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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
e. 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. They are being replaced by personal computers with word processors. the developers of materials to train people in the new technologies and method-. writers can also upgrade to the older. broadcasting. the electronic bulletin boards and commercial online services. conventional consulting specialties. 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. and those who write the new direct mail of online advertising for clients. Their work has greater significance for them. I first expressed this basic idea of growth from writing and related skills to independent consulting in my writings of some 20 years ago. Fax machines and fax boards in computers have largely replaced clumsy older systems of rapid written communication. and publishing. Among today's newer breed of independent consultants are the designers and creators of Web sites for clients. as are the big. but others . a greater sense of achievement.as consultant on book publishing. copywriting. 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. The list of examples is almost end-less in its size overall and in its diversity of independent consulting specialties. to name a few. Some writers handle the loneliness well. I could certainly not have predicted how much both writers' specialties and independent consulting itself would burgeon. More and more commonly. such as conventional direct mail. the fax. Too. proposal writing. One other reason many consultants have reported to me is that consulting gives them greater satisfaction. whereas freelance writing is often a completely lonely activity. public relations. desktop publishing programs. consulting means working with others. But not only are those words as true today as they were then. after I had applied this idea successfully to my own career. sales promotions. mainframe computers. I know now how prophetic my words were.. advertising or publicity notices and business cards and letterheads include the address of an Internet Web site. speech writing. The personal computer and the advances it has inspired. and the Internet and Web alone have inspired many new independent consulting specialties. than writing did. but they were much more significant than I knew. Of course. Revolutionary change has come about far more rapidly than any of us could have foreseen. Fax and email are cutting sharply into surface mail and may soon obsolete it. clients and often clients' staff people. g. 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. ultimately becoming a publisher himself (The Consultant's Library) and founder of an association of independent consultants. although I suspected that they would continue to grow. writers of manuals for users of new equipment. But it is not necessarily the only reason. and laser printers.
"No writer is worth that much. But more than a title is required. covering some of the kinds of activity in which many writers have chosen to become specialists and offer consulting services: . I presented myself as a proposal consultant.find it depressing and have great trouble enduring it.000 per day. as such. What I told this woman was entirely true: A proposal consultant. and otherwise cover the entire waterfront for the client. Here are a few ideas." My prospective client was unmoved. Unfortunately. Of course. and the difference between the two know-hows. for I delivered far more in services and results than would be expected of a writer. you can decide to offer your services as a general editorial consultant. I gave it up. as much as any experience could. I did not represent myself as a proposal writer. I was able to charge and get fees of $1. I was obviously not going to prevail. I analyze the requirement. lead your proposal effort and write some or all of it. Note that this client insisted that I was "only" a writer to support her unwillingness to pay my fee. I solve the problems that inevitably crop up. rarely commands equal respect. Once (but only once). people in our society may be impressed by a writer who is published between book covers. The consultant is not only expert at whatever he or she does. The fact that it happened at all is significant in that it illustrated. as necessary. but did not dispute that a consultant offered services of greater value than one would expect of a writer. a number of years ago. It's pretty difficult to be knowledgeable in all fields. however. a prospective client balked at my fee: "That's too much money to pay a writer!" she exclaimed indignantly. than simply a freelance practitioner of some skill or craft that is the basis for the enterprise." she insisted. After a few more minutes of this kind of exchange. an expert in winning contracts. but in general. solve problems. although that was the major service I provided my clients. Even as the most expert of freelance writers. but in today's world that is biting off quite a lot. or any consultant. you do not become a consultant simply by calling yourself a consultant. although equally significant: There is much more prestige in being a consultant than in being a writer. and even more difficult to be credible as that far-ranging an expert. In the case of editorial services. the dramatic effects of turning your writing know-how into consulting know-how. a sizable daily rate even in today's highly inflated marketplace. a writer." I explained. a consultant in all matters and kinds of writing an publications. advise. especially government contracts. "I am a consultant. I devise strategies for you. much more. Consultant or Writer? One other factor is more subtle. Anyway. writing or any other skill. it was the first and proved to be the only time I ran into this problem. "But writing is only incidental to what I provide you. is more. and there was no point in wasting more time. Here is a case in point: As a freelance proposal writer. but is also able to design.
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
Of course. there are millions of prospects who are not online and may never be online. You might opt to target all directors of marketing or sales managers.) Marketing Online Today. and may even know some key people who should know about your new venture. specialize in marketing support (call yourself a marketing consultant).word out. That is not a small consideration in itself. also enables you to broaden the scope of what you do without appearing to dilute your focus of specialization. In no venture you can undertake is your professional image and level of visibility more important than it is in consulting. for example. this simplifies your own marketing efforts to the extent that it brings focus to it. and may be a factor to consider in deciding how to specialize and focus your targets. You must reach them via the more conventional seas in which to cast your net in search of clients. 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. you can turn to online —search of clients. Again. 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. and write any or all kinds of marketing and sales materials. and the like. there was a government-wide dispute and discussion of what the term meant in relation to government use of consultants. for example. which the Carter Administration found to be excessive. if you are not intimidated by modern high-tech devices and have learned to operate a pc. the most effective marketing medium is the informal network--word of mouth. (In the Carter Administration. Networking For most independent consultants. commercials. They are the print media--periodicals and direct mail--and networking via associations. Specializing in these ways. to build your professional image and raise your visibility. You could. and that might include owners of small businesses. For example. Consulting is a very special kind of enterprise. brochures. in finding clients for your services. You can publish a free newsletter. despite their inability to define or explain consulting. while still maintaining the image of the specialist. and word of mouth. conventions. depends on success in marketing. who are often their own marketing and sales managers. by industry or corporate function. 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. suppose you wish to consult on marketing materials--sales letters. 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. Marketing Your Services Success in consulting. as many consultants do. There are at least two reasons for this: . as in any enterprise.
making people aware of your existence. 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. brief letter. 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. furnishing samples of your skills and evidence of your friendly and helpful attitude.) Thus. Probably no single factor in marketing yourself this way is quite as important as patience and persevering consistency. Even if you do not make such claims specifically. It is again the growing familiarity and increasing sense of comfort and trust. but it happens quite a lot when your name becomes well known and your image well established. The small effort--e. Many prospects who do not respond to a first or second appeal will respond to a third. your represent yourself to be both an expert in whatever you claim as your specialty and a wise counselor. clients do not usually retain consultants about whom they know nothing more than that the consultant exists. the large advertisement or thick direct-mail package. These are all networking methods that help you accomplish both goals of creating a favorable professional image and raising your visibility. if not slightly more. either online in cyberspace or in ink on paper sent by mail. You publish a free newsletter. Consulting is one of those fields where a client tends to judge the worth of your services--to judge you as a consultant. 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. You publish articles and even Letters to the Editor in periodicals read by those you have selected as prospects. or fifth appeal. You respond in these posts to others' requests for help. 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. 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. .g. that is--by your price. It's a strange phenomenon to find yourself recommended by strangers. For these reasons. the small advertising notice. fourth.. from any consultant: That is implicit in the very idea of consulting. It is an even bigger mistake to underprice yourself than to overprice your service. 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. typically. you are compelled to charge at least as much as your competitors do. even when the appeal is unchanging.As a consultant. that is what the client expects. A spin-off of such activities is word of mouth. (More than one independent consultant has reported greater success in closing sales when he or she raised his or her fees. and are well impressed with what they read.
but I have lived a long time and thus have had time to have many experiences. the one kind of writing that all businesses need and use is advertising/marketing/sales writing. Who/What am I? Unless you are a consultant or happen to have read one of my books. As an independent consultant. if there were only one subject of writing I was permitted to present. but the other fields will be covered too. a businessman or -woman. there will be great emphasis on these things. any business. Therefore. brochures. which is also a quite honorable career. In the business world. than any other writing specialty. That accomplished. sales letters. There are in that respect. But you have a right to know why I presume to impose so many of my opinions on you. you could upgrade that knowledge into a consulting practice more easily. of . In that respect. 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. nothing is quite as important as marketing. more importantly. Thus. it is possible that you are quite content with simply being a good freelance writer. it would have to be persuasive writing. What is to come is preparation to hang out your shingle as an independent consultant. the purpose of business. first of all. this book begins and may be viewed as a conventional course in writing for the business or "corporate" world. In that case. and it needs repetition. but devoted primarily to helping you become familiar with the writing needs of business. two classes of information to be covered in the pages to come: here is. The following are factual notes. if you are ready to make the change immediately. On the one hand. I hope. and/or broadcast commercials and nothing else. the subject matter: those classes of writing and associated work that are suitable as specialties in which you may consult. you are a professional and. the writing of business. you probably have never heard of me. as I have known it. 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. gained a good bit from your reading. is to create customers. probably. As noted business/marketing guru Peter Drucker has observed. print advertisements. you will have lost nothing here and. If you are not yet prepared to make that change. It's an obvious truth that needs saying. I am the author of over 60 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. Therefore. with occasional excursions into consulting as a specialty. However. this book ought to provide you with the basis you need to upgrade your skills until you are ready to make that change. and so we must provide here some guidance in both the profession and the business of consulting.What is to Come All the foregoing has been orientation and preview. If you learned how to write proposals. So please forgive me if I appear to be bragging.
I have written extensively on marketing subjects. Job Corps Centers (Fort Custer.Postal Service. I won contracts for and directed numerous other projects providing engineering support and related services for NASA. Sterling Associates United Communications Group Prince Georges Community College Schoolcraft College Salvation Army U. Civil Service Commission Training Magazine New Jersey Professional Engrs Assn. clients. training. Michigan).manuals on complex and sophisticated defense and space systems. audiovisual presentations. Defense Electronics Products Philco. as well as in my own independent ventures. Overall.Postal Service Georgetown University Saginaw State University U.S. and other such material. the U. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. and many other agencies.S. my experience includes newspaper work (Philadelphia Inquirer) and many years of employment since in engineering. Educational Science US Labor Department. reports. Federal Systems Div. winning many contracts with the U. General Services Administration. technical writing.S.S. . the U.) I am still called upon by corporations. USDA Forest Service. OSHA Job Corps Environmental Protection Agency U. and of many magazine articles and custom/contract assignments--. and training programs. EPA. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting firm. audiovisual presentations. lecturer and seminar leader on the business subjects about which I have written. the Job Corps program. reports. and other federal agencies. training programs. large and small. and myself. Army. Dept of Commerce C&P Telephone Co. Apollo moon-landing program. proposal consultant. Reentry Vehicles Division Dun & Bradstreet Volt Information Sciences Control Data Corporation Chrysler Corporation Vitro Laboratories Hercules Aerospace Division US Industries. NASA. I have developed a reputation as an authority on government contracting. GE. FAA. consumer product safety programs.S. Michigan Employment Training Land Improvement Contractors Assn.g.S. Analysis & Technology. Army. Communications & Weapons Remington-Rand. in the course of writing a successful proposal for that center. Inc. and other organizations as a proposal consultant and seminar presenter. I designed the vocational and academic training programs for one of the first U. speeches. and many other programs for the Air Force. newsletters.S Navy. EPA programs. Navy. colleges. Automotive Accessories & Parts Assn. BMEWS. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer. including the following: IBM. Typhon and Titan missile systems. and others to write manuals. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). proposals. but especially on the how-to of building a successful independent consulting practice. I have been employed by or been a consultant to many organizations. 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. Atlas. brochures. brochures. RCA..
John Wiley. 1984 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. Prentice-Hall.S. Upstart/Dearborn. 3rd Ed. 1993 Doing Business with the U. 1996 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. a High-Profit Business. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. 1983. (One of my more novel projects was the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. McGraw-Hill. 1985 Beyond the Resume. 1981. Profit-Line Management. l983. 1990 Choosing and Using a Consultant.. John Wiley & Sons. Government Marketing News.I was also a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for nearly a year. 1982. John Wiley. 1989 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. John Wiley. Prima. Second Edition. John Wiley & Sons. John Wiley. John Wiley. 1995 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. Scott Foresman. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. Chapman & Hall. Mail Order Magic. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. Prima. 1983. 1986 Advice. 1986 **The Direct Marketer's Work Book. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. Prentice-Hall. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. McGraw-Hill. John Wiley. John Wiley. John Wiley. Dow Jones-Irwin. Dearborn Trade. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. Scott Foresman. 2d Edition. 1991 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. John Wiley & Sons. Greenwood Press. John Wiley. . now part of the Energy Department). 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability. 1988 The Business Writing Problem Solver. Inc. Bob Adams. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. 1983. John Wiley. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. Scott Foresman. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. and Contracting Opportunities Digest. 1982. The Consultant's Library. Arco. 1995 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. John Wiley. Consultant's Library. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. Government. 1986 ***Computer Work Stations. 1987 Speaking for Profit. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. I published the newsletters. Dow Jones-Irwin. Facts on File. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. 1987 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. 1992 Databased Marketing. Upstart/Dearborn. 1991 The Winning Resume. 1994 *How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. 1993 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. John Wiley & Sons. The Complete Guide to More Profitable Pricing. 1981. 1991 Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. McGraw-Hill. 1992 Marketing Without Money. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer.. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. John Wiley. A FEW BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Priced to Sell. AMACOM. John Wiley. while also designing a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. John Wiley. Greenwood Press. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully.
or read some and not others. 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. 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. 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. AMACOM.000 a Year in Editorial Services 7: How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles 8: How to be Your Own Publisher .The $100 Billion Market AMACOM. __________________ *Best seller. and I have made some changes to them again in making chapters of them. and it is my main theme that the virtuoso freelance writer. I updated them as I saw the need. as one chapter reinforces some point made in another chapter. such as this preface and an Introduction. the one a client may call on to satisfy almost any writing need or to be an outstanding expert at one or more. 1980. From time to time. I have also added some new material. 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. But as a writer. This book is made up of chapters that were each reports about writing that I published originally over a period of about 20 years. Each chapter was originally a complete an independent discussion and how-to revelation of some subject pertaining to writing. l980. 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. I hope you will read them all. I hope this because each chapter focuses on treats a different subject of writing. and there is no direct connection between or among the various chapters. and go on beyond these brief introductions to so many writing specialties to much greater enlightenment in them. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. although there may be some redundancy. I find it difficult to refrain from making these few remarks. eventually. an editorial consultant.
what. many are highly proficient writers--but are usually quite naive about the practical side of freelance or independent writing. F. and I have been doing it full time as an independent or freelance writer for a respectably large number of those years. columns. and books published under my name as the author. It spells out more firmly that the freelance writer is self-supporting and a free agent. One result of this lengthy exposure and modest celebrity status is that I am constantly being asked questions about writing professionally and independently.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. the hopefuls often do not know which are the most important questions they ought to have asked. Then you do it for a few friends.) First will come those routine items. I am going to try to answer a few of those familiar questions here. when. First you do it for the love of it. Certain of the questions asked are definitely of the deja vu variety: I hear them again and again. and for what rewards. controlling his or her own life. later. how to work. and I am going to extrapolate from these a few more questions that I think the hopefuls should have asked. (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. 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 have been writing for more years than I ever thought would be granted me. The questions come mostly from hopeful aspirants to writing or beginners who are not necessarily beginners or tyros as writers--quite the contrary. but I far prefer the term independent. with many articles. Moln r What About the Rules of Writing? Freelance is the popular term for the independent writer. . And finally you do it for money. the more critical and important ones. (Not too surprisingly .
address. (Your computer can count them for you!) Start well below the top of the page. and insists on using the old methods.) You own that copyright whether you do or do not register it with the Copyright Office." All nonsense.) Place your name and address in the upper left corner (my preference. The first page of the manuscript ought to bear your name. if someone infringes and you want to sue or if someone claims you infringed and sues you.) 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. (I customarily leave about one third of the first page. you may also offer a footer identifying the chapter to which the page belongs. What may have been difficult detail in that time is now easy routine. special symbols. is followed by the name you wish to use in the published version. for example. the page number might appear here or elsewhere on the page. centered in caps on about line 18 or 20. Of course. they make it difficult for copy editors. if you use one. Most of us (I hope) now use computers and printers. the one you wish to have appear as the payee on the check! But the title.. boldface. g. When you publish a copyright notice. e. titles. your nom de plume. as white space for the editor to use. as far as I am concerned. unless your editor objects to that. feet. you advise everyone that you are reserving your right to the copy. and other details--according to their standards." Depending on your word processor and your preferences.) Many of the guidelines laid down years ago were influenced by the Stone Age practices imposed on us by the Underwood and Remington typewriters. If you are writing a book. With today's computers and word processors.Manuscript Formats I have been urged by countless alleged experts to prepare my manuscripts--margins. to "how it is done. it is easy enough to print out corrected pages.or triple-space copy so the editor can make his/her cabalistic marks. especially for magazine pieces. It is necessary to register your copyright only if you get into a legal dispute over the copy--e. at the top. allow one-inch margins all around and minimize pen and ink changes. so you may wish . trying to maintain control over paper and postage costs. (If you have them.. and other such preferences. you can use the right corner). heads. with word processors we can actually reproduce italics.) It is usually expected that you will include the estimated number of words. registering the copyright only at that time does not document when you created the work. It is a must to double-or triple-space copy. i. With typewriter composition we used underlines to indicate italics and other devices to indicate our desires for boldface and other typographical preferences. include fax number and email address. Use your true name here. Other than that." at the head of each manuscript page there will appear something along the lines "Senior Citizen Holtz. (I know of one who does. (That is taken to mean when you have a completed manuscript. and telephone number. The typical manuscript format today ought to carry a running head that identifies the ms and author. (My own practice is double-space. except the admonition to double. If I am writing a piece called "Selling to Senior Citizens. and we should do so.
no reputable publisher will do so. It doesn't happen that way. Ordinarily. not cash. Perhaps they have never consciously studied their craft as a process of learning how to write what the public (and the editors) will buy. and everything I advise or suggest here is in the interest of marketing your work--being successful. A nonrefundable fee of $20. whether your write fiction or nonfiction. ù Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. Marketing The most important part of being an independent or freelance writer is marketing--selling your work. It doesn't require compromising your standards. But that is not to say that you prostitute your art. write to the Copyright office and request forms and instructions: Register of Copyrights Copyright Office Library of Congress Washington. I have known some who become indignant at the idea that they deliberately set out to write something salable.) A nonreturnable deposit of ù One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. It won't happen. If you do wish to register a copyright. not merchants. But consciously or unconsciously. . I learned that when I was still a technical writer. that they sully their art with money. You can find many books and articles that promise to teach you how to sell what you write. Editors don't buy your work. that is. you sell it to them.to register it when you create it. Plagiarism and infringement are relatively infrequent and usually not serious matters anyway.) The following subjects are all part of marketing. (Send check or money order. (So many of us waste years trying to compete in writing fields that are all wrong for us. you must write what you can sell. Certainly. sending it to an engineering journal. despite Ferenc Molnar's jest. 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. DC 20559 You will learn that same address: you must send the following three items to that A completed application form. You can be a sincere and dedicated writer. Far from it. They want to think of themselves as artists. however. Many of them will deny it. and 2) what I was best suited to write and should make my main writing niche. It suggests that you can write anything you want to write--even literary garbage--and learn tricks for selling it. and I wrote a how-to article on the subject. 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. they hate the very idea that theirs is a commercial enterprise. His/her business is buying from authors. As many do. it is unnecessary to register your copyright. That's backwards. Selling What You Write. Successful writers are writers who have learned how to write what will sell.
Engineer. That is what a good lead does. I changed the brief 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. a much-to-be-desired reward for it. writing is a distasteful task that many people would avoid. confronting the reader with this: "The U. I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. we will probably use an entirely different title to attract readers. He bought it immediately! Here. I knew it to be a tightly written piece. is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. I was not only stung by the rejection. sometimes very good ones. Government Paid me $6. 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. I need one to use in my proposal to help me sell my idea to the editor. brief and to the point. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. as long as it lives up to its promise. titles that are good leads or almost leads. And I do not fear using a long title. and sent it straight back to the editor who had rejected it. (Some of it was two years old!)" The text then went directly into an explanation of what that title meant.S. I was truly puzzled. About Titles. Later. the one that will probably be dropped later and replaced. That title for the proposed book or article is solely to help me sell it. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. Titles are an important element in marketing your work. For one thing. Yes. Editors are reputed to tend always to change the author's titles. this is about/for You! and that distasteful writing chore. 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. with some tips to solve your problem. Engineer. that venerable writer's periodical. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. and nothing else. But engineering usually requires that you write. That is unlikely. but I have also had many of my working titles retained as final titles. so here are a few suggestions to make the task a bit easier for you. Editors try as hard as you do to attract readers to your book or article.000 to Answer its Mail. But when I am writing my proposal. They probably simply have . approximately. That works especially well. The article on technical writing came back promptly. titles that contribute to the Hey! You! See? Idea. it is what sells your work. Editors try to come up with good titles. See?" And then I did that. I have had many of my working titles changed. I studied it and suddenly got an inspiration. and "See?" to explain why and how that is so. In my lead. "You!" to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. editors are often also writers. then. For another. especially not in the case of the "working" title. "Hey!" is to get attention. sometimes you can compress a good lead into a title or a headline. with the promise of revelation. The Elements of the Lead.The Magic Lead. I was saying "Hey! Mr. firmly rejected. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest.
g. Some sources urge you to devote at least 25 pages to the effort. rather than proposing. You don't really need much else. you probably ought to explain that to the editor. Querying--i. they would rather have the lead to sample your style and approach. we submit query letters or proposals. and a synopsis/outline of the story. A few editors object to it. I am opposed to use of the term query letter because I believe it bad psychology to think in terms of querying. the lead. 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. A proposal for an article is usually a lengthy.a more objective view than you do in choosing titles. e. Writer's Market) to find out what the editor prefers.. That doesn't mean that those who recommend 25 pages are wrong. and I have never had trouble over this. and proposal are the way to approach an editor. I think that is my right. Simultaneous Submissions. Most editors want queries and will not read unsolicited manuscripts. I am aware that the rules are slightly different for writers of fiction. either. usually clips of published work to demonstrate your professional capabilities. If you are trying to sell a novel. and others ask that they be advised if the manuscript is being submitted elsewhere at the same time. I don't bother to tell them. Think positively in marketing: Shun querying. Think proposal. Check reference sources (e. and a ton of clips won't sell an article idea the editor doesn't like. "Would you be interested in the following article?"--is a negative approach. a synopsis/outline. but I have no hesitation in submitting a proposal to several editors simultaneously. I don't think it's any of their business. If you happen not to have clips. Consider what it is you are submitting: Usually. two or three pages. don't worry about it. with enclosures. but the matter is still not that simple. A book proposal can be lengthy. just make your proposal as strong as possible. It is no longer taboo.. Experiment and discover what works best for you. The editor who likes your proposal won't worry overmuch if you don't send clips (I never do). whereas proposing--"I propose to write for you the following article"--is a positive approach. not manuscripts. I would not submit a manuscript to more than one editor. write a . I choose what I think is the better offer. if it is based on an actual happening or main character. 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. your ms will speak for itself. Make your proposal sell. However. If you are trying to sell a short story. To do that. Once in a while two editors have wanted the same piece. today. you probably must submit the whole manuscript. That was unfair: An editor can sit on your submission for a long time before deciding that he doesn't want it. 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. Some editors prefer not to get the whole ms. perhaps.
Agents will accommodate their regular clients--writers of--the clients want help in marketing to periodicals. There are also area rights. A great many writers balk at the rates offered by trade periodicals. 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. In any case. If you capture the editor's attention and arouse immediate interest. but sell the story to newspapers in other areas at the same time as self-syndication. plays. however. Many writers work such markets regularly and earn a substantial living doing so. If you have retained all the other--secondary--rights. newspapers. That will be the most decisive influence. but the typical agent today does not keep up with these markets. that most successful agents represent only writers who turn out books. but you need only furnish another copy of the manuscript. and even some of the smaller consumer magazines. and relieve the writer of the marketing task. you can sell the thing again as a reprint. getting the right to publish the piece first. Most agents are reluctant to take on a client who has not yet had any significant success. Generally. They have it backwards. It does not pay an agent normally to represent writers of magazine articles and short stories. many writers resell their articles over and over as reprints. and TV shows. and will return all secondary rights to you after they have published the story. What a good agent can do is find the best markets. In either case. and 10 cents a word may be profitable on a task that can be written without research. and use it as the lead for your proposal. as is so often the case with conventional wisdom and popular myths: You get an agent when you have begun to become successful. When you are ready for an agent. make the best bargains. of course. Must You Have an Agent? Beginning writers often think that they need an agent to become successful. A dollar a word is not enough for an article that requires exorbitant research. movies. and you should probably handle this kind of marketing yourself. no agent can sell an unsuitable manuscript. a periodical publisher buys first rights or serial rights. earning dollars per word. Rates for reprint rights are lower than for first rights. But agents are listed . no matter how promising or well recommended.great lead for the article. It's when you begin to sell that you need this service. Rights and Rates. Here is why: There are various rights in publishing. The argument is not completely valid for at least two reasons: A writer's income depends on his/her productivity. protect the writer's interests in negotiating sales and contracts. your publisher can suggest some suitable agents. and may even if you don't ask. you own all the rights. you are halfway to a go-ahead. in the end. The second reason is even more cogent: You may be able to sell the piece over and over. Some publishers insist on buying all rights initially to protect themselves. When you create the piece. Be advised. You can sell newspapers the right to publish in their own area.
"Hey. publishing the work of other authors. illustrate it in some cases. Winning Through Intimidation and Up Your OWN Organization! are just two outstanding examples of that kind of success. you are almost entirely on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. Some agents advertise in the writer's periodicals and in the telephone yellow pages directory. and many have done so quite successfully. Above all. News & World Report. I must be honest and say up front that self-publishing a book is expensive and difficult. You may also find help in getting an agent if you belong to one of the many writer's associations. Many people therefore ask for guidance in self-publishing their books and articles. and some authors have been so successful at this that they started successful publishing businesses. when you come across stories in your field. new methods of all kinds. therefore. For example. in fact. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination. You have to edit your copy. new services. the benefits and costs of self-publishing a book depend at least partly on how much you can do for yourself. Literary Marketplace. when I read an article in U. Here are a few: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. probably. However. (List appears here later.) Getting Ideas The editor has been described as someone who doesn't know what he wants until he sees it. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. set it in type. Self-Publishing It is far from easy to find publishers for your books and articles.inspired me to research and write my own book on the subject. e. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i.S. because the editor knew of a successful book in another publishing house and wanted one of his own to compete directly with it. Often. There are always better ways to do things. Be alert for new products. (And that. However. Some best-sellers were self-published. and elsewhere.in the annual. design the . I can do better than that. a news magazine.. that's only half the story. there are those who think it is by far the best way to get their work published. It drives a great many authors to think of publishing their own books and articles. work consciously at searching out new ideas." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have.) Generally speaking. they provoke ideas. You think. 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. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers. that there was currently a spate of "home offices"--businesses based in offices in private -. a great many people would like to know about it. To a degree. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea.
you can often find large printers--book manufacturers--or fulfillment houses who will provide storage for a fee and ship for you. Most such guides. those "publishers" (the quotation marks are thoroughly justified) who promise to do it all for -. incorporate. Martin's Press. You can also sell your books by direct mail. There are a number of national associations with . find a printer ("book manufacturer. calling them "reports. since articles normally appear in periodicals. (Those brokers who specialize in selling remainders often buy the flats and have them bound as inexpensively as possible. something most small print shops can do for you. was distributed by St. however. get rid of gophers. If your monographs are large -. captions. not in binding. with services that help you: Seminars and conventions at which you can learn many things. The economies of scale are in printing. A book I did for Prima. To self-publish them. Distribution is hard work. job opportunities. one of the established book publishers who provide that service to smaller publishers." in the jargon). for example). You can find lots of help offered in the advertisements at the back of any issue of Writer's Digest. Too. associations help in other ways.. many printers print (32-page signatures. how to minimize your taxes. and group health plans. package. you would have to offer them as monographs or white papers. books are a very good mail order item. when you have suitable equipment. you can turn out a professional-looking product with suitable fonts--e.x 11-inch pages.. and some publishers distribute for the publishers too small to have their own distribution systems. g. hire a PR firm to handle the promotion." and will be bound into books only as sales justify. Times Roman in various sizes for body copy.10. many of the book review editors are reluctant to review self-published books. you do not have to carry an inventory. for example. and headlines--and even print on both sides. g. and many freelancers feel the need to get out and associate with others. if you have the wherewithal. and other guides. The rest remain on skids as "flats. since you can produce copies as you need them. bound with a single corner staple. Writing is a lonely activity. and ship your own books. but bind only part of the printing. And you can sign up mail-order booksellers to act as dealers for you. which includes marketing it.) You can. Writer's Associations Belonging to a writer's association is a great help to many writers. You can distribute through book wholesalers--there are several of those (Ingram and Baker & Taylor are two wholesalers. to name just a few. especially in cloth bound (hard cover) books. are published in letter-size format on 8. with or without a copier--and if you have a modern laser printer. Self-publishing articles your write is a much different proposition. Therefore.a large fee." Usually. If you don't have space and facilities to store. Many mail-order dealers do just that.covers. In fact. However. usually) in quantity. Avoid the vanity presses.000 words or more--it is worth considering publishing them as bound booklets. 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. including getting your book reviewed. and you may not get all the reviews you wish. these are of the how-to variety--e. and distribute it.
Ohio 43215 (614) 221-1900 Computer Press Assn. as in the case of WIW. Lauderdale FL 33310 (305) 485-0795 Independent Writers of Chicago 8137 S. National associations tend to be large and have the power of large groups.. PO Box 3535 Omaha NE 68103 (402) 390-1000 ext 290 National Assn. High St. PO Box 2050 Madison Square Sta. New York NY 10159 (212) 677-3357 Florida Freelance Writers Assn. Suite 1200 Columbus. Washington Independent Writers of the Washington. DC area. and there are also many independent groups. San Francisco CA 94122 (415) 681-5364 Editorial Freelancers Assn. 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. Yates Blvd. but even the independent groups can be quite large. PO Box 9844 Ft. although not all. Following is a list of such groups.local chapters. 1260 25th Ave. American Society of Indexers 1700 18th St. by any means. NW Washington DC 20009 (202) 429-6639 415) 524-4195 Aviation/Space Writers Assn. of Science Writers PO Box 294 Greenlawn NY 11740 (516) 757-5664 .
New York Business Press Editors PO Box 5771 Grand Central Station New York NY 10017 212) 297-9689/697-6248 North American Ski Journalists Assn. Suite 1230 New York NY 10019 (212) 245-6180 NATIONAL WRITERS UNION NWU National Office 13 Astor Pl. Suite 101 State College PA 16801 (814) 234-1011 Philadelphia Writers' Organization PO Box 42497 Philadelphia PA 19101 (215) 387-4950 Science Fiction Writers of America. NW Suite 500 Washington DC 20036 (202) 429-6639 St. of America 2017 Cato Ave. 57 St. Suite 417 Arlington . NY NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 . 2010 Wilson Boulevard. Inc. East 555 W. Inc. VA 22201 (703) 528-4200 Writers Guild of America. Louis MO 63177 Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Building 733 15th St. PO Box 5334 Takoma Park MD 20913 (301) 864-6428 Outdoor Writers Assn. PO Box 4335 Spartansburg SC 29305 (803) 578-8012 Society of American Travel Writers 1155 Connecticut Ave. Louis Writers Guild PO Box 7245 St. NW Washington DC 20005 (202) 347-4973 Women in Communications.
CA 93924 ( 408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 209 Golden Gate Ave. MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 Chicago Local #12 PO Box 3454 Chicago. NY 10709 Sarah White.O. CA 94102 (415) 252-9876 .New York Local 873 Broadway #203 New York. NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 Westchester Local P. Box 292 Eastchester. PO Box 398 Hadley. Chair (914) 682-1574 New Jersey Local 20 Pine Knoll Drive Lawrenceville. TX 78751 (512) 450-0705 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley. SF. MN 55408 Marc Hequet. Chair (612) 222-0581 Noelle McAfee 4405 Ave. Lcl. MA 01035 Steve Simurda (413) 586-9354 Wash DC Local 1924 Park Road NW Wash. IL 60654 (312) 348-1300 Twin Cities Local #13 PO Box 80026 Minneapolis. NJ 06848 Eric Lerner (609) 883-8878 Boston Local Box 1073 Harvard Square Sta. Cambridge. H Austin.
and other such material. I got some ideas for other uses. such as tips for solving problems. tabloids. I got those items from my everyday working experiences. when I was in the radio-TV service business (in its infancy). or industry. are highly receptive to small items. or some new servicing kink I had learned or even developed on my own. is that many have columns or sections featuring special tips on using your computer. brief news items. it was a rare week that I didn't sell an item or two to Radio Craft or Radio Electronics. of course. usually worth about $15 to $25 in the dollars of that time. regardless of your work or life style. 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. After experimenting a bit. I have met many veterans of freelance writing who were not aware of many of the ideas you will be reading here. trades and general interest alike. business. 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 wrote an article about it. A tip on writing for computer magazines. Many Markets This idea works in every area. short-cuts to getting things done. two popular newsstand magazines read widely by those in the TV servicing trade. On one occasion I bought a new piece of service equipment and while learning to use it as the manufacturer explained in the manual. for example. Many years ago. tips. There may or may not be popular newsstand magazines related to your profession. Sometimes it was an unusual service problem that I had encountered and solved. and they welcome contributions to those sections. Most periodicals. but you can bet that there are trade publications--newsletters. and several times that today. 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. In fact. more than the equipment had cost me! (That $150 would be at least $500-$600 today. But it is not only computer magazines that have such columns or departments. They were easy sales to electronics periodicals. but there was always something. for which a magazine paid me $150.Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale. and magazines--covering your . Many. and other fillers and squibs.) On another occasion. Tips For Breaking In An easy way to break into freelancing for any periodical is by writing short pieces: fillers.
too!) . even at the low word rates. many pay tiny word rates. but the items they buy are little items only. That's one way to find new ideas or salable short pieces. full-time freelancer will not usually offer anything to these because not only are the rates low. possibly as a humorous piece. 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. Humorous ideas or situations. However. but you will get published. Notice how many of these ideas are twists on others. Novel ideas or experiences. selling it a second. although some simply pay flat prices. One kind of periodical that many writers do not consider is the newsletter. Just browsing through it will provoke some ideas. you will earn a little money. usually not more than 50 to 100 words. How not to do it. such as 3 or 5 cents a word. Ask your librarian for help. third. selling it each time to another market. In fact.industry and career field. (And some manage to do that. but the editors will therefore not be too demanding. One outdoors writer reported selling a canoeing article 37 times! That's almost like self-syndication. The professional. including many of the trade journals and newspapers. for example. It's a practical approach to writing. A how-to item sold somewhere may be reversible as a how-not-to item sold elsewhere.000 words for $150 or $200. It is perhaps not the best copy of which they are capable. What else you can do with it. Whatever your career. she'll guide you to the directories and guides to periodicals. Among the many kinds of short items to look for are these: How to do it. Search out the most well-stocked newsstand in your town or in the nearest urban area. and often even more times as a reprint at about one-half the original rate. Many freelance writers therefore refuse to write for them. and go browsing there. Where/how to find it. you will collect a few clips to show other editors as your bona fides. such as $5 for an item or some fixed fee for a photograph or cartoon. but newsletters are easy to write for and easy to sell. but it's acceptable and they can produce it quickly enough to make it worthwhile to do. They can take the same idea and write it or rewrite it in several ways. How it works. many free-lancers earn a full-time living in these markets. They recycle virtually every piece several times. pay low rates--10 or 15 cents/per word and even less. You'll be quite amazed at the selection. You Can Make Money Even at Low Word Rates Many markets. Finding and solving the novel problem. research all the trades and other periodicals for your business or industry. You won't get rich in these markets. It's not that hard to find them. They manage to do so by either or both of two methods: Knowing that the rates will be low. Solving the common problem. they develop the ability to write acceptable first draft copy. and you will get a start as a freelance writer. A restaurant kitchen trick for Florida Restaurateur may be adaptable as a home-kitchen idea for Family Circle. They think it not worth their while to research and write an article of 1.
you wind up with a great deal of residue. 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. and manages to make even the lowest rates pay him in this manner. but the three different kinds of books were based on the same basic methods that are required and salable as separate books.000 copies. . photographs. I use these techniques today in writing books. One book was written for large companies pursuing government contracts. I found material for several other articles most of them suggested by the residue. to appeal to that chosen reader. Remember that you rarely. That fellow who sold the canoeing article 37 times has made a fine art of this. brochures. that is. if ever. so the experience described here is not a rare one. the residue includes material you can use for other pieces. In the residue of research materials that didn't fit the transducer piece. Putting all these tactics together. For example. I gathered data and photographs for a technical article on transducers. an energetic and skilled writer can earn a full-time living even at the lowest rates paid by the trades and other small publications. if you plan for it). was unbelievably easy: I simply wrote to a dozen manufacturers and asked for data. for example. in itself. One was about an ultrasonic security system. and several on selling to the government. and still another designed especially for the needs of independent consultants and other self-employed professionals. write for everybody: You usually write for a specific audience. of course. As a rule in research. Manufacturers are understandably cooperative in such circumstances: It's free advertising and publicity for them. if you do a thorough job of research. so that I was able to write and sell about a half-dozen articles from that one research effort.000 to 5. The needs of each are quite different. And there were still others. some remaindered books are those left over when a successful book. What this means for the average book is that it does not sell out its first print run. Quite often. which. and you try to make that clear in your title--try. with permission to use them in my writing--with proper attribution. I have written several books on proposal writing. 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). even a best seller. which generally runs from 3.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. another for small companies who wanted to break into government contracting. another on a power sequencing device. but is commonplace. finally runs out of steam and sells so poorly that book-stores return it to the publisher. drawings. (However. and whatever else was available. if you are alert to detect opportunity (and even more so.
and on many others. but some small bookstore owners do it anyway.000 words. if you are equipped with a modern computer and printer. They therefore shouldn't be selling the coverless books and magazines for which they've already gotten full credit. and then advertised them for sale. the mass market paperback books) and magazines to get full credit. spare-time or full-time business. I write and sell. one for each report. so I started with reports on subjects related to how to do that. and ship them out. by mail and now online." These are normally of about 2 to 10 pages (most of my own run 6-8 pages) of single-spaced copy. There are many kinds of publishing. one of both storage space and investment tied up in inventory. As orders come in. so the typical such report is about 2. One man I know once sold about 14. I do some specialty publishing myself as a self-supporting hobby. (You may even have a copier of your own. to tax tips. It's actually illegal. But if you had more than a few such reports. I wrote reports on that subject. An Easy Way to be Your Own Publisher For many people. I print out the reports. we typed these little reports up. "self-publishing" means writing and publishing one's own books.Books Without Covers You may wonder how it is that you see many paperback books and magazines sold without covers for cut prices. it could easily become an inventory problem. And since I use a laser printer. But as I got experience in mail order. which most of us who do this (I am only one of many) refer to as "reports. cheating both the publishers and the authors. and usually highly specialized on specific topics. But it doesn't always mean that. It's not difficult to get started in this comfortable little business. since these. I happen to have had a lot of experience in selling to government agencies. as well. From that beginning. bind them (corner staple). The stores are therefore required by the publishers to return only the front covers of paperback books (that is. some of them quite easy to do and within anyone's means to get started on a modest scale. The reason is that it doesn't pay to ship unsold paperback books and magazines back to the publisher. my "inventory" is in my computer as a collection of files. I do a much more sophisticated printing job than formerly: Most are very professional looking.000 copies of his $2 report (which would be $5-$8 today) on how to get rid of gophers. to how to how to make money writing. are cheap enough now to be affordable by anyone who is serious about running a small. he went on to start a newsletter that has been his main business for quite a large number of years since. and it's fun to operate. They are on a wide variety of topics. Years ago. with Times Roman fonts.500 to 3. from favorite recipes.) Today. Although my main work in recent years has been writing books for publishing by the major book publishers. had them printed at a local copy shop. . a number of how-to-do-it monographs. over the years. too. It's gotten much easier and much different in recent years.
and it simmers down to a rather simple question: How can you minimize research time? For me. and other material available. with a release form. The laser printers that most of us use with our desktop computers run from 4 to 10 copies a minute. to the marketing directors of commercial fishing and fish-processing firms. Writer's Research Writing research is always a topic of controversy.There is also the possibility of publishing a newsletter. I have done that many times. Researching by Mail. and another is to use the computer to gather information online. more and more printing is being done by laser printers. you need to get a minimum of $300 for the piece. but they don't seem to give equal consideration to the time spent in necessary research. If you think your time is worth a minimum of $50 per hour. Today. something I have learned to do increasingly. 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. and so are too slow for large-scale printing of many hundreds or even thousands of copies. I started and sold several newsletters. Or the converse. explaining the book or article and requesting any literature. with permission to use them in my manuscript. Thus you have six hours invested in the job. So while you may have spent only two hours in writing a certain piece. However. 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. you may have invested four hours in researching it before you began writing. (A good argument for writing about subjects you already know well. . But there are other considerations. at least until your circulation has grown to a point where it makes more sense to have it printed in quantity by offset press. If I wanted to do an article or book on the fishing industry. with far more extensive used of these planned for the future. photos. which is undertaking only those articles or books where the research burden is a light one. it is quite easy to start one on a modest scale. I would send out a letter. and even to persuade some people to write forewords or sidebar pieces for me. from which I culled what I needed and could use. the answer lies in several shortcuts I have developed. which eliminate or minimize the leg work and the time that requires: One is to use the mail to get source material. I have also used this method to gather quotable opinions from experts and well-known figures in the relevant fields. such as making sure that my research serves for more than one article or more than one book (mentioned earlier). In any case. and to the relevant trade associations. and it has almost always resulted in a deskload of material. and produce it as you do your reports. They may take the position that they ought not to pay for your research time. either because I am already quite familiar with the subject or because I have most of the needed source materials already on hand.) Editors may disagree. the problem is still yours. Again.
under direction of the computer. included with every computer.) Laser and bubble-jet printers are available today at reasonable prices--many well under $400--and they turn out high-quality copy. as we become more and more specialized and there .Researching by Computer. since it is even more convenient and less expensive to print multiple copies of anything I print. Copiers are now available at under $400. That said. For the most part. Business For the Times Despite the ups and downs of the economy. the laser printer and the xerographic copier have a great deal in common. The copier copies the image of the original onto the electrostatic drum. Actually. CompuServe. printer. through such facilities. when it is outfitted with all the useful facilities now available) would include a modern computer. and even enter into writing collaborations with other writers in distant places. However. (They are virtually standard computer items now. run by individuals as hobbies. There is also a kind of hybrid. such as America Online. find experts. fax machine. the BBS are free. Many of the sources are free. with modem. respectively. but the easiest way to transfer files by computer is by email. starting at about $100 and $300. get answers to questions. whereas the laser printer paints the image on the drum. And today there is the Internet. and some are public databases. by associations as conveniences and services for members. combining the BBS and the public database ideas. You can send and receive files directly. 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. and by government agencies as a public service. Some of these sources are "BBS. and Prodigy. with both using somewhat similar disposable toner cartridges. there are some other relevant observations: Modems and fax machines have become inexpensive. my need for copying has dropped sharply. and they turn out copy of quality equal to that of the most expensive copiers. However. well-equipped writer's shop (I like to think of it more as a shop than an office. which has already become the dominant online entity. by companies as promotional efforts. and many are fairly costly. One great advantage of this is that you can send out an appeal to individuals on a national basis. get help in tracking down information. and copier. you can have a modem and fax together on an inexpensive fax-modem card inside your computer. since installing a laser printer several years ago. and charging fees for usage. The Modern Writer's Shop Thus the modern. I have used all such utilities for research many times." a common term used today to designate an electronic bulletin board system. You need to have a modem and telephone to use your computer for researching outside sources. through the various online utilities now in existence. Most need resumes today in their job hunts. to conduct small-scale surveys.
and other considerations. for which you can charge extra. to be produced in your own office or to be printed in some local copy shop. and that is an extra item for which you can charge a fee. Prices for these services vary widely. you can charge for extra copies. Doing so will put you above and apart from most resume shops. again. have some standard letterhead styles into which you can fit the client's own information to create a distinctive letterhead. You will probably include in the standard fee some small number of copies of the resume and letter.are fewer and fewer jobs for anyone who "can do anything. and otherwise get the full story. Many people believe that a resume ought to be accompanied by a cover letter. some typical prices are $65 and up for a resume and $10 up for a cover letter. 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. To accommodate clients fully. job sought. few of which offer this refinement. have an assortment to offer. As an added feature. You will want to show all the possible formats and all the possible type sizes." At the moment. styles. (Of course. qualifications. types. You need to have a supply of paper of good quality. perhaps 2 to 10 copies. 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. Here. address. Number them in some manner so that clients can easily identify the style they like. ask for elaboration. "up" depending on number of pages. You can offer a variety of services. with clear acetate covers enclosing each sample to enable them to withstand repeated handling. but can modify the ones shown or design your own original formats. You review this. . and then interview the client to clarify what you don't understand." If you are suitably equipped with a modern computer and the usual ancillary devices. including various qualities. and so many businesses cutting back and laying off employees--"downsizing. and other such data. This is based on interviewing the client and/or on copy supplied by the client. With resume-writing software that offers variety in type styles and sizes as well as variety in resume formats. But there are other services that will help you build your business: Resume writing. you can create a large portfolio of sample resumes. and colors of paper.) The most convenient way to organize your samples by placing them in a 3-ring binder. a choice of papers is appealing to most clients. However. The most basic one is simply composing the client's resume from copy the client supplies. Cover letters. Setting up a Resume-Writing Venture You will have to have a set of sample resumes for your clients to choose from. However. employment history. paper selected. and fonts. the market is better than ever because there are so many unemployed.
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. Oddly enough. Jobs of this class may be done in your home with your own equipment. For the small. Many of the profitable writing jobs I won in government offices and elsewhere were the direct result of my asking for such referrals. also. and quite often they have no one in-house to work late or over a weekend to met the need. Lions or Rotary) and/or a trade association. however. weekends. that you would appreciate their suggestions.. or you may wish to suggest one or the other work site as more conducive to getting the job done on time. in most cases. When you do so. In their distress and relief at getting someone to help. you must ask them for it: It simply does not occur to them. 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. You will be surprised how eager many people are to help. if the individual can give you a note to the other party or make a telephone call in your behalf. 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. or they may be done on the client's premises with the client's equipment. when you get a referral. Ask. a logical place for it. be sure to ask everyone you talk to for referrals or suggestions as to whom else might be able to use your services. The client may have a preference. and elsewhere produce results also. You can make up and mail out a brochure that stresses your availability for quick-response jobs. Many. a surprisingly large number of people will not volunteer their help. That can be important: It makes quite a large difference. home-based resume writer.Resume shops tend to do most of their advertising in the newspaper sections carrying the help-wanted advertising. notices posted on bulletin boards in supermarkets. run some advertising locally. and holidays to get them out of trouble.g. join the local business club (e. libraries. and call on companies in the area to talk to purchasing agents or other executives and leave your business card and brochure. if you ask. proposal. Companies are especially prone to discovering at the eleventh hour that they are not going to meet their deadline for a report. in a great many cases. or other important document. rather than a mere referral! . becoming a virtual recommendation. 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. 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.
and the stubborn ones who refuse to read the signs wind up failing. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was an itinerant printer and newspaperman before he became an outstanding novelist. and the flexibility to take advantage of opportunity and make appropriate adjustments is often the important key to success. In The Beginning. Thus. you ought also to be always flexible. he did not find fame and fortune in writing those. and eventually found a more successful and satisfying writing career in writing about Hollywood and movie stars. and did write and publish several novels. too. .) It works that way with writers also. and growth usually means change..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. Most businesspeople change direction.. Montgomery Ward started as a mail order entrepreneur. making little progress in any direction and wasting many years. we look at just one broad area of freelance writing opportunity: custom or contract writing. Fate May Take a Hand Remember. obstacles. 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. The Hoover vacuum cleaner company started as leather-goods manufacturers. As the auctioneer says in accepting a too-low opening bid. (There are plenty of well-known examples for that. but they tend then to flounder about almost aimlessly. remember--that almost all ventures wind up somewhere other than where the founder expected. Perhaps you will have to identify and explore many avenues and niches of freelance writing success. Many start with only the vague notion that they are going to become freelance writers. as you proceed to develop a contract-writing business--it is a business. Succeeding in business is a learning process for most entrepreneurs. when he started. Here. While you ought to never start out on a venture without a specific goal. 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. you must seek it deliberately. To find your niche as a writer without wasting time." Progress means growth. but not in chocolate. ready to adapt to and take advantage of unexpected opportunity or need for change. "It's not where you start but where you finish that counts. Milton Hershey was in the candy business. A fellow technical writer I introduced to proposal writing became highly successful at that and is today highly paid proposal writer and consultant. Elisha T. as they gather experience and encounter problems. One of my writer acquaintances of many years started out to be a novelist. without a plan or pattern. However. and opportunities.
whether it is fiction or nonfiction. You might very well do better in some other writing specialty. no matter what direction you take later. . such as the following few examples: Resumes User instructions Newsletters Theses.) Try your hand at every kind of writing you can. I found more rapid and greater success as a writer of how-to business and professional books than I had in other specialties. In fact. playwrights. many who do this kind of work get a substantial part of their fees in advance. In my own case. It offers many immediate advantages: It is easier to sell your services as a writer than it is to sell a story. clients who need writing and/or editing help. There are almost innumerable opportunities--i. You gain experience every day. e. i. custom or contract writing is the writing of almost anything a client will hire a writer for.. but there are two immediate choices you can make. you may wish to be a playwright or novelist. which is itself an indication that it was the wrong choice for me. The alternative. in the beginning. and offer them as products to publishers. but it may be the wrong choice for you. as retainers. even some that you think are not what you want to do. e. dissertations Reports Training programs Catalogs Audiovisual scripts Speeches Direct mail packages Salesletters Product descriptions News releases Brochures Presentation packages In practice. journalists. It is likely that you will do best at something you enjoy doing. or book to a publisher. The Several Avenues There are a number of paths you can follow as an independent or freelance writer. most independent writers find it easier to break in to freelance writing success by this latter route. is to do custom or contract writing for clients. much neglected by beginners but offering great opportunities as means to make a beginning. You never write "on spec. I truly did not enjoy writing fiction. (Or perhaps it is the other way 'round.. Classic or traditional freelance writing is the writing of articles and/or short stories or novels. experience that will be useful to you as a writer. writing to order. You may or may not have a given aim as a writer. One is to write things entirely at your own initiative. that you will enjoy doing that which you find you can do most successfully.We do not start out knowing whether we will be happiest and most successful as novelists. I learned rather early that fiction was not my forte as a writer. Keep your mind open. article. You may be quite wrong about the kind of writing you think you do best and will enjoy most. or in other writing specialties." but are always sure of being paid for your work.
and other such materials. principally. for it was proposal writing that eventually led me into a career . newsletters. etc. Still. lecture on. speech. or newsletter writer is specializing in an end-product. and most of my consulting assignments are so linked to proposal activities and marketing to government agencies. for example. Here are a few suggestions of how you might do that: Serving individuals' needs for resumes. 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. In fact." The individual who needs a new resume may demand a resume specialist. and some. As a generalist. there are pros and cons in both choices. train others. often dictate the outcome. Serving PR (public relations/publicity) needs for releases. Whether you choose to be a generalist or a specialist is up to you. in some manner. and there are writers in both modes who are successful. advise. but you do maximize your marketability in terms of the kinds of writing work you will accept. (Who knew. And so generalizing and specializing as a writer for hire each offers some benefits. a large part of your marketability as a writer for hire depends on your special experience. obviously. of course--or so you think. early on. you must identify. on proposals. I am a marketing writer. letters. You may find that it is not entirely up to you: Circumstances. 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. catalog sheets. direct mail packages. usually unforeseen. Serving marketing needs of companies for salesletters. and my success in that role resulted inevitably in my future work as a proposal consultant. 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. the broader purpose or arena of your work. Most writing needs can be fitted into one or the other of these general categories. speeches. indeed. term papers. press kits. you certainly can: To do that. 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. Two Ways to Specialize Specializing as a resume. whether I am asked to write. and other relevant materials. Fate alone cast me in the role of proposal writer. as you have probably noted. you can't expect to be equally knowledgeable and able in all areas.Generalist or Specialist? Opting to sell your custom services as a writer for hire need limit you. and the company executive who wants to launch a company newsletter wants a writer with lots of newsletter experience. or lead proposal-writing teams. that is. fit into more than one category. but can you widen your area of specialization and still be identifiable as a specialist? Yes. speeches.
which field is dominated by direct mail as the most active and largest segment. Still. let alone more than 60 others. The marketing specialist. brochure specialists. and other organizations. happened to meet a publisher at lunch. and others. and public relations. although you may not realize that immediately. And it does not always stop even there. where I did writing and consulting for individuals. now numbering more than 60 and occupying most of my time for some years since. it is always your choice. but sometimes the chance circumstance of Fate proves far more beneficial than your conscious goal or planned objective. There are salesletter specialists. The Editorial Consultant Should you pursue the role of specialist. either because you have some reason to opt for some special field or you happen to have fallen into it and prefer it. for example. Of course. What is an Editorial Services Consultant? Becoming an editorial services consultant does not mean that you give up writing. Quite the contrary. as I did not realize immediately that I had advanced from proposal writer to proposal consultant. However. and advertising copy specialists. Suppose. may specialize in direct marketing. Before long. audiovisual scripting and storyboarding.of writing how-to-do-it business and professional books: I had offices in downtown Washington. DC. who helped me run the office. and publishing their newsletters. your writing experience and skill is very much a part of what you are. and/or notes and draft copy. government agencies. At least. there is a definite distinction between being a writer or writer/editor and being a consultant in that field. you may find yourself evolving into and actually functioning as a consultant. while I was off on a consulting assignment. You . Without those circumstances. my wife. consider the opportunity carefully when you reach such a crossroads. I might never have written my first book. That led to a second book. speech writing. and press on to pursue whatever goals we have set for ourselves: In the end. I might have chosen not to write that first book. with resulting great increases in the value of my services as a specialist with a day rate of four figures. private companies. specifications. launching. and her conversation with him led to a contract to write and publish a book on proposals. One day. Among the many fields in which writers most often become consultants are marketing. You have then become a consultant. for example. some of these fields are so broad that specialists in them normally specialize further. As a writer or writer/editor you normally work from client-supplied format. outlines. associations. We can always reject the "decisions" of Fate if we choose to contest them. 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. 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. for example.
You design the end-product. to how others. and rewrite. a newsletter. a report. One thing you may be sure of is that it is you. But that is not all. write. You are a writer for hire (or a consultant for hire) in a more literal sense. marketing presentation. Therefore. you write as the agent of your client. accepting both writing assignments and consulting assignments. What you write. has itself at least two avenues of approach: One is undertaking individual tasks under individual contracts--writing a resume. when y on the client's premises as a temporary employee. or other such creation. and many will find you and your services especially attractive. That requires you to prepare training materials. therefore. Most. I have known a client to insist that I was a writer and not entitled to collect the high fees of a consultant. notes. lecture. You render a more valuable service when you develop a style guide or specification for some publication. teacher. see you. make appropriate presentations. catalog. you have many more skills and services to offer than writing itself. 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. formats. (You can be both. 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. you may be asked to make presentations to the management of the organization or to train the client or the client's staff. advise the client. if you are a consultant. Even so. and do the final copy. Their perceptions establish your value. if you prefer. often must yourself develop the outlines. you work with far less. 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. what you write belongs to the client (unless you have some special agreement to the contrary). who must decide that you are a consultant. direct mail package. . Always pay attention to your image. will accept your representation of what you are. even though you are an independent. You are then a writer for hire in more practical terms. newsletter. and specifications necessary or guide the client in doing so. adviser. As a consultant. and present seminars. freelance entrepreneur working under a contract for each job. 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. submit the material for client review. and otherwise act as a counselor. however. clients especially. as opportunities arise. As an editorial consultant. or other end-product for an agreed upon fixed price and schedule. arising out of being a writer for hire and/or an editorial services consultant. rather than merely a writer! It is ironic.) Being a writer or consultant for hire. As a consultant. but true. not your client. Consultant Vs Writer for Hire These all present opportunities for growth. The Advantages in Being a Consultant You can and should charge larger fees as a consultant than you would as a writer or editor.edit. The client has contracted with you to do a specific job for an agreed-upon price. You are then a writer for hire in legal terms. however.
as the means to tell the world about what you offer. 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. You do at least part of the work on your own premises.although you are employed under contract and not an employee in a legal sense. in small towns everywhere. Today. 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. you work on the client's premises. theses. How to Market Your Services All businesses require marketing. The following conditions will help greatly to prove to the IRS that you are. under the client's work schedule. You are usually contracted for a daily or hourly rate. freelance writer or editorial consultant who offers your services to all. This situation applies whether you contract as a writer for hire or as an editorial consultant. The first step in marketing is to identify your targets: Who are your most likely prospects? That will depend. not all on clients' premises. and you are an independent contractor. usually without a specific end-product. You are incorporated. That is. "Hanging out your shingle" is symbolic of announcing to the world that you are now an independent. are likely prospects. There has been some difficulty with IRS over this arrangement. rather than long-term assignments with only one or two clients. the phrase means to advertise somehow. You must attend to paying all taxes yourself. If you also offer to edit term papers. with the client required to issue a Form 1099 to you and to the IRS at the end of the year. In this arrangement. an independent contractor: You have short-term assignments with many different clients during the year. indeed. and requiring the clients to issue W2 forms and treat the for-hire workers as employees. including graduating students who will soon be seeking jobs. in this modern day there are many ways to do this and even other ways than conventional advertising to find business and win clients. You contract to produce some end-product at a fixed price. 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. rather than provide a number of hours of general writing service. of course. with the IRS reluctant to recognize many independent contractors as such. If you wish to write resumes. be aware of the potential problem. and do whatever you are ordered to do by the client for as long as you are wanted or have agreed to stay. on what service you want to sell. and the business of selling your writing services is no exception. insisting that they are really temporary W2 employees. Once upon a time. Today it is not enough to hang out a shingle. You have a diverse mix of assignments. working people. Fortunately. and . one literally hung out his or her "shingle" (sign) and waited for customers to notice it and come calling with business.
many other things you may write are items that organizations want written to sell their products. write a letter to the editor discussing the need for a good resume and sign it "Joe Jones. Lions. Do the same with stationery stores and other businesses whose customers are likely to be good prospects for you. . Some libraries provide places to leave cards and brochures for anyone interested. Post signs on bulletin boards in schools. 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. For example. and wherever you can find space to put up your notice. Send out brochures and announcements to all the companies. (See if you can leave your business cards and brochures on display there. You would have to take out expensive display advertising in newspapers and magazines to use print advertising effectively. (They are cheap enough now. Advertising your services to organizations is a bit more difficult. Join.) Write Letters to the Editor and let it drop there that you are a freelance writer offering services. On the other hand.. if possible. you must advertise where you can reach these prospects. including local government agencies and business clubs. If you have a computer but no modem. perhaps. and see if you can attend a meeting as a guest. and otherwise satisfy their needs.dissertations. resume-writing for job seekers. supermarkets. and other organizations you can locate in your area. (You local Better Business Bureau and others. For these and many other services. such as copy shops: You will send them printing customers. talk to members. libraries.) If you have a computer and modem. distribute your cards. or professionals taking advanced or special courses). associations. attract new members. colleges. and they will send you writing customers.) Spread the word through all your family and friends. if there was a story about jobs and careers in the publication. Make deals with local merchants. it is students you wish to reach (although they may also be working people. promote their organizations. Be sure to distribute your cards and brochures freely to them so they can pass them on to others. join all the local BBS (electronic bulletin board systems) and make your services known to all others logged on there.g. 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. executives. get one and learn to use it. can help you compile a list. etc. train their people.
and holidays. But all contract for help. carrying your cards and brochures. Invariably. and often you reach the organization in the same ways you reach individuals. Be aware. a thesis. a term paper. Offer a "sudden service. such as in the case of resume services. Keep in touch with them and keep reminding them that you are available and eager to help. on travel. with staff on vacation. Or they are temporarily short-handed. weekends. You can do business by mail. that companies sometimes get in a bind that requires them to work evenings. if you write marketing materials.) . and local government procurement offices and talk to the people there about getting on bidders lists and otherwise winning some of their business. etc. Visit all federal. the Wall Street Journal has a national edition that goes all over the country. you might find a membership manager. They have such departments and staffs because they write a great many things on a regular basis. state. Actually. State and local governments have centralized purchasing and supply departments in state capitals. Keep trying and keep calling. and holidays. Advertise in papers other than your local ones. (In fact. out sick. (Think up a subject of general interest to discuss.) 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. Don't neglect government offices." Call the producers of local radio and TV talk shows and try to get on as a guest. such as how to write a good resume. such organizations get overloaded frequently and are delighted to pay for help. In the larger organization it may be the purchasing agent or some other office. and city halls. also. in many cases. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times are two that circulate widely. and you will get assignments and win some new clients who will be back for more. Most federal agencies have their own procurement offices on their premises. you need to find the owner or chief executive." a willingness to work nights. (In large membership associations. One day a scheduled guest will cancel at the last moment. The sales manager or marketing director are good targets on these calls. (Individuals own or work for organizations. week-ends. these are very good targets. Persistence is the key to success here. In the small organization.Joe Jones' Resume Service. and the producer will be glad to get you! Do some cold-calling on organizations. or otherwise unavailable. county seats.
" Technical writers today still interview engineers. Technical writers usually charge by the hour. et al--the clients . and rates apparently run from about $35 to $75 per hour.g. General Dynamics. either." That is obviously useless advice. Some who claim to be experts and offer advice start by saying something to the effect. and you must find out what it is.. and includes much of what some call "business writing" or "corporate writing. There is the matter of what you do as an individual to build the customers' perceptions of what you are worth. most of us signed on with the high-tech companies as consultants and functioned as temporary employees. "Decide how much you want to earn a year. and I would be forced to charge considerably more today. $100. There are some people who want professional help in writing a simple letter. 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. designers. When I was a freelance technical writer a number of years ago. or other individual with writing skills. I can't give you more than a rough idea. but instead of the work being almost exclusively with high-tech companies--e . to become an editor in a technical writing organization. IBM. It's plain enough: There is "a market" for such services as you offer. RCA. and the profession was fairly new. and more. especially when they must write to an official agency to straighten out some problem. It was necessary then to be an engineer or at least a trained engineering technician.Pricing Your Services Most freelance writers seem to have difficulty deciding what their services are worth. a journalist. Today's tech writer may be a former English teacher. CHAPTER 4 Freelance Technical Writing What is Technical Writing? Everything changes. One resume writer I know of charges from $65 up for his resumes. for technical knowledge was as important as writing ability and perhaps even more so.) The term technical writer has thus become much broadened in its meaning. GE. there will always be one or two operators who are able to win all the business they can handle at $75. In a $65 market. but that was a number of years ago. You can be one of these. I wrote letters of that sort at $25 for the first page and $10 each additional page. in those days. and other professionals who create products and design services. and may or may not be endowed with an engineering education. That's not all of it. the market varies with the area in which you operate and with the type of writing called for. while others charge less and some charge more. (The former English teacher or journalist with no engineering training was more likely. writing highly technical manuals.
) Among the many specialized functions or capabilities you might provide are writing." The term "editorial consultant. and both in many cases. proposals. mainframe computers. Knowledge of and skills in using desktop publishing software is a valuable asset in any writing or publishing work. However. it would be difficult for anyone to handle every possible kind of writing assignment. you may be and are probably justified in regarding yourself as a consultant and pricing your services accordingly. and other such developments of earlier decades. user manuals. and composition. 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. newsletters. and many tech writers make good use of some knowledge of programming for that kind of assignment. Originally. when writers were hired to develop the maintenance manuals. but may come from academic or technical backgrounds. parts lists. aircraft. You are not alone in the field. is a broad one that offers you many possibilities to expand the service you provide and the fees you can command. radar. the range of kinds of writing is so broad that one may specialize in any way desirable. layout. Selling Your Services Marketing--winning clients and assignments--is at the heart of any service business.) What is Required to be a Technical Writer Technical writers of today thus tend to no particular background. specification sheets. parts lists. even making arrangements for printing and solving a variety of the typical problems that arise in publications projects. Today. of course. as well as the truly technical items that have been classically connected with technical writing. Today. illustrating. much of technical writing is devoted to the development of computer software manuals. training items. (The profession of technical writing is believed to have origins in Detroit. layout. editing. policy manuals. but you have ample competition and so must compete effectively to win your . design. Traditionally. annual reports. and other such end-products. Campbell's Soups. the tech writer may be called on to produce catalogs. and sundry other items." which I use here. audiovisuals. technical writers wrote manuals for automobiles. and others prominent in commerce but not "technical" in the sense formerly implied by that word. a valuable asset. and other documentation required to support the increasingly more complex and sophisticated automobiles. If you provide services beyond simple writing and editing services per se. Many writers and editors sell themselves short in this regard. satellites. missiles and their launch systems. indexing. and production services of various kinds. (In fact. operator's guides. Levi Strauss. tech writers were the authors of maintenance manuals. 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.today may include Pepsi Cola. Give this serious consideration.
How do you market your services and products? Let's look at some conventional methods first. specification sheets. rather than a resume. as it does many other newly launched independent entrepreneurs in a variety of solo ventures. Use "we" and "our. Of course. 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. However. Some entering this kind of venture use their personal resumes as brochures. if you are going to approach and contract directly with clients as a consultant. (Actually. Your basic brochure does not have to be an elaborate affair. At the minimum. just as if you were in pursuit of regular 9 to 5 permanent position. rather than as a self-employed individual. This is a high-tech age. You must change your thinking when you change from someone's employee to independent practitioner. To a large degree. if you plan to function as an independent contractor for writing and/or related services. since you print on both sides. That is not a businesslike or professional approach. and learn to think of yourself as a business organization. if you are imaginative enough. the military will continue to contract for many high-tech products. fax machines.share of the market. and all the complex software necessary to operate these. the practice of medicine is today more and more dependent on electronic and other high-tech equipment. your markets will depend on you--on what you can do and on what you prefer to do. There are many possible markets for technical writing. and product descriptions written. brochures. their offers. Most organizations today use computers. Be careful that you do not shut your mind to prospects without being sure of your conclusions. and their qualifications in brochures and proposals. but using the plural terms may help you perceive yourself as a business and present yourself properly as a business. For that kind of selling yourself. Industries that were once somewhat pedestrian and mundane have been forced to become high-tech operations. even though you function alone. In this manner. by educating . and the marketing departments of the manufacturers of such equipment need manuals." for example. modems. It can be an 8-1/2.) Describe what you offer as a business organization. But so are many industries. and the technology has affected or become part of many industries that are not themselves developers of high-tech products or services. In many cases. depending on how you propose to approach your marketing. you will need a resume. six panels. hiring out as a true temporary and working on the client's site." It is perfectly acceptable to use the latter singular terms. including some who may seem to be unlikely prospects for technical writing. You will actually appear on the agency's payroll as an employee and be assigned to their client.x 11-inch sheet folded into three panels. laser printers. Sales/Marketing Literature. despite cutbacks. One way to start is to market yourself to clients indirectly by going through agencies such as "job shops" or brokers. you need a business card and either a brochure or a resume. you will need a brochure. You must have some basic sales literature to support your marketing efforts. and companies serving the military are prime targets for your services. Businesses explain their services. Markets. instead of "I" and "my. scanners.
it is a terrible experience. the method will work for you. and even when you try to prepare for it. You simply start calling on each company you can reach and solicit work openly and honestly. Don't confine yourself to corporations and for-profit companies. that traditional and time-honored method of making cold calls. associations. your former employer may welcome the opportunity to reduce costs without losing services. the fastest way to get your first assignments is usually the direct method. (Bear in mind that "technical" is a flexible term here. if you can steel yourself to it. It happens quite frequently because your former employer can also benefit from this new arrangement. government agencies. but didn't know how to go about finding a technical writer. The newly launched independent technical writer often gets his or her first client and assignment from a former employer. your employer may welcome the opportunity to use your service is on the less-expensive basis you offer as a contract writer or consultant . it will be a . and I got some very useful referrals that way. The whole problem in cold calling is your own mental set. Marketing Methods. In fact. However. Find the Right Individual. the probable reason you find it so offensive a prospect is because you anticipate rejection. and not all the writing you will do is truly technical in the strict sense of high-tech activity. Most people find making cold calls on prospects a distasteful business. after they told me that they had nothing for me if they could recommend me to someone. you can often actually create a new market or niche. but keep your mind open in the beginning and be ready to sample all while you search for the most hospitable niche. You have to find out which individual in the company would be the one to see. If you are one of these. In some companies.prospects in what you do and how it can benefit them. Other than this. are quite pleasant and try to be helpful. But even if you chose to resign and start your own venture. Consider all of these in your service area. but you need not take that as a rejection. I asked everyone I talked to. I was to them manna from Heaven. There are many other kinds of organizations who make good prospects for technical writing services. You need to be persevering and to have faith that you will meet with eventual success. 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. 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. If you can do that. Most people. and non-profit corporations. often on the first day.) I have found that many clients for writing jobs and related editorial services are also individuals. approached properly. If you were laid off for lack of enough work. at least not in the early stages of researching markets and finding your niche. a serendipitous event. cold calls are most likely to produce results. and simply procrastinated. Cold Calling. You may eventually find it expedient to specialize in one or two as niche markets.
organize. the government agencies. (Amazingly. Networking. and the more complete and up to date your information is. 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.) Market Research and Market Intelligence. and large contractors must subcontract what they do not do themselves. Subcontracting is an option you should be aware of. of course.) Don't overlook the Commerce Business Daily. but watch the business section of your daily newspaper too. Nowadays. In time that database will be among your most valuable business assets. But don't join any more groups than you can find time for: The memberships . focusing on those that will bring you in contact with prospective clients and other writers. a great many people suddenly accept an obligation to help you and go to extremes to do so. Networking is a method of marketing that works for many.purchasing agent who would contract for your services. and you will eventually find the right party. the associations. It is usually necessary to make inquiries to find the right party. The modern way to gather. Keep asking for help. You must keep your data growing by adding to it and updating it as you get new information. and you might have to talk to several people in turn before you reach the right person. No one--no organization--does everything. Search them out by all the available methods. the easier time you will have to win new clients and assignments. such as advertisements. as a source of leads for many federal government contracts and subcontracts. Subcontracting. The more you have. The most important thing to do in marketing is to research the market possibilities. with personal computers. Research and add the names of all individuals you can identify in the organizations and record them. and any others--and record them in your database. The Marketing Database. (The information all gets added to your marketing database. it is much easier to both gather the information and keep it up to date. 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. Belong to as many associations as you can. quite often. As you read the trade journals and the local newspapers. you will find if you ask pleadingly for help. and build a suitable resource of marketing intelligence today is to set up a marketing database in your pc. Gather the names of all prospects for your services--the companies. features. Marketing success depends on information. while in others it might be the personnel manager or a general administrator. available in paper and online editions.
They don't have to be unusual. will bring you leads for clients and assignments. Mixing with others. sole proprietorship versus corporation). seminars. and other specialists. sample and recommended contract forms. I have known elaborate ornamentation to play a role in a prospect's decision to do business with a supplier. such as those disgracefully costly cards and stationery. Association memberships are an important element in networking and making valuable contacts otherwise. but be restrained also. I shudder at what many beginners in business spend so naively for these unnecessary refinements. accountants. setting up your business organization (e. information about taxes. licenses. with an arty logo.won't help if you are not active in the associations. your stationery. whether they are tech writers or not. There are many small business people who believe that it is important to be incorporated and to have expensive stationery. Even worse. Yes.. They can be in black ink on any good grade of card stock. and a distinctive logo with which to adorn everything and mark your business distinctively. In short. for example. and many other supports that would cost you a great deal of money to buy individually from lawyers. It is necessary to be dignified and businesslike. Creating the Right Image. Be careful that you do not "protest" your professionalism and appearance of success too forcefully. an attention-demanding business card. Nor does it guarantee that he or she will remember that business card much longer than it takes to have lunch. and insurance. Your image is important. many prospects will see this as hype and be amused. Through the relevant associations you can get guidance and help in determining what fees to charge. and not ostentatious. rather than impressed." Be professional and businesslike. someone may note your business card and even remark on it. There is an inevitable hazard in going a bit too far in impressing prospects with your "front. but that is not likely to have much to do with the other's sales decision. Many pay large sums to designers to create these delightfully ornate and distinctive manifestations of their glorious professions and businesses. You must project an image that commands the respect of your peers and your clients or prospective clients as a serious professional. who often tend to see such trappings as evidence that you lack good business judgment and might be too expensive a supplier. I am not one who believes this.g.. tastefully done. and other such gatherings are good prospects for this. In any case. I think you will do best to keep it all businesslike but . 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. It ought to be on a good grade of paper. Associations. There is no doubt about that. Ostentation. trade shows. but they also bear importantly on other matters. Likewise. Not only must you make yourself highly visible as a specialist. but you must always appear as the respectable and completely professional specialist. may backfire on you because they will alarm discerning and sophisticated prospective clients. Your business cards should be prepared by a good print shop. Conventions.
your stationery and literature ought to be the best of all witnesses to your ability to do this! Writing and Speaking. business. for every industry. if the article is to serve you as helpful publicity. publications about an industry. (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.) Speaking Publicly. and profession. free of charge. which produce word-of-mouth marketing: referrals. trade. they can be brief ones of an hour or two. g. to local groups of all kinds.. Let's talk about rates first: . Readers need to know who and what you are.simple and direct. Publication there helps too to make your name--who and what you are--known to the readers. preferably in some niche or specialty. by the day. My consulting assignments came to me almost entirely by referrals then because my name had become familiar to many who needed such help. business. They market indirectly through such measures as networking and active PR--public relations and publicity--efforts. Certainly. This is especially important for a writer. or by the job. making yourself available as a speaker. Writing and speaking are among the best ways to make yourself well known_--o become highly visible and be recognized as an expert. I prefer to charge by the day or by the job. (You can find reasons to write press re leases if you work at it. as the big companies do. You can offer seminars. Many freelance technical writers do no direct marketing. trade. releases that will reflect your name and what you offer to do for clients. I worked to become known as one of the people to consult when one needed help with a proposal to government agencies. as this helps me avoid some of the difficulties. write a letter to the Letters to the Editor column. who is or ought to be a specialist at getting to the point. (The impact of well-written Letters to the Editor is greater than you might imagine. Others tend to be well impressed by your writing for publication and speaking publicly. Set yourself up as a one-person speaker's bureau.) Send press releases to these journals. and they don't have to be day-long. There are trade journals. directly and forcefully. which kept my name always visible. The concept is simple enough: Become well known as an expert in what you do. Search out those most likely to reach the people you want to reach.) What Can You Charge? You can charge by the hour. Be active on the speaker's platform. craft. although apparently most tend to charge by the hour. at annual conventions and trade shows--as often as possible. If you can't sell articles to the editors of these publications. craft. 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. Be active in the associations to which you belong and speak there--e. They had read my articles and books and attended my seminars and other public speaking. Writing for Publication. or profession. and try to get articles published in them.
One problem we all encounter is difficulty in estimating the amount of time required for the job. frankly. and will want an estimate. you will require a laser printer or its equivalent for print quality. modem. you should set the goal now and work toward reaching it. that was represented by a number of public databases. That is what drives many to favor the hourly rate. one high enough to permit me to "eat" a few extra hours or some late-night effort without experiencing excessive pain in the pocket. I take a different tack: I demand a rather high daily rate. Until recently. but merit that rate. g. In fact. What you need in the way of equipment depends on what services you will offer and what it takes to provide those services. such as an inkjet printer. but I usually avoid headaches later. a great many work for $35-$50 per hour--you probably need to work on your image and your marketing. as prospects learn that I do demand a substantial rate. much of what you need to gave access to online is available via the Internet and the Web. which must include computer. Today. by subject matter. Most freelancers charge time and one-half for overtime and even more for working Sundays and holidays. for one. It is possible to do better. (Make no mistake about it: . and that must be reasonably up to date software. Getting my rate means I must sell aggressively. by market. and by individual. If you will do a substantial amount of layout. you should have a fast machine with a great deal of RAM and disk storage.The rates that represent "the market" or the accepted "standard" rates for technical writing vary widely by industry. 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. as a minimum. accessible directly or via one of the commercial online services. However. clients do not give you a blank check. illustrating. which you may not exceed with approval. it is less and less difficult to get my rate. Still. even if you are not yet ready to command a top rate. Of course. fax. And there is access to a variety of information sources for research. There is equipment. but it does take time to build. to give you maximum dtp capabilities. That is the best kind of reputation to get. Miscellaneous Considerations There are some other practical considerations that are necessary to conducting a business of any kind. by region. If you cannot command $500 or more per day--and. of course. You might also find a scanner indispensable. and will probably want to run Windows on your system.. What Resources do You Need? There are several kinds of resources you need. you will probably need some fairly sophisticated dtp software and adequate hardware capability to use the dtp software well--e. and printer as a minimum today. but it does require doing the right things and working energetically at it. 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. There is software needed for these.
travel. however. That wasn't good enough for me. insurance. A visit to a CPA to discuss your accounting needs and probable tax liabilities is an option you may wish to consider. and I can do that only by keeping my own accounts. which are usually set up at local community colleges. and so it wasn't until three or more months after the event that I found out how I was doing. no procession of clients visiting. taxes.Providing independent service of any kind is a business. heat. 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. Probably. you can probably do your own taxes. and that is almost always the major cost in a service business. if you have no signs. and that is still before you pay taxes and take a profit. a most unlikely possibility). 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. DIRECT COSTS are what you spend directly and exclusively on a project. to go down to city hall and get a copy of the relevant zoning laws. probably the major item of cost. such as your salary for the hours you spend on the job. 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. I have found it best to keep our own books and use a CPA to do our taxes. light. such as Quicken or the Dome program.) Freelance writers generally work at home--have done so traditionally--but there are zoning laws in every community. and other such items. It does not hurt. It is labor. or other costs incurred solely and exclusively for the job. You might also visit the nearest Small Business Center. It is more likely that your overhead is $20 or more per hour. If. you will have no problem. depreciation of equipment. using any of the popular programs. PRICING or the fees and rates you charge are dependent on both direct and indirect costs. These are also known as OVERHEAD COSTS and they are as real as the direct costs are. Profit is what have or should have left over after you have paid yourself and covered all other costs of the business. It is part of cost. the least complicated business structure. printing. Whether you do or do not use a CPA or a commercial software package to handle your accounting. and no excessive number of delivery people calling on you. you intend to operate as a sole proprietor. and they can be quite restrictive. such as rent. however. Never forget that. Mistakes to Avoid Many beginners in business make more mistakes with regard to their accounting systems than with any other aspect of their operation. and must be conducted as such. I need to know continuously how I am doing. . INDIRECT COSTS are the costs you can't assign to specific jobs. I turn them over to my CPA to do my taxes at the end of the year.
Executive Director The National Writers Union is also a writers' organization with many chapters. they are not always able to recover. DC 20005 202-347-4973 Isolde Chapin. Contact the NASW Administrative Secretary. Society for Technical Communication 901 N. P.Box 294. Presumably. One bad experience convinced me that I must hold my business close to hand in this manner.C.e. has a strong local D. Greenlawn. national organization. The Headquarters office is in Washington. Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Bldg 733 15th Street. all or write the headquarters listed here for help in finding your nearest local chapter. the DC-SWA (pronounced Duck-SWA). (516) 757-5664. New York. many of whom will be technical writers. Diane McGurgan.O. chapter. VA 22203-1822 703-522-4114 The National Association of Science Writers. NW Washington.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_--. Unfortunately. Stuart Street. Associations for Writers There is at least one association for technical writers and many associations for writers in general. Belonging to a good writer's association is an even better idea for you as a technical writer. NY 10003 . National Writers Union National Office 13 Astor Pl. NY 11740. one of which is that an effective writer's association helps you get business. (516) 757-0069 (fax) for more information. Belonging to any relevant association is a good idea for anyone who is in business. they sometimes do not find out about this soon enough. Belonging to a writer's association benefits you in many ways. including freelance writers. if he or she is keeping your books.. but accountants get busy and may not notice the growing problem soon enough. highly recommended for technical writers and with many local chapters. Washington Independent Writers is a good group to belong to if you are in the Washington area. Suite 304 Arlington. and by the time they do. 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. they start losing money. your accountant should warn you.
Chair (612) 222-0581 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley. Cambridge. NY 10709 Sarah White.(212) 254-0279 New York Local 799 Broadway #222 New York. Lcl. NY 10003 (212) 677-9705 Westchester Local P.O. IL 60654 (312) 348-1300 Twin Cities Local #13 PO Box 80026 Minneapolis. MA 01035 Steve Simurda (413) 586-9354 Wash DC Local 1924 Park Road NW Wash. MN 55408 Marc Hequet. MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. CA 93924 (408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 . 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. PO Box 398 Hadley. Box 292 Eastchester. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 (703) 532-4571 Chicago local PO Box 3454 Chicago.
What is an Agent? Many beginning writers think of literary agents as magicians. yes. the ones most agents focus on and most writers expect. and probably no agent meets all these "requirements. SF. 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. Agents are primarily marketers. Have a great many "contacts"--editors and publishers--in key positions in book publishing. Be an alter ego. Be an expert editor.236 W. Understand contract law and know what belongs and does not belong in a publishing contract. That's a tall order. CA 94127 Stacy Frederick (415) 654-6369 Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale. They perceive of the agent solely as a marketer. able to guide the writer's career. 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. Portal Ave. but they do or ought to furnish other important services. Be an effective marketer. There are many false beliefs revolving around the question of literary agents and their role in one's writing career. Be an expert negotiator. able to bring instant success in selling the writer's work." The last two are probably the most essential ones. That's an image only partly true. The corollary of that belief . able to guide the writer. The ideal literary agent would have all the following characteristics: Know and thoroughly understand the publishing industry and its markets.
It is probably wise to do so. although he or she may be able to make suggestions for changes that would make it salable. But let's get to a consideration even more basic than that. Editors have sometimes called me many months--even a year--after I had sent then queries. Sometimes it's a matter of timing. were turned down by many publishers before they found one with faith and a sympathetic ear--or perhaps more insight and vision than others. I happen to know one of the editors who was unable to sell what became a runaway best seller. and in their general competence. A good agent may not be able to sell even a good book. and that is as true for articles. agents would represent writers of articles and short stories. Or a given agent may be a great marketer but a poor negotiator. their respective strengths vis a vis whatever kind of material you write and offer. when we were all pretty hungry. even some that later turned out to be blockbuster best-sellers. Agents vary quite widely in at least three respects: The kinds of books they handle. for example. I have always marketed my articles myself. and it is not easy to determine in advance how good a given agent will be for you. That often embodies the further belief that an agent can sell anything you write--that the agent is a magician in the marketplace. Those interests may represent or reflect an agent's main strengths: He or she may handle all kinds of books. During the days of the Great Depression. it would be a rare agent who would do so. but they may specialize further within one of those categories. It can be the right book at the wrong time. in re agents. Thus. These are considerations when seeking an agent. if editors do not perceive its worth. If something you write is unsalable. Let's set the latter mythology at rest immediately: The best agent in the world cannot sell anything editors do not want to buy. even when I had an agent representing me for my books. even if you have an agent. you may have to seek out an agent with compatible interests. except as an accommodation to a writer client whose main work was books of some sort. . Chicken Soup for the Soul) in not only its original edition. the thirties. Thus. while others handle only nonfiction. it is appropriate to consider having an agent only if you write books. persistence and patience are often much more responsible for sales success than is any special genius or contact and agent may have. as for books. but in more than one subsequent sequel and alternate edition. 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. Even that is only a part of the truth about selling.is the myth that an agent can sell what you write much more easily than you can. Most agents specialize to some extent. an agent cannot sell it. the question of whether you need or ought to have an agent at all: For one thing. Some handle novels only. Hardly ever does one excel in all departments. asking if the article I had originally offered was still available. Today. It is not easy to get an able and established agent. Here are a few facts of life that agents probably would like you to understand and writers don't want to know: Many books.
Thus the quandary the agent faces between the desire to sign up new clients and the difficulty of evaluating prospective clients. 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. and has no way of knowing whether you can write salable material or not. success is assured. that demonstrates why charging fees is not unreasonable. Real Agents and Reading Fees Some agents charge "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. 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. except by your track record or by studying your manuscripts and making a judgment. and thus depend on reading fees. 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. Unfortunately. That is not an unreasonable requirement. working on commissions. That is simply not true. which is so often wasted reading unpublished and. especially the first part of that theory: You can and should sell without an agent's help. Don't assume that if you write well. the myth that no "real agent" charges reading fees." These are fees to pay for their time. 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. Again. style. 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. 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. far too often. But there are those legitimate agents who want to add new authors to their client list. subject matter. unpublishable manuscripts. and probable appeal to readers) and how much editing it might need. But that takes time. An agent is in business. especially in the beginning Work as hard at learning to market as you did at learning to write. But here again is the basis for another myth. A piece that wins immediate and enthusiastic acceptance in the right market will win immediate and unhesitating turndown in the wrong market. that the quality of your work will be readily recognized and eagerly bought by editors.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. Do Lawyers Make Good Agents? .
I happen to believe that to be totally wrong. but they are exceptions. According to some of the film dramatizations. some agents also ask for expense money from authors to cover postage and telephone calls. and the lawyer who does not know writing and publishing. Probably most writers leave almost all marketing responsibility up to their agents. I think there should be continuous dialogue. A truly professional agent will also guide your career. It certainly is not true for you and me. For you and me. both as a craft and as a business and industry. not content with that substantial increase. that would make it appear that they believe the agent's primary job is to negotiate or. an agent is a hand holder. and as much effort as possible by the author to work with the agent in the marketing of the work. much less marketing and publishing contracts. I object to that latter burden and I will not pay it. normal overhead. joint planning of marketing strategies between agent and author. It ignores the fact that few lawyers know anything about professional writing and the publishing industry. financial manager. (There are some lawyers who specialize in copyright law an the publishing industry as consultants. but it has become virtually a standard. 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. with suggestions for projects and all efforts to sell additional rights to your works. 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.) What Should You Expect of Your Agent? Hollywood has given us a false idea of what an agent is and does. but these are not great qualifications as literary agents representing authors. and perhaps a few other things. such as an express delivery or other . pass judgment on the contract offered. or even that a lawyer makes a better agent than an agent who is not a lawyer. instead of an agent.I am always surprised and puzzled by those writers. who believe that they can use a lawyer. nursemaid. some of them quite experienced. but most will not. press agent. Logically.) One does not have to be a lawyer to understand and negotiate a book contract. where it had been for years 10 percent. at least. mother and father confessor. the primary nominal duty of an agent is to represent us in the marketplace: find buyers for our work and negotiate acceptable contracts. That is not to say that there may not be an occasional exception. However. errand boy. applied to all money received by the author. alter ego. (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. although there are a few exceptions. I don't think one can justify logically demanding that much larger a share of the author's income. dresser. with our agents. I believe the agent's cost for postage and telephone calls is a normal cost of doing business. Some agents may do more than this. business manager. is poorly qualified to act as a literary agent.
many publishers are none too swift in paying. 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. Contracting With an Agent Some agents ask you to sign with them for a year or longer. But then they urge one to double-space their book proposals. you may get an offer. provide a reasonably detailed outline. although some writers recommend proposals about twice or three times that length. which suggests that they are a bit confused: Manuscripts are double-spaced to enable the editor to make changes. Getting Paid Getting paid can be a touchy proposition. so perhaps I am atypical. but that ought to be an exception and authorized in advance by the author. comments. more than one publisher with whom I did business was a little surprised to learn that I had an agent.extraordinary expense. Certainly. 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. you can sign for another book or for a term of months or longer. But then most businessmen and -women who write books are likely to write only one or two books. I found that to be unworkable for me. so I was apparently the exception. That is a common belief. (Your agent would submit the proposal normally. although it is not necessarily true. Or you may be asked to discuss . Businessmen writing business books are quite likely to be their own agents. and instructions to the typesetter. and present your credentials for writing the book.) In the proposal you describe the proposed book. If the publisher is interested but your credentials are not impressive. explain the market for it and the anticipated sales. you may be asked to submit two or three sample chapters for approval. for several reasons. at most. I think it in your interest to insist on this arrangement. whether you have an agent or not. I hesitate to do that now. It is possible to sign with an agent for a single book. whereas I planned to go on writing one book after another about business. 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. in the light of my experiences. it is possible to sell a book without an agent. Selling Without an Agent It may be easier to sell a book with an agent than without one. My book proposals generally run 8-12 single-spaced pages. Nonfiction books are generally sold by submitting a book proposal to the publisher. If that arrangement works out well. I learned. First of all. In fact. They will then deduct their commissions and send the rest on to the author.
Thus you trade back and forth until you find that point. He will be reimbursed the advance out of those royalties. have sold--certain rights. e.000 copies sold.000 copies sold. (If he or she did not want it. It is a portion of the royalties the publisher expects your book to earn. the book club usually pays the publisher a royalty. and it is your property. Bear in mind that the advance is not a gift nor a fee. Mail order sales usually pay 5 percent of dollars received by the publisher.. Negotiation Obviously. it is possible that a publisher will want to buy your book outright for some fixed price. Typical or "Standard" Terms There are standard--well. one the other party wants. These are the terms they would like to persuade you to believe are standard. according to suggestions made by the publisher. and distribute it--you do not normally convey all your rights. Whatever the publisher gets for that license is normally split 50-50 with you. not at all. you own the copyright to anything you write as original work. and have licensed someone else--i. when the publisher wants the book and you. That is legal. and 15 percent on all copies sold thereafter. more or less standard--contracts and practices For example. The same thing generally applies to other subsidiary rights. Suppose your publisher sells a magazine the right to publish an abstract of your book. which is not an uncommon problem for .5 percent for the next 5. you always have the right to negotiate for your property. The secret of success in negotiation is attitude: Know that you have a valuable property to offer. if that is what you wish to do. but it is usually a mistake. and you split that equally with the publisher. no matter what publishers say. (You don't have to pay the publisher the difference if your book does not earn back the total advance payment.e. but not all of them. 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. and the contract should state that clearly. If the book goes to a book club. But they will negotiate when it is necessary--.. (You should be so lucky!) There are many secondary rights. and even when you contract with someone else to publish your work--print. such as a movie sale. Book authors are generally paid royalties. 12. 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. under which you relinquish all rights. the author. will not sell on the terms offered. They will impose these when they can get away with it--when the author does not know better and will accept these terms. the price the other party is willing to pay for your property. there would be no negotiations!) Your job is to find out how much the other party wants your property. Are you stuck with these "standard" terms because you do not have an agent? No. Under the law. with an initial advance against royalties. You are or should be still the copyright owner of record.your proposal and possibly to revise it. bind.
.) The remaining one-half will be paid when the author has submitted the manuscript. and is given only in exceptional circumstances. That could make the total royalty earnings larger than they might have been otherwise. and so you can expect a large advance--e. large investment--to motivate the publisher to work hard at making it a success in the marketplace. but it means. 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.publishers. the author prepares a proposal and sends it out to one or more prospective publishers. In general. usually. (Even after signing a contract. That is not unreasonable when the author is new and without a track record--i. It is not the most common event. whatever the total of royalties the book is able to garner for you over its lifetime. Front.. you will probably earn the same amount. There are no hard and fast rules about this. my own principal publisher orders the second one-half of my advance paid when my manuscript is sent to production. some authors never produce the manuscript. the author is usually paid one-half the advance.) The new writer is not likely to get paid advance money on the strength of a contract only.. before writing the book. Thus it is in your interest to work as hard as you can at getting the largest advance possible. Mid-. It is usually in the form of a grant.. Usually. but usually the new books . and Back Lists The harsh fact is that a majority of the 50.e. money that is not counted against royalties nor paid back in any way. This does not mean that the new author cannot get an advance against royalties. Once the contract is negotiated and signed.000 books published every year do not earn out. e. and the back list. however. and do not even return all the publisher's costs. (Typically. the mid-list.) Grants and Expenses Occasionally a publisher provides money for extraordinary expenses. and the manuscript has been accepted. that the advance negotiated and contracted for will be paid only when the manuscript has been delivered and accepted for publication. the third portion paid only when the book is finally released--but those are exceptions. regardless of the size of the advance----.) If your book does well. a publisher's books in inventory fall into three lists: the front list. g. in thirds. including advance money. Typical Terms on Advances Well-established authors can negotiate book contracts and all terms. as yet unpublished. it probably doesn't matter whether you got a large advance or not: Eventually. (Some publishers insist on paying advances in a different manner--e. 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. At the same time. g.
) Typically. especially if it becomes a best seller and the publisher continues to publicize it. but that libraries will want a cloth edition for their shelves. called "perfect binding. there are three classes of books: The hardcover edition is. and books selling in modest volume but steadily as staples are the back list. . has been a solid backlist book for many years. and that depends on how the publisher assesses the market. Trade paperbacks are generally conceived as books that will reach substantial sales volume in "the trade"--i. the publisher will produce a number of cloth copies as a "library edition. such as Frank Bettger's How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.) But there are two paperback versions. many years after its early printings. but the cover will be of paper or light card stock. usually 3. book stores. technically.000 copies. The mass market paperback is the kind you see in the supermarket and drug stores. It may even have sewn signatures. Mathematics for the Million. Many books are produced in one version only. as the cloth bound book does. in a paperback edition. the trade paperback will sell for about 25 percent less than the cloth bound edition. and the "mass market" or pocket size paperback version. the "trade" or "quality" paperback version." (Trade paperbacks may also have this less expensive binding. printed on a pulp paper similar to the newsprint of the daily newspapers. The trade paperback is printed on the same quality of paper as the cloth bound book. although a few have been. revised editions--while others merely require fresh printings. and is the most expensive method of book manufacturing. a classic of its kind. Cloth bound books are expensive to manufacture and are generally produced with a low initial number. however.. If the publisher has reason to believe that the book ought to be a trade paperback. e. A book may remain on the front list for a long time." although focusing the marketing effort on the trade paperback edition. However. Alternate Versions From the manufacturing viewpoint. Those are usually the sturdiest of backlist books. Some require updating--new. for example. Mass market paperbacks are a practicable proposition only if they can be sold in large quantity and distributed widely. a "cloth bound" version.a publisher releases are the front list. recently released books that are still doing very well in the market are the mid-list. to see how well they go (unless the publisher has some compelling reason to believe that the book will sell in much higher numbers). The Lancelot Hogben book. and with a glued back. and finally became available. None of this means that every book is produced in all versions. 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. There are books that sell well year after year. and the mass market paperback will sell for one-half or less than a trade paperback version might sell. it is a good backlist that is the real strength of most publishers. (That does not mean that quality does not vary. with sewn signatures.000 to 5. cloth versions can range from inexpensive to very expensive editions.
usually. As in the case of most professions. and far more than the 15-percent commission the agent earns. Presumably. I am frequently confronted by aspirants pleading for help in finding an agent. when you are finally ready to be represented. but it does mean "gets along well with editors" in every sense of that phrase. If a publisher bought it. Finding the right agent may be even more of a problem. . then peddled it. there are good agents. he or she provided editing. and at least some of them are interested in reading fees more than in developing and representing successful authors. Like every successful writer of books. Those are not agents you want. a story or an article. and other services to prepare it for production and distribution--publishing. and they can hurt your cause more than they help it if they are disliked by editors. If you go this route. and there are poor agents.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.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. I have had occasion to learn of various editors' reactions to certain agents. and there is a great deal to learn. That doesn't necessarily mean popular or well liked. the agent knows all these things we have discussed and is a good negotiator as well. be sure that you are ready for an agent! CHAPTER 6 $60. there are fairly good agents. There are also agents who are very aggressive and abrasive. A good agent is also one that gets along well with the editors. Most agents who advertise for clients ask for reading fees. How to Find an Agent Finding an agent is a major problem. Most freelance writing then was "on spec"--you wrote something. for an effective agent gets you far more than you can get for yourself. layout. that is. you were finished with it. An agent who truly knows the ropes and is a good negotiator costs you nothing. Once the publisher bought it. if you have an agent. 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. 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. 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.
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. at an agreed-upon price. and publication. proposals. three prominent. You get paid for everything you write because you write to order." However.) I began to read them regularly and to absorb from them. presentations. speeches." rather than to freelance writing? Simply for these reasons: Frequently. You can work this entire market or you can specialize in segments of it. advise about printing or illustrating. typemarking. Once in a while--once in a great while--I sold something for a penny or even a half-cent per word. It was . It is in your interest to be expert in as many kinds of business writing as possible--brochures. I hadn't come that far in my thinking yet. at the time. what difference does it make what the work is called? In some cases. Learning and using all the related skills means earning a great deal more money. and you don't starve in a garret. either. and/or other such editorial services. theses. You may be called on to help conceive and plan the piece. a not unusual rate in the pulp markets of that day. You don't (usually) get bylined in this market. but it was satisfaction to have my name in the press and some of my work worthy of purchase. (Most of us begin by working the entire market until we finally settle into some specialized segment. publicity releases. and production services required to accomplish your client's aim and to earn you your fees. (There were several of them.) Why. I had rather vague ideas. storyboards. at the ripe old age of 12. How it Happened for Me I decided. I discovered the writers' magazines. a few years later. you do rewrites of someone else's bad or incomplete writing. if not all of this market. that I would be a writer. and others. for one reason or another. an enormous business market. editing. Again. do I refer to "editorial services. please interpret that to mean all the spectrum of writing. since you are going to be paid on the basis of whatever your time is worth and the amount of time required. Ultimately. of just what a writer was and did. which you have set or negotiated in advance. You are therefore advised by the client that all that is needed is a "little editing. what do you care what the specific editorial chore is? In most. in fact. writing assignments often require more than writing. So while I may talk of writing throughout this chapter. that he or she doesn't write at all well. But the client is reluctant to admit. and a few minor ones. even to himself or herself. and otherwise provide counsel--consulting services. then. "big league" ones. scripts. as you wish. It wasn't much money. analyze/identify/define the need. and you don't write best sellers--but you don't work on spec.Today there is an entirely different market for freelance writers. reports. layout. if the client is willing to pay you what you ask for your time. what is needed is proofing. I didn't really envision myself as a great novelist or playwright. All I knew was that I enjoyed explaining myself in writing.
despite the occasional major sale. and eating on a reasonably regular basis as an objective. I even managed to win a few prizes in writing contests. I used the GI Bill to get an electronic engineering education. I was beginning to get closer to my goal. (That was where the job openings were!) This turned me into an expert writer of resumes. doing some writing chores for a large city daily and. Eventually. But that was not often enough. and others--required me to go to whatever company had a major contract at the time. which turned out to be also valuable experience. manuals. I stumbled into the design and writing of training systems. I discovered the trade press. earning a living at writing. and many other things but. while I considered my next move. eventually.000. since they had to be constantly updated and oriented to the latest needs. a valuable experience that I tucked away for future reference. I knew where and how to find the work and what rates to charge. propelling me into a consulting career.S. technical writing. first as an employee and later as a consultant and independent contractor. and write resumes. GE. I managed to get in a little newspaper experience. Army newspapers during my WW II service. 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 . The diversity of my earlier experiences proved to be a most valuable asset. reports. proposals. either. I was meeting just enough success to convince myself that I was. Too.vindication of my claim to be a writer. later. I began to do some freelancing by calling a few people I knew to offer my services on a fee basis. leading me to the management of writing and writers and into direct experience as a marketer and contractor to the federal government. format. directly into technical writing. which proved to be quite a boon to my career. I knew how to organize. With that. And I was meanwhile learning how to write effective proposals. At this point. introduced me to Government contract work. and began to sell a bit more frequently. indeed. although I was not yet ready to freelance full time. I had all the tools I needed to be a successful freelance business writer. with my continuing education as a writer. That. which soon led to activities as a seminar leader and public speaker. as a result of my technical-writing experience. training programs. one drawback of reaching above average levels in your field! So. RCA. The trick was to learn how to earn a living at it. although at such low rates that I could not yet earn my living at freelancing. contributing to a couple of U. 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 that led me. Still. brochures. a writer. And by now I was at a salary level that made it rather difficult to find an equivalent job quickly. an open-sesame to where I wanted to go: My years in working for and consulting with many major Government contractors--IBM. such as a book for $4. most important.
still taking on an occasional custom-writing assignment. Most freelance writers work from their homes. But all professionals in private practices--doctors. Remember that you will have to spend some part of your time in marketing and administration of your own enterprise. but it was not and is not a necessity. You may prefer to regard it as a profession. architects. a good rate even in these later days. dentists. writing books and articles for commercial publishers. Probably.) And so I became and am a freelance writer/editor/ publisher. and probably with greater success than I did. That's a business expense too because you are paying for that time out of your own pocket. And any of that cost that is not directly compensated by charges to a client for your time. for I will pass on to you what I learned.offers and open an office in town. I soon added my own special fillips to it. that you must pay yourself a salary. 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. with an occasional one running as high as $150. although occasionally the projects were larger and ran to much higher figures. telephone. usually small jobs of from about $2. I had won my first assignment to write some proposals and a sales brochure for a company. you can do it better.000 to $5. but already had many practitioners. as I had thought it to be. 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. faster. That was my preference. which it is also. as I do today. lawyers. probably a third of your time. . for example. Once firmly established. which you ought to be realizing. Your rates must cover all costs. at the time. Business or Profession? Freelance writing is a business. (Of course. including what you pay yourself. postage. As a freelance writer you have expenses--office rent. You have to spend part of your time finding assignments and making sales--marketing your business. You don't have to do it all or know how to do it all. and that salary is not profit. etc--must be considered when you set the rates you quote prospective clients. and even that does not leave room for a net profit. you will learn why you have to account for your own time as a business expense. and still writing and selling my own little reports. armed with what I have to reveal to you now. That time. of course. and you don't have to make all the mistakes I made in learning. and others--must observe business principles and methods if they are to succeed. Actually. I soon learned that my idea was not original. which ultimately produced several thousand dollars for a few weeks' work. Anyone can do it.000. I also turned my attention to bidding for Government writing projects. printing. it is cost. as well as all other costs--rent. automobile expenses. even if that office is a small room in your home. if you have a professional accountant keep your books for you. is part of your indirect or overhead costs. in fact.
" the average price charged by others for similar work. but "for the job. if you want to pay yourself $30 an hour. there is another consideration: How efficient you are. Clients." so you estimate the number of hours the job will take and multiply that by $52. On one contract I may have charged only $25 an hour because that was the market price. If you are a fast worker and can do the job in far less time than most competitors can. you must know what your expenses are and allow a margin of error in making the estimates of overhead and other costs.Pricing Your Work Taking in $1200 for 40 hours' work does not mean that you can afford to pay yourself $30 an hour. you must charge clients $52. however. The ease or difficulty of finding the source information is another factor. And these considerations apply with respect to the kind of . a flat price is called for. and was all I could get. Keep information about your productivity and your hourly earnings to yourself. of course. tend to rebel at what they think is a high hourly rate. in fact. At the same time you can't simply ignore "the market. Here. or anything else required). That is up to you. and the reverse is true too. and you can earn more than that minimum rate. a quite reasonable rate. On many jobs. of course. regardless of the total price for the job.50 to arrive at a price (adding other special costs. You may not always charge by the hour. If you are somewhat expert with the subject. The Productivity Factors If you are highly productive. as well as how long it will take me. if you estimate a 75% overhead. So hourly rates are really a rough measure of fair prices. When you deduct all operating expenses. your research time is lessened. 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. Your "speediness" as a writer/editor is only one factor affecting productivity. Familiarity with the subject. But you are under no obligation to charge one cent less than you think is a fair price. In other words. 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. You may. they are proprietary and confidential information. such as printing. You should benefit from your productivity and whatever investments you have made to increase productivity. illustrating. however. even then. That is. you are better off to charge by the job as often as possible. but and I wanted the job enough to sacrifice a bit. You might earn $75 an hour. while charging no more than a competitor who earns only $40 an hour because he or she is far less productive than you. 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. is another factor. or the lack of it. and I decide what the job is worth. however.50 an hour for your time. you can turn that to your advantage in two different ways: You can be highly competitive without working below your desired minimum rate.
and my access to other computer databases via my own computer and modem-telephone links. by utilizing the mail. perhaps an outline. when you can get enough work to keep you busy most of the time.) How Specialized Ought You to be? These are arguments for specializing in subjects and/or kinds of written products. again. You decide that you like certain kinds of assignments and dislike other kinds. or whatever it is you have undertaken to write. you begin to develop a more detailed outline or "book plan. What is "Research"? When you freelance in the traditional manner. of course: You visit libraries. your familiarity with storyboards. The research is then entirely up to you. interview people.g. proposals. . I personally do not undertake to write books that would require what I consider to be excessive amounts of research. and otherwise delve wherever you can. gave me. And you start with a rough outline or just an idea. If you are equipped with a good computer system and adequate software. As your research progresses. report formats. in some form. or it may be a total. for example. and many writers do so.writing--e. speculating. you decide for yourself what you will write. "Research. you begin to consider specializing to at least some extent. But after a while. in the hope of finding a buyer after you have written it. and you may very well begin to specialize gradually. Of course. (I manage to do a great deal of my research without leaving my office. But that is a personal decision you must make for yourself. "from scratch" effort. or even a rough draft." may therefore consist of nothing more than sorting out and reading everything provided. In that case the client provides you with a requirement and usually at least some beginning information in the form of rough notes. you may get nothing more than the bare requirement. in the beginning you tend to undertake almost anything and everything you can get a purchase order or contract for. as my first OSHA assignment. Some Typical Cases To illustrate the above more clearly. search through old records. but. without a conscious decision to do so. You may get all the information." This is not usually the case when you are working on contract. we'll look at a few cases of my own: The training development office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And your personal resources are still another factor. the task of developing a curriculum guide for use in junior colleges teaching the OSHA program "Voluntary Compliance. and you don't worry overmuch about how profitable the job will be or how much your net per-hour earnings will be. Labor Department). the telephone. you have advantages that help you achieve a high rate of productivity.." The guide was to assist college faculties in preparing a relevant course of instruction.
I happen to be a professional writer in the most literal sense of the word. which would include the curriculum guide. many of the . I had no prior knowledge of the subject at all. I bought a number of books. speeches.) A General Services Administration task called for rewriting an aborted script for a 15-minute slide/tape presentation of a value engineering program. lecture guides. The client furnished all the or conference. for training seminars for government agencies often the brochures. I took on the job of preparing a two-hour presentation of the history and culture of the American Indians. It was not a profitable job. and I had to do complete research. However. I decided. Two hours' study of the manuals showed me that more information for the instructor was needed. that something more than a curriculum guide was necessary. Bureau of Indian Affairs. When I write on subjects in which I am already reasonably expert--electronics.400. I then took the materials home and did the job there.000 project. writing newspaper articles and other PR for them. and other things of this type everywhere--every business. begged many more from the U. I was hired to handle their publicity. because most of the technical knowledge is already in my head. a student manual and an instructor's guide. I therefore recommended the development of a "study guide" of about 60 pages (about 15.My research consisted of studying the two volumes that made up the course material.000 words). This was a $9. visited with officials of several Indian reservations. estimating the job at $2. (In 1996 I would price that job at about $8. including research and writing. A client who organizes retained me to prepare reports on the seminar perhaps 500 words.500." group plan (analogous to group hospitalization plans). The client furnished the information and the original script that had never been completed. and discussing their content with several OSHA experts. and I wrote a brochure of which I was usually paid $150. This took about two days and paid me $600. far beyond anyone's capacity to pursue them all. audiovisual scripts. uses written products. Where (and What) Are the Markets? The markets for writing brochures. On the other hand. A non-profit corporation near my office sold a "prepaid legal services. And the markets are enormously diversified. (1974 prices!) The job was approved and a government purchase order issued. for-profit or non-profit. for example--most of my research is in the client's outline or book plan. every organization. after this research. for which I had to develop my own outline and plan the extensive research required. But it is necessary to review them and gain an appreciation of the scope and breadth of the opportunities. and I need to refer only to standard technical volumes in my own office library. 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. expending about 100 hours on the job. 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. For example.S.
and many other such items. even--for the buyers of a small calculator or kitchen blender. junior executives. One person I know. energy conservation. have an advertising agency handle their writing chores. They need advertising copy written. The point is that you do not have to be an author. In actuality. was an illustrator who found himself preparing advertising art for most of his clients. Sometimes these are technical manuals. Anyone who can handle the language with reasonable facility and fluency can do this kind of work adequately. he discovered that he could write acceptable copy for that advertising. slogans invented. Before long. product releases. There is a substantial market for developing training programs of many kinds. audiovisual presentations. For example. marketing brochures. and you will probably be able to see that more and more in the various cases and examples that follow. all work for writers. You do not have to be one who has the psychological need to be a professional writer. basic accounting principles. almost everyone who isn't a day laborer requires specialized training of some kind. Many large organizations. and still another managed one of a chain of hardware stores. catalog sheets. safety.. signs designed. who didn't do a great deal of . to succeed at this business. Bear it in mind. And soon he found himself spending as much time writing as he did illustrating. news release. 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. sales letters. but even those are often overloaded or need someone with special skills and experience and vend writing work out to freelancers. And still others are former teachers. Another writer I know started as a sign painter. for example. The training field is an excellent example. and so must develop their own programs.freelance writers making a good living in this kind of writing work are not professional writers at all. With technology developing rapidly. and hundreds of other subjects considered to be a necessity for modern living. beyond high school and even beyond college. one large corporation. if they do a great deal of advertising. Manufacturers also need such things as specification sheets. But they cannot always find off-the-shelf or proprietary programs (e. but quite often they are simple. and other "canned" programs. frequently. Manufacturers need manuals for the equipment they manufacture. to teach these. Some of the larger organizations have their own writers on staff. supervisory principles and practices. in this field of freelance writing we are more writing consultants than freelance writers in the classical sense. in the classical sense of that word.g. seminars. engineers. 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). circulars. but advertising agencies often hire freelance writers to help them. value management. clerks. Many just happened into this field by chance and found it profitable. Many government contracts are let for the writing of training programs and related materials. brief instruction manuals--brochures and booklets. sociologists. psychologists.
But individuals often need writing services too. often 14-hour days. and governments. and the better you satisfy it. One of the great inducements you can offer. on a consideration that many days will be well in excess of 8 hours. and to write articles for technical and professional journals. others for an 8-hour day and bill time-and-one-half for overtime and double-time for weekends and holidays worked. and then $1. your talent. theses. and I have a most flexible scale as to how many hours make up a day. A number of individuals built up substantial companies offering such services.) But that is not necessarily how others work. It's worth doing. I simply do not count the hours. which were at least as much work as the writing I was paid for all this work. 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. but only the day. even if you do not yet realize it. Professionals are called on to prepare and deliver papers at conventions and conferences. and they suddenly realize. You make your own rules. or other obligation. dissertations. then $500 a day. and some individuals specialize in such services. but advertising. associations. paid me over $4. report. we have talked mainly about organizations--corporations. in fact. Many organizations find themselves in difficulty meeting a deadline--a scheduled delivery date--for a proposal. You are satisfying a need. that they are not going to --make the date" without some extra help. companies. as inflation progressed. Some charge by the hour. is a "quick response" service. your energy. to make speeches. 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. Students must write term papers. I have often worked by the day as a proposal specialist. But that daily rate is based on a presumed short-term assignment. Working people must write resumes and special letters of many kinds. usually a few days. That may require working evenings or over a weekend. if you are willing to. your expert knowledge. that are typical of proposal schedules. (My daily rate is based. because each situation is different and each individual's preferences are different.000 a day. For long-term assignments. So far. I charge and am paid accordingly. in part. the more valuable your service is. Others negotiate a flat price for each job.000 to develop a marketing of 20 pages. I prefer a flat day-rate. I may find it expedient to make special arrangements. generally charging from $150 to $300 a day in the early days. at least as much the writing consultant as the writer. and printing. as they approach the deadline. I and others . I had to arrange for typesetting. art work. but if you are willing to make a few sacrifices you can usually win such jobs (rescue operations!).national brochure layouts. 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. was. If you wish to take advantage of such opportunities. (Yes. your effort. advertise your quick response or quick reaction services. You are. The client is buying your time.
By mailing or otherwise distributing brochures and sales letters. going as far as he could go without some professional help. It is usually not effective in getting work from organizations. including the presentation to individual applicants. and delivered the camera-ready copy to them every month for a fee which averaged about 25 cents per word. as a kind of briefing paper! A graduate student paid me nearly $1. in preparation for her first board meeting. and a resume workshop for clients. and the like. Mailing can be difficult. (Not exactly a form letter. paid me to write resumes and cover letters for them. (An idea you might borrow. . addresses to groups. A placement firm paid me to develop an entire marketing approach. in seeking orders from individuals for resumes. Far better. That is better pursued in other ways: Advertising in trade journals that the organization members read. a good rate for those days. A few initiatives: Many individuals begin by placing small classified advertisements in the daily morning newspapers. is to simply distribute your brochures in office buildings.800 to attend a week-long training session and critique the program.are often hired to write letters for individuals. (He got the decision reversed!) And many individuals. since almost every office is a prospect. for which he had already prepared an outline and drawn up a rough draft.000 to write a master's thesis. I believe. either. especially letters to organizations. An association paid me to prepare a newsletter for them every month.) They took care of the printing and distribution (mailing).) 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. And it can be expensive: postage costs are high and still climbing steadily. A city employee hired me to write a letter appealing a decision of the civil service board.) It came out to about $20 per letter! Another government agency paid me $1. I merely wrote. Get enough brochures/circulars/letters out this way. a contract form. In this case. and sometimes remarkably well. Now comes the critical question: How to get assignments and orders--how to get started doing business. with my recommendations for improvement. 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. I developed the newsletter idea. and you are almost certain to begin getting calls. That works reasonably well. You need to collect names. some of them chief executives of important companies. then went out and sold it to a national association. By making in-person and/or telephone solicitations. term papers. typed. She hired me to review several school journals she supplied and abstract all the pertinent articles for her.
When you have completed a few assignments. When you get the "Sorry. You'll be surprised at how much help you can get this way. Stress service--fast. many who hesitate to call because they never take the initiative will hire you if you take the initiative. local colleges. g. All we know is that it is true. than the brilliant individual who is not persistent. Make your telephone number prominent. trade journals. community buildings. than single mailings to new lists. Build a reputation. magazines.) Be highly specific in your literature. but blessed with great persistence.Call every acquaintance. accommodating service... and before you know it you won't be seeking assignments. or fourth time and becomes familiar and recognizable. The individual of average talent and ability. Many people throw a brochure away the first time it comes into their hands. and tell them about your service. ". Or specify references available on request. third. they'll be seeking you! CHAPTER 7 How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles Early Difficulties . other organizations. (You will be surprised how many people want and need professional writing services. Follow up. but hang on to it as it arrives for the second. friends. Call some of the prospects later. easy to find. in the end. list references. for reasons too complex to explore in this limited space Start small. in the long run." ask for referrals or suggestions as to whom else to call. convenient.g. local architect".) Ask them to recommend you to others. efficient. newsletters. Write up press releases for yourself and send them out to newspapers. Make personal calls with your literature. libraries. business clubs. Post notices on public bulletin boards in supermarkets. one simple 'phone call and you will do the rest. as many as you can. I don't have a thing for you right now. Ask them to take a handful of your brochures and cards to give to their business associates. Repeat mailings to a given list are almost always more effective. will almost always do better. often of utmost importance. Persistence is important. business and personal. Make it easy to do business with you--e. local companies.written speeches for prominent. (Why is that? Who knows? Ask your psychologist. Take on jobs you know you can handle swiftly and with good results. and acquaintances. Tell the prospect exactly what you offer to do. either by name or by general reference (e.
try to understand the creative process. But that comes later. much later. that of setting the slant or angle so necessary to making the idea salable. and polish it into the final. That can and should continue doing that for as long as you think you are making any progress at all.) In the beginning. Getting ideas is a typical beginner's difficulty. (There is another important step. You get one that you think is right. editors will change them!) But first we must get and develop the ideas. But then you worry about not only where you will get the next worthy idea. It involves three phases or functions. In fact. days. can be a difficulty for old pros. but we'll get to that presently. Ideas are the currency of writers. 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. and rhetoric are perfect. Our natural inclination is to do just that: ponder the problem and research our memories for relevant information and ideas. as well as their writing skills. story. The Creative Process First of all. Editors do not buy the accuracy of our grammar and punctuation. That is. They are what we sell. nor even our rhetoric (such skills are easily and cheaply bought). when you have trained yourself to be creative. spellings. stories. you get the basic idea or concept. the greatest difficulty is in getting ideas to develop into articles. outline idea Write first draft Revise/rewrite/polish draft Submit final draft. It seems to be such mental agony to try to think up ideas. Evolution of a Manuscript The logical evolution of any writing follows this general sequence: Get idea Research idea Organize. for most writers. whether that is in hours. you do the necessary research and gather together the data to flesh the idea out and expand it into an outline (and book plan. Translated. but also whether you will ever get another good one. finished draft. Let us talk about how to do that. if it is an idea for a book). it is time to incubate the quest. getting basic ideas proves to be the easiest part of the task. which you submit. as well as for beginners. they can have someone fix that if they like our ideas and the ways in which we present those ideas. or book. Then you write the ms. . or weeks. Work on it as long as you can. (Anyway.Editors have been defined as people who don't know what they want until they see it. At that point. this means simply that editors depend on writers--freelance writers--for their ideas. to get enough ideas to keep you busy writing salable articles. from draft through as many revisions and rewrites as necessary. and you may or may not turn it into a salable article. and so difficult to succeed in doing so. Ultimately. even if your grammar. and books. punctuation.
You will have more ideas than you can use. Then. This normally happens when your conscious mind is relaxed. Perhaps you are simply resting in the sun or idly listening to music. Now. I recently tried for an hour to recall the name of that flammable stuff dropped during the Viet Nam conflict and couldn't. Your sub-conscious now has it.) The Power of the Subconscious What has happened here is that your conscious mind. even though you cannot consciously remember it. while you have dismissed the problem from your conscious mind and gone on to other things. it will become second nature.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. You can control it. You will always address your problems this way. You will recognize leads you would not have recognized before. and is working on it for you. your subconscious is working on the problem. During incubation. and you will find them popping into your head unbidden. after I had written and sold my first one. it seems that the conscious mind is most receptive at that point. I am still getting ideas for new books. Literally. Some-how. Go out dancing. Several days later it suddenly popped into my head: it was napalm. You then put the problem out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. Go to an amusement park. has managed to pass the problem on to your subconscious mind. when you have done enough of this. As a result. and go on to other things in your life. in concentrating on the problem and working at it as long as possible. heard. for now. Voila! You have an inspiration! Did you ever try to recall a name or a face and find you couldn't. at some later time it suddenly popped into your head? That is one example of the process. when books are the last thing on my mind. Why could I not recall that familiar word at first? Who knows? But I knew it "would come to me. Go to a movie. or read. It has the advantage over your conscious mind that it tends to remember everything you have ever seen. Inspiration comes to you when your subconscious mind passes a solution to your conscious mind. and they come to me at odd times. and books. Forget about the quest. It will report when ready. The Entire Process Becomes Subconscious In time. and especially when you are in a relaxed mental state. The supply of . your subconscious passes an answer to your conscious mind. take a break. Read a book for pleasure. that is--at least for the present." That is how your subconscious works for you in getting ideas for articles. (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. (I worked hard to get an idea for a second book. when you have forgotten about it. to a degree: When you have invested enough time in intensive conscious efforts to get new ideas. but after you put it out of mind. Forget about the problem. Go off and relax. stories. and contact between your conscious and subconscious is easiest then. more than 60 books later. your subconscious will come to be always on the alert for ideas.
the market for such material is not only the denture wearers of society. After she developed this problem and it was diagnosed. that it is second only to back problems in frequency. Another story in the paper that morning was of a federal employee who stole $1.) . Simpson pursuit on the Los Angeles freeways. you will begin to see some familiar faces. (In fact. some of the stories are amusing enough to appeal to everyone--George Washington's false teeth made of wood (or so it is alleged). we researched the subject. 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. My wife suffers from inner-ear problems--vertigo and nausea. How about visiting a few of these and doing some articles. for example. (If you visit enough of them. 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. the National Enquirer has carried such articles. followed by columns of ads announcing estate sales and auction sales. such as tips for the bargain hunter. 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.) 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. 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. They don't seem to fit as well as they once did. We found that it is a problem much more common than we realized. It must be fed and stimulated. Other published material is one prime source of new ideas.7 million in freshly printed currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The daily newspaper is one of the best sources. I see column after column of classifieds advertising garage sales. In fact. hadn't thought about it wearing down over the 22 years it has been in my mouth. One morning. J. You must expose yourself to sources of ideas and feed them to your subconscious. 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. TV especially. Let's talk now about these sources. I learned that my upper denture is so badly worn down that it ought to be replaced. 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. Sources of Ideas There are many fonts from which to draw ideas. when the Washington Post headlined the drama of the O. although there are plenty of not-so-old-folks who wear dentures of various kinds.
Frequenting such sales can be a business idea--looking for items to resell. consciously or unconsciously..egg proposition: Which do you do first? (Note that while this was written with reference to writing articles for periodicals. Many of these are rather mystical. 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. Let's return to the classified advertising I mentioned earlier. 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.g. and have gone on later to write that book. in which case you want to write for and address it to such a periodical as Income Opportunities. estate. Or I have read books that were on subjects more people ought to know about.) You can do it either way. Most teachers of freelance writing stress the need to understand the slant of the publisher and the publisher's books or periodicals. Using Others' Ads as Idea Stimulators There are many other ways of stimulating your mind to work. at generating ideas. and auction sales--is only the beginning.I have read magazine articles that inspired ideas for books because the subject of the article merited a book. such as how to find rare coins. but the book was much too heavy technically to be of much use to any reader who is not a technical expert. in which case it ought to be addressed to a periodical that addresses hobbyists generally or numismatists especially. be sure that you understand just what kind of slant is right for that publisher. (Databased Marketing. But either way. it applies equally to books. But even then you need an angle. for example). Ideas Must be Slanted Getting a raw idea--e. But the idea can also be slanted to other interests. One other way is to turn the quest into a problem to be solved. What could they mean? Let's look at a few: Under "Miscellaneous" an ad appears that begins "PROTECT YOURSELF and your loved ones. Or I have read a chapter in a book that inspired an entire book on the subject. Most ideas can be turned into more than one article by slanting it to an audience. for example. The Chicken and the Egg Slanting an article or and choosing the right kind of periodical is a chicken-and. And it can easily be a general-interest piece for a general-interest periodical. an article (or book) on garage. for most book publishers specialize in the types of books and subjects on which they publish." The rest of the wording makes it appear to be an . If you have a periodical in mind. so I wrote a book on the subject that anyone could read and understand. That might be novel or unusual garage sales or insight into the great numbers and variety of garage sales. and recommend or at last imply strongly that you ought to choose the periodicals first. you must understand the periodical's own slant and match it. or into studies of interesting individuals who pursue and shop at garage sales regularly.
rejection of a query or proposal may be simply a reflection of judgment on the part of the editor. If you sent that article about the chances of finding rare coins at garage sales to the latter periodical. On the other hand. and yet prove to be wrong in it. The publisher's slant may be narrow or it may be broad. you have an almost certain sale. That is a most common story in publishing. of course. such as nutritionists or well-known authors of diet books that have done well and been accepted.) On the other hand. That is. Many successful books. 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. 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. the chances of acceptance would not be as great as they would be at the periodical focusing on coin collectors. have to interview and quote a few people who had some kind of credentials as experts. Patience and perseverance are essential traits for success in freelance writing. such as police officials." Cook books sell very well. in that respect. But if you find a few shoppers who actually have made good finds of rare coins at garage sales. 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.advertisement for some protective device. even some that have become best sellers and some that became classics. such as a chemical spray or perhaps an alarm. You must allow for that margin of error in judgment. especially with book publishers. Stacking the Odds in Your Favor . 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. home. who may be entirely justified in his or her judgment. the periodical addressing coin collectors is obviously more narrowly focused and specialized than is a periodical that addresses collectors generally. your article might not be a new idea to the readers of that numismatics periodical. 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. to use an example we have already used here. precisely with their focus is. Would idea: How about finding and interviewing and not to do if you are assaulted. 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. traveled from one publisher to another for many weary months before finding a home. (It is not always easy to tell. with descriptions and some expert opinions for qualified people.
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
Today. That means that they are not copyrighted. You Don't Have to be an Expert The interesting thing is that you do not have to be an expert. That will be more complicated. write a will. Composing and Production You can type reports on a conventional (and rapidly becoming old-fashioned. become a consultant. buy at wholesale or discount prices. Many people want this information and don't mind paying to get it. that is--it would be most practicable to go to an offset print shop for them. There is a great advantage in having your reports stored on a computer disk and being able to print them out individually. and other such items. but I usually find it more practicable to print copies on my laser printer as I need them. It's not hard to get ideas for such reports. My suggestion. and you can get many free and nearly free pamphlets and brochures on many. if not obsolete) typewriter or on a computer printer. is to start with the 8-1/2. although not the language.x 11-inch. I have my own copier today. Most of these are in the public domain. to see what people are interested in. I sell to a specialized audience--people who need business information. you can still use the information. they will also give you a good idea of what the public is interested in and wants to read about. manage their money. get free advertising.What I am selling is information: how to do certain things--write a resume. The federal government is one. unless you want to turn the job over to a printer and invest in an inventory. get social security benefits. corner-stitched report format until you learn whether the demand is great enough to justify investment in a regular printing. Prices may . But if you turn to copyrighted material. you will find. you must rewrite it and put it into your own words. Study the classified advertisements in any good newspaper. and you can use the material freely to make up your own reports. many subjects from government agencies. There are abundant sources of information. it covers merely a given combination of words (and/or illustrations). reduce their tax burdens. especially those weekly tabloids sold in the super-markets. start a business. One cannot copyright ideas and information. But there are others who want other kinds of information.x 8-1/2-inch booklet. such as books and magazines you turn to. That is because copyright does not cover ideas or information. xerographic copy made in copy shops is as good as printed copy. get rid of gophers. If I need large quantities of copies--numbering in the hundreds. such as how to cook good barbecue. if and as it is in your interest to do so. You can type it in this format. Read the display advertisements too. as long as the information offered is useful. and thousands of other kinds of information. or you can type it as two-column copy to be printed as a 5-1/2. however. This is a quite acceptable format.
) Gauge how well your ads pull before you invest in the more expensive media.vary widely from one place to another. You can establish dealers. Assume that you will make mistakes. especially when you are starting out. Study successful advertisements. the cost of learning. it is a good idea to supply them with reproducible copies of advertising copy you have developed. "People don't buy quarter-inch drills. People don't buy things. "Sell the sizzle. admired. Take note of TV commercials. however. secure. they sell fun--good times with your friends. Does it work? Sometimes. how you present your product determines how well your copy succeeds in attracting orders. including TV commercials. among many other things. You must appeal to the prospect's emotions. will cost you $5 a word and more. They are what produce sales. they do not. That means that they take the orders. That is. happy. macho manhood in the mountains. And whether it works or not--works well or not. Do as much testing as possible. rational appeals do not. so you will have to determine what is most appropriate for you in your own case. (The biggies--National Enquirer. enjoy good health. receive payment." (It's the holes they want. many of which you could not possibly have foreseen or calculated. There are many variables. And sometimes it does not. not to his or her reason. writing advertisements and buying space in periodicals to run the advertisements. Those are emotional appeals. such as beer commercials. Be modest about your advertising budget. If you drop-ship for them. Try some small newspapers. Do they sell beer? No. Writing Advertising Copy In preparing advertising copy. As that late great salesman.") And. and respected. they buy what the things do. such as circulars or print advertisements. you must sell the benefits--what the product does for the buyer--not the product itself. etc. Elder Wheeler put it. That is because we all have many wants. and learn from them. you should offer a smaller discount than if they . however. under their own labels. If you do this. to save money. and to be a success in life. have fun. Popular Mechanics. These are the kinds of benefits that motivate them to buy.) Expanding Your Business Base You do not have to market your reports directly. loved. emotional wants: everybody wants to be amused. at a few cents a word advertising rates. that is--rarely has anything to do with how much you spend on it. so it is indeed a gamble. not the steak. Emotional appeals bring sales. along with a shipping or mailing label. deduct their commissions. such as country weeklies. they buy quarter-inch holes. paying them a commission or discount--probably 50%--and having them do the selling to the consumers. make them thirsty! (But he is best remembered for his dictum. not the drills. romance on the beach. and send you the balance. You can drop-ship for them. have limited funds. Selling Your Report The obvious approach to marketing is paid advertising. and are learning. as another wise seller observed. if you want to sell people lemonade.
for even more. They range in size from one page to many pages--4. There are newsletters on every government program--e. publishes a newsletter on the subject we are writing about here. also known as profit. in this case. product safety. weekly. They are published on every schedule--daily. Should you decide to undertake newsletter publishing. The value of the newsletter is whatever the subscribers think it is worth to them. publishes a newsletter about newsletter publishing (Newsletter on Newsletters). and ore--although most range between 4 and 12. and even annually. You can always increase the number of pages and the frequency of publication later. Pricing Your Product To succeed in any business--and you must regard publishing as a business --you must charge enough to recover all expenses. for example. and establishes a medium for your own advertising and sales promotion. and there are newsletters published on virtually all subjects--investments. technologies. And Howard Penn Hudson. There are many thousands of newsletters published. a Rhinebeck.. environmental pollution. and just about every business. crafts. 16. if circumstances justify it. in some cases. is a repeat business. quarterly. Jerry Buchanan. and a relatively high-priced item. with pressures and deadlines to face. Washington man. biweekly. Newsletter Publishing Newsletter publishing is a profitable venture for many small publishers. etc). 32. New York man known widely as an authority on newsletter publishing. 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. The average subscription price is probably in the area of $36 to $48 per year for a monthly publication. a Vancouver. government procurement.000.stock your reports in some quantity and do their own shipping. Whatever you sell must retail for considerably more than its cost to you. not of your profit). pay yourself a reasonable salary (your salary is part of your expenses. businesses. and still show a return on investment. occupational safety and health. bimonthly. in most cases. two-way radio licenses issued. hobbies. builds a salable asset. and sundry other topics. It has its advantages and disadvantages as a publishing venture: ADVANTAGES: Provides continuing income. the cost to manufacture them. g. Estimates of the total range from 30. DISADVANTAGES: Burdens you with a regular commitment (monthly. weekly. profession. and they sell for from $12 to $200 per year and. The list price must probably be at least three times the cost. semi-annually. and even . There are many thousands of newsletters published in the United States. thus is relatively more difficult to market. But the distribution is so wide that "averages" do not really reveal much about this astonishing market. writing and self-publishing. Virginia woman launched another newsletter on writing and editing generally. and craft. monthly. 8. An Alexandria.000 to as high as 100.
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. this great markup does not produce exorbitant profits. Understanding the Costs There are three kinds of cost to consider: manufacturing. for example. Fulfillment. that is--are notoriously difficult to win. You must therefore charge at least three times your manufacturing cost for your publications. costs one-half the cover price: $2. selling.50 the report that costs you 50 cents to manufacture because the market for the report is likely to be $2 or $3. is that there is a vast difference between making sales and making customers. That is usually easy to do in this field because the manufacturing cost--printing and binding--is a small fraction of the selling price. or anything else. if the business is to be worth your time. For the selling price is not simply three times the manufacturing cost. The range between the manufacturing cost and the selling price shrinks quite rapidly when all the costs are considered. The counterpart of this in selling reports. That is because newsletter subscriptions--initial ones. In cosmetics. which must cover all other expenses and profit. and perhaps even more. That must come out of the gross profit and still leave you a bit of net profit. The reason for this is the great cost of marketing most products. often the package--tube. Manufacturing this report costs perhaps 25 to 90 cents to print and bind each copy. Selling. That does not include your labor--what you must pay yourself--or the taxes. Still. the manufacturing cost is almost minuscule. including-advertising and/or commissions-. or bottle costs more than the cosmetic contained therein. and other overhead of conducting a business. depending on quantity. which should be essentially without cost to win. Conventional wisdom in the field is that one should not try to make a profit out of initial subscriptions. and postage--adds about 70 cents. and fulfillment. but the new customer is an asset that will soon produce profits via follow-up sales to that new customer. To be on the safe side in the beginning. There are some special considerations in newsletter publishing. envelope.50. insurance.that is often too narrow a margin. but should try for a break-even and earn profits out of renewals of subscriptions.00. principally. for that matter. So you do not sell for $1. that is a bare minimum markup. The selling price is also determined by "the market"--by what equivalent competitive products are bringing. Let's estimate it at 60 cents per copy. Many businesses actually lose money on the initial sale to a new customer because of the great cost of winning that customer. The established newsletter is a great asset in that it represents a customer list and a medium by which to sell those customers other . including printing. jar.
technical writing. I was therefore inspired once to write an article on the art of technical writing and send it off to an engineering trade journal. That was the publication that got me into mail order on a serious basis. while I was working as a technical writer and learning to freelance in my spare time. and soon you begin to get ideas in plentiful quantity. you are more or less reports. but he should have had no trouble with the idea. and that the rest of the query would not matter greatly if the lead was powerful enough. not because they are engineers but because a great many people hate to write. 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. CHAPTER 9 The Magic of the Lead How Important is the Lead? Someone. but even keep those fees modest to encourage a large circulation. and more and more ideas presented themselves to me. even before the titles. and sets the stage. arouses interest. but sold those off eventually to concentrate on writing books for major book publishers. recently asked me how to write a query to a magazine editor. This ultimately conditions your mind to be alert for ideas. with an eye-opener of some sort. (I formerly published several newsletters also. But once you begin to focus and concentrate your attention on the problem. fortunately for those of us who like to write. firmly rejected. The Little Lead That Could Many years ago. That is what a good lead in a story or an article does. I began by writing and selling a resume guide for people who wanted help in writing their own resumes. In my own case. a playwright who has never tried to write for periodicals. for he has written enough of those TV scripts that open. more and more material came across my desk every day. of course. such as reports and books. as must most professionals. as part of their duties. My answer was to start with the best lead he could come up with. I was also truly puzzled.) As my name got onto many people's mailing lists. The article came back promptly. and soon began to develop a series of a writer. 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. I don't know if he understood that or not. many newsletter publishers do not make great efforts to earn profits from subscription fees. In fact. It captures attention. Most engineers dislike this part of the job. Getting Ideas It may be hard to get that first idea for a newsletter or a report.items. since they earn their profits through selling other items to subscribers. Until then. if it is done well enough. At that point I began to research the mail order business seriously. I knew it to be a tightly written . for he didn't reply directly. I was disappointed.
Evaluate Your Lead Good leads are sometimes spontaneous inspirations that spring directly from your subconscious into your conscious mind suddenly.piece. I was saying this: Hey! Mr. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. . hence a reason for the editor to buy it. Here are a few tips and suggestions to make writing a lot easier for you. making the job easier. Engineer. written out of my own extensive experience in technical writing. writing is a distasteful task. and yet to the point. 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. Engineer. "Hey!" is some relevant way to get attention. See. while setting the stage for what is to follow. 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. In my lead. trying to deduce a reason for its rejection. with some tips to solve your problem. and "See?" is the copy following that explains what your lead has introduced. confronting the reader with this: "The U. "You!" is something to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. thorough. this is about that distasteful writing job. I finally got an inspiration: I changed the lead--nothing else--and sent it straight back to the same editor who had rejected it. as well as an explanation of what the article was about. that venerable writer's periodical.S. this is how you do it. so I studied the piece I had written. then. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. You have to work at making it appear to be natural and spontaneous. I also knew it to be sound. direct language. (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. It all adds up to here is what this will do for you about that distasteful writing chore. Government Paid Me $6. It will help You. that is what it ought ideally to appear to be. Most of the time you aren't that fortunate: You have to work at developing a dynamite lead. It is in forceful. But I wasn't ready to give it up. often startling. but it is an inescapable part of engineering. That is what a good lead does: it captures the reader and sells your work. with the promise of revelation. idea. 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.000 to Answer its mail. He bought it immediately! Here is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. And then I did what I promised: I provided the tips to make technical writing easier to do.
It is dramatic. since they are usually the first thing the editor sees in your query or proposal. Compare The $100 Billion Market with The U. In fact. and contribute absolutely nothing to moving the story along. especially not in the case of the working title. and capture its essence. novel. That title for the proposed book or article (call it the "working title") is solely to help me sell it. revelatory of the presentation strategy. we ( the publisher and. Titles are thus an important element in marketing your work for the very reason just described: They are. and ought to do the same job for it that any lead does: forecast what is to come. And I do not fear using a long title. my book titled. The U. leads. But when I am writing my proposal. (My own book proposals always present a suggested title in full caps. 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. it can be combined with or compressed into a title or a headline. since it may be dropped later and replaced. let me make a few relevant observations: That word title ought to refer to and include every headline and caption in anything you write. . of themselves.It is a promise of what is to come. possibly.000 to Answer their Mail!) Later.S.S. Government Paid Me $6. I want something with high impact. Often. That works especially well when you can manage it.000 to Answer their Mail! to see what I mean with respect to those factors. 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." Such titles are unimaginative. It helps you get a good focus on what you ought to try to do in writing a title. attention-demanding. and Captions While I am on the subject of titles. 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. that elaborates on the theme set by the title. Make your titles a part of your story. Ideally. even shock value. Titles. The $100 Billion Market would be called. I) will probably select and use an entirely different title to attract readers. There is a much more value to a lead than that: A good lead helps you write the story. such as "Introduction. Or should be. Heads. Government Paid Me $6. I want the title to be novel.) I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. Avoid generic titles. it's a good idea to always think of titles as leads. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. followed by a subtitle in initial caps and lower case. although not always. or amusing. boring. Every headline and caption is a lead to what follows. (Were I writing it today.
For a short piece--an article or a report--I start with only a broad idea and what I know about the subject. but how indispensable it is for me and other writers who have similar working habits. and other characteristics. when I did not adhere to that guide. I know. while sorting them all out and developing an organization. I am laying the groundwork for the piece. in effect. of which I am one. an article. It sounds disorganized. and they generally follow their outlines as closely as possible. although I know that I will make changes later. you define what the piece will be about. the strategy of its organization. or preface. The lead is your road map. if you work this way. For me." I am actually thinking out and trying out a number of ideas. I was forced to discard it all. than developing a classic outline. as I write. I find myself unable to proceed with any piece of writing until I have developed a lead I am satisfied with. I must still develop a lead and that becomes a first chapter. It doesn't matter whether it am working on a book. For the latter kind of writer. or a letter to someone: I can't go on until I am satisfied with the lead. It was most painful. working on the lead--and. but necessary.Writing From the Lead There are many writers who prepare a careful outline before writing even the briefest of pieces. Titles and Leads as Basic Ideas One of the inevitable questions every author of books gets from strangers is. It's no different. who write from their leads. and a new lead had to be laboriously re-typed. . For a lengthier piece--a book--I do write an outline. your compass. usually. but it works best for me (as I presume it must for some other writers) to work out my ideas this way. I suppose that different writers get their ideas from different sources and in different ways. but it works for me. usually. There are others. that is. "Where do you get your ideas?" It's a fair question. It is your lodestone. and I can speak only for myself. Does that mean that you must do this too? No. the lead takes the place of an outline.or how I discover them. with as much detail as I can muster before actually writing anything. I learned to trust my feelings in such matters before I get 50 pages into a new piece of work. every word I had written--typed. and it's not unrelated to leads and titles. the style. but I do know where at least some of my ideas come from and how they find their way to me. I think it significant that the result was the best-selling book of all that I have written. a lead that defines the job for me and tells me where I am going. On one occasion. 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. And it illustrates not only how important and useful the lead is. certainly not. every writer has to develop his and her own style and own working habits: Do whatever works for you. In it or with it. its slant. revising it many times and starting over frequently--is "thinking on paper.
to develop a workable idea for a second book. If you deliberately pursue ideas by reading extensively. "Hey. News & World Report. Long titles are not a burden. methods. and discussing ideas with others. That was before I had succeeded in . if necessary. which was actually a brief lead. Sometimes editors will suggest ideas for books and articles. but usually you are on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. Here are a few you can use: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. thinking about what you read. The classic How to Make Friends and Influence People was not a short title. work consciously at searching out new ideas. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas started out as How to Get Money-Making Ideas. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers. and they will occur to you spontaneously and with increasing frequency. Many successful books have long titles. Often. It will quest constantly for ideas. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. the title The $100 Billion Market lodged in my head and wouldn't go away. you think. Marketing Without Money was another one that started with a title and kept the original title all the way. after my first book was published. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i." businesses based in private homes. as you read. when I read an article in U. you will have trained your subconscious to do this for you. listen. that there was currently a spate of "home offices. but the first step is to get the idea written out. and in a surprisingly short time. Make the title long enough to do the job. Of course. it inspired me to research and write my own book on how to set up a home office. and observe life every day. and can always be shortened later. I did not have a great deal of trouble selling the idea of writing a book with that title. when you come across stories in your field. start with a long title deliberately. in time. When I learned that the federal procurement budget had reached $100 billion (and more) each year. new Above all. For example. However. for example. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea. Don't be afraid to write long titles. a great many people would like to know about it." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. 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. that's only half the story. a news magazine. new developments of all kinds. (I can recall my struggle.e. not all my books and articles start with ideas for titles.. In fact. Be alert for new products. You can trim it down later.S. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. another book that started with an idea for a title. but it is a good way to provoke your mind.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. new services. nor was my own How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. I can do better than that.
does a regular syndicated column on small business. Two writers I know specialize in writing about automobiles and the automobile industry. Jane Applegate. pestered with gophers. when she approached him. Everyone has problems of some sort. and sold 14. such as information brokering or consulting. new tax laws. Some subjects are timeless. When the Washington Post runs its frequent special sections on jobs and careers.conditioning my subconscious to help me in finding new book ideas. since you have a special interest in the field. but your conscious mind will perform the critical function and sort the ideas out. But interests in many other subjects. to almost any degree. Significantly. trends in employment and job opportunities. and new trends in automobile accessories come and go. 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. That is what readers want: useful information. you might write about small business generally and range over the entire field. Timeliness of subject is another key to success in choosing subjects. One man. the subject of specialization is not unconnected to the subject of leads and titles. Many writers write about computers. evidently specializes in career activities--job finding. for example. 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. Sheryl Silver. One local writer in this area. of course. usually about the software programs. that I was all written out. Research becomes much easier--is continuous and automatic. If you choose to write about small business. found an effective way to discourage them. by all means consider writing about it. resume writing. depending on how diverse the general field is. offering solutions to the most common ones are among the most salable writing. and has had a successful book published on the subject. or you might opt to write about only some special kind of small business. If you learn of a solution to some problem.) Many of the ideas will be of no use. and anything. people always want to know how to succeed. did some research. had used up all the ideas I would ever have. Another writer. you provide information in these books and articles. There is quite a large advantage in both these aspects. In more general terms. You can carry this specialization further. and you begin to build a reputation as an expert in some special field. But pick up any magazine and see for yourself how many of the articles are about how to solve certain problems. this writer's byline appears on page after page. (Ten years and 25 or 30 books ago a well-known editor in a major book publishing house assured my agent. books or articles. in fact.000 copies of his two-page report on the subject. for example. Specializing in this way has advantages: You maximize the results of your research and expertise. which is one reason for raising the . such as high-definition TV.
Somehow. it was only a number of years later that a similar idea occurred to a publisher of computer books. 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. The late John D. One. It created a specialty for me. as the story I just related indicates. 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 editor rejected it. himself an immensely successful oil magnate (Standard Oil) was one who recommended emulating others' success. An acquaintance sent a friend to visit me. 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. with another publisher. a seed had been planted." That illustrates another fact of life about publishing. John Wiley & Sons. Why not? I had been a consultant myself. The fact that a great many people are almost phobic abut using computers has not been lost on all computer writers. Some time later. and it turned out to be the most successful of my books. for him. who produced a highly successful series of "Dummies" guides to computer subjects. and had written a proposal for such a book. and has since expanded to subjects in other fields. The Magic of the Subconscious Mind I am not a believer in mysticism or metaphysics. etc. And so I began to toy with the idea of doing a book on that subject. At the moment. He wanted me to submit it to my current publisher. rather than undertaking risky new beginnings. Eventually I did. suddenly and unexpectedly. negotiations. I saw no harm in doing so. and I have since become known as something of a guru on the subject. somewhere in the recesses of my mind. contracts. the subject was not one that I would have to research from scratch. The friend wanted to write a rather scholarly book on consulting. I had no interest in the subject." Oddly enough. and I returned the proposal to the author. and to this day I am writing "consultant's guides" to various activities--writing.") But it also inspired several other books of my own dealing with various aspects of consulting. All because someone else's proposal planted a seed in my subconscious.subject here. Rockefeller. and promptly forgot the entire incident. 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. and I submitted it to my editor at AMACOM without comment. AMACOM. Or even by someone else's lack of success. and certainly knew other consultants. 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. The following explanation of how it . the thought of writing a book about consulting struck me. It can be an internal source of great help. John Bear. However. but I have learned something of the power of the subconscious mind and how to enlist it in your service.
blocked or not. It may be laziness. Turn your total attention to something else. and without a satisfying lead. unfortunately (or perhaps that is fortunate).) That is another place where I use my subconscious to help me. My remedy is to write. and then discard everything or any part of what you have written. I struggled for a time to get a good idea for a second book. browses in the dictionary. When I finished my first book and managed to find a publisher for it. you can use the magic of the subconscious mind to make you a better writer. You can condition your subconscious mind to be always alert for ideas and to suggest them to your conscious mind without being prompted further. But using it to get new ideas is only the beginning. psychic rebellion--who knows? But it's debilitating for a writer. I always have trouble starting a new book or a new article--trouble developing my lead. 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. That is when the name. The latter will work on the problem below the conscious level and get back to you at some future time. The way to impart a need to it is to concentrate consciously on the problem or need for as long as you can. it's just understanding how to make your own mind work for you. view. despite all efforts. and it does. then. If I don't manage that. and put the matter completely out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. write anything. that is. I will fall victim to that dread writer's disease known as writer's block. or word you couldn't remember earlier. usually when you are relaxing at some casual activity. straightens up the desk. That is the key to getting all the ideas you will ever need or can ever use for things to write about. That turns it over to your subconscious. there are other even more valuable uses possible. goes to the kitchen to make coffee. It's a disease of unknown origin. number. and listen as widely as possible. Write a bad poem. that is. makes telephone calls. Anyone can do it. Start scribbling. . or the idea you couldn't generate consciously. and does everything but write--works at finding reasons to delay getting to work and writing. looks out the window. One of the beauties of writing with a computer and word processor is that you can do this so easily. You can't communicate with it directly. After more than 60 books. For one. Scribble anything.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. suddenly pops into your head. Read. Beating Writer's Block Probably every writer suffers from block now and then. and then abandon it when you have exhausted all conscious efforts. and your subconscious will sort and sift the information and come up with ideas. fatigue. I am nowhere with the new book or article: I simply can't get going until I get that lead mastered. but must use an indirect channel. (That is the disease where the writer sharpens pencils.
It was that. At least. construct-ions or whatever. do it as a consultant. and problem solver: I helped the client design the program and its strategy. manufacturing. 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.. personnel. It makes you a consultant. g. that's how it works for me. For those of us to whom writing comes easily and is even an enjoyable thing to do. however. It is thus an indicator of where you ought to concentrate your efforts as a writer or. and worth considerably higher fees than you could command as a writer per se. under contract. taxes.Start a science-fiction absurdity. more specifically. so that the program followed a specific marketing strategy I had designed. the professionals. preferably. . The average person hates to write. Make an analysis of those subjects in which you have substantial knowledge and experience--e. Writing itself is only part of the task in writing for and in the business world. serving a specific client need and probably solving a client's problem. but that also qualifies as consulting work.. considerable expertise. doing custom work for a client--actually makes you more than a writer. trouble-shooter. Start the juices. but also some subject-matter expertise. enough at least to relieve the client of most of the chores of planning the written product and outlining the approach to it. printing. point to opportunity for those of us who enjoy writing. more specialized. as well as the presentation. But write. Do it in subject-matter areas in which you have knowledge and competence and. sales. psychology. not the writing per se. you will wipe out the nonsense and get down to work. electronics. politics. Consider the typical writing needs of the various areas: manuals. reports. e. End of block. for example. However. and I hope it will work for you. management. that may be hard to understand. It does. It means that you have been retained to do a specific job. If you are going to do custom writing. Before long. accounting. marketing. for which I was paid $1000/day. That's true for even the more highly educated. There are many needs for writing in the business world and particularly in most of the specialized businesses and professions. finances. as a writer-consultant. That is especially the case when you write in some area where you are expert--marketing. Writer or Consultant? Working as a writer for hire--i. and not as a writer. or it ought to. or any other area of special knowledge. There are many areas of need in which this is possible. but that does not make it less true. in a great many cases it requires not only writing ability. financial management. banking. This is how and why I could command $1.000 a day without difficulty as a proposal writer: It was because I was more than a writer: I was a proposal strategist. training. It makes your services more valuable. and the proposal followed a specific presentation strategy that correlated with the marketing strategy. You can and should be more than a scribe in those circumstances.
but they simply do not know how to go about it. and some of the most beautiful are useful mostly for starting a fire or recycling into packing material. but still only a tool: It does not lessen to even the slightest degree the need for knowledge. Let's take the matter of the newsletter alone: Even with the dtp software doing the layout and format design for the user. 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. However. brochures. The probability is that you can claim reasonable expertise in a number of areas. and judgment as a writer and editorial expert.) That is not all there is to it. the capability brochure. and especially if you are going to freelance. press release. They seek out opportunities to make their own competitive bids for such assignments. speeches. of course. however. to be sure. the annual report. audiovisuals. but content is another matter. that they will necessarily be well written or effective in meeting whatever their objectives are.) It is no less true of every other document: the newsletter. most of us learn many things in the course of our careers. ability. (That does not mean. It is one way to sell your services as a writer. there is also the possibility of being a publications consultant. however. and whatever else a business needs. Some of the homeliest newsletters have been among the most successful. Creating Your Own Market The average freelance writer seeks clients who have a felt need for writing help. But the computer is only a tool. of course. 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. Specializing as a Publications Consultant Many small business owners would like to publish a newsletter or turn out a better brochure.salesletters. public speaking. Anyone who can run a computer and handle the desktop publishing software available today can turn out a professional-looking newsletter. Cosmetics are one thing. specifications. brochure. catalog sheet. or any of most other publications today. newsletters. no matter how handsomely they are laid out. the proposal. but it is not the only way nor necessarily the best way: There is an entirely different approach to the problem of . It is. or other. (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. a valuable one. Then pursue assignments as an editorial/documentation specialist within the areas of interest. but the art lies in writing a press release that the press will use. if you are going to write at all. not unimportant. Anyone can (presumably) write a press release.
especially if you have a flexible plan for helping these clients. a publicity campaign. such as public relations. 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. That is not difficult to do.. however. for example. printing.finding clients: Opting to be a publications consultant and. Much of the information was already crossing my desk every day. However. and will pay you to help them. It is possible for you to create a newsletter that can be published by clients as their own. however. and a great many business owners are excellent prospects for this service. of course. start looking for subscribers. while you help yourself too. You can also write clients' newsletters for them. Even then. You can. direct marketing. They liked the idea. They need someone to do it all. 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. Newsletters and press releases. opens up new possibilities: Instead of seeking clients who have felt needs for the services of a freelance writer. You can create and publish your own newsletter. or internal communications. mailing. You supply this each month to each client as a master copy. You can help even these kinds of clients. presumably. are also valuable and effective marketing tools when used wisely. create a newsletter on computers. and they spell opportunity for the enterprising freelance writer. That is only one way to do this. direct mail. up to the point of printing and mailing. Many organizations would like to have their own newsletters. but at relatively small cost. It worked well for both of us for a long time. selecting a special field therein. but find it too much of a job to produce one. I did not want to undertake a new business--i. and the association would have it printed and mail it out to their members. There is also the case of the small business owners who would like to have a newsletter. Even in that last approach. e. offering useful articles and ideas. however. there are variants possible. The most motivating consideration to interest prospective clients is that of the marketing benefits such activity can bring. or some other activity requiring your expert services. Direct marketing--marketing via salesletters and direct-mail packages in general--is obviously an effort to win sales. will contain the . you can go in pursuit of clients in whom you can inspire a sense of need for a newsletter. Twists on Newsletter Publishing There are at least three ways to make money writing newsletters. but really can't afford it. and we struck a deal. for there are several ways to do it. identical for all except that each client's master copy. and all the rest of it. many executives managing organizations really don't have any idea about what to put in a newsletter. what the client will send to the printer to be printed in sufficient quantity for mailing. I would deliver master copy.
there is nothing to prevent you from expanding this idea and doing several newsletters for clients in different businesses or industries. here are the facts: Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. as you will soon see. 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. there are reasons for registering a copyright in many cases. you research and write only one newsletter each month (or whatever period you wish to issue the publication) and deliver a master copy. some of which will probably surprise you. copy. and it is considerably less than a full-time job for you each month. if the client wishes. music. but under the newer law (the Copyright Act of 1976. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. so the client can insert a page of his or her own information or editorial. POPULAR BELIEF: To get copyright protection you must register your property with the Copyright Office. However. Done this way. with the client's own title and information imprinted. As the author of the work. In fact. only you and/or others to whom you grant permission or assign your rights can reproduce. The current law provides copyright protection for the life of the author plus 50 years.client's identification as the publisher. computer programs. and similar works of creation. It is not even necessary to register a copyright with the Copyright Office to get the protection of copyright. You leave one page blank. or make other use of your property. It's a worthwhile proposition for both of you. or the client can pay you to write it especially for him or her. and it is available for literary works. with no renewals . (You might even allow each client to make up his or her own title for the newsletter. in the words of the Copyright Office. drawings and paintings. the newsletter becomes much more affordable for the small business-person. Of course. What is Copyright? Copyright means literally the right to copy or the right of ownership of the creation. WRONG: Copyright protection is far simpler to secure than that. it is an incident of the process of authorship. that is.) Thus. which became effective January 1. Copyright was always easy to get. Either the client or you can insert that special page. Here are the basic facts. while it is profitable and provides a steady income. 1978) it became even easier.
brush strokes. however. as was the case under the older law. colors. names. it may be possible to prove that the "information" was protected by copyright. the unique creation of an author. or other transfer of ownership of the physical property. That. use the symbol P in a circle. Publication It is no longer necessary to actually publish a work to afford it copyright protection. however. advising everyone of the protection. sale. But publication is still desirable. but anyone can use the information in it to write his or her own book or article. This. More significantly and less well understood is that you cannot copyright ideas or information. you cannot copyright individual words. Other items that are not protected by copyright are less obvious." It may say "Copr. etc that constitute the artistic property.. short phrases. The first choice is the best because some foreign nations do not recognize the c symbol. 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. Many publishers. because copyright is automatic when the work is produced in some final form. under the newer law. How to Register a Copyright .authorized. It is only that combination of elements that is so covered and protected by the copyright. from a practical viewpoint. It can be simply the words "Copyright (year) by (name). computer commands. notes. one that is not well defined because it is extremely difficult to be absolutely precise about it. possible although it may be. begins to get into a hazy area. use both the words and the symbol. etc. recorded. an inadvertent failure to post the copyright notice does not automatically bar copyright protection. they belong in the public domain as common property. If what appears to be information is. Fortunately. Copyright Notices There are several ways to inscribe a copyright notice. No one has the right to reproduce your book or article--or any lengthy portion of it--for example. and other such brief items. It may use the symbol c. What Cannot be Protected by Copyright? Obviously. brush strokes. (For phono or sound recordings. calendars. Publication is defined as distributing copies to the public by rental. slogans. etc--titles. They include works not yet in fixed form--printed. What Can be Protected by Copyright? Copyright covers the specific and unique combination of words. listings of ingredients.) The notice should be placed in some prominent position on the item. Publication should be accompanied by a notice of copyright. would be the exception to the rule. musical notes. in fact. computer commands. colors." followed by the year and name. as it did under the original law. however.
despite the abundance of copyright notices on literary and other properties. bulletins. For serial publications--newspapers. Why Register? Since copyright protection--statutory copyright--is so easy to get. PA for published and unpublished works of the performing arts--dramatic and musical works--motion pictures. including the . However. practical reason: You cannot seek legal remedies. etc. plays. 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. magazines. magazines. CA for supplementary registration to correct or amplify information given in an earlier registration. such as newspapers. On the other hand. there are some good reasons for registering a copyright. perhaps you should not. it is hardly worthwhile to register every copyright. There are. dissertations. Of course. why bother to register a copyright? Well. etc. file or defend yourself against an infringement suit--unless your copyright has been registered. and other such works--Copyright Office Form TX is used. Because a great many publications are really not in any great danger of infringement and are not especially valuable. Hence. RE for claims to renewal copyright rights for properties protected under the 1909 Copyright Act. if you must at some point defend your copyright via legal action--i. But there is one immediate. it will be much easier to prove your claim if you had registered your copyright in the beginning. But there are some other provisions of interest too: If made before or within 5 years of publication. sculptures. registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright claim. drawings. newsletters. articles. The question revolves around the value you assign to the property--is it potentially of great value. SE for serial works. VA for published and unpublished works of the visual arts--paintings. you may register your copyright at any time. thus requiring full protection?--and the likelihood that anyone will infringe upon your copyright. in the bargain. reports. For ordinary textual works--single works. in fact. a quite large portion are unregistered copyrights.There are a number of forms used for registering copyrights. directories. SR for published and unpublished sound recordings.. such as novels. e. to continue indefinitely. etc--Form SE is provided. journals. all the following forms: TX for published and unpublished non-dramatic written works. and not by registering that copyright. many publications are protected by only the statutory copyright cited here. other audiovisual works.
dates from the day your application was received by the Copyright Office. If you have registered the copyright not later than 3 months after publication or prior to the infringement. to review and approve that portion of your own work in which you cite or quote them. send the following three elements. Unfortunately. as explained here. This is not at all unusual. to that same address: A A A ù ù completed application form.) nonreturnable deposit of One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. Of course. nonrefundable fee of $20. that authors often include brief quotes from other.statements in your application. it is best to request permission from the copyright owners before quoting more than a sentence or two. not cash." One reason and usage for this is to permit critics and other reviewers to cite from the works they are reviewing. especially if the quotation is to be a lengthy one." so "fair usage" remains a rather difficult area to define. DC 20559 To register a book or manuscript. except philosophically. we have no good definition of how brief is "brief. packaged together. Relevant Matters You will notice. whether you agree to permit that action--virtual censorship--is up to you. both in text and in footnotes. Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. it is usually not difficult to get permission for brief quotes. 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. in your reading of various publications. However. you may collect statutory damages and attorney's fees from the defendant. Registration Procedure First request from the Copyright Office the application form(s) you will need. regardless of how brief the quote. Another is to permit scholars and other authors to document their own published works. when issued. This quoting of brief excerpts from copyright works is authorized under the doctrine of "fair usage. The copyright. And always make attribution--identify and credit the source--when quoting anyone. (Send check or money order. copyright owners may request payment--a royalty--for permission to quote. copyright publications without any indication that permission for the quotation was granted. Too. A Few Other. Other-wise. I have always refused to yield to that kind of a demand and found some other way to illustrate or document my . in fact. you can collect only actual damages and profits. As a matter of practical application. In practice. The address is as follows: Register of Copyrights Library of Congress Washington. should you wish to quote someone.
is a multibillion-dollar market for every kind of writing conceivable. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. at current budget rates. quote. that should suffice. phrased in my own language. A Basic Orientation The 34. Name and organization:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Signature:------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date:-----------------------------------------------CHAPTER 11 Government Markets for Writers The government. although the bulk of the effort required is. for what might be described as editorial services. with full attribution. with its hundreds of agencies and thousands of offices. I suppose a lawyer would draft a formidable release form for this purpose. But you can easily adapt this to your own needs by simple changes. And there is good reason for so describing them. cite. and so most of the materials I cite. Government offices and other facilities scattered throughout the United States and our possessions are spending about $14 billion per year. 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.S. often by paraphrasing the other author or by simply reporting his thoughts. writing effort. comment on.work. but I write books for business owners and other entrepreneurs. and/or reproduce in my books are materials originating with business firms. If there has been an exchange of correspondence with the copyright owner and he or she has given specific permission in correspondence. RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. and it has always worked well for me: This was designed for my own use. and most of it is done under contract by private organizations and often by individuals.000 U. but I have not found it necessary to be quite that formal. What is not so well known is that most of this . That the government generates a great deal of "paper" is well known. You must be sure to get written permission--a signed release--from the copyright owner before using his or her material. But I use a simple form that I supply with my request. The form was thus designed with that in mind. in fact.
training programs. and problems. However.generation of "paper" does not take place in government offices. and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. size. offering training courses to the rest of the federal government. each agency has a large degree of freedom in organizing itself internally and allocating necessary functions. There is no set standard in government organization. the year around as a permanent program. the constant growth of new technological developments and the ever-swelling government bureaucracy add up to constantly growing markets. the agency may even have special departments or offices dedicated to these activities. Each agency does so according to the needs of its own missions. motion picture scripts. in military and civilian agencies. in others the responsibilities are vested within some other office or department. since training is one of their prime functions and goes on continuously. they are not the only purchaser of such publications. Who Does All the Writing? . In many cases. also require such documentation. articles. The military agencies have by far the largest training establishments. so they are normally by far the largest developers of publications. to name three. often along with personnel and other administrative duties. have entire residential training institutes of their own. the government contracts out most of this work to private industry. audiovisual scripts. brochures. 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. or training materials may be developed by a publications group. Consequently they may include reports. the Office of Personnel Management (formerly the Civil Service Commission). newsletters. for the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA). But training is a concern throughout the government. not surprisingly. speeches. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Training In addition to the agencies' own. and even books. and other agencies. internal training facilities. manuals. proposals. For writers. the Postal Service. where the size of the agency and its publications/training requirements are large enough. Publications Government publications fall into two broad classes: those for internal consumption and those for public information. Virtually every government agency of significant size and importance has both publications and training responsibilities. lecture notes. Training responsibilities may include the development of materials to be used for training. In fact. operates a training division with six branches of training. several agencies--the Internal Revenue Service. 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.
and with the size of our government and our annual budget you might expect the bulk of that writing to be done internally. here are some of those I was entrusted with as a small. for a few years I kept myself quite busy writing for government agencies exclusively.) It is a market open to all. For the Postal Service Training and Development Training Institute. For the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).000 today.000. the large organizations often find that they cannot handle the smaller contracts profitably or efficiently. that is not the case. Typical Tasks Contracts let by government agencies for writing can range widely in size. $2.400 for the development of a curriculum plan for training health and safety specialists. and even millions of dollars. many billions of dollars' worth each year. $6. NOTE: Most of the above contracts were in an era when a small purchase was less than $5.500 for an audiovisual storyboard and script. However. $9. by far the bulk of such work is done externally. (In fact.000 job to develop an "annual report. a great deal of it as a requirement under larger contracts for engineering and manufacturing. For the Public Buildings Service. For the Public Buildings Service. as an independent contractor.All of this calls for a great deal of writing. For the Forest Service. and thus often cannot compete effectively for small jobs and do not wish to do so. from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands. Obviously. in many cases the smaller jobs are set aside for small businesses. by government employees. and the large organizations are thus barred legally from competing for them. independent contractor and freelance writer: For the Federal Aviation Administration: A $23. $750 for a brochure about new procurement forms." explaining the year's work in safety engineering. On the other hand. Rather. Small-Purchase Opportunities .000 to answer mail and develop a system to enable them to handle the job. of course. to give you an idea of both the kinds of writing tasks and their sizes. Finally. $600 to upgrade their rate manual. Surprisingly enough. but much also performed by individuals and organizations hired under contract for such tasks specifically. contracting directly with government agencies and subcontracting to the government's prime contractors. from freelancers to large corporations. the large contracts are not for the freelance writer or small editorial business.000 to develop an audiovisual training program in American Indian history and culture. For the Energy Research and Development Administration. $3. whereas it is $25.
Therefore. Getting on a maximum number of bidders lists helps in this case. (Subscriptions may be ordered from either agency. 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. contracts are awarded as a result of sealed bids (awards to the low bidders) and competitive proposals (awards to those submitting the best proposals). published by the U. The federal government announces its needs and calls for bids and proposals in a daily publication called the Commerce Business Daily. This permits agencies to use purchase orders." as it is commonly referred to. informally and with only nominal competition and/or a simple letter proposal. How the Government Buys How the government buys and how to sell to the government are different subjects. although there are certain exceptions. but access to the "CBD. and normally you would compete for a writing contract by submitting a proposal. rather than formal contracts. in many cases.S. all procurement offices want you to register with them by completing their bidder's application forms. it enables you to survey and choose from the maximum number of bidding opportunities. (There are more federal employees in California. Direct. others were awarded to me under the Small Purchase Act.) This publication lists hundreds and hundreds of government needs--bid and proposal opportunities--every day. is available also via the Internet. and local government agencies is by open competition. which will put your name on bidder lists so that you will receive many solicitations without requesting them. than in Washington. The federal government has thousands of contracting offices (some 130. personal contact with government officials is by far the best . However. state. while local governments have purchasing officials in county seats. Modus Operandi for Freelance Writers Writing is a custom service. because so many writing jobs are relatively small--qualify under the law as small purchases--many can be and are awarded without competition or.Some of these contracts I won in competitive procurements through submitting the winning proposals. and local government agency with whom you expect to do business. You should register (file the bidders application form) with every federal. However. 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. for example. town halls. and city halls. Department of Commerce and printed by the Government Printing Office. state. By law all public purchasing for federal. for purchases under $25.000. at least. but you should understand the basic system.000 federal employees work in purchasing and procurement functions) all over the country. with limited competition or without competition.
as they learned only after they accepted the job and paid for it!) In such cases. there are cases where they do. experience. from initial research to having the final camera-ready copy ready to go to the printer. or they have been handed a hot potato of a job by a superior. but do not embarrass the client by pointing this obvious truth out. in fact. (Or. and bill for "editorial services. That is opportunity for those prepared to handle it. to have the publication printed and bound. yes. need editorial services: literally editing. Make personal calls on these people and leave business cards. and other factors that reflect the kind and volume of work you can handle.g. Instead. Seek out the various government agencies and inquire who is in charge of publications. writing and/or rewriting is required. as the contractor. editors.approach for this work. sometimes. It is mutually beneficial to have agreements with others. and will probably pay off in future assignments and recommendations to others. you can and should take advantage of this to cement your position with the agency and the individual client in the agency. qualifications. representing yourselves as . actually. and training. a goodly bit of editing is required: It was wise of the client to perceive this. and they often need help. and other relevant factors). Continue to make these calls and become a familiar figure in those offices. Price the job for what is really required--writing/rewriting--but do agree cheerfully that it is editing. and advice--consulting services. public information. People in government have problems. how fast you can respond and turn a job around. (There are even occasions on which the government agency wants you. (Repeat business and recommendations from a Department of Labor office for whom I did some needed editorial repair work resulted in over $65. and capability statements. that another contractor did the job and botched it. Unless you object to doing such work.000 in additional business there and in other agencies. and is the route to the larger and more profitable contracts. help. It's good business to do so." Everyone is then happy! Of course. For example. "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. and others on whom you can call for support when you are responsible for an entire program or publication. as everyone does. and they are often delighted to find a freelance writer who can help. brochures. they too discover on Thursday that they are short-handed for a job due on Monday. often starting over from the beginning.. equipment. Be prepared to recognize such situations. proofreading. solemnly agree that what has been done is an excellent start and that. describing your background. That happens quite often.) For this reason it is advisable to have "associates"--illustrators. and available resources (e.) You may at times find yourself entrusted with the whole ball of wax--an assignment to handle the entire job.
an engineering office. You must be alert for such windfalls too. Best Government Markets Government is not a single market. (In this computer. It is a whole population of markets. for it makes marketing your services at least partially a shared function and also an important consideration. usually Personnel). Some freelancers in writing and other professional-services fields actually share office space and expenses and advertise as a firm of associates. 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. Such organizations are almost characteristically overloaded and need help. but the explanation is quite simple: The existence of a separate department or office for such functions (or burying such functions in another office. high-tech age. for any of you may want to call on others for support. I once found the Value Management offices of the General Services Administration. as well as cooperating on large projects. Sometimes an organization does not by its nature furnish any clues to the probable opportunities for writers. And the Wind Energy Office of the then Energy Research and Development Administration was another totally unexpected and unsuspected opportunity. a rich lode of contracts for several years. it enables all of you to bid for the larger jobs. Monolithic although the government may appear to be.)You may want to consider this after you have gotten established." even when cooperating parties do not share office space directly. For example. actually. Not only are there hundreds of agencies--departments. to every-one's benefit in marketing. DC area. in-house departments or special offices for training and/or publications and other writing tasks. Therefore. if you wish to graduate to an office outside your home and pursue more ambitious projects than solo writing tasks.000 via government purchase order. it is remarkably unstandardized and diverse in many ways. 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. the best government markets are the organizations that have their own. it is also necessary to understand that each agency has its own policies. Check. although the law permits the agency to contract or projects up to $25.associates. administrations and other organizations--but in many of these entities there are multiple markets. In general. That is. commissions. demonstrates that the agency has regular or at least frequent need for such work. my government . this arrangement is referred to as a "virtual corporation. sharing in a contract. although you should make all efforts to learn the official procurement regulations in general. That sounds like a strange idea to those not familiar with how large organizations do things. which means. although each has his or her own clients and projects. of course. do not assume Finding Opportunities Although I am based in the Washington. as already noted.
NW Washington. in most cases. Request information about purchasing policies and practices. and city or town hall. in which it sells a great many government publications. Washington. 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. The government has offices and contracts everywhere. many of the agencies will furnish copies of those manuals free of charge. SW Washington. Many of them also publish thick manuals of instructions. a major federal center. the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). Fort Worth. to be near the agency. That is one of the key reasons for writing them at the addresses listed below. including most of the procurement manuals published by the various agencies. Kansas City (MO). on request. county seat. Seattle. Denver. and even thick manuals explaining the systems in detail. you can use the mail and telephone for most contacts. Montana and Orlando. mentioned earlier. NW Washington. check the telephone directory blue pages. The most basic tool of marketing to the federal government is the government's own daily publication. in many cases you never meet face-to. Chicago. San Francisco. For Government offices near you. The Government Printing Office operates a number of bookstores. But you can get more information from any office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). A starter list appears at the end of this chapter. (You may also request similar information from the purchasing and supply offices of your own state and local government offices. or General Services Administration (GSA). Colorado. Atlanta. It is not necessary. as already noted above. Write also to the Contracting Officer or Public Information Office of major agencies.) A Few References GSA Business Service Centers are located in Boston. even in a long-term contractual relationship. brochures. Philadelphia. DC 20405 Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue. and Houston Some key agencies/offices to write (Contracting Officer or Public Information Officer) for information on procurement: Small Business Administration 1441 L Street. Los Angeles. DC 20585 . and visit procurement offices in your state capital. Department of Commerce (DOC). However. In fact. Many will then send you literature--pamphlets. Be sure to visit any GSA Business Service Center near you or write the GSA in Denver. DC 20416 General Services Administration 18th & F Streets. New York.contracts were often in such distant places as Missoula.face with the customer. Florida.
Department of the Interior 18th & C Streets.000! . DC 20460 Department of Transportation 400 7th Street. 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. DC 20301 Department of Commerce 14th & Constitution Avenue. but my experience indicates otherwise. NW Washington. I started my first newsletter for less than $100. DC 20240 NASA HQ Contracts Division 200 Maryland Avenue. DC 20230 General Services Administration Denver Federal Center Denver. NW Washington. there would be far fewer than the 30. I can think of easier and less risky ways to invest $50. Room 2A340 Washington. and within three months it was a self-supporting venture. DC 20591 Department of Labor 200 Constitution Avenue. DC 20546 Department of Defense The Pentagon Washington.000 newsletters!) In fact. SW Washington. DC 20301 CHAPTER 12 How to Make it Big with Your Own Newsletter Publishing a newsletter is a business. SW Washington. SW Washington. DC 20210 Directorate for Small Business and Economic Utilization Policy The Pentagon. If it really required a great deal of money to succeed in publishing a newsletter. an authority on newsletters. (Howard Penn Hudson. CO 80225 Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street.000 or more that exist. NWWashington. Perhaps they are right.000 or more to launch a successful newsletter. has been quoted as estimating the existence of 100.
I mailed many copies to others in the publishing business and to printers and mailers. but 6-month subscriptions were available. and produced enough income to justify its existence. Even more important. When it works. profitable business.This is not to say that my first NL made me rich overnight. I did not even list a volume and number for that same reason. 3-month trial subscription available too. I offered free advertising--publicity--to anyone interested. printing. I didn't lie to my subscribers. But there are other ways. far from it. 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. of course). From the beginning. I started Buyer's & Seller's Exchange. offering a swap of services: free subscriptions for the equivalent value in advertising. and printing 100 copies of the first issue. Getting Subscriptions Selling subscriptions to a newsletter is not easy. A newsletter can be a seedbed for other business. composing it via typewriter (today I would use my computer and printer. and I made a special. But let us start at the beginning. But it did become profitable very rapidly. and building a subscription list. 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. Most of that first issue was mailed free as samples to encourage paid subscriptions. material for future issues. And since my NL was devoted to business opportunities. a fact of the newsletter business often overlooked or misunderstood. Even newsletters that are not especially profitable of themselves are often extremely worth-while because of this. I was getting a little income. It's the hardest and most expensive part of the job. 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. etc. mailing. It's what those people who estimate $50. . 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. whether they subscribed or not. a massive subscription drive.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. it was the means for getting other. That gets a new newsletter off the ground and moving fast. and I began to get both paid and swapped-for subscriptions almost immediately.
In fact. for subscriptions. 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.S. but use their newsletters to earn money in other ways.) Suppose you put out an NL of a modest four pages and charge $24 a year. Sending out 1. That is.e. selling a variety of books published by others but related to the subject of the NL. without regard to other considerations (for the moment) than income from subscriptions: The problem lies in the high cost of winning subscriptions. it is difficult to realize a great deal of profit on subscriptions alone. but gave full credit for the $2 if the buyer subscribed subsequently. and subscribers want editorial matter. Few NLs carry advertising.. there are successful newsletter publishers who do not do much more than break even on subscription income. I charged $2 for sample copies. This is a major income producer for many newsletter publishers. Quite the contrary.By the third month my print order was up to 500 copies. also a modest number. But let's analyze costs a bit more. Perhaps you have gathered by now that unless you are publishing the type of NL that can command $75-$200 per year. In one that was quite successful I offered to add one-half again to every new subscription--i. For 500 copies. I also sent many complimentary copies to publishers of other NLs. So conventional wisdom estimates a 65% renewal rate necessary for profitable operation. since space is at a premium. I was quite surprised at how many orders for other things an issue could pull. (These are 1986 costs in the U. The Economics of Newsletter Publishing You have had just a small insight into some of the basic economics of NL publishing. Let us look at the basic economics of the business. I began advertising my other publications--books and reports--in my NL. Make allowances for today's prices. . a 6-month subscription became 9 months at the same price. In fact. Every issue thus began to produce income for other things I had to sell. if you accept that breakeven is the best you can hope for in the first year of a subscription. this later became the basis for another highly profitable spin-off I devised. profit results when you get renewals. many run complete mail-order bookstores in this manner. 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. although I never carried paid advertising. although there are some who do. And even these are not the only profit opportunities a newsletter offers. not advertising. and continued to climb steadily. and one year became 18 months. subscriptions that cost you little or nothing to get. helping bring in new subscriptions. as I continued to offer many special promotions.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. for which they often gave me a free plug. The conventional wisdom is that profitable operation depends on renewals.
000. as well as income from ancillary sales.) That's $3. 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.500. If you wish to. If the subscriber renews into a regular subscription. But those are the exceptional cases.000 a year for a gross income of $12. 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 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. and you get major savings in postage costs also when you reach enough volume to justify the second-class mailing rates available to . such as an offer to credit one-half the $5 paid for the trial subscription. instead of 12 months! Too. There is this too: Printing costs drop sharply as the quantity goes up. and you will probably pull more subscriptions from a mailing that offers trial subscriptions. That would be nice if you had gotten the subscriptions at no cost. Of course. instead of a 12-month subscription for $10! If you pro-rate that. with bulk mailing and a 5% response. Or you might offer a special deal on extending or converting a trial subscription into a regular one. 500 to 1.printing ought to cost you about $90 an issue and first-class postage will be another $160. hence a limited audience--in most cases. you have the same chance of a profitable renewal after only 3 months. of course. Typically. newsletters are addressed to highly specialized interests. A Strategy to Cut Those High Costs It normally costs more to sell a $20 item than it does to sell a $5 one. Even with an efficient campaign. 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 would be difficult to win 500 subscriptions for an outlay of much less than $5. both in my own advertising and sales made via dealers to whom I paid a 50% commission on all sales. and they may easily have cost you as much as one-half the subscription fee--$6. 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 they did cost you. I therefore found it profitable to encourage the sale of trial subscriptions.250. you will find that the cost of winning subscriptions is more than halved this way. so you have a better immediate ratio of cost to income. effectively you get a 15-month subscription for $5.000 paid subscriptions represent a reasonably successful newsletter--and it takes some-thing very special about a newsletter to command really high prices. (It is rarely practicable to use a less costly form of mailing at only 500 copies. unless you are fortunate enough to either build a much higher number of subscribers or get a much higher annual subscription fee. if all else is right. 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. the per-issue cost to the subscriber is a bit higher on short-term subs. In fact.
the ancillary sales grew. your risk your own good reputation. I learned that this is not an unusual phenomenon: most people want to belong to something. presenting details of immediate interest." I created a certificate of membership in BSE Associates. Investigating. Here is still another profit idea: Many NL publishers will publicize someone else's item editorially on a commission basis. your research and daily mail begin to dredge up more good information than your NL has room for.periodical publishers. picking up extra income in doing so. 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. I thought about it a long time. A single paragraph may be a condensation of or abstract from pages of information gathered and digested. it led me to a $20. as you gather information for your NL. when writing. Readers often become interested in an item and clamor for more information on the subject. 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. (I have myself paid other newsletter publishers as much as $2. A Special Benefit I noticed. that many of my subscribers referred to themselves as members of BSE. suggesting many other ideas to you for special reports. You are likely to find. making the report writing relatively easy! A successful NL often spins off other NLs. But unexpected was the discovery that the contents of my NL and readers' reactions would create both demand and ideas for new ancillary publications.500 for such help.) In one case. as I did. otherwise. rather than as readers of or subscribers to BSE. almost compelling you to prepare a detailed report and offer it to them for sale! Too. I did nothing but write the NL and prepare the camera-ready copy for the association. . They took care of everything else--printing. and other details. mailing.000 contract to turn out a camera-ready NL every month for a national association. As my subscription list grew. after a while. to have an identity with something. 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.) If you do so. reports for which you have already done all the research. devised some benefits--several special reports and privileges--and offered membership at 1-1/2 times the cost of simple subscription to the newsletter. Here is what happens: Newsletters are essentially digests. A Few Other Spin-Off Benefits Some of the advantages I gained from publishing BSE were unexpected. and then did something about it: I formed "BSE Associates.
cosmetics. e. expert or at least highly . your NL ought to be worth at least that. and many newsletters sell for several times that fee. As a business necessity or business asset. Check out your competition. not the paper and ink.More than one-half of my original subscribers responded and opted to become BSE Associates. tools Franchises--news. What to Write About In the NL field. may command that premium price. (Remember that it is the information. health news Automobiles--buying. study the market--what your direct competitors are charging. cameras Sales promotion--methods. On the other hand. A newsletter with exclusive information that is of special value and hard to come by elsewhere. styles Handyman--ideas. cheeses. You must find a reasonable middle ground. There is the hazard of becoming so specialized that there are too few prospective subscribers. if your prospect is a private individual using your NL for profit-making goals. how. With a single idea. methods. the individual to whom you have addressed your NL? If that customer is a company--i. you ought to treat him or her as you would the business executive. maintaining Singles--adjusting to the single life Computers--news and technology Photography. that you are selling. Here are just a few of the topics covered by newsletters today: Wines. ideas Consumerism--news and advice Beauty--news. I boosted income from subscriptions by nearly 50%! And probably made the whole idea more attractive to newcomers. and see what they get for similar information.) You may have to be more modest in pricing your NL if your targeted subscriber is a private individual. opinions This has some influence on price. what Investments--news and advice The writing profession How to lose weight. There is an audience waiting for special information on almost any subject or for information on almost any special subject. Who and what is your typical customer. who. 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.. those are the two universes of subject matter. opportunities Politics--news. gourmet foods Contests--where. Again. and virtually all new subscribers opted similarly. the universe is your territory. subscribing out of curiosity or for other non-business reasons. Pricing Your Nl Consider first your customer in deciding on subscription fees. for the use and value of your NL are the same. It helps to select a subject area in which you are already something of an .
has certain advantages. government agencies. with justified copy. To do this. Stand midway between stiff formality and breeziness: be informal. Don't write flowery descriptions: stick to bare. There are still today a few successful newsletters "typeset"--composed--by manual typewriters or in a typewriter font (e. That brings in more information.knowledge-able. Formal typesetting is a mixed blessing. using outside typesetting services or one of the modern desktop publishing systems. sometimes. at best. memoranda. something lacking in formal typeset copy. When you mention an individual or organization. interesting. That is the essential value of the NL. Style and Format Some NL publishers use formal typesetting. Successful newsletters often use terse. Courier. legislatures. of course). Merit and earn readers' respect and friendship by being open. Talk to your readers. and. Where to Get Your Information: the Research Some NLs are simply digests of information published elsewhere. reports. brochures. but still businesslike. worth knowing. and manufacturers will be delighted to send you information about what they are doing. but not as lecturer or drinking buddy. and others by simply requesting it on your letterhead. and fair. additional subscript-ions. but you must know the field well enough to do the research and to judge. you must decide first who you want to reach and then how you will reach . honest.) Swap complimentary subscriptions with other NLs.. Your readers want to regard you as friend and mentor. and worth publishing--what. 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. (Even casual browsing produces many items. not down to them. and letters. which can be made to resemble typewriter printing. press kits. what is new. photos. However. You can easily get yourself on distribution lists for press releases and other information from corporations. with freedom to reproduce each other's items (with attribution.g. They will send you releases. that is. It conveys an aura of spontaneity and up-to-the-minute coverage. as are encyclopedias. is of value to your readers. catalogs. telegraphic style. skip the adjectives. associations. be sure to send that individual or organization a copy of that issue. more visibility. with some accuracy. not at them. You don't have to be a leading authority. distributors. stark facts and let them speak for them-selves. and not over their heads. They will reward you with their loyalty and their patronage. Public libraries are an A-1 source too. 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. Typewriter or computer-printer typesetting. Dealers. hard-hitting.
but only names of prospects to whom you will mail your package of sales literature. A Special Note on Pricing It is a mistake to suppose that lowering prices automatically increases sales volume. Some of those publishers who use this approach offer a sample copy of their NL as an inducement to respond. you are building a mailing list. sale price without some rationale that explains the reason for the sale. In my own case. but mail a special issue they have prepared for promotional purposes: it is really sales literature. if you prefer. as well as promotional material. you are not trying to get sales with the advertisements. You place small.. I found it relatively easy to find prospects in a number of publications addressed to such people. I targeted small businesses and opportunity seekers as my initial audience. classified advertisements in periodicals to elicit inquiries. 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. But do offer many sales. When I began to think for myself. e. it isn't--unless you make it clear that you are making a special. Never offer a special. You can rent mailing lists quite easily. limited-time offer for some reason. However.them. and so was able to compile my own mailing lists to get started. and they become suspicious of what appears to be too great a bargain. I was successful with a nominally $90 newsletter (Government Marketing News) that was always available for $60 or less on some special sale offer. but you can get $65 from a $40 customer! Therefore. Remember. Customers have price ranges. a few dollars never deters anyone from buying what they really want--i. usually as part of a package deal with special reports or manuals. killing sales. This is a mixed blessing. because many people judge quality by price. representative editorial copy. with reasons. That is through inquiry advertising. don't cut prices for the sake of cutting or because you think that is the best way to increase sales. It can be quite effective if it contains some useful. Fortunately. I . Sometimes it has the reverse effect. many newsletter publishers who offer a sample copy do not send a sample of their regular issue. anyone who would spend $20 for an item would spend $25 or $35 for it if they really want it. so you can't get $50 from a $5 customer. however. But there is still another way to get your mailing lists. and then mail your literature to those inquirers. Inquiry advertising is a simple proposition. On the other hand. The chief reason it took so long was that I believed all the myths--the supposed "rules" about writing.
and editor. They don't pay a great deal. And they all came back.succeeded beyond my dreams. proposals. and others. why should I think that I could write and sell an entire book? That was mistake number 1: It's actually easier. and I sent them out to all the top magazines in the country. poems. writer. that is) as a technical writer. After a while. as a writing consultant. Move ahead a few years. of course. in many ways. I wrote a good many books (manuals. as a rule (there are some exceptions). and other such items during this period. And then I sent them out to second. Just enough to encourage me to keep on. non-profit corporations. training programs. associations. After all. but certainly not enough to suggest to me that I was on the verge of becoming America's newest genius of the keyboard. plays. I did what all beginning neophyte writers do: I wrote stories. I had publishers pursuing me to write books for them! An Odyssey I started out to become a writer as a youngster.and third-rank periodicals. usually $25 to $75 per printed page then. and anything else I thought I could write. I also learned to write proposals. I have now become a full-time. I made an occasional small sale. abstracts. reports. of course. and the money. reports. and other such high-tech marvels. brochures. Philco. storyboards. with the usual printed rejection slips. But I didn't yet know that. including government agencies. rockets. and other organizations. speeches. as a technical/professional temporary. more than 60 years ago. writing on contract or to order for clients: I write resumes. but it was satisfying to be able to sell my writing as a freelance. for such companies as IBM. companies. 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.) I even had a contract with a federal agency to answer their mail! . later. I found my way into staff work as a technical writer. catalogs--whatever clients want written. I wasn't even ready to believe that yet. computers. And I surely was not yet ready to write a book. anyhow. I certainly wasn't yet mentally conditioned or qualified in any other way to do so. missiles. a long while. freelancing in a non-traditional way. freelance consultant. Years later . While doing that I became acquainted with a great many magazines (they are called "trade journals") serving those industries. was welcome too. both as a staff writer and. newsletters. and I began to write articles for them in my spare time. sophisticated radar. I never attempted a book at the time. usually quite swiftly. and still they came back. GE. theses. of course. (And clients are individuals. audiovisual scripts. if I couldn't sell short articles and short stories. to write and sell a book than an article. to keep trying. after getting an engineering education. RCA. articles.
which I then sold to anyone interested in the subject. earlier. I was not entirely happy with that success. 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. How to Cash in on the Billion Dollar Bureaucracies. I was getting more than enough work. I had won many government contracts for former employers and clients. advertising and selling principally by mail. such is the one that was the basis for this chapter. but using my knowledge of publications. And my subject was made to order for me: how to sell to the U. Finally. I began to do my own small-scale publishing. (I even had clients hire me to write important letters for them. I later retitled it Anyone Can do Business with the Government. In retrospect. Government. as I learned . In any case. as other writers do. The world did not beat a path to my door. I was a full-time writer.S. as a result of bad advice I was given and heeded.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. I believe. but I did sell a respectable number of copies. but writing on contract as I was doing offered few opportunities to be truly creative and. I did not suddenly get rich. both for my own small business and. which I suppose is probable. The Next Step Forward As a result of that. a much better title. it got better and better. I wrote the book and titled it. 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. much of it from government agencies. In fact. earning a reasonably good living at my chosen profession.) I was now a success of sorts. as a manager in larger companies an consultant to many companies. enough to make the enterprise worthwhile. 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. a subject in which I was already well versed: I had had a great deal of success in winning government contracts. and usually with a substantial retainer or deposit before I began work. I turned out many how-to-do-it reports and papers. Not via a vanity press. I still had that traditional writer's urge to write what I wanted to write. and appear as the author with full acknowledgment. But I didn't know that yet. At least. a Book I then gave birth to a bigger idea: I would write and publish my own book. not what others wanted me to write. because I was already well-educated beyond that kind of foolishness. unless it was knowledge buried in my subconscious. I had that urge to get my own ideas into print and distributed to the world under my byline. originally.
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
photos. often with a subtitle.for lightning to strike--e. g. chapter by chapter.) Provide your own credentials as a writer and as a source of information on the subject. I don't care how long the title is. My proposals are usually 8-10 pages long. g.) Explain all this in your proposal.) What Should be in a Book Proposal? My own book proposals include. the following: A working title.. (Would it be a how-to. explain where and how you will do the research and gather the information. although some . references. (It's best if you are personally expert in the subject. checklists. single-spaced. worksheets. These sections (textual explanations): The market for the book (who. bibliography. and be sure that your outline is compatible with this. other) Competitive books (why/how this is different and better) The author's credentials (in writing and subject matter) An outline. or because you have in some other manner become highly knowledgeable about the subject. how can they be reached with advertising? (This is linked closely with the preceding item. estimated size. but choose one now that helps the editor understand the book and why a reader would want it--e. an expose of something sensational. why will they want the book how will it benefit them?). but if you are not. A brief blurb under the title. etc." either because you work in that field. Decide what readers--a reasonably large number of potential readers (e. buyers)--want to know about the subject.?) Identify the market: who are the buyers.. preferably something that is "in your field. because it is your lifelong hobby. noting illustrations. expanding on the main idea of the book. an insider's look at something that interests many people. appendices. photographs. These are the keys: Decide what you are best qualified to write. how to reach) A brief description of the book (salient features) Special features to be included (worksheets. other.. as long as it tells the story I want it to tell. Select a working title (it will probably be changed before publication. without a chance meeting with a publisher who has already successfully published something in your field. explains the benefit to be derived by reading it.g. as a minimum. as suggested by the title.
even 25 pages. although (if you have not been previously published) they will probably not offer an advance before seeing at least part of your manuscript. and the more specific your proposal is. Those who urge longer proposals are probably giving better advice than my example suggests. Study marketing principles. although sometimes. and the contract covers both. they apply directly in writing book proposals. and have that written into your contract.) Perhaps I am too lazy to write more than I have to without a contract. especially in your outline. for some reason I have never fathomed. Sometimes hardcover secondary paperback contracts the publisher chooses to produce your book in simultaneous and paperback editions. The "big names" can bludgeon publishers into paying royalties on list or cover prices. especially after you are established and have some bargaining power. although it may be negotiable in some cases. Royalties. 12. It is worthwhile to get acquainted with this periodical. However. They teach you how to write "hooks" . I got only three copies of my first book. Do. but I have always used short proposals. and Literary Agents. My outlines are usually two or three pages long. The Writer's Market is a good source. And you will have a difficult time getting more than 5% on mail order sales of your book. as a minimum. to permit the editor room to make changes and notations. even if you do not have all the credentials. since double-spacing is for manuscripts. the stronger a proposal it will be. but you will probably find publishers insistent on paying royalties on net--dollars actually received by the publisher.5% on next 5. You might also visit the public library and thumb through the current (annual) edition of the Literary Market Place. About Contracts. Author's (free) copies are highly variable in number. Get that in your contract too. you can do better. There is also the Insider's Guide to Book Editors. and other possibilities. are wanted. and is usually one of the more easily negotiable items. and they are important. the more detail you provide. (But they call for double-spacing proposals. but I get many more free copies of my books today.000 copies sold. foreign sales. ask for an advance to be paid when your manuscript is accepted. you have to seek out the right publishers yourself. although I think a good agent earns their commissions and brings you more than that in added income). Until you get an agent (and many authors prefer to be their own agents. and 15% thereafter. For rights--and that includes book club sales. Publishers. rights sold to others. You usually can buy additional copies at regular dealer's discount of 40%. most call for a 50-50 split between author and publisher. and they may want to see a sample chapter or two before offering a contract. and Related details Many small publishers will take a chance on you. They probably should be two to three times that length. The typical contract should pay you 10% on first 5. And perhaps I get away with providing less because I am somewhat well known now.writers on the subject suggest much longer proposals.000.
use those words freely in your working titles and outlines with the direct benefit described-. It is not exactly easy to achieve. He knew it would arouse the attention of prospective readers (buyers!) too. The Stars of the Business Most people are aware that such well-known columnists as Carl Rowan. Here are a few that were highly successful: Winning Through Intimidation Dress for Success Five Acres and Independence In any case. This used to be taboo.how to catch more fish. or arty in your proposal. e. but is probably less difficult than most writers believe. send your proposals out to more than one publisher. your ability to make a clear and interesting presentation. the proposal ought to be able to stand on its own feet. don't try to be cute. not even a sample chapter.000 a Year Thru Self-Syndication National syndication is a ticket to success in a big way for many writers. how to pay less taxes. probably. Not so well known. a marketing tool. unless the editor requests it. You can make simultaneous submissions--i. Editors are busy people and don't have patience with people who waste their time beating around the bush. "Dear Abby" is one example. it reflects your writing ability directly. William Buckley. but is widely accepted by publishers today. If you write how-to material. Don't send a manuscript. get the excess verbiage out. Many writers of "service" columns are also widely syndicated. If you have a good idea and present it well. and get your main message stated immediately. CHAPTER 14 $75. subtle. Keep track of what you sent and to whom. is that it is not only political columnists and "big names" whose columns are syndicated in this manner. but . James Kilpatrick.. but then edit it ruthlessly to tighten it up. It is not a place to be subtle. A proposal is a sales presentation. and Joyce Lain Kennedy are nationally syndicated: Established syndicates sell their columns regularly to newspapers all over the country. Don't lose sight of what a proposal is and what it is supposed to do. try to get the direct benefit in the title. how to lose weight faster. Be careful in writing it. Write your proposal at length. But even if it is not exactly a how to. but look up the publisher and address the right editor by name.000 to answer their mail!" That piqued an editor's attention immediately. I led off a proposal for one book on government marketing with "The government paid me $6.to catch an editor's attention and arouse interest. you will sell it.
comic strips. they are hard to sell after all their years as reporters. he or she will never know without trying the column. The market is both easy to crack and difficult to crack.there are also Sylvia Porter. investment. correspondents. and many other such items in your morning newspaper are also syndicated (as are many radio and TV programs!). and many others. But even then you must demonstrate impressive credentials. He or she may be right or wrong. (That is not the same thing as true analysis columns. such as those of Will Rogers and Robert Benchley to follow. Even this is not the complete list of types of materials that may be syndicated. such as the King Features Syndicate or United Features. Of course.) Humor usually sells well." or believe they have. almost anything that would interest newspaper readers generally may be syndicated. very good. including completely new ideas. political cartoons. They are also realists. Be your own syndicate by selling your material directly to a number of newspapers on a syndicated basis. The cross-word puzzles. medical matters. That is what this report is about. career concerns. The editor buys what he or she thinks readers will like. There is another way: Do it yourself. That is why you must pay them as much as 60% of the selling price as their commission. You have tough acts. In short. But it is much more difficult to write than most people believe. almost impossible if you are not a recognized authority of some sort. You must be good. Something truly different and original will go if readers like it. almost hopeless battle otherwise. they know that even a good idea takes time to sell to enough subscribers--newspapers--to make the proposition viable. two of many syndicates. after all. (Maybe your "new" idea is not so new. The readers are the final judges. and newspaper editors. writing on personal problems. That is what it always comes down to. Eliot Janeway. but it's an uphill. Still. They are the true professionals in syndication. and other topics. such as those analyzing the stock market or the latest medical findings. to an old-hand in the business!) The National Syndicate Syndication is usually done through an established organization. They "have seen it all. depending on many factors: Opinion columns--"think pieces"--are extremely difficult to sell. and probably Walter Cronkite and a few others of great reputation can do it. But it is not hopeless. finance and economics. perhaps not nearly so well known. Some General Topic Ideas . Walter Lippman was able to do it. And that is why it is not easy to get them to accept you as a client. They have a good idea of what is salable as a syndicated feature and what is not. household hints. Rona Barrett.
But you could also be an "amateur expert" in many areas. you can turn that to advantage. such as wine. who to call/interview. from many Congressional offices. as competitors. for many of the areas. Your local librarian will help you find lists of such periodicals. where/how. as well as full press kits. for example. home-based second-income careers. and household hints. you must be a professional expert. it is almost self-perpetuating. here are some of the columns and columnists falling into that "Advice" category: Jean Adams: "Teen Forum" . But don't underestimate the value of research to supplement or even replace your own expert knowledge. for example. direct mail. and will be happy to add your name. and request that your name be placed on the mailing list. 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 some other subjects. Obviously. 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. and what bulletins to read. and federal agencies.About careers Abigail Van Buren: Dear Abby . (I get about eight of these. dealing with computers. gardening. are not experts in their subjects. You don't have to apply for many releases and periodicals. news service. here are just a few ideas for columns: Advice. There are dozens of trade publications that are distributed free of charge to many people. You can easily get yourself placed on distribution for news releases. or other relevant entrepreneur. but they are expert in finding information they can use. Many journalists. The marketing departments of most manufacturers issue such releases. 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.To help you get started in thinking about topics for a syndicated column.Household problems Joyce Lain Kennedy . For example. All you need do is make up a letterhead--you can simply type it--announcing that you are a columnist. publisher. once you start: Your name will find its way onto many mailing lists. I get such releases.For teenagers Heloise: Hints . You don't have to know it all yourself: If you are in a position to get good information on a continuing basis. for example. some with large reputations.Advice .
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
you are ready to begin the work of expanding it. Those first few sales are hardest to make. while it is available at such a bargain figure! (That is always a good marketing strategy. persistence produces sales eventually. Persistence and perseverance mean going back to that list for additional mailings. ask for a price and explain that such and such newspapers are now carrying your column regularly. That is. Each mailing. based on the circulation of the paper. as you become established and accepted. Once you have sold one. inevitably. Start low--you'll be giving the first ones away as a promotion. That's the inherent nature of advertising. That exclusivity is one of the inducements. . vary enormously. Many prospects who ignored the first mailing will pay more attention to the second one. clearly signaling the customer that the price may go up later. If your column has worth and you send samples to enough editors.) How to Expand Once you have those first legitimate sales--base of subscribers--and are actually being paid for your column. so that you may be able to get only $5 from some weekly papers. one way to handle this gracefully and leave the door wide open to adjust your prices later is to offer a low introductory price. Use this as the most general of guidelines in setting a price for your column. In fact. And there are at least two ways to do this: Go back to your original mailing list with another offer. while you are trying to land a few subscribers. 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. Successes depend on it. It takes patience and endurance. If the copy and the product are worthy. but you must persist to succeed. especially where there is a directly competing newspaper. In any event. This time. where you might get several times that from a large daily if you are fortunate enough to sell your column to that daily.) The rates. Offer the special introductory price here. Once you are started.It's a "numbers game"--playing the percentages or probability statistics. however. You must be sure to mention that the subscriber will have your column exclusively in his or her distribution area. Include any favorable comments you have had from readers or editors. and a few more will order. to a point. you cannot sell the other. it will gradually become easier. You can always raise your rates later. (The latter is not an uncommon practice. anyway. to the point where the response begins to level off. that will serve also as an inducement to try your column. you will make a few sales. no obstacle can endure forever against it. will produce better results--more orders than the previous one. What to Charge You can charge subscribers to your column in either of two ways: a flat fee per column or a sliding scale. Persistence is the magic ingredient.
I am for it. if it is to do its job well. Many of those are syndicated. Double. to capture the editor's interest and help him or her grasp the essence of the story immediately. some for it. It ought to be dramatic. and often not used. Identification of issuing organization: May be a special form but also may be and often is the regular letterhead of the organization. use your mailing list over and over. adding to it when you discover some newspapers you did not know about before. including trade tabloids: Many trade journals are published as "slicks"--smooth-paper magazines.Go to an established national syndicate (your librarian can help you find a reference source listing all major syndicates) and offer your column. You don't have to limit yourself to newspapers. but should be used is release is about a timely event or is embargoed for release at some future date. or otherwise strike a nerve. CHAPTER 15 How to Write a Press Release The Obligatory Elements The most widely used tool of PR--public relations. except where the date of issuance is important.or triple-spaced copy. PRESS RELEASE. which is true enough. inspiring. You will probably earn far more by marketing your column through them. The argument against is that editors prefer to write their own headlines. Arbitrary: Some advocate against it. Dateline: City of origin and date. The elements and characteristics generally considered to be obligatory are these: Identification as a news release by such words as RELEASE. the headline may be the most important part of the release. since you have shown that it is a salable product. revising your sales letter to reflect your current success with the column frequently. Single-sided copy. as in the sample release . novel. Consider other kinds of periodicals. The idea of the headline is to arouse interest and inspire the editor to read on. or other such term. It is also not a bad idea to use a subordinate head-line immediately following. as are those regional slicks also. Not truly obligatory. Type on one side of sheet only. You now have an excellent chance of being accepted. If you decide that you prefer to do it yourself. NEWS. known more informally and more accurately as publicity--is the release. but there are many published on news-print as tabloids. Try also the Sunday supplements. Do a fresh mailing every 30 to 90 days. Headline. but is irrelevant because they very likely will do so in any event! Actually.
e. evasive language or hazy expression." "###." or "-30-" at bottom of last page. Copy single-spaced instead of double. Especially the eyes of a long-experienced editor who gets dozens of releases every day. murder. or otherwise pursue more information and perhaps to even get the story behind the story. such as which company has gone bankrupt. In the daily newspaper business. who has just been appointed Secretary of the Treasury. It includes war. what new medical breakthroughs are taking place. Contact: Name and number to help the editor follow up. 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. Then there is a different kind of news. and other such dramatic. accidents. there is such a thing as "hard news. contact" followed by a name and telephone number? If you are using releases to promote your business. attention-getting. to further the idea. The latter is the kind of news you will normally deal in. Cautions . ask for photos. 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. as noted earlier (e.g. Failure to provide embargo date when release "reports" some event that has not taken place yet.. But why not suggest that there is more to the story by using the phrase "For more information. Unclear message--e. and who just joined the company down the street. pure hype and all too obviously so. Should say "For immediate release" or "embargoed until" [some date]. when the release contains the text of a speech to be delivered or a product to be announced." followed by a name and telephone number." That is news when it still is news--before it is well known to everyone. Guidance: "More" at bottom of each page to let the editor know that there is more copy and "End. make them work full time for you. Most Common Mistakes There are several common mistakes that many people make in preparing releases. No contact name or telephone number given. and often horrible events. When to release. verify/validate.. see the sample release for an example of this practice.g. Most releases bear a simple word "Contact. It is not much of a task to get attention with news of a grisly murder or major airplane disaster.. Copy on both sides of paper instead of on one side only.included here.or triple-spaced. Newsworthiness "Newsworthiness" is not a precise term.
and that is an important factor in conducting PR successfully. your relationships with editors is at stake. All editors know hype when they see it. or other party you mean it for. you will probably kill your chances of having that editor ever again consider your releases seriously.--to pursue. Or he or she may simply decide to be too busy to bother and drop it casually into the "circular file" without r thought. It is therefore especially important to be careful about accuracy in general and such other details as have been mentioned here. If it is hype and the hype is as obvious as it almost always is. and you get free advertising--publicity--in exchange. Decide what kinds of media--periodicals. It means writing the release in such a way as to address the direct interests of a . where someone attempts to judge the proper destination within the organization. your release will find its way to the "circular file" quite quickly. but important. columnist. you should not ordinarily write a release and then decide where to send it. but it could even wind up on the circulation-manager's desk if you have not specified otherwise. columnists. it is still necessary that the release be "right" for that party--be of true interest. along the following line of procedure: Decide who--what reader/viewer/prospect you want to reach. or even the state desk. It is a mistake generally to address a release to a large publication or other medium without specifying an individual destination.Be careful. They recognize it immediately. other Slanting Your Copy Slanting copy is a simple. On a large newspaper your release is likely to wind up on a managing editor's or city editor's desk. but you should follow the reverse pattern. Remember that getting a release picked up by a publication is a trade: You furnish a useful story to the publication. 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. 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. (An exception to this would be in the case of a small newsletter or other publication where the release could not possibly get lost. That is. 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. even if you do manage to get it to the individual editor. Find something truly interesting about whatever it is that you are trying to promote. other. One of the common mistakes has to do with where to send releases. Decide how to slant your release for the editor/columnist/producer. If you make a mistake that causes an editor to commit some faux pas and be embarrassed thereby. concept. On the other hand. Be careful about accuracy. editors.
Not all are so obvious. ) 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. you must either determine what the columnist's mailing address is or send your release in care of the periodical. What one newspaper calls the "Financial Editor" another may title the "Business Editor. Even that can vary from one publication to another. 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. There are several possibilities open to you. It would be difficult to slant a release for a male audience explaining how crocheting is making a strong comeback. Which one is most likely to attract the prospects you want? Obviously that depends on the kind of prospects you want." although the dullest mail room clerk may be able to interpret your wishes and direct your release to the right editors. This is even more critical when you want to send releases to columnists. a new word processor program. It certainly is not likely to appeal to the owner of a small luncheonette or a high school youngster. But you must also think in terms of the periodicals and other media to which you slant your material. which borders on fanaticism. that you are selling computer software and are preparing a release to help make your establishment more widely known. These must normally be addressed by name. Few men are likely to take up crocheting. An inventory program is going to attract only businesspeople for whom inventory-control and management is important. On the other hand relatively few women are enthusiastic about fly fishing. 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. So an article or release on fly fishing might be slanted to fly fishermen with different interests--some like to tie their own flies. (In fact. for example. and since many are syndicated and are not on the staff of the individual periodical carrying the column. Your release will have to suggest some particular program or kind of program you will be demonstrating. In writing releases to publicize my own newsletters.given audience. But it points up something: You can create more than one version of a release so that you can attract many people. perhaps the most common factor among fly fishermen is their almost legendary zeal. or the latest and most popular computer game. I found many ways to slant them to . That's a rather obvious case. and reports on marketing to government agencies. Suppose you have a choice among a new inventory-control and -management program. books. in the hope that they will become interested in your announcements. and each potential use and user suggest the keys to a slant. But the game program will not appeal to the businessperson normally. Many products lend themselves to multiple uses and users. Suppose. Not everything can be slanted effectively.
S. of which the characteristics of . April 25. to minority-owned businesses. however.different audiences. INC. MD 20915 Fax: (301) 649-5745 Voice: (301) 649-2499Z ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NEWS For Immediate Release For more information. sales letters. The most obvious and most basic slanting opportunities were these two: To companies already doing business with the government. to businesses by the nature of what they sold. magazine articles. Government. The theme was how to do more business with the government. HRH COMMUNICATIONS. and just about everything else that might be addressed to the public generally or to any specific class or group of people. 1990. Box 1731 Wheaton. With an active imagination and a bit of introspection on possible uses and users. and even more possibilities than these. unfortunately. to very small businesses such as freelancing individuals. But there were many other possibilities: I could slant releases to small businesses. Business people need no longer complain about the difficulty of getting information and guidance in selling to the U. slanting is usually not especially difficult. The theme here was how to break into the government market most effectively. This idea is not for releases only. A sample release follows. To companies who had done little or no 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. MD.O. The key is simply finding the link between the reader's interest and what you wish to publicize. has not proved very helpful to the newcomer to this market for many reasons. P. to businesses by the nature of the kinds of customers they would be going after. most of it published by the government. despite the poor quality of most literature on the subject. Written literature. brochures. It is equally useful in writing advertising copy.
Most who speak out on the subject appear to believe that a book proposal must be at least 25 pages long. a complete information and instruction package on selling to the government is available in a convenient audiocassette form. 1987. It is available from HRH Communications.bureaucracy generally are major factors. as of October 1. However. Those differences do not. after all. It is quite possible that my own case is an exception. and . I have personally rarely offered a book proposal of more than 12-15 pages). ### CHAPTER 16 Writing the Book Proposal A discussion of the subject and a sample of a successful proposal.000 pages of official documents to distill this 4-hour program. for the first time. one that won a book contract. while others advocate double-spacing. and that is their bottom estimate. of themselves. who interviewed dozens of government purchasing officials and reviewed more than 12.50 (discounted for quantity purchases). for some reason I am unable to fathom (certainly. The package was developed over the past year by a special team of government-marketing experts. I happen to believe that one ought to be able to sell most book ideas in a much smaller number of pages. at $98. But then I single-space my book proposals. and a summary of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Inc. However. the proposals is not offered up to be edited!). The set includes four 1-hour cassettes and a 65-page directory of government purchasing offices. and most have been somewhat smaller than that. so perhaps we are not truly in a great deal of disagreement about length. so I have gained some faith in my methods: They certainly work for me. or perhaps I would have been more successful had I written lengthier proposals. Now. The program incorporates the latest information available. Conventional Ideas About the Book Proposal A great many people offer many ideas and opinions on the subject of writing book proposals. 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. I have lived long enough to have learned that there are many right ways to do everything. make others wrong or me right. my approach has worked well enough for me to sell more than 60 books over the years.
which may have absolutely nothing to do with the merits of your book. it may be rejected by the committee for any of many possible reasons. such as getting forewords and/or endorsements and jacket blurbs written by prominent individuals. The editor cannot. make the decision alone. as you do in writing anything else. as clearly as possible. Note that the style used here is different than the style for a formal publication. that I will show you. Use your creative imagination--you are a writer. and their judgment is as fallible as are yours and mine. such as this book. just define. the editor can only take your proposal to the next meeting of a committee and make a recommendation. not a reader. granted that I try to tailor each one to the individual situation. Rejection by one publisher does not mean your book is unsalable. Moreover. in most cases. Management and the sales department will be represented there to review the proposals and the editors' recommendations. but not at the cost of clarity. with a proposal.) Publishers are human. some of those proved to be highly successful books. 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. after all--in writing your book proposals. Identify anything you can and offer to do to help with marketing. The one shown here as an example was a successful proposal of several years ago. for one. What I propose to do is to simply present an actual book proposal of my own as a sample. Use a "working title" for your book. 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. however. I do want to make a few general observations: A proposal is a sales presentation. but I vary it for each case according to individual circumstances. Even if the editor wants to buy your book. In most cases. Many books have traveled to dozens of publishers before they found a home and were published. the prospective buyers and why they will be interested in buying your book. rather than right justified type. First. It uses ragged-right. Offer your thoughts about the market for your proposed book. It includes a full space between paragraphs. That must come first. a book proposal that was successful in winning a contract and is a typical example of my book proposals. and will express their opinions too. However. . I have a basic model. Make it as punchy--as attention getting--as possible.that each of us must find our own best way. you are trying to sell an editor. and do not try to be clever or worry about how long it is. but don't make sweeping claims. (Chicken Soup for the Soul is a most notable example of this. IMPORTANT FINAL OBSERVATION: There is no absolute formula or model for a good book proposal. and is reasonably typical of all my book proposals.
in fact. the knowledge of how to use these effectively constitutes a powerful business asset. and is often so applied by entrepreneurs who can not afford to market in any other way. low cost methods for capitalizing the marketing of their enterprises. PR. anyone can get the job done. and this is a primer on the art of doing that. A true manager is one with the ability to get the job done without adequate resources. But it can be done. many recognized as "at home offices. advance payments by customers. Briefly. the basic alternative methods include (but are not restricted to) barter. they constitute a powerful business asset--that is. in light of the recent. great surge in home-based business starts.Herman Holtz c/o ----------------------.") However. -----------------------. That is especially true for marketing with little or no money. 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. 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). even those businesspeople who can afford the cost of conventional marketing. small businesses. and has two connotations: One refers to the use of debt and/or equity financing of business ventures. This can be applied successfully to marketing. utilize PR and trade credit. trade credit. "OPM" means Other People's Money. The other refers to various means of managing to capitalize a venture with other people's resources--money. Together. and other assets--without undertaking loans or surrendering equity. Never was it more true that knowledge is power. 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. in such detail as to be almost of cook-book . including the largest corporations. including the freelance specialist. credit (itself a form of money). as already noted. among other methods for minimizing marketing costs. (It is especially timely. and variations or special applications of these. and other resources. CONTENT AND TREATMENT This is to be a how-to. and others. money. recognizing the merits of minimizing start-up costs. the home-based business. but it must inevitably include those millions who attempt each year to launch new. often home-based enterprises. as it can be to capitalization generally.
and the second addressing the main objective of guidance to low-cost marketing. practical experience with a direct focus on marketing on a tiny budget. and only minimally philosophical. joining the author's own.) Thus. the business of deciding which orders to pursue. John Wiley & Sons. where appropriate. by Arnold S.g. COMPETITIVE BOOKS There have been other books offering guidance in low-cost ways of marketing. although in highly practical terms. but it does not focus on marketing to any large extent. The book will therefore be divided into two parts. but it is also necessary to teach and discuss marketing generally. The purpose of the book is to guide the reader in and to practical. Davidson." do they mean the same thing? (E. inasmuch as it relies largely on academic or "textbook" theory for much of the rationale it offers. (The reader is perceived as someone with little direct marketing experience. and yet it lacks the authenticity of personal. One example is the recent Marketing on a Shoestring. perhaps most. sales.) More specifically. also a John Wiley publication. direct experience and. low-cost marketing methods. This is a quite credible effort. LET US SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE "Marketing" versus "sales. is much more oriented in the direct. supported by many concrete examples and practical guidelines. readers will have. the business of getting orders. An older work (1984). regardless of semantic or philosophical considerations. drawn from my own problem-solving marketing experience and that of others. OUTLINE PART I MARKETING IS WHAT BUSINESS IS ALL ABOUT As Peter Drucker has put it. 1988. That makes marketing and sales the primary function of business and even more the primary objective of business. and sales as part of--the final step in--marketing. of practicable suggestions for implementation. and how to get them. the approach and treatment for this book will be decidedly unacademic: It will offer guidance in lay language. Starting on a Shoestring. and so the message is largely lost in the broader coverage of building a business with minimal capital. how to pursue them. practical experience of its author. the end-objective of marketing is sales. although the book will include useful information for others.style. and marketing. . the first laying necessary groundwork by discussing and explaining marketing generally. even more serious. Jeffrey P. the primary function of business is the creation of customers. with recognition and quotation of the conventional wisdom of the many academic teachers and lecturers on business start-ups.. given that lack of business experience that any. Goldstein. The book proposed here will bridge that gap and combine the best of each idea. and that must always be kept in mind.
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. but it is one of the favorite enterprises of the small. and most of those who are new to business and still largely inexperienced in marketing. by direct mail (sales letters. Some basic discussions and examples--e. how to compile and build your own lists (e. marketing is carried out in a variety of ways: via advertising in public media (print. and actually asking for the order. by PR methods. by trade shows.g. not what the prospect wishes to buy or thinks he or she is buying. and other. inquiry advertising. and TV. full direct-mail packages. and to establish the ground rules and philosophy for this book. the difference in using direct mail to sell an automobile and using it to sell a set of kitchenware or a tape album. principally). A few basics of direct mail marketing. whether either of you realize it). work-at-home venturer because it is relatively easy to start on a limited budget. THE ELEMENTS AND METHODS OF MARKETING On a broad basis. methods).Discussions and definitions of both terms. by telephone solicitation.. probably more accurately. and how you can reach these prospects (make your offer and presentation to them). Examples and anecdotes. through direct sales representatives. But marketing involves more than that. directories.. radio. DIRECT MAIL AND SOME SPECIAL USES OF IT Direct mail selling is a multibillion dollar industry. 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. . by retail outlets. A great many people in business generally. what your market is (I. special. through distributors and dealers. about mailing lists--where/how to acquire them.g. what the customer is really buying. by booths or space in weekend farmer's markets and flea markets. 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. card decks. e. as used in these pages and practical reasons for making distinctions. and by sundry other methods for making the prospective buyers aware of your existence and what you offer. and they must be matched to the characteristics and needs of the business. Some examples and quotations to illustrate the distinctions and reasons therefor. tend strongly to think in terms of what they wish to sell or believe they are selling. and cooperative piggyback mailings). creating opportunities for sales.. w the best prospects for what you wish to sell).
greater convenience. security. Examples and illustrations to help th r perceive and understand these concepts. the "trick" is always to discover what they want and offer exactly that--what they want. 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. he or she cares only about what he or she wants. 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. Having decided that. which so many find difficult to believe--or. PR ON THE CHEAP . achieved at modest cost. conducting classical direct mail campaigns. Introduction to Part II.g. to their marketing disasters. Examples and illustrative anecdotes.But the customer does not care about what you want. But that is only the first step. the hope of money. But there are several other. to accept--leading to their difficulties and. perhaps.E.. 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. Words that sell. and that is always the key to sales success: You can always sell customers what they really want--e. WHO ARE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS? Identifying or defining the business you are in ought to be in also identifies. It is one of the most fruitful avenues for marketing without money. recognition. sometimes. Yes. DOES MARKETING HAVE TO BE COSTLY? Some typical costs of advertising in various media and by other means of broadcast advertising. and he or she will bestow patronage on the merchant or entrepreneur who satisfies that want most directly and most gratifyingly. Basics of writing "sell copy. More than a few business failures can be traced to the failure of the proprietors to gain an understanding of their proper markets. special ideas you can use to do your marketing at very little out-of-pocket cost. WHAT IS YOUR MARKET (I. PART II EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES PR is essentially free advertising. and other conventional approaches." The proper appeals: principles of the promise-and-proof concept. the best prospects for what you wish to sell--your market. etc--even when they are not fully conscious of or can articulate that want. at least by broad implication. conventional marketing methods are costly. Testing. Costs for fielding sales reps. and bold entrepreneur. imaginative. establishing dealerships. How to develop sell-copy. and so to doom their marketing efforts to failure in advance. but there are alternatives available to the innovative. not hat you want.
what they are. Other PR: public speaking. what. conventions." what they are and how to use them. especially in supporting some PR activities to be explained in succeeding chapters: Introduction to PR methods that merit their own chapters. getting it conventionally. especially in the early stages of a business and especially for the still-inexperienced or lightly experienced individual. 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. but there is no need for such apprehension. and trade shows. conferences. what it can do for you. how to create and use them. A number of ideas for using seminars and producing them at modest costs by getting pace free or at low cost. via "invited guests" and "hospitality suites. related marketing tools: newsletter spin-offs--special reports and sales appeals. direct instructions: Releases. 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. But there are ways to contain the cost. the several types. Methods for creating and sustaining the newsletter. piggybacking their promotion with your other marketing efforts. how to make use of them. larger business organizations. PUBLIC SPEAKING Public speaking represents a great PR opportunity and medium. and of continuing useful and inexpensive information (via freelance writers). public speaking apparently frightens many people. trade shows. how to get them published. when used properly. cooperative productions..All about PR: What it is. and conferences: what they are. where and how to find the best opportunities to turn public speaking to advantage--e. 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. who. The benefits are many. one that meets the conditions just stated. NICHE MARKETING AND ITS COST ADVANTAGES Niche marketing offers several great advantages. why. Join as many relevant associations as possible and become active in the events--meetings. A few tips and guidelines on being an interesting and effective speaker. and how. Cashing in on others' media affairs--e. g. However. guesting at seminars and business meetings. and a few other ideas. THE SEMINAR ROUTE The free seminar is an effective PR and marketing tool also. creating an image and an awareness. If a proper niche is selected. avenues of continuing useful and free information. even the "USP"--unique selling point--that can be so effective in marketing. there is a . Expansion of the marketing publicity base via complimentary subscriptions and exchanges with other newsletter publishers. although relatively expensive. Examples.. Tips on how to overcome such fears. g. Unfortunately. short-cuts to getting it. conventions. when. where and how to find speaking engagements.
and many other such ventures. such as "selling your paper" or factoring receivables. for example. and deposit accounts). related other methods. Postal Service is one example. distributor/manufacturer-furnished fixtures. how to qualify for trade credit. and thus justify advance payment or. A case history of getting such help in self-publishing a book furnishes another example of a special kind. typical terms.decided cost advantage in niche marketing. Examples and illustrations. Postal Service. But there are many businesses that can operate that way--with service contracts. as far as you are concerned. which are cash in advance. Methods for getting paid in long-term advance of delivery. as evidenced by millions of dollars worth of postage stamps in desk drawers. at least. having merchandise sold drop shipped. payment before the service or product is delivered. since it simplifies the marketing problem generally and permits a cost-saving focus of effort. The U. delivery services. The U. examples and anecdotes to illustrate. postal meters. 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. Examples and anecdotes. middleperson (brokerage) ventures. drop shipping. They include such services as resume writing. TRADE CREDIT AND RELATED ALTERNATIVES What is "trade credit?" Explanations of buying merchandise on terms. for example--even if their competitors do not. Anecdotes and examples. returns for credit. How to arrange for accepting credit-card orders. specialty publishing. and illustrates what an enterprising individual can do. many have turned to barter as a means for preserving capital and minimizing tax obligations. 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. substantial up-front retainers or deposits. consignment merchandise. typical suppliers who will extend trade credit. 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. You can also accept credit-card orders. to a large extent. Discussions. how to use them advantageously.S. is always paid "up front"--before they deliver the service (often many months before. BARTER METHODS In the light of IRS demands on our earnings. And many of us who are entrepreneurs who can ill afford .S. Worksheets and guidelines for g your own venture to discover opportunities for advance payments from customers. custom services. ideas. Mail order ventures and drop-shipping methods are other examples. Other methods. day-care centers. The result is that the customers finance the business.
but they are to be found. Barter works in many ways.to pay conventional rates for advertising in its many forms have turned to barter as one means of coping with high costs. Mail order dealers turn to barter also. Each inquiry is not an order. but is a prospect to whom you would mail your sales literature. as they are reluctant to admit that they accept P. The advertiser does not pay for the cards or other publicity media. and the prime distributor of that item will ship it when the order arrives from the publisher. of course. These are simple enough: "P. you multiply the benefits twelvefold.. You can build a large mailing list rather rapidly this way. trading mailing lists.O.O. 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. that is usually a "P. and "P.O. probably about 50 percent. A number of entrepreneurs who write well take advantage of this. as in the case of the P. Publishers often have to "remainder" (discount) unsold advertising space. Hubert Bermont. and probably a label of his/her own. thus doubling the PR benefits for both." refers to per order. 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. SOME SPECIAL DEALS--P. in hope of an order. and P. advertising." deals.I" refers to per inquiry. All these concepts and marketing methods have their counterparts in radio and TV advertising also.000 copies of his own publication in that way.O. system." advertisement: The publisher is selling the item advertised and earning a commission or buying it at discount.I. although the term represents per inquiry.I." and "P.I. which benefits both parties in the resulting benefits without tax liabilities. Many newsletter publishers offer each other mutually complimentary subscriptions and provide publicity for each other." sales are somewhat similar. but does make a flat payment for each inquiry. And many others have done likewise. such as P. but it is a simple fact. Examples and . P. Many publishers of small periodicals are glad to offer this barter exchange. One prominent example of this is the exchange of a regular column of useful copy for some equivalent value of advertising space. in a special way. author of How to Become a Successful C nt in Your Own Field and publisher of The Consultants Library sold some 65. They are reluctant to admit this. and these businesspeople also do not admit freely that one can bargain with them or sell on any kind of contingency basis. And if you publish a newsletter and make such deals with a dozen others. It is thus necessary to work at finding such deals. And you would probably be billed $2 to $4 for each such inquiry.O. "P.I. and the prime source will drop ship it under the publisher's label.O. and P.I. AND "REMAINDER" ADVERTISING SPACE One of the very special deals available for many kinds of ventures are the "P. The publisher will send on his or her own check for the item at the wholesale or discounted price.O.
Dun & Bradstreet.S. Army. You can often piggyback your own offerings. Don't neglect trade shows. and other federal agencies. You can easily make your card one of the postage-prepaid variety. thereby reducing your direct-mail costs. a typical and quite popular method.g. thus making it easy for the recipient to become a respondent and order or send for more information. proposals. Atlas. as well as in my own independent ventures. the Job Corps program. Industries. How to set up and utilize each to greatest advantage. MATTERS There are a few other alternatives and options that are available to attack the problem. NASA. training. Philco-Ford. Apollo moon-landing program. Navy. independent mailings. audiovisual presentations. circular exhibits. In this manner. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. A FEW MISCELLANEOUS.x 5-inch card copy in a mass mailing of card decks is another means of doing this. mailings in which you can include a circular or two of your own. along with those of others. APPENDIX A few useful references: Bibliographic listings.Rand. and other organizations as a marketing consultant and seminar presenter in the subject. conventions.anecdotes. as shown in several examples. They are great opportunities for marketing effectively at low costs. BMEWS. and many other programs for the Air Force. and I am called upon by corporations. Control Data Corporation. and training programs. colleges. The approaches and opportunities include general attendance. EPA programs. AUTHOR'S CREDENTIALS I am the author of more than 35 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. and hospitality suites. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting . with none shouldering the entire cost burden. Chrysler Corporation. RCA. I have written extensively on marketing subjects (I have recognized credentials in selling to the government generally and in proposal writing especially). Including your own 3. Remington. and the Educational Science Division of U.. BUT RELATED. Volt Information Sciences. I had early newspaper experience and many years of employment in engineering. as well as many smaller companies. consumer product safety programs. technical writing. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer. GE. and conferences. Vitro Laboratories. as well as many magazine articles and custom writing assignments--e. and many offer opportunities to close sales on the spot. One is that of cooperative mailings. 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. in fact. sources of marketing services and help. making the marketing cost of several of your own offerings shared among them. miscellaneous other listings. Hercules Aerospace Division. Typhon and Titan missile systems. I have been employed by or a consultant to IBM.
Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. Scott Foresman. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. McGraw-Hill. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. John Wiley. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. and spent many months as a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Prentice-Hall. McGraw-Hill. 1989 How to Make Money with Your Micro. John Wiley & Sons. Scott Foresman. One of my more novel proje the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. the FAA. 1991 . Greenwood Press. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. I operated my own successful firm. Prentice-Hall. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. 1989 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. McGraw-Hill. 1984 Computer Work Stations. General Services Administration. 1986 The Business Writing Problem Solver. 1981. and Contracting Opportunities Digest. John Wiley.S. John Wiley. Scott Foresman. newsletters. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing.firm. John Wiley. 1986 The Direct Marketer's Work Book. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. 1983. 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill. Plenum. John Wiley. 1981. winning many contracts with the U.) I published several newsletters: Government Marketing News. Greenwood Press. 1980. Mail Order Magic. 1988 Choosing and Using a Consultant. the Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE).Postal Service. Beyond the Resume. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. l983. 1982.Postal Service. BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Government Contracts. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully. training programs. John Wiley. brochures. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking.S. 1983. AMACOM. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). USDA Forest Service. The $100 Billion Market AMACOM. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. Dow Jones-Irwin. l979. and others. Facts on File. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. The Consultant's Library. while he designed a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. 1986 Advice. 1987 Speaking for Profit. 2d Edition. Dow Jones-Irwin. In addition to the many highly technological. John Wiley. Profit-Line Management. John Wiley. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. 1991 The Winning Resume. Consultant's Library. winning many contracts with the U. 1990 Marketing Without Money. Arco. state-of-the-art projects I worked on. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. and other such material. l980. 1982. John Wiley. the USDA Forest Service. a High-Profit Business. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. and others to write manuals. Chapman & Hall. FAA. John Wiley. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. reports. John Wiley. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. Dow Jones-Irwin. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. AMACOM. 1985 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. 1983. audiovisual presentations. the General Services Administration. 1984 Word Processing for Office Publications.
1992 Databased Marketing. John Wiley & Sons. at first.Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. John Wiley. 1991 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. John Wiley & Sons. He then sold over $6 million worth of copies of his little paperback. . Doing Business with the U. find love. The late Joe Karbo did even better. with its imaginative innovations. 3rd Ed. Two Outstanding Cases Robert J. Prima. John Wiley & Sons. improve their looks. 1993. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. 1993 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. John Wiley. Inc. 1992 How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. and was a quite unsuccessful one. earn money. be more respected. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability. have been widely imitated by others since. Dearborn Trade. When you discover how to do any of these things for yourself. 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. Prima.. Second Edition.S. He became an insurance salesman. a book that has become a classic. 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.. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. and otherwise gain something desirable or avoid something undesirable. Bettger was a Philadelphia baseball player who was forced out of his sports career by an injury. There was also the book by the late Frank Bettger. Dearborn Trade 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. 1994 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. eventually becoming the first insurance salesman to sell more than $1 million worth of insurance a year. 1994 CHAPTER 17 MAKE MONEY WRITING ABOUT YOUR TROUBLES Books and articles that help people solve their problems. 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. 1994 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. going from near bankruptcy to great success in business. and he taught himself how to sell. John Wiley. It was written in first person. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. you are in possession of information that many others would greatly welcome as advice and guidance. he and his little book. This idea has even been the key to many best-selling books. Government. republished frequently in various editions. Bob Adams. gain prestige. Ringer wrote a best-seller he called Winning Through Intimidation. John Wiley. Of course. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. But he was persevering. will always find a welcoming audience.
I wrote a book I titled How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. by the success of . more. These writers all made money. found a way to rid himself of those pesky gophers on a new farm property he had bought. but they are only three of many such success stories. Since then. Matthew Lesko. Bells rang in Lesko's head. even. Washington. and most people never find good solutions for their problems without help. Lesko discovered a man in the Department of Agriculture who knew more about potatoes than anyone. and his book explained how he does so. he has written a number of books. goods or service. Ralph Charrell's book. He believes in fighting back. He wrote Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed From Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels.These fellows were heavy hitters. Everybody has trouble of some sort. Jr. sometimes launched entire new careers. You can write just as profitably about how others solved their problems. and founded a new business. that publishes information about information--where it is and how to find it. a book that did very well. He reported selling 14. 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. That's why books and articles offering how-to-do-it information almost always find a swift welcome from the public. to date. nevertheless. From that beginning he built himself a successful and prosperous publishing enterprise. after a great deal of effort and research. of Vancouver. Eventually. in a classic sense. 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. In my own case. but didn't know how to get the information. Information USA. I founded a business as a consultant and struggled for a long time. It is now in its third edition and has sold more than 160. by writing about their troubles and what they did about them. and he founded a business and newsletter on where and how to get information.000 copies of that little $2 report. wrote an entire book on defeating some of nature's little predators. Troubles are Easy to Find The troubles don't have to be your own troubles. selling well over 100. for example. who started with a little $2 report describing how he finally. Bill Adler. learning the hard way--via mistakes and other false starts that we call "experience"--how to succeed. based on his "TOWERS Club" newsletter. How I Turn Ordinary Complaints into Thousands of Dollars became a best-seller.000 copies. He came to Lesko for help.000 copies. than Lesko's client wanted to know. One is that of Jerry Buchanan. This is well exemplified. His book explained how he fights back successfully at merchants and others who fail to give him satisfaction when something he has paid for. is unsatisfactory.
For example. written by Maxwell Maltz. my business was helping others solve their TV troubles. Somehow.another perennial best-seller. when we had problems with a teen-age daughter. MD. they were still dissatisfied and unhappy. he reveals. I had the not uncommon experience of becoming divorced from my first wife. They had problems with a daughter who was into drugs and got into serious problems with the law as a result. I was an independent television serviceman. as he related its origin. wrote an article for one of the trade magazines. titled Psychocybernetics. and he therefore decided to make his patients' problems his problem. Here. In fact. they developed a process and philosophy they called "Toughlove. as they had hoped. he felt that he had failed his patients. Another strange case was that of the TV with a picture controlled by the volume control. Of course. (They undoubtedly thought the customer was a "crank. They required imagination. into drugs. And each time I ran into and solved one of those. now a classic on its own. Most of the work was routine. and troubles were a routine of that business. It is that therapy. gave (and still give) seminars for parents having such troubles. 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." They wrote a couple of books about it." that he wrote about. we heard about the Yorks. the picture faded! I persevered and found the answer for that one too. Psychocybernetics is the term he invented for the therapy he designed as a measure to do help his patients with their emotional problems. such problems were headaches for me. resourcefulness. Later. and never had any trouble selling those articles.") I managed to find the answer and solve the problem. for cosmetic surgery: Their chief concern was to improve their physical appearance and thereby solve their anxieties. There is an excellent chance that your troubles are typical of the woes of a great many other people. If the volume was turned down. David and Phyllis (my wife and I later met them and had an association with them for a time). In more personal terms. and in trouble generally. and detective work to handle successfully. But strangely enough. torn between their natural love for their daughter and their desire to "straighten her out" and reform her. and founded an organization that has helped parents all over North America cope with similar problems with children who are rebellious. Struggling to cope with the problem. Most of his patients came to him. "psychocybernetics. to serve as starter ideas. but often enough the problem was difficult to solve. and a great many people will be eager to hear what you did to solve your problems. are a few personal examples: Many years ago. as well as for the customer. the doctor found. Consider your own problems of the past and what you did about them. gaining good looks did not solve his patients' problems. after many years of a less than . a physician who specialized in plastic surgery in the infancy of that profession. Even though their physical defects had been corrected and their looks were improved.
(Can a man past 40 "hang out" with teen-age youngsters around a corner drug store or 7-11?) In short. I was unhappy. many of them single parents. dinners. I found it easy to convert every problem I solved into an article. I couldn't afford to keep a large stock of the many reports I wrote. "The OPM Plan" and has been material included in several of my books. and all were inspired by whatever I did to solve my own problems. writing them for others as a business. In fact. solve the problem of being single again and totally unprepared to cope with it alone. There were dances. 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 discussion groups. and I invented methods of my own that worked much more effectively. I hardly knew what to do to adjust to a single life and begin again. but he was getting more and more discouraged at the initial investment he would have to make. 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. I took in nearly $5. When I started in mail-order publishing I could not afford the expensive typesetting and printing of commercial publishers.completely happy marriage. so that I did not have to be alone unless I wished to be alone. too. having something to do and somewhere to go ight. 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. later. And. (I met my present wife in one of these groups. such as one that described how to write resumes and how to start a resume-writing service.) I later wrote and published a report. and miserable for a long time. That later inspired my report. I eventually up to a point where I self-published several books. so "OPM"--other people's money--paid for the first printing of the book. with their desktop publishing software had not been invented. if that is a goal. Many other people were eager to learn what I had learned. a report. Sometimes the recommended methods didn't work well for me. I soon had a full life again. One happy customer wrote to chortled that he had spent a lot of money he didn't have. lonely. and the desktop computers. too. trying to learn how to get started in mail order. if I wanted them. I was forced to many cost-saving expedients.000 before the manuscript was ready to be printed. when I needed to earn some extra money. That came out of my own experience in writing successful resumes for myself and. I have encountered my own share of financial problems and found ways to overcome then. meeting other newly separated and single people. All my reports are how-to instructions. I sampled several of these groups and joined two of them. like most people past 40. Of course. even making a profit from it. and that information. I that manner. 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. parties. "Parents Without Partners" is one very large such organization. or even an entire book. went into my reports. I later wrote reports about how to do this too. explaining how one can start and run such a group. so I learned how to get reports duplicated quickly after the orders and the money to pay for them came in. Those experiences. but there are many others given to helping newly single people. Dates. too. meetings. . for example.
There are many. although I enjoy a great deal of success with them yet: I went on to write articles for magazines. but I was able to do the impossible because I work at a computer and was able to employ . and books. and that I am helping people. 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. The U. while running a successful small business to help myself. they were not unique. but they are also rich sources of information you can use as the basis for reports. and they are all seeking answers. But these reports are not the only way to make money writing about your troubles. and many others had problems that were quite like my own. such as one on explosives and demolitions. Recently. I have thereby written more than 60 books. or divorced--taught me something else: Whatever my problems were. for which he had to invest only $3. The mine of ideas is all about you. I found later. he finally found in my reports the information he needed to get started. so far. minimize their tax liabilities. many people suffering from those same problems that trouble you and others in these groups. incorporate.become consultants. Such groups are very rich sources of information you can use to solve your own problems. and/or refuse to go to school and behave generally in unacceptable ways. everybody has problems.following the advice he had gotten from other sources. It is wonderfully rewarding for a writer to hear that! It tells me that I am definitely on the right track. start small businesses. Alcoholics Anonymous. Narcotics Anonymous. often things I did to surmount my own difficulties. and I didn't stop with these reports. 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. Then.S. and do many other things. are not as bad as the other problems he or she hears about from others in the group! This has been equally true. in other groups. In fact. among others. started newsletters. All are about things I have done. separated. when circumstances forced me into that new career activity. That eventually led me to write my ow selling book on the subject of succeeding as an independent consultant. It seemed an impossible task. Alanon. almost everyone who joins a peer support group finds that his or her problems. and might well have been impossible normally. drink. win contracts. Later. I became a consultant almost by accident. They include. write user manuals. Belonging to singles clubs--clubs for single parents who have been widowed. you can gather equally useful information from others in such groups. he said. and Overeaters Anonymous. for example. and wrote entire books to help people learn how to do things-. in one especially. articles. They are your potential market--the people who will buy your reports and books--and a very large market it is. which originally seemed so overwhelming. These are all so-called "12-step" groups. such as those meeting to seek answers to their problems with children who use drugs. become paid public speakers. 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.
which get worse as he or she struggles to solve the problems. while you are yourself profiting by it. perhaps the "how-to" genre is not for you. and people seeking those answers are delighted to buy that information. if publishing your own material does not appeal to you. Again. A number of years ago. They are about a "hero" or "heroine." his/her intense problems. Or. or plays. as it is for me. which you can find in any good public library or buy in any good book store. as I have done. You need not emulate me and publish your own reports. will guide you. until the situation appears all but helpless. Every business problem I solve for myself or for someone else becomes the subject of something I write. There is also the annu der's Guide to Book Editors. using computers." 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. You are. the way to do it is to start. I was in the TV service business for a few years. and Literary Agents. 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. there are other ways. Consult a copy of the annual Writer's Market to find listings of many periodicals and descriptions of what they want to buy. Of course. I have done this kind of job before. with many aids to anyone who wishes to write and sell a book. In fact. in fact. Yes. and I had to improvise extensively: I invented many new ideas and ways to "make it happen. There is the newsletter. CHAPTER 18 WRITING TOOLS Every Craft Has its Own Tools . I often ran into quite novel TV problems. for example. are not obvious at all to others. and some even publish more than one newsletter and build a large enterprise. the Writer's Market.computer power. and the final solution finally appears. Now. novels. Bear in mind that the solutions that appear so obvious to you. as I do. Many people earn a living simply by publishing a newsletter every month. problems. these were weird symptoms and it took some technical detective work to find the answers. when television was still a rather new phenomenon. now that you know what they are. and solving them. you may wish to write articles for periodicals. 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. Publishers. doing a great public service. When I encountered one of these and solved it. Whatever your choice. Even then I was aware of the writing potential in solving problems. an excellent guide to book publishing. But there are other ways to write about trouble. for these are always about trouble and problems. Or you may wish to even write books. for a happy ending. such material is equally rich as source material for short stories. but this was an extreme case.
by now in almost universal use as the writer's principal tools. revise. but must have hard copy on the desk before them. That reduced me to less than a dozen lines of copy visible at any time. polish. But he refuses to learn to write with his computer and word processor. It did not take long to become comfortable working with single-spaced copy. and there to revise and polish it. Later. complain that they are unable to proof and edit their copy on the screen. New Habits Can be Developed Perhaps it is a matter of simple adaptability: Some people adapt readily to new conditions. For a long time. giving me twice as many lines of copy displayed. and probably none of us uses it with more than a fraction of its full capability. But it is more than a writing tool. In the beginning. Macro-Instructions One of the earliest and most useful discoveries I made was that of the macro. others do not. Samuelson is highly enthusiastic. I made my own adaptation more difficult than was necessary by clinging to my own old. Today.) I finally realized that I could work single-spaced on-screen. and the IBM Selectric probably the peak of typewriter development. ingrained habits: I had my copy double-spaced on the screen. it was the first crude typewriter." It was . the main tool for writing was the quill pen (who knows what it was before then). a Royal. Once. He isn't alone in this aberration. He insists on first typing his copy on an old manual typewriter. Most writers can do like-wise. almost in raptures. but its execution requires tools. about the marvels of his computer and word processor as a tool to review. it was called a "key redefiner. however. the typewriter is all but obsolete. while setting the print commands so that the copy is printed double-spaced. Writing with a WP Columnist Robert J. many of us have not yet learned how to use this tool effectively. (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. However. if they will put up with a little discomfort for a session or two. as I always did when writing with a typewriter. to attack with a pencil. More than a few writers. replaced by the modern desktop computer with its word processor software and laser printer. it is a tool for many uses. even those who do write their drafts on their computers. I coaxed a few writers into forcing themselves to write and edit on-screen a few times. and compose his copy. Unfortunately. I was not immune to following old habits slavishly and foolishly. still later the electric typewriter. and soon enough they found themselves adapting to it and becoming comfortable with it. editing and marking it up by pen to input it to the computer as a rough draft.Writing is a cerebral activity. it was by far the most popular one.
In some ways." and the term used today). It's less costly than the standalone machines because. . and it worked some special magic. That is the device that enables you to "talk" to other computers via telephone lines. Suppose I needed to type out my name frequently. working in Windows as I must. to both send and receive. and computers have become a most powerful means of communication. I can program any key or combination of two keys to type out my name. even mailing lists. A new term. It's not a long name. the receiving end. via modems and telephone lines. 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. I also get answers . a modem reconverts those impulses to the bits that the computer recognizes. and today. or other presentation and produce it with a press of only one or two keys. 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. of course. If you didn't like the placement of a certain key--say the Escape key--you could make some other key the escape key. a special format.software you installed in your computer. I use the Microsoft program Word and its built-in and highly flexible macro capabilities. But with a macro. Have You Heard About "Cyberspace" There is a steady increase in the information traffic via this medium of the computer-modem-telephone line. 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. I often find people I can interview for my books that way. the card does not require its own power supply. and whatever else is useful in printed form. and I use the internal card to send faxes and the standalone machine to receive faxes. It does so by converting the data bits your computer generates to electrical impulses carried over the telephone line as sound. as names go. however. for example. gaining popularity swiftly. I used a key redefiner program called SmartKey almost from the day I began to use a computer. In fact. unlike the standalone machines. and even other types of programs today have their own. with punctuation and spaces. at the other end. the most powerful writing tool available to you is your computer modem. when I retired it in favor of a fax-modem card in my computer. as well. All word processing programs. and recall it from memory when you press the designated key or key combination. built-in macro systems. but it does require 15 key presses to spell it out. for one. That is how you can send and receive messages and files. Writing is an act of communication. The fax-modem card can be used. It was probably the granddaddy of such programs. I use this cyberspace to communicate daily with CompuServe and various electronic bulletin board systems. Modems appeared at first as standalone devices. has been coined for it: The term is cyberspace. certainly one of the best-known. which makes for a very convenient arrangement. newsletters. I do have a standalone fax machine. I can record an entire page. but draws its power from the computer. and I used a standalone modem until recently.
The best writing is usually the distillate of all the information you have gathered in your research." Somewhat neglected. you will get some inkling of some of what awaits you in c yberspace. just as the lack of belief in your own knowledge would be reflected. For nonfiction generally. There is a logical underpinning to this.to problems frequently from individuals much more knowledgeable than I in certain areas. In fact. That means that you must do adequate research. You must research your subject until you develop a sense of great confidence that you are prepared. if you have a dial-up telephone line available. for those who use the little portable computers referred to popularly as "laptops. and that you have at least twice or three times the amount of information you will need and use in whatever you are writing. but only more of what you already have. of course. such as computer technology or law. In a moment. 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. the legwork is far less physical: A great deal of your research can be done from your own desk. In fact. using these modern tools we have been talking about. and other such chores." these resources are at your disposal wherever you are with your laptop and modem. The reader wants full detail. punctuation. such as using cyberspace (exploring online) for much of it. and I "talk" every day with people all over the world without leaving my office chair. again . a temporary expert perhaps. and even for fiction. (Research tip: Research should continue until you are not getting anything new. expressed accurately. the way a writer makes himself or herself ready to write on a subject. 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. I have visited libraries all over the country while seated at my desk. to a large extent. For the well-equipped writer today. are marketing and research. 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. And that means that as a writer you ought to have a great deal more information than you have presented. even one's style improves when on is in full possession of the facts. searching public files. that you are now quite ready to write about the subject. let's talk about its special meaning for writers and for others who must rely on research for their work. Research is. but may be more important to the reader. The selfassurance is reflected in your writing style. Writers and Research Courses for writers tend to focus on the mechanics of usage: grammar. the content is not only as important as style and fluency. wherever it is. calling on individuals for interviews. But first. and made clear. but at least as important to a writer's success. That requires that the writer know the subject thoroughly. The Legwork of Research Writing research was once called "legwork" because it meant a great deal of physical activity. and something called "composition. This places an awesome array of resources at your fingertips--at your desk. visiting libraries.
(I have also donated many reports of my own to these libraries for use by others. The files included a series of messages from other users. But I can also travel via the system to libraries elsewhere. Many of these are extremely useful as resources for writer research. Maryland. compile bibliographies. "Downloading" those files means that I copied them from the bulletin board system and stored the copies in my own computer as my files. Even so. there is such a BBS. once again getting my research data delivered to me at my desk. and determine which branch of our library system has the books I want available on the shelves. I can. with absolutely no added features. others written by consultants relating their experiences and problems relevant to contracts. CARL is readily accessible to Internet users. in fact. in writing a book on contracts.) Public Libraries in Cyberspace Many communities are establishing electronic bulletin board systems (BBS) in their public libraries systems. much of it was useful to me in providing insights into the need for and problems related to contracts. whether it is or is not available through your local public library system. via that great online entity.) Downloading some of the articles does require a fee. and I have used this too. I can search the library catalogs. I got a far superior one for one-half that price. I can also use this facility to search out magazine articles on subjects I wish to research. By calling in and getting connected to CARL through the BBS. This brings up the subject of another important writer's tool: the fax. it was a bargain at $600 then. some written by lawyers expressing their views. I usually get the fax the next morning. download those lists and descriptions. too. although that appears to have changed since I last made use of the facility. For example. and it provides access to CARL.through cyberspace channels of communication. When that finally broke down. related resources." in the common jargon used today--maintain extensive libraries of files. getting the article via my fax machine. My first one was a "plain vanilla" machine. reports of various kinds. The Facsimile (Fax) Machine The fax machine also uses a modem and also transmits and receives information via dial-up telephone lines. But it is possible to get a more elaborate fax system for even . other than a copying capability. have copies of many of the articles downloaded to me. there were only standalone fax machines. Files and Library Systems Most electronic bulletin board systems--"BBS. get brief descriptions of books listed. Here in Montgomery County. I downloaded many useful files. (Some of them were available without cost in the past. That means that it was the simplest possible configuration. Although some of the messages and reports were from lawyers and some from lay people. even in California: I can access catalogs of university libraries and other. the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. and they were quite expensive. and related information relevant to contracts. In the beginning.
they are likely to decline in price even Fax Boards Before long. Scanning. so that now most computers are being sold with "fax-modem" boards (a referred to as "cards") already installed as a standard item. 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. if you like the file well enough to keep it and continue using it. The author usually suggests a price to "register" yourself as the paid-up owner of these files. Many shareware pr ograms are of even superior quality. after the fax began to gain popularity. the computer engineers designed a fax board. an electronic device that fitted inside one's computer and could send and receive fax messages. it is not a convenient way to send a copy of some printed material: Of course. To send a paper original. Others are programs that will help you directly in your writing chores. you cannot feed a paper original into your computer. It may well be the equal of the commercial equivalent in every way. Often. however. That soon became offered together with the modem board. .) Shareware Shareware distribution is another important function of bulletin board systems. (I use both. and prints out on plain paper the data that you receive via that device. you must scan it with a device that copies the information and converts it to electronic signals. other than packaging in an attractive box with illustrations. handling both functions. the owner will offer an inducement. You are welcome to download these files from any BBS or other online facility that offers them and try them. That does not mean that they product is not first quality. 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. 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. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each form of fax facility. if their usage is such that they can gain something in that way. The fax-modem board enables you to send data that is already in your computer. Shareware is computer software-. such as a printed manual and free upgrades. and some people use both a standalone fax and a fax board to gain the advantages of both. is rarely perfect. software that helps you utilize your computer more efficiently.less than that now. which are input to the computer and made ready to send out as a fax message. Some are utility programs.programs and text files--written by individuals and offered to everyone on the basis of a try-before-you-buy honor system. to those who keep and pay for the file. and further.
a considerable number of those who have established home-based small businesses identify themselves as technical writers. In writing a book. STC is headquartered at 901 N. Nothing I presently have in Windows software offers me anything along the lines of ProFinder. I do use a shareware communications program because I like it much better than the communications software that came with WordStar. It was a small organization. Earlier. I may (and usually do) have many files I downloaded from CompuServe libraries or other sources. even though I no longer use WordStar but am using Word for Windows. I can thus review my earlier text in a very few minutes. however. although primarily in the United States. With a good search program. for example. shareware has been of outstanding high quality. describing job characteristics.500 members in 140 chapters throughout the world. then." or even of the two words together. If your own the word processor lacks the conveniences you need. attitudes toward the profession. as described by the . in communications software. There was. or STWP. launch systems. and I want to search those files for specific information useful to whatever I am writing at the moment. when I was actively engaged in that field. In actuality. Suite 904. work progresses over many weeks. Arlington. and no commercial communication software has proven superior in any way. STC has its own BBS--electronic bulletin board system--there. Today. It is often necessary to go back through copy I wrote many weeks ago to search out some item. I may need to find out just what I wrote about seminar presentations. and so I often return to DOS to use ProFinder. is a tool that helps directly in a number of ways. That is. and similar "Star Wars" technology. mainframe computers. the bulk of technical writing was concerned with such high-tech subjects as radar. if I want to narrow the search. missiles. Selected highlights of the survey results are presented in a special report. for example. of course. In fact. In fact. On the other hand. avionics. searching for every reference to seminars. Stuart Street. Technical Writing Freelance technical writing has become a major activity of writers in recent years. in my own case. I use the ProFinder software that is part of my WordStar word processing software. that small organization has grown to 17. there is abundant shareware that may do exactly what you want. I need merely ask the program to find every occurrence of the word "seminar" or "presentation. equally valid for finding any other information. which may be reached at 703-522-3299. telephone: 703-522-4114.Search software. The "typical" STC member fits the following profile. and salaries. satellites. Virginia 22203-1854. a Society of Technical Writers and Publishers. It can be a rather laborious job to sift through 150 or 200 pages of previously written copy. even into a number of months. now known as the Society for Technical Communication or STC. education. Following are profiles of the Society for Technical Communication membership based on membership data and recent surveys and gleaned from the Society's BBS.
to meet others in the field. cataloging. I wrote materials on government contracting. and earns an annual salary of $37.000. When I left what I regarded as technical writing.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. offering services in indexing. and knowledge brought on by the advent of the pc has had a dramatic effect on the focus of technical writing activities. newsletter writing. the Society journal. and numerous other subjects. and INTERCOM. a writer or editor in the computer industry. Many are engaged in writing about many other technologies. and to keep in formed through TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION. I turned to what I thought of as "business" and academic subjects. and many are specialists. activity. desktop publishing. personnel management. and dozens of other subjects. for example). 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. a highly liberalized one. most of which are today . Note the shift toward computers as a subject. The enormous upsurge in computer ownership. safety engineering for commercial airlines. annual report writing. Naval security regulations.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. postal service operation (a rate manual. A Definition of Technical Writing One thing that is obvious is that technical writing has an entirely different definition today. Still. not all members of STC are writing computer manuals.
novels. it is a business. which we will come to presently. and popular articles. diverse. in which so many starved. But don't despair. But there is lesser-known world of demand for custom writing services--writing under contract or on assignment--as a writing consultant. and offering them to publishers for publication is the freelance writing of tradition. Few modern writers are starving in garrets. working at income-producing jobs to support themselves.considered part of the technical writing domain. plays. Shockingly few freelance writers earn a living at writing. 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. short stories. those who write resumes. There is also a hybrid approach. speeches. Studies and surveys have shown rather clearly that by far the vast majority of freelance writers--those offering novels. it consists of clients who need direct help that can be supplied only by a writer--preferably a writer/editor. the other is selling your services as a writer and editorial consultant. and other such writings for clients on a custom basis belong to the second category. novels. That is a large. 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. it is a spare-time occupation. There are two approaches to making money in the writing business (yes. but it is still not easy to sell what you write without a lengthy struggle. Even then success is far from certain. Basically. plays. with too many others who write popular fiction--short stories. a combination of these two. for acceptance as writers. and articles. plays. unfortunately. for the majority. This is partly because so many freelance writers choose writing fields that pay best but are the most competitive ones. and opportunity-rich field. Creating and Selling Your Writings Writing stories. etc--are only part-time freelance writers. nonfiction books and magazine articles as freelance writers belong to that first category. It's a hard road. laboring in cold and drafty garrets while struggling for recognition. The clients for . there are easier roads to writing success! Selling Your Writing Services Most people with ambitions as writers contemplate writing novels or plays. as well as a profession): One is selling writings created at your initiative and out of your imagination and research. Those who write novels. plays.
even if the rates are not as great. but enough do to make writing for them a worthwhile proposition. some for computer professionals. An Easier Row to Hoe in Traditional Freelancing There are freelance writers who struggle for many years to find success as novelists.000 to 3. for example. let's look a little more at the more traditional areas of freelance writing. for example. and some for computer hobbyists. But there are magazines and newsletters for collectors of all kinds. and hobby. hobby publications. pulp-paper magazines. for wood workers and for craftsmen. philosophers. for those interested in antiques. nor is it at a sacrifice in benefits: The rewards are quite adequate. hobbyists and professionals. as opposed to general readerships. time to graduate into better-paying fields later. nor do all pay for freelance material. To give you an idea of how well or how poorly such publications pay. The following. industry. it is a difficult challenge to meet and conquer. These other fields are publications devoted to relatively limited readerships. they are newsprint tabloids. and many never do find that success. There are such publications--almost always several--for just about every business. There are computer magazines--some for the computer-owning public. are among the many kinds of items I have been retained to create: Resumes Abstracts Catalog sheets Proposals Releases Commercials Term papers. who find much earlier success because they enter writing fields that are much easier to sell to (there is much less competition). slick-paper magazines. They are good places to start. profession. playwrights. or writers struggling to become professional. But there are many professional writers.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 before we probe that area. including trade journals. as you will perceive almost immediately when you consider just a few of the kinds of things people want written for them. and other periodicals. after you get established as a freelance writer. business publications. if you insist on being paid fairly for your work. Physically. here are a few examples of fees I have been paid by such publications for articles of from about 1. for lapidaries and gemologists. in all fields.these services are both individuals and organizations. and other "serious" writers. theses Newsletters Brochures Manuals Specifications Sales letters Lecture guides Storyboards Speeches Scripts Print advertising Presentations Getting such work is not difficult. Typical Prices Paid Not all of these solicit material from freelancers. and newsletters.
that is. the reverse is often true also. you will have no problem. free of charge and with permission to use it freely. In fact.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. is in reasonably good English. reproducible drawings. Obviously. But the publishers of these lower-paying periodicals are aware of that too and therefore not too demanding. and size of article. although that is not an absolute and consistent truth. the editor's concern is with content--useful information for readers. instead of the one I originally contemplated. and text. Some make a flat offer. based on one of the preceding scales or not. Actually. Some pay by the final printed page: $50-100 per page is probably average. gathering material for my books. Given these factors. newsletters and tabloids tend to pay less for your writing than do the more costly trade magazines. Some pay by the column-inch: 50 cents per column inch is not atypical. An Especially Valuable Tip Here is a tip that is perhaps the most valuable one I can give you. 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. the range is wide. 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. I use that system today. I got so much material that I wrote several articles. If your manuscript is clean. subject matter. contains useful information. drawings. To get that help I send out a form . I wrote to manufacturers and explained what I wanted. there are at least four different bases generally for rates paid: Some pay by the word: 3-5 cents a word and up. including photographs. and is double-spaced to permit the editor access to edit your manuscript. as long as I "make attribution"--identify and credit the source. I have no difficulty persuading marketing and PR executives in companies to send me such material. How to Make Succeeding Just a Bit Easier Photographs and/or other illustrations help a great deal. For example. it is also wide in types of publication. an electronic device. 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. when I wanted to write an article on transponders. they offer a little text to go with their photos! A camera and/or a little artistic talent helps enormously in selling articles. and which I developed into a useful system that I use constantly: I get material. Before long I was receiving fat manila envelopes stuffed with photographs. In fact. and instead of offering photos to go with their articles. There are many photojournalists who are better photographers than writers. and explanatory texts. But it is wide in more than one dimension. legible.
form a corporation.letter. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. People want to know how to collect stamps. how to market by direct mail. file a tax return. pledging full attribution. cite. This chapter was based on an original folio I published. newspaper reporters. But I have written entire books on how to write a proposal. build a porch. cut and polish gem stones. how to use a word processor. There are "where to find it" books and articles--sources of financial assistance for a college education. and including a simple release form (as shown) for the recipient to sign. One is "how it works" treatments. Types of Writing The writing I do is principally "how to do it" writing. and a great many are on these kinds of topics. and other little-understood subjects of interest. There is a large and hungry market for "how to" writing. and other directory-type information. comment on. and many other subjects. to start a business. explaining what I am looking for. (A letter from the respondent granting permission is equally valid. and do many other things. start a business. There is a large and quite hungry market for the .000 new books published each year are nonfiction works. such as Kitty Kelley writing the famous book purporting to tell all about Frank Sinatra and the politicians. find antiques. how TV sets and VCRs work. how to publish a newsletter. with full attribution. and is mostly on business topics. of course. 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. 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.) RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. but supplying a release form facilitates matters considerably. There are many highly successful "expose" writers. (This is my own major writing field. There are other approaches to these subjects. explaining the metric system.) Publishers are quite eager to get good books on practical subjects. lists of discount markets. More than one-half the 40-50. the political system.
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. Have you invented or discovered a way to solve troublesome problems? Maybe others would like to know about them. for the cost-price-profit ratios get less and less favorable with increasing size. You probably have your own store of information and knowledge--or access to it--that many others would like to know about. and how it might be of interest to others.) Consider other aspects of a popular subject. (Some of my own books were conceived in that manner. 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. What is a "Book?" Probably most people."inside story" on a wide variety of subjects. in which people increasingly . Small-business owner? Write about secrets of success or how to get started in that business. for example. Some highly successful books. Many books today are much smaller than that. That is only one kind of book. (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. telling the reader how to get paid for speaking publicly and even to become a full-time professional speaker. Etc. in many cases. immediately have an image of a volume of several hundred pages (at least 200). many publishers are reluctant to publish large books. with hard covers.) 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. The Freelance Writer as a Writing Consultant We are today in a service economy generally. Be sure that you fully understand this. books that earned a great deal of money for both their publishers and their authors. but none on the business side of being a public speaker--until I perceived the gap and wrote a book to fill it. School teacher? How about a book/articles on the teaching profession.) Think about what you have done for yourself. and/or where you have good access to information. (Big family? How about articles/book on your methods for raising children. It is an era in which consulting is in the ascendancy. and with book-manufacturing costs as high as they are. when they hear the word book. 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. were paperbacks of only about 100 pages and even less.
nor is it necessary to know them all. Just specializing in a few of these will keep you as busy as you want to be. (In 1975 my resume-writing fees started at a minimum of $35. 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. And in that respect. I recall. for example. This is grist for your mill. Corporate executives and business owners recognize such needs no less. Time enough to specialize more then. It depends on just what you want to do. to prepare the speeches they will deliver. 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. revise. one woman who had just become a member of the public school board and wanted my help to prepare for her first board . Even as individual citizens they are turning to specialists to solve their medical problems. $50 to $200 is not an unrealistic range. and a myriad of other materials. How to Get Clients There are many ways to go about pursuing business of this type. You are really being retained as an editorial. here are just a few of the kinds of things I have been called on by clients to design.) 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. write. to write letters of complaint to corporate officers and civic officials. brochures. rewrite. to help them abandon cigarettes and alcohol. to produce acceptable theses and dissertations for their graduate courses. complete direct-mail packages. edit. Hardly anybody knows how to write them all.recognize and agree that they need to call on a wide variety of specialists to meet their needs. and many went to $150. 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. A simple classified advertisement in a prominent and well-circulated newspaper will bring you in many resumes to write at fees you set. They bring in specialists to write/edit/rewrite their company newsletters and annual reports. press kits. writing. and/or ghost write to his or her specific needs. salesletters. In fact. and to write dozens of other important things--proposals. and to cope in a hundred other ways with today's complex society. or publications consultant when a client wants you to provide such services. to prepare (and even to present) their training programs. unless you are sure right now of exactly what you want to do in the field of writing professionally--writing for money. news releases.
And if you don't mind speaking to groups. take on crash projects that require you to work evenings and weekends to help a client--make that clear in your brochure or letter. for which she was quite willing to pay me my fees. 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. That works out to $125 per hour. You find most of them in any good public library. Chamber of Commerce. according to my little calculator.meeting so that she could hold her own in discussing the issues. Make deals with other local businesses--your local printer and you can refer clients to each other. What to Charge Clients In some fields it is necessary to undercut established competitors as a means of getting started--building a beginning clientele. There are many other resources that will help you. You will find that that kind of service is especially in demand. there is no reason not to solicit other writing chores. it is hurtful to work too cheaply. if you wish to. Posting a modest little sign in the right places often helps. (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. A few other merchants with whom you are likely to have a mutual interest so far as types of clients are concerned are stationers. of course. for that matter. in my opinion. and the demand is growing faster than the supply. 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. That .) 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. And. volunteer to speak at meetings. In fact. Rotary. businesses are always having difficulties in meeting schedules. and computer stores. A list find useful and keep in my own office for reference is can probably you will want of some that I included here. That almost always produces business. A good bit of business can come your way from these sources. and such service is well received and leads to work from satisfied clients. Not so in this field. art supply stores. If you are willing to help people out in emergencies--that is.000 per day. the competition is simply not that great. Be sure you keep the local newspapers and business clubs--Lions. Many people want help in writing letters. which I think is competitive with rates you would pay for most kinds of professional and paraprofessional specialists. A competent consultant is today worth a minimum of $1. etc--advised also. for example. local colleges (especially useful for students needing resumes and help with term papers and theses). and meeting halls. although to have a few of them in your personal library. and the right places include bulletin boards in public libraries and other community buildings.
Cincinnati. 19 West 21st Street. 1986 ----------. DC are considerably different than they are in Tuscaloosa. But you have a few reference points now. Writer's Digest Books. L.should give you a bench mark. 401 N. The Newsletter Editor's Desk Book. Literary Market Place. New York: John Wiley. Herschell Gordon. monthly slick paper trade magazine for marketers. 1507 Dana Avenue. 1979 Lewis. The. New York. 1987 ----------. Admittedly. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. Box 25376.Writer's Resource Guide... 1988 Kuswa. Great Promo Pieces. a bimonthly periodical for writers. Writer's Yearbook. Ohio 45207. Chicago. John Wiley. Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. Sell Copy. 1979. Inc. 1980 Bly. Helen. Create the Perfect Sales Piece. 1983 Gosden... The. Paul. R. John Wiley. Cincinnati. New York. New York. A few suggested candidates for that library follow. This has been a relatively brief report. Broad Street. How to Make Your Advertising Make Money.. R. Bowker Co. New York.R. William. New York. PA 19108. Westport: Quorum Books. Webster. Bowker Co. Inc. NY 10010. 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... locality is a factor too: Prices in New York City and Washington. Writer's Digest Books. there are clients who will balk at that rate. Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. How to Write Books That Sell. The. Inc. There are many more detailed publications you may wish to consult and even keep in your permanent reference library.. New York. John Wiley & Sons. DM News. read by direct marketers.1984 Wilbur. 1976 Holtz.. St. Herman. monthly magazine. You will have to use your own judgment. an annual.. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books. . just as there are others--those who have used consultants before--who will wonder why you are so cheap.. 1987 ----------. Of course.1981. Freeman F. Philadelphia. Inc.. Alabama and Pocatello. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. 1985 Brohaugh. Ed. Speaking for Profit. Direct Mail Copy that Sells!. Shawnee Mission: Parkway Press. MN 55125. ------------. Inc. Writer's Digest. Idaho. an annual. an annual.. 1986 ----------. A Few Useful Books and Periodicals Arth. an annual. New York. an annual of the Writer's Digest. Mail Order Moonlighting.. Caples. John. Writer's Journal.R. How to Write Articles That Sell. New York: John Wiley. 1985 Hoge. Cincinnati. Writer's Market. Cecil C. Jr. The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. The Direct Marketer's Workbook. Sr. Contemporary Books. Robert W. Target Marketing. National Directory of Addresses and Telephone Numbers. Direct Marketing Success. Marvin and Ashmore. Val-Tech Publishing. Perry. Concord Reference Books. John Wiley & Sons. 1979. New York: John Wiley.
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