing as possible--brochures. editing. and/or other such editorial services. at the ripe old age of 12. if not all of this market.Today there is an entirely different market for freelance writers. a few years later. I had rather vague ideas. You get paid for everything you write because you write to order. and a few minor ones. Again. and you don't write best sellers--but you don't work on spec. but it was satisfaction to have my name in the press and some of my work worthy of purchase. writing assignments often require more than writing. do I refer to "editorial services. I didn't really envision myself as a great novelist or playwright. and you don't starve in a garret." However. publicity releases. an enormous business market. and otherwise provide counsel--consulting services. and publication. a not unusual rate in the pulp markets of that day. what difference does it make what the work is called? In some cases. All I knew was that I enjoyed explaining myself in writing. typemarking. three prominent. please interpret that to mean all the spectrum of writing. advise about printing or illustrating. layout. It wasn't much money. You don't (usually) get bylined in this market.) Why." rather than to freelance writing? Simply for these reasons: Frequently. and others. Ultimately. "big league" ones. at an agreed-upon price. and production services required to accomplish your client's aim and to earn you your fees.) I began to read them regularly and to absorb from them. analyze/identify/define the need. in fact. (There were several of them. since you are going to be paid on the basis of whatever your time is worth and the amount of time required. then. presentations. what do you care what the specific editorial chore is? In most. You may be called on to help conceive and plan the piece. I hadn't come that far in my thinking yet. theses. How it Happened for Me I decided. what is needed is proofing. which you have set or negotiated in advance. But the client is reluctant to admit. even to himself or herself. Once in a while--once in a great while--I sold something for a penny or even a half-cent per word. proposals. You are therefore advised by the client that all that is needed is a "little editing. Learning and using all the related skills means earning a great deal more money. at the time. speeches. while I continued to practice on a beat up old portable for which I had somehow managed to scrounge up the money needed to buy it. if the client is willing to pay you what you ask for your time.
I knew where and how to find the work and what rates to charge. And that led me. a writer. reports. although I was not yet ready to freelance full time. I was meeting just enough success to convince myself that I was. GE. either. technical writing.S. eventually. introduced me to Government contract work.000. indeed. such as a book for $4. an open-sesame to where I wanted to go: My years in working for and consulting with many major Government contractors--IBM. I stumbled into the design and writing of training systems. Too. directly into technical writing. contributing to a couple of U. Army newspapers during my WW II service. But that was not often enough. which soon led to activities as a seminar leader and public speaker. I knew how to organize. I used the GI Bill to get an electronic engineering education. most important. one drawback of reaching above average levels in your field! So. later. doing some writing chores for a large city daily and. I even managed to win a few prizes in writing contests. since they had to be constantly updated and oriented to the latest needs. which turned out to be also valuable experience. and many other things but. I had all the tools I needed to be a successful freelance business writer. despite the occasional major sale. although at such low rates that I could not yet earn my living at freelancing. leading me to the management of writing and writers and into direct experience as a marketer and contractor to the federal government. and write resumes. propelling me into a consulting career. which proved to be quite a boon to my career. RCA. while I considered my next move. format. manuals. a valuable experience that I tucked away for future reference. I began to do some freelancing by calling a few people I knew to offer my services on a fee basis. The trick was to learn how to earn a living at it. and eating on a reasonably regular basis as an objective. as a result of my technical-writing experience. And by now I was at a salary level that made it rather difficult to find an equivalent job quickly. I didn't make the final move until an employer virtually forced me to by victimizing me so shabbily that I felt compelled to quit his employ immediately. and others--required me to go to whatever company had a major contract at the time. first as an employee and later as a consultant and independent contractor. I discovered the trade press. That. And I was meanwhile learning how to write effective proposals. With that. I managed to get in a little newspaper experience. training programs. The diversity of my earlier experiences proved to be a most valuable asset. Still. At this point. Eventually. and began to sell a bit more frequently. (That was where the job openings were!) This turned me into an expert writer of resumes. By the time I began to get some reasonably good job offers I had won enough freelance writing assignments to persuade me to turn down the . proposals. I was beginning to get closer to my goal. with my continuing education as a writer. earning a living at writing.vindication of my claim to be a writer. brochures.
a good rate even in these later days. You have to spend part of your time finding assignments and making sales--marketing your business. as well as all other costs--rent. Anyone can do it. postage. telephone.000. I also turned my attention to bidding for Government writing projects. Once firmly established. Business or Profession? Freelance writing is a business. you can do it better. faster. still taking on an occasional custom-writing assignment. I also began to advertise a resume-writing service and won many clients for this at rates of from a low of about $25 to about $90. (Of course. That was my preference. and you don't have to make all the mistakes I made in learning.) And so I became and am a freelance writer/editor/ publisher. Your rates must cover all costs. Remember that you will have to spend some part of your time in marketing and administration of your own enterprise. you will learn why you have to account for your own time as a business expense. Probably.000 to $5. if you have a professional accountant keep your books for you. and others--must observe business principles and methods if they are to succeed. for I will pass on to you what I learned. which you ought to be realizing. for example. dentists. etc--must be considered when you set the rates you quote prospective clients. You may prefer to regard it as a profession.offers and open an office in town. printing. But all professionals in private practices--doctors. with an occasional one running as high as $150. including what you pay yourself. You don't have to do it all or know how to do it all. and probably with greater success than I did. even if that office is a small room in your home. although occasionally the projects were larger and ran to much higher figures. That's a business expense too because you are paying for that time out of your own pocket. it is cost. but already had many practitioners. automobile expenses. which it is also. That time. and still writing and selling my own little reports. And any of that cost that is not directly compensated by charges to a client for your time. of course. and even that does not leave room for a net profit. I had won my first assignment to write some proposals and a sales brochure for a company. usually small jobs of from about $2. I soon learned that my idea was not original. As a freelance writer you have expenses--office rent. which ultimately produced several thousand dollars for a few weeks' work. I soon added my own special fillips to it. that you must pay yourself a salary. probably a third of your time. is part of your indirect or overhead costs. . as I had thought it to be. and that salary is not profit. as I do today. writing books and articles for commercial publishers. I began to think about another idea I had had for some time: what I regarded and referred to as freelance or "specialty" publishing: printing and selling my own small how-to publications by mail. at the time. but it was not and is not a necessity. in fact. architects. armed with what I have to reveal to you now. lawyers. Most freelance writers work from their homes. Actually.
but and I wanted the job enough to sacrifice a bit. however. At the same time you can't simply ignore "the market. The ease or difficulty of finding the source information is another factor. you are better off to charge by the job as often as possible. or anything else required). you can turn that to your advantage in two different ways: You can be highly competitive without working below your desired minimum rate. regardless of the total price for the job. You may. they are proprietary and confidential information. such as printing. a flat price is called for. is another factor. as well as how long it will take me. and was all I could get. and I decide what the job is worth. of course. Clients. or the lack of it. you may discover that you have not made even $10 an hour! You soon learn that when consultants and other specialists charge hundreds of dollars a day for their work they are not getting rich. however.Pricing Your Work Taking in $1200 for 40 hours' work does not mean that you can afford to pay yourself $30 an hour. if you estimate a 75% overhead. You are not cheating a client when you charge $50 or $100 an hour if your end price is still competitive and within the market. Here. however. illustrating. You may not always charge by the hour. while charging no more than a competitor who earns only $40 an hour because he or she is far less productive than you. If you are a fast worker and can do the job in far less time than most competitors can. and the reverse is true too. In other words. you must know what your expenses are and allow a margin of error in making the estimates of overhead and other costs. But you are under no obligation to charge one cent less than you think is a fair price. That is up to you. your research time is lessened.50 an hour for your time. even then. When you deduct all operating expenses." so you estimate the number of hours the job will take and multiply that by $52.50 to arrive at a price (adding other special costs. And these considerations apply with respect to the kind of . You might earn $75 an hour. Your "speediness" as a writer/editor is only one factor affecting productivity. On many jobs. if you want to pay yourself $30 an hour. tend to rebel at what they think is a high hourly rate. a quite reasonable rate. That is. of course. On one contract I may have charged only $25 an hour because that was the market price. So hourly rates are really a rough measure of fair prices. in fact. The Productivity Factors If you are highly productive. there is another consideration: How efficient you are. but "for the job. If you are somewhat expert with the subject." the average price charged by others for similar work. Keep information about your productivity and your hourly earnings to yourself. Familiarity with the subject. You should benefit from your productivity and whatever investments you have made to increase productivity. you must charge clients $52. and you can earn more than that minimum rate. permit yourself to be ruled by your competitors--by the notion that you must charge what they charge or even a little less than they charge.
when you can get enough work to keep you busy most of the time. Some Typical Cases To illustrate the above more clearly. in the beginning you tend to undertake almost anything and everything you can get a purchase order or contract for.. and you don't worry overmuch about how profitable the job will be or how much your net per-hour earnings will be. . you begin to consider specializing to at least some extent." may therefore consist of nothing more than sorting out and reading everything provided." The guide was to assist college faculties in preparing a relevant course of instruction. perhaps an outline. report formats. proposals. by utilizing the mail. again. You may get all the information.) How Specialized Ought You to be? These are arguments for specializing in subjects and/or kinds of written products. the task of developing a curriculum guide for use in junior colleges teaching the OSHA program "Voluntary Compliance.g. speculating. without a conscious decision to do so. And your personal resources are still another factor. for example. and you may very well begin to specialize gradually. If you are equipped with a good computer system and adequate software. or even a rough draft. You decide that you like certain kinds of assignments and dislike other kinds. What is "Research"? When you freelance in the traditional manner. As your research progresses.writing--e. you begin to develop a more detailed outline or "book plan. "Research. But that is a personal decision you must make for yourself. in some form. Labor Department). as my first OSHA assignment. you may get nothing more than the bare requirement. we'll look at a few cases of my own: The training development office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And you start with a rough outline or just an idea. your familiarity with storyboards. (I manage to do a great deal of my research without leaving my office. search through old records. and otherwise delve wherever you can. of course: You visit libraries. in the hope of finding a buyer after you have written it. In that case the client provides you with a requirement and usually at least some beginning information in the form of rough notes. or it may be a total. But after a while. you decide for yourself what you will write. but. interview people. or whatever it is you have undertaken to write. and many writers do so." This is not usually the case when you are working on contract. "from scratch" effort. and my access to other computer databases via my own computer and modem-telephone links. I personally do not undertake to write books that would require what I consider to be excessive amounts of research. gave me. you have advantages that help you achieve a high rate of productivity. Of course. the telephone. The research is then entirely up to you.
Where (and What) Are the Markets? The markets for writing brochures. many of the . I took on the job of preparing a two-hour presentation of the history and culture of the American Indians. and I need to refer only to standard technical volumes in my own office library. I therefore recommended the development of a "study guide" of about 60 pages (about 15. speeches. a student manual and an instructor's guide. for-profit or non-profit. including research and writing. and other things of this type everywhere--every business. no other work is as satisfying to me: I have a driven need to write--and I have felt that way most of my life. uses written products. It was not a profitable job. because most of the technical knowledge is already in my head. (In 1996 I would price that job at about $8. Two hours' study of the manuals showed me that more information for the instructor was needed. However." group plan (analogous to group hospitalization plans). I then took the materials home and did the job there. which would include the curriculum guide. writing newspaper articles and other PR for them. A client who organizes retained me to prepare reports on the seminar perhaps 500 words. I was hired to handle their publicity. When I write on subjects in which I am already reasonably expert--electronics. (1974 prices!) The job was approved and a government purchase order issued. A non-profit corporation near my office sold a "prepaid legal services. The client furnished all the or conference. The client furnished the information and the original script that had never been completed.500. For example. On the other hand. and I had to do complete research.S.400. and could only have been made profitable if I had won additional jobs writing about American Indians so that the research could have been made to pay. far beyond anyone's capacity to pursue them all. and I wrote a brochure of which I was usually paid $150. for training seminars for government agencies often the brochures. I had no prior knowledge of the subject at all. for example--most of my research is in the client's outline or book plan. I bought a number of books. after this research. that something more than a curriculum guide was necessary. But it is necessary to review them and gain an appreciation of the scope and breadth of the opportunities. This took about two days and paid me $600. for which I had to develop my own outline and plan the extensive research required. I happen to be a professional writer in the most literal sense of the word. begged many more from the U. This was a $9.000 project.) A General Services Administration task called for rewriting an aborted script for a 15-minute slide/tape presentation of a value engineering program. every organization. and discussing their content with several OSHA experts. And the markets are enormously diversified. expending about 100 hours on the job. audiovisual scripts. Bureau of Indian Affairs. estimating the job at $2. visited with officials of several Indian reservations. I decided.My research consisted of studying the two volumes that made up the course material. lecture guides.000 words).
Sometimes these are technical manuals. almost everyone who isn't a day laborer requires specialized training of some kind. but advertising agencies often hire freelance writers to help them. and still another managed one of a chain of hardware stores.g. You do not have to be one who has the psychological need to be a professional writer. value management. seminars. Many government contracts are let for the writing of training programs and related materials. Bear it in mind. catalog sheets. in the classical sense of that word. Manufacturers also need such things as specification sheets. news release. Companies and government agencies want their employees to learn such things as data processing (even grammar-schoolchildren are being taught the basics of computers today). And soon he found himself spending as much time writing as he did illustrating. was an illustrator who found himself preparing advertising art for most of his clients. Many just happened into this field by chance and found it profitable. basic accounting principles. and so must develop their own programs. and other "canned" programs. engineers. and hundreds of other subjects considered to be a necessity for modern living. supervisory principles and practices. who didn't do a great deal of . Some of the larger organizations have their own writers on staff. energy conservation. he discovered that he could write acceptable copy for that advertising. And still others are former teachers. The training field is an excellent example. to teach these. and others who became freelance writers without realizing that that was their new profession! They just gravitated into the work without realizing immediately that it was actually for writing that they were paid. brief instruction manuals--brochures and booklets. if they do a great deal of advertising. slogans invented. signs designed. audiovisual presentations.freelance writers making a good living in this kind of writing work are not professional writers at all. beyond high school and even beyond college. There is a substantial market for developing training programs of many kinds. One person I know. junior executives. Before long. for example. With technology developing rapidly. safety. have an advertising agency handle their writing chores. In actuality. sociologists. but quite often they are simple. one large corporation. and you will probably be able to see that more and more in the various cases and examples that follow. product releases. all work for writers. Anyone who can handle the language with reasonable facility and fluency can do this kind of work adequately. They need advertising copy written. Another writer I know started as a sign painter. marketing brochures.. Many large organizations. psychologists. frequently. but even those are often overloaded or need someone with special skills and experience and vend writing work out to freelancers. But they cannot always find off-the-shelf or proprietary programs (e. to succeed at this business. in this field of freelance writing we are more writing consultants than freelance writers in the classical sense. even--for the buyers of a small calculator or kitchen blender. The point is that you do not have to be an author. For example. sales letters. clerks. and many other such items. circulars. Manufacturers need manuals for the equipment they manufacture.
paid me over $4. I prefer a flat day-rate. but advertising. because each situation is different and each individual's preferences are different. art work. to make speeches. but only the day. associations. generally charging from $150 to $300 a day in the early days. your expert knowledge. But that daily rate is based on a presumed short-term assignment. often 14-hour days. companies. but if you are willing to make a few sacrifices you can usually win such jobs (rescue operations!). You make your own rules.national brochure layouts. was. The client is buying your time.000 a day. That may require working evenings or over a weekend. your energy. Students must write term papers. dissertations. It's worth doing. I have often worked by the day as a proposal specialist. in fact. Many organizations find themselves in difficulty meeting a deadline--a scheduled delivery date--for a proposal. Others negotiate a flat price for each job. usually a few days. if you are willing to. report. your effort. as inflation progressed. that they are not going to --make the date" without some extra help. that are typical of proposal schedules. I charge and am paid accordingly. (My daily rate is based. the more valuable your service is. You are. I and others . even if you do not yet realize it. and I have a most flexible scale as to how many hours make up a day. and to write articles for technical and professional journals. (Yes.000 to develop a marketing of 20 pages. and some individuals specialize in such services. Working people must write resumes and special letters of many kinds. A number of individuals built up substantial companies offering such services. So far. and they suddenly realize. Bear in mind at all times that you are not selling the things you write in this kind of undertaking: You are selling your services. Some charge by the hour. and then $1. on a consideration that many days will be well in excess of 8 hours. in part. One of the great inducements you can offer. I may find it expedient to make special arrangements. That is consulting work and billed appropriately as such: I am hired for my abilities as an expert in marketing to the government and as an expert in proposal-writing. Professionals are called on to prepare and deliver papers at conventions and conferences. your talent. I had to arrange for typesetting. we have talked mainly about organizations--corporations. which were at least as much work as the writing I was paid for all this work. and the better you satisfy it. get paid premium rates--you are fully entitled to charge premium rates and clients will usually pay them cheerfully under such circumstances--and win the gratitude and future patronage of the client. then $500 a day. or other obligation. as they approach the deadline. and printing. at least as much the writing consultant as the writer.) But that is not necessarily how others work. You are satisfying a need. For long-term assignments. I simply do not count the hours. is a "quick response" service. advertise your quick response or quick reaction services. and governments. others for an 8-hour day and bill time-and-one-half for overtime and double-time for weekends and holidays worked. theses. If you wish to take advantage of such opportunities. But individuals often need writing services too.
A federal government agency hired me to answer their mail and to design a complete set of standard replies to the most frequently asked questions. is to simply distribute your brochures in office buildings. as a kind of briefing paper! A graduate student paid me nearly $1. typed. and you are almost certain to begin getting calls.) It came out to about $20 per letter! Another government agency paid me $1. (An idea you might borrow. including the presentation to individual applicants. and sometimes remarkably well. especially letters to organizations. some of them chief executives of important companies. She hired me to review several school journals she supplied and abstract all the pertinent articles for her. either. since almost every office is a prospect. A few initiatives: Many individuals begin by placing small classified advertisements in the daily morning newspapers. Far better. a good rate for those days. (Not exactly a form letter. Get enough brochures/circulars/letters out this way. going as far as he could go without some professional help. A placement firm paid me to develop an entire marketing approach. It is usually not effective in getting work from organizations.) One individual hired me for an unusual job: She had been appointed to the school board of her county and needed to become knowledgeable in school affairs quickly.) They took care of the printing and distribution (mailing). and the like.are often hired to write letters for individuals. That is better pursued in other ways: Advertising in trade journals that the organization members read. Mailing can be difficult. . a contract form. for which he had already prepared an outline and drawn up a rough draft. By mailing or otherwise distributing brochures and sales letters. I developed the newsletter idea. In this case. That works reasonably well. An association paid me to prepare a newsletter for them every month. By making in-person and/or telephone solicitations.800 to attend a week-long training session and critique the program. You need to collect names. paid me to write resumes and cover letters for them. in seeking orders from individuals for resumes. And it can be expensive: postage costs are high and still climbing steadily. in preparation for her first board meeting. Now comes the critical question: How to get assignments and orders--how to get started doing business. and delivered the camera-ready copy to them every month for a fee which averaged about 25 cents per word. addresses to groups. then went out and sold it to a national association.000 to write a master's thesis. with my recommendations for improvement. A city employee hired me to write a letter appealing a decision of the civil service board. (He got the decision reversed!) And many individuals. and a resume workshop for clients. I believe. I merely wrote. term papers.
list references. third.Call every acquaintance. they'll be seeking you! CHAPTER 7 How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles Early Difficulties . When you have completed a few assignments. Many people throw a brochure away the first time it comes into their hands... one simple 'phone call and you will do the rest. accommodating service. Follow up.) Be highly specific in your literature. but blessed with great persistence. Stress service--fast.) Ask them to recommend you to others. business and personal. local companies. as many as you can. and before you know it you won't be seeking assignments. or fourth time and becomes familiar and recognizable. other organizations. magazines. business clubs. than single mailings to new lists. (Why is that? Who knows? Ask your psychologist. easy to find. Make your telephone number prominent. Write up press releases for yourself and send them out to newspapers. Persistence is important. When you get the "Sorry. often of utmost importance." ask for referrals or suggestions as to whom else to call. The individual of average talent and ability. community buildings. friends. convenient. for reasons too complex to explore in this limited space Start small. Make personal calls with your literature. many who hesitate to call because they never take the initiative will hire you if you take the initiative. trade journals. local colleges. and tell them about your service. All we know is that it is true. Call some of the prospects later. Repeat mailings to a given list are almost always more effective. will almost always do better. ". Take on jobs you know you can handle swiftly and with good results. You'll be surprised at how much help you can get this way. than the brilliant individual who is not persistent. Build a reputation. efficient. and acquaintances.g. Tell the prospect exactly what you offer to do. libraries. in the end. g. Ask them to take a handful of your brochures and cards to give to their business associates. Or specify references available on request. newsletters. Make it easy to do business with you--e. (You will be surprised how many people want and need professional writing services. in the long run. either by name or by general reference (e. Post notices on public bulletin boards in supermarkets. I don't have a thing for you right now.written speeches for prominent. but hang on to it as it arrives for the second. local architect".
and rhetoric are perfect. when you have trained yourself to be creative. Work on it as long as you can. editors will change them!) But first we must get and develop the ideas. if it is an idea for a book). and books. Let us talk about how to do that. (Anyway. or book. outline idea Write first draft Revise/rewrite/polish draft Submit final draft. as reported by inventors and other creative individuals interviewed in studies of creativity: Concentration Incubation Inspiration Concentration is the conscious effort to solve a problem or get an idea. whether that is in hours. and you may or may not turn it into a salable article. Ultimately. you get the basic idea or concept. They are what we sell. punctuation. and polish it into the final. finished draft. to get enough ideas to keep you busy writing salable articles. for most writers. Translated. That can and should continue doing that for as long as you think you are making any progress at all. as well as for beginners. days. getting basic ideas proves to be the easiest part of the task. Evolution of a Manuscript The logical evolution of any writing follows this general sequence: Get idea Research idea Organize.Editors have been defined as people who don't know what they want until they see it. much later. they can have someone fix that if they like our ideas and the ways in which we present those ideas. Getting ideas is a typical beginner's difficulty. The Creative Process First of all. Ideas are the currency of writers. (There is another important step. But that comes later. or weeks. Then you write the ms. It seems to be such mental agony to try to think up ideas. even if your grammar. it is time to incubate the quest. stories. but we'll get to that presently. can be a difficulty for old pros. In fact. . It involves three phases or functions. as well as their writing skills. the greatest difficulty is in getting ideas to develop into articles. you do the necessary research and gather together the data to flesh the idea out and expand it into an outline (and book plan. story. But then you worry about not only where you will get the next worthy idea. and so difficult to succeed in doing so. You get one that you think is right. try to understand the creative process. this means simply that editors depend on writers--freelance writers--for their ideas. Our natural inclination is to do just that: ponder the problem and research our memories for relevant information and ideas. Editors do not buy the accuracy of our grammar and punctuation. which you submit. spellings. That is. from draft through as many revisions and rewrites as necessary. but also whether you will ever get another good one. nor even our rhetoric (such skills are easily and cheaply bought).) In the beginning. At that point. that of setting the slant or angle so necessary to making the idea salable.
You will always address your problems this way. Go to a movie. and is working on it for you. Some-how. at some later time it suddenly popped into your head? That is one example of the process. and books. and they come to me at odd times. even though you cannot consciously remember it. The Entire Process Becomes Subconscious In time. As a result. or read. You will have more ideas than you can use. You then put the problem out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. Inspiration comes to you when your subconscious mind passes a solution to your conscious mind. The supply of . Why could I not recall that familiar word at first? Who knows? But I knew it "would come to me. take a break. Forget about the problem. Go off and relax. in concentrating on the problem and working at it as long as possible. Voila! You have an inspiration! Did you ever try to recall a name or a face and find you couldn't. Literally. but after you put it out of mind. (Note that the art of hypnosis requires that the hypnotist persuade you to relax totally so that the hypnotist can gain access to your subconscious. Go to an amusement park. has managed to pass the problem on to your subconscious mind. after I had written and sold my first one.Incubation begins when you have exhausted all conscious efforts to get or think out an idea and can't think of anything else to consider. It has the advantage over your conscious mind that it tends to remember everything you have ever seen. You can control it. and you will find them popping into your head unbidden. when you have done enough of this. your subconscious passes an answer to your conscious mind. your subconscious is working on the problem. (I worked hard to get an idea for a second book. Then. for now. heard. Read a book for pleasure. You will recognize leads you would not have recognized before. It will report when ready." That is how your subconscious works for you in getting ideas for articles. more than 60 books later. and go on to other things in your life. that is--at least for the present. Go out dancing. During incubation. your subconscious will come to be always on the alert for ideas. stories. while you have dismissed the problem from your conscious mind and gone on to other things. to a degree: When you have invested enough time in intensive conscious efforts to get new ideas. Perhaps you are simply resting in the sun or idly listening to music.) The Power of the Subconscious What has happened here is that your conscious mind. I am still getting ideas for new books. Several days later it suddenly popped into my head: it was napalm. Your sub-conscious now has it. I recently tried for an hour to recall the name of that flammable stuff dropped during the Viet Nam conflict and couldn't. it seems that the conscious mind is most receptive at that point. when you have forgotten about it. This normally happens when your conscious mind is relaxed. Forget about the quest. Now. it will become second nature. when books are the last thing on my mind. and contact between your conscious and subconscious is easiest then. and especially when you are in a relaxed mental state.
(If you visit enough of them. But how long should a denture last? What are the differences in quality among available options for dentures? What ought the denture wearer to be reminded of? These and many other possible articles would be good candidates for the several periodicals for older folks. that it is second only to back problems in frequency. Sources of Ideas There are many fonts from which to draw ideas. we researched the subject. you will begin to see some familiar faces. for example. when the Washington Post headlined the drama of the O. I see column after column of classifieds advertising garage sales. They don't seem to fit as well as they once did. the National Enquirer has carried such articles. In fact. We found that it is a problem much more common than we realized. the market for such material is not only the denture wearers of society. since it appears to still be in perfect shape. No doubt we could turn some of the research we did into popular articles on the subject. Let's talk now about these sources. I wondered about other spectacular police chases: Have there been others as widely covered by the press as this one? Others involving public figures? How did the media. After she developed this problem and it was diagnosed. Or maybe insights into what drama is behind these kinds of sales: Deaths of loved ones? Families breaking up? Or maybe a piece on who frequents these sales: Antique dealers? Hobbyists? Housewives? How about interviewing some of the dyed-in-the-wool shoppers at such sales.ideas is free and yet it is not free.7 million in freshly printed currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It must be fed and stimulated. The daily newspaper is one of the best sources. although there are plenty of not-so-old-folks who wear dentures of various kinds. manage to cover this in such close-up detail? These were just a few ideas for articles that should have sold easily at that time. J. Other published material is one prime source of new ideas. One morning. Another story in the paper that morning was of a federal employee who stole $1. some of the stories are amusing enough to appeal to everyone--George Washington's false teeth made of wood (or so it is alleged). (In fact. I learned that my upper denture is so badly worn down that it ought to be replaced. Simpson pursuit on the Los Angeles freeways. You must expose yourself to sources of ideas and feed them to your subconscious. TV especially. hadn't thought about it wearing down over the 22 years it has been in my mouth. followed by columns of ads announcing estate sales and auction sales.) .) What stories do they have to tell of finding rare treasures or adventures they have had? I went to the dentist yesterday to have my dentures checked. My wife suffers from inner-ear problems--vertigo and nausea. What other cases of stealing directly from the government's printing presses have there been? What other robberies of equal magnitude in dollars? How about a book of "million-dollar robberies"? Or maybe "The 10 largest robberies in history"? Even the classified ads stimulate ideas. such as tips for the bargain hunter. How about visiting a few of these and doing some articles.
Most ideas can be turned into more than one article by slanting it to an audience.egg proposition: Which do you do first? (Note that while this was written with reference to writing articles for periodicals. in which case it ought to be addressed to a periodical that addresses hobbyists generally or numismatists especially. Studying and understanding that is as much a part of writing research as is the investigation and gathering of all information pertaining to the idea itself. Or I found that a chapter in one of my own books was really a condensation of a subject broad enough to merit a book of its own. for example). But the idea can also be slanted to other interests. consciously or unconsciously. Let's return to the classified advertising I mentioned earlier. at generating ideas. Many of these are rather mystical.) You can do it either way. and have gone on later to write that book. But either way. Or I have read a chapter in a book that inspired an entire book on the subject. so I wrote a book on the subject that anyone could read and understand." The rest of the wording makes it appear to be an . and recommend or at last imply strongly that you ought to choose the periodicals first. If you have a periodical in mind. What could they mean? Let's look at a few: Under "Miscellaneous" an ad appears that begins "PROTECT YOURSELF and your loved ones. That might be novel or unusual garage sales or insight into the great numbers and variety of garage sales. such as how to find rare coins. or into studies of interesting individuals who pursue and shop at garage sales regularly.. but the book was much too heavy technically to be of much use to any reader who is not a technical expert. an article (or book) on garage. Most teachers of freelance writing stress the need to understand the slant of the publisher and the publisher's books or periodicals. in which case you want to write for and address it to such a periodical as Income Opportunities. And it can easily be a general-interest piece for a general-interest periodical. estate. The Chicken and the Egg Slanting an article or and choosing the right kind of periodical is a chicken-and.I have read magazine articles that inspired ideas for books because the subject of the article merited a book. you must understand the periodical's own slant and match it. it applies equally to books. One other way is to turn the quest into a problem to be solved. for most book publishers specialize in the types of books and subjects on which they publish.g. Frequenting such sales can be a business idea--looking for items to resell. Or I have read books that were on subjects more people ought to know about. for example. and auction sales--is only the beginning. Using Others' Ads as Idea Stimulators There are many other ways of stimulating your mind to work. (Databased Marketing. be sure that you understand just what kind of slant is right for that publisher. Ideas Must be Slanted Getting a raw idea--e. But even then you need an angle.
That is. Magnifying the Probability of Acceptance Slanting your writing to the interests of the publisher's market is not as simple as it may appear because there are degrees of matching your slant to the publisher's slant. precisely with their focus is. Patience and perseverance are essential traits for success in freelance writing. I wonder how many different kinds of personal protective devices are sold today? I wonder how you can tell which are worthwhile and which are not? Suppose I were to research the subject and compile an article--or perhaps even a book--on the subject. home. who may be entirely justified in his or her judgment. Stacking the Odds in Your Favor . such as nutritionists or well-known authors of diet books that have done well and been accepted. rejection of a query or proposal may be simply a reflection of judgment on the part of the editor. (It is not always easy to tell. Would idea: How about finding and interviewing and not to do if you are assaulted. have to interview and quote a few people who had some kind of credentials as experts. That is a most common story in publishing. the periodical addressing coin collectors is obviously more narrowly focused and specialized than is a periodical that addresses collectors generally. Wouldn't that make a good article or book in today's dangerous world? How about another spin-off some experts on what to do surprise a burglar in your dangerous situation. your article might not be a new idea to the readers of that numismatics periodical. in that respect.) On the other hand. The publisher's slant may be narrow or it may be broad.advertisement for some protective device. with descriptions and some expert opinions for qualified people. of course." Cook books sell very well. such as a chemical spray or perhaps an alarm. the chances of acceptance would not be as great as they would be at the periodical focusing on coin collectors. and yet prove to be wrong in it. Despite my own track record of success in book publishing--more than 60 books gone to print--I have had many of my own book proposals rejected on the grounds that my idea was too general or too specialized. If you sent that article about the chances of finding rare coins at garage sales to the latter periodical. Many successful books. Suppose you collected several dozen proven diet recipes and made them into a book? Or perhaps did an article on how to evaluate a new recipe for its value in dieting? You would. But if you find a few shoppers who actually have made good finds of rare coins at garage sales. On the other hand. especially with book publishers. you have an almost certain sale. or otherwise encounter such a that not be meat for a book or article? Another small ad offers a recipe for a "miracle diet soup. You must allow for that margin of error in judgment. even some that have become best sellers and some that became classics. traveled from one publisher to another for many weary months before finding a home. such as police officials. to use an example we have already used here.
In any case, it is almost impossible to predict what the public will
acclaim and support. Many bad books have been great successes
commercially, while many good books have languished: Public acceptance
is not easily under-stood or predicted, nor is it an indicator of
quality. Books and articles succeed because they please enough people,
which may or may not have any-thing to do with how well they are
written or how worthy the subjects are.
You can say the same thing about editors. You can ask for (and you
will get from most editors) a page or two (or perhaps even more) of
guidelines on what they want. You can study their publications and
draw some conclusions of their inclinations and preferences therefrom.
And still you will not be able to guess with any great degree of
accuracy what idea will strike a nerve with any editor: The
uncertainty factors will still dominate the picture. You will still
find only some of your ideas will result in a solid hit.
The only reasonable conclusion to draw from this is that your success
as a freelance writer depends quite a large degree on your ability to
produce ideas in abundance. Make the laws of probability work for you:
Generate and try out with editors so many ideas that even a small
percentage of successes will be more than enough to keep you busy
writing and selling books or articles--or both. I would guess that at
best about 20 percent of my ideas for books--one in five ideas for book
proposals, that is--work out well enough to result in contracts for new
books. Whether that is a good or bad rate of success I have no idea.
Perhaps others who take freelance writing seriously enough to treat it
as a business--for that is what it is or ought to be--do better than
that. If so, I take my hat off to them. I think I write well enough,
but not remarkable well. That probably means that my success as an
author of books is due more to my ability to develop and propose a
constant stream of ideas tha n to any other factor. They may be new ideas or
they may be old ideas in a new costume--i.e., with a new twist--but they
are fresh in some way. That is, they may be old ideas presented in a
fresh and different way or they may be fresh and different ideas
presented in the old way. Both treatments or methods work.
Doing what I do, in that respect--i. e., generating viable ideas
constantly--means training your mind to be always looking for ideas
automatically, almost instinctively. Assume that only a percentage,
probably a small percentage, will work out. But that is enough.
Be Your Own Publisher
If the word publisher evokes for you an image of luxurious offices, a
large staff of editorial workers, and a New York City address, it's
time to adjust your thinking. It is much easier to become a
publisher--for anyone to become a publisher--than you imagine.
What is a Publisher?
There are thousands of small publishers throughout the United States,
most of whom you have never heard of and many of whom are working in
tiny offices in their own homes. Some are making a few extra dollars
to supplement their main income; some are earning a comfortable
full-time living. And some even manage to earn rather impressive sums.
The late Joe Karbo, for example, was one of the latter, selling some
$600,000 copies of his little paperback book at $10 each.)
Much the same things could be said for the word writer. Perhaps you
have heard of Sidney Sheldon, Isaac Asimov, and a few other celebrated
writers, but you have probably not heard of most working writers who
are not exactly well known, but who are successful enough to earn a
living at the profession. (Or is it a "trade?")
I am one of that latter class. You would probably have never heard my
name, were I not doing the advertising I do, although I once did (and
still do, occasionally) write for the magazines. It paid a few
dollars, and was gratifying to my ego to see my name in periodicals on
the newsstands, but it did not do enough for my pocket, and I soon
found my sense of good business practices outraged by the inequities
of the marketplace. Whether you regard writing as a profession, a
trade, or a business, you should have some control over what you sell,
to whom you sell, and for how much you sell it. That's not easy to do
in freelance writing, unless you are something of "a name" and have
"arrived" as a freelance writer. Otherwise, you always feel compelled
to accept whatever they offer.
I therefore looked for a better way, and before long found that there
were many better ways to earn a living as a writer. The one I decided
to pursue was publishing my own work. That is what I am going to tell
you about in this chapter. However, I might also mention that later I
began to write books--certainly an improvement over magazine writing,
to me, at least--and I was soon well enough known to book publishers to
have a bit of leverage in bargaining. But I still felt myself very
much at the mercy of the publishers, and so never gave up my own
little publishing ventures. (They really demand so little time that it
is easy to run them as a spare-time business. And it is fun to do so,
even if you don't need the extra income.) But before I tell you about
this kind of publishing, let me explain what I am not going to tell
I am not going to waste time discussing the "vanity press," that type
of "publisher" (alleged publisher) who charges you to print and
distribute your books, rarely sells more than a handful, if that, and
then actually charges you to take possession of the rest of the books
you have paid to have manufactured! Nor am I going to waste time on
the many costly outside services you could use, if you don't care
about earning a profit.
What I am going to tell you about is a system of publishing where you
don't have to lay out any money in advance, other than pocket change,
unless you wish to. Take the little report, for example. (This chapter
is based on what was originally a small report.) Originally, it was
not typeset. That would have cost about $35 to $50 per page, and could
have been even more, depending on various factors. However, in this
kind of publishing--I call it specialty publishing--you do not sell
paper and bindings; you sell useful information.
The buyer gets the same information from a simple, clean report for a
few dollars as he or she would from an expensively bound report for
many dollars. In fact, originally I didn't even have this report
printed until I got orders. Then I used customer's money to have it
printed! In fact, my investment was time, time to write it, primarily.
(I also do much of my sales promotion without spending money out of
pocket by using PR (public relations/publicity.)
You don't even have to go to a print shop nowadays. To have reports
printed on an offset press, you would have to order at least 100
copies to make it feasible. That would not be a big outlay, say about
$100 for a typical report. But to make this viable, you need to
publish either a full blown book, a newsletter, or a number of these
reports--probably at least a dozen. So now we are talking about $1200
or more for printing up some initial inventory, and that is not always
easy for a beginning entrepreneur to afford.
Fortunately, there is an easy way out of the dilemma because of the
way these reports are bound: You can make copies at a copy shop, as
few as you need. at an average cost of perhaps 50 cents a copy or even
less. Or you can print out copies, as you need them, on your own
That ability to get started with little or no capital is one of the
chief advantages of this kind of enterprise. But there are other
benefits. It is a simple, easy to operate kind of business in many
ways. The product is inexpensive to manufacture, so you can be highly
competitive, while getting an excellent markup. It is easy to ship:
you simply mail it in an envelope. It is suitable for repeat business:
most customers will order other publications you produce. It's
expandable: you can keep adding new products.
This is not going to work for the publishing of a lengthy book, which
would take many days to get through the printing and binding process.
In the case of my own self-published books--I published several of
those--I composed the text by typewriter (today I use a computer
printer), and printed them in short runs, keeping the cost to a few
hundred dollars for each press run. I produced a paperback edition,
side-stitched or "perfect" bound (glued spine and covers), a
relatively inexpensive way to bind a book or manual.
In the case of the first book, I advertised it through PR methods,
while I was still writing it, offering a bonus to anyone who sent me a
prepaid, advance offer. I took in about $2,500 that way before I had
finished writing the book, which took care of commissions to the
newsletter publishers who ran my notices, the printing, and
miscellaneous start-up expenses, while still showing me a profit. (I
gave each of those customers a free 3-month subscription to my
newsletter and a directory of government purchasing offices I wrote.)
Despite this, unless you have some capital you are willing to risk, I
suggest a modest beginning, operating truly on the proverbial
shoestring. Begin with reports, such as this one, and keep the risk
What to Write
Most of these are in the public domain. There is a great advantage in having your reports stored on a computer disk and being able to print them out individually. If I need large quantities of copies--numbering in the hundreds. and thousands of other kinds of information. reduce their tax burdens. become a consultant. many subjects from government agencies. however. Composing and Production You can type reports on a conventional (and rapidly becoming old-fashioned. unless you want to turn the job over to a printer and invest in an inventory. you must rewrite it and put it into your own words. I sell to a specialized audience--people who need business information. you can still use the information. Today. it covers merely a given combination of words (and/or illustrations). is to start with the 8-1/2. Read the display advertisements too. as long as the information offered is useful. such as how to cook good barbecue. You can type it in this format. or you can type it as two-column copy to be printed as a 5-1/2. get social security benefits. You Don't Have to be an Expert The interesting thing is that you do not have to be an expert. start a business. although not the language. such as books and magazines you turn to. and other such items. Prices may . There are abundant sources of information. get rid of gophers. That means that they are not copyrighted. The federal government is one. xerographic copy made in copy shops is as good as printed copy. and you can use the material freely to make up your own reports. if and as it is in your interest to do so. especially those weekly tabloids sold in the super-markets. Many people want this information and don't mind paying to get it. Study the classified advertisements in any good newspaper. and you can get many free and nearly free pamphlets and brochures on many. That is because copyright does not cover ideas or information. This is a quite acceptable format. But there are others who want other kinds of information. My suggestion. That will be more complicated.x 11-inch.x 8-1/2-inch booklet. It's not hard to get ideas for such reports. write a will. corner-stitched report format until you learn whether the demand is great enough to justify investment in a regular printing. to see what people are interested in. they will also give you a good idea of what the public is interested in and wants to read about. manage their money. but I usually find it more practicable to print copies on my laser printer as I need them. get free advertising. I have my own copier today. that is--it would be most practicable to go to an offset print shop for them.What I am selling is information: how to do certain things--write a resume. if not obsolete) typewriter or on a computer printer. But if you turn to copyrighted material. buy at wholesale or discount prices. you will find. One cannot copyright ideas and information.
as another wise seller observed. the cost of learning.") And. not to his or her reason. If you do this. to save money. many of which you could not possibly have foreseen or calculated. such as beer commercials. admired. Selling Your Report The obvious approach to marketing is paid advertising. writing advertisements and buying space in periodicals to run the advertisements. you should offer a smaller discount than if they . Do as much testing as possible. Be modest about your advertising budget.) Expanding Your Business Base You do not have to market your reports directly. however. That is because we all have many wants. so you will have to determine what is most appropriate for you in your own case. You can drop-ship for them. if you want to sell people lemonade. romance on the beach. Study successful advertisements. at a few cents a word advertising rates. They are what produce sales.) Gauge how well your ads pull before you invest in the more expensive media. make them thirsty! (But he is best remembered for his dictum. such as country weeklies. and respected. that is--rarely has anything to do with how much you spend on it. along with a shipping or mailing label. not the drills. such as circulars or print advertisements. have limited funds. These are the kinds of benefits that motivate them to buy. Popular Mechanics. "People don't buy quarter-inch drills. it is a good idea to supply them with reproducible copies of advertising copy you have developed. however. Assume that you will make mistakes. deduct their commissions. And sometimes it does not. Emotional appeals bring sales. they buy quarter-inch holes. secure.vary widely from one place to another. As that late great salesman. Do they sell beer? No. and to be a success in life. You must appeal to the prospect's emotions. "Sell the sizzle. etc. That is. People don't buy things. loved. rational appeals do not. under their own labels. Does it work? Sometimes. Take note of TV commercials. they sell fun--good times with your friends. they buy what the things do. emotional wants: everybody wants to be amused. Elder Wheeler put it. And whether it works or not--works well or not. Try some small newspapers. Writing Advertising Copy In preparing advertising copy. macho manhood in the mountains. and are learning. you must sell the benefits--what the product does for the buyer--not the product itself. enjoy good health. they do not. how you present your product determines how well your copy succeeds in attracting orders. receive payment. including TV commercials." (It's the holes they want. Those are emotional appeals. among many other things. paying them a commission or discount--probably 50%--and having them do the selling to the consumers. You can establish dealers. especially when you are starting out. If you drop-ship for them. There are many variables. not the steak. will cost you $5 a word and more. That means that they take the orders. have fun. (The biggies--National Enquirer. and learn from them. so it is indeed a gamble. and send you the balance. happy.
They range in size from one page to many pages--4. New York man known widely as an authority on newsletter publishing. and just about every business. It has its advantages and disadvantages as a publishing venture: ADVANTAGES: Provides continuing income. etc). Pricing Your Product To succeed in any business--and you must regard publishing as a business --you must charge enough to recover all expenses. builds a salable asset. writing and self-publishing. and establishes a medium for your own advertising and sales promotion. thus is relatively more difficult to market. Jerry Buchanan. weekly. Virginia woman launched another newsletter on writing and editing generally. You can always increase the number of pages and the frequency of publication later.stock your reports in some quantity and do their own shipping. businesses.000. DISADVANTAGES: Burdens you with a regular commitment (monthly. pay yourself a reasonable salary (your salary is part of your expenses. is a repeat business. government procurement. with pressures and deadlines to face. for even more. hobbies. The average subscription price is probably in the area of $36 to $48 per year for a monthly publication. biweekly. An Alexandria. and they sell for from $12 to $200 per year and. and there are newsletters published on virtually all subjects--investments. and even annually. Should you decide to undertake newsletter publishing. Whatever you sell must retail for considerably more than its cost to you. in this case. a Rhinebeck. and a relatively high-priced item. also known as profit. There are many thousands of newsletters published in the United States. monthly. weekly. in some cases. There are many thousands of newsletters published. technologies.. publishes a newsletter on the subject we are writing about here. Newsletter Publishing Newsletter publishing is a profitable venture for many small publishers. And Howard Penn Hudson. and still show a return on investment. not of your profit).000 to as high as 100. quarterly. publishes a newsletter about newsletter publishing (Newsletter on Newsletters). occupational safety and health. Washington man. 16. environmental pollution. 32. I recommend that you make it easy on yourself at first by restricting your newsletter to not more than 4 pages and publishing not more often than every two months. and even . if circumstances justify it. profession. two-way radio licenses issued. crafts. The value of the newsletter is whatever the subscribers think it is worth to them. a Vancouver. and ore--although most range between 4 and 12. There are newsletters on every government program--e. g. But the distribution is so wide that "averages" do not really reveal much about this astonishing market. for example. The list price must probably be at least three times the cost. semi-annually. in most cases. They are published on every schedule--daily. the cost to manufacture them. and sundry other topics. bimonthly. Estimates of the total range from 30. product safety. and craft. 8.
Conventional wisdom in the field is that one should not try to make a profit out of initial subscriptions. The reason for this is the great cost of marketing most products. That is usually easy to do in this field because the manufacturing cost--printing and binding--is a small fraction of the selling price. To be on the safe side in the beginning. Manufacturing this report costs perhaps 25 to 90 cents to print and bind each copy. this great markup does not produce exorbitant profits. including-advertising and/or commissions-.50 the report that costs you 50 cents to manufacture because the market for the report is likely to be $2 or $3. you must assume that it will cost you about one-half the selling price to make the sale: a product you sell for $3 gives you a gross profit of $1. and postage--adds about 70 cents. costs one-half the cover price: $2. jar.00. or anything else. Fulfillment. That is because newsletter subscriptions--initial ones. The range between the manufacturing cost and the selling price shrinks quite rapidly when all the costs are considered. principally. for example. In cosmetics. depending on quantity. Understanding the Costs There are three kinds of cost to consider: manufacturing. but should try for a break-even and earn profits out of renewals of subscriptions. that is--are notoriously difficult to win. The counterpart of this in selling reports. Many businesses actually lose money on the initial sale to a new customer because of the great cost of winning that customer. You must therefore charge at least three times your manufacturing cost for your publications. which must cover all other expenses and profit. selling. Let's estimate it at 60 cents per copy. The selling price is also determined by "the market"--by what equivalent competitive products are bringing. and other overhead of conducting a business. Selling. envelope. and perhaps even more. if the business is to be worth your time. The established newsletter is a great asset in that it represents a customer list and a medium by which to sell those customers other . That must come out of the gross profit and still leave you a bit of net profit. often the package--tube. is that there is a vast difference between making sales and making customers.that is often too narrow a margin. that is a bare minimum markup. Still. the manufacturing cost is almost minuscule. and fulfillment. for that matter. There are some special considerations in newsletter publishing. or bottle costs more than the cosmetic contained therein. including printing. For the selling price is not simply three times the manufacturing cost. So you do not sell for $1. but the new customer is an asset that will soon produce profits via follow-up sales to that new customer. insurance. which should be essentially without cost to win. That does not include your labor--what you must pay yourself--or the taxes.50.
since they earn their profits through selling other items to subscribers. In my own case. I don't know if he understood that or not. recently asked me how to write a query to a magazine editor. At that point I began to research the mail order business seriously. firmly rejected. but sold those off eventually to concentrate on writing books for major book publishers. while I was working as a technical writer and learning to freelance in my spare time. That was the publication that got me into mail order on a serious basis. as part of their duties. more and more material came across my desk every day. fortunately for those of us who like to write. and soon you begin to get ideas in plentiful quantity. you are more or less reports. But once you begin to focus and concentrate your attention on the problem. and sets the stage. but he should have had no trouble with the idea. and more and more ideas presented themselves to me. The Little Lead That Could Many years ago. My answer was to start with the best lead he could come up with. (I formerly published several newsletters also. I began by writing and selling a resume guide for people who wanted help in writing their own resumes.) As my name got onto many people's mailing lists. for he didn't reply directly. That is what a good lead in a story or an article does. It captures attention. I had an excellent lesson in the importance of a lead and what a good lead can do for the writer and or the story or article: Engineers must do some writing. with an eye-opener of some sort. This ultimately conditions your mind to be alert for ideas. I was also truly puzzled. a playwright who has never tried to write for periodicals. even before the titles. of course. many newsletter publishers do not make great efforts to earn profits from subscription fees. I was disappointed. The article came back promptly. not because they are engineers but because a great many people hate to write. and that the rest of the query would not matter greatly if the lead was powerful enough. if it is done well enough. technical writing. I knew it to be a tightly written . Getting Ideas It may be hard to get that first idea for a newsletter or a report. but even keep those fees modest to encourage a large circulation. the "hook" to capture the viewer's attention and interest immediately. Then I expanded that into a guide for people who wanted to start a resume-writing business. CHAPTER 9 The Magic of the Lead How Important is the Lead? Someone. Until then. for he has written enough of those TV scripts that open.items. arouses interest. I was therefore inspired once to write an article on the art of technical writing and send it off to an engineering trade journal. In fact. Most engineers dislike this part of the job. and soon began to develop a series of a writer. as must most professionals. such as reports and books.
. As nearly as it can be characterized and defined--not easy to do because it is more art than craft--a good lead has these characteristics: It presents a striking. I finally got an inspiration: I changed the lead--nothing else--and sent it straight back to the same editor who had rejected it. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. with some tips to solve your problem. Hey! You! See? One interesting way to explain the elements of the lead is the "Hey! You! See?" concept offered by a writer whose name I no longer recall. It is in forceful. and "See?" is the copy following that explains what your lead has introduced.000 to Answer its mail. direct language. That is what a good lead does: it captures the reader and sells your work. "Hey!" is some relevant way to get attention. "You!" is something to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. that is what it ought ideally to appear to be. that venerable writer's periodical. trying to deduce a reason for its rejection. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. In my lead. Government Paid Me $6. But I wasn't ready to give it up. A good lead will always open with some kind of grabber related to what the piece is all about and link it to the reader's interest immediately. confronting the reader with this: "The U. so I studied the piece I had written. with the promise of revelation. It all adds up to here is what this will do for you about that distasteful writing chore. See. He bought it immediately! Here is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. idea. Here are a few tips and suggestions to make writing a lot easier for you. I also knew it to be sound. It will help You.S. You have to work at making it appear to be natural and spontaneous. Engineer. this is about that distasteful writing job. Evaluate Your Lead Good leads are sometimes spontaneous inspirations that spring directly from your subconscious into your conscious mind suddenly. and yet to the point. Engineer. making the job easier. thorough.piece. as well as an explanation of what the article was about." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. I was saying this: Hey! Mr. then. written out of my own extensive experience in technical writing. often startling. but it is an inescapable part of engineering. while setting the stage for what is to follow. this is how you do it. writing is a distasteful task. (Some of it was two years old!)" The text then went directly into an explanation of what that title meant by elaborating on it and describing the work referred to. Most of the time you aren't that fortunate: You have to work at developing a dynamite lead. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. And then I did what I promised: I provided the tips to make technical writing easier to do.
or amusing. that elaborates on the theme set by the title.000 to Answer their Mail! to see what I mean with respect to those factors. it can be combined with or compressed into a title or a headline. leads. novel. It is dramatic. Titles. And I do not fear using a long title. even shock value. The $100 Billion Market would be called.S. I) will probably select and use an entirely different title to attract readers. In fact. I want the title to be novel. Every headline and caption is a lead to what follows. It helps you get a good focus on what you ought to try to do in writing a title. ." Such titles are unimaginative. since they are usually the first thing the editor sees in your query or proposal. There is a much more value to a lead than that: A good lead helps you write the story. Or should be. let me make a few relevant observations: That word title ought to refer to and include every headline and caption in anything you write. and contribute absolutely nothing to moving the story along. (Were I writing it today. Make your titles a part of your story. Ideally. revelatory of the presentation strategy.S. although not always. boring. attention-demanding. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. Government Paid Me $6. Good Leads are More Than Attention-Getters Don't get the idea from what has been said here earlier that the sole or even chief function or purpose for a lead is to sell the book or article idea to an editor. That works especially well when you can manage it. we ( the publisher and. and Captions While I am on the subject of titles. such as "Introduction. I want something with high impact. Titles are thus an important element in marketing your work for the very reason just described: They are. Good Titles are Leads By now it may have occurred to you that a lead does not always have to be confined to the opening sentence or paragraph.) I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles.000 to Answer their Mail!) Later. possibly. and ought to do the same job for it that any lead does: forecast what is to come. Often. especially not in the case of the working title. of themselves. Heads. The U. and capture its essence. since it may be dropped later and replaced.It is a promise of what is to come. Government Paid Me $6. (My own book proposals always present a suggested title in full caps. Compare The $100 Billion Market with The U. followed by a subtitle in initial caps and lower case. it's a good idea to always think of titles as leads. my book titled. But when I am writing my proposal. Avoid generic titles. I need a good title and subtitle to use in my proposal or query to help me present and sell my idea to the editor. That title for the proposed book or article (call it the "working title") is solely to help me sell it.
the strategy of its organization. who write from their leads. usually. I must still develop a lead and that becomes a first chapter. that is. your compass. It sounds disorganized. the lead takes the place of an outline. every word I had written--typed. but it works for me. and it's not unrelated to leads and titles. usually. I was forced to discard it all. For a lengthier piece--a book--I do write an outline. For the latter kind of writer. in effect. There are others. I was over 50 pages into the book before I was forced to acknowledge that I was headed into a dead end: The book just would not flow. On one occasion. I learned to trust my feelings in such matters before I get 50 pages into a new piece of work. or preface. It's no different. but how indispensable it is for me and other writers who have similar working habits. And it illustrates not only how important and useful the lead is. although I know that I will make changes later. For a short piece--an article or a report--I start with only a broad idea and what I know about the subject. but I do know where at least some of my ideas come from and how they find their way to me. and a new lead had to be laboriously re-typed. In it or with it. Does that mean that you must do this too? No. I think it significant that the result was the best-selling book of all that I have written. I find myself unable to proceed with any piece of writing until I have developed a lead I am satisfied with. a lead that defines the job for me and tells me where I am going. an article. but necessary. The lead is your road map. its slant. It was most painful. as I write.or how I discover them. I know. when I did not adhere to that guide. the style. while sorting them all out and developing an organization. . working on the lead--and. "Where do you get your ideas?" It's a fair question. than developing a classic outline. if you work this way. and they generally follow their outlines as closely as possible. and other characteristics. Titles and Leads as Basic Ideas One of the inevitable questions every author of books gets from strangers is. For me. certainly not. with as much detail as I can muster before actually writing anything. but it works best for me (as I presume it must for some other writers) to work out my ideas this way.Writing From the Lead There are many writers who prepare a careful outline before writing even the briefest of pieces. I am laying the groundwork for the piece." I am actually thinking out and trying out a number of ideas. every writer has to develop his and her own style and own working habits: Do whatever works for you. of which I am one. and I can speak only for myself. I suppose that different writers get their ideas from different sources and in different ways. or a letter to someone: I can't go on until I am satisfied with the lead. It doesn't matter whether it am working on a book. you define what the piece will be about. It is your lodestone. revising it many times and starting over frequently--is "thinking on paper.
and they will occur to you spontaneously and with increasing frequency. If you deliberately pursue ideas by reading extensively. not all my books and articles start with ideas for titles. Sometimes editors will suggest ideas for books and articles. That was before I had succeeded in . work consciously at searching out new ideas. The classic How to Make Friends and Influence People was not a short title. if necessary. and observe life every day. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea. I can do better than that. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas." businesses based in private homes. it inspired me to research and write my own book on how to set up a home office. I did not have a great deal of trouble selling the idea of writing a book with that title. Marketing Without Money was another one that started with a title and kept the original title all the way. Long titles are not a burden. Many successful books have long titles. "Hey. In fact. when you come across stories in your field. Don't be afraid to write long titles.e. you think. start with a long title deliberately. Often. after my first book was published. (I can recall my struggle. but usually you are on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. methods. It will quest constantly for ideas.I find that often I get ideas for books or articles by having a lead in the form of a title occur to me first. Make the title long enough to do the job." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. that's only half the story. new Above all. and in a surprisingly short time. Be alert for new products. that there was currently a spate of "home offices. when I read an article in U. which was actually a brief lead.. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers. to develop a workable idea for a second book.S. However. but it is always a good idea to begin with a title that is long enough to define the subject and objective of the book or article. News & World Report. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas started out as How to Get Money-Making Ideas. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination. for example. but the first step is to get the idea written out. When I learned that the federal procurement budget had reached $100 billion (and more) each year. the title The $100 Billion Market lodged in my head and wouldn't go away. another book that started with an idea for a title. and can always be shortened later. thinking about what you read. but it is a good way to provoke your mind. new services. Of course. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i. as you read. Here are a few you can use: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. For example. nor was my own How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. a great many people would like to know about it. listen. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. You can trim it down later. in time. and discussing ideas with others. a news magazine. you will have trained your subconscious to do this for you. new developments of all kinds.
One man. and anything. or you might opt to write about only some special kind of small business. such as information brokering or consulting. (Ten years and 25 or 30 books ago a well-known editor in a major book publishing house assured my agent. One local writer in this area. evidently specializes in career activities--job finding. which is one reason for raising the . In more general terms. when she approached him. but your conscious mind will perform the critical function and sort the ideas out. Jane Applegate. by all means consider writing about it. If you choose to write about small business. and could not possibly have any more books in me!) Solutions to Problems are Always Welcome Discussions of and solutions to common problems are always well received. does a regular syndicated column on small business. Significantly. Specializing as a Writer Many writers choose some field that interests them or in which they have continuing access to information and specialize in that field. Specializing in this way has advantages: You maximize the results of your research and expertise. had used up all the ideas I would ever have. you provide information in these books and articles. offering solutions to the most common ones are among the most salable writing. for example. When the Washington Post runs its frequent special sections on jobs and careers. Some subjects are timeless. That is what readers want: useful information. If you learn of a solution to some problem. There is quite a large advantage in both these aspects. and sold 14. new tax laws. pestered with gophers. and you begin to build a reputation as an expert in some special field. Sheryl Silver.conditioning my subconscious to help me in finding new book ideas. this writer's byline appears on page after page. you might write about small business generally and range over the entire field. to almost any degree. such as high-definition TV. Many writers write about computers. But interests in many other subjects. depending on how diverse the general field is. the subject of specialization is not unconnected to the subject of leads and titles. did some research. for example. trends in employment and job opportunities. But pick up any magazine and see for yourself how many of the articles are about how to solve certain problems. Everyone has problems of some sort. since you have a special interest in the field. and has had a successful book published on the subject. of course. Research becomes much easier--is continuous and automatic. people always want to know how to succeed. found an effective way to discourage them. that I was all written out. usually about the software programs. You can carry this specialization further. Another writer. in fact. resume writing. books or articles. Two writers I know specialize in writing about automobiles and the automobile industry. and new trends in automobile accessories come and go. Timeliness of subject is another key to success in choosing subjects.) Many of the ideas will be of no use.000 copies of his two-page report on the subject.
subject here. John Wiley & Sons. negotiations. It created a specialty for me. etc. the subject was not one that I would have to research from scratch. these titles apparently reduced the computerphobe's fear of this mysterious machine and encouraged him or her to try to learn something more about computers. a best seller that itself inspired many competitive books on consulting from other writers! (The publisher has advertised it as "the best selling consulting book of all time. The Magic of the Subconscious Mind I am not a believer in mysticism or metaphysics. it was only a number of years later that a similar idea occurred to a publisher of computer books. Or even by someone else's lack of success. One. Why not? I had been a consultant myself. for him. However. It can be an internal source of great help. who produced a highly successful series of "Dummies" guides to computer subjects. but I have learned something of the power of the subconscious mind and how to enlist it in your service. AMACOM. Eventually I did." That illustrates another fact of life about publishing. And so I began to toy with the idea of doing a book on that subject. and promptly forgot the entire incident. contracts. somewhere in the recesses of my mind. and it turned out to be the most successful of my books. rather than undertaking risky new beginnings. and I returned the proposal to the author. Somehow. especially in the publishing of books: Just as Hollywood is quick to imitate a success--an unusually successful gangster movie will inspire a stream of gangster movies and TV shows--so it is with books. Some time later. the thought of writing a book about consulting struck me." Oddly enough. Rockefeller. and has since expanded to subjects in other fields. All because someone else's proposal planted a seed in my subconscious. I had no interest in the subject. At the moment. Take note of this as a writer: You can do worse than being inspired by someone else's success to try your own hand at it. John Bear. a seed had been planted. suddenly and unexpectedly. The friend wanted to write a rather scholarly book on consulting. with another publisher. The late John D. and certainly knew other consultants. as the story I just related indicates. himself an immensely successful oil magnate (Standard Oil) was one who recommended emulating others' success. and I have since become known as something of a guru on the subject. I saw no harm in doing so. The following explanation of how it . and had written a proposal for such a book. The editor rejected it. and I submitted it to my editor at AMACOM without comment. An acquaintance sent a friend to visit me. He wanted me to submit it to my current publisher.") But it also inspired several other books of my own dealing with various aspects of consulting. The fact that a great many people are almost phobic abut using computers has not been lost on all computer writers. A competitive publisher borrowed the idea and is imitating it with books for "Idiots. wrote a highly successful book purporting to be directed to what he called in his title the "computer wimp. and to this day I am writing "consultant's guides" to various activities--writing.
then. that is. straightens up the desk. and it does. view. or word you couldn't remember earlier. . When I finished my first book and managed to find a publisher for it. and your subconscious will sort and sift the information and come up with ideas. After more than 60 books. Beating Writer's Block Probably every writer suffers from block now and then. I always have trouble starting a new book or a new article--trouble developing my lead. blocked or not.) That is another place where I use my subconscious to help me.works resulted from a study done by interviewing a number of prominent inventors and thinkers on how they get their ideas: The subconscious is a wondrous mechanism one that can accomplish near-miracles for you when you learn to recruit it in your service. I now have far too many ideas for more books: My problem now is deciding which ideas are the best ones and thus which to pursue further! It's not magic. I struggled for a time to get a good idea for a second book. suddenly pops into your head. makes telephone calls. Scribble anything. and put the matter completely out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. Write a bad poem. But using it to get new ideas is only the beginning. write anything. but must use an indirect channel. Turn your total attention to something else. (That is the disease where the writer sharpens pencils. You can't communicate with it directly. and listen as widely as possible. If I don't manage that. browses in the dictionary. You can condition your subconscious mind to be always alert for ideas and to suggest them to your conscious mind without being prompted further. number. fatigue. that is. unfortunately (or perhaps that is fortunate). it's just understanding how to make your own mind work for you. looks out the window. usually when you are relaxing at some casual activity. I am nowhere with the new book or article: I simply can't get going until I get that lead mastered. goes to the kitchen to make coffee. and does everything but write--works at finding reasons to delay getting to work and writing. you can use the magic of the subconscious mind to make you a better writer. and then abandon it when you have exhausted all conscious efforts. My remedy is to write. For one. and without a satisfying lead. That turns it over to your subconscious. Read. The latter will work on the problem below the conscious level and get back to you at some future time. It's a disease of unknown origin. One of the beauties of writing with a computer and word processor is that you can do this so easily. there are other even more valuable uses possible. despite all efforts. The way to impart a need to it is to concentrate consciously on the problem or need for as long as you can. psychic rebellion--who knows? But it's debilitating for a writer. or the idea you couldn't generate consciously. and then discard everything or any part of what you have written. Anyone can do it. That is the key to getting all the ideas you will ever need or can ever use for things to write about. I will fall victim to that dread writer's disease known as writer's block. That is when the name. It may be laziness. Start scribbling.
personnel. But write. Start the juices. as well as the presentation. point to opportunity for those of us who enjoy writing.Start a science-fiction absurdity. electronics. training. Do it in subject-matter areas in which you have knowledge and competence and. banking. more specifically. Writing itself is only part of the task in writing for and in the business world. reports. There are many needs for writing in the business world and particularly in most of the specialized businesses and professions. That's true for even the more highly educated. manufacturing. not the writing per se. and the proposal followed a specific presentation strategy that correlated with the marketing strategy. for which I was paid $1000/day. serving a specific client need and probably solving a client's problem. Make an analysis of those subjects in which you have substantial knowledge and experience--e. The average person hates to write. taxes. financial management. It makes you a consultant.. At least. preferably. that's how it works for me. politics. and worth considerably higher fees than you could command as a writer per se. . for example. There are many areas of need in which this is possible. and not as a writer. Before long. That is especially the case when you write in some area where you are expert--marketing.000 a day without difficulty as a proposal writer: It was because I was more than a writer: I was a proposal strategist. management. Clients may call on freelance writers because they are too busy to do their own writing or because their own staff writers are overloaded with work. considerable expertise. or it ought to. sales. however. It makes your services more valuable. e. do it as a consultant. End of block. finances. You can and should be more than a scribe in those circumstances. It means that you have been retained to do a specific job. g. more specialized. enough at least to relieve the client of most of the chores of planning the written product and outlining the approach to it. If you are going to do custom writing. However. and problem solver: I helped the client design the program and its strategy. construct-ions or whatever. It is thus an indicator of where you ought to concentrate your efforts as a writer or. printing. that may be hard to understand. but that does not make it less true. Writer or Consultant? Working as a writer for hire--i. psychology. marketing. It does. For those of us to whom writing comes easily and is even an enjoyable thing to do. It was that. accounting. trouble-shooter. as a writer-consultant. doing custom work for a client--actually makes you more than a writer. This is how and why I could command $1. so that the program followed a specific marketing strategy I had designed. but that also qualifies as consulting work. and I hope it will work for you. under contract. you will wipe out the nonsense and get down to work.. Consider the typical writing needs of the various areas: manuals. in a great many cases it requires not only writing ability. or any other area of special knowledge. but also some subject-matter expertise. the professionals.
But the computer is only a tool. however. a valuable one. brochures. of course. but they simply do not know how to go about it. not unimportant. press release. They seek out opportunities to make their own competitive bids for such assignments. Let's take the matter of the newsletter alone: Even with the dtp software doing the layout and format design for the user. the capability brochure.salesletters. (That does not mean. the annual report. It is one way to sell your services as a writer. that they will necessarily be well written or effective in meeting whatever their objectives are. catalog sheet. newsletters. the proposal. public speaking. Then pursue assignments as an editorial/documentation specialist within the areas of interest. and whatever else a business needs. to be sure. It is.) That is not all there is to it. no matter how handsomely they are laid out. Cosmetics are one thing. and some of the most beautiful are useful mostly for starting a fire or recycling into packing material. Anyone can (presumably) write a press release. audiovisuals. The probability is that you can claim reasonable expertise in a number of areas. but it is not the only way nor necessarily the best way: There is an entirely different approach to the problem of . Anyone who can run a computer and handle the desktop publishing software available today can turn out a professional-looking newsletter.) It is no less true of every other document: the newsletter. of course. specifications. and judgment as a writer and editorial expert. and especially if you are going to freelance. or other. there is also the possibility of being a publications consultant. Creating Your Own Market The average freelance writer seeks clients who have a felt need for writing help. (Anyone who has ever worked in a busy newspaper office knows what huge proportion of all press releases received wind up in the waste basket because they don't merit further consideration. or any of most other publications today. but still only a tool: It does not lessen to even the slightest degree the need for knowledge. much easier to develop such things today than at any time in the past because the desktop computer and the available software offer ready-made designs for all kinds of publications. ability. but content is another matter. most of us learn many things in the course of our careers. Specializing as a Publications Consultant Many small business owners would like to publish a newsletter or turn out a better brochure. if you are going to write at all. However. however. there are a number of editorial problems to solve: Where will the copy come from? Who will edit information gathered and put it into publishable style? Who will do the copy fitting? Make the many other editorial decisions? Ensure that the design chosen is suitable for what the organization does and sells? In today's world you must come to terms with your computer. speeches. Some of the homeliest newsletters have been among the most successful. but the art lies in writing a press release that the press will use. brochure.
Even then. will contain the . presumably. a publicity campaign. You can also write clients' newsletters for them. It worked well for both of us for a long time. Twists on Newsletter Publishing There are at least three ways to make money writing newsletters. e. It is possible for you to create a newsletter that can be published by clients as their own. and the association would have it printed and mail it out to their members. Newsletters and press releases. printing. but at relatively small cost. There is also the case of the small business owners who would like to have a newsletter. or internal communications. many executives managing organizations really don't have any idea about what to put in a newsletter. You can. but really can't afford it. They liked the idea. however. or some other activity requiring your expert services. I did not want to undertake a new business--i. You can create and publish your own newsletter. Much of the information was already crossing my desk every day. identical for all except that each client's master copy. create a newsletter on computers. You supply this each month to each client as a master copy. and we struck a deal. are also valuable and effective marketing tools when used wisely.. for there are several ways to do it. I approached the manager of an association of small businesses in construction and proposed producing the news-letter each month for the association for a flat fee. opens up new possibilities: Instead of seeking clients who have felt needs for the services of a freelance writer. You can help even these kinds of clients. They need someone to do it all. but find it too much of a job to produce one. start looking for subscribers. That is only one way to do this. I would deliver master copy. there are variants possible. and a great many business owners are excellent prospects for this service. especially if you have a flexible plan for helping these clients. direct marketing. Even in that last approach. Many organizations would like to have their own newsletters. for example. I had the idea once of starting a newsletter for small businesses in the construction business because I had access to a steady source of useful information about the industry. up to the point of printing and mailing. what the client will send to the printer to be printed in sufficient quantity for mailing. and all the rest of it. however. The most motivating consideration to interest prospective clients is that of the marketing benefits such activity can bring. direct mail. and they spell opportunity for the enterprising freelance writer. of course. That is not difficult to do. you can go in pursuit of clients in whom you can inspire a sense of need for a newsletter. Direct marketing--marketing via salesletters and direct-mail packages in general--is obviously an effort to win sales.finding clients: Opting to be a publications consultant and. However. mailing. selecting a special field therein. and will pay you to help them. such as public relations. offering useful articles and ideas. while you help yourself too. however.
only you and/or others to whom you grant permission or assign your rights can reproduce. if the client wishes. with no renewals .client's identification as the publisher. with the client's own title and information imprinted. or the client can pay you to write it especially for him or her. the newsletter becomes much more affordable for the small business-person. or make other use of your property. Here are the basic facts. POPULAR BELIEF: To get copyright protection you must register your property with the Copyright Office. Copyright was always easy to get. It is not even necessary to register a copyright with the Copyright Office to get the protection of copyright. Of course. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. and it is considerably less than a full-time job for you each month. while it is profitable and provides a steady income. you research and write only one newsletter each month (or whatever period you wish to issue the publication) and deliver a master copy. The current law provides copyright protection for the life of the author plus 50 years. which became effective January 1. What is Copyright? Copyright means literally the right to copy or the right of ownership of the creation. there are reasons for registering a copyright in many cases. drawings and paintings. here are the facts: Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. In fact. as you will soon see. 1978) it became even easier. but under the newer law (the Copyright Act of 1976. it is an incident of the process of authorship. that is. music. computer programs. Done this way. You leave one page blank. However. As the author of the work. Either the client or you can insert that special page. there is nothing to prevent you from expanding this idea and doing several newsletters for clients in different businesses or industries. WRONG: Copyright protection is far simpler to secure than that. some of which will probably surprise you. and similar works of creation.) Thus. and it is available for literary works. (You might even allow each client to make up his or her own title for the newsletter. so the client can insert a page of his or her own information or editorial. It's a worthwhile proposition for both of you. CHAPTER 10 The Truth About Copyright Law Copyright law is one of those things about which a great many myths and misunderstandings have sprung up. in the words of the Copyright Office. copy.
What Cannot be Protected by Copyright? Obviously. computer commands. would be the exception to the rule. brush strokes. begins to get into a hazy area. If what appears to be information is. an inadvertent failure to post the copyright notice does not automatically bar copyright protection. however. (For phono or sound recordings. What Can be Protected by Copyright? Copyright covers the specific and unique combination of words. Copyright Notices There are several ways to inscribe a copyright notice. Publication is defined as distributing copies to the public by rental." It may say "Copr. Publication It is no longer necessary to actually publish a work to afford it copyright protection. or other transfer of ownership of the physical property. use both the words and the symbol. But publication is still desirable. but the author must take steps to correct the error by issuing copies with the notice and/or by registering the creation with the Copyright Office. Other items that are not protected by copyright are less obvious.authorized. use the symbol P in a circle. brush strokes. The first choice is the best because some foreign nations do not recognize the c symbol. one that is not well defined because it is extremely difficult to be absolutely precise about it. etc that constitute the artistic property. short phrases. the unique creation of an author.. Many publishers.) The notice should be placed in some prominent position on the item. listings of ingredients. More significantly and less well understood is that you cannot copyright ideas or information. from a practical viewpoint. No one has the right to reproduce your book or article--or any lengthy portion of it--for example. and other such brief items. This. That. colors. as was the case under the older law. advising everyone of the protection. Publication should be accompanied by a notice of copyright. slogans. It may use the symbol c. because copyright is automatic when the work is produced in some final form. it may be possible to prove that the "information" was protected by copyright. but anyone can use the information in it to write his or her own book or article. colors. in fact. It is only that combination of elements that is so covered and protected by the copyright. etc--titles. under the newer law. names. however. possible although it may be. How to Register a Copyright . notes. however. They include works not yet in fixed form--printed. as it did under the original law. It can be simply the words "Copyright (year) by (name). they belong in the public domain as common property." followed by the year and name. musical notes. sale. computer commands. calendars. recorded. you cannot copyright individual words. etc. Fortunately.
drawings. there are some good reasons for registering a copyright. For serial publications--newspapers. Why Register? Since copyright protection--statutory copyright--is so easy to get. magazines. CA for supplementary registration to correct or amplify information given in an earlier registration. e. However. a quite large portion are unregistered copyrights. and other such works--Copyright Office Form TX is used. For ordinary textual works--single works. VA for published and unpublished works of the visual arts--paintings. such as newspapers. RE for claims to renewal copyright rights for properties protected under the 1909 Copyright Act. many publications are protected by only the statutory copyright cited here. including the . plays. why bother to register a copyright? Well. On the other hand. etc. articles. sculptures. But there is one immediate. works to be published in successive parts with numerical or chronological designations. One reason is that registration establishes a public record of your copyright claim. it is hardly worthwhile to register every copyright. and not by registering that copyright. in fact. such as novels. Hence. other audiovisual works. thus requiring full protection?--and the likelihood that anyone will infringe upon your copyright. in the bargain. bulletins. journals. SE for serial works. all the following forms: TX for published and unpublished non-dramatic written works. PA for published and unpublished works of the performing arts--dramatic and musical works--motion pictures. newsletters. There are. you may register your copyright at any time. registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright claim. SR for published and unpublished sound recordings. etc. Of course. dissertations. reports. Because a great many publications are really not in any great danger of infringement and are not especially valuable. directories. practical reason: You cannot seek legal remedies. file or defend yourself against an infringement suit--unless your copyright has been registered. perhaps you should not. if you must at some point defend your copyright via legal action--i.. it will be much easier to prove your claim if you had registered your copyright in the beginning. The question revolves around the value you assign to the property--is it potentially of great value.There are a number of forms used for registering copyrights. etc--Form SE is provided. despite the abundance of copyright notices on literary and other properties. to continue indefinitely. magazines. But there are some other provisions of interest too: If made before or within 5 years of publication.
in your reading of various publications. to review and approve that portion of your own work in which you cite or quote them. regardless of how brief the quote. you can collect only actual damages and profits. DC 20559 To register a book or manuscript. Unfortunately. Other-wise. dates from the day your application was received by the Copyright Office. Relevant Matters You will notice. whether you agree to permit that action--virtual censorship--is up to you. it is usually not difficult to get permission for brief quotes. The address is as follows: Register of Copyrights Library of Congress Washington. copyright owners may request payment--a royalty--for permission to quote. it is best to request permission from the copyright owners before quoting more than a sentence or two. Registration Procedure First request from the Copyright Office the application form(s) you will need. However. Too. nonrefundable fee of $20. packaged together. to that same address: A A A ù ù completed application form. copyright owners may and often do demand the right to know precisely what you will quote and how you will quote or cite it--demand the right. If you have registered the copyright not later than 3 months after publication or prior to the infringement. I have always refused to yield to that kind of a demand and found some other way to illustrate or document my . copyright publications without any indication that permission for the quotation was granted. A Few Other. both in text and in footnotes. send the following three elements. Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. as explained here. This is not at all unusual. As a matter of practical application. except philosophically. Another is to permit scholars and other authors to document their own published works.) nonreturnable deposit of One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. (Send check or money order. not cash. especially if the quotation is to be a lengthy one. you may collect statutory damages and attorney's fees from the defendant." One reason and usage for this is to permit critics and other reviewers to cite from the works they are reviewing. The copyright.statements in your application. that authors often include brief quotes from other. Of course. should you wish to quote someone. in fact. when issued. we have no good definition of how brief is "brief. In practice. And always make attribution--identify and credit the source--when quoting anyone. This quoting of brief excerpts from copyright works is authorized under the doctrine of "fair usage." so "fair usage" remains a rather difficult area to define.
comment on. in fact. writing effort. at current budget rates. that should suffice. and/or reproduce in my books are materials originating with business firms. with full attribution. phrased in my own language. If there has been an exchange of correspondence with the copyright owner and he or she has given specific permission in correspondence. is a multibillion-dollar market for every kind of writing conceivable. But you can easily adapt this to your own needs by simple changes. with its hundreds of agencies and thousands of offices.work. But I use a simple form that I supply with my request. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. often by paraphrasing the other author or by simply reporting his thoughts. You must be sure to get written permission--a signed release--from the copyright owner before using his or her material. quote. Name and organization:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Signature:------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date:-----------------------------------------------CHAPTER 11 Government Markets for Writers The government. and most of it is done under contract by private organizations and often by individuals.000 U. That the government generates a great deal of "paper" is well known. and it has always worked well for me: This was designed for my own use. Government offices and other facilities scattered throughout the United States and our possessions are spending about $14 billion per year. RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. The form was thus designed with that in mind. cite. I suppose a lawyer would draft a formidable release form for this purpose. And there is good reason for so describing them.S. It is my opinion that the other author ought to accept your representation that you will make attribution and treat his or her work fairly. for what might be described as editorial services. and so most of the materials I cite. What is not so well known is that most of this . although the bulk of the effort required is. A Basic Orientation The 34. but I have not found it necessary to be quite that formal. but I write books for business owners and other entrepreneurs.
each agency has a large degree of freedom in organizing itself internally and allocating necessary functions. training programs. and other agencies. the constant growth of new technological developments and the ever-swelling government bureaucracy add up to constantly growing markets. lecture notes. to name three. and even books. Publications Government publications fall into two broad classes: those for internal consumption and those for public information. operates a training division with six branches of training. and problems. Each agency does so according to the needs of its own missions. But training is a concern throughout the government. since training is one of their prime functions and goes on continuously. several agencies--the Internal Revenue Service. There is no set standard in government organization. not surprisingly. in military and civilian agencies. Consequently they may include reports.generation of "paper" does not take place in government offices. Training In addition to the agencies' own. In many cases. For writers. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). the Postal Service. the agency may even have special departments or offices dedicated to these activities. speeches. However. in others the responsibilities are vested within some other office or department. for the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA). The military organizations who buy the weapons systems and all the related equipment and systems require a great many technical manuals and other documentation to be used to support the training of military personnel and the day to day operations and maintenance of the systems. In fact. or training materials may be developed by a publications group. audiovisual scripts. offering training courses to the rest of the federal government. Training responsibilities may include the development of materials to be used for training. size. the government contracts out most of this work to private industry. where the size of the agency and its publications/training requirements are large enough. have entire residential training institutes of their own. Virtually every government agency of significant size and importance has both publications and training responsibilities. so they are normally by far the largest developers of publications. also require such documentation. brochures. newsletters. the year around as a permanent program. they are not the only purchaser of such publications. internal training facilities. manuals. often along with personnel and other administrative duties. and a large portion of the writing and publications work carried on in-house and via contracting out is intended to enable and support training programs directly and indirectly. Who Does All the Writing? . articles. the Office of Personnel Management (formerly the Civil Service Commission). The military agencies have by far the largest training establishments. and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. proposals. motion picture scripts.
For the Public Buildings Service. here are some of those I was entrusted with as a small. $2. from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands. For the Public Buildings Service. by government employees.500 for an audiovisual storyboard and script.000 to develop an audiovisual training program in American Indian history and culture. from freelancers to large corporations. the large contracts are not for the freelance writer or small editorial business. $600 to upgrade their rate manual.000 job to develop an "annual report. in many cases the smaller jobs are set aside for small businesses. $6. by far the bulk of such work is done externally. for a few years I kept myself quite busy writing for government agencies exclusively. $750 for a brochure about new procurement forms. and even millions of dollars. and thus often cannot compete effectively for small jobs and do not wish to do so. NOTE: Most of the above contracts were in an era when a small purchase was less than $5. $9.) It is a market open to all. and the large organizations are thus barred legally from competing for them. Rather. many billions of dollars' worth each year. Finally. and with the size of our government and our annual budget you might expect the bulk of that writing to be done internally. as an independent contractor. to give you an idea of both the kinds of writing tasks and their sizes. whereas it is $25.000.000 today.All of this calls for a great deal of writing. independent contractor and freelance writer: For the Federal Aviation Administration: A $23. a great deal of it as a requirement under larger contracts for engineering and manufacturing. However. For the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).000 to answer mail and develop a system to enable them to handle the job. the large organizations often find that they cannot handle the smaller contracts profitably or efficiently. of course. contracting directly with government agencies and subcontracting to the government's prime contractors. For the Postal Service Training and Development Training Institute. Typical Tasks Contracts let by government agencies for writing can range widely in size. For the Forest Service. but much also performed by individuals and organizations hired under contract for such tasks specifically. For the Energy Research and Development Administration.400 for the development of a curriculum plan for training health and safety specialists. $3. Small-Purchase Opportunities . On the other hand. Obviously. that is not the case. (In fact." explaining the year's work in safety engineering. Surprisingly enough.
contracts are awarded as a result of sealed bids (awards to the low bidders) and competitive proposals (awards to those submitting the best proposals). Getting on a maximum number of bidders lists helps in this case. and city halls." as it is commonly referred to.) This publication lists hundreds and hundreds of government needs--bid and proposal opportunities--every day. all procurement offices want you to register with them by completing their bidder's application forms. The federal government has thousands of contracting offices (some 130. it enables you to survey and choose from the maximum number of bidding opportunities. but access to the "CBD. town halls. (Subscriptions may be ordered from either agency. However. (There are more federal employees in California. is available also via the Internet. and local government agencies is by open competition. This permits agencies to use purchase orders. state. although there are certain exceptions. at least.S. published by the U. Direct. Modus Operandi for Freelance Writers Writing is a custom service. By law all public purchasing for federal. and normally you would compete for a writing contract by submitting a proposal. However. because so many writing jobs are relatively small--qualify under the law as small purchases--many can be and are awarded without competition or. State and local governments announce their invitations in the classified advertising columns of daily news-papers under the heading Bids & Proposals The announcement tells you how to get the solicitation with all the forms and details necessary to prepare and submit your bid or proposal. rather than formal contracts. for purchases under $25. state. others were awarded to me under the Small Purchase Act. which will put your name on bidder lists so that you will receive many solicitations without requesting them. with limited competition or without competition. while local governments have purchasing officials in county seats. in many cases.Some of these contracts I won in competitive procurements through submitting the winning proposals. but you should understand the basic system.000. for example. Department of Commerce and printed by the Government Printing Office. personal contact with government officials is by far the best . How the Government Buys How the government buys and how to sell to the government are different subjects. Therefore.000 federal employees work in purchasing and procurement functions) all over the country. and local government agency with whom you expect to do business. in an accelerated and simplified procedure. DC!) State governments do most of their purchasing via a central purchasing and supply organization in the state capital. You should register (file the bidders application form) with every federal. The federal government announces its needs and calls for bids and proposals in a daily publication called the Commerce Business Daily. informally and with only nominal competition and/or a simple letter proposal. than in Washington.
from initial research to having the final camera-ready copy ready to go to the printer. a goodly bit of editing is required: It was wise of the client to perceive this. (Or. Unless you object to doing such work. brochures. writing and/or rewriting is required. and capability statements. Continue to make these calls and become a familiar figure in those offices.000 in additional business there and in other agencies. It is mutually beneficial to have agreements with others. as everyone does. solemnly agree that what has been done is an excellent start and that.) You may at times find yourself entrusted with the whole ball of wax--an assignment to handle the entire job. proofreading. and available resources (e.) For this reason it is advisable to have "associates"--illustrators. Price the job for what is really required--writing/rewriting--but do agree cheerfully that it is editing. and other factors that reflect the kind and volume of work you can handle. Make personal calls on these people and leave business cards. It's good business to do so. editors. help. (Repeat business and recommendations from a Department of Labor office for whom I did some needed editorial repair work resulted in over $65. public information. and will probably pay off in future assignments and recommendations to others. and bill for "editorial services. describing your background. "Editorial Services" In many cases the agency will ask you to simply do an editing job because they do not acknowledge or even recognize and admit to themselves that they cannot do the job or have tried and botched it. sometimes. For example. Instead. People in government have problems. or they have been handed a hot potato of a job by a superior. how fast you can respond and turn a job around. Be prepared to recognize such situations. and they often need help. (There are even occasions on which the government agency wants you. as the contractor. in fact. and others on whom you can call for support when you are responsible for an entire program or publication.. that another contractor did the job and botched it. experience. That happens quite often. you can and should take advantage of this to cement your position with the agency and the individual client in the agency. there are cases where they do. and other relevant factors).g. actually. they too discover on Thursday that they are short-handed for a job due on Monday. to have the publication printed and bound. Seek out the various government agencies and inquire who is in charge of publications. That is opportunity for those prepared to handle it. qualifications. often starting over from the beginning. and advice--consulting services. but do not embarrass the client by pointing this obvious truth out. representing yourselves as . and they are often delighted to find a freelance writer who can help. need editorial services: literally editing. equipment." Everyone is then happy! Of course. and training. as they learned only after they accepted the job and paid for it!) In such cases. yes. and is the route to the larger and more profitable contracts.approach for this work.
it is also necessary to understand that each agency has its own policies. which means. And the Wind Energy Office of the then Energy Research and Development Administration was another totally unexpected and unsuspected opportunity. That is. actually. do not assume Finding Opportunities Although I am based in the Washington. although each has his or her own clients and projects. as already noted.000 via government purchase order. usually Personnel). In general. my government . of course. That sounds like a strange idea to those not familiar with how large organizations do things. the best government markets are the organizations that have their own. For example. (In this computer. sharing in a contract. Best Government Markets Government is not a single market. in-house departments or special offices for training and/or publications and other writing tasks. although the law permits the agency to contract or projects up to $25.)You may want to consider this after you have gotten established.associates. although you should make all efforts to learn the official procurement regulations in general. for any of you may want to call on others for support. it enables all of you to bid for the larger jobs. Monolithic although the government may appear to be. it is remarkably unstandardized and diverse in many ways. Some freelancers in writing and other professional-services fields actually share office space and expenses and advertise as a firm of associates. Check. Therefore. It is a whole population of markets. a rich lode of contracts for several years. Not only are there hundreds of agencies--departments. commissions. administrations and other organizations--but in many of these entities there are multiple markets. DC area. the agency's contracting officer or other top official many restrict that to some lesser amount as the maximum that can be spent without a formal contract. Such organizations are almost characteristically overloaded and need help. I once found the Value Management offices of the General Services Administration. demonstrates that the agency has regular or at least frequent need for such work. You must be alert for such windfalls too. to every-one's benefit in marketing. an engineering office. but the explanation is quite simple: The existence of a separate department or office for such functions (or burying such functions in another office. You will therefore often find many more sales opportunities in organizations with internal writing groups than in those that do not have such in-house capability. if you wish to graduate to an office outside your home and pursue more ambitious projects than solo writing tasks. this arrangement is referred to as a "virtual corporation. Sometimes an organization does not by its nature furnish any clues to the probable opportunities for writers. high-tech age. as well as cooperating on large projects." even when cooperating parties do not share office space directly. for it makes marketing your services at least partially a shared function and also an important consideration.
and Houston Some key agencies/offices to write (Contracting Officer or Public Information Officer) for information on procurement: Small Business Administration 1441 L Street. on request. and visit procurement offices in your state capital. Los Angeles. a major federal center. Chicago. San Francisco. Florida. Write also to the Contracting Officer or Public Information Office of major agencies. county seat. or General Services Administration (GSA). Request information about purchasing policies and practices. SW Washington. Washington. Department of Commerce (DOC). check the telephone directory blue pages. The government has offices and contracts everywhere. many of the agencies will furnish copies of those manuals free of charge. However. But you can get more information from any office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). It is not necessary. in many cases you never meet face-to. the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). Montana and Orlando. Be sure to visit any GSA Business Service Center near you or write the GSA in Denver. and city or town hall. in most cases. For Government offices near you. The most basic tool of marketing to the federal government is the government's own daily publication. as already noted above. A starter list appears at the end of this chapter. NW Washington. Atlanta. In fact. Fort Worth.face with the customer. Seattle. brochures.contracts were often in such distant places as Missoula. even in a long-term contractual relationship. That is one of the key reasons for writing them at the addresses listed below. Many will then send you literature--pamphlets. and even thick manuals explaining the systems in detail. (You may also request similar information from the purchasing and supply offices of your own state and local government offices. Kansas City (MO). you can use the mail and telephone for most contacts. Many of them also publish thick manuals of instructions. NW Washington. DC 20416 General Services Administration 18th & F Streets. Denver. New York. State and local governments advertise their requirements in the daily news-paper classified columns under Bids and Proposals Be sure to keep an eye on those. including most of the procurement manuals published by the various agencies. Philadelphia.) A Few References GSA Business Service Centers are located in Boston. DC 20405 Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue. DC 20585 . mentioned earlier. The Government Printing Office operates a number of bookstores. Colorado. to be near the agency. in which it sells a great many government publications.
SW Washington.000! . DC 20460 Department of Transportation 400 7th Street.000 or more to launch a successful newsletter. has been quoted as estimating the existence of 100. DC 20546 Department of Defense The Pentagon Washington. and within three months it was a self-supporting venture. DC 20301 Department of Commerce 14th & Constitution Avenue. an authority on newsletters. NW Washington. but my experience indicates otherwise. CO 80225 Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street. Room 2A340 Washington. DC 20591 Department of Labor 200 Constitution Avenue. DC 20230 General Services Administration Denver Federal Center Denver. (Howard Penn Hudson. NW Washington. Perhaps they are right. DC 20240 NASA HQ Contracts Division 200 Maryland Avenue. SW Washington. DC 20210 Directorate for Small Business and Economic Utilization Policy The Pentagon. I started my first newsletter for less than $100. If it really required a great deal of money to succeed in publishing a newsletter. I can think of easier and less risky ways to invest $50. DC 20301 CHAPTER 12 How to Make it Big with Your Own Newsletter Publishing a newsletter is a business.000 newsletters!) In fact.Department of the Interior 18th & C Streets. and it responds to the same rules as other businesses What Does it Take to Get Started? Pick up any of the $25 to $50 books on newsletter publishing and you will learn that the experts believe that it requires $50. SW Washington. NWWashington.000 or more that exist. there would be far fewer than the 30.
It's what those people who estimate $50. It's the hardest and most expensive part of the job. From the beginning. a massive subscription drive. composing it via typewriter (today I would use my computer and printer. and produced enough income to justify its existence. I mailed many copies to others in the publishing business and to printers and mailers. I offered free advertising--publicity--to anyone interested. I did not even list a volume and number for that same reason. whether they subscribed or not. . When it works. Even more important. That gets a new newsletter off the ground and moving fast. of course). mailing. I printed up a few hundred circulars and sales letters and began mailing to a mailing list I compiled by reading advertisements in periodicals and selecting the names of small businesses I thought to be suitable prospects for the kind of information I intended to provide in my newsletter. And since my NL was devoted to business opportunities. profitable business.000 as the minimum starting budget have in mind as the reason for needing so much money: The money is to launch a substantial initial promotion. and building a subscription list. and I began to get both paid and swapped-for subscriptions almost immediately. a fact of the newsletter business often overlooked or misunderstood. One of the factors that inhibit subscribers when a publisher asks them to invest a year's fee is uncertainty as to the durability of the periodical: Will it be around for the next year? I did not reveal that my "BSE" was brand-new. 3-month trial subscription available too. etc. But there are other ways. it was the means for getting other. and printing 100 copies of the first issue. Because my literature and approach radiated confidence and my NL was quite professional looking--typewriter "typesetting" was quite respectable in newsletter publishing then--everyone assumed that BSE was an established NL. Getting Subscriptions Selling subscriptions to a newsletter is not easy. far from it. material for future issues. I started Buyer's & Seller's Exchange. But it did become profitable very rapidly. but 6-month subscriptions were available.This is not to say that my first NL made me rich overnight. Even newsletters that are not especially profitable of themselves are often extremely worth-while because of this. printing. and I made a special. Most of that first issue was mailed free as samples to encourage paid subscriptions. offering a swap of services: free subscriptions for the equivalent value in advertising. I didn't lie to my subscribers. But let us start at the beginning. I was getting a little income. A newsletter can be a seedbed for other business. I simply did not bring the subject up! I also encouraged new subscribers by making it easy for them to minimize the risk: Regular subscriptions were by the year.
and subscribers want editorial matter.) Suppose you put out an NL of a modest four pages and charge $24 a year. a 6-month subscription became 9 months at the same price. That is. not advertising. So conventional wisdom estimates a 65% renewal rate necessary for profitable operation. I began advertising my other publications--books and reports--in my NL. Perhaps you have gathered by now that unless you are publishing the type of NL that can command $75-$200 per year. (These are 1986 costs in the U. . without regard to other considerations (for the moment) than income from subscriptions: The problem lies in the high cost of winning subscriptions. but gave full credit for the $2 if the buyer subscribed subsequently. The conventional wisdom is that profitable operation depends on renewals. as I continued to offer many special promotions. although there are some who do. subscriptions that cost you little or nothing to get. helping bring in new subscriptions. Every issue thus began to produce income for other things I had to sell. Sending out 1. I was quite surprised at how many orders for other things an issue could pull. I charged $2 for sample copies. Let us look at the basic economics of the business. selling a variety of books published by others but related to the subject of the NL. I also sent many complimentary copies to publishers of other NLs. This is a major income producer for many newsletter publishers. this later became the basis for another highly profitable spin-off I devised. if you accept that breakeven is the best you can hope for in the first year of a subscription. it is difficult to realize a great deal of profit on subscriptions alone.e. many run complete mail-order bookstores in this manner. And even these are not the only profit opportunities a newsletter offers. For 500 copies. Quite the contrary. there are successful newsletter publishers who do not do much more than break even on subscription income. In fact.S. for which they often gave me a free plug..By the third month my print order was up to 500 copies. In one that was quite successful I offered to add one-half again to every new subscription--i. But let's analyze costs a bit more. and one year became 18 months. A Beginning Insight Into the Newsletter Business Before long I realized that profit on subscription fees was not the entire foundation for the newsletter business. Few NLs carry advertising. but use their newsletters to earn money in other ways. The Economics of Newsletter Publishing You have had just a small insight into some of the basic economics of NL publishing. and continued to climb steadily. Make allowances for today's prices. I soon learned why: Subscribers to an NL tend to become enthusiasts--loyal readers and "members" of what they come to regard as an "in" group. In fact. for subscriptions. profit results when you get renewals. since space is at a premium.000 copies of the NL bearing the same advertising copy as the circulars I was mailing separately produced many more orders than the circulars did. also a modest number. although I never carried paid advertising.
Of course. so you have a better immediate ratio of cost to income. if all else is right. such as an offer to credit one-half the $5 paid for the trial subscription. Or you might offer a special deal on extending or converting a trial subscription into a regular one. and you will probably pull more subscriptions from a mailing that offers trial subscriptions. and they may easily have cost you as much as one-half the subscription fee--$6. you have the same chance of a profitable renewal after only 3 months. unless you are fortunate enough to either build a much higher number of subscribers or get a much higher annual subscription fee.000. both in my own advertising and sales made via dealers to whom I paid a 50% commission on all sales. That would be nice if you had gotten the subscriptions at no cost. But they did cost you. 500 to 1. instead of a 12-month subscription for $10! If you pro-rate that. and you get major savings in postage costs also when you reach enough volume to justify the second-class mailing rates available to . hence a limited audience--in most cases. effectively you get a 15-month subscription for $5. as well as income from ancillary sales.500. newsletters are addressed to highly specialized interests. But if you get a 3-month trial subscription at a cost of perhaps $5. You can see from this how important it is to get a reasonably high percent-age of renewals. But--and digest this--I found it more profitable to sell the less-expensive (and less costly to win) short-term initial subscriptions! Surprised? Look at it this way: If you spend as much as $12 to win a 1-year sub from a customer. you will find that the cost of winning subscriptions is more than halved this way. If you wish to. But those are the exceptional cases. the per-issue cost to the subscriber is a bit higher on short-term subs. If the subscriber renews into a regular subscription. with bulk mailing and a 5% response.250.000 paid subscriptions represent a reasonably successful newsletter--and it takes some-thing very special about a newsletter to command really high prices. you are going to have a 1-year break-even sale before you can hope to make money from that subscription via renewal--if you get the renewal. A Strategy to Cut Those High Costs It normally costs more to sell a $20 item than it does to sell a $5 one. of course. I therefore found it profitable to encourage the sale of trial subscriptions. you face a bit of reluctance when you ask a prospect to gamble a full year's subscription fee on an unknown publisher with an unknown newsletter.) That's $3. instead of 12 months! Too.printing ought to cost you about $90 an issue and first-class postage will be another $160. In fact. it would be difficult to win 500 subscriptions for an outlay of much less than $5. Even with an efficient campaign.000 a year for a gross income of $12. Typically. you must price what you sell by mail so that you can afford to spend up to one-half the selling price to get the sale. (It is rarely practicable to use a less costly form of mailing at only 500 copies. you can usually increase the response further by offering the trial subscription with some sort of a special deal on renewing into a regular sub after the trial. There is this too: Printing costs drop sharply as the quantity goes up.
your risk your own good reputation. They took care of everything else--printing. your research and daily mail begin to dredge up more good information than your NL has room for. that one subject arouses so much interest and demand for more information on the subject that even a special report or several special reports are not enough: A new newsletter is what is needed. otherwise. and then did something about it: I formed "BSE Associates. Here is still another profit idea: Many NL publishers will publicize someone else's item editorially on a commission basis. reports for which you have already done all the research. after a while.500 for such help. As my subscription list grew. A single paragraph may be a condensation of or abstract from pages of information gathered and digested. to have an identity with something. A Few Other Spin-Off Benefits Some of the advantages I gained from publishing BSE were unexpected." I created a certificate of membership in BSE Associates. you will be wise to avoid actually plugging the product--although simple PR notices are okay--unless you have looked it over and found it worthy of a boost. as I did. the ancillary sales grew. devised some benefits--several special reports and privileges--and offered membership at 1-1/2 times the cost of simple subscription to the newsletter.) If you do so. presenting details of immediate interest. (I have myself paid other newsletter publishers as much as $2. Investigating. picking up extra income in doing so. But unexpected was the discovery that the contents of my NL and readers' reactions would create both demand and ideas for new ancillary publications. . rather than as readers of or subscribers to BSE. making the report writing relatively easy! A successful NL often spins off other NLs. You are likely to find. almost compelling you to prepare a detailed report and offer it to them for sale! Too.) In one case. when writing. I did nothing but write the NL and prepare the camera-ready copy for the association. it led me to a $20. And you may very well be able to launch that with a substantial advance sale of many prepaid subscriptions! (More than a few successful newsletters are born this way. A Special Benefit I noticed. as you gather information for your NL. I learned that this is not an unusual phenomenon: most people want to belong to something.periodical publishers.000 contract to turn out a camera-ready NL every month for a national association. I thought about it a long time. Here is what happens: Newsletters are essentially digests. Readers often become interested in an item and clamor for more information on the subject. mailing. that many of my subscribers referred to themselves as members of BSE. suggesting many other ideas to you for special reports. and other details.
you ought to treat him or her as you would the business executive. Pricing Your Nl Consider first your customer in deciding on subscription fees. Again. who. I boosted income from subscriptions by nearly 50%! And probably made the whole idea more attractive to newcomers.. an executive to whom the subscription is a normal business cost--you probably want to start your thinking at a minimum of $60 to $90 annually for a monthly publication. You must find a reasonable middle ground. With a single idea. subscribing out of curiosity or for other non-business reasons. (Remember that it is the information. maintaining Singles--adjusting to the single life Computers--news and technology Photography. study the market--what your direct competitors are charging. the individual to whom you have addressed your NL? If that customer is a company--i. if your prospect is a private individual using your NL for profit-making goals. styles Handyman--ideas. expert or at least highly . cheeses. opportunities Politics--news. not the paper and ink. your NL ought to be worth at least that. cosmetics. There is the hazard of becoming so specialized that there are too few prospective subscribers.) You may have to be more modest in pricing your NL if your targeted subscriber is a private individual. tools Franchises--news. e. what Investments--news and advice The writing profession How to lose weight. As a business necessity or business asset. health news Automobiles--buying. for the use and value of your NL are the same. Who and what is your typical customer. and see what they get for similar information. On the other hand. that you are selling. There is an audience waiting for special information on almost any subject or for information on almost any special subject. and many newsletters sell for several times that fee. opinions This has some influence on price. methods. those are the two universes of subject matter. Check out your competition. cameras Sales promotion--methods. A newsletter with exclusive information that is of special value and hard to come by elsewhere. how.More than one-half of my original subscribers responded and opted to become BSE Associates. Here are just a few of the topics covered by newsletters today: Wines. What to Write About In the NL field. may command that premium price. It helps to select a subject area in which you are already something of an . ideas Consumerism--news and advice Beauty--news. and virtually all new subscribers opted similarly. the universe is your territory. gourmet foods Contests--where.
That brings in more information. and not over their heads. reports. (Even casual browsing produces many items. skip the adjectives. Merit and earn readers' respect and friendship by being open. and letters. which can be made to resemble typewriter printing. more visibility. hard-hitting. Typewriter or computer-printer typesetting. stark facts and let them speak for them-selves. and fair. that is. and others by simply requesting it on your letterhead. interesting. at best. You don't have to be a leading authority. using outside typesetting services or one of the modern desktop publishing systems. not at them. Public libraries are an A-1 source too. honest. with justified copy. but not as lecturer or drinking buddy. but still businesslike. They will send you releases. worth knowing. you must decide first who you want to reach and then how you will reach . catalogs. distributors. be sure to send that individual or organization a copy of that issue. There are still today a few successful newsletters "typeset"--composed--by manual typewriters or in a typewriter font (e. To do this. what is new. Courier. When you mention an individual or organization. something lacking in formal typeset copy. and. Your readers want to regard you as friend and mentor.knowledge-able. That is the essential value of the NL. They will reward you with their loyalty and their patronage.. memoranda. government agencies. Formal typesetting is a mixed blessing. Successful newsletters often use terse. is of value to your readers. has certain advantages. not down to them. legislatures. and worth publishing--what. additional subscript-ions. of course). as are encyclopedias. press kits. brochures. Their chief value is that they reflect the reading and digest of many other sources and have extracted what is of value and interest to their own readers: they have saved their own readers' time. associations. telegraphic style. Don't write flowery descriptions: stick to bare. and manufacturers will be delighted to send you information about what they are doing. sometimes. with some accuracy.) Swap complimentary subscriptions with other NLs. It conveys an aura of spontaneity and up-to-the-minute coverage. Talk to your readers. Where and How to Start Getting Subscriptions Direct mail is generally accepted as the most practical and most efficient way to solicit subscriptions to a periodical. You can easily get yourself on distribution lists for press releases and other information from corporations.g. but you must know the field well enough to do the research and to judge. with freedom to reproduce each other's items (with attribution. photos. Dealers. Stand midway between stiff formality and breeziness: be informal. Where to Get Your Information: the Research Some NLs are simply digests of information published elsewhere. Style and Format Some NL publishers use formal typesetting. However.
however. but only names of prospects to whom you will mail your package of sales literature. Fortunately. When I began to think for myself. killing sales. But there is still another way to get your mailing lists. You place small. Inquiry advertising is a simple proposition. I . You can rent mailing lists quite easily. This is a mixed blessing. you are building a mailing list. if you prefer. and so was able to compile my own mailing lists to get started. it isn't--unless you make it clear that you are making a special. sale price without some rationale that explains the reason for the sale. you are not trying to get sales with the advertisements. with reasons. limited-time offer for some reason. The chief reason it took so long was that I believed all the myths--the supposed "rules" about writing. But do offer many sales. However. It can be quite effective if it contains some useful. On the other hand. Never offer a special. but you can get $65 from a $40 customer! Therefore. A Special Note on Pricing It is a mistake to suppose that lowering prices automatically increases sales volume. Sometimes it has the reverse effect. a few dollars never deters anyone from buying what they really want--i. but mail a special issue they have prepared for promotional purposes: it is really sales literature. I was successful with a nominally $90 newsletter (Government Marketing News) that was always available for $60 or less on some special sale offer. That is through inquiry advertising. anyone who would spend $20 for an item would spend $25 or $35 for it if they really want it. Customers have price ranges. Some of those publishers who use this approach offer a sample copy of their NL as an inducement to respond. and they become suspicious of what appears to be too great a bargain. e. so you can't get $50 from a $5 customer. CHAPTER 13 How to Sell Your Book Before You Write it! It took me 40 years to become an overnight success as an author of books published by the major book publishers. representative editorial copy. classified advertisements in periodicals to elicit inquiries.them. because many people judge quality by price. In my own case. don't cut prices for the sake of cutting or because you think that is the best way to increase sales.. I targeted small businesses and opportunity seekers as my initial audience. and then mail your literature to those inquirers. Remember. as well as promotional material. many newsletter publishers who offer a sample copy do not send a sample of their regular issue. usually as part of a package deal with special reports or manuals. I found it relatively easy to find prospects in a number of publications addressed to such people.
and editor. was welcome too. of course. brochures. to write and sell a book than an article. proposals. usually quite swiftly. catalogs--whatever clients want written. but certainly not enough to suggest to me that I was on the verge of becoming America's newest genius of the keyboard. newsletters. both as a staff writer and. And I surely was not yet ready to write a book. storyboards. usually $25 to $75 per printed page then. And they all came back.) I even had a contract with a federal agency to answer their mail! . I made an occasional small sale. to keep trying. missiles. as a writing consultant. turning out manuals to install and service all the Buck Rogers type of equipment being developed after the Second World War--high-speed jet airplanes. computers. if I couldn't sell short articles and short stories.and third-rank periodicals. I never attempted a book at the time. speeches. sophisticated radar. and other such items during this period. I certainly wasn't yet mentally conditioned or qualified in any other way to do so. more than 60 years ago. After a while. anyhow. freelance consultant. GE. audiovisual scripts. poems. Move ahead a few years. articles. and still they came back. a long while. training programs. abstracts. RCA. (And clients are individuals. companies. Years later . after getting an engineering education. After all. with the usual printed rejection slips. writing on contract or to order for clients: I write resumes. But I didn't yet know that. freelancing in a non-traditional way. in many ways. theses. as a rule (there are some exceptions). Just enough to encourage me to keep on. I also learned to write proposals. later. for such companies as IBM. and I sent them out to all the top magazines in the country. I found my way into staff work as a technical writer. reports. And then I sent them out to second. and others. rockets. I wasn't even ready to believe that yet. non-profit corporations. including government agencies. why should I think that I could write and sell an entire book? That was mistake number 1: It's actually easier. of course. Philco. of course. and other organizations. as a technical/professional temporary. plays. reports.succeeded beyond my dreams. I have now become a full-time. that is) as a technical writer. associations. and I began to write articles for them in my spare time. but it was satisfying to be able to sell my writing as a freelance. I had publishers pursuing me to write books for them! An Odyssey I started out to become a writer as a youngster. and the money. and anything else I thought I could write. I did what all beginning neophyte writers do: I wrote stories. While doing that I became acquainted with a great many magazines (they are called "trade journals") serving those industries. and other such high-tech marvels. I wrote a good many books (manuals. They don't pay a great deal. writer.
it got better and better.S. both for my own small business and. And my subject was made to order for me: how to sell to the U. but I did sell a respectable number of copies. I later retitled it Anyone Can do Business with the Government. as a result of bad advice I was given and heeded. The Next Step Forward As a result of that. and usually with a substantial retainer or deposit before I began work. such is the one that was the basis for this chapter. unless it was knowledge buried in my subconscious.A Degree of Success By this time I had decided that it was a losing proposition to write anything "on spec"--without having a solid contract and the assurance I would be paid for it. Still. as a manager in larger companies an consultant to many companies. which I then sold to anyone interested in the subject. Government. In any case. I began to do my own small-scale publishing. I was a full-time writer. a much better title. much of it from government agencies. In fact. not what others wanted me to write. a subject in which I was already well versed: I had had a great deal of success in winning government contracts. So I had now quit traditional freelancing--writing on spec and then trying to find a buyer for it--and was freelancing only as a writing consultant or contract writer for anything a client wanted written to order. I had won many government contracts for former employers and clients. enough to make the enterprise worthwhile. I still had that traditional writer's urge to write what I wanted to write. I did not suddenly get rich. In retrospect. gained over the years to create and sell my book in the same manner that I had used to create and sell my many little how-to reports. and appear as the author with full acknowledgment. but writing on contract as I was doing offered few opportunities to be truly creative and. How to Cash in on the Billion Dollar Bureaucracies. At least. but using my knowledge of publications. The world did not beat a path to my door. I wrote the book and titled it. earlier. a Book I then gave birth to a bigger idea: I would write and publish my own book. because I was already well-educated beyond that kind of foolishness. I was not entirely happy with that success. (I even had clients hire me to write important letters for them. I believe. as other writers do.) I was now a success of sorts. But I didn't know that yet. Finally. I had that urge to get my own ideas into print and distributed to the world under my byline. originally. earning a reasonably good living at my chosen profession. I turned out many how-to-do-it reports and papers. I was getting more than enough work. advertising and selling principally by mail. which I suppose is probable. I can see that the evolution was natural and inevitable: I had spent years gaining experience and knowledge that would lead to and enable me to do what I would eventually do. Not via a vanity press. as I learned .
how to promote the book on my sorely limited budget, and I am
convinced that it could have been made into a big seller with adequate
promotional horsepower. No matter; it did well enough, under the
circumstances, and was a viable business property for a number of
Finally, a Freelance Author--a Published One!
One day, by chance, I met a man in Washington who ran a branch office
there for his employer, a publisher in New York. (Actually, my wife
met him at a restaurant bar during lunch, while I was off on a
consulting job.) When he learned something of my background and
interests, he revealed that his employer might be interested in a book
on doing business with the government, on how to win government
contracts, that is. They had recently published a book on how to win
grants, and that had done well. He gave me the name of a man to talk
to in the New York headquarters. I talked to that man and sent him a
copy of my self-published Anyone book, along with a cover letter
discussing the book I suggested as one I would write for them. Where
Anyone was generalized, I proposed a book that would be much more
specialized, focusing heavily on proposal writing, the key to a large
portion of government business.
He next called me and asked for an outline of the proposed book. I
supplied that promptly. It really was quite easy for me to write that,
He then came to see me the next time he was in Washington, a short
time later, and we chatted over lunch, discussed the proposed book,
negotiated an advance and royalties, and reached a verbal agreement,
which he shortly documented, sending me a contract to sign. I was now,
for the first time, under contract to write a hardcover ("cloth
bound," they call it in the trade) book for a prominent book
publisher; I had crossed the Rubicon!
I wrote the manuscript over the next few months, working on it at home
and in the office when I could spare the time. Once it was completed
and sent off to New York, I settled back to think about the matter for
the first time:
I had done what all the sages whose words I had read in the pages of
Writer's Digest and many books about freelance writing had been
assuring me and others I could not do: One, I had won a written
contract to write a book without having furnished the publisher even a
sample chapter. Two, I had gotten an advance (a small one, $1,000)
before furnishing anything but a brief outline. Three, I had done all
this without an agent. And four, I had won a "standard" contract, with
admittedly a small advance, but with quite good terms otherwise. I
asked myself: How was I, still not really experienced and established
as a full-time freelance writer, at least not in the classic sense,
able to do all that?
I would answer that question today, with more than 60 books published
commercially since, the same way I did then: I had demonstrated that I
could write and that I had the proper credentials as an expert on the
subject. But, more important, in my correspondence--actually an
informal proposal--I had identified and explained the market for the
book: who would want it, why they would want it, and how to reach
them. I realized even then that the publisher wasn't buying my writing
ability or even my knowledge of the subject as much as he was buying
my knowledge of the market for the book. (That first book, by the way,
is still in print in the original edition, now a decade old.)
In short, despite the publisher's immediate interest in the project, I
still had to sell it to him, to persuade him that publishing this book
was a sound business proposition. Publishing is a business, and
publishers expect to turn a profit on the books they publish.
Surprisingly often, as I was to learn eventually, the publisher's own
marketing people do not have a good feel for the market when the book
is rather specialized, as this one was. In such case, the publisher
relies heavily on the author's marketing recommendations, although he
(the publisher) will try to verify those recommendations in some
The Beginning of a Full-Time Freelance Career
Now, inflated with my first successful foray into the book publishing
world, I opened conversations with my publisher about another book,
offering several new proposals. He was interested, but hung back,
waiting to see how this first book would do, I suppose, although it
really had nothing to do with the possibilities of a second book
succeeding. Meanwhile, the months dragged by, and the publisher kept
postponing the release date, finally publishing it about six months
later than originally planned. By then, I had become impatient and
started to go to other publishers with my proposals and ideas for
I met with several rejections, an expression of interest that soon
faded, a tentative acceptance, which the publisher later reneged on,
and, finally, a firm acceptance in the form of a contract proffered. I
thought it inadequate, and rejected it. But I had proved that my first
sale was not a fluke: I could do it again. The publisher whose
contract I had rejected improved the offer and tried again. But by
this time I was convinced that I was going to write many books and
that it was time to get an agent to market and negotiate for me.
In Quest of an Agent
I wrote to about a dozen agents whose names I had gotten principally
from that annual, Writer's Market, published by Writer's Digest Books.
I explained my situation carefully, noted that I was an experienced
and published author, that I neither needed nor wanted "literary
criticism," nor would I pay "reader's fees," as some refer to such
charges, and that I wanted solid representation for the dozens of
books I intended to write. I mentioned, too, that I had a firm offer
for my second book, and that I would turn that over to my new agent as
a gift, and expected the agent to collect a full commission on that
I was surprised at the results. Several agents wrote back, with form
letters, requesting reading fees. Those went into the wastebasket. A
few more responded with halfhearted letters, expressing mild interest
but with a marked lack of enthusiasm. Those letters joined the first
batch. A couple took so long to respond that I had already signed with
an agent before getting their responses. One well-known agent, who
used to advertise steadily, accepted me and then never followed up
with an agreement, despite my reminder. But I finally signed with one
agent who showed great enthusiasm and invited me to come to New York
and visit a few publishers together with her.
I did that. But when I arrived in New York I first paid a courtesy
call on my first publisher. He asked what I was doing in New York, and
I explained, mentioning that I had a half-dozen book proposals with me
in my briefcase.
He asked me to let him see the proposals I was carrying. I laughed.
"There's nothing there you haven't seen already, Frank. I understand
your wanting to wait until the first book is out, but I am not willing
to wait any longer. You've seen them all already." Frank insisted that
he was interested, so I showed them to him. Before I left he made me a
firm offer for two of them! He said he could have a contract drawn up
immediately, while I was there.
I told him he would have to talk to my agent! I visited several
publishers that day, together with my new agent, leaving different
proposals with different editors, according to their expressed
interest. And my agent continued to call on publishers over the next
few days, while I was back at my office.
We had many offers, but held out for what my agent thought I was
entitled to demand, and she did get that for me. She also got me
advances that increased in size steadily, until I was getting advances
many times the one I got for my first book. And over the years since
we sold many books, every one on the basis of a proposal, and every
one with a signed contract and half my advance before I wrote the
first chapter. (I say "we" because I considered my agent a virtual
partner, not because she earned a 15-percent commission on each sale
and each royalty payment, but because I did not expect her to do the
marketing job alone: I helped in every way possible, seeing to it that
she was always well-supplied with good book proposals in multiple
copies and making trips to New York to visit publishers with her. I
think the agent is always far more effective when the author is
willing to work closely and cooperatively with the agent to accomplish
sales, rather than depending on the agent t all alone.
A Few Lessons Learned
There is a great deal to be learned here, aside from the fact that a
good agent can save you much time, gain entree often where you cannot,
can speak for you better than you can speak for yourself. Learn that
even the best agent cannot do a good job for you without your
enthusiastic cooperation. Agents also get you larger advances, better
royalties, a better share in secondary rights, more author's copies,
and sundry other benefits and services.
But be aware also that agents are not magicians: The best agent cannot
sell a proposal or a manuscript that is not viable for the market.
Your biggest contribution to the sale is a good proposal and/or
Still, anyone who can write a book can do what I did, without waiting
?) Identify the market: who are the buyers. expanding on the main idea of the book. My proposals are usually 8-10 pages long. how to reach) A brief description of the book (salient features) Special features to be included (worksheets. single-spaced. an insider's look at something that interests many people. although some .) What Should be in a Book Proposal? My own book proposals include. references. an expose of something sensational. buyers)--want to know about the subject. often with a subtitle. other. explains the benefit to be derived by reading it. g. but if you are not. because it is your lifelong hobby.) Explain all this in your proposal. but choose one now that helps the editor understand the book and why a reader would want it--e. photographs. bibliography. preferably something that is "in your field.for lightning to strike--e. (It's best if you are personally expert in the subject. Decide what readers--a reasonably large number of potential readers (e. appendices. or because you have in some other manner become highly knowledgeable about the subject. etc." either because you work in that field. (Would it be a how-to. how can they be reached with advertising? (This is linked closely with the preceding item. I don't care how long the title is. worksheets. and be sure that your outline is compatible with this. Select a working title (it will probably be changed before publication. A brief blurb under the title.g. explain where and how you will do the research and gather the information. checklists. why will they want the book how will it benefit them?). estimated size. as a minimum. photos. These are the keys: Decide what you are best qualified to write.) Provide your own credentials as a writer and as a source of information on the subject. as suggested by the title. as long as it tells the story I want it to tell. chapter by chapter. other) Competitive books (why/how this is different and better) The author's credentials (in writing and subject matter) An outline. without a chance meeting with a publisher who has already successfully published something in your field. the following: A working title... g.. These sections (textual explanations): The market for the book (who. noting illustrations.
For rights--and that includes book club sales. although (if you have not been previously published) they will probably not offer an advance before seeing at least part of your manuscript. for some reason I have never fathomed. they apply directly in writing book proposals. but I get many more free copies of my books today. although sometimes. You usually can buy additional copies at regular dealer's discount of 40%. although it may be negotiable in some cases. you have to seek out the right publishers yourself. The "big names" can bludgeon publishers into paying royalties on list or cover prices. There is also the Insider's Guide to Book Editors. as a minimum. Get that in your contract too. foreign sales. especially in your outline.5% on next 5.writers on the subject suggest much longer proposals. even 25 pages. and the more specific your proposal is. (But they call for double-spacing proposals.) Perhaps I am too lazy to write more than I have to without a contract. I got only three copies of my first book. rights sold to others. Do. and have that written into your contract. Study marketing principles. 12. Author's (free) copies are highly variable in number. and the contract covers both.000. and Related details Many small publishers will take a chance on you. but I have always used short proposals. the stronger a proposal it will be. especially after you are established and have some bargaining power. And you will have a difficult time getting more than 5% on mail order sales of your book. It is worthwhile to get acquainted with this periodical. My outlines are usually two or three pages long. and 15% thereafter. Until you get an agent (and many authors prefer to be their own agents. Sometimes hardcover secondary paperback contracts the publisher chooses to produce your book in simultaneous and paperback editions. You might also visit the public library and thumb through the current (annual) edition of the Literary Market Place. and they may want to see a sample chapter or two before offering a contract. Those who urge longer proposals are probably giving better advice than my example suggests. you can do better. The typical contract should pay you 10% on first 5. The Writer's Market is a good source. even if you do not have all the credentials. Publishers. and they are important. and is usually one of the more easily negotiable items. and other possibilities. to permit the editor room to make changes and notations.000 copies sold. and Literary Agents. ask for an advance to be paid when your manuscript is accepted. About Contracts. They probably should be two to three times that length. but you will probably find publishers insistent on paying royalties on net--dollars actually received by the publisher. And perhaps I get away with providing less because I am somewhat well known now. They teach you how to write "hooks" . since double-spacing is for manuscripts. Royalties. However. the more detail you provide. most call for a 50-50 split between author and publisher. are wanted. although I think a good agent earns their commissions and brings you more than that in added income).
it reflects your writing ability directly. If you write how-to material. but is probably less difficult than most writers believe. James Kilpatrick.how to catch more fish. subtle. and Joyce Lain Kennedy are nationally syndicated: Established syndicates sell their columns regularly to newspapers all over the country. CHAPTER 14 $75. Many writers of "service" columns are also widely syndicated. The Stars of the Business Most people are aware that such well-known columnists as Carl Rowan. but is widely accepted by publishers today. Keep track of what you sent and to whom. He knew it would arouse the attention of prospective readers (buyers!) too. A proposal is a sales presentation. Be careful in writing it. This used to be taboo. send your proposals out to more than one publisher.000 a Year Thru Self-Syndication National syndication is a ticket to success in a big way for many writers. or arty in your proposal. Don't lose sight of what a proposal is and what it is supposed to do. But even if it is not exactly a how to. the proposal ought to be able to stand on its own feet. but then edit it ruthlessly to tighten it up. You can make simultaneous submissions--i. a marketing tool. William Buckley. don't try to be cute. It is not a place to be subtle. use those words freely in your working titles and outlines with the direct benefit described-. It is not exactly easy to achieve. how to pay less taxes. Editors are busy people and don't have patience with people who waste their time beating around the bush. Write your proposal at length. but . e. probably.000 to answer their mail!" That piqued an editor's attention immediately. but look up the publisher and address the right editor by name. try to get the direct benefit in the title. your ability to make a clear and interesting presentation. unless the editor requests it. how to lose weight faster.to catch an editor's attention and arouse interest. and get your main message stated immediately. Here are a few that were highly successful: Winning Through Intimidation Dress for Success Five Acres and Independence In any case. get the excess verbiage out.. Don't send a manuscript. is that it is not only political columnists and "big names" whose columns are syndicated in this manner. Not so well known. "Dear Abby" is one example. you will sell it. not even a sample chapter. I led off a proposal for one book on government marketing with "The government paid me $6. If you have a good idea and present it well.
But it is much more difficult to write than most people believe. to an old-hand in the business!) The National Syndicate Syndication is usually done through an established organization. Still. They "have seen it all. and probably Walter Cronkite and a few others of great reputation can do it. They are also realists. There is another way: Do it yourself. And that is why it is not easy to get them to accept you as a client. and other topics." or believe they have. he or she will never know without trying the column. Some General Topic Ideas . after all. (That is not the same thing as true analysis columns. He or she may be right or wrong. almost anything that would interest newspaper readers generally may be syndicated. they know that even a good idea takes time to sell to enough subscribers--newspapers--to make the proposition viable. That is what this report is about. such as those of Will Rogers and Robert Benchley to follow. correspondents. depending on many factors: Opinion columns--"think pieces"--are extremely difficult to sell. investment. and newspaper editors. In short. such as the King Features Syndicate or United Features. They are the true professionals in syndication. including completely new ideas. they are hard to sell after all their years as reporters. The market is both easy to crack and difficult to crack. political cartoons. The readers are the final judges. That is why you must pay them as much as 60% of the selling price as their commission. They have a good idea of what is salable as a syndicated feature and what is not. But it is not hopeless. perhaps not nearly so well known. almost impossible if you are not a recognized authority of some sort. (Maybe your "new" idea is not so new. You have tough acts. career concerns. writing on personal problems. Rona Barrett. Be your own syndicate by selling your material directly to a number of newspapers on a syndicated basis. The cross-word puzzles. such as those analyzing the stock market or the latest medical findings. comic strips. That is what it always comes down to. The editor buys what he or she thinks readers will like. Eliot Janeway. medical matters. You must be good. and many others. household hints. Of course. Even this is not the complete list of types of materials that may be syndicated. But even then you must demonstrate impressive credentials. but it's an uphill.there are also Sylvia Porter. and many other such items in your morning newspaper are also syndicated (as are many radio and TV programs!).) Humor usually sells well. Something truly different and original will go if readers like it. finance and economics. almost hopeless battle otherwise. Walter Lippman was able to do it. two of many syndicates. very good.
such as wine. Many journalists. once you start: Your name will find its way onto many mailing lists. news service. for example.Advice . general Entertainment Books and periodicals Health foods Medicine Home-based businesses Education Beauty and fashion Gardening Hobbies Ecology and animals Religion Automotive matters Food & wine Bridge Decorating Music Retirement Bear in mind that you are up against experts. For example. you must be a professional expert. You can easily get yourself placed on distribution for news releases. Obviously. and request that your name be placed on the mailing list.About careers Abigail Van Buren: Dear Abby . There are dozens of trade publications that are distributed free of charge to many people. for example. gardening.Household problems Joyce Lain Kennedy . for many of the areas. The marketing departments of most manufacturers issue such releases. dealing with computers. from many Congressional offices.To help you get started in thinking about topics for a syndicated column. and some other subjects. direct mail. are not experts in their subjects. (I get about eight of these.For teenagers Heloise: Hints . as competitors. for example. it is almost self-perpetuating. and before long you will be getting many mailings from people and organizations you never heard of before! Specialization Versus Generalization Once you select a topic area you will have to decide whether to specialize or generalize within that topic area. and will be happy to add your name. and federal agencies. who to call/interview. and what bulletins to read. here are some of the columns and columnists falling into that "Advice" category: Jean Adams: "Teen Forum" . but they are expert in finding information they can use. All you need do is make up a letterhead--you can simply type it--announcing that you are a columnist. and household hints. here are just a few ideas for columns: Advice. But don't underestimate the value of research to supplement or even replace your own expert knowledge. you can turn that to advantage. some with large reputations. Try to specialize as much as possible--it's much easier to be a true expert in a narrow specialty than in a broad one--and try to choose an area where you truly do have some credentials as an expert and where there are not an excessive number of competitors. home-based second-income careers. Your local librarian will help you find lists of such periodicals. You don't have to apply for many releases and periodicals. or other relevant entrepreneur. as well as full press kits. You don't have to know it all yourself: If you are in a position to get good information on a continuing basis. But you could also be an "amateur expert" in many areas. I get such releases. where/how. publisher.
You must decide about your audience. For the general public as an
audience, you want to shoot for the daily newspapers. But if you are
after a more specialized audience, such as professionals or business
owners, you want to consider the trade papers. DM News, for example,
is a tabloid for the direct-mail community, and Target Marketing is a
smooth-paper magazine for the same audience. Both are 'controlled
circulation' periodicals, incidentally, which means free
subscript-ions for qualified applicants.
A Few Ideas and Tips
An acquaintance does his own syndicating. He sells a comic strip and
column on handicrafts for hobbyists and home workers. A man who
publishes his own newsletter, offering advice and information on
investments, saving money, and related subjects, also syndicates his
own column on those subjects in many local newspapers.
A regular column on starting and running spare-time home businesses
and other moneymaking and income-supplementing enterprises ought to go
well. (Relatively few of these have found their way into the popular
How about a column for singles--where
to single life after being married?
to go, what to do, how to adjust
There are lots of overweight people who want to reduce. How about a
column on the subject--if you have something new, such as reports on
every new diet, workout, and other weight-loss idea?
Why not a consumer-oriented column on value when shopping? Name brand
versus house brands: which is better? How to buy clothes wisely.
General tips on shopping. Comparison shopping, how to on all kinds of
consumer goods and services.
How about a column on flea markets, country fairs, farmer's markets,
mail order bargains, other money-saving know how and "know where?"
How about one on banking--where/how to get the lowest rates (what are
low rates?), what bank services to use, which to avoid?
Are you an expert on pets? Can you tell readers how to buy, feed, care
for various kinds of pets?
Are you a wine aficionado? Can you help educate readers about wines,
whether buying for use at home or ordering in restaurants?
Are you a computer expert? Can you help readers cope with the
modern desktop computer, use it to advantage?
Talk to your friends about this. Some of them may come up with a great
idea or two. Ask them what they would like to see in their newspaper.
Do lots of reading and researching. Read columns and features, form
critical opinions, try to turn those reactions into new ideas.
Once you settle on an idea, be sure that you haven't overspecialized
so that you would have trouble doing the column regularly or finding
enough interested readers. But don't allow it to become too general,
either, for it is not worthy of a column if it is not distinctive in
some manner. That's the art: finding that right middle-ground.
Once started, listen to what readers say and write. Let them guide
you in what they want, if you want to be successful.
An editor is commonly confronted with more copy than he has space for;
it's the classic problem. (Space is almost always at a premium.) Most
of the time, therefore, he must cut stories to fit available space.
But he or she usually winds up with left-over space--odd and assorted
small bits of column inches--"holes" in the page makeup. (It's
generally pretty easy to cut news stories to fit; columns and features
are much more difficult to trim.) That's why you see those filler
items--e.g., "The blue whale is the largest mammal on earth."
You are well advised to make your column about 500 to 750 words, and
certainly not more than 1,000 words. At least, not in the beginning.
You may write 2,000 words in your first draft--you should, if that is
what is necessary to get your complete story down--but then take the
blue pencil to your copy and start cutting. Cut it to that optimal
limit by chopping out everything that is not absolutely essential to
the story. You will have far better copy--terse, tight, more vigorous,
and more directly to the point.
Now you have selected your topic, often your flow of information
started, and written your first column. You're ready for buyers? No,
not right. First of all, write several more columns. Whether you are
trying for a monthly, weekly, or daily column (most newspaper columns
are daily or two-three times each week), you must have a number of
columns prepared, probably at least a half-dozen as a minimum. Editors
will not buy your column without seeing a number of them first, for
at least two reasons:
The editor wants to be sure that you can produce the columns steadily,
with each one able to stand on its own merits.
The editor wants to be enough columns ahead to be independent of the
vagaries of mail service, your continued good health, and other
hazards to faithful appearance of each manuscript when it is due--i.
e., to cover if there is a gap in arrivals of your column for any
Having gotten six or more columns of A-1 quality written, you are
organized and ready to turn out your columns regularly, and you are
now ready to roll, to sign up your first subscribers. What now?
You will probably have to give your first few columns away. You offer
them gratis to a number of editors as a free trial to sample their
readers' responses. You send copies of at least three columns to each
editor, with a brief letter explaining that this is an introductory
freebie. Don't explain what your column is about; if it does not
explain itself--editors are usually quite intelligent and can read
easily--you are dead anyway.
Better yet, call the editors and try to get their agreement to see you
and give you a few minutes, if possible. If you can arrange that, try
to do this in your meetings:
Make a good appearance and try to impress the editor that you are a
true professional, bright, dedicated, and capable.
Try to get their views on coverage, perhaps columns they would like to
see, suggestions, and perhaps what it would take to sell them!
Editors you visit may not be able to use your column, but may be able
to suggest other editors who can. Don't wait for the idea to occur to
the other, however; solicit such ideas, and here you succeed, try to
get notes of introduction to those other editors. Such notes help
Caution: Editors are invariably very busy people and not appreciative
of having their time wasted. If an editor is gracious enough to see
you, get to the point promptly and don't waste his or her time.
You will probably do well to try marketing your column to weekly
newspapers at first, for several reasons: Editors of weekly
newspapers are often easier to see and talk with, although they tend
also to have rather limited budgets. If you can give your column local
interest, it will be more attractive to a weekly also, since they are
the journals of small towns, neighborhoods, and suburbia. The editor
will probably be pleased to have a local writer doing a column and
presumably available to discuss coverage of the column, perhaps even
to accept special assignments. Certainly, the small weekly is easier
to sell to than the big daily!
Another way to improve your chances for success is to pay attention to
local businesses and organizations of all kinds. Mention them when it
is compatible with your columns to do so; their endorsement of you and
what you write goes a long way to persuade editors that your column is
catching on. Encourage readers to write you with questions and
comments; mail arriving from readers is another excellent persuader.
Too, editors are well aware that any column which involves the readers
directly is likely to become quite popular. And don't be bashful about
working on your family and friends to read your column and write to
the editor about it.
Broadside mailings will help also, although it means a good bit of
work and some expense. First, take the trouble to compile a list of
editors. Don't send your copy to the newspaper's general address. It
will wind up in the mail room, and probably never get to an editor's
desk, much less to the right editor. Newspapers have many
editors--financial or business editors, feature editors, sports
editors, literary editors, state editors, editors for copy concerning
adjacent states--e. g., a New Jersey Desk and New Jersey
editors--society editor, style editor, etc, etc. Find out which editor
ought to see your copy--even try to get the individual's name, if
possible, but certainly the right title--and address your copy to that
no obstacle can endure forever against it.It's a "numbers game"--playing the percentages or probability statistics. Many prospects who ignored the first mailing will pay more attention to the second one. as you become established and accepted. Once you have sold one. If your column has worth and you send samples to enough editors. If the copy and the product are worthy. Include any favorable comments you have had from readers or editors. one way to handle this gracefully and leave the door wide open to adjust your prices later is to offer a low introductory price.) The rates. that will serve also as an inducement to try your column.) How to Expand Once you have those first legitimate sales--base of subscribers--and are actually being paid for your column. vary enormously. Successes depend on it. You must be sure to mention that the subscriber will have your column exclusively in his or her distribution area. based on the circulation of the paper. That's the inherent nature of advertising. Each mailing. That exclusivity is one of the inducements. Persistence is the magic ingredient. to the point where the response begins to level off. Offer the special introductory price here. You can always raise your rates later. ask for a price and explain that such and such newspapers are now carrying your column regularly. but you must persist to succeed. especially where there is a directly competing newspaper. while it is available at such a bargain figure! (That is always a good marketing strategy. it will gradually become easier. clearly signaling the customer that the price may go up later. you cannot sell the other. . persistence produces sales eventually. so that you may be able to get only $5 from some weekly papers. to a point. In fact. Persistence and perseverance mean going back to that list for additional mailings. you are ready to begin the work of expanding it. In any event. And there are at least two ways to do this: Go back to your original mailing list with another offer. will produce better results--more orders than the previous one. This time. however. (The latter is not an uncommon practice. Use this as the most general of guidelines in setting a price for your column. and a few more will order. It takes patience and endurance. inevitably. while you are trying to land a few subscribers. That is. Start low--you'll be giving the first ones away as a promotion. anyway. What to Charge You can charge subscribers to your column in either of two ways: a flat fee per column or a sliding scale. you will make a few sales. Once you are started. you cannot sell your column to two newspapers that compete directly with each other--two in the same city or two weekly newspapers serving the same small town or neighborhood. Those first few sales are hardest to make. where you might get several times that from a large daily if you are fortunate enough to sell your column to that daily.
known more informally and more accurately as publicity--is the release. Double. Consider other kinds of periodicals. You don't have to limit yourself to newspapers. Dateline: City of origin and date. I am for it. the headline may be the most important part of the release. including trade tabloids: Many trade journals are published as "slicks"--smooth-paper magazines. The argument against is that editors prefer to write their own headlines. Not truly obligatory. You will probably earn far more by marketing your column through them. except where the date of issuance is important. NEWS. CHAPTER 15 How to Write a Press Release The Obligatory Elements The most widely used tool of PR--public relations. use your mailing list over and over. some for it. Type on one side of sheet only. Try also the Sunday supplements. inspiring. since you have shown that it is a salable product. Do a fresh mailing every 30 to 90 days. but is irrelevant because they very likely will do so in any event! Actually. if it is to do its job well. PRESS RELEASE. You now have an excellent chance of being accepted.or triple-spaced copy. It ought to be dramatic. If you decide that you prefer to do it yourself. which is true enough. but should be used is release is about a timely event or is embargoed for release at some future date. The idea of the headline is to arouse interest and inspire the editor to read on. to capture the editor's interest and help him or her grasp the essence of the story immediately. but there are many published on news-print as tabloids.Go to an established national syndicate (your librarian can help you find a reference source listing all major syndicates) and offer your column. Arbitrary: Some advocate against it. It is also not a bad idea to use a subordinate head-line immediately following. revising your sales letter to reflect your current success with the column frequently. Many of those are syndicated. or other such term. adding to it when you discover some newspapers you did not know about before. The elements and characteristics generally considered to be obligatory are these: Identification as a news release by such words as RELEASE. and often not used. as are those regional slicks also. or otherwise strike a nerve. Identification of issuing organization: May be a special form but also may be and often is the regular letterhead of the organization. Headline. novel. as in the sample release . Single-sided copy.
Especially the eyes of a long-experienced editor who gets dozens of releases every day.g. In the daily newspaper business. Cautions ." or "-30-" at bottom of last page. Most Common Mistakes There are several common mistakes that many people make in preparing releases. as noted earlier (e. to further the idea." followed by a name and telephone number.or triple-spaced. what new medical breakthroughs are taking place. who has just been appointed Secretary of the Treasury.. verify/validate. accidents. No contact name or telephone number given. Copy single-spaced instead of double. But why not suggest that there is more to the story by using the phrase "For more information. ask for photos. The latter is the kind of news you will normally deal in. Those mistakes most likely to kill the chances or success of a release are these: Copy not newsworthy in any sense of the word--i. Most releases bear a simple word "Contact." That is news when it still is news--before it is well known to everyone.. and who just joined the company down the street. evasive language or hazy expression. and often horrible events. and other such dramatic. It includes war. Should say "For immediate release" or "embargoed until" [some date].g. contact" followed by a name and telephone number? If you are using releases to promote your business. or otherwise pursue more information and perhaps to even get the story behind the story. but it can be a substantial challenge to get a reader's eyes to widen over news of a new book or better kind of margarine. pure hype and all too obviously so. attention-getting. Copy on both sides of paper instead of on one side only. see the sample release for an example of this practice. Guidance: "More" at bottom of each page to let the editor know that there is more copy and "End. Then there is a different kind of news. when the release contains the text of a speech to be delivered or a product to be announced." "###. Newsworthiness "Newsworthiness" is not a precise term.included here. Unclear message--e. such as which company has gone bankrupt. Contact: Name and number to help the editor follow up. murder. there is such a thing as "hard news.e. make them work full time for you. It is not much of a task to get attention with news of a grisly murder or major airplane disaster. When to release. Failure to provide embargo date when release "reports" some event that has not taken place yet..
columnist. They recognize it immediately. or even the state desk. but you should follow the reverse pattern. It means writing the release in such a way as to address the direct interests of a . and that is an important factor in conducting PR successfully. other. where someone attempts to judge the proper destination within the organization. or other party you mean it for. One of the common mistakes has to do with where to send releases. you will probably kill your chances of having that editor ever again consider your releases seriously. along the following line of procedure: Decide who--what reader/viewer/prospect you want to reach. but it could even wind up on the circulation-manager's desk if you have not specified otherwise. If you make a mistake that causes an editor to commit some faux pas and be embarrassed thereby.Be careful. Or he or she may simply decide to be too busy to bother and drop it casually into the "circular file" without r thought. but important. Be careful about accuracy. other Slanting Your Copy Slanting copy is a simple. It is therefore especially important to be careful about accuracy in general and such other details as have been mentioned here. On a large newspaper your release is likely to wind up on a managing editor's or city editor's desk. If it is hype and the hype is as obvious as it almost always is. All editors know hype when they see it. Remember that getting a release picked up by a publication is a trade: You furnish a useful story to the publication. Find something truly interesting about whatever it is that you are trying to promote. it is still necessary that the release be "right" for that party--be of true interest. editors. your relationships with editors is at stake.--to pursue. concept. your release will find its way to the "circular file" quite quickly. It is a mistake generally to address a release to a large publication or other medium without specifying an individual destination. (An exception to this would be in the case of a small newsletter or other publication where the release could not possibly get lost. Decide what kinds of media--periodicals. Find the angle that will make it newsworthy.) Remember that in large organizations mail addressed to the organization generally is opened in the mail room. you should not ordinarily write a release and then decide where to send it. That is. Or even if he or she decides to pass it on to someone else it is still likely to wind up in the wrong place and eventually find its way into oblivion. Decide how to slant your release for the editor/columnist/producer. On the other hand. That individual may or may not spend the time reading your release and deciding that it ought to go to the business editor or food editor. and you get free advertising--publicity--in exchange. columnists. even if you do manage to get it to the individual editor.
(In fact. ) On the other hand it is entirely possible that you might be able slant material on fly fishing even to women who have no direct interest in fishing at all if you address the wives and sweethearts of fly fishermen with an appeal to buy fly-fishing gear or accessories as gifts to the zealots they love. What one newspaper calls the "Financial Editor" another may title the "Business Editor. That's a rather obvious case. These must normally be addressed by name. for example. in the hope that they will become interested in your announcements. that you are selling computer software and are preparing a release to help make your establishment more widely known." although the dullest mail room clerk may be able to interpret your wishes and direct your release to the right editors. Even that can vary from one publication to another. There are several possibilities open to you. Not everything can be slanted effectively. Your release will have to suggest some particular program or kind of program you will be demonstrating. and reports on marketing to government agencies. But it points up something: You can create more than one version of a release so that you can attract many people. And suppose that you wish to offer a free demonstration and how-to-do-it seminar as a means for attracting prospects to your place of business. In writing releases to publicize my own newsletters. Many products lend themselves to multiple uses and users. It certainly is not likely to appeal to the owner of a small luncheonette or a high school youngster. books. or the latest and most popular computer game. Few men are likely to take up crocheting. This is even more critical when you want to send releases to columnists. But the game program will not appeal to the businessperson normally. perhaps the most common factor among fly fishermen is their almost legendary zeal. It would be difficult to slant a release for a male audience explaining how crocheting is making a strong comeback. On the other hand relatively few women are enthusiastic about fly fishing. a new word processor program.given audience. while others prefer to buy them ready made and will try every new one they can find--but they have to have that common interest in fly fishing. An inventory program is going to attract only businesspeople for whom inventory-control and management is important. and since many are syndicated and are not on the staff of the individual periodical carrying the column. I found many ways to slant them to . you must either determine what the columnist's mailing address is or send your release in care of the periodical. which borders on fanaticism. So an article or release on fly fishing might be slanted to fly fishermen with different interests--some like to tie their own flies. Which one is most likely to attract the prospects you want? Obviously that depends on the kind of prospects you want. Suppose you have a choice among a new inventory-control and -management program. Suppose. and each potential use and user suggest the keys to a slant. Not all are so obvious. But you must also think in terms of the periodicals and other media to which you slant your material.
to businesses by the nature of what they sold. slanting is usually not especially difficult. despite the poor quality of most literature on the subject. of which the characteristics of . The theme was how to do more business with the government. contact: Herman Holtz (301) 649-2499 HOW TO GET YOUR SHARE OF THE $200 BILLION GOVERNMENT MARKET A Map to the Treasure Chest Now Available in Audiocassettes Wheaton. to businesses by the nature of the kinds of customers they would be going after. and just about everything else that might be addressed to the public generally or to any specific class or group of people. MD 20915 Fax: (301) 649-5745 Voice: (301) 649-2499Z ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NEWS For Immediate Release For more information. to very small businesses such as freelancing individuals. unfortunately. 1990. INC.O. has not proved very helpful to the newcomer to this market for many reasons. April 25.S. MD. This idea is not for releases only. to minority-owned businesses. It is equally useful in writing advertising copy. Written literature. The key is simply finding the link between the reader's interest and what you wish to publicize.different audiences. But there were many other possibilities: I could slant releases to small businesses. Box 1731 Wheaton. The most obvious and most basic slanting opportunities were these two: To companies already doing business with the government. P. brochures. however. HRH COMMUNICATIONS. sales letters. Government. most of it published by the government. With an active imagination and a bit of introspection on possible uses and users. magazine articles. Business people need no longer complain about the difficulty of getting information and guidance in selling to the U. A sample release follows. The theme here was how to break into the government market most effectively. and even more possibilities than these. To companies who had done little or no business with the government.
while others advocate double-spacing. so perhaps we are not truly in a great deal of disagreement about length. at $98. one that won a book contract.bureaucracy generally are major factors.000 pages of official documents to distill this 4-hour program. I happen to believe that one ought to be able to sell most book ideas in a much smaller number of pages. Inc. for the first time. who interviewed dozens of government purchasing officials and reviewed more than 12. after all. It is quite possible that my own case is an exception. 1987. The package was developed over the past year by a special team of government-marketing experts. and a summary of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. such as how long a book proposal must be or how it ought to be formatted. I happen to differ with many of them on some aspects. But then I single-space my book proposals. of themselves. for some reason I am unable to fathom (certainly. However. It is available from HRH Communications. Conventional Ideas About the Book Proposal A great many people offer many ideas and opinions on the subject of writing book proposals. Most who speak out on the subject appear to believe that a book proposal must be at least 25 pages long. and . The set includes four 1-hour cassettes and a 65-page directory of government purchasing offices. I have personally rarely offered a book proposal of more than 12-15 pages). and that is their bottom estimate. Now. the proposals is not offered up to be edited!). make others wrong or me right. Those differences do not. The program incorporates the latest information available. However.50 (discounted for quantity purchases). or perhaps I would have been more successful had I written lengthier proposals. ### CHAPTER 16 Writing the Book Proposal A discussion of the subject and a sample of a successful proposal. as of October 1. and most have been somewhat smaller than that. my approach has worked well enough for me to sell more than 60 books over the years. I have lived long enough to have learned that there are many right ways to do everything. so I have gained some faith in my methods: They certainly work for me. a complete information and instruction package on selling to the government is available in a convenient audiocassette form.
I have a basic model. not a reader. but I vary it for each case according to individual circumstances. It includes a full space between paragraphs. it may be rejected by the committee for any of many possible reasons. It uses ragged-right. and do not try to be clever or worry about how long it is. The one shown here as an example was a successful proposal of several years ago. but not at the cost of clarity. Note that the style used here is different than the style for a formal publication. First. Management and the sales department will be represented there to review the proposals and the editors' recommendations. (Chicken Soup for the Soul is a most notable example of this. Identify anything you can and offer to do to help with marketing. the editor can only take your proposal to the next meeting of a committee and make a recommendation. What I propose to do is to simply present an actual book proposal of my own as a sample. I do want to make a few general observations: A proposal is a sales presentation. Rejection by one publisher does not mean your book is unsalable. An editor is likely to judge your writing skill at least partially on the basis of how you exhibit and demonstrate it in your proposal. some of those proved to be highly successful books. IMPORTANT FINAL OBSERVATION: There is no absolute formula or model for a good book proposal. you are trying to sell an editor. Many books have traveled to dozens of publishers before they found a home and were published. and their judgment is as fallible as are yours and mine. for one. Present your credentials as an author and as someone qualified to write the book you are proposing--your expertise in the subject or your access to someone else's expertise or other source. such as this book. the prospective buyers and why they will be interested in buying your book. Moreover. that I will show you. rather than right justified type. with a proposal. which may have absolutely nothing to do with the merits of your book. after all--in writing your book proposals. and is reasonably typical of all my book proposals. Use a "working title" for your book. However. in most cases. but don't make sweeping claims. Make it as punchy--as attention getting--as possible. The editor cannot. however. Use your creative imagination--you are a writer. such as getting forewords and/or endorsements and jacket blurbs written by prominent individuals. as you do in writing anything else.) Publishers are human. Even if the editor wants to buy your book. . a book proposal that was successful in winning a contract and is a typical example of my book proposals. In most cases. just define. granted that I try to tailor each one to the individual situation. Offer your thoughts about the market for your proposed book. as clearly as possible. make the decision alone. and will express their opinions too.that each of us must find our own best way. That must come first.
and other resources. in fact. This can be applied successfully to marketing. many recognized as "at home offices. utilize PR and trade credit. But it can be done. A true manager is one with the ability to get the job done without adequate resources. That is especially true for marketing with little or no money. -----------------------. often home-based enterprises. CONTENT AND TREATMENT This is to be a how-to. trade credit. recognizing the merits of minimizing start-up costs. PR. Briefly. among other methods for minimizing marketing costs. the knowledge of how to use these effectively constitutes a powerful business asset. (It is especially timely. and others. THE NEED AND MARKET FOR THIS BOOK The market for this book is primarily the 14 million+ small businesses in the United States (97 percent of all businesses).Herman Holtz c/o ----------------------. including the largest corporations.") However. even those businesspeople who can afford the cost of conventional marketing. The other refers to various means of managing to capitalize a venture with other people's resources--money. and this is a primer on the art of doing that. they constitute a powerful business asset--that is. great surge in home-based business starts. anyone can get the job done. and even by entrepreneurs who have capital but do not believe in using any more of it than absolutely unavoidable and so also resort to alternative. "OPM" means Other People's Money. and has two connotations: One refers to the use of debt and/or equity financing of business ventures. in light of the recent. but it must inevitably include those millions who attempt each year to launch new. Never was it more true that knowledge is power. as it can be to capitalization generally. and other assets--without undertaking loans or surrendering equity. and is often so applied by entrepreneurs who can not afford to market in any other way. the home-based business. small businesses. and variations or special applications of these. Together. including the freelance specialist. low cost methods for capitalizing the marketing of their enterprises. credit (itself a form of money). in such detail as to be almost of cook-book . Literary Agent [Address & telephone] PROPOSAL FOR A BOOK working title: MARKETING WITHOUT MONEY Using OPM--Other People's Money--and Related Financing Methods for Marketing Given enough time. money. as already noted. advance payments by customers. the basic alternative methods include (but are not restricted to) barter.
although in highly practical terms. with recognition and quotation of the conventional wisdom of the many academic teachers and lecturers on business start-ups. and sales as part of--the final step in--marketing. and the second addressing the main objective of guidance to low-cost marketing. even more serious. Davidson.. The book proposed here will bridge that gap and combine the best of each idea. readers will have. the business of deciding which orders to pursue. John Wiley & Sons. given that lack of business experience that any. the primary function of business is the creation of customers. and so the message is largely lost in the broader coverage of building a business with minimal capital. One example is the recent Marketing on a Shoestring. practical experience of its author. is much more oriented in the direct. the approach and treatment for this book will be decidedly unacademic: It will offer guidance in lay language.g. but it is also necessary to teach and discuss marketing generally. the business of getting orders. although the book will include useful information for others. how to pursue them. perhaps most. the first laying necessary groundwork by discussing and explaining marketing generally. inasmuch as it relies largely on academic or "textbook" theory for much of the rationale it offers. and only minimally philosophical.style. regardless of semantic or philosophical considerations.) Thus. OUTLINE PART I MARKETING IS WHAT BUSINESS IS ALL ABOUT As Peter Drucker has put it. but it does not focus on marketing to any large extent. drawn from my own problem-solving marketing experience and that of others. This is a quite credible effort. practical experience with a direct focus on marketing on a tiny budget. An older work (1984). low-cost marketing methods. sales. and how to get them. and yet it lacks the authenticity of personal. 1988. direct experience and. The book will therefore be divided into two parts. Goldstein. LET US SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE "Marketing" versus "sales. Starting on a Shoestring. and that must always be kept in mind. joining the author's own. supported by many concrete examples and practical guidelines. Jeffrey P. (The reader is perceived as someone with little direct marketing experience. by Arnold S. of practicable suggestions for implementation. . COMPETITIVE BOOKS There have been other books offering guidance in low-cost ways of marketing.) More specifically. That makes marketing and sales the primary function of business and even more the primary objective of business. The purpose of the book is to guide the reader in and to practical. and marketing. the end-objective of marketing is sales." do they mean the same thing? (E. also a John Wiley publication. where appropriate.
tend strongly to think in terms of what they wish to sell or believe they are selling.. and to establish the ground rules and philosophy for this book. work-at-home venturer because it is relatively easy to start on a limited budget. and other. probably more accurately. Some examples and quotations to illustrate the distinctions and reasons therefor. what your market is (I. w the best prospects for what you wish to sell). through direct sales representatives. e. A few basics of direct mail marketing. how to compile and build your own lists (e. and TV. . and they must be matched to the characteristics and needs of the business. and actually asking for the order.g. and by sundry other methods for making the prospective buyers aware of your existence and what you offer.Discussions and definitions of both terms. but it is one of the favorite enterprises of the small. creating opportunities for sales. and cooperative piggyback mailings). Only with these matters decided can you next consider what marketing methods are appropriate: Methods and elements of marketing must be conceived in terms of the type of business being marketed. there are requirements that precede the advertising/public awareness/order solicitation phase: There is the need to determine precisely "what business you are in" (what you are really selling or. by PR methods. by retail outlets. A great many people in business generally. DIRECT MAIL AND SOME SPECIAL USES OF IT Direct mail selling is a multibillion dollar industry. But marketing involves more than that. the difference in using direct mail to sell an automobile and using it to sell a set of kitchenware or a tape album. by direct mail (sales letters. inquiry advertising.g. DO YOU KNOW WHAT BUSINESS YOU ARE IN? Probably the most common error in marketing made by many new to and inexperienced in business (and often enough even by those with substantial business experience) is their failure to define their businesses--their offerings--in the prospect's set of terms. not what the prospect wishes to buy or thinks he or she is buying. about mailing lists--where/how to acquire them. marketing is carried out in a variety of ways: via advertising in public media (print. methods). through distributors and dealers. radio. by booths or space in weekend farmer's markets and flea markets. what the customer is really buying. special. and most of those who are new to business and still largely inexperienced in marketing.. as used in these pages and practical reasons for making distinctions. full direct-mail packages. principally). whether either of you realize it).. Examples and anecdotes. and how you can reach these prospects (make your offer and presentation to them). card decks. directories. THE ELEMENTS AND METHODS OF MARKETING On a broad basis. by telephone solicitation. by trade shows. Some basic discussions and examples--e.
conventional marketing methods are costly. More than a few business failures can be traced to the failure of the proprietors to gain an understanding of their proper markets. Basics of writing "sell copy. the best prospects for what you wish to sell--your market. you must determine how you can best reach those prospects to present your offer: print? direct mail? trade show? telephone? house call? other? These are essential preliminaries to the actual sales campaign that is the goal and end-product of these efforts. sometimes. the hope of money. FUNDAMENTALS OF WRITING "SELL COPY" The answer to "what business are you in?" is the key to all copy approaches because it identifies what the customer really wants to buy which may well be an unconscious or subconscious thought. and bold entrepreneur. and so to doom their marketing efforts to failure in advance. security.E.g." The proper appeals: principles of the promise-and-proof concept. perhaps. But that is only the first step. establishing dealerships. But there are several other. It is one of the most fruitful avenues for marketing without money. special ideas you can use to do your marketing at very little out-of-pocket cost. Words that sell. Examples and illustrative anecdotes. PART II EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES PR is essentially free advertising. WHO ARE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS? Identifying or defining the business you are in ought to be in also identifies. How to develop sell-copy. recognition. to accept--leading to their difficulties and. and he or she will bestow patronage on the merchant or entrepreneur who satisfies that want most directly and most gratifyingly. Yes. PR ON THE CHEAP . at least by broad implication. greater convenience. but there are alternatives available to the innovative. WHAT IS YOUR MARKET (I. he or she cares only about what he or she wants. Costs for fielding sales reps. the "trick" is always to discover what they want and offer exactly that--what they want. conducting classical direct mail campaigns. achieved at modest cost.. and other conventional approaches. Testing. not hat you want. Introduction to Part II. and that is always the key to sales success: You can always sell customers what they really want--e. to their marketing disasters. Examples and illustrations to help th r perceive and understand these concepts. etc--even when they are not fully conscious of or can articulate that want. But what are wants and needs? What do those terms felt wants and created wants mean? The answers to these are the most basic and most important tools in marketing effectively. imaginative. which so many find difficult to believe--or. Having decided that. DOES MARKETING HAVE TO BE COSTLY? Some typical costs of advertising in various media and by other means of broadcast advertising.But the customer does not care about what you want.
when used properly. Unfortunately. Methods for creating and sustaining the newsletter. what they are. avenues of continuing useful and free information. direct instructions: Releases.. where and how to find the best opportunities to turn public speaking to advantage--e. The benefits are many. g. A number of ideas for using seminars and producing them at modest costs by getting pace free or at low cost. conventions. THE SEMINAR ROUTE The free seminar is an effective PR and marketing tool also. via "invited guests" and "hospitality suites. and of continuing useful and inexpensive information (via freelance writers). However. Join as many relevant associations as possible and become active in the events--meetings. when. but there is no need for such apprehension. A few tips and guidelines on being an interesting and effective speaker. The basic idea is to specialize in some corner of a market that is large enough to support a small business and is neglected or not served well by other. even the "USP"--unique selling point--that can be so effective in marketing. how to get them published. there is a . conventions. what. PUBLIC SPEAKING Public speaking represents a great PR opportunity and medium. guesting at seminars and business meetings. the immediate advantage is that you can offer something not available elsewhere: proper service to and satisfaction of wants in that corner of the market. conferences. and how. what it can do for you. one that meets the conditions just stated. and conferences: what they are. and trade shows. piggybacking their promotion with your other marketing efforts. especially in supporting some PR activities to be explained in succeeding chapters: Introduction to PR methods that merit their own chapters. NICHE MARKETING AND ITS COST ADVANTAGES Niche marketing offers several great advantages. creating an image and an awareness. short-cuts to getting it. If a proper niche is selected. THE NEWSLETTER ROUTE The efficacy of the free newsletter as both PR and marketing tool: how to create and distribute free newsletters as another effective marketing tool. trade shows. But there are ways to contain the cost. larger business organizations. where and how to find speaking engagements. Examples. although relatively expensive. Tips on how to overcome such fears. g.. Other PR: public speaking. related marketing tools: newsletter spin-offs--special reports and sales appeals. getting it conventionally. how to make use of them. cooperative productions. and a few other ideas. Expansion of the marketing publicity base via complimentary subscriptions and exchanges with other newsletter publishers. how to create and use them. public speaking apparently frightens many people. who.All about PR: What it is." what they are and how to use them. especially in the early stages of a business and especially for the still-inexperienced or lightly experienced individual. Cashing in on others' media affairs--e. the several types. why.
Mail order ventures and drop-shipping methods are other examples. how to use them advantageously. TRADE CREDIT AND RELATED ALTERNATIVES What is "trade credit?" Explanations of buying merchandise on terms. middleperson (brokerage) ventures. payment before the service or product is delivered. custom services. day-care centers. postal meters. such as "selling your paper" or factoring receivables. Methods for getting paid in long-term advance of delivery. for example--even if their competitors do not. consignment merchandise. How to arrange for accepting credit-card orders. BARTER METHODS In the light of IRS demands on our earnings. CUSTOMER FINANCING Many businesses can operate on a cash basis--payment upon delivery--and many can even operate on the basis of advance payment for goods and services. Discussions. The result is that the customers finance the business. The U. and many other such ventures. Anecdotes and examples. returns for credit. having merchandise sold drop shipped.S. drop shipping.decided cost advantage in niche marketing. and deposit accounts). at least. You can also accept credit-card orders. substantial up-front retainers or deposits. and thus justify advance payment or. as far as you are concerned. And many of us who are entrepreneurs who can ill afford . typical suppliers who will extend trade credit. specialty publishing. Other distributor services that represent dollars saved: free and cooperative advertising. What this means in practical terms is that you can have the customers help you finance your venture.S. Worksheets and guidelines for g your own venture to discover opportunities for advance payments from customers. to a large extent. for example. many have turned to barter as a means for preserving capital and minimizing tax obligations. since it simplifies the marketing problem generally and permits a cost-saving focus of effort. But there are many businesses that can operate that way--with service contracts. Other methods. Examples and anecdotes. typical terms. Examples and illustrations. which are cash in advance. Postal Service is one example. and illustrates what an enterprising individual can do. A case history of getting such help in self-publishing a book furnishes another example of a special kind. how to qualify for trade credit. SELF-FINANCING AND CUSTOMER-FINANCED APPROACHES There are certain types of ventures that require relatively little "front-end" capital for marketing or any other operating expenses because they are primarily service-based. ideas. as evidenced by millions of dollars worth of postage stamps in desk drawers. They include such services as resume writing. The U. examples and anecdotes to illustrate. Postal Service. related other methods. is always paid "up front"--before they deliver the service (often many months before. distributor/manufacturer-furnished fixtures. delivery services.
trading mailing lists. thus doubling the PR benefits for both. although the term represents per inquiry." and "P.O. that is usually a "P. One prominent example of this is the exchange of a regular column of useful copy for some equivalent value of advertising space. and these businesspeople also do not admit freely that one can bargain with them or sell on any kind of contingency basis. The advertiser does not pay for the cards or other publicity media. When you see an advertisement in a magazine for an item that calls for you to mail your payment or credit-card number to the publisher. They are reluctant to admit this.O. but they are to be found. and P. Examples and .I.O. The publisher will send on his or her own check for the item at the wholesale or discounted price. And you would probably be billed $2 to $4 for each such inquiry. SOME SPECIAL DEALS--P. Each inquiry is not an order. and "P. The buyer will probably never be aware that the item was shipped from a different city than the one in which the publisher makes his or her headquarters.O.I. AND "REMAINDER" ADVERTISING SPACE One of the very special deals available for many kinds of ventures are the "P. as they are reluctant to admit that they accept P. system. but does make a flat payment for each inquiry. and P. in a special way. of course." deals." refers to per order. but is a prospect to whom you would mail your sales literature.O. Many newsletter publishers offer each other mutually complimentary subscriptions and provide publicity for each other.O. And many others have done likewise. These are simple enough: "P." sales are somewhat similar." advertisement: The publisher is selling the item advertised and earning a commission or buying it at discount. but it is a simple fact. and probably a label of his/her own. All these concepts and marketing methods have their counterparts in radio and TV advertising also. Hubert Bermont. which benefits both parties in the resulting benefits without tax liabilities.I" refers to per inquiry. such as P. in hope of an order. you multiply the benefits twelvefold. P.to pay conventional rates for advertising in its many forms have turned to barter as one means of coping with high costs. probably about 50 percent.O.I. as in the case of the P. You can build a large mailing list rather rapidly this way.I. and the prime distributor of that item will ship it when the order arrives from the publisher. and the prime source will drop ship it under the publisher's label. It is thus necessary to work at finding such deals. "P. And if you publish a newsletter and make such deals with a dozen others. author of How to Become a Successful C nt in Your Own Field and publisher of The Consultants Library sold some 65.000 copies of his own publication in that way.I. Many publishers of small periodicals are glad to offer this barter exchange. Mail order dealers turn to barter also.. advertising. Barter works in many ways. A number of entrepreneurs who write well take advantage of this. Publishers often have to "remainder" (discount) unsold advertising space.
as well as many magazine articles and custom writing assignments--e. with none shouldering the entire cost burden. and conferences. and other organizations as a marketing consultant and seminar presenter in the subject. They are great opportunities for marketing effectively at low costs. The approaches and opportunities include general attendance. the Job Corps program. mailings in which you can include a circular or two of your own. You can easily make your card one of the postage-prepaid variety. One is that of cooperative mailings. APPENDIX A few useful references: Bibliographic listings. a typical and quite popular method. audiovisual presentations. You can often piggyback your own offerings. MATTERS There are a few other alternatives and options that are available to attack the problem. Vitro Laboratories.x 5-inch card copy in a mass mailing of card decks is another means of doing this. thus making it easy for the recipient to become a respondent and order or send for more information. I have been employed by or a consultant to IBM. How to set up and utilize each to greatest advantage. circular exhibits. Army. Industries. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting . colleges. making the marketing cost of several of your own offerings shared among them. as well as in my own independent ventures. along with those of others. Remington. and training programs. independent mailings. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. and I am called upon by corporations. NASA. sources of marketing services and help.anecdotes. as well as many smaller companies. Chrysler Corporation. a dozen or more vendors may be able to out their solicitations at a fraction of what it would cost them to make their own. Including your own 3. as shown in several examples. Atlas. A FEW MISCELLANEOUS.. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer. and the Educational Science Division of U. Don't neglect trade shows. and hospitality suites. Volt Information Sciences. GE. Control Data Corporation. and other federal agencies. miscellaneous other listings. proposals. BMEWS. BUT RELATED. AUTHOR'S CREDENTIALS I am the author of more than 35 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. Navy. Dun & Bradstreet. EPA programs. RCA. training.S. in fact.Rand. In this manner. technical writing. I have written extensively on marketing subjects (I have recognized credentials in selling to the government generally and in proposal writing especially). and many other programs for the Air Force. conventions. and many offer opportunities to close sales on the spot. Apollo moon-landing program. Hercules Aerospace Division.g. Typhon and Titan missile systems. Philco-Ford. thereby reducing your direct-mail costs. consumer product safety programs. I had early newspaper experience and many years of employment in engineering.
1988 Great Promo Pieces. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. John Wiley. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. The Consultant's Library. John Wiley. Prentice-Hall. Beyond the Resume. while he designed a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. Arco. Scott Foresman. 1991 The Winning Resume. 1983. 1983. the USDA Forest Service. 1981. the General Services Administration. John Wiley. 1986 Advice. John Wiley. 1986 The Business Writing Problem Solver. John Wiley. General Services Administration. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. John Wiley. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. 1982. John Wiley. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. John Wiley & Sons. l979. Plenum. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. audiovisual presentations. AMACOM. John Wiley. the Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully. McGraw-Hill. and others. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. In addition to the many highly technological.) I published several newsletters: Government Marketing News.Postal Service. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer. 2d Edition. I operated my own successful firm. 1984 Word Processing for Office Publications.S. McGraw-Hill. The $100 Billion Market AMACOM. newsletters. AMACOM. Dow Jones-Irwin. Mail Order Magic. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. Facts on File. 1980. training programs. USDA Forest Service. One of my more novel proje the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration.Postal Service. 1981. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. Greenwood Press. and others to write manuals. Dow Jones-Irwin. and Contracting Opportunities Digest. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. Scott Foresman. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). a High-Profit Business. 1989 How to Make Money with Your Micro. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. Scott Foresman. 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. Profit-Line Management. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1982. 1986 The Direct Marketer's Work Book. Second Edition. 1985 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. 1988 Choosing and Using a Consultant. and other such material. John Wiley. 1990 Marketing Without Money. BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Government Contracts.S. 1987 Speaking for Profit. reports. brochures. 1983. John Wiley. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. and spent many months as a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. the FAA. winning many contracts with the U. 1989 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. l983. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. Prentice-Hall. John Wiley. FAA. l980. McGraw-Hill. 1991 . Chapman & Hall.firm. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. Consultant's Library. winning many contracts with the U. Greenwood Press. McGraw-Hill. state-of-the-art projects I worked on. 1984 Computer Work Stations.
1992 Databased Marketing. he and his little book. Bob Adams. 1993 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. you are in possession of information that many others would greatly welcome as advice and guidance. John Wiley. 3rd Ed. and he taught himself how to sell. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. 1994 CHAPTER 17 MAKE MONEY WRITING ABOUT YOUR TROUBLES Books and articles that help people solve their problems.. 1991 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. John Wiley. going from near bankruptcy to great success in business. Bettger was a Philadelphia baseball player who was forced out of his sports career by an injury. 1993. Dearborn Trade. John Wiley. with its imaginative innovations. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability.S. improve their looks. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. Government. Of course. and otherwise gain something desirable or avoid something undesirable. It was written in first person. Prima. Dearborn Trade 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. Doing Business with the U. be more respected. This idea has even been the key to many best-selling books. Inc. He then sold over $6 million worth of copies of his little paperback. John Wiley & Sons. The book was his account of what he did about it--how he coped successfully with the problem--and produced a best-seller that earned a great many royalty dollars for him. John Wiley & Sons. republished frequently in various editions. earn money. Ringer wrote a best-seller he called Winning Through Intimidation. find love. But he was persevering. There was also the book by the late Frank Bettger. eventually becoming the first insurance salesman to sell more than $1 million worth of insurance a year. a book that has become a classic. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. 1994 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. Second Edition. 1992 How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. Two Outstanding Cases Robert J. He became an insurance salesman. He wrote a slim volume about his many money troubles--he called it The Lazy Man's Way to Riches --and how he solved them. gain prestige.Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. Prima. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. have been widely imitated by others since. The late Joe Karbo did even better. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. John Wiley. at first.. and was a quite unsuccessful one. will always find a welcoming audience. 1994 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. . John Wiley & Sons. and was about his problems as a real estate broker/agent/finder who found himself constantly victimized by unscrupulous people he did business with and decided to do something about it. When you discover how to do any of these things for yourself.
Troubles are Easy to Find The troubles don't have to be your own troubles. Bells rang in Lesko's head. He wrote Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed From Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels. more. than Lesko's client wanted to know. and founded a new business. Bill Adler. who started with a little $2 report describing how he finally. for example. One is that of Jerry Buchanan. Lesko discovered a man in the Department of Agriculture who knew more about potatoes than anyone. Eventually. even. He reported selling 14. of Vancouver. wrote an entire book on defeating some of nature's little predators. Information USA. a book that did very well. was a Washington lawyer with a client who was interested in potatoes and had a lot of potato-related questions he wanted answered. and there are many others. You can write just as profitably about how others solved their problems. he has written a number of books. Ralph Charrell's book. to date.000 copies. He believes in fighting back. His book explained how he fights back successfully at merchants and others who fail to give him satisfaction when something he has paid for. It is now in its third edition and has sold more than 160. selling well over 100. that publishes information about information--where it is and how to find it. I wrote a book I titled How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. found a way to rid himself of those pesky gophers on a new farm property he had bought. I founded a business as a consultant and struggled for a long time. Jr.000 copies. in a classic sense. goods or service. Washington. by the success of .These fellows were heavy hitters. and he founded a business and newsletter on where and how to get information. These writers all made money. This is well exemplified. but they are only three of many such success stories. after a great deal of effort and research. is unsatisfactory. by writing about their troubles and what they did about them. Everybody has trouble of some sort. How I Turn Ordinary Complaints into Thousands of Dollars became a best-seller.000 copies of that little $2 report. and his book explained how he does so. He came to Lesko for help. learning the hard way--via mistakes and other false starts that we call "experience"--how to succeed. but didn't know how to get the information. From that beginning he built himself a successful and prosperous publishing enterprise. nevertheless. Since then. sometimes launched entire new careers. If there is something people love better than reading about other people's troubles--it helps them feel a bit better about their own misfortunes--it's how to do something effective about solving their own problems and coping successfully with their woes. based on his "TOWERS Club" newsletter. and most people never find good solutions for their problems without help. In my own case. Matthew Lesko. That's why books and articles offering how-to-do-it information almost always find a swift welcome from the public.
he reveals. For example. Psychocybernetics is the term he invented for the therapy he designed as a measure to do help his patients with their emotional problems. and he therefore decided to make his patients' problems his problem. such problems were headaches for me. my business was helping others solve their TV troubles. titled Psychocybernetics. the doctor found. Somehow.another perennial best-seller. Later. but often enough the problem was difficult to solve. Of course. Most of the work was routine. and in trouble generally. (They undoubtedly thought the customer was a "crank. as they had hoped. "psychocybernetics. they developed a process and philosophy they called "Toughlove. David and Phyllis (my wife and I later met them and had an association with them for a time). MD. and founded an organization that has helped parents all over North America cope with similar problems with children who are rebellious. as he related its origin. In fact.") I managed to find the answer and solve the problem. gaining good looks did not solve his patients' problems. the picture faded! I persevered and found the answer for that one too. Here. and detective work to handle successfully. They required imagination. and troubles were a routine of that business. In more personal terms." that he wrote about. when we had problems with a teen-age daughter. as well as for the customer. It is that therapy. to serve as starter ideas. If the volume was turned down. But strangely enough. And each time I ran into and solved one of those. Consider your own problems of the past and what you did about them. are a few personal examples: Many years ago. Even though their physical defects had been corrected and their looks were improved. They had problems with a daughter who was into drugs and got into serious problems with the law as a result. Another strange case was that of the TV with a picture controlled by the volume control. after many years of a less than . and never had any trouble selling those articles. he felt that he had failed his patients. into drugs." They wrote a couple of books about it. for cosmetic surgery: Their chief concern was to improve their physical appearance and thereby solve their anxieties. I was an independent television serviceman. resourcefulness. Struggling to cope with the problem. we heard about the Yorks. and a great many people will be eager to hear what you did to solve your problems. now a classic on its own. there was the case of the customer who complained that their TV turned itself on during the night! A couple of other TV servicemen had shrugged and refused to even try to solve the problem. written by Maxwell Maltz. Most of his patients came to him. I had the not uncommon experience of becoming divorced from my first wife. gave (and still give) seminars for parents having such troubles. a physician who specialized in plastic surgery in the infancy of that profession. There is an excellent chance that your troubles are typical of the woes of a great many other people. torn between their natural love for their daughter and their desire to "straighten her out" and reform her. wrote an article for one of the trade magazines. they were still dissatisfied and unhappy.
too. I couldn't afford to keep a large stock of the many reports I wrote. Dates. (Can a man past 40 "hang out" with teen-age youngsters around a corner drug store or 7-11?) In short. (I met my present wife in one of these groups. That later inspired my report. but he was getting more and more discouraged at the initial investment he would have to make. trying to learn how to get started in mail order. I took in nearly $5.) I later wrote and published a report. many of them single parents. Then one day I discovered that there were many people in that same boat and there were organizations to help such people rebuild their lives. And. so I learned how to get reports duplicated quickly after the orders and the money to pay for them came in. and miserable for a long time. or even an entire book. lonely. too. All my reports are how-to instructions. meeting other newly separated and single people. I hardly knew what to do to adjust to a single life and begin again. I have encountered my own share of financial problems and found ways to overcome then. I soon had a full life again. a report. later. with their desktop publishing software had not been invented. when I needed to earn some extra money. if I wanted them. I was unhappy. One happy customer wrote to chortled that he had spent a lot of money he didn't have. and I invented methods of my own that worked much more effectively. I was forced to many cost-saving expedients. Sometimes the recommended methods didn't work well for me. so that I did not have to be alone unless I wished to be alone. and with the first one I developed a plan whereby I persuaded customers to place and pay for orders well in advance of the release date. solve the problem of being single again and totally unprepared to cope with it alone. Of course. and the desktop computers. and discussion groups.completely happy marriage. Many other people were eager to learn what I had learned. parties. if that is a goal. . so "OPM"--other people's money--paid for the first printing of the book. "The OPM Plan" and has been material included in several of my books. "Parents Without Partners" is one very large such organization. having something to do and somewhere to go ight. even making a profit from it. dinners. meetings.000 before the manuscript was ready to be printed. I found it easy to convert every problem I solved into an article. for example. and that information. but there are many others given to helping newly single people. have become the inspiration for a number of reports I have written to help others learn how to get ideas for and start small businesses. In fact. That came out of my own experience in writing successful resumes for myself and. and all were inspired by whatever I did to solve my own problems. I eventually up to a point where I self-published several books. writing them for others as a business. I that manner. There were dances. I therefore learned how to set my own headlines and prepare my advertising copy with paste-down type and other methods I soon learned about. I later wrote reports about how to do this too. such as one that described how to write resumes and how to start a resume-writing service. like most people past 40. explaining how one can start and run such a group. I sampled several of these groups and joined two of them. went into my reports. When I started in mail-order publishing I could not afford the expensive typesetting and printing of commercial publishers. too. Those experiences.
Army compelled me to learn how to speak publicly when I was required to lecture to other soldiers to teach them what I had learned in different military schools. and do many other things. they were not unique. and Overeaters Anonymous. when circumstances forced me into that new career activity. which originally seemed so overwhelming. he said. Narcotics Anonymous.become consultants.S. It is wonderfully rewarding for a writer to hear that! It tells me that I am definitely on the right track. separated. for example. but I was able to do the impossible because I work at a computer and was able to employ . Later. incorporate. among others. a small firm called on me to help them do an impossible job--write a large proposal (well over 100 pages) in one week by myself. are not as bad as the other problems he or she hears about from others in the group! This has been equally true. drink. in one especially. or divorced--taught me something else: Whatever my problems were. almost everyone who joins a peer support group finds that his or her problems. and I didn't stop with these reports. become paid public speakers. and many others had problems that were quite like my own. They are your potential market--the people who will buy your reports and books--and a very large market it is. Alanon. They include. In fact. and wrote entire books to help people learn how to do things-. That eventually led me to write my ow selling book on the subject of succeeding as an independent consultant. started newsletters. and that I am helping people. Alcoholics Anonymous. so far. These are all so-called "12-step" groups. I have thereby written more than 60 books. Belonging to singles clubs--clubs for single parents who have been widowed. while running a successful small business to help myself. I became a consultant almost by accident. he finally found in my reports the information he needed to get started. Then. although I enjoy a great deal of success with them yet: I went on to write articles for magazines. write user manuals. and might well have been impossible normally. such as those meeting to seek answers to their problems with children who use drugs.following the advice he had gotten from other sources. win contracts. you can gather equally useful information from others in such groups. minimize their tax liabilities. Recently. but they are also rich sources of information you can use as the basis for reports. articles. in other groups. The mine of ideas is all about you. everybody has problems. Such groups are very rich sources of information you can use to solve your own problems. I found later. many people suffering from those same problems that trouble you and others in these groups. It seemed an impossible task. This means two things that are significant here: You do not need to rely entirely on your own troubles and experience in finding solutions to your problems. for which he had to invest only $3. and they are all seeking answers. such as one on explosives and demolitions. There are many. and books. The U. All are about things I have done. often things I did to surmount my own difficulties. start small businesses. and/or refuse to go to school and behave generally in unacceptable ways. But these reports are not the only way to make money writing about your troubles.
Even then I was aware of the writing potential in solving problems. with many aids to anyone who wishes to write and sell a book. Consult a copy of the annual Writer's Market to find listings of many periodicals and descriptions of what they want to buy. Or. When I encountered one of these and solved it. such as the TV set that turned itself on during the night or the set on which the volume control turned the picture on and off. while you are yourself profiting by it. I always wrote and sold a story about it to one of the several technical magazines that were the trade journals of the radio and TV maintenance field. in fact. doing a great public service. or plays. but this was an extreme case. until the situation appears all but helpless. Whatever your choice. I was in the TV service business for a few years. CHAPTER 18 WRITING TOOLS Every Craft Has its Own Tools . perhaps the "how-to" genre is not for you. for example. Again. the way to do it is to start." his/her intense problems. Every business problem I solve for myself or for someone else becomes the subject of something I write. using computers. which you can find in any good public library or buy in any good book store. which get worse as he or she struggles to solve the problems. You need not emulate me and publish your own reports. They are about a "hero" or "heroine. In fact. There is also the annu der's Guide to Book Editors. these were weird symptoms and it took some technical detective work to find the answers. if publishing your own material does not appeal to you. and some even publish more than one newsletter and build a large enterprise. there are other ways. are not obvious at all to others. Publishers. Or you may wish to even write books. and solving them. But there are other ways to write about trouble. I often ran into quite novel TV problems. and I had to improvise extensively: I invented many new ideas and ways to "make it happen. I have done this kind of job before. as I have done. such material is equally rich as source material for short stories. Many people earn a living simply by publishing a newsletter every month. as it is for me." Explaining to others how to do the same thing is now the subject of a profitable magazine article and will ultimately be the subject of one of my books. There is the newsletter. for these are always about trouble and problems. as I do. You are. Bear in mind that the solutions that appear so obvious to you. you may wish to write articles for periodicals. and the final solution finally appears. will guide you. novels.computer power. and people seeking those answers are delighted to buy that information. Of course. problems. now that you know what they are. an excellent guide to book publishing. Now. the Writer's Market. for a happy ending. and Literary Agents. when television was still a rather new phenomenon. Yes. A number of years ago.
" It was . to attack with a pencil. as I always did when writing with a typewriter. polish. More than a few writers. and compose his copy. But it is more than a writing tool. but its execution requires tools. replaced by the modern desktop computer with its word processor software and laser printer. Unfortunately. it was by far the most popular one. giving me twice as many lines of copy displayed. while setting the print commands so that the copy is printed double-spaced. others do not. many of us have not yet learned how to use this tool effectively. Today. That reduced me to less than a dozen lines of copy visible at any time. still later the electric typewriter. by now in almost universal use as the writer's principal tools. New Habits Can be Developed Perhaps it is a matter of simple adaptability: Some people adapt readily to new conditions. Once. however. editing and marking it up by pen to input it to the computer as a rough draft. However. He insists on first typing his copy on an old manual typewriter.) I finally realized that I could work single-spaced on-screen. I coaxed a few writers into forcing themselves to write and edit on-screen a few times. the typewriter is all but obsolete. even those who do write their drafts on their computers. and probably none of us uses it with more than a fraction of its full capability. and soon enough they found themselves adapting to it and becoming comfortable with it. Macro-Instructions One of the earliest and most useful discoveries I made was that of the macro. and the IBM Selectric probably the peak of typewriter development. He isn't alone in this aberration. Writing with a WP Columnist Robert J. ingrained habits: I had my copy double-spaced on the screen. (That is probably what dismays some writers: They are so adjusted to working with a full page displayed before them that they have trouble adjusting to working on less than a half-page visible before them. a Royal. almost in raptures. about the marvels of his computer and word processor as a tool to review. it was called a "key redefiner. Later. complain that they are unable to proof and edit their copy on the screen. For a long time. Samuelson is highly enthusiastic. it is a tool for many uses. It did not take long to become comfortable working with single-spaced copy. In the beginning.Writing is a cerebral activity. revise. But he refuses to learn to write with his computer and word processor. and there to revise and polish it. I was not immune to following old habits slavishly and foolishly. Most writers can do like-wise. I made my own adaptation more difficult than was necessary by clinging to my own old. the main tool for writing was the quill pen (who knows what it was before then). it was the first crude typewriter. if they will put up with a little discomfort for a session or two. but must have hard copy on the desk before them.
the receiving end. a modem reconverts those impulses to the bits that the computer recognizes. All word processing programs. for example. even mailing lists. of course. The fax-modem card can be used. A new term. has been coined for it: The term is cyberspace.software you installed in your computer. I also get answers . and recall it from memory when you press the designated key or key combination. That is how you can send and receive messages and files. I can record an entire page. or other presentation and produce it with a press of only one or two keys. In some ways. I used a key redefiner program called SmartKey almost from the day I began to use a computer. via modems and telephone lines. I can program any key or combination of two keys to type out my name. with punctuation and spaces. to both send and receive. at the other end. the most powerful writing tool available to you is your computer modem. certainly one of the best-known. and whatever else is useful in printed form. I do have a standalone fax machine. gaining popularity swiftly. If you didn't like the placement of a certain key--say the Escape key--you could make some other key the escape key. but draws its power from the computer. In fact." and the term used today). which makes for a very convenient arrangement. and it worked some special magic. Modems appeared at first as standalone devices. but it does require 15 key presses to spell it out. newsletters. . What such a program does is store in its own subdirectory whatever it is you wish to make into a macro (the abbreviation of "macro-instruction. It does so by converting the data bits your computer generates to electrical impulses carried over the telephone line as sound. and even other types of programs today have their own. built-in macro systems. and I used a standalone modem until recently. a special format. working in Windows as I must. when I retired it in favor of a fax-modem card in my computer. for one. I use this cyberspace to communicate daily with CompuServe and various electronic bulletin board systems. But then I discovered a far better use for the program: You can use some key to issue an entire statement or a whole set of commands. the card does not require its own power supply. unlike the standalone machines. and today. It was probably the granddaddy of such programs. I use the Microsoft program Word and its built-in and highly flexible macro capabilities. Writing is an act of communication. It's less costly than the standalone machines because. Have You Heard About "Cyberspace" There is a steady increase in the information traffic via this medium of the computer-modem-telephone line. however. and I use the internal card to send faxes and the standalone machine to receive faxes. that are more diverse than those of SmartKey and other earlier programs. This enables me to do many things: I exchange information with many other individuals. That is the device that enables you to "talk" to other computers via telephone lines. as well. But with a macro. It's not a long name. I often find people I can interview for my books that way. as names go. Suppose I needed to type out my name frequently. and computers have become a most powerful means of communication.
wherever it is. visiting libraries. You cannot very well choose the most important and most relevant information to present if you do not have all the information on the subject. the way a writer makes himself or herself ready to write on a subject. The selfassurance is reflected in your writing style. calling on individuals for interviews. In fact. The best writing is usually the distillate of all the information you have gathered in your research. And that means that as a writer you ought to have a great deal more information than you have presented. and I "talk" every day with people all over the world without leaving my office chair. the content is not only as important as style and fluency. Research is. but at least as important to a writer's success. again . For nonfiction generally. such as using cyberspace (exploring online) for much of it. and other such chores. You must research your subject until you develop a sense of great confidence that you are prepared. This places an awesome array of resources at your fingertips--at your desk. you will get some inkling of some of what awaits you in c yberspace. such as computer technology or law. but only more of what you already have. The writer with expert knowledge and only average writing skills is almost certain to turn out a better piece of work than the exper er who does not have complete knowledge of or information on the subject. But first. that you are now quite ready to write about the subject." Somewhat neglected. just as the lack of belief in your own knowledge would be reflected. There is a logical underpinning to this. and something called "composition. of course. The Legwork of Research Writing research was once called "legwork" because it meant a great deal of physical activity. let's talk about its special meaning for writers and for others who must rely on research for their work. a temporary expert perhaps. In a moment. Writers and Research Courses for writers tend to focus on the mechanics of usage: grammar. Muddy writing is often the result of (and symptomatic of) an author who is not in possession of all the information and is (perhaps unconsciously) trying to slide glibly past the missing details. and even for fiction. the legwork is far less physical: A great deal of your research can be done from your own desk. and made clear.to problems frequently from individuals much more knowledgeable than I in certain areas. expressed accurately. are marketing and research. but may be more important to the reader. using these modern tools we have been talking about. to a large extent. That means that you must do adequate research. The reader wants full detail. (Research tip: Research should continue until you are not getting anything new. even one's style improves when on is in full possession of the facts. searching public files. For the well-equipped writer today. In fact." these resources are at your disposal wherever you are with your laptop and modem. and that you have at least twice or three times the amount of information you will need and use in whatever you are writing. if you have a dial-up telephone line available. That requires that the writer know the subject thoroughly. for those who use the little portable computers referred to popularly as "laptops. punctuation. I have visited libraries all over the country while seated at my desk.
"Downloading" those files means that I copied them from the bulletin board system and stored the copies in my own computer as my files. (I have also donated many reports of my own to these libraries for use by others. (Some of them were available without cost in the past.through cyberspace channels of communication. have copies of many of the articles downloaded to me. whether it is or is not available through your local public library system. Maryland. I downloaded many useful files. Here in Montgomery County. with absolutely no added features. it was a bargain at $600 then. Although some of the messages and reports were from lawyers and some from lay people. download those lists and descriptions. I usually get the fax the next morning. although that appears to have changed since I last made use of the facility. there were only standalone fax machines. I can also use this facility to search out magazine articles on subjects I wish to research. When that finally broke down. For example. I can search the library catalogs. once again getting my research data delivered to me at my desk. In the beginning. and related information relevant to contracts. I got a far superior one for one-half that price. Even so. This brings up the subject of another important writer's tool: the fax.) Downloading some of the articles does require a fee." in the common jargon used today--maintain extensive libraries of files. some written by lawyers expressing their views. The Facsimile (Fax) Machine The fax machine also uses a modem and also transmits and receives information via dial-up telephone lines. in writing a book on contracts. related resources. other than a copying capability. Files and Library Systems Most electronic bulletin board systems--"BBS. That means that it was the simplest possible configuration. in fact. I can. But I can also travel via the system to libraries elsewhere. The files included a series of messages from other users. much of it was useful to me in providing insights into the need for and problems related to contracts. Many of these are extremely useful as resources for writer research.) Public Libraries in Cyberspace Many communities are establishing electronic bulletin board systems (BBS) in their public libraries systems. getting the article via my fax machine. compile bibliographies. and I have used this too. get brief descriptions of books listed. there is such a BBS. via that great online entity. others written by consultants relating their experiences and problems relevant to contracts. and determine which branch of our library system has the books I want available on the shelves. too. even in California: I can access catalogs of university libraries and other. CARL is readily accessible to Internet users. and they were quite expensive. But it is possible to get a more elaborate fax system for even . My first one was a "plain vanilla" machine. By calling in and getting connected to CARL through the BBS. the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. reports of various kinds. and it provides access to CARL.
The Benefits May be Direct or Indirect Among the many kinds of shareware are programs that are indirectly useful to you as a writer and programs that have direct application to writing tasks. The author usually suggests a price to "register" yourself as the paid-up owner of these files.less than that now. You are welcome to download these files from any BBS or other online facility that offers them and try them. if you like the file well enough to keep it and continue using it. To send a paper original. and normally you must review the copy with a word processor or editor and correct the copy where the scanning operation misread a few of the printed characters. Shareware is computer software-. to those who keep and pay for the file. . That soon became offered together with the modem board. The fax-modem board enables you to send data that is already in your computer. software that helps you utilize your computer more efficiently. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each form of fax facility. the computer engineers designed a fax board. It may well be the equal of the commercial equivalent in every way.programs and text files--written by individuals and offered to everyone on the basis of a try-before-you-buy honor system. Scanning. if their usage is such that they can gain something in that way. you must scan it with a device that copies the information and converts it to electronic signals. they are likely to decline in price even Fax Boards Before long. and prints out on plain paper the data that you receive via that device. and further. which are input to the computer and made ready to send out as a fax message. The suggested price asked is generally a fraction of that asked for an equivalent "commercial" program bought across the counter in a retail establishment. On the other hand. Often. Some are utility programs.) Shareware Shareware distribution is another important function of bulletin board systems. such as a printed manual and free upgrades. Many shareware pr ograms are of even superior quality. (I use both. and some people use both a standalone fax and a fax board to gain the advantages of both. other than packaging in an attractive box with illustrations. it is not a convenient way to send a copy of some printed material: Of course. is rarely perfect. so that now most computers are being sold with "fax-modem" boards (a referred to as "cards") already installed as a standard item. an electronic device that fitted inside one's computer and could send and receive fax messages. however. That does not mean that they product is not first quality. handling both functions. the owner will offer an inducement. after the fax began to gain popularity. Others are programs that will help you directly in your writing chores. you cannot feed a paper original into your computer.
Earlier. if I want to narrow the search. In writing a book. which may be reached at 703-522-3299. for example. With a good search program. avionics. It was a small organization. In actuality. If your own the word processor lacks the conveniences you need. Arlington. I use the ProFinder software that is part of my WordStar word processing software. searching for every reference to seminars. launch systems. then. shareware has been of outstanding high quality. even into a number of months. Following are profiles of the Society for Technical Communication membership based on membership data and recent surveys and gleaned from the Society's BBS. I may (and usually do) have many files I downloaded from CompuServe libraries or other sources. Selected highlights of the survey results are presented in a special report. in my own case. It can be a rather laborious job to sift through 150 or 200 pages of previously written copy. It is often necessary to go back through copy I wrote many weeks ago to search out some item. Nothing I presently have in Windows software offers me anything along the lines of ProFinder. describing job characteristics. in communications software. I may need to find out just what I wrote about seminar presentations. There was.500 members in 140 chapters throughout the world. when I was actively engaged in that field. the bulk of technical writing was concerned with such high-tech subjects as radar. I do use a shareware communications program because I like it much better than the communications software that came with WordStar. I can thus review my earlier text in a very few minutes. and I want to search those files for specific information useful to whatever I am writing at the moment. That is. I need merely ask the program to find every occurrence of the word "seminar" or "presentation. there is abundant shareware that may do exactly what you want. and salaries. work progresses over many weeks. and similar "Star Wars" technology. of course.Search software. missiles. for example. a considerable number of those who have established home-based small businesses identify themselves as technical writers. even though I no longer use WordStar but am using Word for Windows. as described by the . education. satellites. On the other hand. Today." or even of the two words together. Virginia 22203-1854. although primarily in the United States. mainframe computers. STC is headquartered at 901 N. attitudes toward the profession. In fact. and so I often return to DOS to use ProFinder. however. The "typical" STC member fits the following profile. telephone: 703-522-4114. Technical Writing Freelance technical writing has become a major activity of writers in recent years. now known as the Society for Technical Communication or STC. or STWP. and no commercial communication software has proven superior in any way. STC has its own BBS--electronic bulletin board system--there. is a tool that helps directly in a number of ways. that small organization has grown to 17. In fact. Stuart Street. Suite 904. a Society of Technical Writers and Publishers. equally valid for finding any other information.
and many are specialists. Many are engaged in writing about many other technologies.000. I turned to what I thought of as "business" and academic subjects. personnel management. When I left what I regarded as technical writing. safety engineering for commercial airlines. the membership newsletter In General: lives in a major metropolitan area is about 39 years old The Typical Technical Writer Today's "typical" STC member is a college graduate.000 annual salary Education: graduated from a four-year college English or Technical Communication Major STC Membership: has been a member for about two years joined to develop professional contacts. A Definition of Technical Writing One thing that is obvious is that technical writing has an entirely different definition today. and knowledge brought on by the advent of the pc has had a dramatic effect on the focus of technical writing activities. cataloging. to meet others in the field. Still. and to keep in formed through TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION. The enormous upsurge in computer ownership.STC in their literature: Employment: is a writer or editor has worked in the technical communication profession for about seven years was hired for communication skills works in the computer industry earns $37. for example). and earns an annual salary of $37. postal service operation (a rate manual. not all members of STC are writing computer manuals. and INTERCOM. offering services in indexing. desktop publishing. and dozens of other subjects. most of which are today . Naval security regulations. Note the shift toward computers as a subject. annual report writing. activity. I wrote materials on government contracting. a writer or editor in the computer industry. newsletter writing. and numerous other subjects. a highly liberalized one. the Society journal.
for acceptance as writers. But there is lesser-known world of demand for custom writing services--writing under contract or on assignment--as a writing consultant. with too many others who write popular fiction--short stories. novels. But don't despair. plays. and opportunity-rich field. CHAPTER 19 EVOLUTION OF WRITING INTO FREELANCE CONSULTING Two Approaches to Writing for Money Writing and the opportunities to earn money as a writer are far more numerous and diverse than most people even suspect. plays. it consists of clients who need direct help that can be supplied only by a writer--preferably a writer/editor.considered part of the technical writing domain. it is a spare-time occupation. Those who write novels. etc--are only part-time freelance writers. Basically. and other such writings for clients on a custom basis belong to the second category. for the majority. That is a large. nonfiction books and magazine articles as freelance writers belong to that first category. short stories. but it is still not easy to sell what you write without a lengthy struggle. It's a hard road. a combination of these two. laboring in cold and drafty garrets while struggling for recognition. The clients for . diverse. Shockingly few freelance writers earn a living at writing. This is partly because so many freelance writers choose writing fields that pay best but are the most competitive ones. Creating and Selling Your Writings Writing stories. plays. Studies and surveys have shown rather clearly that by far the vast majority of freelance writers--those offering novels. in which so many starved. Most important to profiting from these manifold opportunities is a complete understanding of what they are and what best suits your own aims and desires. Few modern writers are starving in garrets. and articles. There are two approaches to making money in the writing business (yes. speeches. plays. Even then success is far from certain. it is a business. novels. working at income-producing jobs to support themselves. and offering them to publishers for publication is the freelance writing of tradition. and popular articles. There is also a hybrid approach. as well as a profession): One is selling writings created at your initiative and out of your imagination and research. those who write resumes. there are easier roads to writing success! Selling Your Writing Services Most people with ambitions as writers contemplate writing novels or plays. which we will come to presently. unfortunately. the other is selling your services as a writer and editorial consultant.
it is a difficult challenge to meet and conquer. slick-paper magazines. industry. after you get established as a freelance writer. who find much earlier success because they enter writing fields that are much easier to sell to (there is much less competition).these services are both individuals and organizations. are among the many kinds of items I have been retained to create: Resumes Abstracts Catalog sheets Proposals Releases Commercials Term papers.000 to 3. nor do all pay for freelance material. To give you an idea of how well or how poorly such publications pay. but enough do to make writing for them a worthwhile proposition. and many never do find that success. in all fields. for lapidaries and gemologists. as opposed to general readerships. and other "serious" writers. let's look a little more at the more traditional areas of freelance writing. But before we probe that area. and hobby. or writers struggling to become professional. as you will perceive almost immediately when you consider just a few of the kinds of things people want written for them. and some for computer hobbyists. There are such publications--almost always several--for just about every business. for example. theses Newsletters Brochures Manuals Specifications Sales letters Lecture guides Storyboards Speeches Scripts Print advertising Presentations Getting such work is not difficult. if you insist on being paid fairly for your work. They are good places to start. The following. These other fields are publications devoted to relatively limited readerships. philosophers. An Easier Row to Hoe in Traditional Freelancing There are freelance writers who struggle for many years to find success as novelists.000 words: Article Article Article Article Article on on on on on computers (for business trade magazine): $600 selling to government for home-business magazine: $800 mail order business (trade magazine): $150 proposal writing for newsletter: $150 computer programs (for computer magazine): $ 400 . But there are many professional writers. But there are magazines and newsletters for collectors of all kinds. and newsletters. business publications. even if the rates are not as great. and other periodicals. pulp-paper magazines. time to graduate into better-paying fields later. profession. here are a few examples of fees I have been paid by such publications for articles of from about 1. playwrights. they are newsprint tabloids. hobby publications. for wood workers and for craftsmen. for example. Physically. Typical Prices Paid Not all of these solicit material from freelancers. some for computer professionals. for those interested in antiques. including trade journals. hobbyists and professionals. nor is it at a sacrifice in benefits: The rewards are quite adequate. There are computer magazines--some for the computer-owning public.
If your manuscript is clean. in some cases an editor will buy a manuscript he or she does not particularly care for because there are good accompanying graphics--illustrations of one sort or another. contains useful information. legible. To get that help I send out a form . it is also wide in types of publication. and text. Before long I was receiving fat manila envelopes stuffed with photographs. For example. I got so much material that I wrote several articles. In fact. the editor's concern is with content--useful information for readers. instead of the one I originally contemplated. and size of article. Actually. based on one of the preceding scales or not. I use that system today. and instead of offering photos to go with their articles. gathering material for my books. Some make a flat offer. the reverse is often true also. newsletters and tabloids tend to pay less for your writing than do the more costly trade magazines. as long as I "make attribution"--identify and credit the source. you will have no problem. I have no difficulty persuading marketing and PR executives in companies to send me such material. An Especially Valuable Tip Here is a tip that is perhaps the most valuable one I can give you. But the publishers of these lower-paying periodicals are aware of that too and therefore not too demanding. Given these factors. they offer a little text to go with their photos! A camera and/or a little artistic talent helps enormously in selling articles. when I wanted to write an article on transponders. drawings. I wrote to manufacturers and explained what I wanted. free of charge and with permission to use it freely. Some pay by the final printed page: $50-100 per page is probably average. and which I developed into a useful system that I use constantly: I get material. But it is wide in more than one dimension. In fact. that is. is in reasonably good English. there are at least four different bases generally for rates paid: Some pay by the word: 3-5 cents a word and up. How to Make Succeeding Just a Bit Easier Photographs and/or other illustrations help a great deal.Article Article Article Article on writing itself (for newsletter): $250 on electronics (for technical trade magazine): $75 on marketing (for trade magazine on marketing): $80 (tongue in cheek) on writing (for newspaper op-ed page): $150 As you can see. Some pay by the column-inch: 50 cents per column inch is not atypical. Obviously. an electronic device. reproducible drawings. including photographs. subject matter. and explanatory texts. in many cases you cannot afford to spend a lot of time on each article if you expect to earn a living with your writing. Nor does the time and effort required necessarily relate to the price paid: I spent no more time on the $600 piece than on the $75 piece! In general. and is double-spaced to permit the editor access to edit your manuscript. the range is wide. although that is not an absolute and consistent truth. There are many photojournalists who are better photographers than writers.
Types of Writing The writing I do is principally "how to do it" writing. explaining what I am looking for. and is mostly on business topics. (A letter from the respondent granting permission is equally valid. of course. form a corporation. and other directory-type information. More than one-half the 40-50. comment on. how to market by direct mail. lists of discount markets. such as Kitty Kelley writing the famous book purporting to tell all about Frank Sinatra and the politicians. and many other subjects. There is a large and hungry market for "how to" writing.letter. pledging full attribution. There are "where to find it" books and articles--sources of financial assistance for a college education. and government executives churning out their own books (often with ghost writers) books telling all about the White House and its current or most recent dwellers there. There is a large and quite hungry market for the . (This is my own major writing field. and do many other things.) Publishers are quite eager to get good books on practical subjects. Name and Title------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Organization----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Signature----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date ---------------------------------------Whatever I have said here about writing articles for these periodicals is equally valid with regard to writing books on the same kinds of subjects. build a porch. but supplying a release form facilitates matters considerably. how to use a word processor. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. with full attribution. to start a business.000 new books published each year are nonfiction works. This chapter was based on an original folio I published. file a tax return. find antiques. One is "how it works" treatments. how to publish a newsletter. cut and polish gem stones. There are many highly successful "expose" writers. newspaper reporters. and including a simple release form (as shown) for the recipient to sign.) RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. But I have written entire books on how to write a proposal. People want to know how to collect stamps. and other little-understood subjects of interest. There are other approaches to these subjects. the political system. cite. how TV sets and VCRs work. and a great many are on these kinds of topics. start a business. explaining the metric system.
and how it might be of interest to others. telling the reader how to get paid for speaking publicly and even to become a full-time professional speaker. Etc. Many books today are much smaller than that. How to Get Ideas for Such Books and Articles There are many ways to position yourself for getting ideas for such books and articles: Think about subjects and/or situations with which you are familiar. in many cases. for example.) Consider other aspects of a popular subject. and/or where you have good access to information. What is a "Book?" Probably most people. when they hear the word book. (Some of my own books were conceived in that manner. Small-business owner? Write about secrets of success or how to get started in that business. Or the gap I saw in how to win clients: No writer had so far shown a recognition of the fact that winning clients for a professional service is not a "one-call business" and so must be handled via a lead-generation-and-closing marketing system. (Big family? How about articles/book on your methods for raising children. for the cost-price-profit ratios get less and less favorable with increasing size.) When you read someone else's nonfiction book consider whether one of the chapters or even a portion of a chapter dealing with a given subject really does not tell the whole story and might--maybe ought to--be expanded into a complete article or book that would do more justice to the subject. and with book-manufacturing costs as high as they are.) Think about what you have done for yourself. That is only one kind of book. but none on the business side of being a public speaker--until I perceived the gap and wrote a book to fill it. with hard covers. Some highly successful books. Have you invented or discovered a way to solve troublesome problems? Maybe others would like to know about them."inside story" on a wide variety of subjects. immediately have an image of a volume of several hundred pages (at least 200). in which people increasingly . (I will eventually do a book on all the tricks and techniques I use to maximize the use of my computer in making my writing life easier. It is an era in which consulting is in the ascendancy. books that earned a great deal of money for both their publishers and their authors. Be sure that you fully understand this. School teacher? How about a book/articles on the teaching profession. were paperbacks of only about 100 pages and even less. many publishers are reluctant to publish large books. The Freelance Writer as a Writing Consultant We are today in a service economy generally. You probably have your own store of information and knowledge--or access to it--that many others would like to know about. There have been many successful books on how to speak publicly. the public at large and the turning to vendors for services of many kinds.
You are really being retained as an editorial. The list is presented here only to give you an appreciation of how wide and diverse is the demand for custom writing and consulting--advising clients about related needs--in that field. This is grist for your mill. They bring in specialists to write/edit/rewrite their company newsletters and annual reports. How to Get Clients There are many ways to go about pursuing business of this type. and a myriad of other materials. that is--I suggest that you tackle as many of these as you can handle just to sample the lot so you can determine which ones suit you best. $50 to $200 is not an unrealistic range. news releases. to write letters of complaint to corporate officers and civic officials. to help them abandon cigarettes and alcohol. to prepare the speeches they will deliver. here are just a few of the kinds of things I have been called on by clients to design. to prepare (and even to present) their training programs. or publications consultant when a client wants you to provide such services. writing. Hardly anybody knows how to write them all. complete direct-mail packages.) And you will be agreeably surprised to discover that many of those you satisfy with a well-written resume will return to have you handle or help with other writing chores for them.recognize and agree that they need to call on a wide variety of specialists to meet their needs. Technical manuals Audiovisual scripts Letters of complaint Theses Catalog sheets Indexes Book manuscripts Software manuals News releases Resumes Storyboards Sales letters Speeches Annual Reports Bid packages Briefing papers Policy manuals Newsletters Brochures Advertising Proposals Lecture guides Progress reports Abstracts Critiques Procedures Movie scripts You don't know how to write all these things? Of course not. Just specializing in a few of these will keep you as busy as you want to be. And in that respect. revise. It depends on just what you want to do. I recall. edit. press kits. unless you are sure right now of exactly what you want to do in the field of writing professionally--writing for money. nor is it necessary to know them all. and many went to $150. salesletters. In fact. to produce acceptable theses and dissertations for their graduate courses. and to write dozens of other important things--proposals. (In 1975 my resume-writing fees started at a minimum of $35. Time enough to specialize more then. one woman who had just become a member of the public school board and wanted my help to prepare for her first board . Corporate executives and business owners recognize such needs no less. and/or ghost write to his or her specific needs. Even as individual citizens they are turning to specialists to solve their medical problems. and to cope in a hundred other ways with today's complex society. write. A simple classified advertisement in a prominent and well-circulated newspaper will bring you in many resumes to write at fees you set. brochures. for example. rewrite.
She had collected a number of magazine articles on the subject and retained me to review the articles and prepare a set of abstracts for her. businesses are always having difficulties in meeting schedules. local colleges (especially useful for students needing resumes and help with term papers and theses). Not so in this field. volunteer to speak at meetings. Many people want help in writing letters. A good bit of business can come your way from these sources. You find most of them in any good public library. in my opinion. In fact. That almost always produces business. Posting a modest little sign in the right places often helps.) Another good way to find clients is to make up a modest little brochure or even a simple sales letter that describes your services and mail it to local businesses. for which she was quite willing to pay me my fees.meeting so that she could hold her own in discussing the issues. take on crash projects that require you to work evenings and weekends to help a client--make that clear in your brochure or letter. and meeting halls. of course. it is hurtful to work too cheaply. for that matter. A competent consultant is today worth a minimum of $1. That works out to $125 per hour. And. (I had one client who retained me several times to help him write letters of complaint to the civil service commission of the city for which he worked. You will find that that kind of service is especially in demand. although to have a few of them in your personal library. Rotary. and computer stores. the competition is simply not that great. for in this business prospective clients tend to judge your competence and the quality of your work more by what you charge than by any other measure.000 per day. and the right places include bulletin boards in public libraries and other community buildings. What to Charge Clients In some fields it is necessary to undercut established competitors as a means of getting started--building a beginning clientele. and such service is well received and leads to work from satisfied clients. which I think is competitive with rates you would pay for most kinds of professional and paraprofessional specialists. for example. If you are willing to help people out in emergencies--that is. according to my little calculator. And if you don't mind speaking to groups. etc--advised also. That . if you wish to. there is no reason not to solicit other writing chores. There are many other resources that will help you. A few other merchants with whom you are likely to have a mutual interest so far as types of clients are concerned are stationers. A list find useful and keep in my own office for reference is can probably you will want of some that I included here. Make deals with other local businesses--your local printer and you can refer clients to each other. and the demand is growing faster than the supply. Be sure you keep the local newspapers and business clubs--Lions. Chamber of Commerce. art supply stores.
R. Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. Val-Tech Publishing. 1985 Brohaugh. William. Jr. The Direct Marketer's Workbook. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. Inc. Inc. locality is a factor too: Prices in New York City and Washington. 1983 Gosden. a bimonthly periodical for writers. Writer's Yearbook. Caples. Direct Mail Copy that Sells!. Ed. R. New York. How to Make Your Advertising Make Money. Cincinnati. Contemporary Books. St. This has been a relatively brief report. Inc. National Directory of Addresses and Telephone Numbers.1984 Wilbur. 19 West 21st Street. You will have to use your own judgment. R. New York. ------------.1981. read by direct marketers. Bowker Co. Mail Order Moonlighting. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. Writer's Digest. The Newsletter Editor's Desk Book. Paul.. Admittedly. Literary Market Place. The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing.. New York. .. A Few Useful Books and Periodicals Arth. Perry. monthly slick paper trade magazine for marketers. 1507 Dana Avenue. Sr. Broad Street. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. Writer's Digest Books. an annual of the Writer's Digest. John Wiley & Sons. 1987 ----------. How to Write Books That Sell. Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. PA 19108. There are many more detailed publications you may wish to consult and even keep in your permanent reference library. monthly magazine.. 1980 Bly. Box 25376. Idaho. Sell Copy. an annual. New York: John Wiley. Target Marketing. Robert W. The.. an annual. New York. Concord Reference Books. Inc. Bowker Co. A few suggested candidates for that library follow. John Wiley & Sons. Ohio 45207. although I have tried to present the essential facts that will give you a good picture of the world of freelance writing and relevant consulting.. Helen. Webster. Of course. MN 55125. Alabama and Pocatello. Herschell Gordon. Inc. The. 1979. NY 10010. DC are considerably different than they are in Tuscaloosa. But you have a few reference points now. just as there are others--those who have used consultants before--who will wonder why you are so cheap.. Chicago. Freeman F. DM News.R. Cecil C. 401 N. Writer's Market. 1988 Kuswa. New York. 1986 ----------. 1979 Lewis. Writer's Digest Books. Create the Perfect Sales Piece. How to Write Articles That Sell.. John Wiley.. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books..should give you a bench mark. an annual. New York. Speaking for Profit. The. New York: John Wiley. Cincinnati.. Great Promo Pieces. 1979. 1987 ----------. 1986 ----------.. Writer's Journal. an annual. John Wiley. Cincinnati.Writer's Resource Guide. 1976 Holtz. Herman. New York. Philadelphia.. New York: John Wiley. 1985 Hoge. Westport: Quorum Books. L. there are clients who will balk at that rate. Marvin and Ashmore. Direct Marketing Success. John. Shawnee Mission: Parkway Press..
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