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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
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. But it is not necessarily the only reason. whereas freelance writing is often a completely lonely activity. Of course. proposal writing. mainframe computers. Fax and email are cutting sharply into surface mail and may soon obsolete it. broadcasting. More and more commonly. the developers of materials to train people in the new technologies and method-. 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. Among today's newer breed of independent consultants are the designers and creators of Web sites for clients. conventional consulting specialties. such as conventional direct mail. g. 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. after I had applied this idea successfully to my own career. Their work has greater significance for them. But not only are those words as true today as they were then. the electronic bulletin boards and commercial online services. 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. and those who write the new direct mail of online advertising for clients. speech writing. The personal computer and the advances it has inspired. desktop publishing programs. but others . Too. writers can also upgrade to the older. and publishing. I first expressed this basic idea of growth from writing and related skills to independent consulting in my writings of some 20 years ago. writers of manuals for users of new equipment. They are being replaced by personal computers with word processors. clients and often clients' staff people. a greater sense of achievement. although I suspected that they would continue to grow. and the Internet and Web alone have inspired many new independent consulting specialties. The list of examples is almost end-less in its size overall and in its diversity of independent consulting specialties. One other reason many consultants have reported to me is that consulting gives them greater satisfaction. advertising or publicity notices and business cards and letterheads include the address of an Internet Web site. Revolutionary change has come about far more rapidly than any of us could have foreseen. but they were much more significant than I knew. consulting means working with others. Some writers handle the loneliness well. as are the big. Fax machines and fax boards in computers have largely replaced clumsy older systems of rapid written communication. and laser printers. sales promotions. to name a few. I could certainly not have predicted how much both writers' specialties and independent consulting itself would burgeon.. I know now how prophetic my words were.as consultant on book publishing. the fax. e. public relations. copywriting. than writing did. ultimately becoming a publisher himself (The Consultant's Library) and founder of an association of independent consultants.
as such. or any consultant. The fact that it happened at all is significant in that it illustrated. I analyze the requirement. The consultant is not only expert at whatever he or she does. I gave it up. especially government contracts. much more. Anyway. Unfortunately. I did not represent myself as a proposal writer. advise. and the difference between the two know-hows. a sizable daily rate even in today's highly inflated marketplace. I presented myself as a proposal consultant. "No writer is worth that much. although equally significant: There is much more prestige in being a consultant than in being a writer. but in general. a number of years ago. however." she insisted. In the case of editorial services. Here are a few ideas. a prospective client balked at my fee: "That's too much money to pay a writer!" she exclaimed indignantly. "I am a consultant. and otherwise cover the entire waterfront for the client. as necessary. an expert in winning contracts. but did not dispute that a consultant offered services of greater value than one would expect of a writer. and even more difficult to be credible as that far-ranging an expert. a writer. a consultant in all matters and kinds of writing an publications. I solve the problems that inevitably crop up. than simply a freelance practitioner of some skill or craft that is the basis for the enterprise. it was the first and proved to be the only time I ran into this problem. Once (but only once). But more than a title is required. After a few more minutes of this kind of exchange. I was able to charge and get fees of $1. rarely commands equal respect. but is also able to design. lead your proposal effort and write some or all of it. and there was no point in wasting more time. Even as the most expert of freelance writers. for I delivered far more in services and results than would be expected of a writer. writing or any other skill.000 per day. you do not become a consultant simply by calling yourself a consultant. I devise strategies for you. covering some of the kinds of activity in which many writers have chosen to become specialists and offer consulting services: . I was obviously not going to prevail." My prospective client was unmoved. people in our society may be impressed by a writer who is published between book covers. is more. the dramatic effects of turning your writing know-how into consulting know-how. What I told this woman was entirely true: A proposal consultant." I explained. Here is a case in point: As a freelance proposal writer. you can decide to offer your services as a general editorial consultant. Consultant or Writer? One other factor is more subtle. Note that this client insisted that I was "only" a writer to support her unwillingness to pay my fee. solve problems. but in today's world that is biting off quite a lot. "But writing is only incidental to what I provide you. although that was the major service I provided my clients. It's pretty difficult to be knowledgeable in all fields. as much as any experience could.find it depressing and have great trouble enduring it. Of course.
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
You could. Networking For most independent consultants. there was a government-wide dispute and discussion of what the term meant in relation to government use of consultants. by industry or corporate function. while still maintaining the image of the specialist. the most effective marketing medium is the informal network--word of mouth. Consulting is a very special kind of enterprise. this simplifies your own marketing efforts to the extent that it brings focus to it. in finding clients for your services. Specializing in these ways. as in any enterprise. and write any or all kinds of marketing and sales materials. You might opt to target all directors of marketing or sales managers. for example. and may even know some key people who should know about your new venture. 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. They are the print media--periodicals and direct mail--and networking via associations. There are at least two reasons for this: . Marketing Your Services Success in consulting. For example.) Marketing Online Today. conventions. despite their inability to define or explain consulting. there are millions of prospects who are not online and may never be online. 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. That is not a small consideration in itself. commercials. as many consultants do. to build your professional image and raise your visibility. In no venture you can undertake is your professional image and level of visibility more important than it is in consulting. if you are not intimidated by modern high-tech devices and have learned to operate a pc. and the like. and may be a factor to consider in deciding how to specialize and focus your targets. also enables you to broaden the scope of what you do without appearing to dilute your focus of specialization. depends on success in marketing. suppose you wish to consult on marketing materials--sales letters. You can publish a free newsletter. and word of mouth. 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. for example. Again. brochures. and that might include owners of small businesses. you can turn to online —search of clients. specialize in marketing support (call yourself a marketing consultant). You must reach them via the more conventional seas in which to cast your net in search of clients.word out. who are often their own marketing and sales managers. (In the Carter Administration. which the Carter Administration found to be excessive. Of course. 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.
fourth. . (More than one independent consultant has reported greater success in closing sales when he or she raised his or her fees. You publish articles and even Letters to the Editor in periodicals read by those you have selected as prospects. your represent yourself to be both an expert in whatever you claim as your specialty and a wise counselor. furnishing samples of your skills and evidence of your friendly and helpful attitude. A spin-off of such activities is word of mouth.g. It's a strange phenomenon to find yourself recommended by strangers. clients do not usually retain consultants about whom they know nothing more than that the consultant exists. You publish a free newsletter. that is what the client expects. 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. typically. Even if you do not make such claims specifically. but it happens quite a lot when your name becomes well known and your image well established. 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. Many prospects who do not respond to a first or second appeal will respond to a third. These are all networking methods that help you accomplish both goals of creating a favorable professional image and raising your visibility.As a consultant. You respond in these posts to others' requests for help. Probably no single factor in marketing yourself this way is quite as important as patience and persevering consistency.. that is--by your price. It is an even bigger mistake to underprice yourself than to overprice your service. and are well impressed with what they read. the small advertising notice. from any consultant: That is implicit in the very idea of consulting. 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. making people aware of your existence. The small effort--e.) Thus. or fifth appeal. even when the appeal is unchanging. small brochure--repeated regularly with the same central them or even without change is almost always more successful than the single or only occasional large effort. Even 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. It is again the growing familiarity and increasing sense of comfort and trust. the large advertisement or thick direct-mail package. brief letter. if not slightly more. either online in cyberspace or in ink on paper sent by mail. 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. Consulting is one of those fields where a client tends to judge the worth of your services--to judge you as a consultant. For these reasons. you are compelled to charge at least as much as your competitors do.
you are a professional and. and it needs repetition. But you have a right to know why I presume to impose so many of my opinions on you. Therefore. nothing is quite as important as marketing. of . In that case. There are in that respect. it would have to be persuasive writing.What is to Come All the foregoing has been orientation and preview. Thus. I hope. if there were only one subject of writing I was permitted to present. brochures. this book ought to provide you with the basis you need to upgrade your skills until you are ready to make that change. and/or broadcast commercials and nothing else. Therefore. first of all. than any other writing specialty. you probably have never heard of me. On the one hand. there will be great emphasis on these things. which is also a quite honorable career. with occasional excursions into consulting as a specialty. more importantly. print advertisements. the subject matter: those classes of writing and associated work that are suitable as specialties in which you may consult. two classes of information to be covered in the pages to come: here is. probably. but I have lived a long time and thus have had time to have many experiences. As noted business/marketing guru Peter Drucker has observed. I am the author of over 60 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. but devoted primarily to helping you become familiar with the writing needs of business. if you are ready to make the change immediately. It's an obvious truth that needs saying. In the business world. a businessman or -woman. is to create customers. If you are not yet prepared to make that change. gained a good bit from your reading. this book begins and may be viewed as a conventional course in writing for the business or "corporate" world. The following are factual notes. 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. and so we must provide here some guidance in both the profession and the business of consulting. What is to come is preparation to hang out your shingle as an independent consultant. If you learned how to write proposals. the purpose of business. any business. In that respect. sales letters. However. As an independent consultant. 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. the one kind of writing that all businesses need and use is advertising/marketing/sales writing. as I have known it. So please forgive me if I appear to be bragging. you could upgrade that knowledge into a consulting practice more easily. the writing of business. but the other fields will be covered too. That accomplished. you will have lost nothing here and. it is possible that you are quite content with simply being a good freelance writer. Who/What am I? Unless you are a consultant or happen to have read one of my books.
Typhon and Titan missile systems. Apollo moon-landing program. and other federal agencies.manuals on complex and sophisticated defense and space systems. I have been employed by or been a consultant to many organizations.. and training programs. EPA.S. and others to write manuals. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer. General Services Administration. reports. consumer product safety programs.S. brochures. but especially on the how-to of building a successful independent consulting practice. and other organizations as a proposal consultant and seminar presenter. Civil Service Commission Training Magazine New Jersey Professional Engrs Assn. EPA programs. winning many contracts with the U. Sterling Associates United Communications Group Prince Georges Community College Schoolcraft College Salvation Army U. Defense Electronics Products Philco.S. Dept of Commerce C&P Telephone Co. and other such material. and of many magazine articles and custom/contract assignments--. I have written extensively on marketing subjects. Navy. including the following: IBM. Atlas. Educational Science US Labor Department. the Job Corps program. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. colleges. I designed the vocational and academic training programs for one of the first U. . Overall.S. audiovisual presentations. BMEWS. Federal Systems Div.Postal Service. Analysis & Technology. RCA. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting firm. reports. Michigan). Michigan Employment Training Land Improvement Contractors Assn.g. training programs. brochures. GE. I won contracts for and directed numerous other projects providing engineering support and related services for NASA. I have developed a reputation as an authority on government contracting.Postal Service Georgetown University Saginaw State University U.) I am still called upon by corporations. Communications & Weapons Remington-Rand. USDA Forest Service. Army. proposal consultant. and many other agencies.S. in the course of writing a successful proposal for that center.S Navy. lecturer and seminar leader on the business subjects about which I have written. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). training. including selling to the government generally and on proposal writing especially (I was the author of proposals that won more than $360 million in government contracts for employers. audiovisual presentations. Army. and myself. newsletters. as well as in my own independent ventures. NASA. the U. technical writing.S. my experience includes newspaper work (Philadelphia Inquirer) and many years of employment since in engineering. the U. Automotive Accessories & Parts Assn. Inc. and many other programs for the Air Force. large and small. clients. Reentry Vehicles Division Dun & Bradstreet Volt Information Sciences Control Data Corporation Chrysler Corporation Vitro Laboratories Hercules Aerospace Division US Industries. FAA. speeches. OSHA Job Corps Environmental Protection Agency U. proposals. Job Corps Centers (Fort Custer.
Dow Jones-Irwin. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. John Wiley. Government Marketing News. 1992 Databased Marketing. 1992 Marketing Without Money. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. Prima.S. Upstart/Dearborn. John Wiley & Sons. AMACOM. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer. 1986 **The Direct Marketer's Work Book. John Wiley. 1981. John Wiley. John Wiley & Sons. 1995 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. 1986 ***Computer Work Stations. 1981. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. Greenwood Press. . 2d Edition. Facts on File. A FEW BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Priced to Sell. 1989 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. John Wiley. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. John Wiley & Sons. 1987 Speaking for Profit. 1996 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. Prentice-Hall. 1990 Choosing and Using a Consultant. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. 1983. Inc. 1993 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. John Wiley. l983. Arco. McGraw-Hill. John Wiley. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. The Consultant's Library. 1982. while also designing a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. John Wiley. The Complete Guide to More Profitable Pricing. Consultant's Library. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. 1982. McGraw-Hill. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. 3rd Ed. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. 1983.. Upstart/Dearborn.. John Wiley. John Wiley & Sons. 1986 Advice. John Wiley. Greenwood Press. and Contracting Opportunities Digest.I was also a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for nearly a year. 1991 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. Dow Jones-Irwin. John Wiley. Scott Foresman. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. I published the newsletters. Bob Adams. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. 1985 Beyond the Resume. Dearborn Trade. now part of the Energy Department). 1994 *How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. Chapman & Hall. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. 1991 The Winning Resume. Prima. Scott Foresman. 1995 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. 1984 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. McGraw-Hill. 1987 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. a High-Profit Business. John Wiley. 1993 Doing Business with the U. John Wiley. (One of my more novel projects was the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. Mail Order Magic. Profit-Line Management. Scott Foresman. 1983. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. 1991 Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. John Wiley. Second Edition. John Wiley. Government. 1988 The Business Writing Problem Solver. Prentice-Hall. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability.
One point I wish to make immediately is this: There is no particular logic to the order in which these chapters are presented. as one chapter reinforces some point made in another chapter. l980. I have also added some new material. and I have made some changes to them again in making chapters of them.The $100 Billion Market AMACOM. and it is my main theme that the virtuoso freelance writer. I updated them as I saw the need. AMACOM. and there is no direct connection between or among the various chapters.000 a Year in Editorial Services 7: How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles 8: How to be Your Own Publisher . 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. an editorial consultant. I hope you will read them all. Each chapter was originally a complete an independent discussion and how-to revelation of some subject pertaining to writing. the one a client may call on to satisfy almost any writing need or to be an outstanding expert at one or more. 1980. I find it difficult to refrain from making these few remarks. although there may be some redundancy. eventually. I hope this because each chapter focuses on treats a different subject of writing. But as a writer. From time to time. 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. This book is made up of chapters that were each reports about writing that I published originally over a period of about 20 years. or read some and not others. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. is in fact an independent consultant. and go on beyond these brief introductions to so many writing specialties to much greater enlightenment in them. __________________ *Best seller. 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. such as this preface and an Introduction. 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.
One result of this lengthy exposure and modest celebrity status is that I am constantly being asked questions about writing professionally and independently.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. how to work. Moln r What About the Rules of Writing? Freelance is the popular term for the independent writer. It spells out more firmly that the freelance writer is self-supporting and a free agent. The questions come mostly from hopeful aspirants to writing or beginners who are not necessarily beginners or tyros as writers--quite the contrary. I am going to try to answer a few of those familiar questions here. the hopefuls often do not know which are the most important questions they ought to have asked. (Unfortunately. the more critical and important ones. and I have been doing it full time as an independent or freelance writer for a respectably large number of those years. and for what rewards. 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. Certain of the questions asked are definitely of the deja vu variety: I hear them again and again. columns. controlling his or her own life.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. and books published under my name as the author. First you do it for the love of it. later. many are highly proficient writers--but are usually quite naive about the practical side of freelance or independent writing. what. and I am going to extrapolate from these a few more questions that I think the hopefuls should have asked. I have been writing for more years than I ever thought would be granted me. (Not too surprisingly .) First will come those routine items. Then you do it for a few friends. but I far prefer the term independent. when. . with many articles. F. And finally you do it for money.
With today's computers and word processors. It is a must to double-or triple-space copy. as white space for the editor to use. e. If I am writing a piece called "Selling to Senior Citizens. i. with word processors we can actually reproduce italics.) 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." All nonsense. (My own practice is double-space. if you use one. titles. It is necessary to register your copyright only if you get into a legal dispute over the copy--e. is followed by the name you wish to use in the published version. so you may wish ." at the head of each manuscript page there will appear something along the lines "Senior Citizen Holtz. (I customarily leave about one third of the first page. you advise everyone that you are reserving your right to the copy. and insists on using the old methods. What may have been difficult detail in that time is now easy routine. special symbols. and other details--according to their standards. allow one-inch margins all around and minimize pen and ink changes. at the top. they make it difficult for copy editors. Use your true name here. (That is taken to mean when you have a completed manuscript. and we should do so. except the admonition to double. address. (If you have them. The first page of the manuscript ought to bear your name. and other such preferences. unless your editor objects to that. boldface. and telephone number. centered in caps on about line 18 or 20. if someone infringes and you want to sue or if someone claims you infringed and sues you." Depending on your word processor and your preferences. heads. you may also offer a footer identifying the chapter to which the page belongs. Of course. you can use the right corner).. the one you wish to have appear as the payee on the check! But the title. include fax number and email address. Other than that. When you publish a copyright notice. (Your computer can count them for you!) Start well below the top of the page. to "how it is done. Most of us (I hope) now use computers and printers.. it is easy enough to print out corrected pages.) 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.) Many of the guidelines laid down years ago were influenced by the Stone Age practices imposed on us by the Underwood and Remington typewriters. trying to maintain control over paper and postage costs. The typical manuscript format today ought to carry a running head that identifies the ms and author. as far as I am concerned. your nom de plume. If you are writing a book. With typewriter composition we used underlines to indicate italics and other devices to indicate our desires for boldface and other typographical preferences. (I know of one who does. especially for magazine pieces.) You own that copyright whether you do or do not register it with the Copyright Office. g.) Place your name and address in the upper left corner (my preference. feet. the page number might appear here or elsewhere on the page. for example.or triple-space copy so the editor can make his/her cabalistic marks.Manuscript Formats I have been urged by countless alleged experts to prepare my manuscripts--margins.
) A nonreturnable deposit of ù One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. Ordinarily. and I wrote a how-to article on the subject. not cash. however. It doesn't happen that way. As many do. You can find many books and articles that promise to teach you how to sell what you write. They want to think of themselves as artists. you must write what you can sell. A nonrefundable fee of $20. It won't happen. they hate the very idea that theirs is a commercial enterprise.) The following subjects are all part of marketing. Certainly. I learned that when I was still a technical writer. (So many of us waste years trying to compete in writing fields that are all wrong for us. Editors don't buy your work. It doesn't require compromising your standards. Far from it. sending it to an engineering journal. Marketing The most important part of being an independent or freelance writer is marketing--selling your work. despite Ferenc Molnar's jest. not merchants. That's backwards. no reputable publisher will do so. 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. . Perhaps they have never consciously studied their craft as a process of learning how to write what the public (and the editors) will buy. (Send check or money order. Plagiarism and infringement are relatively infrequent and usually not serious matters anyway. It suggests that you can write anything you want to write--even literary garbage--and learn tricks for selling it. that is. If you do wish to register a copyright.to register it when you create it. whether your write fiction or nonfiction. you sell it to them. write to the Copyright office and request forms and instructions: Register of Copyrights Copyright Office Library of Congress Washington. ù Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. But that is not to say that you prostitute your art. 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. His/her business is buying from authors. But consciously or unconsciously. Many of them will deny it. it is unnecessary to register your copyright. that they sully their art with money. DC 20559 You will learn that same address: you must send the following three items to that A completed application form. I have known some who become indignant at the idea that they deliberately set out to write something salable. and 2) what I was best suited to write and should make my main writing niche. Selling What You Write. Successful writers are writers who have learned how to write what will sell. You can be a sincere and dedicated writer. and everything I advise or suggest here is in the interest of marketing your work--being successful.
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. I was not only stung by the rejection. But when I am writing my proposal. approximately. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. That works especially well. I was truly puzzled. Government Paid me $6. but I have also had many of my working titles retained as final titles. 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. a much-to-be-desired reward for it. Editors try to come up with good titles. is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. That is unlikely. That title for the proposed book or article is solely to help me sell it. with some tips to solve your problem. sometimes you can compress a good lead into a title or a headline. The article on technical writing came back promptly. Later. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. and sent it straight back to the editor who had rejected it. In my lead. it is what sells your work. For another. that venerable writer's periodical. They probably simply have . I need one to use in my proposal to help me sell my idea to the editor.The Magic Lead. But engineering usually requires that you write. "You!" to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. brief and to the point. firmly rejected. Engineer. He bought it immediately! Here.000 to Answer its Mail. I have had many of my working titles changed. I was saying "Hey! Mr. I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. then. See?" And then I did that. and nothing else. Editors try as hard as you do to attract readers to your book or article. editors are often also writers. this is about/for You! and that distasteful writing chore. I studied it and suddenly got an inspiration. with the promise of revelation. Yes. Engineer. I changed the brief lead. That is what a good lead does. (Some of it was two years old!)" The text then went directly into an explanation of what that title meant. as long as it lives up to its promise. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. Editors are reputed to tend always to change the author's titles. And I do not fear using a long title. titles that are good leads or almost leads.S. Titles are an important element in marketing your work. About Titles. confronting the reader with this: "The U. we will probably use an entirely different title to attract readers. and "See?" to explain why and how that is so. I knew it to be a tightly written piece." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. "Hey!" is to get attention. especially not in the case of the "working" title. For one thing. 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. The Elements of the Lead. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. the one that will probably be dropped later and replaced. so here are a few suggestions to make the task a bit easier for you. writing is a distasteful task that many people would avoid. sometimes very good ones. titles that contribute to the Hey! You! See? Idea.
I don't bother to tell them. Most editors want queries and will not read unsolicited manuscripts. I think that is my right. Simultaneous Submissions. and I have never had trouble over this. but the matter is still not that simple. A proposal for an article is usually a lengthy. and a ton of clips won't sell an article idea the editor doesn't like. and a synopsis/outline of the story. write a . your ms will speak for itself. I am aware that the rules are slightly different for writers of fiction. It is no longer taboo. If you happen not to have clips. they would rather have the lead to sample your style and approach. A book proposal can be lengthy. I am opposed to use of the term query letter because I believe it bad psychology to think in terms of querying.a more objective view than you do in choosing titles. usually clips of published work to demonstrate your professional capabilities. If you are trying to sell a novel. Some sources urge you to devote at least 25 pages to the effort. If you are trying to sell a short story. just make your proposal as strong as possible. we submit query letters or proposals. The editor who likes your proposal won't worry overmuch if you don't send clips (I never do). Make your proposal sell. I choose what I think is the better offer. perhaps. A few editors object to it. I don't think it's any of their business. 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. That doesn't mean that those who recommend 25 pages are wrong. two or three pages. "Would you be interested in the following article?"--is a negative approach. Consider what it is you are submitting: Usually. whereas proposing--"I propose to write for you the following article"--is a positive approach. either. Once in a while two editors have wanted the same piece. rather than proposing. Think positively in marketing: Shun querying. don't worry about it. you probably ought to explain that to the editor. with enclosures.g. and proposal are the way to approach an editor. if it is based on an actual happening or main character. That was unfair: An editor can sit on your submission for a long time before deciding that he doesn't want it. 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. not manuscripts. the lead. e. To do that. However.. Experiment and discover what works best for you. a synopsis/outline. and others ask that they be advised if the manuscript is being submitted elsewhere at the same time. Think proposal. Some editors prefer not to get the whole ms. I would not submit a manuscript to more than one editor. Querying--i. Check reference sources (e.. you probably must submit the whole manuscript. 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. today. You don't really need much else. but I have no hesitation in submitting a proposal to several editors simultaneously. Writer's Market) to find out what the editor prefers.
If you capture the editor's attention and arouse immediate interest. that most successful agents represent only writers who turn out books. many writers resell their articles over and over as reprints. a periodical publisher buys first rights or serial rights. The argument is not completely valid for at least two reasons: A writer's income depends on his/her productivity. but the typical agent today does not keep up with these markets. and 10 cents a word may be profitable on a task that can be written without research. no agent can sell an unsuitable manuscript. earning dollars per word. and will return all secondary rights to you after they have published the story. and TV shows. Rates for reprint rights are lower than for first rights. but you need only furnish another copy of the manuscript. Agents will accommodate their regular clients--writers of--the clients want help in marketing to periodicals. of course. Rights and Rates. you are halfway to a go-ahead. Many writers work such markets regularly and earn a substantial living doing so. make the best bargains. A dollar a word is not enough for an article that requires exorbitant research. A great many writers balk at the rates offered by trade periodicals. and use it as the lead for your proposal. plays. 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. There are also area rights. Some publishers insist on buying all rights initially to protect themselves. What a good agent can do is find the best markets. and may even if you don't ask. and even some of the smaller consumer magazines. In either case. you can sell the thing again as a reprint. They have it backwards. If you have retained all the other--secondary--rights. and relieve the writer of the marketing task. protect the writer's interests in negotiating sales and contracts. as is so often the case with conventional wisdom and popular myths: You get an agent when you have begun to become successful. But agents are listed .great lead for the article. but sell the story to newspapers in other areas at the same time as self-syndication. in the end. no matter how promising or well recommended. Here is why: There are various rights in publishing. In any case. movies. Most agents are reluctant to take on a client who has not yet had any significant success. When you are ready for an agent. however. Must You Have an Agent? Beginning writers often think that they need an agent to become successful. Be advised. your publisher can suggest some suitable agents. It does not pay an agent normally to represent writers of magazine articles and short stories. you own all the rights. Generally. getting the right to publish the piece first. That will be the most decisive influence. The second reason is even more cogent: You may be able to sell the piece over and over. It's when you begin to sell that you need this service. newspapers. When you create the piece. and you should probably handle this kind of marketing yourself. You can sell newspapers the right to publish in their own area.
However. set it in type." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers.) Generally speaking. It drives a great many authors to think of publishing their own books and articles.. when you come across stories in your field. a news magazine. because the editor knew of a successful book in another publishing house and wanted one of his own to compete directly with it. There is some justice in that sardonic observation: Only three times in the years that I have been writing books has one been inspired by a suggestion or specific request from an editor. You think. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination.in the annual. (And that. Some best-sellers were self-published. Self-Publishing It is far from easy to find publishers for your books and articles. the benefits and costs of self-publishing a book depend at least partly on how much you can do for yourself. and many have done so quite successfully. You have to edit your copy. illustrate it in some cases. e. There are always better ways to do things.inspired me to research and write my own book on the subject. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. design the . Some agents advertise in the writer's periodicals and in the telephone yellow pages directory. probably. Above all. publishing the work of other authors. therefore. and elsewhere. they provoke ideas. Winning Through Intimidation and Up Your OWN Organization! are just two outstanding examples of that kind of success. work consciously at searching out new ideas. and some authors have been so successful at this that they started successful publishing businesses. "Hey. that there was currently a spate of "home offices"--businesses based in offices in private -. when I read an article in U. Literary Marketplace. I must be honest and say up front that self-publishing a book is expensive and difficult. (List appears here later. Here are a few: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. there are those who think it is by far the best way to get their work published. For example. new services. You may also find help in getting an agent if you belong to one of the many writer's associations.) Getting Ideas The editor has been described as someone who doesn't know what he wants until he sees it. However.S. that's only half the story. Often. Be alert for new products. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. you are almost entirely on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. a great many people would like to know about it. new methods of all kinds. I can do better than that. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i. To a degree. in fact. News & World Report. Many people therefore ask for guidance in self-publishing their books and articles.
and ship your own books. which includes marketing it. A book I did for Prima. and distribute it. 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. However. with or without a copier--and if you have a modern laser printer.. Self-publishing articles your write is a much different proposition. and many freelancers feel the need to get out and associate with others. many of the book review editors are reluctant to review self-published books. one of the established book publishers who provide that service to smaller publishers. captions. and you may not get all the reviews you wish. In fact. you do not have to carry an inventory. bound with a single corner staple. To self-publish them. including getting your book reviewed. Too. associations help in other ways. And you can sign up mail-order booksellers to act as dealers for you. There are a number of national associations with . those "publishers" (the quotation marks are thoroughly justified) who promise to do it all for -.) You can. job opportunities. Therefore. and other guides. package. Many mail-order dealers do just that. you can turn out a professional-looking product with suitable fonts--e. but bind only part of the printing. If your monographs are large -. books are a very good mail order item. find a printer ("book manufacturer. and some publishers distribute for the publishers too small to have their own distribution systems. are published in letter-size format on 8. hire a PR firm to handle the promotion. with services that help you: Seminars and conventions at which you can learn many things. get rid of gophers. when you have suitable equipment. Distribution is hard work. You can distribute through book wholesalers--there are several of those (Ingram and Baker & Taylor are two wholesalers. usually) in quantity. however. You can also sell your books by direct mail. Writing is a lonely activity.covers. Times Roman in various sizes for body copy. since you can produce copies as you need them.10. (Those brokers who specialize in selling remainders often buy the flats and have them bound as inexpensively as possible. g. especially in cloth bound (hard cover) books. Writer's Associations Belonging to a writer's association is a great help to many writers. to name just a few. Most such guides. how to minimize your taxes." in the jargon).. incorporate. Avoid the vanity presses. for example. if you have the wherewithal.000 words or more--it is worth considering publishing them as bound booklets. g.a large fee. many printers print (32-page signatures. not in binding. The economies of scale are in printing. calling them "reports. you can often find large printers--book manufacturers--or fulfillment houses who will provide storage for a fee and ship for you. since articles normally appear in periodicals.x 11-inch pages. The rest remain on skids as "flats. You can find lots of help offered in the advertisements at the back of any issue of Writer's Digest. and group health plans." and will be bound into books only as sales justify. was distributed by St. you would have to offer them as monographs or white papers. Martin's Press. for example). If you don't have space and facilities to store. and headlines--and even print on both sides. something most small print shops can do for you. these are of the how-to variety--e." Usually.
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. 1260 25th Ave. DC area. 17 S. but even the independent groups can be quite large. by any means. Lauderdale FL 33310 (305) 485-0795 Independent Writers of Chicago 8137 S. and there are also many independent groups. Washington Independent Writers of the Washington. PO Box 3535 Omaha NE 68103 (402) 390-1000 ext 290 National Assn. as in the case of WIW. PO Box 9844 Ft. Ohio 43215 (614) 221-1900 Computer Press Assn. Yates Blvd. NW Washington DC 20009 (202) 429-6639 415) 524-4195 Aviation/Space Writers Assn. Following is a list of such groups. High St. although not all. Suite 1200 Columbus.. National associations tend to be large and have the power of large groups. of Science Writers PO Box 294 Greenlawn NY 11740 (516) 757-5664 .local chapters. American Society of Indexers 1700 18th St. PO Box 2050 Madison Square Sta. San Francisco CA 94122 (415) 681-5364 Editorial Freelancers Assn. New York NY 10159 (212) 677-3357 Florida Freelance Writers Assn.
Inc. Louis Writers Guild PO Box 7245 St. 57 St. PO Box 5334 Takoma Park MD 20913 (301) 864-6428 Outdoor Writers Assn. 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. 2010 Wilson Boulevard. East 555 W. Suite 1230 New York NY 10019 (212) 245-6180 NATIONAL WRITERS UNION NWU National Office 13 Astor Pl. PO Box 4335 Spartansburg SC 29305 (803) 578-8012 Society of American Travel Writers 1155 Connecticut Ave. NY NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 . NW Suite 500 Washington DC 20036 (202) 429-6639 St. NW Washington DC 20005 (202) 347-4973 Women in Communications.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. VA 22201 (703) 528-4200 Writers Guild of America. Louis MO 63177 Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Building 733 15th St. Suite 417 Arlington . of America 2017 Cato Ave. Inc.
O. SF. IL 60654 (312) 348-1300 Twin Cities Local #13 PO Box 80026 Minneapolis. PO Box 398 Hadley. CA 93924 ( 408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 209 Golden Gate Ave. MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. NY 10709 Sarah White.New York Local 873 Broadway #203 New York. Box 292 Eastchester. Chair (612) 222-0581 Noelle McAfee 4405 Ave. MN 55408 Marc Hequet. MA 01035 Steve Simurda (413) 586-9354 Wash DC Local 1924 Park Road NW Wash. Cambridge. Chair (914) 682-1574 New Jersey Local 20 Pine Knoll Drive Lawrenceville. NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 Westchester Local P. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 Chicago Local #12 PO Box 3454 Chicago. NJ 06848 Eric Lerner (609) 883-8878 Boston Local Box 1073 Harvard Square Sta. Lcl. H Austin. TX 78751 (512) 450-0705 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley. CA 94102 (415) 252-9876 .
for example. and other such material. Tips For Breaking In An easy way to break into freelancing for any periodical is by writing short pieces: fillers. or some new servicing kink I had learned or even developed on my own. A tip on writing for computer magazines. but you can bet that there are trade publications--newsletters. tips. of course. I wrote an article about it. two popular newsstand magazines read widely by those in the TV servicing trade. I got some ideas for other uses. but there was always something. In fact. I have met many veterans of freelance writing who were not aware of many of the ideas you will be reading here. 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. business. and they welcome contributions to those sections. and several times that today. But it is not only computer magazines that have such columns or departments.Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale. short-cuts to getting things done. more than the equipment had cost me! (That $150 would be at least $500-$600 today. are highly receptive to small items. or industry. brief news items. is that many have columns or sections featuring special tips on using your computer. Many. Many Markets This idea works in every area. Most periodicals. regardless of your work or life style. tabloids.) On another occasion. trades and general interest alike. when I was in the radio-TV service business (in its infancy). 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. and other fillers and squibs. for which a magazine paid me $150. Many years ago. usually worth about $15 to $25 in the dollars of that time. 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. They were easy sales to electronics periodicals. 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. On one occasion I bought a new piece of service equipment and while learning to use it as the manufacturer explained in the manual. and magazines--covering your . such as tips for solving problems. it was a rare week that I didn't sell an item or two to Radio Craft or Radio Electronics. After experimenting a bit. I got those items from my everyday working experiences.
and go browsing there. Among the many kinds of short items to look for are these: How to do it. Whatever your career. You Can Make Money Even at Low Word Rates Many markets.industry and career field. but the editors will therefore not be too demanding. usually not more than 50 to 100 words. and often even more times as a reprint at about one-half the original rate. The professional. although some simply pay flat prices. many free-lancers earn a full-time living in these markets. In fact. One outdoors writer reported selling a canoeing article 37 times! That's almost like self-syndication. for example. Novel ideas or experiences. A restaurant kitchen trick for Florida Restaurateur may be adaptable as a home-kitchen idea for Family Circle. possibly as a humorous piece. she'll guide you to the directories and guides to periodicals. They recycle virtually every piece several times. pay low rates--10 or 15 cents/per word and even less. It's not that hard to find them. full-time freelancer will not usually offer anything to these because not only are the rates low. they develop the ability to write acceptable first draft copy.000 words for $150 or $200. selling it a second. selling it each time to another market. including many of the trade journals and newspapers. but newsletters are easy to write for and easy to sell. They manage to do so by either or both of two methods: Knowing that the rates will be low. It is perhaps not the best copy of which they are capable. Solving the common problem. Many freelance writers therefore refuse to write for them. even at the low word rates. It's a practical approach to writing. research all the trades and other periodicals for your business or industry. too!) . but the items they buy are little items only. third. However. How it works. Finding and solving the novel problem. They think it not worth their while to research and write an article of 1. Search out the most well-stocked newsstand in your town or in the nearest urban area. (And some manage to do that. such as 3 or 5 cents a word. many pay tiny word rates. Just browsing through it will provoke some ideas. Humorous ideas or situations. but you will get published. Where/how to find it. That's one way to find new ideas or salable short pieces. What else you can do with it. Ask your librarian for help. Notice how many of these ideas are twists on others. You'll be quite amazed at the selection. 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 not to do it. you will earn a little money. You won't get rich in these markets. and you will get a start as a freelance writer. you will collect a few clips to show other editors as your bona fides. A how-to item sold somewhere may be reversible as a how-not-to item sold elsewhere. such as $5 for an item or some fixed fee for a photograph or cartoon. One kind of periodical that many writers do not consider is the newsletter. It's also a way to sell the same piece several times! The pros in the business soon learn how to slant material for different readers.
and several on selling to the government. One book was written for large companies pursuing government contracts. if you are alert to detect opportunity (and even more so. you wind up with a great deal of residue. I gathered data and photographs for a technical article on transducers. was unbelievably easy: I simply wrote to a dozen manufacturers and asked for data. I have written several books on proposal writing. One was about an ultrasonic security system. to appeal to that chosen reader. and still another designed especially for the needs of independent consultants and other self-employed professionals. That fellow who sold the canoeing article 37 times has made a fine art of this. I use these techniques today in writing books. and whatever else was available.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.000 to 5. so the experience described here is not a rare one. And there were still others. another on a power sequencing device. even a best seller. and you try to make that clear in your title--try. another for small companies who wanted to break into government contracting. which generally runs from 3. but is commonplace. finally runs out of steam and sells so poorly that book-stores return it to the publisher. for example. if you do a thorough job of research. write for everybody: You usually write for a specific audience. of course. For example. the residue includes material you can use for other pieces. an energetic and skilled writer can earn a full-time living even at the lowest rates paid by the trades and other small publications. 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. I found material for several other articles most of them suggested by the residue. and manages to make even the lowest rates pay him in this manner. if ever. which. The needs of each are quite different.000 copies. in itself. . Remember that you rarely. Quite often. that is. if you plan for it). drawings. Manufacturers are understandably cooperative in such circumstances: It's free advertising and publicity for them. with permission to use them in my writing--with proper attribution. 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). As a rule in research. Putting all these tactics together. What this means for the average book is that it does not sell out its first print run. photographs. (However. brochures. but the three different kinds of books were based on the same basic methods that are required and salable as separate books. some remaindered books are those left over when a successful book. so that I was able to write and sell about a half-dozen articles from that one research effort. In the residue of research materials that didn't fit the transducer piece.
we typed these little reports up. my "inventory" is in my computer as a collection of files. so the typical such report is about 2. he went on to start a newsletter that has been his main business for quite a large number of years since. bind them (corner staple). a number of how-to-do-it monographs. too." These are normally of about 2 to 10 pages (most of my own run 6-8 pages) of single-spaced copy.) Today. are cheap enough now to be affordable by anyone who is serious about running a small. From that beginning. . I do some specialty publishing myself as a self-supporting hobby. But as I got experience in mail order. and usually highly specialized on specific topics. cheating both the publishers and the authors. the mass market paperback books) and magazines to get full credit. to tax tips. and then advertised them for sale. One man I know once sold about 14.000 words. and it's fun to operate.000 copies of his $2 report (which would be $5-$8 today) on how to get rid of gophers. it could easily become an inventory problem. one of both storage space and investment tied up in inventory. if you are equipped with a modern computer and printer. I do a much more sophisticated printing job than formerly: Most are very professional looking.Books Without Covers You may wonder how it is that you see many paperback books and magazines sold without covers for cut prices. had them printed at a local copy shop. As orders come in. But if you had more than a few such reports. And since I use a laser printer. The stores are therefore required by the publishers to return only the front covers of paperback books (that is. But it doesn't always mean that. but some small bookstore owners do it anyway. There are many kinds of publishing.500 to 3. with Times Roman fonts. so I started with reports on subjects related to how to do that. They therefore shouldn't be selling the coverless books and magazines for which they've already gotten full credit. I print out the reports. to how to how to make money writing. spare-time or full-time business. and ship them out. "self-publishing" means writing and publishing one's own books. since these. The reason is that it doesn't pay to ship unsold paperback books and magazines back to the publisher. It's gotten much easier and much different in recent years. and on many others. They are on a wide variety of topics. over the years. which most of us who do this (I am only one of many) refer to as "reports. (You may even have a copier of your own. It's not difficult to get started in this comfortable little business. as well. Although my main work in recent years has been writing books for publishing by the major book publishers. Years ago. I happen to have had a lot of experience in selling to government agencies. I write and sell. I wrote reports on that subject. An Easy Way to be Your Own Publisher For many people. one for each report. by mail and now online. some of them quite easy to do and within anyone's means to get started on a modest scale. from favorite recipes. It's actually illegal.
to the marketing directors of commercial fishing and fish-processing firms. Writer's Research Writing research is always a topic of controversy. Thus you have six hours invested in the job. either because I am already quite familiar with the subject or because I have most of the needed source materials already on hand. So while you may have spent only two hours in writing a certain piece. and to the relevant trade associations. Again. I have also used this method to gather quotable opinions from experts and well-known figures in the relevant fields. you need to get a minimum of $300 for the piece. 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. from which I culled what I needed and could use. photos. I have done that many times. If you think your time is worth a minimum of $50 per hour. They may take the position that they ought not to pay for your research time. (A good argument for writing about subjects you already know well. explaining the book or article and requesting any literature. which is undertaking only those articles or books where the research burden is a light one. with permission to use them in my manuscript. and other material available. such as making sure that my research serves for more than one article or more than one book (mentioned earlier). Researching by Mail. with a release form. If I wanted to do an article or book on the fishing industry. Or the converse. more and more printing is being done by laser printers. you may have invested four hours in researching it before you began writing. which eliminate or minimize the leg work and the time that requires: One is to use the mail to get source material. I would send out a letter. and so are too slow for large-scale printing of many hundreds or even thousands of copies. something I have learned to do increasingly. However. Today. and even to persuade some people to write forewords or sidebar pieces for me. The laser printers that most of us use with our desktop computers run from 4 to 10 copies a minute. and it has almost always resulted in a deskload of material. at least until your circulation has grown to a point where it makes more sense to have it printed in quantity by offset press. But there are other considerations.There is also the possibility of publishing a newsletter. I started and sold several newsletters. and another is to use the computer to gather information online. and it simmers down to a rather simple question: How can you minimize research time? For me. with far more extensive used of these planned for the future. the answer lies in several shortcuts I have developed. . and produce it as you do your reports. it is quite easy to start one on a modest scale.) Editors may disagree. In any case. the problem is still yours. but they don't seem to give equal consideration to the time spent in necessary research. 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.
by companies as promotional efforts. through the various online utilities now in existence. through such facilities. when it is outfitted with all the useful facilities now available) would include a modern computer. since installing a laser printer several years ago. Actually. However. under direction of the computer. And today there is the Internet. by associations as conveniences and services for members. starting at about $100 and $300. You need to have a modem and telephone to use your computer for researching outside sources. For the most part." a common term used today to designate an electronic bulletin board system. the BBS are free. Copiers are now available at under $400. combining the BBS and the public database ideas. but the easiest way to transfer files by computer is by email. Some of these sources are "BBS. the laser printer and the xerographic copier have a great deal in common. to conduct small-scale surveys. well-equipped writer's shop (I like to think of it more as a shop than an office. and copier. Most need resumes today in their job hunts. The copier copies the image of the original onto the electrostatic drum. which has already become the dominant online entity. you can have a modem and fax together on an inexpensive fax-modem card inside your computer. get help in tracking down information. I have used all such utilities for research many times. CompuServe. and some are public databases. and even enter into writing collaborations with other writers in distant places. included with every computer. since it is even more convenient and less expensive to print multiple copies of anything I print. my need for copying has dropped sharply. with modem. However.Researching by Computer. run by individuals as hobbies. That said. and Prodigy. and charging fees for usage.) Laser and bubble-jet printers are available today at reasonable prices--many well under $400--and they turn out high-quality copy. The Modern Writer's Shop Thus the modern. You can send and receive files directly. get answers to questions. such as America Online. fax machine. Many of the sources are free. find experts. Business For the Times Despite the ups and downs of the economy. whereas the laser printer paints the image on the drum. there are some other relevant observations: Modems and fax machines have become inexpensive. 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 they turn out copy of quality equal to that of the most expensive copiers. (They are virtually standard computer items now. as we become more and more specialized and there . printer. and by government agencies as a public service. respectively. with both using somewhat similar disposable toner cartridges. There is also a kind of hybrid. One great advantage of this is that you can send out an appeal to individuals on a national basis. and many are fairly costly.
" At the moment. perhaps 2 to 10 copies. job sought.) The most convenient way to organize your samples by placing them in a 3-ring binder. Number them in some manner so that clients can easily identify the style they like. Prices for these services vary widely. ask for elaboration. You will probably include in the standard fee some small number of copies of the resume and letter. Doing so will put you above and apart from most resume shops. paper selected. As an added feature. for which you can charge extra. have some standard letterhead styles into which you can fit the client's own information to create a distinctive letterhead." If you are suitably equipped with a modern computer and the usual ancillary devices. styles. the job of creating a professional-looking resume can be made much easier by using one of the many resume-writing programs available. and fonts. you can charge for extra copies. but can modify the ones shown or design your own original formats. to be produced in your own office or to be printed in some local copy shop. and otherwise get the full story. The most basic one is simply composing the client's resume from copy the client supplies. a choice of papers is appealing to most clients. qualifications. have an assortment to offer. the market is better than ever because there are so many unemployed. and that is an extra item for which you can charge a fee. Many people believe that a resume ought to be accompanied by a cover letter. Cover letters. To accommodate clients fully. However. and other such data. You will want to show all the possible formats and all the possible type sizes. employment history. But there are other services that will help you build your business: Resume writing. However. you can create a large portfolio of sample resumes. You review this. (Of course. and then interview the client to clarify what you don't understand.are fewer and fewer jobs for anyone who "can do anything. address. This is based on interviewing the client and/or on copy supplied by the client. You can offer a variety of services. including various qualities. some typical prices are $65 and up for a resume and $10 up for a cover letter. you are not restricted to the suggested formats. . Here. few of which offer this refinement. and colors of paper. with clear acetate covers enclosing each sample to enable them to withstand repeated handling. "up" depending on number of pages. and other considerations. With resume-writing software that offers variety in type styles and sizes as well as variety in resume formats. again. 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. types. and so many businesses cutting back and laying off employees--"downsizing. You need to have a supply of paper of good quality. Setting up a Resume-Writing Venture You will have to have a set of sample resumes for your clients to choose from.
a logical place for it. in a great many cases. Ask. be sure to ask everyone you talk to for referrals or suggestions as to whom else might be able to use your services.. when you get a referral. and elsewhere produce results also. Many of the profitable writing jobs I won in government offices and elsewhere were the direct result of my asking for such referrals. 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. The client may have a preference. That can be important: It makes quite a large difference. rather than a mere referral! . and holidays to get them out of trouble. that you would appreciate their suggestions. In their distress and relief at getting someone to help. You can make up and mail out a brochure that stresses your availability for quick-response jobs. proposal. weekends. a surprisingly large number of people will not volunteer their help. however. if you ask. becoming a virtual recommendation. in most cases. and call on companies in the area to talk to purchasing agents or other executives and leave your business card and brochure. also. and quite often they have no one in-house to work late or over a weekend to met the need. home-based resume writer. Companies are especially prone to discovering at the eleventh hour that they are not going to meet their deadline for a report. Lions or Rotary) and/or a trade association. For the small. you must ask them for it: It simply does not occur to them. or other important document.Resume shops tend to do most of their advertising in the newspaper sections carrying the help-wanted advertising. libraries. Quick-Response Services One way to win writing assignments in the business world is to offer what the trade refers to generally as "quick response" or "quick reaction" services. or they may be done on the client's premises with the client's equipment. 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. Many. join the local business club (e. You will be surprised how eager many people are to help. 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. Jobs of this class may be done in your home with your own equipment. or you may wish to suggest one or the other work site as more conducive to getting the job done on time. if the individual can give you a note to the other party or make a telephone call in your behalf. When you do so. notices posted on bulletin boards in supermarkets. run some advertising locally. 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.g. Oddly enough.
and did write and publish several novels. making little progress in any direction and wasting many years. Here.) It works that way with writers also. The Hoover vacuum cleaner company started as leather-goods manufacturers. And the computer had not yet been invented when IBM began in business. and the flexibility to take advantage of opportunity and make appropriate adjustments is often the important key to success. too.. Succeeding in business is a learning process for most entrepreneurs. and eventually found a more successful and satisfying writing career in writing about Hollywood and movie stars. and the stubborn ones who refuse to read the signs wind up failing. While you ought to never start out on a venture without a specific goal. Elisha T. Milton Hershey was in the candy business. Montgomery Ward started as a mail order entrepreneur. he did not find fame and fortune in writing those. as you proceed to develop a contract-writing business--it is a business. but not in chocolate. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was an itinerant printer and newspaperman before he became an outstanding novelist." Progress means growth. you must seek it deliberately. As the auctioneer says in accepting a too-low opening bid. ready to adapt to and take advantage of unexpected opportunity or need for change. Fate May Take a Hand Remember. . One of my writer acquaintances of many years started out to be a novelist. A fellow technical writer I introduced to proposal writing became highly successful at that and is today highly paid proposal writer and consultant. we look at just one broad area of freelance writing opportunity: custom or contract writing.. To find your niche as a writer without wasting time. Thus.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. In The Beginning. and opportunities. as they gather experience and encounter problems. obstacles. without a plan or pattern. remember--that almost all ventures wind up somewhere other than where the founder expected. "It's not where you start but where you finish that counts. (There are plenty of well-known examples for that. Perhaps you will have to identify and explore many avenues and niches of freelance writing success. when he started. the successful often wind up doing something quite different than that which they started out to do. you ought also to be always flexible. However. Most businesspeople change direction. Many start with only the vague notion that they are going to become freelance writers. and growth usually means change. 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. but they tend then to flounder about almost aimlessly.
Keep your mind open." but are always sure of being paid for your work. as retainers. or in other writing specialties. many who do this kind of work get a substantial part of their fees in advance. no matter what direction you take later. custom or contract writing is the writing of almost anything a client will hire a writer for. There are almost innumerable opportunities--i. You may be quite wrong about the kind of writing you think you do best and will enjoy most. You may or may not have a given aim as a writer. (Or perhaps it is the other way 'round. most independent writers find it easier to break in to freelance writing success by this latter route. You gain experience every day. In fact. i.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. or book to a publisher. in the beginning. dissertations Reports Training programs Catalogs Audiovisual scripts Speeches Direct mail packages Salesletters Product descriptions News releases Brochures Presentation packages In practice. 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. It is likely that you will do best at something you enjoy doing. but there are two immediate choices you can make. I truly did not enjoy writing fiction. whether it is fiction or nonfiction. One is to write things entirely at your own initiative. is to do custom or contract writing for clients.) Try your hand at every kind of writing you can. journalists. much neglected by beginners but offering great opportunities as means to make a beginning. The Several Avenues There are a number of paths you can follow as an independent or freelance writer. In my own case. even some that you think are not what you want to do. experience that will be useful to you as a writer. you may wish to be a playwright or novelist. The alternative. Classic or traditional freelance writing is the writing of articles and/or short stories or novels. You never write "on spec. e. playwrights. e. and offer them as products to publishers. that you will enjoy doing that which you find you can do most successfully. which is itself an indication that it was the wrong choice for me. . such as the following few examples: Resumes User instructions Newsletters Theses... article. writing to order. I found more rapid and greater success as a writer of how-to business and professional books than I had in other specialties. You might very well do better in some other writing specialty. but it may be the wrong choice for you.
indeed. and other relevant materials." The individual who needs a new resume may demand a resume specialist. Still. train others. Serving PR (public relations/publicity) needs for releases. on proposals. early on. for example. speeches. you certainly can: To do that. there are pros and cons in both choices. newsletters. advise. whether I am asked to write. Two Ways to Specialize Specializing as a resume. I am a marketing writer. that is. Whether you choose to be a generalist or a specialist is up to you. speech. Serving marketing needs of companies for salesletters. and my success in that role resulted inevitably in my future work as a proposal consultant. often dictate the outcome. a large part of your marketability as a writer for hire depends on your special experience. letters. Here are a few suggestions of how you might do that: Serving individuals' needs for resumes. 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. press kits. in some manner. obviously. 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. but you do maximize your marketability in terms of the kinds of writing work you will accept. as you have probably noted. catalog sheets. you must identify. and most of my consulting assignments are so linked to proposal activities and marketing to government agencies. You may find that it is not entirely up to you: Circumstances. or lead proposal-writing teams. and there are writers in both modes who are successful. the broader purpose or arena of your work. 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. speeches. but can you widen your area of specialization and still be identifiable as a specialist? Yes. lecture on. for it was proposal writing that eventually led me into a career .Generalist or Specialist? Opting to sell your custom services as a writer for hire need limit you. fit into more than one category. and other such materials. Fate alone cast me in the role of proposal writer. direct mail packages. (Who knew. and some. you can't expect to be equally knowledgeable and able in all areas. of course--or so you think. etc. and the company executive who wants to launch a company newsletter wants a writer with lots of newsletter experience. principally. 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. or newsletter writer is specializing in an end-product. usually unforeseen. In fact. And so generalizing and specializing as a writer for hire each offers some benefits. term papers. As a generalist. Most writing needs can be fitted into one or the other of these general categories.
Still.of writing how-to-do-it business and professional books: I had offices in downtown Washington. Suppose. Before long. may specialize in direct marketing. 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. some of these fields are so broad that specialists in them normally specialize further. Of course. Quite the contrary. which field is dominated by direct mail as the most active and largest segment. although you may not realize that immediately. I might have chosen not to write that first book. my wife. Among the many fields in which writers most often become consultants are marketing. either because you have some reason to opt for some special field or you happen to have fallen into it and prefer it. and press on to pursue whatever goals we have set for ourselves: In the end. there is a definite distinction between being a writer or writer/editor and being a consultant in that field. where I did writing and consulting for individuals. What is an Editorial Services Consultant? Becoming an editorial services consultant does not mean that you give up writing. happened to meet a publisher at lunch. As a writer or writer/editor you normally work from client-supplied format. with resulting great increases in the value of my services as a specialist with a day rate of four figures. and/or notes and draft copy. We can always reject the "decisions" of Fate if we choose to contest them. for example. However. and publishing their newsletters. The marketing specialist. and other organizations. for example. There are salesletter specialists. brochure specialists. and her conversation with him led to a contract to write and publish a book on proposals. let alone more than 60 others. government agencies. You have then become a consultant. specifications. and advertising copy specialists. That led to a second book. your writing experience and skill is very much a part of what you are. now numbering more than 60 and occupying most of my time for some years since. and others. it is always your choice. And it does not always stop even there. who helped me run the office. Without those circumstances. you may find yourself evolving into and actually functioning as a consultant. I might never have written my first book. speech writing. associations. At least. You . 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. while I was off on a consulting assignment. consider the opportunity carefully when you reach such a crossroads. outlines. DC. as I did not realize immediately that I had advanced from proposal writer to proposal consultant. and public relations. but sometimes the chance circumstance of Fate proves far more beneficial than your conscious goal or planned objective. private companies. launching. for example. The Editorial Consultant Should you pursue the role of specialist. One day. audiovisual scripting and storyboarding.
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. What you write. newsletter. teacher. Most. freelance entrepreneur working under a contract for each job. you work with far less. and otherwise act as a counselor. 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. Always pay attention to your image. therefore. notes. I have known a client to insist that I was a writer and not entitled to collect the high fees of a consultant. Therefore. when y on the client's premises as a temporary employee. will accept your representation of what you are. what you write belongs to the client (unless you have some special agreement to the contrary). often must yourself develop the outlines. You are a writer for hire (or a consultant for hire) in a more literal sense. accepting both writing assignments and consulting assignments. That requires you to prepare training materials. even though you are an independent. . not your client. As a consultant. and rewrite. rather than merely a writer! It is ironic. 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. or other such creation. write. direct mail package. 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. arising out of being a writer for hire and/or an editorial services consultant. if you prefer. you write as the agent of your client. One thing you may be sure of is that it is you. as opportunities arise. and present seminars. Even so.edit. The client has contracted with you to do a specific job for an agreed-upon price. lecture. Their perceptions establish your value. The Advantages in Being a Consultant You can and should charge larger fees as a consultant than you would as a writer or editor. (You can be both. but true. But that is not all. make appropriate presentations. and many will find you and your services especially attractive. marketing presentation. You design the end-product. and do the final copy. As a consultant. catalog. You are then a writer for hire in legal terms. or other end-product for an agreed upon fixed price and schedule. you have many more skills and services to offer than writing itself. has itself at least two avenues of approach: One is undertaking individual tasks under individual contracts--writing a resume. 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. You render a more valuable service when you develop a style guide or specification for some publication. if you are a consultant. to how others. a newsletter. You are then a writer for hire in more practical terms.) Being a writer or consultant for hire. see you. however. Consultant Vs Writer for Hire These all present opportunities for growth. who must decide that you are a consultant. and specifications necessary or guide the client in doing so. however. As an editorial consultant. submit the material for client review. a report. clients especially. adviser. formats.
and you are an independent contractor. not all on clients' premises. and requiring the clients to issue W2 forms and treat the for-hire workers as employees. You are incorporated. with the IRS reluctant to recognize many independent contractors as such. 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. There has been some difficulty with IRS over this arrangement. an independent contractor: You have short-term assignments with many different clients during the year. That is. You are usually contracted for a daily or hourly rate. Fortunately. If you wish to write resumes. Today. In this arrangement. The first step in marketing is to identify your targets: Who are your most likely prospects? That will depend. insisting that they are really temporary W2 employees. you work on the client's premises. theses. You must attend to paying all taxes yourself. be aware of the potential problem. rather than long-term assignments with only one or two clients. as the means to tell the world about what you offer. This situation applies whether you contract as a writer for hire or as an editorial consultant. You contract to produce some end-product at a fixed price. the phrase means to advertise somehow. You have a diverse mix of assignments. The following conditions will help greatly to prove to the IRS that you are. 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. in small towns everywhere. with the client required to issue a Form 1099 to you and to the IRS at the end of the year. Today it is not enough to hang out a shingle. If you also offer to edit term papers. and . on what service you want to sell. including graduating students who will soon be seeking jobs. usually without a specific end-product. How to Market Your Services All businesses require marketing. under the client's work schedule. of course. indeed. are likely prospects.although you are employed under contract and not an employee in a legal sense. and do whatever you are ordered to do by the client for as long as you are wanted or have agreed to stay. and the business of selling your writing services is no exception. in this modern day there are many ways to do this and even other ways than conventional advertising to find business and win clients. "Hanging out your shingle" is symbolic of announcing to the world that you are now an independent. 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. rather than provide a number of hours of general writing service. You do at least part of the work on your own premises. one literally hung out his or her "shingle" (sign) and waited for customers to notice it and come calling with business. Once upon a time. freelance writer or editorial consultant who offers your services to all. working people.
many other things you may write are items that organizations want written to sell their products. attract new members. resume-writing for job seekers. you must advertise where you can reach these prospects. join all the local BBS (electronic bulletin board systems) and make your services known to all others logged on there. if possible. if there was a story about jobs and careers in the publication. libraries. Contact all local business clubs--Rotary. If you have a computer but no modem. get one and learn to use it. (They are cheap enough now. promote their organizations. Post signs on bulletin boards in schools. Do the same with stationery stores and other businesses whose customers are likely to be good prospects for you. Send out brochures and announcements to all the companies. Be sure to distribute your cards and brochures freely to them so they can pass them on to others. 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.) Write Letters to the Editor and let it drop there that you are a freelance writer offering services. For these and many other services. colleges. can help you compile a list. such as copy shops: You will send them printing customers. supermarkets. and see if you can attend a meeting as a guest. For example. (See if you can leave your business cards and brochures on display there. Join. (You local Better Business Bureau and others. Make deals with local merchants. train their people. On the other hand. talk to members. distribute your cards.dissertations.. Advertising your services to organizations is a bit more difficult. You would have to take out expensive display advertising in newspapers and magazines to use print advertising effectively. it is students you wish to reach (although they may also be working people. . and they will send you writing customers.) Spread the word through all your family and friends. and wherever you can find space to put up your notice.) If you have a computer and modem. etc. executives. and otherwise satisfy their needs. and other organizations you can locate in your area. 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. perhaps. Some libraries provide places to leave cards and brochures for anyone interested. or professionals taking advanced or special courses). write a letter to the editor discussing the need for a good resume and sign it "Joe Jones. including local government agencies and business clubs. associations.g. Lions.
and holidays. You can do business by mail. such organizations get overloaded frequently and are delighted to pay for help. such as how to write a good resume. you need to find the owner or chief executive. Be aware. The sales manager or marketing director are good targets on these calls. the Wall Street Journal has a national edition that goes all over the country. week-ends. Actually. But all contract for help. carrying your cards and brochures." a willingness to work nights. (Individuals own or work for organizations. Offer a "sudden service.) . Advertise in papers other than your local ones. Visit all federal. One day a scheduled guest will cancel at the last moment. and you will get assignments and win some new clients who will be back for more. In the larger organization it may be the purchasing agent or some other office.) Use some of the methods recommended for reaching individuals.Joe Jones' Resume Service. In the small organization.) 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. etc. State and local governments have centralized purchasing and supply departments in state capitals. if you write marketing materials. in many cases. county seats. weekends. and city halls. state. Invariably. you might find a membership manager. a thesis. with staff on vacation. these are very good targets. Persistence is the key to success here. such as in the case of resume services. Most federal agencies have their own procurement offices on their premises. Keep trying and keep calling." Call the producers of local radio and TV talk shows and try to get on as a guest. (In large membership associations. also. on travel. (Think up a subject of general interest to discuss. Don't neglect government offices. They have such departments and staffs because they write a great many things on a regular basis. and the producer will be glad to get you! Do some cold-calling on organizations. and holidays. Or they are temporarily short-handed. or otherwise unavailable. and local government procurement offices and talk to the people there about getting on bidders lists and otherwise winning some of their business. (In fact. out sick. that companies sometimes get in a bind that requires them to work evenings. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times are two that circulate widely. and often you reach the organization in the same ways you reach individuals. a term paper. Keep in touch with them and keep reminding them that you are available and eager to help.
Pricing Your Services Most freelance writers seem to have difficulty deciding what their services are worth. You can be one of these. GE. "Decide how much you want to earn a year. and you must find out what it is. most of us signed on with the high-tech companies as consultants and functioned as temporary employees. et al--the clients .. and other professionals who create products and design services. writing highly technical manuals. Today's tech writer may be a former English teacher. It was necessary then to be an engineer or at least a trained engineering technician. especially when they must write to an official agency to straighten out some problem.) The term technical writer has thus become much broadened in its meaning.g. That's not all of it. and includes much of what some call "business writing" or "corporate writing. and rates apparently run from about $35 to $75 per hour. to become an editor in a technical writing organization. but instead of the work being almost exclusively with high-tech companies--e . for technical knowledge was as important as writing ability and perhaps even more so. It's plain enough: There is "a market" for such services as you offer. I can't give you more than a rough idea. There are some people who want professional help in writing a simple letter. Technical writers usually charge by the hour. the market varies with the area in which you operate and with the type of writing called for. One resume writer I know of charges from $65 up for his resumes. and may or may not be endowed with an engineering education. In a $65 market. and more. General Dynamics. Some who claim to be experts and offer advice start by saying something to the effect. IBM. or other individual with writing skills. either. When I was a freelance technical writer a number of years ago. There is the matter of what you do as an individual to build the customers' perceptions of what you are worth. and the profession was fairly new." Technical writers today still interview engineers. there will always be one or two operators who are able to win all the business they can handle at $75. but that was a number of years ago. designers. I wrote letters of that sort at $25 for the first page and $10 each additional page." That is obviously useless advice. 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. (The former English teacher or journalist with no engineering training was more likely. RCA. and I would be forced to charge considerably more today. CHAPTER 4 Freelance Technical Writing What is Technical Writing? Everything changes. a journalist. $100. while others charge less and some charge more. in those days.
missiles and their launch systems. (In fact. training items. illustrating. Today. aircraft. technical writers wrote manuals for automobiles. you may be and are probably justified in regarding yourself as a consultant and pricing your services accordingly. proposals. and others prominent in commerce but not "technical" in the sense formerly implied by that word. and many tech writers make good use of some knowledge of programming for that kind of assignment. layout. tech writers were the authors of maintenance manuals. as well as the truly technical items that have been classically connected with technical writing. design. annual reports. and production services of various kinds. of course. radar. Campbell's Soups." which I use here. (The profession of technical writing is believed to have origins in Detroit. but you have ample competition and so must compete effectively to win your . and other documentation required to support the increasingly more complex and sophisticated automobiles. but may come from academic or technical backgrounds. it would be difficult for anyone to handle every possible kind of writing assignment. mainframe computers.) Among the many specialized functions or capabilities you might provide are writing. and other such end-products. parts lists. operator's guides. satellites. the tech writer may be called on to produce catalogs. Levi Strauss. user manuals. policy manuals. much of technical writing is devoted to the development of computer software manuals. Today. parts lists. Originally. Give this serious consideration.today may include Pepsi Cola. However. specification sheets. and composition.) What is Required to be a Technical Writer Technical writers of today thus tend to no particular background. and sundry other items. Selling Your Services Marketing--winning clients and assignments--is at the heart of any service business. 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. 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. indexing. and both in many cases. the range of kinds of writing is so broad that one may specialize in any way desirable. You are not alone in the field. even making arrangements for printing and solving a variety of the typical problems that arise in publications projects. a valuable asset. editing. and other such developments of earlier decades. Many writers and editors sell themselves short in this regard. is a broad one that offers you many possibilities to expand the service you provide and the fees you can command." The term "editorial consultant. Traditionally. newsletters. when writers were hired to develop the maintenance manuals. audiovisuals. Knowledge of and skills in using desktop publishing software is a valuable asset in any writing or publishing work. If you provide services beyond simple writing and editing services per se. layout.
There are many possible markets for technical writing. and companies serving the military are prime targets for your services. your markets will depend on you--on what you can do and on what you prefer to do. Businesses explain their services.share of the market. and the technology has affected or become part of many industries that are not themselves developers of high-tech products or services. the practice of medicine is today more and more dependent on electronic and other high-tech equipment. their offers. six panels. 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. Sales/Marketing Literature. you need a business card and either a brochure or a resume. However. Some entering this kind of venture use their personal resumes as brochures. Be careful that you do not shut your mind to prospects without being sure of your conclusions. the military will continue to contract for many high-tech products. despite cutbacks. For example. Of course. you will need a brochure. rather than as a self-employed individual.x 11-inch sheet folded into three panels. and all the complex software necessary to operate these. scanners. you will need a resume. fax machines. rather than a resume. That is not a businesslike or professional approach. You must have some basic sales literature to support your marketing efforts. Most organizations today use computers. brochures. and the marketing departments of the manufacturers of such equipment need manuals. if you plan to function as an independent contractor for writing and/or related services. One way to start is to market yourself to clients indirectly by going through agencies such as "job shops" or brokers. but using the plural terms may help you perceive yourself as a business and present yourself properly as a business. and learn to think of yourself as a business organization. This is a high-tech age. since you print on both sides. But so are many industries. For that kind of selling yourself. as it does many other newly launched independent entrepreneurs in a variety of solo ventures. just as if you were in pursuit of regular 9 to 5 permanent position. (Actually. and their qualifications in brochures and proposals. Use "we" and "our. At the minimum. laser printers. Industries that were once somewhat pedestrian and mundane have been forced to become high-tech operations. even though you function alone. How do you market your services and products? Let's look at some conventional methods first. if you are imaginative enough. You will actually appear on the agency's payroll as an employee and be assigned to their client." for example." It is perfectly acceptable to use the latter singular terms. In this manner. Your basic brochure does not have to be an elaborate affair. specification sheets. In many cases. including some who may seem to be unlikely prospects for technical writing. if you are going to approach and contract directly with clients as a consultant.) Describe what you offer as a business organization. by educating . Markets. and product descriptions written. instead of "I" and "my. You must change your thinking when you change from someone's employee to independent practitioner. modems. It can be an 8-1/2. To a large degree. depending on how you propose to approach your marketing. hiring out as a true temporary and working on the client's site.
often on the first day. associations. that traditional and time-honored method of making cold calls. government agencies. but keep your mind open in the beginning and be ready to sample all while you search for the most hospitable niche. but you need not take that as a rejection. 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. Find the Right Individual. are quite pleasant and try to be helpful. However. I was to them manna from Heaven. Cold Calling. and even when you try to prepare for it. it will be a .) I have found that many clients for writing jobs and related editorial services are also individuals. The newly launched independent technical writer often gets his or her first client and assignment from a former employer. after they told me that they had nothing for me if they could recommend me to someone. But even if you chose to resign and start your own venture. If you can do that. Most people find making cold calls on prospects a distasteful business. Don't confine yourself to corporations and for-profit companies. I asked everyone I talked to. but didn't know how to go about finding a technical writer. Other than this. the method will work for you. I was myself not delighted to undertake canvassing for business. You may eventually find it expedient to specialize in one or two as niche markets. your former employer may welcome the opportunity to reduce costs without losing services. Most people. it is a terrible experience. The whole problem in cold calling is your own mental set. the fastest way to get your first assignments is usually the direct method. and I got some very useful referrals that way. and simply procrastinated. You simply start calling on each company you can reach and solicit work openly and honestly. you can often actually create a new market or niche. You have to find out which individual in the company would be the one to see. Marketing Methods. at least not in the early stages of researching markets and finding your niche. You need to be persevering and to have faith that you will meet with eventual success. approached properly. if you can steel yourself to it. If you were laid off for lack of enough work. There are many other kinds of organizations who make good prospects for technical writing services. Consider all of these in your service area. a serendipitous event. and non-profit corporations. It happens quite frequently because your former employer can also benefit from this new arrangement.prospects in what you do and how it can benefit them. In some companies. In fact. your employer may welcome the opportunity to use your service is on the less-expensive basis you offer as a contract writer or consultant . If you are one of these. cold calls are most likely to produce results. (Bear in mind that "technical" is a flexible term here. It's true that not everyone you approach will have need for what you offer. 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.
Gather the names of all prospects for your services--the companies. Nowadays. available in paper and online editions. (Amazingly. But don't join any more groups than you can find time for: The memberships .) Don't overlook the Commerce Business Daily. the associations. with personal computers. In time that database will be among your most valuable business assets. Marketing success depends on information. organize. It is usually necessary to make inquiries to find the right party. it is much easier to both gather the information and keep it up to date. Subcontracting. Belong to as many associations as you can. Research and add the names of all individuals you can identify in the organizations and record them. Networking is a method of marketing that works for many. of course. the easier time you will have to win new clients and assignments. Keep asking for help. and the more complete and up to date your information is. but watch the business section of your daily newspaper too. you will find if you ask pleadingly for help. Networking. and you will eventually find the right party. As you read the trade journals and the local newspapers. a great many people suddenly accept an obligation to help you and go to extremes to do so. as a source of leads for many federal government contracts and subcontracts. the government agencies. and large contractors must subcontract what they do not do themselves. You must keep your data growing by adding to it and updating it as you get new information. Search them out by all the available methods. be conscious of every contract award in your area and identify those prime contract awards that may hold the promise of subcontracting opportunities for you.purchasing agent who would contract for your services. No one--no organization--does everything.) Market Research and Market Intelligence. 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. such as advertisements. features. Subcontracting is an option you should be aware of. and any others--and record them in your database. The more you have. focusing on those that will bring you in contact with prospective clients and other writers. and you might have to talk to several people in turn before you reach the right person. The most important thing to do in marketing is to research the market possibilities. while in others it might be the personnel manager or a general administrator. and build a suitable resource of marketing intelligence today is to set up a marketing database in your pc. The Marketing Database. quite often. (The information all gets added to your marketing database. The modern way to gather.
" Be professional and businesslike. Your business cards should be prepared by a good print shop. Not only must you make yourself highly visible as a specialist.g. whether they are tech writers or not. but that is not likely to have much to do with the other's sales decision.. Be careful that you do not "protest" your professionalism and appearance of success too forcefully. It ought to be on a good grade of paper. and other specialists. Yes. They can be in black ink on any good grade of card stock. I shudder at what many beginners in business spend so naively for these unnecessary refinements. Mixing with others. There is no doubt about that. accountants. sole proprietorship versus corporation). but be restrained also. an attention-demanding business card. There is an inevitable hazard in going a bit too far in impressing prospects with your "front. It is necessary to be dignified and businesslike. and a distinctive logo with which to adorn everything and mark your business distinctively. I think you will do best to keep it all businesslike but . but you must always appear as the respectable and completely professional specialist. such as those disgracefully costly cards and stationery. with an arty logo. who often tend to see such trappings as evidence that you lack good business judgment and might be too expensive a supplier. There are many small business people who believe that it is important to be incorporated and to have expensive stationery. Your image is important. sample and recommended contract forms. and insurance. for example. I have known elaborate ornamentation to play a role in a prospect's decision to do business with a supplier. They don't have to be unusual. In short.won't help if you are not active in the associations. Even worse. In any case. seminars.. Association memberships are an important element in networking and making valuable contacts otherwise. and not ostentatious. information about taxes. Ostentation. Conventions. rather than impressed. someone may note your business card and even remark on it. You must project an image that commands the respect of your peers and your clients or prospective clients as a serious professional. Nor does it guarantee that he or she will remember that business card much longer than it takes to have lunch. Likewise. may backfire on you because they will alarm discerning and sophisticated prospective clients. Many pay large sums to designers to create these delightfully ornate and distinctive manifestations of their glorious professions and businesses. setting up your business organization (e. and many other supports that would cost you a great deal of money to buy individually from lawyers. licenses. Creating the Right Image. Associations. Through the relevant associations you can get guidance and help in determining what fees to charge. many prospects will see this as hype and be amused. I am not one who believes this. trade shows. but they also bear importantly on other matters. and other such gatherings are good prospects for this. tastefully done. 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. your stationery. will bring you leads for clients and assignments.
as this helps me avoid some of the difficulties.simple and direct. Writing and speaking are among the best ways to make yourself well known_--o become highly visible and be recognized as an expert. Many freelance technical writers do no direct marketing. making yourself available as a speaker. which produce word-of-mouth marketing: referrals. Readers need to know who and what you are. to local groups of all kinds. publications about an industry. preferably in some niche or specialty.) Send press releases to these journals. Others tend to be well impressed by your writing for publication and speaking publicly. by the day. or profession. 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. although apparently most tend to charge by the hour. This is especially important for a writer. You can offer seminars.) Speaking Publicly. write a letter to the Letters to the Editor column. 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. Writing for Publication. who is or ought to be a specialist at getting to the point. directly and forcefully. craft. Be active in the associations to which you belong and speak there--e. I worked to become known as one of the people to consult when one needed help with a proposal to government agencies. for every industry. which kept my name always visible. Certainly. They had read my articles and books and attended my seminars and other public speaking. at annual conventions and trade shows--as often as possible. and profession. they can be brief ones of an hour or two. if the article is to serve you as helpful publicity. The concept is simple enough: Become well known as an expert in what you do.) What Can You Charge? You can charge by the hour. trade. or by the job. and they don't have to be day-long. releases that will reflect your name and what you offer to do for clients. Be active on the speaker's platform. your stationery and literature ought to be the best of all witnesses to your ability to do this! Writing and Speaking. There are trade journals. My consulting assignments came to me almost entirely by referrals then because my name had become familiar to many who needed such help.. They market indirectly through such measures as networking and active PR--public relations and publicity--efforts. free of charge. g. as the big companies do. Search out those most likely to reach the people you want to reach. Set yourself up as a one-person speaker's bureau. business. If you can't sell articles to the editors of these publications. business. trade. Publication there helps too to make your name--who and what you are--known to the readers. craft. (The impact of well-written Letters to the Editor is greater than you might imagine. Let's talk about rates first: . and try to get articles published in them. (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.
and printer as a minimum today. and will want an estimate. 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. you should set the goal now and work toward reaching it. by region.. That is the best kind of reputation to get. That is what drives many to favor the hourly rate. If you cannot command $500 or more per day--and. And there is access to a variety of information sources for research. 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. What Resources do You Need? There are several kinds of resources you need. that was represented by a number of public databases. Miscellaneous Considerations There are some other practical considerations that are necessary to conducting a business of any kind. much of what you need to gave access to online is available via the Internet and the Web. In fact. Still. as prospects learn that I do demand a substantial rate. There is software needed for these. but it does require doing the right things and working energetically at it. to give you maximum dtp capabilities. Until recently. There is equipment. and by individual. you should have a fast machine with a great deal of RAM and disk storage. but it does take time to build. frankly. Most freelancers charge time and one-half for overtime and even more for working Sundays and holidays. Of course. (Make no mistake about it: . and that must be reasonably up to date software. one high enough to permit me to "eat" a few extra hours or some late-night effort without experiencing excessive pain in the pocket. modem. by subject matter. Getting my rate means I must sell aggressively. which must include computer. You might also find a scanner indispensable. accessible directly or via one of the commercial online services. I take a different tack: I demand a rather high daily rate. What you need in the way of equipment depends on what services you will offer and what it takes to provide those services. illustrating. and production support. It is possible to do better. it is less and less difficult to get my rate. you will require a laser printer or its equivalent for print quality. such as an inkjet printer. which you may not exceed with approval. but I usually avoid headaches later. as a minimum. If you will do a substantial amount of layout. and will probably want to run Windows on your system. even if you are not yet ready to command a top rate. However. One problem we all encounter is difficulty in estimating the amount of time required for the job. by market. a great many work for $35-$50 per hour--you probably need to work on your image and your marketing. of course. for one. fax.The rates that represent "the market" or the accepted "standard" rates for technical writing vary widely by industry. clients do not give you a blank check. g. you will probably need some fairly sophisticated dtp software and adequate hardware capability to use the dtp software well--e. but merit that rate. Today.
That wasn't good enough for me. Profit is what have or should have left over after you have paid yourself and covered all other costs of the business. and other such items. such as rent. 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. and must be conducted as such. A visit to a CPA to discuss your accounting needs and probable tax liabilities is an option you may wish to consider. You might also visit the nearest Small Business Center. PRICING or the fees and rates you charge are dependent on both direct and indirect costs. I turn them over to my CPA to do my taxes at the end of the year. you will have no problem. which are usually set up at local community colleges. you intend to operate as a sole proprietor. however. probably the major item of cost. 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 that is still before you pay taxes and take a profit. no procession of clients visiting. or other costs incurred solely and exclusively for the job. I need to know continuously how I am doing. . It does not hurt. a most unlikely possibility). printing. INDIRECT COSTS are the costs you can't assign to specific jobs. and so it wasn't until three or more months after the event that I found out how I was doing.Providing independent service of any kind is a business. using any of the popular programs. to go down to city hall and get a copy of the relevant zoning laws. the least complicated business structure. taxes. Probably. however. Whether you do or do not use a CPA or a commercial software package to handle your accounting. heat. and they can be quite restrictive. you can probably do your own taxes. It is more likely that your overhead is $20 or more per hour. insurance. I have found it best to keep our own books and use a CPA to do our taxes. Never forget that. If. 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. It is part of cost. depreciation of equipment. It is labor. These are also known as OVERHEAD COSTS and they are as real as the direct costs are.) Freelance writers generally work at home--have done so traditionally--but there are zoning laws in every community. 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. such as Quicken or the Dome program. and that is almost always the major cost in a service business. light. such as your salary for the hours you spend on the job. travel. and I can do that only by keeping my own accounts. DIRECT COSTS are what you spend directly and exclusively on a project. and no excessive number of delivery people calling on you. if you have no signs.
DC 20005 202-347-4973 Isolde Chapin. Unfortunately. Suite 304 Arlington.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_--. Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Bldg 733 15th Street.C. Executive Director The National Writers Union is also a writers' organization with many chapters. Contact the NASW Administrative Secretary. Belonging to any relevant association is a good idea for anyone who is in business. P. Stuart Street. the DC-SWA (pronounced Duck-SWA). Belonging to a good writer's association is an even better idea for you as a technical writer. they sometimes do not find out about this soon enough. highly recommended for technical writers and with many local chapters. The Headquarters office is in Washington. Belonging to a writer's association benefits you in many ways. Associations for Writers There is at least one association for technical writers and many associations for writers in general. (516) 757-5664. National Writers Union National Office 13 Astor Pl.. all or write the headquarters listed here for help in finding your nearest local chapter. including freelance writers.e. your accountant should warn you. one of which is that an effective writer's association helps you get business. Diane McGurgan. has a strong local D.Box 294. Society for Technical Communication 901 N. One bad experience convinced me that I must hold my business close to hand in this manner. Presumably. 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. Washington Independent Writers is a good group to belong to if you are in the Washington area. NY 11740.O. many of whom will be technical writers. New York. (516) 757-0069 (fax) for more information. NW Washington. national organization. and by the time they do. NY 10003 . they are not always able to recover. VA 22203-1822 703-522-4114 The National Association of Science Writers. they start losing money. but accountants get busy and may not notice the growing problem soon enough. if he or she is keeping your books. Greenlawn. chapter.
NY 10003 (212) 677-9705 Westchester Local P. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 (703) 532-4571 Chicago local PO Box 3454 Chicago. Lcl. Box 292 Eastchester. Cambridge. 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.(212) 254-0279 New York Local 799 Broadway #222 New York. CA 93924 (408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 . MN 55408 Marc Hequet. PO Box 398 Hadley. Chair (612) 222-0581 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley. NY 10709 Sarah White. NJ 06848 Eric Lerner (609) 883-8878 Boston Local Box 1073 Harvard Square Sta. MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. Chair (914) 682-1574 New Jersey Local 20 Pine Knoll Drive Lawrenceville.O.
Understand contract law and know what belongs and does not belong in a publishing contract. 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. 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. able to guide the writer's career. Be an alter ego. Be an expert editor. Have a great many "contacts"--editors and publishers--in key positions in book publishing. yes. What is an Agent? Many beginning writers think of literary agents as magicians. and probably no agent meets all these "requirements. There are many false beliefs revolving around the question of literary agents and their role in one's writing career. but they do or ought to furnish other important services. SF. Agents are primarily marketers. able to bring instant success in selling the writer's work. Be an effective marketer. 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." The last two are probably the most essential ones. The ideal literary agent would have all the following characteristics: Know and thoroughly understand the publishing industry and its markets. Be an expert negotiator. Portal Ave. the ones most agents focus on and most writers expect. The corollary of that belief . That's an image only partly true.236 W. That's a tall order.
It is not easy to get an able and established agent. That often embodies the further belief that an agent can sell anything you write--that the agent is a magician in the marketplace. as for books. During the days of the Great Depression. It can be the right book at the wrong time. I have always marketed my articles myself. although he or she may be able to make suggestions for changes that would make it salable. These are considerations when seeking an agent. and it is not easy to determine in advance how good a given agent will be for you. and that is as true for articles. Those interests may represent or reflect an agent's main strengths: He or she may handle all kinds of books. except as an accommodation to a writer client whose main work was books of some sort. were turned down by many publishers before they found one with faith and a sympathetic ear--or perhaps more insight and vision than others. Chicken Soup for the Soul) in not only its original edition. Agents vary quite widely in at least three respects: The kinds of books they handle. even some that later turned out to be blockbuster best-sellers. an agent cannot sell it. agents would represent writers of articles and short stories. if editors do not perceive its worth. Editors have sometimes called me many months--even a year--after I had sent then queries. persistence and patience are often much more responsible for sales success than is any special genius or contact and agent may have. even if you have an agent. asking if the article I had originally offered was still available. I happen to know one of the editors who was unable to sell what became a runaway best seller. . but in more than one subsequent sequel and alternate edition. it would be a rare agent who would do so. for example. their respective strengths vis a vis whatever kind of material you write and offer. in re agents. while others handle only nonfiction. Thus. it is appropriate to consider having an agent only if you write books. Thus. even when I had an agent representing me for my books. the question of whether you need or ought to have an agent at all: For one thing. Even that is only a part of the truth about selling. Today. It is probably wise to do so. Let's set the latter mythology at rest immediately: The best agent in the world cannot sell anything editors do not want to buy. If something you write is unsalable. 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. Most agents specialize to some extent. when we were all pretty hungry.is the myth that an agent can sell what you write much more easily than you can. Sometimes it's a matter of timing. you may have to seek out an agent with compatible interests. Hardly ever does one excel in all departments. Or a given agent may be a great marketer but a poor negotiator. Here are a few facts of life that agents probably would like you to understand and writers don't want to know: Many books. but they may specialize further within one of those categories. But let's get to a consideration even more basic than that. the thirties. and in their general competence. A good agent may not be able to sell even a good book. Some handle novels only.
That is simply not true. that demonstrates why charging fees is not unreasonable. and has no way of knowing whether you can write salable material or not." These are fees to pay for their time. Do Lawyers Make Good Agents? . and probable appeal to readers) and how much editing it might need. An agent is in business. especially the first part of that theory: You can and should sell without an agent's help. 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. the myth that no "real agent" charges 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. 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. 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. especially in the beginning Work as hard at learning to market as you did at learning to write. subject matter.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. But here again is the basis for another myth. But that takes time. Thus the quandary the agent faces between the desire to sign up new clients and the difficulty of evaluating prospective clients. working on commissions. A piece that wins immediate and enthusiastic acceptance in the right market will win immediate and unhesitating turndown in the wrong market. far too often. Unfortunately. style. unpublishable manuscripts. except by your track record or by studying your manuscripts and making a judgment. That is not an unreasonable requirement. 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. Real Agents and Reading Fees Some agents charge "reading fees. that the quality of your work will be readily recognized and eagerly bought by editors. which is so often wasted reading unpublished and. 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. Again. success is assured. 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. Don't assume that if you write well. and thus depend on reading fees. But there are those legitimate agents who want to add new authors to their client list.
the primary nominal duty of an agent is to represent us in the marketplace: find buyers for our work and negotiate acceptable contracts. (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. some of them quite experienced.I am always surprised and puzzled by those writers. such as an express delivery or other . although there are a few exceptions. financial manager. I don't think one can justify logically demanding that much larger a share of the author's income. business manager. mother and father confessor. and perhaps a few other things. but most will not. However. but it has become virtually a standard. applied to all money received by the author. dresser. press agent.) One does not have to be a lawyer to understand and negotiate a book contract. normal overhead. I happen to believe that to be totally wrong. at least. but these are not great qualifications as literary agents representing authors. I think the author-agent relationship ought to be closer than that and integrated to work at its peak efficiency. pass judgment on the contract offered.) What Should You Expect of Your Agent? Hollywood has given us a false idea of what an agent is and does. both as a craft and as a business and industry. nursemaid. According to some of the film dramatizations. some agents also ask for expense money from authors to cover postage and telephone calls. not content with that substantial increase. or even that a lawyer makes a better agent than an agent who is not a lawyer. is poorly qualified to act as a literary agent. That is not to say that there may not be an occasional exception. that would make it appear that they believe the agent's primary job is to negotiate or. much less marketing and publishing contracts. with suggestions for projects and all efforts to sell additional rights to your works. and as much effort as possible by the author to work with the agent in the marketing of the work. joint planning of marketing strategies between agent and author. Probably most writers leave almost all marketing responsibility up to their agents. an agent is a hand holder. where it had been for years 10 percent. Fees and Charges There seems to be today a strong tendency by agents to ask for 15 percent commission. For you and me. I think there should be continuous dialogue. instead of an agent. A truly professional agent will also guide your career. It certainly is not true for you and me. Logically. (There are some lawyers who specialize in copyright law an the publishing industry as consultants. It ignores the fact that few lawyers know anything about professional writing and the publishing industry. but they are exceptions. errand boy. alter ego. I object to that latter burden and I will not pay it. 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. 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. who believe that they can use a lawyer. with our agents. and the lawyer who does not know writing and publishing.
If that arrangement works out well. provide a reasonably detailed outline. at most. I found that to be unworkable for me. but that ought to be an exception and authorized in advance by the author. I learned. They will then deduct their commissions and send the rest on to the author. you may be asked to submit two or three sample chapters for approval. How do I know that I will find the arrangement suitable? I have found some unsuitable. but no editor is going to work on your proposal! If your credentials are strong enough and the publisher is interested enough. I believe it is by far the better arrangement. and present your credentials for writing the book. many publishers are none too swift in paying. it is possible to sell a book without an agent. which suggests that they are a bit confused: Manuscripts are double-spaced to enable the editor to make changes. (Your agent would submit the proposal normally. although it is not necessarily true. so I was apparently the exception. I hesitate to do that now. in the light of my experiences. But then they urge one to double-space their book proposals. But then most businessmen and -women who write books are likely to write only one or two books. and instructions to the typesetter. Or you may be asked to discuss . Certainly. explain the market for it and the anticipated sales. It is possible to sign with an agent for a single book. you may get an offer. for several reasons. comments. I learned that it didn't have to be done that way. Businessmen writing business books are quite likely to be their own agents. Contracting With an Agent Some agents ask you to sign with them for a year or longer. whether you have an agent or not. Publishers were perfectly willing to pay author and agent separately--85 percent to the author and 15 percent to the agent. Getting Paid Getting paid can be a touchy proposition. If the publisher is interested but your credentials are not impressive. The traditional practice of agents adds delays: They generally ask that all checks be sent to them. although some writers recommend proposals about twice or three times that length. Selling Without an Agent It may be easier to sell a book with an agent than without one. I think it in your interest to insist on this arrangement. more than one publisher with whom I did business was a little surprised to learn that I had an agent. First of all. so perhaps I am atypical. whereas I planned to go on writing one book after another about business. Nonfiction books are generally sold by submitting a book proposal to the publisher. My book proposals generally run 8-12 single-spaced pages. you can sign for another book or for a term of months or longer.) In the proposal you describe the proposed book. That is a common belief.extraordinary expense. In fact.
You are or should be still the copyright owner of record. and even when you contract with someone else to publish your work--print. which is not an uncommon problem for . Bear in mind that the advance is not a gift nor a fee. The same thing generally applies to other subsidiary rights. Whatever the publisher gets for that license is normally split 50-50 with you. and distribute it--you do not normally convey all your rights. It is a portion of the royalties the publisher expects your book to earn. you always have the right to negotiate for your property. such as a movie sale. there would be no negotiations!) Your job is to find out how much the other party wants your property.000 copies sold. (If he or she did not want it. under which you relinquish all rights. These are the terms they would like to persuade you to believe are standard. That is legal.. bind. and 15 percent on all copies sold thereafter. Negotiation Obviously. He will be reimbursed the advance out of those royalties. Under the law. Mail order sales usually pay 5 percent of dollars received by the publisher. no matter what publishers say. Typical or "Standard" Terms There are standard--well.e. one the other party wants. more or less standard--contracts and practices For example. when the publisher wants the book and you. according to suggestions made by the publisher. If the book goes to a book club. it is possible that a publisher will want to buy your book outright for some fixed price. But they will negotiate when it is necessary--.your proposal and possibly to revise it. 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. you own the copyright to anything you write as original work. but it is usually a mistake. 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. the book club usually pays the publisher a royalty.5 percent for the next 5. with an initial advance against royalties. and it is your property. Are you stuck with these "standard" terms because you do not have an agent? No. The secret of success in negotiation is attitude: Know that you have a valuable property to offer. (You should be so lucky!) There are many secondary rights. Suppose your publisher sells a magazine the right to publish an abstract of your book. Thus you trade back and forth until you find that point. if that is what you wish to do.000 copies sold. have sold--certain rights.. and have licensed someone else--i. e. will not sell on the terms offered. and you split that equally with the publisher. 12. the price the other party is willing to pay for your property. the author. not at all. but not all of them. Book authors are generally paid royalties. They will impose these when they can get away with it--when the author does not know better and will accept these terms. and the contract should state that clearly. (You don't have to pay the publisher the difference if your book does not earn back the total advance payment.
the third portion paid only when the book is finally released--but those are exceptions. (Even after signing a contract. money that is not counted against royalties nor paid back in any way. Once the contract is negotiated and signed. before writing the book.. regardless of the size of the advance----.) The remaining one-half will be paid when the author has submitted the manuscript. There are no hard and fast rules about this. and so you can expect a large advance--e. that the advance negotiated and contracted for will be paid only when the manuscript has been delivered and accepted for publication. my own principal publisher orders the second one-half of my advance paid when my manuscript is sent to production.publishers.. 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.. and is given only in exceptional circumstances. e. usually. Typical Terms on Advances Well-established authors can negotiate book contracts and all terms. a publisher's books in inventory fall into three lists: the front list.000 books published every year do not earn out. large investment--to motivate the publisher to work hard at making it a success in the marketplace.) The new writer is not likely to get paid advance money on the strength of a contract only. In general. however. the author prepares a proposal and sends it out to one or more prospective publishers. including advance money. Front. It is usually in the form of a grant.) Grants and Expenses Occasionally a publisher provides money for extraordinary expenses. 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. some authors never produce the manuscript. you will probably earn the same amount. as yet unpublished. g. (Typically. whatever the total of royalties the book is able to garner for you over its lifetime. in thirds. It is not the most common event.) If your book does well. but usually the new books .. the mid-list. and Back Lists The harsh fact is that a majority of the 50.e. (Some publishers insist on paying advances in a different manner--e. Usually. That is not unreasonable when the author is new and without a track record--i. it probably doesn't matter whether you got a large advance or not: Eventually. Mid-. and do not even return all the publisher's costs. and the back list. At the same time. the author is usually paid one-half the advance. g. Thus it is in your interest to work as hard as you can at getting the largest advance possible. This does not mean that the new author cannot get an advance against royalties. That could make the total royalty earnings larger than they might have been otherwise. and the manuscript has been accepted.
The mass market paperback is the kind you see in the supermarket and drug stores. to see how well they go (unless the publisher has some compelling reason to believe that the book will sell in much higher numbers). If the publisher has reason to believe that the book ought to be a trade paperback. however. and finally became available. for example. Mathematics for the Million. especially if it becomes a best seller and the publisher continues to publicize it.) Typically. as the cloth bound book does. and that depends on how the publisher assesses the market. usually 3. It may even have sewn signatures. it is a good backlist that is the real strength of most publishers. Trade paperbacks are generally conceived as books that will reach substantial sales volume in "the trade"--i. has been a solid backlist book for many years. but the cover will be of paper or light card stock." although focusing the marketing effort on the trade paperback edition. Those are usually the sturdiest of backlist books. book stores. although a few have been. there are three classes of books: The hardcover edition is. the trade paperback will sell for about 25 percent less than the cloth bound edition. Some require updating--new. The Lancelot Hogben book.a publisher releases are the front list. and books selling in modest volume but steadily as staples are the back list. many years after its early printings. and the "mass market" or pocket size paperback version. the publisher will produce a number of cloth copies as a "library edition.000 to 5.) But there are two paperback versions. ." (Trade paperbacks may also have this less expensive binding. called "perfect binding. and is the most expensive method of book manufacturing. (That does not mean that quality does not vary. with sewn signatures. recently released books that are still doing very well in the market are the mid-list. the "trade" or "quality" paperback version. cloth versions can range from inexpensive to very expensive editions. and the mass market paperback will sell for one-half or less than a trade paperback version might sell. Mass market paperbacks are a practicable proposition only if they can be sold in large quantity and distributed widely.. Cloth bound books are expensive to manufacture and are generally produced with a low initial number. A book may remain on the front list for a long time. in a paperback edition. revised editions--while others merely require fresh printings. technically. Many books are produced in one version only. However. such as Frank Bettger's How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. e. The trade paperback is printed on the same quality of paper as the cloth bound book. None of this means that every book is produced in all versions.000 copies. Frank Bettger's How I raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling (mentioned below) has turned out to be another perennial favorite that will go on for years in various editions. Alternate Versions From the manufacturing viewpoint. There are books that sell well year after year. but that libraries will want a cloth edition for their shelves. a classic of its kind. and with a glued back. printed on a pulp paper similar to the newsprint of the daily newspapers. a "cloth bound" version.
and they can hurt your cause more than they help it if they are disliked by editors. There are also agents who are very aggressive and abrasive. How to Find an Agent Finding an agent is a major problem. the agent knows all these things we have discussed and is a good negotiator as well. when you are finally ready to be represented. Most agents who advertise for clients ask for reading fees. usually. a story or an article. that is. and at least some of them are interested in reading fees more than in developing and representing successful authors. A good agent is also one that gets along well with the editors. Once the publisher bought it. I am frequently confronted by aspirants pleading for help in finding an agent. for an effective agent gets you far more than you can get for yourself. Like every successful writer of books. That doesn't necessarily mean popular or well liked.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. and there is a great deal to learn. typemarking. you were finished with it. Presumably. and there are poor agents. 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. An agent who truly knows the ropes and is a good negotiator costs you nothing. If you go this route.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. and far more than the 15-percent commission the agent earns. Most freelance writing then was "on spec"--you wrote something. if you have an agent. but it does mean "gets along well with editors" in every sense of that phrase. Those are not agents you want. . he or she provided editing. there are good agents. be sure that you are ready for an agent! CHAPTER 6 $60. Finding the right agent may be even more of a problem. 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. I have had occasion to learn of various editors' reactions to certain agents. If a publisher bought it. then peddled it. 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. there are fairly good agents. and other services to prepare it for production and distribution--publishing. layout. As in the case of most professions.
and otherwise provide counsel--consulting services. what is needed is proofing. editing. theses. that I would be a writer. I hadn't come that far in my thinking yet. and production services required to accomplish your client's aim and to earn you your fees. (There were several of them. advise about printing or illustrating. but it was satisfaction to have my name in the press and some of my work worthy of purchase. You don't (usually) get bylined in this market. publicity releases. storyboards. It was . "big league" ones. It is in your interest to be expert in as many kinds of business writing as possible--brochures. please interpret that to mean all the spectrum of writing. what difference does it make what the work is called? In some cases.) I began to read them regularly and to absorb from them. 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. and others. at an agreed-upon price. as you wish. Once in a while--once in a great while--I sold something for a penny or even a half-cent per word. three prominent. since you are going to be paid on the basis of whatever your time is worth and the amount of time required. what do you care what the specific editorial chore is? In most. How it Happened for Me I decided. then. proposals. in fact. an enormous business market. and you don't write best sellers--but you don't work on spec. All I knew was that I enjoyed explaining myself in writing. Ultimately. even to himself or herself. speeches. analyze/identify/define the need. You are therefore advised by the client that all that is needed is a "little editing. of just what a writer was and did. It wasn't much money. I had rather vague ideas. Again. and publication. You can work this entire market or you can specialize in segments of it. (Most of us begin by working the entire market until we finally settle into some specialized segment.) Why. if the client is willing to pay you what you ask for your time. if not all of this market. writing assignments often require more than writing.Today there is an entirely different market for freelance writers. I discovered the writers' magazines. So while I may talk of writing throughout this chapter. presentations. for one reason or another." However. do I refer to "editorial services. and a few minor ones. typemarking. reports. Learning and using all the related skills means earning a great deal more money. You may be called on to help conceive and plan the piece. scripts. layout. at the ripe old age of 12. which you have set or negotiated in advance. at the time. you do rewrites of someone else's bad or incomplete writing. a few years later. You get paid for everything you write because you write to order. But the client is reluctant to admit. and/or other such editorial services. and you don't starve in a garret. I didn't really envision myself as a great novelist or playwright. either. that he or she doesn't write at all well. a not unusual rate in the pulp markets of that day." rather than to freelance writing? Simply for these reasons: Frequently.
And that led me. I was meeting just enough success to convince myself that I was. which proved to be quite a boon to my career. Too. either. I discovered the trade press. despite the occasional major sale. introduced me to Government contract work. Still. and many other things but. propelling me into a consulting career. reports. training programs. I knew where and how to find the work and what rates to charge. leading me to the management of writing and writers and into direct experience as a marketer and contractor to the federal government. and others--required me to go to whatever company had a major contract at the time. such as a book for $4. Eventually. Army newspapers during my WW II service. GE. first as an employee and later as a consultant and independent contractor. And I was meanwhile learning how to write effective proposals. That. manuals. as a result of my technical-writing experience.S. an open-sesame to where I wanted to go: My years in working for and consulting with many major Government contractors--IBM. with my continuing education as a writer. At this point. earning a living at writing.000. directly into technical writing. I managed to get in a little newspaper experience.vindication of my claim to be a writer. a valuable experience that I tucked away for future reference. (That was where the job openings were!) This turned me into an expert writer of resumes. most important. which turned out to be also valuable experience. brochures. And by now I was at a salary level that made it rather difficult to find an equivalent job quickly. I was beginning to get closer to my goal. format. I even managed to win a few prizes in writing contests. I used the GI Bill to get an electronic engineering education. I knew how to organize. I had all the tools I needed to be a successful freelance business writer. indeed. proposals. a writer. doing some writing chores for a large city daily and. RCA. although at such low rates that I could not yet earn my living at freelancing. and began to sell a bit more frequently. 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. although I was not yet ready to freelance full time. I began to do some freelancing by calling a few people I knew to offer my services on a fee basis. With that. which soon led to activities as a seminar leader and public speaker. and eating on a reasonably regular basis as an objective. later. The trick was to learn how to earn a living at it. 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 . while I considered my next move. and write resumes. But that was not often enough. The diversity of my earlier experiences proved to be a most valuable asset. contributing to a couple of U. I stumbled into the design and writing of training systems. since they had to be constantly updated and oriented to the latest needs. technical writing. one drawback of reaching above average levels in your field! So. eventually.
with an occasional one running as high as $150. 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. and you don't have to make all the mistakes I made in learning. But all professionals in private practices--doctors. but it was not and is not a necessity. lawyers. for example. printing. but already had many practitioners. still taking on an occasional custom-writing assignment. it is cost.000. As a freelance writer you have expenses--office rent. and still writing and selling my own little reports. a good rate even in these later days. automobile expenses. (Of course. That time. Anyone can do it. as I do today. you can do it better. and others--must observe business principles and methods if they are to succeed. I had won my first assignment to write some proposals and a sales brochure for a company. That was my preference. as I had thought it to be. in fact. .000 to $5. You don't have to do it all or know how to do it all.offers and open an office in town. which it is also. telephone. and even that does not leave room for a net profit. You may prefer to regard it as a profession. as well as all other costs--rent. dentists. architects. which you ought to be realizing. I soon added my own special fillips to it.) And so I became and am a freelance writer/editor/ publisher. Once firmly established. armed with what I have to reveal to you now. although occasionally the projects were larger and ran to much higher figures. including what you pay yourself. Your rates must cover all costs. faster. Actually. probably a third of your time. I soon learned that my idea was not original. 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. Remember that you will have to spend some part of your time in marketing and administration of your own enterprise. even if that office is a small room in your home. at the time. usually small jobs of from about $2. if you have a professional accountant keep your books for you. Probably. 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. Most freelance writers work from their homes. is part of your indirect or overhead costs. of course. I also turned my attention to bidding for Government writing projects. and that salary is not profit. you will learn why you have to account for your own time as a business expense. postage. that you must pay yourself a salary. for I will pass on to you what I learned. which ultimately produced several thousand dollars for a few weeks' work. Business or Profession? Freelance writing is a business. You have to spend part of your time finding assignments and making sales--marketing your business. writing books and articles for commercial publishers. And any of that cost that is not directly compensated by charges to a client for your time. etc--must be considered when you set the rates you quote prospective clients.
or the lack of it. You may. while charging no more than a competitor who earns only $40 an hour because he or she is far less productive than you. there is another consideration: How efficient you are. 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. and the reverse is true too." the average price charged by others for similar work. but and I wanted the job enough to sacrifice a bit. however. you must charge clients $52. Your "speediness" as a writer/editor is only one factor affecting productivity. you must know what your expenses are and allow a margin of error in making the estimates of overhead and other costs. You might earn $75 an hour. If you are a fast worker and can do the job in far less time than most competitors can. The ease or difficulty of finding the source information is another factor. And these considerations apply with respect to the kind of . such as printing. or anything else required). The Productivity Factors If you are highly productive. you can turn that to your advantage in two different ways: You can be highly competitive without working below your desired minimum rate. and I decide what the job is worth. If you are somewhat expert with the subject. Clients. as well as how long it will take me. On one contract I may have charged only $25 an hour because that was the market price. of course. That is up to you. In other words.50 an hour for your time. 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. and you can earn more than that minimum rate. if you want to pay yourself $30 an hour. At the same time you can't simply ignore "the market. 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." so you estimate the number of hours the job will take and multiply that by $52. a quite reasonable rate. is another factor. however. Keep information about your productivity and your hourly earnings to yourself. you are better off to charge by the job as often as possible. illustrating. That is. regardless of the total price for the job. but "for the job.50 to arrive at a price (adding other special costs. Familiarity with the subject. But you are under no obligation to charge one cent less than you think is a fair price. When you deduct all operating expenses. even then. they are proprietary and confidential information. You should benefit from your productivity and whatever investments you have made to increase productivity. your research time is lessened. Here. however. tend to rebel at what they think is a high hourly rate. and was all I could get. a flat price is called for.Pricing Your Work Taking in $1200 for 40 hours' work does not mean that you can afford to pay yourself $30 an hour. On many jobs. of course. So hourly rates are really a rough measure of fair prices. You may not always charge by the hour. if you estimate a 75% overhead. in fact.
or even a rough draft.. we'll look at a few cases of my own: The training development office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration. but. you decide for yourself what you will write. Some Typical Cases To illustrate the above more clearly. and you don't worry overmuch about how profitable the job will be or how much your net per-hour earnings will be. in the beginning you tend to undertake almost anything and everything you can get a purchase order or contract for. you begin to consider specializing to at least some extent. and my access to other computer databases via my own computer and modem-telephone links. In that case the client provides you with a requirement and usually at least some beginning information in the form of rough notes. or it may be a total. report formats. proposals." This is not usually the case when you are working on contract. when you can get enough work to keep you busy most of the time. As your research progresses. You decide that you like certain kinds of assignments and dislike other kinds. or whatever it is you have undertaken to write. I personally do not undertake to write books that would require what I consider to be excessive amounts of research. (I manage to do a great deal of my research without leaving my office. for example. But after a while. as my first OSHA assignment. your familiarity with storyboards. Labor Department). in the hope of finding a buyer after you have written it. gave me. "from scratch" effort. The research is then entirely up to you. . But that is a personal decision you must make for yourself. in some form.g." may therefore consist of nothing more than sorting out and reading everything provided. Of course. again. and otherwise delve wherever you can. you begin to develop a more detailed outline or "book plan. search through old records. you have advantages that help you achieve a high rate of productivity. And your personal resources are still another factor. and many writers do so. And you start with a rough outline or just an idea. speculating. If you are equipped with a good computer system and adequate software." The guide was to assist college faculties in preparing a relevant course of instruction. "Research. the task of developing a curriculum guide for use in junior colleges teaching the OSHA program "Voluntary Compliance. and you may very well begin to specialize gradually. perhaps an outline. interview people.) How Specialized Ought You to be? These are arguments for specializing in subjects and/or kinds of written products. by utilizing the mail. of course: You visit libraries. the telephone.writing--e. without a conscious decision to do so. You may get all the information. you may get nothing more than the bare requirement. What is "Research"? When you freelance in the traditional manner.
When I write on subjects in which I am already reasonably expert--electronics. speeches. This took about two days and paid me $600. because most of the technical knowledge is already in my head. A client who organizes retained me to prepare reports on the seminar perhaps 500 words. 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. including research and writing. for training seminars for government agencies often the brochures. and discussing their content with several OSHA experts. for which I had to develop my own outline and plan the extensive research required. For example. for example--most of my research is in the client's outline or book plan.000 words). 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. Where (and What) Are the Markets? The markets for writing brochures. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Two hours' study of the manuals showed me that more information for the instructor was needed. and I had to do complete research. I happen to be a professional writer in the most literal sense of the word. many of the . lecture guides. writing newspaper articles and other PR for them. visited with officials of several Indian reservations.500. expending about 100 hours on the job. I decided. and other things of this type everywhere--every business.000 project. The client furnished all the or conference. every organization.S. I then took the materials home and did the job there. audiovisual scripts. (1974 prices!) The job was approved and a government purchase order issued.My research consisted of studying the two volumes that made up the course material. On the other hand. However. It was not a profitable job. a student manual and an instructor's guide." group plan (analogous to group hospitalization plans). and I wrote a brochure of which I was usually paid $150. The client furnished the information and the original script that had never been completed.400. This was a $9. A non-profit corporation near my office sold a "prepaid legal services. I bought a number of books. (In 1996 I would price that job at about $8. after this research. far beyond anyone's capacity to pursue them all.) A General Services Administration task called for rewriting an aborted script for a 15-minute slide/tape presentation of a value engineering program. But it is necessary to review them and gain an appreciation of the scope and breadth of the opportunities. I took on the job of preparing a two-hour presentation of the history and culture of the American Indians. I therefore recommended the development of a "study guide" of about 60 pages (about 15. for-profit or non-profit. which would include the curriculum guide. and I need to refer only to standard technical volumes in my own office library. estimating the job at $2. And the markets are enormously diversified. uses written products. I was hired to handle their publicity. I had no prior knowledge of the subject at all. begged many more from the U. that something more than a curriculum guide was necessary.
in this field of freelance writing we are more writing consultants than freelance writers in the classical sense. psychologists. Many government contracts are let for the writing of training programs and related materials. and you will probably be able to see that more and more in the various cases and examples that follow. who didn't do a great deal of . beyond high school and even beyond college. And still others are former teachers. Manufacturers need manuals for the equipment they manufacture. all work for writers. if they do a great deal of advertising. but quite often they are simple. engineers. value management. frequently. was an illustrator who found himself preparing advertising art for most of his clients. Another writer I know started as a sign painter. Before long. Some of the larger organizations have their own writers on staff. and many other such items. to succeed at this business. You do not have to be one who has the psychological need to be a professional writer.freelance writers making a good living in this kind of writing work are not professional writers at all. In actuality. 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. sociologists. marketing brochures. basic accounting principles. The training field is an excellent example. 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). They need advertising copy written. and still another managed one of a chain of hardware stores. Many large organizations. Many just happened into this field by chance and found it profitable. And soon he found himself spending as much time writing as he did illustrating. even--for the buyers of a small calculator or kitchen blender. news release. to teach these. signs designed. and hundreds of other subjects considered to be a necessity for modern living. in the classical sense of that word. Sometimes these are technical manuals. slogans invented. circulars. and other "canned" programs. have an advertising agency handle their writing chores. brief instruction manuals--brochures and booklets. With technology developing rapidly. almost everyone who isn't a day laborer requires specialized training of some kind. for example. safety. But they cannot always find off-the-shelf or proprietary programs (e. junior executives. One person I know.. supervisory principles and practices. Anyone who can handle the language with reasonable facility and fluency can do this kind of work adequately. Bear it in mind. audiovisual presentations. The point is that you do not have to be an author. There is a substantial market for developing training programs of many kinds. clerks. and so must develop their own programs. For example. energy conservation. but even those are often overloaded or need someone with special skills and experience and vend writing work out to freelancers. he discovered that he could write acceptable copy for that advertising. seminars. sales letters. catalog sheets.g. one large corporation. Manufacturers also need such things as specification sheets. product releases. but advertising agencies often hire freelance writers to help them.
You are satisfying a need. associations. as inflation progressed. which were at least as much work as the writing I was paid for all this work. But that daily rate is based on a presumed short-term assignment. but if you are willing to make a few sacrifices you can usually win such jobs (rescue operations!).) But that is not necessarily how others work. dissertations. others for an 8-hour day and bill time-and-one-half for overtime and double-time for weekends and holidays worked. I and others . your effort. I prefer a flat day-rate. It's worth doing. report. 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. 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. was. your energy. your expert knowledge. The client is buying your time. (Yes. That may require working evenings or over a weekend. art work. the more valuable your service is. But individuals often need writing services too.national brochure layouts. and to write articles for technical and professional journals. we have talked mainly about organizations--corporations. companies. paid me over $4. on a consideration that many days will be well in excess of 8 hours. You are. (My daily rate is based. and some individuals specialize in such services. and then $1. Working people must write resumes and special letters of many kinds. For long-term assignments. then $500 a day. I may find it expedient to make special arrangements.000 to develop a marketing of 20 pages. because each situation is different and each individual's preferences are different. Others negotiate a flat price for each job. that they are not going to --make the date" without some extra help. and governments. generally charging from $150 to $300 a day in the early days. at least as much the writing consultant as the writer. in part.000 a day. Students must write term papers. advertise your quick response or quick reaction services. if you are willing to. your talent. usually a few days. in fact. and I have a most flexible scale as to how many hours make up a day. 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. is a "quick response" service. I charge and am paid accordingly. and they suddenly realize. I had to arrange for typesetting. theses. A number of individuals built up substantial companies offering such services. that are typical of proposal schedules. Some charge by the hour. Professionals are called on to prepare and deliver papers at conventions and conferences. but only the day. Many organizations find themselves in difficulty meeting a deadline--a scheduled delivery date--for a proposal. and the better you satisfy it. and printing. even if you do not yet realize it. If you wish to take advantage of such opportunities. often 14-hour days. I have often worked by the day as a proposal specialist. as they approach the deadline. One of the great inducements you can offer. You make your own rules. I simply do not count the hours. but advertising. So far. or other obligation. to make speeches.
in preparation for her first board meeting. 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. A few initiatives: Many individuals begin by placing small classified advertisements in the daily morning newspapers. An association paid me to prepare a newsletter for them every month. and a resume workshop for clients. She hired me to review several school journals she supplied and abstract all the pertinent articles for her. I believe. Get enough brochures/circulars/letters out this way. By making in-person and/or telephone solicitations. 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. In this case. a good rate for those days. A placement firm paid me to develop an entire marketing approach.) 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 sometimes remarkably well. (Not exactly a form letter. Far better. I merely wrote. Mailing can be difficult. in seeking orders from individuals for resumes. either. for which he had already prepared an outline and drawn up a rough draft. typed. a contract form. and you are almost certain to begin getting calls. addresses to groups. . with my recommendations for improvement. and the like.) It came out to about $20 per letter! Another government agency paid me $1. That is better pursued in other ways: Advertising in trade journals that the organization members read.000 to write a master's thesis. some of them chief executives of important companies. especially letters to organizations. A city employee hired me to write a letter appealing a decision of the civil service board. I developed the newsletter idea. paid me to write resumes and cover letters for them.are often hired to write letters for individuals. term papers. since almost every office is a prospect. as a kind of briefing paper! A graduate student paid me nearly $1. And it can be expensive: postage costs are high and still climbing steadily.) They took care of the printing and distribution (mailing). It is usually not effective in getting work from organizations. By mailing or otherwise distributing brochures and sales letters. Now comes the critical question: How to get assignments and orders--how to get started doing business. You need to collect names. going as far as he could go without some professional help. (An idea you might borrow.800 to attend a week-long training session and critique the program. That works reasonably well. is to simply distribute your brochures in office buildings. then went out and sold it to a national association. (He got the decision reversed!) And many individuals.
Call some of the prospects later.. The individual of average talent and ability. community buildings. Stress service--fast.) Ask them to recommend you to others. You'll be surprised at how much help you can get this way. accommodating service. business clubs. convenient. Or specify references available on request. list references. many who hesitate to call because they never take the initiative will hire you if you take the initiative. local colleges. local architect". for reasons too complex to explore in this limited space Start small. magazines. or fourth time and becomes familiar and recognizable. either by name or by general reference (e.Call every acquaintance. (Why is that? Who knows? Ask your psychologist. in the long run. Follow up.written speeches for prominent. friends. and tell them about your service. other organizations. as many as you can. Make personal calls with your literature. Persistence is important. one simple 'phone call and you will do the rest. and acquaintances. they'll be seeking you! CHAPTER 7 How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles Early Difficulties ." ask for referrals or suggestions as to whom else to call. often of utmost importance. Take on jobs you know you can handle swiftly and with good results. efficient. Ask them to take a handful of your brochures and cards to give to their business associates. but blessed with great persistence. local companies. When you get the "Sorry. Make your telephone number prominent. trade journals. and before you know it you won't be seeking assignments. (You will be surprised how many people want and need professional writing services. easy to find. Write up press releases for yourself and send them out to newspapers. Make it easy to do business with you--e. Post notices on public bulletin boards in supermarkets. third. g. Repeat mailings to a given list are almost always more effective. libraries. ". When you have completed a few assignments. but hang on to it as it arrives for the second..g. than single mailings to new lists. business and personal. Tell the prospect exactly what you offer to do. than the brilliant individual who is not persistent. I don't have a thing for you right now. will almost always do better.) Be highly specific in your literature. newsletters. Build a reputation. All we know is that it is true. in the end. Many people throw a brochure away the first time it comes into their hands.
. this means simply that editors depend on writers--freelance writers--for their ideas.) In the beginning. finished draft. from draft through as many revisions and rewrites as necessary. stories. to get enough ideas to keep you busy writing salable articles. That can and should continue doing that for as long as you think you are making any progress at all. or book. but we'll get to that presently. days. nor even our rhetoric (such skills are easily and cheaply bought). Let us talk about how to do that. even if your grammar. you get the basic idea or concept. But that comes later. You get one that you think is right. and so difficult to succeed in doing so. But then you worry about not only where you will get the next worthy idea. can be a difficulty for old pros. they can have someone fix that if they like our ideas and the ways in which we present those ideas. that of setting the slant or angle so necessary to making the idea salable. when you have trained yourself to be creative. Work on it as long as you can. Our natural inclination is to do just that: ponder the problem and research our memories for relevant information and ideas. and books. and you may or may not turn it into a salable article.Editors have been defined as people who don't know what they want until they see it. it is time to incubate the quest. The Creative Process First of all. Then you write the ms. story. whether that is in hours. much later. but also whether you will ever get another good one. (Anyway. At that point. if it is an idea for a book). try to understand the creative process. 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. Translated. and polish it into the final. Getting ideas is a typical beginner's difficulty. Evolution of a Manuscript The logical evolution of any writing follows this general sequence: Get idea Research idea Organize. punctuation. In fact. the greatest difficulty is in getting ideas to develop into articles. as well as for beginners. That is. editors will change them!) But first we must get and develop the ideas. 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. which you submit. as well as their writing skills. and rhetoric are perfect. you do the necessary research and gather together the data to flesh the idea out and expand it into an outline (and book plan. or weeks. Ultimately. (There is another important step. It involves three phases or functions. spellings. Ideas are the currency of writers. Editors do not buy the accuracy of our grammar and punctuation. for most writers. getting basic ideas proves to be the easiest part of the task. They are what we sell.
You can control it. heard. when you have done enough of this. Inspiration comes to you when your subconscious mind passes a solution to your conscious mind. your subconscious is working on the problem. your subconscious passes an answer to your conscious mind. You then put the problem out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. take a break. Go off and relax. The supply of . I am still getting ideas for new books. and especially when you are in a relaxed mental state. This normally happens when your conscious mind is relaxed. it will become second nature. Perhaps you are simply resting in the sun or idly listening to music. when books are the last thing on my mind. Literally. Forget about the problem. and is working on it for you. and they come to me at odd times. You will always address your problems this way. for now. It has the advantage over your conscious mind that it tends to remember everything you have ever seen. more than 60 books later. that is--at least for the present.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." That is how your subconscious works for you in getting ideas for articles. it seems that the conscious mind is most receptive at that point. in concentrating on the problem and working at it as long as possible. Go out dancing. Then. As a result. Forget about the quest. and go on to other things in your life. even though you cannot consciously remember it. Go to an amusement park. Why could I not recall that familiar word at first? Who knows? But I knew it "would come to me.) The Power of the Subconscious What has happened here is that your conscious mind. to a degree: When you have invested enough time in intensive conscious efforts to get new ideas. Voila! You have an inspiration! Did you ever try to recall a name or a face and find you couldn't. Some-how. Several days later it suddenly popped into my head: it was napalm. after I had written and sold my first one. has managed to pass the problem on to your subconscious mind. You will recognize leads you would not have recognized before. at some later time it suddenly popped into your head? That is one example of the process. and books. or read. Read a book for pleasure. (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. It will report when ready. The Entire Process Becomes Subconscious In time. Go to a movie. (I worked hard to get an idea for a second book. but after you put it out of mind. while you have dismissed the problem from your conscious mind and gone on to other things. and you will find them popping into your head unbidden. your subconscious will come to be always on the alert for ideas. You will have more ideas than you can use. Your sub-conscious now has it. Now. During incubation. and contact between your conscious and subconscious is easiest then. I recently tried for an hour to recall the name of that flammable stuff dropped during the Viet Nam conflict and couldn't. stories. when you have forgotten about it.
such as tips for the bargain hunter. The daily newspaper is one of the best sources. We found that it is a problem much more common than we realized. (If you visit enough of them. After she developed this problem and it was diagnosed. Let's talk now about these sources. (In fact.ideas is free and yet it is not free. J. 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. No doubt we could turn some of the research we did into popular articles on the subject. Other published material is one prime source of new ideas. You must expose yourself to sources of ideas and feed them to your subconscious. They don't seem to fit as well as they once did.) . that it is second only to back problems in frequency. Sources of Ideas There are many fonts from which to draw ideas. TV especially.) 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.7 million in freshly printed currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. since it appears to still be in perfect shape. Simpson pursuit on the Los Angeles freeways. although there are plenty of not-so-old-folks who wear dentures of various kinds. One morning. 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. It must be fed and stimulated. you will begin to see some familiar faces. My wife suffers from inner-ear problems--vertigo and nausea. What other cases of stealing directly from the government's printing presses have there been? What other robberies of equal magnitude in dollars? How about a book of "million-dollar robberies"? Or maybe "The 10 largest robberies in history"? Even the classified ads stimulate ideas. How about visiting a few of these and doing some articles. hadn't thought about it wearing down over the 22 years it has been in my mouth. the market for such material is not only the denture wearers of society. for example. 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. 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. the National Enquirer has carried such articles. followed by columns of ads announcing estate sales and auction sales. we researched the subject. In fact. I see column after column of classifieds advertising garage sales. some of the stories are amusing enough to appeal to everyone--George Washington's false teeth made of wood (or so it is alleged). when the Washington Post headlined the drama of the O. Another story in the paper that morning was of a federal employee who stole $1.
I have read magazine articles that inspired ideas for books because the subject of the article merited a book. Using Others' Ads as Idea Stimulators There are many other ways of stimulating your mind to work. for most book publishers specialize in the types of books and subjects on which they publish. for example). such as how to find rare coins. and recommend or at last imply strongly that you ought to choose the periodicals first. Frequenting such sales can be a business idea--looking for items to resell. so I wrote a book on the subject that anyone could read and understand. And it can easily be a general-interest piece for a general-interest periodical. you must understand the periodical's own slant and match it. But the idea can also be slanted to other interests. But even then you need an angle. If you have a periodical in mind. in which case it ought to be addressed to a periodical that addresses hobbyists generally or numismatists especially. or into studies of interesting individuals who pursue and shop at garage sales regularly.egg proposition: Which do you do first? (Note that while this was written with reference to writing articles for periodicals." The rest of the wording makes it appear to be an . Many of these are rather mystical. That might be novel or unusual garage sales or insight into the great numbers and variety of garage sales. for example.) You can do it either way. be sure that you understand just what kind of slant is right for that publisher. But either way.g. consciously or unconsciously. Most teachers of freelance writing stress the need to understand the slant of the publisher and the publisher's books or periodicals. and have gone on later to write that book. Or I have read a chapter in a book that inspired an entire book on the subject. What could they mean? Let's look at a few: Under "Miscellaneous" an ad appears that begins "PROTECT YOURSELF and your loved ones. 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. estate. Most ideas can be turned into more than one article by slanting it to an audience. (Databased Marketing. an article (or book) on garage. Let's return to the classified advertising I mentioned earlier. in which case you want to write for and address it to such a periodical as Income Opportunities. Or I have read books that were on subjects more people ought to know about. it applies equally to books. Ideas Must be Slanted Getting a raw idea--e.. but the book was much too heavy technically to be of much use to any reader who is not a technical expert. One other way is to turn the quest into a problem to be solved. at generating ideas. The Chicken and the Egg Slanting an article or and choosing the right kind of periodical is a chicken-and. and auction sales--is only the beginning. 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.
your article might not be a new idea to the readers of that numismatics periodical. have to interview and quote a few people who had some kind of credentials as experts. who may be entirely justified in his or her judgment. home. That is a most common story in publishing. Would idea: How about finding and interviewing and not to do if you are assaulted. The publisher's slant may be narrow or it may be broad. especially with book publishers. 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. On the other hand. in that respect.advertisement for some protective device. with descriptions and some expert opinions for qualified people. 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. precisely with their focus is. Patience and perseverance are essential traits for success in freelance writing. the periodical addressing coin collectors is obviously more narrowly focused and specialized than is a periodical that addresses collectors generally. you have an almost certain sale. such as a chemical spray or perhaps an alarm. to use an example we have already used here. 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. traveled from one publisher to another for many weary months before finding a home. Many successful books.) On the other hand. 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. But if you find a few shoppers who actually have made good finds of rare coins at garage sales. That is. rejection of a query or proposal may be simply a reflection of judgment on the part of the editor. even some that have become best sellers and some that became classics." Cook books sell very well. 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. the chances of acceptance would not be as great as they would be at the periodical focusing on coin collectors. 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. If you sent that article about the chances of finding rare coins at garage sales to the latter periodical. of course. Stacking the Odds in Your Favor . and yet prove to be wrong in it. such as police officials. such as nutritionists or well-known authors of diet books that have done well and been accepted. You must allow for that margin of error in judgment. (It is not always easy to tell.
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
get social security benefits. however. or you can type it as two-column copy to be printed as a 5-1/2. It's not hard to get ideas for such reports.x 8-1/2-inch booklet. There is a great advantage in having your reports stored on a computer disk and being able to print them out individually. get free advertising. and you can use the material freely to make up your own reports. unless you want to turn the job over to a printer and invest in an inventory. it covers merely a given combination of words (and/or illustrations). that is--it would be most practicable to go to an offset print shop for them. get rid of gophers. You Don't Have to be an Expert The interesting thing is that you do not have to be an expert. become a consultant. buy at wholesale or discount prices. Study the classified advertisements in any good newspaper. Most of these are in the public domain.What I am selling is information: how to do certain things--write a resume. You can type it in this format. corner-stitched report format until you learn whether the demand is great enough to justify investment in a regular printing. But there are others who want other kinds of information. xerographic copy made in copy shops is as good as printed copy. is to start with the 8-1/2. I have my own copier today. My suggestion. and thousands of other kinds of information. I sell to a specialized audience--people who need business information. many subjects from government agencies. That will be more complicated. if not obsolete) typewriter or on a computer printer. reduce their tax burdens. That means that they are not copyrighted. if and as it is in your interest to do so. Today. start a business. If I need large quantities of copies--numbering in the hundreds. The federal government is one. you can still use the information. to see what people are interested in. Many people want this information and don't mind paying to get it. Composing and Production You can type reports on a conventional (and rapidly becoming old-fashioned. But if you turn to copyrighted material. such as how to cook good barbecue. you will find. Prices may . but I usually find it more practicable to print copies on my laser printer as I need them. There are abundant sources of information. you must rewrite it and put it into your own words. although not the language. especially those weekly tabloids sold in the super-markets. One cannot copyright ideas and information. such as books and magazines you turn to. and you can get many free and nearly free pamphlets and brochures on many.x 11-inch. Read the display advertisements too. write a will. manage their money. That is because copyright does not cover ideas or information. This is a quite acceptable format. and other such items. they will also give you a good idea of what the public is interested in and wants to read about. as long as the information offered is useful.
Elder Wheeler put it. have fun. they buy what the things do. Study successful advertisements. Try some small newspapers. not the steak. Popular Mechanics.) Expanding Your Business Base You do not have to market your reports directly. People don't buy things. not to his or her reason. deduct their commissions. will cost you $5 a word and more. Do they sell beer? No. under their own labels. so you will have to determine what is most appropriate for you in your own case. they do not. Those are emotional appeals. Writing Advertising Copy In preparing advertising copy. along with a shipping or mailing label. They are what produce sales. that is--rarely has anything to do with how much you spend on it. macho manhood in the mountains. such as beer commercials. These are the kinds of benefits that motivate them to buy. you should offer a smaller discount than if they . and send you the balance. That means that they take the orders." (It's the holes they want. Be modest about your advertising budget. That is. including TV commercials. and respected. writing advertisements and buying space in periodicals to run the advertisements. "People don't buy quarter-inch drills. romance on the beach. Does it work? Sometimes. And sometimes it does not. etc. it is a good idea to supply them with reproducible copies of advertising copy you have developed. they sell fun--good times with your friends. If you do this. not the drills. That is because we all have many wants. If you drop-ship for them. happy. "Sell the sizzle. and to be a success in life. admired. As that late great salesman. however. how you present your product determines how well your copy succeeds in attracting orders. emotional wants: everybody wants to be amused. Take note of TV commercials. You can drop-ship for them. Assume that you will make mistakes. if you want to sell people lemonade. You can establish dealers. enjoy good health. Selling Your Report The obvious approach to marketing is paid advertising. loved. you must sell the benefits--what the product does for the buyer--not the product itself. however. Emotional appeals bring sales. such as country weeklies. at a few cents a word advertising rates. to save money. You must appeal to the prospect's emotions. among many other things. rational appeals do not. many of which you could not possibly have foreseen or calculated. as another wise seller observed.vary widely from one place to another. and learn from them.") And. they buy quarter-inch holes. especially when you are starting out. receive payment. such as circulars or print advertisements. Do as much testing as possible. There are many variables. (The biggies--National Enquirer. secure. have limited funds. and are learning. so it is indeed a gamble. And whether it works or not--works well or not. the cost of learning.) Gauge how well your ads pull before you invest in the more expensive media. make them thirsty! (But he is best remembered for his dictum. paying them a commission or discount--probably 50%--and having them do the selling to the consumers.
is a repeat business. profession. builds a salable asset. product safety. There are newsletters on every government program--e. You can always increase the number of pages and the frequency of publication later. and ore--although most range between 4 and 12. quarterly. weekly. in most cases. There are many thousands of newsletters published in the United States. for even more. publishes a newsletter about newsletter publishing (Newsletter on Newsletters). in this case. and still show a return on investment. environmental pollution. bimonthly. technologies. and sundry other topics.. They are published on every schedule--daily. in some cases. Pricing Your Product To succeed in any business--and you must regard publishing as a business --you must charge enough to recover all expenses. Jerry Buchanan. occupational safety and health. New York man known widely as an authority on newsletter publishing. the cost to manufacture them. 16. weekly. There are many thousands of newsletters published. 32. and establishes a medium for your own advertising and sales promotion. Newsletter Publishing Newsletter publishing is a profitable venture for many small publishers. and just about every business. and they sell for from $12 to $200 per year and. Should you decide to undertake newsletter publishing. An Alexandria. a Rhinebeck. Whatever you sell must retail for considerably more than its cost to you. if circumstances justify it. also known as profit. g. government procurement. thus is relatively more difficult to market.000 to as high as 100. a Vancouver. two-way radio licenses issued. monthly. 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. for example. DISADVANTAGES: Burdens you with a regular commitment (monthly. and even annually. The list price must probably be at least three times the cost. Washington man. biweekly. Estimates of the total range from 30.stock your reports in some quantity and do their own shipping.000. pay yourself a reasonable salary (your salary is part of your expenses. and a relatively high-priced item. semi-annually. The average subscription price is probably in the area of $36 to $48 per year for a monthly publication. But the distribution is so wide that "averages" do not really reveal much about this astonishing market. publishes a newsletter on the subject we are writing about here. They range in size from one page to many pages--4. and there are newsletters published on virtually all subjects--investments. and craft. businesses. crafts. and even . Virginia woman launched another newsletter on writing and editing generally. It has its advantages and disadvantages as a publishing venture: ADVANTAGES: Provides continuing income. writing and self-publishing. with pressures and deadlines to face. hobbies. The value of the newsletter is whatever the subscribers think it is worth to them. 8. And Howard Penn Hudson. not of your profit). etc).
jar. That must come out of the gross profit and still leave you a bit of net profit. envelope. So you do not sell for $1. Understanding the Costs There are three kinds of cost to consider: manufacturing. Conventional wisdom in the field is that one should not try to make a profit out of initial subscriptions. The counterpart of this in selling reports.that is often too narrow a margin. For the selling price is not simply three times the manufacturing cost. The established newsletter is a great asset in that it represents a customer list and a medium by which to sell those customers other . and postage--adds about 70 cents. if the business is to be worth your time. that is a bare minimum markup. costs one-half the cover price: $2. Let's estimate it at 60 cents per copy. for example. and fulfillment. 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 $1.50. including printing. and other overhead of conducting a business. Still. for that matter. but the new customer is an asset that will soon produce profits via follow-up sales to that new customer. You must therefore charge at least three times your manufacturing cost for your publications. often the package--tube. Manufacturing this report costs perhaps 25 to 90 cents to print and bind each copy. selling. Selling. To be on the safe side in the beginning. this great markup does not produce exorbitant profits. Many businesses actually lose money on the initial sale to a new customer because of the great cost of winning that customer. There are some special considerations in newsletter publishing. That does not include your labor--what you must pay yourself--or the taxes. principally. but should try for a break-even and earn profits out of renewals of subscriptions. depending on quantity. the manufacturing cost is almost minuscule.00. That is because newsletter subscriptions--initial ones. or anything else. In cosmetics. and perhaps even more. is that there is a vast difference between making sales and making customers. insurance. which must cover all other expenses and profit. which should be essentially without cost to win. That is usually easy to do in this field because the manufacturing cost--printing and binding--is a small fraction of the selling price. The selling price is also determined by "the market"--by what equivalent competitive products are bringing. The reason for this is the great cost of marketing most products. The range between the manufacturing cost and the selling price shrinks quite rapidly when all the costs are considered. that is--are notoriously difficult to win.50 the report that costs you 50 cents to manufacture because the market for the report is likely to be $2 or $3. including-advertising and/or commissions-. Fulfillment. or bottle costs more than the cosmetic contained therein.
Most engineers dislike this part of the job. you are more or less reports. the "hook" to capture the viewer's attention and interest immediately. Until then. It captures attention. This ultimately conditions your mind to be alert for ideas. The Little Lead That Could Many years ago. At that point I began to research the mail order business seriously. more and more material came across my desk every day. but he should have had no trouble with the idea. and sets the stage. That was the publication that got me into mail order on a serious basis. a playwright who has never tried to write for periodicals. and soon began to develop a series of a writer. arouses interest. even before the titles. I began by writing and selling a resume guide for people who wanted help in writing their own resumes.) As my name got onto many people's mailing lists. CHAPTER 9 The Magic of the Lead How Important is the Lead? Someone. technical writing. for he has written enough of those TV scripts that open. firmly rejected. while I was working as a technical writer and learning to freelance in my spare time. In my own case. I was disappointed. for he didn't reply directly. as part of their duties. But once you begin to focus and concentrate your attention on the problem. since they earn their profits through selling other items to subscribers. if it is done well enough. such as reports and books.items. (I formerly published several newsletters also. My answer was to start with the best lead he could come up with. but sold those off eventually to concentrate on writing books for major book publishers. That is what a good lead in a story or an article does. recently asked me how to write a query to a magazine editor. In fact. fortunately for those of us who like to write. Getting Ideas It may be hard to get that first idea for a newsletter or a report. as must most professionals. I was also truly puzzled. I was therefore inspired once to write an article on the art of technical writing and send it off to an engineering trade journal. with an eye-opener of some sort. The article came back promptly. 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. and soon you begin to get ideas in plentiful quantity. and more and more ideas presented themselves to me. and that the rest of the query would not matter greatly if the lead was powerful enough. I knew it to be a tightly written . many newsletter publishers do not make great efforts to earn profits from subscription fees. of course. Then I expanded that into a guide for people who wanted to start a resume-writing business. but even keep those fees modest to encourage a large circulation. not because they are engineers but because a great many people hate to write. I don't know if he understood that or not.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to make writing a lot easier for you. "Hey!" is some relevant way to get attention. 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. He bought it immediately! Here is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. See. and yet to the point. but it is an inescapable part of engineering. confronting the reader with this: "The U. and "See?" is the copy following that explains what your lead has introduced. this is about that distasteful writing job. And then I did what I promised: I provided the tips to make technical writing easier to do. so I studied the piece I had written. But I wasn't ready to give it up.S. . That is what a good lead does: it captures the reader and sells your work. with the promise of revelation. I was saying this: Hey! Mr. as well as an explanation of what the article was about. with some tips to solve your problem. I also knew it to be sound. writing is a distasteful task.000 to Answer its mail. written out of my own extensive experience in technical writing. "You!" is something to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. Government Paid Me $6. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. It all adds up to here is what this will do for you about that distasteful writing chore. that is what it ought ideally to appear to be. 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. often startling. trying to deduce a reason for its rejection. Engineer. that venerable writer's periodical. It is in forceful. You have to work at making it appear to be natural and spontaneous." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. Evaluate Your Lead Good leads are sometimes spontaneous inspirations that spring directly from your subconscious into your conscious mind suddenly. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. making the job easier. thorough. idea. (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. while setting the stage for what is to follow. then. Most of the time you aren't that fortunate: You have to work at developing a dynamite lead. It will help You. In my lead. this is how you do it. I finally got an inspiration: I changed the lead--nothing else--and sent it straight back to the same editor who had rejected it. 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.piece. direct language.
we ( the publisher and. Titles are thus an important element in marketing your work for the very reason just described: They are. In fact. Make your titles a part of your story. since they are usually the first thing the editor sees in your query or proposal.000 to Answer their Mail! to see what I mean with respect to those factors. followed by a subtitle in initial caps and lower case. Government Paid Me $6. Ideally. That works especially well when you can manage it. and capture its essence. that elaborates on the theme set by the title. The U. Titles. or amusing. There is a much more value to a lead than that: A good lead helps you write the story. Government Paid Me $6. Heads. novel. it can be combined with or compressed into a title or a headline. 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. revelatory of the presentation strategy. Often. 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.) I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. although not always. Avoid generic titles. and ought to do the same job for it that any lead does: forecast what is to come.It is a promise of what is to come. Every headline and caption is a lead to what follows. The $100 Billion Market would be called. leads. such as "Introduction. It helps you get a good focus on what you ought to try to do in writing a title. I) will probably select and use an entirely different title to attract readers. my book titled. I want something with high impact. attention-demanding. possibly. (Were I writing it today. That title for the proposed book or article (call it the "working title") is solely to help me sell it. it's a good idea to always think of titles as leads. Compare The $100 Billion Market with The U. I want the title to be novel. Or should be. boring.S.000 to Answer their Mail!) Later. and contribute absolutely nothing to moving the story along.S. and Captions While I am on the subject of titles. let me make a few relevant observations: That word title ought to refer to and include every headline and caption in anything you write. . It is dramatic. especially not in the case of the working title. 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. since it may be dropped later and replaced. But when I am writing my proposal. of themselves. even shock value. And I do not fear using a long title." Such titles are unimaginative. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. (My own book proposals always present a suggested title in full caps.
usually. your compass. And it illustrates not only how important and useful the lead is. every word I had written--typed. the strategy of its organization. but how indispensable it is for me and other writers who have similar working habits." I am actually thinking out and trying out a number of ideas. when I did not adhere to that guide. In it or with it. the lead takes the place of an outline. every writer has to develop his and her own style and own working habits: Do whatever works for you. Titles and Leads as Basic Ideas One of the inevitable questions every author of books gets from strangers is. I learned to trust my feelings in such matters before I get 50 pages into a new piece of work. For a lengthier piece--a book--I do write an outline. It doesn't matter whether it am working on a book. as I write. although I know that I will make changes later. its slant. The lead is your road map. I think it significant that the result was the best-selling book of all that I have written. For a short piece--an article or a report--I start with only a broad idea and what I know about the subject. a lead that defines the job for me and tells me where I am going. I was forced to discard it all. I suppose that different writers get their ideas from different sources and in different ways. but it works for me. On one occasion. but necessary. revising it many times and starting over frequently--is "thinking on paper. I must still develop a lead and that becomes a first chapter. or a letter to someone: I can't go on until I am satisfied with the lead. . the style. For the latter kind of writer. who write from their leads. of which I am one. and a new lead had to be laboriously re-typed.or how I discover them. "Where do you get your ideas?" It's a fair question. It sounds disorganized. certainly not. but it works best for me (as I presume it must for some other writers) to work out my ideas this way. but I do know where at least some of my ideas come from and how they find their way to me. It's no different. Does that mean that you must do this too? No. usually. and other characteristics. and they generally follow their outlines as closely as possible. if you work this way. that is. in effect. I know. It was most painful. you define what the piece will be about. than developing a classic outline. and I can speak only for myself. and it's not unrelated to leads and titles. There are others. while sorting them all out and developing an organization. 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. I find myself unable to proceed with any piece of writing until I have developed a lead I am satisfied with. or preface.Writing From the Lead There are many writers who prepare a careful outline before writing even the briefest of pieces. with as much detail as I can muster before actually writing anything. working on the lead--and. For me. It is your lodestone. I am laying the groundwork for the piece. an article.
it inspired me to research and write my own book on how to set up a home office. the title The $100 Billion Market lodged in my head and wouldn't go away. If you deliberately pursue ideas by reading extensively. and they will occur to you spontaneously and with increasing frequency. listen. Of course. when you come across stories in your field. Long titles are not a burden. (I can recall my struggle. to develop a workable idea for a second book. for example. that there was currently a spate of "home offices. and in a surprisingly short time. Many successful books have long titles. if necessary. 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. but it is a good way to provoke your mind. which was actually a brief lead. Don't be afraid to write long titles. not all my books and articles start with ideas for titles. work consciously at searching out new ideas." businesses based in private homes. "Hey. However. I can do better than that. I did not have a great deal of trouble selling the idea of writing a book with that title. nor was my own How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant.e. start with a long title deliberately.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. The classic How to Make Friends and Influence People was not a short title. thinking about what you read. new Above all. and discussing ideas with others. You can trim it down later. That was before I had succeeded in . another book that started with an idea for a title. and observe life every day. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. News & World Report. Sometimes editors will suggest ideas for books and articles. methods. in time. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i. and can always be shortened later. you think. but usually you are on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. that's only half the story. after my first book was published. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. Marketing Without Money was another one that started with a title and kept the original title all the way. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination. you will have trained your subconscious to do this for you. For example. new services." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea.. It will quest constantly for ideas. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas started out as How to Get Money-Making Ideas. a news magazine. as you read. When I learned that the federal procurement budget had reached $100 billion (and more) each year. Make the title long enough to do the job. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers.S. Be alert for new products. but the first step is to get the idea written out. Here are a few you can use: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. a great many people would like to know about it. Often. In fact. when I read an article in U. new developments of all kinds.
Significantly. this writer's byline appears on page after page. had used up all the ideas I would ever have. If you learn of a solution to some problem. You can carry this specialization further. books or articles. That is what readers want: useful information. Research becomes much easier--is continuous and automatic. Specializing as a Writer Many writers choose some field that interests them or in which they have continuing access to information and specialize in that field. Specializing in this way has advantages: You maximize the results of your research and expertise. trends in employment and job opportunities. for example. depending on how diverse the general field is. There is quite a large advantage in both these aspects. Two writers I know specialize in writing about automobiles and the automobile industry.) Many of the ideas will be of no use. Some subjects are timeless. people always want to know how to succeed. When the Washington Post runs its frequent special sections on jobs and careers. Another writer. resume writing. in fact. found an effective way to discourage them. the subject of specialization is not unconnected to the subject of leads and titles. you might write about small business generally and range over the entire field. such as high-definition TV. In more general terms. Everyone has problems of some sort. 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. which is one reason for raising the .conditioning my subconscious to help me in finding new book ideas. If you choose to write about small business. but your conscious mind will perform the critical function and sort the ideas out. pestered with gophers. by all means consider writing about it. of course. new tax laws. 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. did some research. But interests in many other subjects. you provide information in these books and articles. or you might opt to write about only some special kind of small business. when she approached him. to almost any degree. Timeliness of subject is another key to success in choosing subjects. that I was all written out. One local writer in this area. usually about the software programs. and has had a successful book published on the subject. and sold 14. One man. for example.000 copies of his two-page report on the subject. such as information brokering or consulting. does a regular syndicated column on small business. Jane Applegate. and new trends in automobile accessories come and go. evidently specializes in career activities--job finding. Many writers write about computers. (Ten years and 25 or 30 books ago a well-known editor in a major book publishing house assured my agent. since you have a special interest in the field. Sheryl Silver. offering solutions to the most common ones are among the most salable writing. and anything.
the subject was not one that I would have to research from scratch. and I submitted it to my editor at AMACOM without comment. himself an immensely successful oil magnate (Standard Oil) was one who recommended emulating others' success. Or even by someone else's lack of success. John Bear. AMACOM. 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. for him. and certainly knew other consultants. Rockefeller. the thought of writing a book about consulting struck me. The friend wanted to write a rather scholarly book on consulting. The fact that a great many people are almost phobic abut using computers has not been lost on all computer writers." Oddly enough. Eventually I did. All because someone else's proposal planted a seed in my subconscious.subject here. a seed had been planted. Why not? I had been a consultant myself. who produced a highly successful series of "Dummies" guides to computer subjects. John Wiley & Sons. It can be an internal source of great help. The Magic of the Subconscious Mind I am not a believer in mysticism or metaphysics. And so I began to toy with the idea of doing a book on that subject. it was only a number of years later that a similar idea occurred to a publisher of computer books. I had no interest in the subject. 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. negotiations. but I have learned something of the power of the subconscious mind and how to enlist it in your service. wrote a highly successful book purporting to be directed to what he called in his title the "computer wimp. as the story I just related indicates. and had written a proposal for such a book. and I returned the proposal to the author. Some time later. somewhere in the recesses of my mind. He wanted me to submit it to my current publisher. 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. At the moment. contracts. etc. and promptly forgot the entire incident." That illustrates another fact of life about publishing. and to this day I am writing "consultant's guides" to various activities--writing. and I have since become known as something of a guru on the subject. Somehow. I saw no harm in doing so.") But it also inspired several other books of my own dealing with various aspects of consulting. The following explanation of how it . The editor rejected it. An acquaintance sent a friend to visit me. The late John D. A competitive publisher borrowed the idea and is imitating it with books for "Idiots. with another publisher. 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. However. and has since expanded to subjects in other fields. One. rather than undertaking risky new beginnings. suddenly and unexpectedly. and it turned out to be the most successful of my books. It created a specialty for me.
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. goes to the kitchen to make coffee. blocked or not. You can't communicate with it directly. and then discard everything or any part of what you have written. . that is. browses in the dictionary. psychic rebellion--who knows? But it's debilitating for a 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. there are other even more valuable uses possible. or the idea you couldn't generate consciously. I will fall victim to that dread writer's disease known as writer's block. It's a disease of unknown origin. Beating Writer's Block Probably every writer suffers from block now and then. makes telephone calls. unfortunately (or perhaps that is fortunate). The way to impart a need to it is to concentrate consciously on the problem or need for as long as you can. Scribble anything. looks out the window. but must use an indirect channel. After more than 60 books. usually when you are relaxing at some casual activity. Turn your total attention to something else. and does everything but write--works at finding reasons to delay getting to work and writing. suddenly pops into your head.) That is another place where I use my subconscious to help me. view. write anything. It may be laziness. and it does. Anyone can do it. I struggled for a time to get a good idea for a second book. then. (That is the disease where the writer sharpens pencils. When I finished my first book and managed to find a publisher for it. fatigue. My remedy is to write. number. Read. straightens up the desk. and then abandon it when you have exhausted all conscious efforts. I always have trouble starting a new book or a new article--trouble developing my lead. it's just understanding how to make your own mind work for you. that is. One of the beauties of writing with a computer and word processor is that you can do this so easily. That is when the name.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. The latter will work on the problem below the conscious level and get back to you at some future time. or word you couldn't remember earlier. Start scribbling. That is the key to getting all the ideas you will ever need or can ever use for things to write about. and without a satisfying lead. If I don't manage that. I am nowhere with the new book or article: I simply can't get going until I get that lead mastered. and put the matter completely out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. For one. But using it to get new ideas is only the beginning. and your subconscious will sort and sift the information and come up with ideas. That turns it over to your subconscious. Write a bad poem. you can use the magic of the subconscious mind to make you a better writer. and listen as widely as possible. despite all efforts.
but that does not make it less true. It makes you a consultant. more specifically. as a writer-consultant.000 a day without difficulty as a proposal writer: It was because I was more than a writer: I was a proposal strategist. personnel. It is thus an indicator of where you ought to concentrate your efforts as a writer or. Make an analysis of those subjects in which you have substantial knowledge and experience--e. or it ought to. Consider the typical writing needs of the various areas: manuals. you will wipe out the nonsense and get down to work. Do it in subject-matter areas in which you have knowledge and competence and. e. more specialized. and I hope it will work for you. At least. You can and should be more than a scribe in those circumstances. But write. as well as the presentation. so that the program followed a specific marketing strategy I had designed. There are many needs for writing in the business world and particularly in most of the specialized businesses and professions. sales. It was that. serving a specific client need and probably solving a client's problem. 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. finances. not the writing per se. management. but also some subject-matter expertise. for example. however. in a great many cases it requires not only writing ability. for which I was paid $1000/day. training. Start the juices. . g. For those of us to whom writing comes easily and is even an enjoyable thing to do. that may be hard to understand. electronics. that's how it works for me. under contract. and problem solver: I helped the client design the program and its strategy. marketing. and worth considerably higher fees than you could command as a writer per se. printing.. manufacturing. enough at least to relieve the client of most of the chores of planning the written product and outlining the approach to it. or any other area of special knowledge. psychology. End of block. but that also qualifies as consulting work. construct-ions or whatever. point to opportunity for those of us who enjoy writing. There are many areas of need in which this is possible. doing custom work for a client--actually makes you more than a writer. The average person hates to write. reports. It does. banking. Before long. That is especially the case when you write in some area where you are expert--marketing. considerable expertise. trouble-shooter. If you are going to do custom writing. accounting.Start a science-fiction absurdity. and not as a writer. However. politics. It means that you have been retained to do a specific job. financial management.. the professionals. and the proposal followed a specific presentation strategy that correlated with the marketing strategy. It makes your services more valuable. preferably. do it as a consultant. taxes. Writer or Consultant? Working as a writer for hire--i. That's true for even the more highly educated. This is how and why I could command $1. Writing itself is only part of the task in writing for and in the business world.
that they will necessarily be well written or effective in meeting whatever their objectives are. most of us learn many things in the course of our careers. or other. and some of the most beautiful are useful mostly for starting a fire or recycling into packing material. or any of most other publications today. but the art lies in writing a press release that the press will use. the capability brochure. but still only a tool: It does not lessen to even the slightest degree the need for knowledge. press release. They seek out opportunities to make their own competitive bids for such assignments. specifications. if you are going to write at all. But the computer is only a tool. Creating Your Own Market The average freelance writer seeks clients who have a felt need for writing help. and whatever else a business needs. no matter how handsomely they are laid out.salesletters. speeches. and especially if you are going to freelance. of course. newsletters. audiovisuals. but it is not the only way nor necessarily the best way: There is an entirely different approach to the problem of . ability. However.) That is not all there is to it. however. there are a number of editorial problems to solve: Where will the copy come from? Who will edit information gathered and put it into publishable style? Who will do the copy fitting? Make the many other editorial decisions? Ensure that the design chosen is suitable for what the organization does and sells? In today's world you must come to terms with your computer. (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. but they simply do not know how to go about it. brochure. but content is another matter. not unimportant. The probability is that you can claim reasonable expertise in a number of areas. brochures. Anyone can (presumably) write a press release. to be sure. Specializing as a Publications Consultant Many small business owners would like to publish a newsletter or turn out a better brochure. (That does not mean. of course. the proposal. It is one way to sell your services as a writer. catalog sheet. a valuable one. however. Cosmetics are one thing. Some of the homeliest newsletters have been among the most successful. the annual report. Then pursue assignments as an editorial/documentation specialist within the areas of interest. 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. public speaking. and judgment as a writer and editorial expert.) It is no less true of every other document: the newsletter. It is. Anyone who can run a computer and handle the desktop publishing software available today can turn out a professional-looking newsletter. Let's take the matter of the newsletter alone: Even with the dtp software doing the layout and format design for the user. there is also the possibility of being a publications consultant.
e. a publicity campaign. will contain the . of course. Even in that last approach. however. Newsletters and press releases. 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. and all the rest of it. start looking for subscribers. That is only one way to do this. especially if you have a flexible plan for helping these clients. presumably. or internal communications. There is also the case of the small business owners who would like to have a newsletter. however. such as public relations. That is not difficult to do. for example. are also valuable and effective marketing tools when used wisely. Much of the information was already crossing my desk every day. and the association would have it printed and mail it out to their members. 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. You can also write clients' newsletters for them. You supply this each month to each client as a master copy. up to the point of printing and mailing. opens up new possibilities: Instead of seeking clients who have felt needs for the services of a freelance writer. I would deliver master copy. Even then. and will pay you to help them. however. but find it too much of a job to produce one. mailing. and a great many business owners are excellent prospects for this service. You can create and publish your own newsletter. and they spell opportunity for the enterprising freelance writer. you can go in pursuit of clients in whom you can inspire a sense of need for a newsletter. and we struck a deal. many executives managing organizations really don't have any idea about what to put in a newsletter. or some other activity requiring your expert services. offering useful articles and ideas.. but really can't afford it. I did not want to undertake a new business--i. It is possible for you to create a newsletter that can be published by clients as their own. while you help yourself too. They liked the idea. what the client will send to the printer to be printed in sufficient quantity for mailing. Direct marketing--marketing via salesletters and direct-mail packages in general--is obviously an effort to win sales. Twists on Newsletter Publishing There are at least three ways to make money writing newsletters. However. You can help even these kinds of clients. create a newsletter on computers. selecting a special field therein.finding clients: Opting to be a publications consultant and. Many organizations would like to have their own newsletters. but at relatively small cost. printing. You can. direct mail. identical for all except that each client's master copy. direct marketing. there are variants possible. The most motivating consideration to interest prospective clients is that of the marketing benefits such activity can bring. It worked well for both of us for a long time. for there are several ways to do it. They need someone to do it all.
client's identification as the publisher. there is nothing to prevent you from expanding this idea and doing several newsletters for clients in different businesses or industries. drawings and paintings. What is Copyright? Copyright means literally the right to copy or the right of ownership of the creation. POPULAR BELIEF: To get copyright protection you must register your property with the Copyright Office. it is an incident of the process of authorship. As the author of the work. here are the facts: Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. some of which will probably surprise you. Here are the basic facts. with the client's own title and information imprinted. as you will soon see. Of course. in the words of the Copyright Office. Done this way. so the client can insert a page of his or her own information or editorial. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. computer programs. or the client can pay you to write it especially for him or her. In fact. (You might even allow each client to make up his or her own title for the newsletter. if the client wishes. or make other use of your property. while it is profitable and provides a steady income. You leave one page blank. with no renewals . and it is available for literary works. that is. The current law provides copyright protection for the life of the author plus 50 years. It's a worthwhile proposition for both of you. music. which became effective January 1. and it is considerably less than a full-time job for you each month. WRONG: Copyright protection is far simpler to secure than that. only you and/or others to whom you grant permission or assign your rights can reproduce.) Thus. It is not even necessary to register a copyright with the Copyright Office to get the protection of copyright. copy. Copyright was always easy to get. 1978) it became even easier. and similar works of creation. 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. Either the client or you can insert that special page. but under the newer law (the Copyright Act of 1976. However. you research and write only one newsletter each month (or whatever period you wish to issue the publication) and deliver a master copy. the newsletter becomes much more affordable for the small business-person.
slogans. computer commands. names. in fact.) The notice should be placed in some prominent position on the item. they belong in the public domain as common property. etc that constitute the artistic property. use both the words and the symbol.. however. Fortunately. etc. one that is not well defined because it is extremely difficult to be absolutely precise about it. because copyright is automatic when the work is produced in some final form. short phrases. the unique creation of an author. however. it may be possible to prove that the "information" was protected by copyright. from a practical viewpoint. advising everyone of the protection. possible although it may be. you cannot copyright individual words. computer commands. The first choice is the best because some foreign nations do not recognize the c symbol." It may say "Copr. calendars. (For phono or sound recordings. listings of ingredients. Publication should be accompanied by a notice of copyright. etc--titles. No one has the right to reproduce your book or article--or any lengthy portion of it--for example. Publication is defined as distributing copies to the public by rental. That. brush strokes. however. use the symbol P in a circle. recorded. musical notes. as it did under the original law. an inadvertent failure to post the copyright notice does not automatically bar copyright protection. 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. sale.authorized. or other transfer of ownership of the physical property. How to Register a Copyright . If what appears to be information is. It can be simply the words "Copyright (year) by (name). notes. but anyone can use the information in it to write his or her own book or article. It may use the symbol c. What Cannot be Protected by Copyright? Obviously. Other items that are not protected by copyright are less obvious. Publication It is no longer necessary to actually publish a work to afford it copyright protection. It is only that combination of elements that is so covered and protected by the copyright. More significantly and less well understood is that you cannot copyright ideas or information. colors. under the newer law. This. They include works not yet in fixed form--printed. Many publishers. as was the case under the older law." followed by the year and name. colors. But publication is still desirable. Copyright Notices There are several ways to inscribe a copyright notice. brush strokes. and other such brief items. What Can be Protected by Copyright? Copyright covers the specific and unique combination of words. would be the exception to the rule. begins to get into a hazy area.
Why Register? Since copyright protection--statutory copyright--is so easy to get. all the following forms: TX for published and unpublished non-dramatic written works. journals. CA for supplementary registration to correct or amplify information given in an earlier registration. registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright claim. bulletins. magazines. e. perhaps you should not. to continue indefinitely. SE for serial works. SR for published and unpublished sound recordings. many publications are protected by only the statutory copyright cited here. VA for published and unpublished works of the visual arts--paintings. you may register your copyright at any time. and other such works--Copyright Office Form TX is used. a quite large portion are unregistered copyrights. reports. there are some good reasons for registering a copyright. such as novels. But there is one immediate. works to be published in successive parts with numerical or chronological designations. RE for claims to renewal copyright rights for properties protected under the 1909 Copyright Act. Of course. other audiovisual works. practical reason: You cannot seek legal remedies. if you must at some point defend your copyright via legal action--i. etc--Form SE is provided. On the other hand. despite the abundance of copyright notices on literary and other properties. including the . in the bargain. thus requiring full protection?--and the likelihood that anyone will infringe upon your copyright. in fact. it is hardly worthwhile to register every copyright. and not by registering that copyright.There are a number of forms used for registering copyrights. magazines. One reason is that registration establishes a public record of your copyright claim. PA for published and unpublished works of the performing arts--dramatic and musical works--motion pictures. etc.. it will be much easier to prove your claim if you had registered your copyright in the beginning. such as newspapers. Hence. However. plays. There are. sculptures. But there are some other provisions of interest too: If made before or within 5 years of publication. For serial publications--newspapers. Because a great many publications are really not in any great danger of infringement and are not especially valuable. For ordinary textual works--single works. newsletters. The question revolves around the value you assign to the property--is it potentially of great value. articles. directories. file or defend yourself against an infringement suit--unless your copyright has been registered. why bother to register a copyright? Well. etc. dissertations. drawings.
dates from the day your application was received by the Copyright Office. Relevant Matters You will notice. Another is to permit scholars and other authors to document their own published works. nonrefundable fee of $20. you may collect statutory damages and attorney's fees from the defendant. I have always refused to yield to that kind of a demand and found some other way to illustrate or document my . to review and approve that portion of your own work in which you cite or quote them. especially if the quotation is to be a lengthy one. it is best to request permission from the copyright owners before quoting more than a sentence or two. whether you agree to permit that action--virtual censorship--is up to you. should you wish to quote someone. Too." One reason and usage for this is to permit critics and other reviewers to cite from the works they are reviewing. Other-wise. The copyright.statements in your application. in fact. And always make attribution--identify and credit the source--when quoting anyone. as explained here. it is usually not difficult to get permission for brief quotes. A Few Other. send the following three elements. DC 20559 To register a book or manuscript. However. except philosophically. Unfortunately. (Send check or money order. copyright publications without any indication that permission for the quotation was granted. to that same address: A A A ù ù completed application form. we have no good definition of how brief is "brief. both in text and in footnotes. in your reading of various publications. not cash. This quoting of brief excerpts from copyright works is authorized under the doctrine of "fair usage. that authors often include brief quotes from other. This is not at all unusual. If you have registered the copyright not later than 3 months after publication or prior to the infringement. packaged together. Registration Procedure First request from the Copyright Office the application form(s) you will need. The address is as follows: Register of Copyrights Library of Congress Washington. regardless of how brief the quote. Of course. Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration.) nonreturnable deposit of One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. In practice. 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." so "fair usage" remains a rather difficult area to define. you can collect only actual damages and profits. copyright owners may request payment--a royalty--for permission to quote. when issued. As a matter of practical application.
but I have not found it necessary to be quite that formal. and so most of the materials I cite. I suppose a lawyer would draft a formidable release form for this purpose. Government offices and other facilities scattered throughout the United States and our possessions are spending about $14 billion per year. for what might be described as editorial services. although the bulk of the effort required is. writing effort.work. You must be sure to get written permission--a signed release--from the copyright owner before using his or her material. but I write books for business owners and other entrepreneurs. RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. cite. and/or reproduce in my books are materials originating with business firms. in fact. and it has always worked well for me: This was designed for my own use. phrased in my own language. 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. And there is good reason for so describing them. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. If there has been an exchange of correspondence with the copyright owner and he or she has given specific permission in correspondence. often by paraphrasing the other author or by simply reporting his thoughts. with full attribution. at current budget rates. quote. comment on. Name and organization:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Signature:------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date:-----------------------------------------------CHAPTER 11 Government Markets for Writers The government. The form was thus designed with that in mind.000 U. That the government generates a great deal of "paper" is well known. A Basic Orientation The 34. But I use a simple form that I supply with my request. and most of it is done under contract by private organizations and often by individuals. with its hundreds of agencies and thousands of offices. What is not so well known is that most of this .S. is a multibillion-dollar market for every kind of writing conceivable. But you can easily adapt this to your own needs by simple changes. that should suffice.
to name three. Training In addition to the agencies' own. In fact. in others the responsibilities are vested within some other office or department. the year around as a permanent program. several agencies--the Internal Revenue Service. operates a training division with six branches of training. For writers. newsletters. But training is a concern throughout the government. where the size of the agency and its publications/training requirements are large enough. the government contracts out most of this work to private industry. articles. motion picture scripts. since training is one of their prime functions and goes on continuously. they are not the only purchaser of such publications. the constant growth of new technological developments and the ever-swelling government bureaucracy add up to constantly growing markets. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). offering training courses to the rest of the federal government. speeches. Training responsibilities may include the development of materials to be used for training. Virtually every government agency of significant size and importance has both publications and training responsibilities. the Office of Personnel Management (formerly the Civil Service Commission). and problems. audiovisual scripts. often along with personnel and other administrative duties. Consequently they may include reports. 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. However. brochures. and even books. proposals. training programs. also require such documentation. In many cases. have entire residential training institutes of their own. each agency has a large degree of freedom in organizing itself internally and allocating necessary functions. manuals. so they are normally by far the largest developers of publications.generation of "paper" does not take place in government offices. Who Does All the Writing? . and other agencies. or training materials may be developed by a publications group. not surprisingly. internal training facilities. The military agencies have by far the largest training establishments. size. in military and civilian agencies. the agency may even have special departments or offices dedicated to these activities. for the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA). the Postal 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. Each agency does so according to the needs of its own missions. There is no set standard in government organization. Publications Government publications fall into two broad classes: those for internal consumption and those for public information. lecture notes. and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
On the other hand. for a few years I kept myself quite busy writing for government agencies exclusively. and the large organizations are thus barred legally from competing for them. a great deal of it as a requirement under larger contracts for engineering and manufacturing. Obviously. $9. Rather. of course. $600 to upgrade their rate manual. $6.000 to answer mail and develop a system to enable them to handle the job. Surprisingly enough. and thus often cannot compete effectively for small jobs and do not wish to do so.000 job to develop an "annual report. but much also performed by individuals and organizations hired under contract for such tasks specifically. For the Public Buildings Service. in many cases the smaller jobs are set aside for small businesses. to give you an idea of both the kinds of writing tasks and their sizes. Small-Purchase Opportunities .400 for the development of a curriculum plan for training health and safety specialists. from freelancers to large corporations. Typical Tasks Contracts let by government agencies for writing can range widely in size.000 today. For the Postal Service Training and Development Training Institute. $3. contracting directly with government agencies and subcontracting to the government's prime contractors.000.500 for an audiovisual storyboard and script. For the Forest Service. from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands. whereas it is $25. For the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). the large contracts are not for the freelance writer or small editorial business. For the Energy Research and Development Administration. and with the size of our government and our annual budget you might expect the bulk of that writing to be done internally.All of this calls for a great deal of writing. NOTE: Most of the above contracts were in an era when a small purchase was less than $5. However. the large organizations often find that they cannot handle the smaller contracts profitably or efficiently. For the Public Buildings Service. $2. here are some of those I was entrusted with as a small. $750 for a brochure about new procurement forms.) It is a market open to all. by far the bulk of such work is done externally. independent contractor and freelance writer: For the Federal Aviation Administration: A $23. as an independent contractor. and even millions of dollars. Finally. many billions of dollars' worth each year. (In fact." explaining the year's work in safety engineering. by government employees. that is not the case.000 to develop an audiovisual training program in American Indian history and culture.
By law all public purchasing for federal. rather than formal contracts. and city halls. is available also via the Internet. and normally you would compete for a writing contract by submitting a proposal.) This publication lists hundreds and hundreds of government needs--bid and proposal opportunities--every day. You should register (file the bidders application form) with every federal. The federal government has thousands of contracting offices (some 130. personal contact with government officials is by far the best . but access to the "CBD. and local government agency with whom you expect to do business. although there are certain exceptions. Direct. Department of Commerce and printed by the Government Printing Office. Modus Operandi for Freelance Writers Writing is a custom service." as it is commonly referred to.Some of these contracts I won in competitive procurements through submitting the winning proposals. 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. This permits agencies to use purchase orders. others were awarded to me under the Small Purchase Act. state. it enables you to survey and choose from the maximum number of bidding opportunities. Therefore. than in Washington.000 federal employees work in purchasing and procurement functions) all over the country. for example. for purchases under $25. with limited competition or without competition. but you should understand the basic system. and local government agencies is by open competition.000. The federal government announces its needs and calls for bids and proposals in a daily publication called the Commerce Business Daily. state. contracts are awarded as a result of sealed bids (awards to the low bidders) and competitive proposals (awards to those submitting the best proposals). at least. informally and with only nominal competition and/or a simple letter proposal. DC!) State governments do most of their purchasing via a central purchasing and supply organization in the state capital. (There are more federal employees in California. in an accelerated and simplified procedure.S. Getting on a maximum number of bidders lists helps in this case. (Subscriptions may be ordered from either agency. while local governments have purchasing officials in county seats. which will put your name on bidder lists so that you will receive many solicitations without requesting them. in many cases. However. town halls. How the Government Buys How the government buys and how to sell to the government are different subjects. published by the U. However. all procurement offices want you to register with them by completing their bidder's application forms. because so many writing jobs are relatively small--qualify under the law as small purchases--many can be and are awarded without competition or.
that another contractor did the job and botched it. you can and should take advantage of this to cement your position with the agency and the individual client in the agency. For example. they too discover on Thursday that they are short-handed for a job due on Monday. and others on whom you can call for support when you are responsible for an entire program or publication. Seek out the various government agencies and inquire who is in charge of publications. "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 training. That happens quite often.000 in additional business there and in other agencies. Make personal calls on these people and leave business cards. and will probably pay off in future assignments and recommendations to others. need editorial services: literally editing. in fact. editors.) For this reason it is advisable to have "associates"--illustrators. and is the route to the larger and more profitable contracts. but do not embarrass the client by pointing this obvious truth out. help. as they learned only after they accepted the job and paid for it!) In such cases. Unless you object to doing such work. from initial research to having the final camera-ready copy ready to go to the printer. writing and/or rewriting is required. as the contractor. It is mutually beneficial to have agreements with others. Continue to make these calls and become a familiar figure in those offices. and they often need help. Instead. (Or. brochures. how fast you can respond and turn a job around. That is opportunity for those prepared to handle it. and available resources (e." Everyone is then happy! Of course.) You may at times find yourself entrusted with the whole ball of wax--an assignment to handle the entire job. a goodly bit of editing is required: It was wise of the client to perceive this. qualifications. (There are even occasions on which the government agency wants you.g.. there are cases where they do. and advice--consulting services. representing yourselves as . equipment. sometimes. It's good business to do so. or they have been handed a hot potato of a job by a superior. public information. and other relevant factors). People in government have problems. Be prepared to recognize such situations. and bill for "editorial services. (Repeat business and recommendations from a Department of Labor office for whom I did some needed editorial repair work resulted in over $65. actually. describing your background. and other factors that reflect the kind and volume of work you can handle. experience. and capability statements. often starting over from the beginning. solemnly agree that what has been done is an excellent start and that. Price the job for what is really required--writing/rewriting--but do agree cheerfully that it is editing.approach for this work. proofreading. to have the publication printed and bound. and they are often delighted to find a freelance writer who can help. as everyone does. yes.
(In this computer. as well as cooperating on large projects. actually. of course. usually Personnel). Sometimes an organization does not by its nature furnish any clues to the probable opportunities for writers. For example. Not only are there hundreds of agencies--departments. which means. my government . for it makes marketing your services at least partially a shared function and also an important consideration. if you wish to graduate to an office outside your home and pursue more ambitious projects than solo writing tasks. administrations and other organizations--but in many of these entities there are multiple markets. but the explanation is quite simple: The existence of a separate department or office for such functions (or burying such functions in another office. to every-one's benefit in marketing. Check. You must be alert for such windfalls too. demonstrates that the agency has regular or at least frequent need for such work. 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. That is. for any of you may want to call on others for support. It is a whole population of markets. commissions. I once found the Value Management offices of the General Services Administration. Such organizations are almost characteristically overloaded and need help. although the law permits the agency to contract or projects up to $25." even when cooperating parties do not share office space directly. the best government markets are the organizations that have their own. it is also necessary to understand that each agency has its own policies. although each has his or her own clients and projects. sharing in a contract. In general. do not assume Finding Opportunities Although I am based in the Washington. That sounds like a strange idea to those not familiar with how large organizations do things. high-tech age. it enables all of you to bid for the larger jobs.)You may want to consider this after you have gotten established. this arrangement is referred to as a "virtual corporation. Monolithic although the government may appear to be. it is remarkably unstandardized and diverse in many ways. Some freelancers in writing and other professional-services fields actually share office space and expenses and advertise as a firm of associates. 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. DC area. an engineering office. in-house departments or special offices for training and/or publications and other writing tasks. Best Government Markets Government is not a single market. Therefore. as already noted.000 via government purchase order.associates. 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. although you should make all efforts to learn the official procurement regulations in general.
DC 20416 General Services Administration 18th & F Streets. A starter list appears at the end of this chapter. For Government offices near you. Request information about purchasing policies and practices. (You may also request similar information from the purchasing and supply offices of your own state and local government offices. NW Washington. San Francisco. Fort Worth. you can use the mail and telephone for most contacts. the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). SW Washington. However. The government has offices and contracts everywhere. mentioned earlier. That is one of the key reasons for writing them at the addresses listed below.face with the customer. Seattle. a major federal center. In fact. brochures. The most basic tool of marketing to the federal government is the government's own daily publication. Denver. in many cases you never meet face-to. Be sure to visit any GSA Business Service Center near you or write the GSA in Denver. or General Services Administration (GSA). Florida. DC 20585 . The Government Printing Office operates a number of bookstores. It is not necessary. and visit procurement offices in your state capital.contracts were often in such distant places as Missoula. as already noted above. check the telephone directory blue pages. Atlanta.) A Few References GSA Business Service Centers are located in Boston. many of the agencies will furnish copies of those manuals free of charge. even in a long-term contractual relationship. Chicago. Many of them also publish thick manuals of instructions. DC 20405 Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue. Los Angeles. Many will then send you literature--pamphlets. in which it sells a great many government publications. and Houston Some key agencies/offices to write (Contracting Officer or Public Information Officer) for information on procurement: Small Business Administration 1441 L Street. Washington. Philadelphia. But you can get more information from any office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). New York. county seat. on request. Write also to the Contracting Officer or Public Information Office of major agencies. NW Washington. in most cases. and even thick manuals explaining the systems in detail. Colorado. Kansas City (MO). Department of Commerce (DOC). Montana and Orlando. including most of the procurement manuals published by the various agencies. 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. to be near the agency. and city or town hall.
SW Washington. 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. an authority on newsletters. DC 20210 Directorate for Small Business and Economic Utilization Policy The Pentagon. SW Washington. I can think of easier and less risky ways to invest $50. NWWashington. NW Washington. DC 20240 NASA HQ Contracts Division 200 Maryland Avenue. but my experience indicates otherwise. I started my first newsletter for less than $100. has been quoted as estimating the existence of 100. CO 80225 Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street.000 or more to launch a successful newsletter. Perhaps they are right. DC 20591 Department of Labor 200 Constitution Avenue. DC 20230 General Services Administration Denver Federal Center Denver.Department of the Interior 18th & C Streets. and within three months it was a self-supporting venture. (Howard Penn Hudson. DC 20546 Department of Defense The Pentagon Washington. SW Washington. there would be far fewer than the 30. DC 20301 Department of Commerce 14th & Constitution Avenue.000 or more that exist.000 newsletters!) In fact. If it really required a great deal of money to succeed in publishing a newsletter.000! . Room 2A340 Washington. DC 20460 Department of Transportation 400 7th Street. NW Washington. DC 20301 CHAPTER 12 How to Make it Big with Your Own Newsletter Publishing a newsletter is a business.
When it works. of course). I was getting a little income. A newsletter can be a seedbed for other business. printing. From the beginning. I simply did not bring the subject up! I also encouraged new subscribers by making it easy for them to minimize the risk: Regular subscriptions were by the year. and printing 100 copies of the first issue. and building a subscription list. material for future issues. profitable business. far from it. I did not even list a volume and number for that same reason. 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. and I made a special. I started Buyer's & Seller's Exchange. it was the means for getting other. and I began to get both paid and swapped-for subscriptions almost immediately. 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. but 6-month subscriptions were available. composing it via typewriter (today I would use my computer and printer. Even more important. I didn't lie to my subscribers. That gets a new newsletter off the ground and moving fast. mailing. etc. Even newsletters that are not especially profitable of themselves are often extremely worth-while because of this. Most of that first issue was mailed free as samples to encourage paid subscriptions. I mailed many copies to others in the publishing business and to printers and mailers. . and produced enough income to justify its existence. It's the hardest and most expensive part of the job.This is not to say that my first NL made me rich overnight.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's what those people who estimate $50. offering a swap of services: free subscriptions for the equivalent value in advertising. But there are other ways. But it did become profitable very rapidly. 3-month trial subscription available too. I printed up a few hundred circulars and sales letters and began mailing to a mailing list I compiled by reading advertisements in periodicals and selecting the names of small businesses I thought to be suitable prospects for the kind of information I intended to provide in my newsletter. And since my NL was devoted to business opportunities. I offered free advertising--publicity--to anyone interested. a massive subscription drive. a fact of the newsletter business often overlooked or misunderstood. whether they subscribed or not. But let us start at the beginning. Getting Subscriptions Selling subscriptions to a newsletter is not easy.
not advertising. since space is at a premium. and continued to climb steadily. subscriptions that cost you little or nothing to get.By the third month my print order was up to 500 copies. and one year became 18 months. profit results when you get renewals. For 500 copies. but use their newsletters to earn money in other ways. This is a major income producer for many newsletter publishers. I charged $2 for sample copies. as I continued to offer many special promotions. if you accept that breakeven is the best you can hope for in the first year of a subscription. Every issue thus began to produce income for other things I had to sell. without regard to other considerations (for the moment) than income from subscriptions: The problem lies in the high cost of winning subscriptions. But let's analyze costs a bit more. That is. and subscribers want editorial matter. 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. it is difficult to realize a great deal of profit on subscriptions alone. many run complete mail-order bookstores in this manner. although I never carried paid advertising. 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. So conventional wisdom estimates a 65% renewal rate necessary for profitable operation. also a modest number. I also sent many complimentary copies to publishers of other NLs. Let us look at the basic economics of the business. for subscriptions. The Economics of Newsletter Publishing You have had just a small insight into some of the basic economics of NL publishing. but gave full credit for the $2 if the buyer subscribed subsequently. . Quite the contrary. Sending out 1. In fact. this later became the basis for another highly profitable spin-off I devised.) Suppose you put out an NL of a modest four pages and charge $24 a year. I began advertising my other publications--books and reports--in my NL. a 6-month subscription became 9 months at the same price. Make allowances for today's prices.e. for which they often gave me a free plug. (These are 1986 costs in the U. 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. The conventional wisdom is that profitable operation depends on renewals. helping bring in new subscriptions. In fact. selling a variety of books published by others but related to the subject of the NL. there are successful newsletter publishers who do not do much more than break even on subscription income.. although there are some who do. Few NLs carry advertising. And even these are not the only profit opportunities a newsletter offers. I was quite surprised at how many orders for other things an issue could pull.S.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.
A Strategy to Cut Those High Costs It normally costs more to sell a $20 item than it does to sell a $5 one.printing ought to cost you about $90 an issue and first-class postage will be another $160. and you get major savings in postage costs also when you reach enough volume to justify the second-class mailing rates available to .000.500. Even with an efficient campaign. Or you might offer a special deal on extending or converting a trial subscription into a regular one. instead of a 12-month subscription for $10! If you pro-rate that. That would be nice if you had gotten the subscriptions at no cost. If the subscriber renews into a regular subscription. Of course. There is this too: Printing costs drop sharply as the quantity goes up. both in my own advertising and sales made via dealers to whom I paid a 50% commission on all sales. of course. 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. hence a limited audience--in most cases.250. (It is rarely practicable to use a less costly form of mailing at only 500 copies. 500 to 1. But they did cost you. and they may easily have cost you as much as one-half the subscription fee--$6. effectively you get a 15-month subscription for $5. 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. Typically. In fact. it would be difficult to win 500 subscriptions for an outlay of much less than $5. I therefore found it profitable to encourage the sale of trial subscriptions. as well as income from ancillary sales. unless you are fortunate enough to either build a much higher number of subscribers or get a much higher annual subscription fee. If you wish to. if all else is right. 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. 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. so you have a better immediate ratio of cost to income. and you will probably pull more subscriptions from a mailing that offers trial subscriptions. such as an offer to credit one-half the $5 paid for the trial subscription. the per-issue cost to the subscriber is a bit higher on short-term subs. you will find that the cost of winning subscriptions is more than halved this way. you have the same chance of a profitable renewal after only 3 months.000 a year for a gross income of $12. instead of 12 months! Too.000 paid subscriptions represent a reasonably successful newsletter--and it takes some-thing very special about a newsletter to command really high prices. newsletters are addressed to highly specialized interests. 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. But those are the exceptional cases. 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.) That's $3. with bulk mailing and a 5% response.
the ancillary sales grew. suggesting many other ideas to you for special reports. that many of my subscribers referred to themselves as members of BSE. (I have myself paid other newsletter publishers as much as $2. and other details. But unexpected was the discovery that the contents of my NL and readers' reactions would create both demand and ideas for new ancillary publications. your risk your own good reputation." I created a certificate of membership in BSE Associates.periodical publishers. Investigating. otherwise. 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. you will be wise to avoid actually plugging the product--although simple PR notices are okay--unless you have looked it over and found it worthy of a boost. As my subscription list grew. and then did something about it: I formed "BSE Associates. after a while. rather than as readers of or subscribers to BSE. .) If you do so. I learned that this is not an unusual phenomenon: most people want to belong to something. Here is still another profit idea: Many NL publishers will publicize someone else's item editorially on a commission basis.000 contract to turn out a camera-ready NL every month for a national association. I did nothing but write the NL and prepare the camera-ready copy for the association. They took care of everything else--printing. devised some benefits--several special reports and privileges--and offered membership at 1-1/2 times the cost of simple subscription to the newsletter. presenting details of immediate interest. as you gather information for your NL. when writing. A single paragraph may be a condensation of or abstract from pages of information gathered and digested. picking up extra income in doing so. A Few Other Spin-Off Benefits Some of the advantages I gained from publishing BSE were unexpected. Here is what happens: Newsletters are essentially digests. A Special Benefit I noticed. 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. making the report writing relatively easy! A successful NL often spins off other NLs. almost compelling you to prepare a detailed report and offer it to them for sale! Too. to have an identity with something. your research and daily mail begin to dredge up more good information than your NL has room for. reports for which you have already done all the research. Readers often become interested in an item and clamor for more information on the subject. as I did.) In one case. I thought about it a long time. mailing. it led me to a $20.500 for such help. You are likely to find.
. the universe is your territory. Check out your competition. and many newsletters sell for several times that fee. and virtually all new subscribers opted similarly. how. your NL ought to be worth at least that. As a business necessity or business asset. those are the two universes of subject matter. for the use and value of your NL are the same. cosmetics. that you are selling. cheeses. if your prospect is a private individual using your NL for profit-making goals. tools Franchises--news. There is the hazard of becoming so specialized that there are too few prospective subscribers. There is an audience waiting for special information on almost any subject or for information on almost any special subject. you ought to treat him or her as you would the business executive. expert or at least highly . cameras Sales promotion--methods.More than one-half of my original subscribers responded and opted to become BSE Associates. health news Automobiles--buying. With a single idea. gourmet foods Contests--where. What to Write About In the NL field. You must find a reasonable middle ground. Who and what is your typical customer. A newsletter with exclusive information that is of special value and hard to come by elsewhere. styles Handyman--ideas. who. methods. It helps to select a subject area in which you are already something of an . ideas Consumerism--news and advice Beauty--news. not the paper and ink. the individual to whom you have addressed your NL? If that customer is a company--i. and see what they get for similar information. what Investments--news and advice The writing profession How to lose weight. subscribing out of curiosity or for other non-business reasons. (Remember that it is the information. may command that premium price. study the market--what your direct competitors are charging. opinions This has some influence on price.) You may have to be more modest in pricing your NL if your targeted subscriber is a private individual. maintaining Singles--adjusting to the single life Computers--news and technology Photography. Here are just a few of the topics covered by newsletters today: Wines. e. I boosted income from subscriptions by nearly 50%! And probably made the whole idea more attractive to newcomers. On the other hand. 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. opportunities Politics--news. Again. Pricing Your Nl Consider first your customer in deciding on subscription fees.
that is. It conveys an aura of spontaneity and up-to-the-minute coverage. and letters. distributors. There are still today a few successful newsletters "typeset"--composed--by manual typewriters or in a typewriter font (e. as are encyclopedias. but not as lecturer or drinking buddy. and worth publishing--what. but still businesslike. and manufacturers will be delighted to send you information about what they are doing. catalogs. press kits. additional subscript-ions. sometimes. at best. Merit and earn readers' respect and friendship by being open. using outside typesetting services or one of the modern desktop publishing systems. Stand midway between stiff formality and breeziness: be informal. Don't write flowery descriptions: stick to bare. reports. what is new. 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. government agencies. more visibility. with justified copy. Typewriter or computer-printer typesetting. Public libraries are an A-1 source too. skip the adjectives. and fair. worth knowing. Talk to your readers. photos.knowledge-able. Your readers want to regard you as friend and mentor.g. not at them. Courier. not down to them. They will send you releases. with freedom to reproduce each other's items (with attribution. legislatures. be sure to send that individual or organization a copy of that issue. Style and Format Some NL publishers use formal typesetting. and others by simply requesting it on your letterhead. Dealers. You don't have to be a leading authority. which can be made to resemble typewriter printing. Where to Get Your Information: the Research Some NLs are simply digests of information published elsewhere. of course). is of value to your readers. That brings in more information. telegraphic style.) Swap complimentary subscriptions with other NLs. That is the essential value of the NL. However. 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.. with some accuracy. To do this. Successful newsletters often use terse. something lacking in formal typeset copy. associations. honest. brochures. hard-hitting. interesting. you must decide first who you want to reach and then how you will reach . and. You can easily get yourself on distribution lists for press releases and other information from corporations. and not over their heads. Formal typesetting is a mixed blessing. stark facts and let them speak for them-selves. but you must know the field well enough to do the research and to judge. memoranda. When you mention an individual or organization. has certain advantages. They will reward you with their loyalty and their patronage. (Even casual browsing produces many items.
many newsletter publishers who offer a sample copy do not send a sample of their regular issue. as well as promotional material. I targeted small businesses and opportunity seekers as my initial audience. representative editorial copy. You can rent mailing lists quite easily. so you can't get $50 from a $5 customer. That is through inquiry advertising. usually as part of a package deal with special reports or manuals. Inquiry advertising is a simple proposition. and they become suspicious of what appears to be too great a bargain. Remember. e. It can be quite effective if it contains some useful. In my own case. but only names of prospects to whom you will mail your package of sales literature. Never offer a special. limited-time offer for some reason. you are building a mailing list. Sometimes it has the reverse effect. but you can get $65 from a $40 customer! Therefore. You place small. a few dollars never deters anyone from buying what they really want--i. classified advertisements in periodicals to elicit inquiries. However. Fortunately. sale price without some rationale that explains the reason for the sale. 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. A Special Note on Pricing It is a mistake to suppose that lowering prices automatically increases sales volume. you are not trying to get sales with the advertisements. But there is still another way to get your mailing lists. But do offer many sales. On the other hand. I . I found it relatively easy to find prospects in a number of publications addressed to such people. if you prefer. killing sales. and so was able to compile my own mailing lists to get started. because many people judge quality by price. and then mail your literature to those inquirers.them. however. When I began to think for myself. but mail a special issue they have prepared for promotional purposes: it is really sales literature. Some of those publishers who use this approach offer a sample copy of their NL as an inducement to respond. This is a mixed blessing. don't cut prices for the sake of cutting or because you think that is the best way to increase sales. Customers have price ranges. The chief reason it took so long was that I believed all the myths--the supposed "rules" about writing. with reasons. it isn't--unless you make it clear that you are making a special. anyone who would spend $20 for an item would spend $25 or $35 for it if they really want it. I was successful with a nominally $90 newsletter (Government Marketing News) that was always available for $60 or less on some special sale offer..
plays. for such companies as IBM. and the money. (And clients are individuals. theses. reports. poems. But I didn't yet know that. I had publishers pursuing me to write books for them! An Odyssey I started out to become a writer as a youngster. I made an occasional small sale. I did what all beginning neophyte writers do: I wrote stories.succeeded beyond my dreams. After all. And I surely was not yet ready to write a book. more than 60 years ago. that is) as a technical writer. newsletters. brochures. I wrote a good many books (manuals. writer. Philco. articles. I have now become a full-time. of course. audiovisual scripts. with the usual printed rejection slips. GE. computers. writing on contract or to order for clients: I write resumes. non-profit corporations. proposals. 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. and I began to write articles for them in my spare time. Just enough to encourage me to keep on. RCA. anyhow. Move ahead a few years. to keep trying. And they all came back. missiles. freelancing in a non-traditional way. and other such high-tech marvels. both as a staff writer and. sophisticated radar. as a technical/professional temporary. and other organizations. While doing that I became acquainted with a great many magazines (they are called "trade journals") serving those industries. I found my way into staff work as a technical writer. I never attempted a book at the time. and editor. associations. rockets. of course. and I sent them out to all the top magazines in the country. usually quite swiftly. and still they came back.) I even had a contract with a federal agency to answer their mail! . but it was satisfying to be able to sell my writing as a freelance. as a rule (there are some exceptions). I certainly wasn't yet mentally conditioned or qualified in any other way to do so.and third-rank periodicals. after getting an engineering education. I wasn't even ready to believe that yet. They don't pay a great deal. companies. but certainly not enough to suggest to me that I was on the verge of becoming America's newest genius of the keyboard. After a while. why should I think that I could write and sell an entire book? That was mistake number 1: It's actually easier. as a writing consultant. usually $25 to $75 per printed page then. a long while. storyboards. and others. catalogs--whatever clients want written. and other such items during this period. training programs. if I couldn't sell short articles and short stories. Years later . in many ways. and anything else I thought I could write. of course. to write and sell a book than an article. And then I sent them out to second. was welcome too. freelance consultant. I also learned to write proposals. reports. including government agencies. speeches. abstracts. later.
I believe. as I learned .S. but I did sell a respectable number of copies. I still had that traditional writer's urge to write what I wanted to write. 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. But I didn't know that yet. not what others wanted me to write. I later retitled it Anyone Can do Business with the Government. I did not suddenly get rich. I was getting more than enough work. Still. and appear as the author with full acknowledgment. And my subject was made to order for me: how to sell to the U.) I was now a success of sorts. The world did not beat a path to my door. In fact.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. much of it from government agencies. advertising and selling principally by mail. At least. 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 much better title. Not via a vanity press. which I then sold to anyone interested in the subject. but writing on contract as I was doing offered few opportunities to be truly creative and. In any case. enough to make the enterprise worthwhile. both for my own small business and. (I even had clients hire me to write important letters for them. such is the one that was the basis for this chapter. a Book I then gave birth to a bigger idea: I would write and publish my own book. I wrote the book and titled it. as other writers do. I was a full-time writer. because I was already well-educated beyond that kind of foolishness. a subject in which I was already well versed: I had had a great deal of success in winning government contracts. The Next Step Forward As a result of that. as a manager in larger companies an consultant to many companies. as a result of bad advice I was given and heeded. Government. I had won many government contracts for former employers and clients. I began to do my own small-scale publishing. How to Cash in on the Billion Dollar Bureaucracies. unless it was knowledge buried in my subconscious. I turned out many how-to-do-it reports and papers. earlier. it got better and better. In retrospect. originally. but using my knowledge of publications. which I suppose is probable. I had that urge to get my own ideas into print and distributed to the world under my byline. Finally. 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. earning a reasonably good living at my chosen profession. and usually with a substantial retainer or deposit before I began work.
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
. as long as it tells the story I want it to tell. (Would it be a how-to. worksheets. g. expanding on the main idea of the book. chapter by chapter. preferably something that is "in your field. the following: A working title. or because you have in some other manner become highly knowledgeable about the subject. other) Competitive books (why/how this is different and better) The author's credentials (in writing and subject matter) An outline. how can they be reached with advertising? (This is linked closely with the preceding item.. often with a subtitle. estimated size." either because you work in that field. etc.g. buyers)--want to know about the subject. an expose of something sensational.) Explain all this in your proposal. and be sure that your outline is compatible with this. how to reach) A brief description of the book (salient features) Special features to be included (worksheets. photographs.for lightning to strike--e. A brief blurb under the title. g. photos.) What Should be in a Book Proposal? My own book proposals include.. checklists. other. I don't care how long the title is. explains the benefit to be derived by reading it. an insider's look at something that interests many people. explain where and how you will do the research and gather the information. Select a working title (it will probably be changed before publication. although some . appendices. My proposals are usually 8-10 pages long. without a chance meeting with a publisher who has already successfully published something in your field. references. single-spaced. as suggested by the title. (It's best if you are personally expert in the subject.) Provide your own credentials as a writer and as a source of information on the subject. why will they want the book how will it benefit them?). because it is your lifelong hobby. noting illustrations. Decide what readers--a reasonably large number of potential readers (e. but if you are not. but choose one now that helps the editor understand the book and why a reader would want it--e.?) Identify the market: who are the buyers. These are the keys: Decide what you are best qualified to write. as a minimum. bibliography. These sections (textual explanations): The market for the book (who.
Those who urge longer proposals are probably giving better advice than my example suggests. Study marketing principles. but you will probably find publishers insistent on paying royalties on net--dollars actually received by the publisher. You might also visit the public library and thumb through the current (annual) edition of the Literary Market Place. There is also the Insider's Guide to Book Editors. Sometimes hardcover secondary paperback contracts the publisher chooses to produce your book in simultaneous and paperback editions. About Contracts. and other possibilities. The Writer's Market is a good source. and 15% thereafter. and is usually one of the more easily negotiable items. They teach you how to write "hooks" . And perhaps I get away with providing less because I am somewhat well known now. especially after you are established and have some bargaining power. most call for a 50-50 split between author and publisher. although I think a good agent earns their commissions and brings you more than that in added income).) Perhaps I am too lazy to write more than I have to without a contract. For rights--and that includes book club sales. especially in your outline. The typical contract should pay you 10% on first 5. ask for an advance to be paid when your manuscript is accepted. you have to seek out the right publishers yourself. and the more specific your proposal is. the more detail you provide. and they may want to see a sample chapter or two before offering a contract. Get that in your contract too. It is worthwhile to get acquainted with this periodical. Royalties. You usually can buy additional copies at regular dealer's discount of 40%. even if you do not have all the credentials. even 25 pages. to permit the editor room to make changes and notations. as a minimum. for some reason I have never fathomed. Publishers. However. and they are important. the stronger a proposal it will be. and the contract covers both. although it may be negotiable in some cases. since double-spacing is for manuscripts. Do. although (if you have not been previously published) they will probably not offer an advance before seeing at least part of your manuscript. but I get many more free copies of my books today. My outlines are usually two or three pages long. They probably should be two to three times that length. foreign sales. The "big names" can bludgeon publishers into paying royalties on list or cover prices. but I have always used short proposals. and Literary Agents.000.writers on the subject suggest much longer proposals. they apply directly in writing book proposals.000 copies sold. although sometimes. and Related details Many small publishers will take a chance on you.5% on next 5. you can do better. and have that written into your contract. I got only three copies of my first book. 12. are wanted. rights sold to others. Author's (free) copies are highly variable in number. (But they call for double-spacing proposals. Until you get an agent (and many authors prefer to be their own agents. And you will have a difficult time getting more than 5% on mail order sales of your book.
try to get the direct benefit in the title. A proposal is a sales presentation. get the excess verbiage out. I led off a proposal for one book on government marketing with "The government paid me $6. Don't send a manuscript. probably. This used to be taboo. If you have a good idea and present it well.to catch an editor's attention and arouse interest. Editors are busy people and don't have patience with people who waste their time beating around the bush. but . Keep track of what you sent and to whom. James Kilpatrick. and Joyce Lain Kennedy are nationally syndicated: Established syndicates sell their columns regularly to newspapers all over the country. It is not exactly easy to achieve. it reflects your writing ability directly. e. use those words freely in your working titles and outlines with the direct benefit described-.how to catch more fish. The Stars of the Business Most people are aware that such well-known columnists as Carl Rowan. and get your main message stated immediately. or arty in your proposal. Here are a few that were highly successful: Winning Through Intimidation Dress for Success Five Acres and Independence In any case. unless the editor requests it. your ability to make a clear and interesting presentation. how to lose weight faster.000 to answer their mail!" That piqued an editor's attention immediately. the proposal ought to be able to stand on its own feet. Not so well known. subtle. is that it is not only political columnists and "big names" whose columns are syndicated in this manner. send your proposals out to more than one publisher. a marketing tool. It is not a place to be subtle. don't try to be cute. Don't lose sight of what a proposal is and what it is supposed to do. CHAPTER 14 $75. But even if it is not exactly a how to. not even a sample chapter. Be careful in writing it. You can make simultaneous submissions--i. William Buckley. but then edit it ruthlessly to tighten it up. Many writers of "service" columns are also widely syndicated.000 a Year Thru Self-Syndication National syndication is a ticket to success in a big way for many writers. you will sell it. how to pay less taxes.. but is probably less difficult than most writers believe. but is widely accepted by publishers today. "Dear Abby" is one example. If you write how-to material. but look up the publisher and address the right editor by name. He knew it would arouse the attention of prospective readers (buyers!) too. Write your proposal at length.
The readers are the final judges. But even then you must demonstrate impressive credentials. Be your own syndicate by selling your material directly to a number of newspapers on a syndicated basis. He or she may be right or wrong. Of course. but it's an uphill. and newspaper editors. The editor buys what he or she thinks readers will like. perhaps not nearly so well known. They are also realists. But it is not hopeless. medical matters. You have tough acts. Some General Topic Ideas . almost anything that would interest newspaper readers generally may be syndicated. such as the King Features Syndicate or United Features. very good. including completely new ideas. That is why you must pay them as much as 60% of the selling price as their commission. they are hard to sell after all their years as reporters. Eliot Janeway. (That is not the same thing as true analysis columns. They have a good idea of what is salable as a syndicated feature and what is not. Something truly different and original will go if readers like it. In short. That is what this report is about. (Maybe your "new" idea is not so new. and other topics. two of many syndicates. correspondents. There is another way: Do it yourself. they know that even a good idea takes time to sell to enough subscribers--newspapers--to make the proposition viable. comic strips.there are also Sylvia Porter. almost impossible if you are not a recognized authority of some sort. political cartoons. Even this is not the complete list of types of materials that may be syndicated. household hints. And that is why it is not easy to get them to accept you as a client. after all. But it is much more difficult to write than most people believe. writing on personal problems. Walter Lippman was able to do it. career concerns.) Humor usually sells well. finance and economics. That is what it always comes down to. he or she will never know without trying the column. and many others. The market is both easy to crack and difficult to crack. depending on many factors: Opinion columns--"think pieces"--are extremely difficult to sell. Rona Barrett. You must be good. investment. The cross-word puzzles. 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. almost hopeless battle otherwise. and many other such items in your morning newspaper are also syndicated (as are many radio and TV programs!). They are the true professionals in syndication." or believe they have. They "have seen it all. Still. such as those of Will Rogers and Robert Benchley to follow. and probably Walter Cronkite and a few others of great reputation can do it.
Your local librarian will help you find lists of such periodicals. it is almost self-perpetuating. and before long you will be getting many mailings from people and organizations you never heard of before! Specialization Versus Generalization Once you select a topic area you will have to decide whether to specialize or generalize within that topic area. some with large reputations. for example. home-based second-income careers. but they are expert in finding information they can use. dealing with computers. are not experts in their subjects. There are dozens of trade publications that are distributed free of charge to many people. such as wine. as well as full press kits. and request that your name be placed on the mailing list. direct mail. All you need do is make up a letterhead--you can simply type it--announcing that you are a columnist. or other relevant entrepreneur.For teenagers Heloise: Hints . For example.To help you get started in thinking about topics for a syndicated column. gardening. 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. once you start: Your name will find its way onto many mailing lists. and what bulletins to read. for many of the areas. and household hints. here are just a few ideas for columns: Advice. who to call/interview. Many journalists. for example. and will be happy to add your name. for example. you can turn that to advantage. But you could also be an "amateur expert" in many areas.Household problems Joyce Lain Kennedy . The marketing departments of most manufacturers issue such releases. Obviously. You can easily get yourself placed on distribution for news releases.Advice .About careers Abigail Van Buren: Dear Abby . You don't have to apply for many releases and periodicals. and federal agencies. as competitors. (I get about eight of these. 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. from many Congressional offices. where/how. But don't underestimate the value of research to supplement or even replace your own expert knowledge. news service. and some other subjects. I get such releases. You don't have to know it all yourself: If you are in a position to get good information on a continuing basis. here are some of the columns and columnists falling into that "Advice" category: Jean Adams: "Teen Forum" . publisher. you must be a professional expert.
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
anyway. Each mailing. What to Charge You can charge subscribers to your column in either of two ways: a flat fee per column or a sliding scale. no obstacle can endure forever against it. based on the circulation of the paper. where you might get several times that from a large daily if you are fortunate enough to sell your column to that daily. Once you have sold one. ask for a price and explain that such and such newspapers are now carrying your column regularly. so that you may be able to get only $5 from some weekly papers. will produce better results--more orders than the previous one. one way to handle this gracefully and leave the door wide open to adjust your prices later is to offer a low introductory price. 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.It's a "numbers game"--playing the percentages or probability statistics. You can always raise your rates later. it will gradually become easier. vary enormously. In any event. you will make a few sales. It takes patience and endurance. to the point where the response begins to level off.) How to Expand Once you have those first legitimate sales--base of subscribers--and are actually being paid for your column. while you are trying to land a few subscribers.) The rates. and a few more will order. that will serve also as an inducement to try your column. That is. as you become established and accepted. That exclusivity is one of the inducements. Many prospects who ignored the first mailing will pay more attention to the second one. If the copy and the product are worthy. Those first few sales are hardest to make. And there are at least two ways to do this: Go back to your original mailing list with another offer. Once you are started. Start low--you'll be giving the first ones away as a promotion. You must be sure to mention that the subscriber will have your column exclusively in his or her distribution area. clearly signaling the customer that the price may go up later. while it is available at such a bargain figure! (That is always a good marketing strategy. especially where there is a directly competing newspaper. inevitably. That's the inherent nature of advertising. Persistence and perseverance mean going back to that list for additional mailings. Successes depend on it. you cannot sell the other. Persistence is the magic ingredient. but you must persist to succeed. In fact. Use this as the most general of guidelines in setting a price for your column. (The latter is not an uncommon practice. . however. This time. to a point. If your column has worth and you send samples to enough editors. Offer the special introductory price here. you are ready to begin the work of expanding it. Include any favorable comments you have had from readers or editors. persistence produces sales eventually.
and often not used. The idea of the headline is to arouse interest and inspire the editor to read on. Not truly obligatory. to capture the editor's interest and help him or her grasp the essence of the story immediately. You now have an excellent chance of being accepted. It is also not a bad idea to use a subordinate head-line immediately following. Dateline: City of origin and date. I am for it. known more informally and more accurately as publicity--is the release. You don't have to limit yourself to newspapers. some for it. including trade tabloids: Many trade journals are published as "slicks"--smooth-paper magazines. Try also the Sunday supplements. but should be used is release is about a timely event or is embargoed for release at some future date. Headline.Go to an established national syndicate (your librarian can help you find a reference source listing all major syndicates) and offer your column. or other such term. You will probably earn far more by marketing your column through them. If you decide that you prefer to do it yourself. Double. Single-sided copy. or otherwise strike a nerve. The elements and characteristics generally considered to be obligatory are these: Identification as a news release by such words as RELEASE. Arbitrary: Some advocate against it. Type on one side of sheet only. Do a fresh mailing every 30 to 90 days. since you have shown that it is a salable product. It ought to be dramatic. inspiring. The argument against is that editors prefer to write their own headlines. Identification of issuing organization: May be a special form but also may be and often is the regular letterhead of the organization. but there are many published on news-print as tabloids. novel. if it is to do its job well. Consider other kinds of periodicals. but is irrelevant because they very likely will do so in any event! Actually. as in the sample release . adding to it when you discover some newspapers you did not know about before. CHAPTER 15 How to Write a Press Release The Obligatory Elements The most widely used tool of PR--public relations. NEWS.or triple-spaced copy. PRESS RELEASE. use your mailing list over and over. revising your sales letter to reflect your current success with the column frequently. as are those regional slicks also. Many of those are syndicated. the headline may be the most important part of the release. which is true enough. except where the date of issuance is important.
Newsworthiness "Newsworthiness" is not a precise term. 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. Copy on both sides of paper instead of on one side only.included here." That is news when it still is news--before it is well known to everyone. Unclear message--e. Contact: Name and number to help the editor follow up. make them work full time for you. to further the idea. and who just joined the company down the street. When to release. Cautions . ask for photos. The latter is the kind of news you will normally deal in. pure hype and all too obviously so. there is such a thing as "hard news. Then there is a different kind of news. Guidance: "More" at bottom of each page to let the editor know that there is more copy and "End. attention-getting." "###. 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. No contact name or telephone number given. see the sample release for an example of this practice.. Copy single-spaced instead of double. evasive language or hazy expression... and other such dramatic. In the daily newspaper business. contact" followed by a name and telephone number? If you are using releases to promote your business. murder. verify/validate. Failure to provide embargo date when release "reports" some event that has not taken place yet.or triple-spaced. It includes war. Most releases bear a simple word "Contact. Especially the eyes of a long-experienced editor who gets dozens of releases every day. such as which company has gone bankrupt.g.g.e." followed by a name and telephone number. or otherwise pursue more information and perhaps to even get the story behind the story. as noted earlier (e. what new medical breakthroughs are taking place." or "-30-" at bottom of last page. who has just been appointed Secretary of the Treasury. It is not much of a task to get attention with news of a grisly murder or major airplane disaster. But why not suggest that there is more to the story by using the phrase "For more information. Should say "For immediate release" or "embargoed until" [some date]. and often horrible events. when the release contains the text of a speech to be delivered or a product to be announced. Most Common Mistakes There are several common mistakes that many people make in preparing releases. accidents.
other Slanting Your Copy Slanting copy is a simple. and that is an important factor in conducting PR successfully. All editors know hype when they see it. or other party you mean it for. 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 is. your release will find its way to the "circular file" quite quickly. columnists. other. or even the state desk. Find the angle that will make it newsworthy. On a large newspaper your release is likely to wind up on a managing editor's or city editor's desk. (An exception to this would be in the case of a small newsletter or other publication where the release could not possibly get lost. Find something truly interesting about whatever it is that you are trying to promote. Remember that getting a release picked up by a publication is a trade: You furnish a useful story to the publication. but you should follow the reverse pattern. and you get free advertising--publicity--in exchange. columnist. They recognize it immediately. 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. Or he or she may simply decide to be too busy to bother and drop it casually into the "circular file" without r thought. even if you do manage to get it to the individual editor. it is still necessary that the release be "right" for that party--be of true interest. but it could even wind up on the circulation-manager's desk if you have not specified otherwise. editors. If you make a mistake that causes an editor to commit some faux pas and be embarrassed thereby. you should not ordinarily write a release and then decide where to send it. you will probably kill your chances of having that editor ever again consider your releases seriously. concept. On the other hand.--to pursue. Be careful about accuracy.) Remember that in large organizations mail addressed to the organization generally is opened in the mail room. but important. Decide how to slant your release for the editor/columnist/producer. It is therefore especially important to be careful about accuracy in general and such other details as have been mentioned here.Be careful. where someone attempts to judge the proper destination within the organization. your relationships with editors is at stake. along the following line of procedure: Decide who--what reader/viewer/prospect you want to reach. It means writing the release in such a way as to address the direct interests of a . It is a mistake generally to address a release to a large publication or other medium without specifying an individual destination. If it is hype and the hype is as obvious as it almost always is. Decide what kinds of media--periodicals. One of the common mistakes has to do with where to send releases.
" although the dullest mail room clerk may be able to interpret your wishes and direct your release to the right editors. and reports on marketing to government agencies. I found many ways to slant them to . But you must also think in terms of the periodicals and other media to which you slant your material. These must normally be addressed by name. What one newspaper calls the "Financial Editor" another may title the "Business Editor. for example. So an article or release on fly fishing might be slanted to fly fishermen with different interests--some like to tie their own flies. There are several possibilities open to you. you must either determine what the columnist's mailing address is or send your release in care of the periodical. which borders on fanaticism. But it points up something: You can create more than one version of a release so that you can attract many people. 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. in the hope that they will become interested in your announcements. It would be difficult to slant a release for a male audience explaining how crocheting is making a strong comeback. Many products lend themselves to multiple uses and users. and each potential use and user suggest the keys to a slant. Your release will have to suggest some particular program or kind of program you will be demonstrating. On the other hand relatively few women are enthusiastic about fly fishing. In writing releases to publicize my own newsletters. or the latest and most popular computer game. and since many are syndicated and are not on the staff of the individual periodical carrying the column. That's a rather obvious case. books. Suppose. But the game program will not appeal to the businessperson normally. Which one is most likely to attract the prospects you want? Obviously that depends on the kind of prospects you want. a new word processor program. that you are selling computer software and are preparing a release to help make your establishment more widely known. 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. It certainly is not likely to appeal to the owner of a small luncheonette or a high school youngster. Suppose you have a choice among a new inventory-control and -management program. This is even more critical when you want to send releases to columnists. Few men are likely to take up crocheting. Not everything can be slanted effectively. Even that can vary from one publication to another. ) 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. perhaps the most common factor among fly fishermen is their almost legendary zeal. Not all are so obvious. An inventory program is going to attract only businesspeople for whom inventory-control and management is important.given audience. (In fact.
This idea is not for releases only. It is equally useful in writing advertising copy. Written literature. To companies who had done little or no business with the government. But there were many other possibilities: I could slant releases to small businesses. and even more possibilities than these. has not proved very helpful to the newcomer to this market for many reasons. A sample release follows. The key is simply finding the link between the reader's interest and what you wish to publicize. to businesses by the nature of what they sold. P. brochures. April 25. to minority-owned businesses. Business people need no longer complain about the difficulty of getting information and guidance in selling to the U. to very small businesses such as freelancing individuals. however. sales letters. The theme here was how to break into the government market most effectively. With an active imagination and a bit of introspection on possible uses and users. HRH COMMUNICATIONS. 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. Government. Box 1731 Wheaton. unfortunately. despite the poor quality of most literature on the subject. INC. The theme was how to do more business with the government.different audiences. to businesses by the nature of the kinds of customers they would be going after. of which the characteristics of . MD.O. slanting is usually not especially difficult. magazine articles. 1990.S. The most obvious and most basic slanting opportunities were these two: To companies already doing business with the government. most of it published by the government. MD 20915 Fax: (301) 649-5745 Voice: (301) 649-2499Z ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NEWS For Immediate Release For more information. and just about everything else that might be addressed to the public generally or to any specific class or group of people.
It is available from HRH Communications. The package was developed over the past year by a special team of government-marketing experts. such as how long a book proposal must be or how it ought to be formatted. or perhaps I would have been more successful had I written lengthier proposals. 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. ### CHAPTER 16 Writing the Book Proposal A discussion of the subject and a sample of a successful proposal. I have personally rarely offered a book proposal of more than 12-15 pages). after all. 1987. Conventional Ideas About the Book Proposal A great many people offer many ideas and opinions on the subject of writing book proposals. Now. I have lived long enough to have learned that there are many right ways to do everything. the proposals is not offered up to be edited!).000 pages of official documents to distill this 4-hour program. and that is their bottom estimate. But then I single-space my book proposals.50 (discounted for quantity purchases). as of October 1.bureaucracy generally are major factors. of themselves. Those differences do not. one that won a book contract. make others wrong or me right. I happen to differ with many of them on some aspects. while others advocate double-spacing. so I have gained some faith in my methods: They certainly work for me. and a summary of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. for the first time. my approach has worked well enough for me to sell more than 60 books over the years. However. It is quite possible that my own case is an exception. and . so perhaps we are not truly in a great deal of disagreement about length. for some reason I am unable to fathom (certainly. and most have been somewhat smaller than that. The program incorporates the latest information available. who interviewed dozens of government purchasing officials and reviewed more than 12. at $98. However. Inc. The set includes four 1-hour cassettes and a 65-page directory of government purchasing offices. I happen to believe that one ought to be able to sell most book ideas in a much smaller number of pages.
. Use your creative imagination--you are a writer. Offer your thoughts about the market for your proposed book. but I vary it for each case according to individual circumstances. It uses ragged-right. Even if the editor wants to buy your book. in most cases. and will express their opinions too. Management and the sales department will be represented there to review the proposals and the editors' recommendations. which may have absolutely nothing to do with the merits of 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. First. that I will show you. IMPORTANT FINAL OBSERVATION: There is no absolute formula or model for a good book proposal. 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. however. Note that the style used here is different than the style for a formal publication. such as getting forewords and/or endorsements and jacket blurbs written by prominent individuals. I do want to make a few general observations: A proposal is a sales presentation. it may be rejected by the committee for any of many possible reasons. Identify anything you can and offer to do to help with marketing. It includes a full space between paragraphs. for one. I have a basic model. (Chicken Soup for the Soul is a most notable example of this. The one shown here as an example was a successful proposal of several years ago. and is reasonably typical of all my book proposals. such as this book. but don't make sweeping claims. with a proposal. Rejection by one publisher does not mean your book is unsalable. rather than right justified type. but not at the cost of clarity. as you do in writing anything else. make the decision alone. just define. you are trying to sell an editor. Many books have traveled to dozens of publishers before they found a home and were published.) Publishers are human. as clearly as possible. What I propose to do is to simply present an actual book proposal of my own as a sample. However. the editor can only take your proposal to the next meeting of a committee and make a recommendation. Moreover. Make it as punchy--as attention getting--as possible. Use a "working title" for your book. the prospective buyers and why they will be interested in buying your book. after all--in writing your book proposals. In most cases. not a reader. granted that I try to tailor each one to the individual situation. and their judgment is as fallible as are yours and mine. The editor cannot.that each of us must find our own best way. a book proposal that was successful in winning a contract and is a typical example of my book proposals. some of those proved to be highly successful books. That must come first. and do not try to be clever or worry about how long it is.
among other methods for minimizing marketing costs. "OPM" means Other People's Money. and other assets--without undertaking loans or surrendering equity. money. and has two connotations: One refers to the use of debt and/or equity financing of business ventures. 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. advance payments by customers. 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). in light of the recent. small businesses. trade credit.Herman Holtz c/o ----------------------. even those businesspeople who can afford the cost of conventional marketing. (It is especially timely. the knowledge of how to use these effectively constitutes a powerful business asset. A true manager is one with the ability to get the job done without adequate resources. many recognized as "at home offices. low cost methods for capitalizing the marketing of their enterprises. This can be applied successfully to marketing. utilize PR and trade credit.") However. Briefly. and variations or special applications of these. they constitute a powerful business asset--that is. recognizing the merits of minimizing start-up costs. anyone can get the job done. as already noted. and other resources. often home-based enterprises. but it must inevitably include those millions who attempt each year to launch new. Together. and others. in such detail as to be almost of cook-book . the basic alternative methods include (but are not restricted to) barter. in fact. great surge in home-based business starts. and this is a primer on the art of doing that. 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. and is often so applied by entrepreneurs who can not afford to market in any other way. But it can be done. including the largest corporations. Never was it more true that knowledge is power. including the freelance specialist. credit (itself a form of money). the home-based business. CONTENT AND TREATMENT This is to be a how-to. The other refers to various means of managing to capitalize a venture with other people's resources--money. -----------------------. PR. as it can be to capitalization generally.
joining the author's own.g. the primary function of business is the creation of customers. perhaps most. drawn from my own problem-solving marketing experience and that of others. the first laying necessary groundwork by discussing and explaining marketing generally. and that must always be kept in mind. OUTLINE PART I MARKETING IS WHAT BUSINESS IS ALL ABOUT As Peter Drucker has put it. the business of getting orders. of practicable suggestions for implementation. John Wiley & Sons. The book proposed here will bridge that gap and combine the best of each idea. low-cost marketing methods. and the second addressing the main objective of guidance to low-cost marketing. even more serious. The purpose of the book is to guide the reader in and to practical. where appropriate. supported by many concrete examples and practical guidelines. This is a quite credible effort. COMPETITIVE BOOKS There have been other books offering guidance in low-cost ways of marketing. inasmuch as it relies largely on academic or "textbook" theory for much of the rationale it offers. and how to get them. Jeffrey P. One example is the recent Marketing on a Shoestring. the approach and treatment for this book will be decidedly unacademic: It will offer guidance in lay language. LET US SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE "Marketing" versus "sales. . regardless of semantic or philosophical considerations. the business of deciding which orders to pursue. and sales as part of--the final step in--marketing. with recognition and quotation of the conventional wisdom of the many academic teachers and lecturers on business start-ups. and marketing. That makes marketing and sales the primary function of business and even more the primary objective of business. and so the message is largely lost in the broader coverage of building a business with minimal capital. and yet it lacks the authenticity of personal. practical experience with a direct focus on marketing on a tiny budget. Davidson. practical experience of its author.) More specifically. by Arnold S. although the book will include useful information for others." do they mean the same thing? (E. Goldstein. sales. but it does not focus on marketing to any large extent. and only minimally philosophical.. Starting on a Shoestring. The book will therefore be divided into two parts. An older work (1984). 1988. (The reader is perceived as someone with little direct marketing experience.) Thus. readers will have. also a John Wiley publication. direct experience and. but it is also necessary to teach and discuss marketing generally. the end-objective of marketing is sales.style. given that lack of business experience that any. although in highly practical terms. is much more oriented in the direct. how to pursue them.
whether either of you realize it). and they must be matched to the characteristics and needs of the business. Some basic discussions and examples--e. marketing is carried out in a variety of ways: via advertising in public media (print. . Some examples and quotations to illustrate the distinctions and reasons therefor. principally). and cooperative piggyback mailings). and to establish the ground rules and philosophy for this book. work-at-home venturer because it is relatively easy to start on a limited budget. through direct sales representatives.g. not what the prospect wishes to buy or thinks he or she is buying... and most of those who are new to business and still largely inexperienced in marketing.g. what your market is (I. creating opportunities for sales. card decks. and actually asking for the order. full direct-mail packages. through distributors and dealers.. directories. 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. tend strongly to think in terms of what they wish to sell or believe they are selling. by retail outlets. 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. w the best prospects for what you wish to sell). and TV. by booths or space in weekend farmer's markets and flea markets. methods). by PR methods. by trade shows. e. the difference in using direct mail to sell an automobile and using it to sell a set of kitchenware or a tape album. But marketing involves more than that. A few basics of direct mail marketing. how to compile and build your own lists (e. radio.Discussions and definitions of both terms. what the customer is really buying. by direct mail (sales letters. and other. and by sundry other methods for making the prospective buyers aware of your existence and what you offer. about mailing lists--where/how to acquire them. by telephone solicitation. special. A great many people in business generally. probably more accurately. Examples and anecdotes. 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. THE ELEMENTS AND METHODS OF MARKETING On a broad basis. DIRECT MAIL AND SOME SPECIAL USES OF IT Direct mail selling is a multibillion dollar industry. as used in these pages and practical reasons for making distinctions. but it is one of the favorite enterprises of the small. inquiry advertising. and how you can reach these prospects (make your offer and presentation to them).
at least by broad implication. WHO ARE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS? Identifying or defining the business you are in ought to be in also identifies.g. PART II EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES PR is essentially free advertising. achieved at modest cost. and so to doom their marketing efforts to failure in advance. but there are alternatives available to the innovative.. Examples and illustrative anecdotes. he or she cares only about what he or she wants. not hat you want. the hope of money. and that is always the key to sales success: You can always sell customers what they really want--e. Examples and illustrations to help th r perceive and understand these concepts. establishing dealerships. 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. Testing.E. How to develop sell-copy. greater convenience. PR ON THE CHEAP . But there are several other. security.But the customer does not care about what you want. More than a few business failures can be traced to the failure of the proprietors to gain an understanding of their proper markets. Having decided that. and he or she will bestow patronage on the merchant or entrepreneur who satisfies that want most directly and most gratifyingly. Introduction to Part II. and bold entrepreneur. Basics of writing "sell copy. conventional marketing methods are costly. special ideas you can use to do your marketing at very little out-of-pocket cost. the "trick" is always to discover what they want and offer exactly that--what they want. Words that sell. DOES MARKETING HAVE TO BE COSTLY? Some typical costs of advertising in various media and by other means of broadcast advertising. imaginative. the best prospects for what you wish to sell--your market. which so many find difficult to believe--or. It is one of the most fruitful avenues for marketing without money. recognition. Costs for fielding sales reps. Yes. WHAT IS YOUR MARKET (I. sometimes. conducting classical direct mail campaigns. But that is only the first step." The proper appeals: principles of the promise-and-proof concept. etc--even when they are not fully conscious of or can articulate that want. to their marketing disasters. 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. perhaps. and other conventional approaches. to accept--leading to their difficulties and. 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.
how to create and use them. how to get them published. and conferences: what they are. Join as many relevant associations as possible and become active in the events--meetings. However. Cashing in on others' media affairs--e. why. If a proper niche is selected. direct instructions: Releases. trade shows. g. conventions. getting it conventionally. what it can do for you. cooperative productions.All about PR: What it is. Tips on how to overcome such fears. guesting at seminars and business meetings. Examples. PUBLIC SPEAKING Public speaking represents a great PR opportunity and medium. related marketing tools: newsletter spin-offs--special reports and sales appeals. especially in the early stages of a business and especially for the still-inexperienced or lightly experienced individual. 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. public speaking apparently frightens many people. conferences. NICHE MARKETING AND ITS COST ADVANTAGES Niche marketing offers several great advantages. and a few other ideas. 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. Unfortunately. the several types. Expansion of the marketing publicity base via complimentary subscriptions and exchanges with other newsletter publishers.. where and how to find speaking engagements. But there are ways to contain the cost. Other PR: public speaking. avenues of continuing useful and free information. Methods for creating and sustaining the newsletter. when used properly. even the "USP"--unique selling point--that can be so effective in marketing. and of continuing useful and inexpensive information (via freelance writers). g. 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. A few tips and guidelines on being an interesting and effective speaker. although relatively expensive. what they are. how to make use of them. via "invited guests" and "hospitality suites. especially in supporting some PR activities to be explained in succeeding chapters: Introduction to PR methods that merit their own chapters. who. when. short-cuts to getting it." what they are and how to use them. and how. and trade shows. where and how to find the best opportunities to turn public speaking to advantage--e. but there is no need for such apprehension. piggybacking their promotion with your other marketing efforts. The benefits are many. conventions. there is a . larger business organizations.. creating an image and an awareness. what. A number of ideas for using seminars and producing them at modest costs by getting pace free or at low cost. one that meets the conditions just stated. THE SEMINAR ROUTE The free seminar is an effective PR and marketing tool also.
The result is that the customers finance the business. Postal Service is one example. related other methods. substantial up-front retainers or deposits. TRADE CREDIT AND RELATED ALTERNATIVES What is "trade credit?" Explanations of buying merchandise on terms. ideas.decided cost advantage in niche marketing. Other methods. BARTER METHODS In the light of IRS demands on our earnings. as far as you are concerned. and deposit accounts). And many of us who are entrepreneurs who can ill afford . Discussions.S. You can also accept credit-card orders. distributor/manufacturer-furnished fixtures. How to arrange for accepting credit-card orders. Examples and anecdotes. Examples and illustrations.S. day-care centers. at least. for example--even if their competitors do not. The U. specialty publishing. examples and anecdotes to illustrate. postal meters. middleperson (brokerage) ventures. They include such services as resume writing. A case history of getting such help in self-publishing a book furnishes another example of a special kind. But there are many businesses that can operate that way--with service contracts. Worksheets and guidelines for g your own venture to discover opportunities for advance payments from customers. many have turned to barter as a means for preserving capital and minimizing tax obligations. and illustrates what an enterprising individual can do. payment before the service or product is delivered. The U. having merchandise sold drop shipped. and many other such ventures. Anecdotes and examples. such as "selling your paper" or factoring receivables. and thus justify advance payment or. What this means in practical terms is that you can have the customers help you finance your venture. returns for credit. is always paid "up front"--before they deliver the service (often many months before. delivery services. custom services. 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. how to qualify for trade credit. 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. Mail order ventures and drop-shipping methods are other examples. Postal Service. to a large extent. how to use them advantageously. consignment merchandise. typical terms. Other distributor services that represent dollars saved: free and cooperative advertising. drop shipping. as evidenced by millions of dollars worth of postage stamps in desk drawers. Methods for getting paid in long-term advance of delivery. since it simplifies the marketing problem generally and permits a cost-saving focus of effort. which are cash in advance. typical suppliers who will extend trade credit. for example.
It is thus necessary to work at finding such deals. but they are to be found.I.O. that is usually a "P." deals. 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. and probably a label of his/her own. and these businesspeople also do not admit freely that one can bargain with them or sell on any kind of contingency basis. but it is a simple fact. but does make a flat payment for each inquiry. you multiply the benefits twelvefold. SOME SPECIAL DEALS--P. advertising. trading mailing lists.O. Barter works in many ways.O.O. Mail order dealers turn to barter also. And many others have done likewise. All these concepts and marketing methods have their counterparts in radio and TV advertising also. Many newsletter publishers offer each other mutually complimentary subscriptions and provide publicity for each other.. The advertiser does not pay for the cards or other publicity media. and "P. although the term represents per inquiry.I. Examples and .I. These are simple enough: "P." refers to per order." sales are somewhat similar. The publisher will send on his or her own check for the item at the wholesale or discounted price.to pay conventional rates for advertising in its many forms have turned to barter as one means of coping with high costs. And you would probably be billed $2 to $4 for each such inquiry." and "P. You can build a large mailing list rather rapidly this way. And if you publish a newsletter and make such deals with a dozen others. author of How to Become a Successful C nt in Your Own Field and publisher of The Consultants Library sold some 65. in a special way. probably about 50 percent. system. "P. Publishers often have to "remainder" (discount) unsold advertising space. Hubert Bermont. and the prime source will drop ship it under the publisher's label. and P.O. as in the case of the P.000 copies of his own publication in that way. One prominent example of this is the exchange of a regular column of useful copy for some equivalent value of advertising space. as they are reluctant to admit that they accept P.I. but is a prospect to whom you would mail your sales literature. P. in hope of an order. of course. Many publishers of small periodicals are glad to offer this barter exchange. and P. which benefits both parties in the resulting benefits without tax liabilities. AND "REMAINDER" ADVERTISING SPACE One of the very special deals available for many kinds of ventures are the "P. and the prime distributor of that item will ship it when the order arrives from the publisher. thus doubling the PR benefits for both.O. They are reluctant to admit this. Each inquiry is not an order. A number of entrepreneurs who write well take advantage of this.I.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.I" refers to per inquiry." advertisement: The publisher is selling the item advertised and earning a commission or buying it at discount. such as P.
sources of marketing services and help. BMEWS. MATTERS There are a few other alternatives and options that are available to attack the problem. Navy. Typhon and Titan missile systems. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting . AUTHOR'S CREDENTIALS I am the author of more than 35 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. How to set up and utilize each to greatest advantage. as shown in several examples. They are great opportunities for marketing effectively at low costs. I had early newspaper experience and many years of employment in engineering. in fact. I have been employed by or a consultant to IBM. with none shouldering the entire cost burden. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. and many offer opportunities to close sales on the spot. NASA. EPA programs. Chrysler Corporation. making the marketing cost of several of your own offerings shared among them. miscellaneous other listings. and conferences. A FEW MISCELLANEOUS. Dun & Bradstreet. proposals. In this manner. a typical and quite popular method. and training programs. Vitro Laboratories. and hospitality suites. colleges. and many other programs for the Air Force. thereby reducing your direct-mail costs.g. You can easily make your card one of the postage-prepaid variety. as well as in my own independent ventures. Don't neglect trade shows. and other federal agencies. One is that of cooperative mailings. You can often piggyback your own offerings. training. Hercules Aerospace Division. Apollo moon-landing program. APPENDIX A few useful references: Bibliographic listings. Volt Information Sciences. along with those of others. thus making it easy for the recipient to become a respondent and order or send for more information.x 5-inch card copy in a mass mailing of card decks is another means of doing this. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer. independent mailings.anecdotes. Control Data Corporation. the Job Corps program. as well as many magazine articles and custom writing assignments--e. circular exhibits. GE. Army.Rand. as well as many smaller companies. I have written extensively on marketing subjects (I have recognized credentials in selling to the government generally and in proposal writing especially). RCA. Philco-Ford. Industries. mailings in which you can include a circular or two of your own.S. conventions. and the Educational Science Division of U. Including your own 3. and I am called upon by corporations. Atlas. Remington. consumer product safety programs.. technical writing. The approaches and opportunities include general attendance. and other organizations as a marketing consultant and seminar presenter in the subject. BUT RELATED. audiovisual presentations. 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.
Arco. Plenum. USDA Forest Service. In addition to the many highly technological. 2d Edition. 1986 Advice. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. Greenwood Press.Postal Service.S. Prentice-Hall. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. the General Services Administration. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. 1983. l983. training programs. 1991 . Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). 1988 Choosing and Using a Consultant.firm. winning many contracts with the U. winning many contracts with the U. Consultant's Library. Scott Foresman. Greenwood Press. 1982. 1991 The Winning Resume. One of my more novel proje the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. the FAA. and spent many months as a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Facts on File. 1987 Speaking for Profit. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully. and Contracting Opportunities Digest. John Wiley. l980. state-of-the-art projects I worked on. 1984 Word Processing for Office Publications. Chapman & Hall. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. brochures.) I published several newsletters: Government Marketing News. Profit-Line Management. 1982. AMACOM. l979. Scott Foresman. McGraw-Hill. Mail Order Magic. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. The $100 Billion Market AMACOM. 1989 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. 1981. McGraw-Hill. AMACOM. and others to write manuals. a High-Profit Business. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. I operated my own successful firm. Scott Foresman. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. John Wiley. and others. 1985 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. the Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). Prentice-Hall. 1980. John Wiley. 1986 The Direct Marketer's Work Book. 1983. General Services Administration. John Wiley. John Wiley. newsletters. 1983. 1990 Marketing Without Money. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. 1981. Second Edition. 1984 Computer Work Stations. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Government Contracts.Postal Service. McGraw-Hill. Dow Jones-Irwin. The Consultant's Library. the USDA Forest Service. and other such material. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. John Wiley. reports.S. John Wiley. audiovisual presentations. John Wiley. Beyond the Resume. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. 1986 The Business Writing Problem Solver. John Wiley. John Wiley & Sons. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. FAA. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. John Wiley. John Wiley. 1989 How to Make Money with Your Micro. 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. McGraw-Hill. while he designed a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently.
When you discover how to do any of these things for yourself. and otherwise gain something desirable or avoid something undesirable. at first. improve their looks. Bob Adams.. have been widely imitated by others since. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. John Wiley. and he taught himself how to sell. He became an insurance salesman. John Wiley & Sons. going from near bankruptcy to great success in business. 1992 Databased Marketing. John Wiley. 1994 CHAPTER 17 MAKE MONEY WRITING ABOUT YOUR TROUBLES Books and articles that help people solve their problems. It was written in first person. Doing Business with the U.S. find love. earn money. 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. and was a quite unsuccessful one. 1993 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. Inc. This idea has even been the key to many best-selling books. But he was persevering. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. John Wiley & Sons. 1994 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. be more respected. Dearborn Trade 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook.Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. republished frequently in various editions. gain prestige. you are in possession of information that many others would greatly welcome as advice and guidance. John Wiley. Bettger was a Philadelphia baseball player who was forced out of his sports career by an injury. he and his little book. will always find a welcoming audience. Second Edition. 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. 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 How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. Dearborn Trade.. Prima. John Wiley & Sons. Government. 3rd Ed. a book that has become a classic. He then sold over $6 million worth of copies of his little paperback. The late Joe Karbo did even better. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Two Outstanding Cases Robert J. There was also the book by the late Frank Bettger. with its imaginative innovations. Of course. Ringer wrote a best-seller he called Winning Through Intimidation. John Wiley. . Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. 1993. eventually becoming the first insurance salesman to sell more than $1 million worth of insurance a year. Prima. 1994 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. 1991 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability.
Ralph Charrell's book. This is well exemplified. wrote an entire book on defeating some of nature's little predators. but didn't know how to get the information. Troubles are Easy to Find The troubles don't have to be your own troubles. Information USA. That's why books and articles offering how-to-do-it information almost always find a swift welcome from the public. Bells rang in Lesko's head. more.000 copies. I founded a business as a consultant and struggled for a long time.000 copies of that little $2 report. Jr. that publishes information about information--where it is and how to find it. and he founded a business and newsletter on where and how to get information. He wrote Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed From Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels. in a classic sense. even. is unsatisfactory. You can write just as profitably about how others solved their problems. by the success of . How I Turn Ordinary Complaints into Thousands of Dollars became a best-seller. after a great deal of effort and research. found a way to rid himself of those pesky gophers on a new farm property he had bought. Since then.These fellows were heavy hitters. His book explained how he fights back successfully at merchants and others who fail to give him satisfaction when something he has paid for. but they are only three of many such success stories. he has written a number of books. who started with a little $2 report describing how he finally. In my own case. He came to Lesko for help. and there are many others. by writing about their troubles and what they did about them. Lesko discovered a man in the Department of Agriculture who knew more about potatoes than anyone. One is that of Jerry Buchanan. Bill Adler. than Lesko's client wanted to know. was a Washington lawyer with a client who was interested in potatoes and had a lot of potato-related questions he wanted answered. nevertheless. based on his "TOWERS Club" newsletter. 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. goods or service. sometimes launched entire new careers. From that beginning he built himself a successful and prosperous publishing enterprise.000 copies. and founded a new business. He believes in fighting back. of Vancouver. selling well over 100. Matthew Lesko. and most people never find good solutions for their problems without help. for example. to date. Everybody has trouble of some sort. I wrote a book I titled How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. learning the hard way--via mistakes and other false starts that we call "experience"--how to succeed. and his book explained how he does so. It is now in its third edition and has sold more than 160. These writers all made money. Washington. a book that did very well. Eventually. He reported selling 14.
and in trouble generally. David and Phyllis (my wife and I later met them and had an association with them for a time). Psychocybernetics is the term he invented for the therapy he designed as a measure to do help his patients with their emotional problems. they were still dissatisfied and unhappy. resourcefulness. the picture faded! I persevered and found the answer for that one too. (They undoubtedly thought the customer was a "crank. Most of the work was routine. as well as for the customer.another perennial best-seller. wrote an article for one of the trade magazines. Most of his patients came to him. he reveals. he felt that he had failed his patients. gaining good looks did not solve his patients' problems. Here. and he therefore decided to make his patients' problems his problem." They wrote a couple of books about it." that he wrote about. Consider your own problems of the past and what you did about them. for cosmetic surgery: Their chief concern was to improve their physical appearance and thereby solve their anxieties. They required imagination. and troubles were a routine of that business. my business was helping others solve their TV troubles. If the volume was turned down. torn between their natural love for their daughter and their desire to "straighten her out" and reform her. and never had any trouble selling those articles. and detective work to handle successfully. "psychocybernetics. Of course. I was an independent television serviceman. Struggling to cope with the problem. into drugs. a physician who specialized in plastic surgery in the infancy of that profession. In fact. after many years of a less than . to serve as starter ideas. There is an excellent chance that your troubles are typical of the woes of a great many other people. when we had problems with a teen-age daughter. They had problems with a daughter who was into drugs and got into serious problems with the law as a result. and a great many people will be eager to hear what you did to solve your problems. For example. gave (and still give) seminars for parents having such troubles.") I managed to find the answer and solve the problem. as he related its origin. Even though their physical defects had been corrected and their looks were improved. such problems were headaches for me. as they had hoped. and founded an organization that has helped parents all over North America cope with similar problems with children who are rebellious. but often enough the problem was difficult to solve. Later. we heard about the Yorks. In more personal terms. written by Maxwell Maltz. are a few personal examples: Many years ago. Somehow. It is that therapy. But strangely enough. they developed a process and philosophy they called "Toughlove. I had the not uncommon experience of becoming divorced from my first wife. And each time I ran into and solved one of those. titled Psychocybernetics. 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. the doctor found. MD. now a classic on its own. Another strange case was that of the TV with a picture controlled by the volume control.
(Can a man past 40 "hang out" with teen-age youngsters around a corner drug store or 7-11?) In short. "The OPM Plan" and has been material included in several of my books. meeting other newly separated and single people. "Parents Without Partners" is one very large such organization.) I later wrote and published a report. too. I later wrote reports about how to do this too. There were dances. I found it easy to convert every problem I solved into an article. like most people past 40. That later inspired my report. and discussion groups. I was unhappy. parties. 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. and I invented methods of my own that worked much more effectively. 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. Dates. such as one that described how to write resumes and how to start a resume-writing service. when I needed to earn some extra money. so I learned how to get reports duplicated quickly after the orders and the money to pay for them came in. or even an entire book. if that is a goal. with their desktop publishing software had not been invented. 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. I was forced to many cost-saving expedients. When I started in mail-order publishing I could not afford the expensive typesetting and printing of commercial publishers. and miserable for a long time. explaining how one can start and run such a group. I soon had a full life again. writing them for others as a business. One happy customer wrote to chortled that he had spent a lot of money he didn't have.completely happy marriage. I sampled several of these groups and joined two of them. for example. and all were inspired by whatever I did to solve my own problems. went into my reports. many of them single parents. I couldn't afford to keep a large stock of the many reports I wrote. And. if I wanted them. Many other people were eager to learn what I had learned. Of course. I have encountered my own share of financial problems and found ways to overcome then. Sometimes the recommended methods didn't work well for me. solve the problem of being single again and totally unprepared to cope with it alone. and the desktop computers. I eventually up to a point where I self-published several books.000 before the manuscript was ready to be printed. All my reports are how-to instructions. too. I took in nearly $5. too. That came out of my own experience in writing successful resumes for myself and. a report. even making a profit from it. (I met my present wife in one of these groups. and that information. 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. but he was getting more and more discouraged at the initial investment he would have to make. having something to do and somewhere to go ight. later. trying to learn how to get started in mail order. I hardly knew what to do to adjust to a single life and begin again. I that manner. but there are many others given to helping newly single people. In fact. so that I did not have to be alone unless I wished to be alone. . dinners. lonely. Those experiences. so "OPM"--other people's money--paid for the first printing of the book. meetings.
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. and wrote entire books to help people learn how to do things-. among others. for example. I became a consultant almost by accident. for which he had to invest only $3. and they are all seeking answers. which originally seemed so overwhelming. in one especially. write user manuals. in other groups. The mine of ideas is all about you. and Overeaters Anonymous. win contracts. I have thereby written more than 60 books. Alcoholics Anonymous. he said. minimize their tax liabilities. There are many. such as those meeting to seek answers to their problems with children who use drugs. but they are also rich sources of information you can use as the basis for reports. The U. Later. often things I did to surmount my own difficulties. In fact. Belonging to singles clubs--clubs for single parents who have been widowed. started newsletters. start small businesses. Alanon. These are all so-called "12-step" groups. but I was able to do the impossible because I work at a computer and was able to employ . and I didn't stop with these reports.following the advice he had gotten from other sources. they were not unique. and do many other things. and that I am helping people. or divorced--taught me something else: Whatever my problems were. are not as bad as the other problems he or she hears about from others in the group! This has been equally true. That eventually led me to write my ow selling book on the subject of succeeding as an independent consultant. It is wonderfully rewarding for a writer to hear that! It tells me that I am definitely on the right track. separated. Then. All are about things I have done.S. when circumstances forced me into that new career activity. such as one on explosives and demolitions. incorporate. I found later. and books. you can gather equally useful information from others in such groups. Narcotics Anonymous. and many others had problems that were quite like my own. They are your potential market--the people who will buy your reports and books--and a very large market it is. many people suffering from those same problems that trouble you and others in these groups. almost everyone who joins a peer support group finds that his or her problems. so far. while running a successful small business to help myself.become consultants. articles. It seemed an impossible task. 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. Such groups are very rich sources of information you can use to solve your own problems. 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. and might well have been impossible normally. although I enjoy a great deal of success with them yet: I went on to write articles for magazines. But these reports are not the only way to make money writing about your troubles. Recently. drink. he finally found in my reports the information he needed to get started. and/or refuse to go to school and behave generally in unacceptable ways. They include. become paid public speakers. everybody has problems.
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. for example. using computers. problems. you may wish to write articles for periodicals. Every business problem I solve for myself or for someone else becomes the subject of something I write. Bear in mind that the solutions that appear so obvious to you. Many people earn a living simply by publishing a newsletter every month. in fact. perhaps the "how-to" genre is not for you. Even then I was aware of the writing potential in solving problems. such material is equally rich as source material for short stories." 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. as I do. When I encountered one of these and solved it. as it is for me. CHAPTER 18 WRITING TOOLS Every Craft Has its Own Tools . Or. if publishing your own material does not appeal to you." his/her intense problems. Again. I was in the TV service business for a few years. Whatever your choice. novels. the way to do it is to start. Publishers. In fact. doing a great public service. which get worse as he or she struggles to solve the problems. with many aids to anyone who wishes to write and sell a book. 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. but this was an extreme case. Or you may wish to even write books. as I have done. Of course. A number of years ago. There is the newsletter. are not obvious at all to others. there are other ways. You need not emulate me and publish your own reports. the Writer's Market. I have done this kind of job before. There is also the annu der's Guide to Book Editors. and some even publish more than one newsletter and build a large enterprise. when television was still a rather new phenomenon. for these are always about trouble and problems. now that you know what they are. an excellent guide to book publishing. will guide you. Consult a copy of the annual Writer's Market to find listings of many periodicals and descriptions of what they want to buy. and solving them. and the final solution finally appears. until the situation appears all but helpless. these were weird symptoms and it took some technical detective work to find the answers. Now. and people seeking those answers are delighted to buy that information. Yes. or plays. You are. for a happy ending. But there are other ways to write about trouble. They are about a "hero" or "heroine. which you can find in any good public library or buy in any good book store. while you are yourself profiting by it. and I had to improvise extensively: I invented many new ideas and ways to "make it happen.computer power. I often ran into quite novel TV problems.
about the marvels of his computer and word processor as a tool to review. and probably none of us uses it with more than a fraction of its full capability. others do not. the main tool for writing was the quill pen (who knows what it was before then). Writing with a WP Columnist Robert J. In the beginning. ingrained habits: I had my copy double-spaced on the screen. but must have hard copy on the desk before them. however. and the IBM Selectric probably the peak of typewriter development.Writing is a cerebral activity. replaced by the modern desktop computer with its word processor software and laser printer. However. many of us have not yet learned how to use this tool effectively. it was the first crude typewriter.) I finally realized that I could work single-spaced on-screen. it is a tool for many uses. He insists on first typing his copy on an old manual typewriter. almost in raptures. giving me twice as many lines of copy displayed. Unfortunately. while setting the print commands so that the copy is printed double-spaced. For a long time. a Royal. complain that they are unable to proof and edit their copy on the screen. It did not take long to become comfortable working with single-spaced copy. More than a few writers. Macro-Instructions One of the earliest and most useful discoveries I made was that of the macro. Later. it was by far the most popular one. the typewriter is all but obsolete. Samuelson is highly enthusiastic. Most writers can do like-wise. but its execution requires tools. even those who do write their drafts on their computers. as I always did when writing with a typewriter. revise. polish. He isn't alone in this aberration. if they will put up with a little discomfort for a session or two. Once. I was not immune to following old habits slavishly and foolishly. it was called a "key redefiner. New Habits Can be Developed Perhaps it is a matter of simple adaptability: Some people adapt readily to new conditions. and there to revise and polish it. to attack with a pencil. But it is more than a writing tool." It was . editing and marking it up by pen to input it to the computer as a rough draft. Today. That reduced me to less than a dozen lines of copy visible at any time. I coaxed a few writers into forcing themselves to write and edit on-screen a few times. But he refuses to learn to write with his computer and word processor. by now in almost universal use as the writer's principal tools. (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. still later the electric typewriter. and soon enough they found themselves adapting to it and becoming comfortable with it. and compose his copy. I made my own adaptation more difficult than was necessary by clinging to my own old.
to both send and receive. If you didn't like the placement of a certain key--say the Escape key--you could make some other key the escape key. unlike the standalone machines. as well. In some ways. via modems and telephone lines. I also get answers . Writing is an act of communication. A new term. at the other end. I used a key redefiner program called SmartKey almost from the day I began to use a computer. and I use the internal card to send faxes and the standalone machine to receive faxes. the most powerful writing tool available to you is your computer modem. .software you installed in your computer. even mailing lists. and recall it from memory when you press the designated key or key combination. I can record an entire page. the receiving end. gaining popularity swiftly. and computers have become a most powerful means of communication. 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. newsletters. It was probably the granddaddy of such programs. which makes for a very convenient arrangement. and today. This enables me to do many things: I exchange information with many other individuals. I do have a standalone fax machine. I can program any key or combination of two keys to type out my name. In fact. and I used a standalone modem until recently. a modem reconverts those impulses to the bits that the computer recognizes. Modems appeared at first as standalone devices. All word processing programs. It does so by converting the data bits your computer generates to electrical impulses carried over the telephone line as sound. I use the Microsoft program Word and its built-in and highly flexible macro capabilities. that are more diverse than those of SmartKey and other earlier programs. It's less costly than the standalone machines because. as names go. working in Windows as I must. But with a macro. but it does require 15 key presses to spell it out. certainly one of the best-known. and even other types of programs today have their own. and it worked some special magic. That is the device that enables you to "talk" to other computers via telephone lines. the card does not require its own power supply. It's not a long name. Suppose I needed to type out my name frequently. for one. Have You Heard About "Cyberspace" There is a steady increase in the information traffic via this medium of the computer-modem-telephone line. of course. I often find people I can interview for my books that way. for example. but draws its power from the computer. That is how you can send and receive messages and files. built-in macro systems. has been coined for it: The term is cyberspace. I use this cyberspace to communicate daily with CompuServe and various electronic bulletin board systems. 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. or other presentation and produce it with a press of only one or two keys. when I retired it in favor of a fax-modem card in my computer. The fax-modem card can be used. with punctuation and spaces. a special format." and the term used today). and whatever else is useful in printed form. however.
are marketing and research. There is a logical underpinning to this. such as computer technology or law. and I "talk" every day with people all over the world without leaving my office chair. In fact. For nonfiction generally. The reader wants full detail. again . But first. 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. Research is. For the well-equipped writer today. but only more of what you already have. The Legwork of Research Writing research was once called "legwork" because it meant a great deal of physical activity. That means that you must do adequate research. and that you have at least twice or three times the amount of information you will need and use in whatever you are writing. visiting libraries. calling on individuals for interviews. 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. that you are now quite ready to write about the subject. you will get some inkling of some of what awaits you in c yberspace. and made clear. In a moment. (Research tip: Research should continue until you are not getting anything new. but may be more important to the reader. This places an awesome array of resources at your fingertips--at your desk." Somewhat neglected. the legwork is far less physical: A great deal of your research can be done from your own desk. to a large extent. the way a writer makes himself or herself ready to write on a subject. just as the lack of belief in your own knowledge would be reflected. let's talk about its special meaning for writers and for others who must rely on research for their work. a temporary expert perhaps. The best writing is usually the distillate of all the information you have gathered in your research. And that means that as a writer you ought to have a great deal more information than you have presented. In fact. I have visited libraries all over the country while seated at my desk. That requires that the writer know the subject thoroughly. but at least as important to a writer's success. You must research your subject until you develop a sense of great confidence that you are prepared. using these modern tools we have been talking about. The selfassurance is reflected in your writing style. punctuation. and even for fiction. 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. of course. for those who use the little portable computers referred to popularly as "laptops. wherever it is. and other such chores.to problems frequently from individuals much more knowledgeable than I in certain areas. searching public files. expressed accurately. the content is not only as important as style and fluency. and something called "composition. even one's style improves when on is in full possession of the facts. if you have a dial-up telephone line available." these resources are at your disposal wherever you are with your laptop and modem. such as using cyberspace (exploring online) for much of it. Writers and Research Courses for writers tend to focus on the mechanics of usage: grammar.
it was a bargain at $600 then. have copies of many of the articles downloaded to me. and they were quite expensive. This brings up the subject of another important writer's tool: the fax.) Public Libraries in Cyberspace Many communities are establishing electronic bulletin board systems (BBS) in their public libraries systems. The files included a series of messages from other users. and related information relevant to contracts. For example. even in California: I can access catalogs of university libraries and other. When that finally broke down. in writing a book on contracts. compile bibliographies. and I have used this too. I can also use this facility to search out magazine articles on subjects I wish to research. there is such a BBS. I can. Here in Montgomery County. Although some of the messages and reports were from lawyers and some from lay people. I got a far superior one for one-half that price.) Downloading some of the articles does require a fee. there were only standalone fax machines. via that great online entity. Many of these are extremely useful as resources for writer research. get brief descriptions of books listed. with absolutely no added features. But I can also travel via the system to libraries elsewhere. and determine which branch of our library system has the books I want available on the shelves. others written by consultants relating their experiences and problems relevant to contracts. whether it is or is not available through your local public library system. download those lists and descriptions. reports of various kinds. related resources. once again getting my research data delivered to me at my desk. in fact. I can search the library catalogs. (I have also donated many reports of my own to these libraries for use by others. Files and Library Systems Most electronic bulletin board systems--"BBS. (Some of them were available without cost in the past. I downloaded many useful files. In the beginning. although that appears to have changed since I last made use of the facility.through cyberspace channels of communication. That means that it was the simplest possible configuration. and it provides access to CARL. My first one was a "plain vanilla" machine. The Facsimile (Fax) Machine The fax machine also uses a modem and also transmits and receives information via dial-up telephone lines. other than a copying capability. But it is possible to get a more elaborate fax system for even . the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. too. I usually get the fax the next morning. some written by lawyers expressing their views. "Downloading" those files means that I copied them from the bulletin board system and stored the copies in my own computer as my files. Maryland. CARL is readily accessible to Internet users." in the common jargon used today--maintain extensive libraries of files. Even so. much of it was useful to me in providing insights into the need for and problems related to contracts. getting the article via my fax machine. By calling in and getting connected to CARL through the BBS.
if you like the file well enough to keep it and continue using it. . the computer engineers designed a fax board. and some people use both a standalone fax and a fax board to gain the advantages of both. after the fax began to gain popularity. (I use both. The author usually suggests a price to "register" yourself as the paid-up owner of these files. To send a paper original. the owner will offer an inducement. other than packaging in an attractive box with illustrations. you cannot feed a paper original into your computer. to those who keep and pay for the file. 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 their usage is such that they can gain something in that way. Others are programs that will help you directly in your writing chores. so that now most computers are being sold with "fax-modem" boards (a referred to as "cards") already installed as a standard item. On the other hand. and prints out on plain paper the data that you receive via that device. That does not mean that they product is not first quality. such as a printed manual and free upgrades. The suggested price asked is generally a fraction of that asked for an equivalent "commercial" program bought across the counter in a retail establishment. software that helps you utilize your computer more efficiently. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each form of fax facility. they are likely to decline in price even Fax Boards Before long. That soon became offered together with the modem board. Many shareware pr ograms are of even superior quality. Scanning. The fax-modem board enables you to send data that is already in your computer. an electronic device that fitted inside one's computer and could send and receive fax messages. is rarely perfect. handling both functions. which are input to the computer and made ready to send out as a fax message. Shareware is computer software-. 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. It may well be the equal of the commercial equivalent in every way. you must scan it with a device that copies the information and converts it to electronic signals. however. Often.less than that now. it is not a convenient way to send a copy of some printed material: Of course.programs and text files--written by individuals and offered to everyone on the basis of a try-before-you-buy honor system.) Shareware Shareware distribution is another important function of bulletin board systems. Some are utility programs. and further. You are welcome to download these files from any BBS or other online facility that offers them and try them.
even into a number of months. and salaries. of course. when I was actively engaged in that field. in communications software. now known as the Society for Technical Communication or STC. is a tool that helps directly in a number of ways. That is. equally valid for finding any other information. searching for every reference to seminars. In writing a book.Search software. It was a small organization. In actuality. Nothing I presently have in Windows software offers me anything along the lines of ProFinder. however. I can thus review my earlier text in a very few minutes. With a good search program. which may be reached at 703-522-3299. there is abundant shareware that may do exactly what you want. On the other hand. There was. satellites. If your own the word processor lacks the conveniences you need. as described by the . It can be a rather laborious job to sift through 150 or 200 pages of previously written copy. STC has its own BBS--electronic bulletin board system--there. Technical Writing Freelance technical writing has become a major activity of writers in recent years. a considerable number of those who have established home-based small businesses identify themselves as technical writers. if I want to narrow the search. for example. I may (and usually do) have many files I downloaded from CompuServe libraries or other sources. education. Stuart Street. then. Today. Following are profiles of the Society for Technical Communication membership based on membership data and recent surveys and gleaned from the Society's BBS. avionics.500 members in 140 chapters throughout the world. for example. that small organization has grown to 17. mainframe computers. shareware has been of outstanding high quality. even though I no longer use WordStar but am using Word for Windows. and no commercial communication software has proven superior in any way. although primarily in the United States. Virginia 22203-1854. launch systems. I use the ProFinder software that is part of my WordStar word processing software. in my own case. telephone: 703-522-4114." or even of the two words together. and so I often return to DOS to use ProFinder. In fact. I may need to find out just what I wrote about seminar presentations. In fact. or STWP. and similar "Star Wars" technology. The "typical" STC member fits the following profile. attitudes toward the profession. describing job characteristics. the bulk of technical writing was concerned with such high-tech subjects as radar. Selected highlights of the survey results are presented in a special report. and I want to search those files for specific information useful to whatever I am writing at the moment. missiles. I do use a shareware communications program because I like it much better than the communications software that came with WordStar. Earlier. STC is headquartered at 901 N. I need merely ask the program to find every occurrence of the word "seminar" or "presentation. It is often necessary to go back through copy I wrote many weeks ago to search out some item. work progresses over many weeks. Suite 904. a Society of Technical Writers and Publishers. Arlington.
Note the shift toward computers as a subject. Many are engaged in writing about many other technologies. and INTERCOM. I turned to what I thought of as "business" and academic subjects. I wrote materials on government contracting. and knowledge brought on by the advent of the pc has had a dramatic effect on the focus of technical writing activities. a writer or editor in the computer industry. a highly liberalized one. offering services in indexing. annual report writing.000. to meet others in the field. and earns an annual salary of $37. not all members of STC are writing computer manuals. desktop publishing. and numerous other subjects. and many are specialists. When I left what I regarded as technical writing. newsletter 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. cataloging. and dozens of other subjects. and to keep in formed through TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION. personnel management. postal service operation (a rate manual.000 annual salary Education: graduated from a four-year college English or Technical Communication Major STC Membership: has been a member for about two years joined to develop professional contacts. A Definition of Technical Writing One thing that is obvious is that technical writing has an entirely different definition today. Still. 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. the Society journal. most of which are today . Naval security regulations. for example). activity. safety engineering for commercial airlines. The enormous upsurge in computer ownership.
unfortunately. diverse. plays. for acceptance as writers. But don't despair.considered part of the technical writing domain. it is a spare-time occupation. Even then success is far from certain. those who write resumes. etc--are only part-time freelance writers. Those who write novels. plays. Shockingly few freelance writers earn a living at writing. This is partly because so many freelance writers choose writing fields that pay best but are the most competitive ones. for the majority. the other is selling your services as a writer and editorial consultant. and offering them to publishers for publication is the freelance writing of tradition. working at income-producing jobs to support themselves. Studies and surveys have shown rather clearly that by far the vast majority of freelance writers--those offering novels. 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. it consists of clients who need direct help that can be supplied only by a writer--preferably a writer/editor. short stories. plays. Creating and Selling Your Writings Writing stories. There is also a hybrid approach. Basically. But there is lesser-known world of demand for custom writing services--writing under contract or on assignment--as a writing consultant. That is a large. and popular articles. plays. a combination of these two. it is a business. but it is still not easy to sell what you write without a lengthy struggle. speeches. with too many others who write popular fiction--short stories. novels. There are two approaches to making money in the writing business (yes. in which so many starved. and other such writings for clients on a custom basis belong to the second category. nonfiction books and magazine articles as freelance writers belong to that first category. It's a hard road. The clients for . and articles. 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. Few modern writers are starving in garrets. laboring in cold and drafty garrets while struggling for recognition. novels. as well as a profession): One is selling writings created at your initiative and out of your imagination and research. and opportunity-rich field. which we will come to presently. there are easier roads to writing success! Selling Your Writing Services Most people with ambitions as writers contemplate writing novels or plays.
An Easier Row to Hoe in Traditional Freelancing There are freelance writers who struggle for many years to find success as novelists. as opposed to general readerships. for example. if you insist on being paid fairly for your work. hobbyists and professionals. it is a difficult challenge to meet and conquer. nor do all pay for freelance material. let's look a little more at the more traditional areas of freelance writing. for those interested in antiques. These other fields are publications devoted to relatively limited readerships. and many never do find that success. some for computer professionals. But before we probe that area. in all fields. hobby publications. including trade journals. after you get established as a freelance writer. business publications. and other "serious" writers. and other periodicals. for example. here are a few examples of fees I have been paid by such publications for articles of from about 1. even if the rates are not as great.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 . theses Newsletters Brochures Manuals Specifications Sales letters Lecture guides Storyboards Speeches Scripts Print advertising Presentations Getting such work is not difficult. Physically. pulp-paper magazines. To give you an idea of how well or how poorly such publications pay.these services are both individuals and organizations. and newsletters. But there are magazines and newsletters for collectors of all kinds. are among the many kinds of items I have been retained to create: Resumes Abstracts Catalog sheets Proposals Releases Commercials Term papers. time to graduate into better-paying fields later. slick-paper magazines. and hobby. Typical Prices Paid Not all of these solicit material from freelancers. who find much earlier success because they enter writing fields that are much easier to sell to (there is much less competition). they are newsprint tabloids. But there are many professional writers. as you will perceive almost immediately when you consider just a few of the kinds of things people want written for them. The following. There are computer magazines--some for the computer-owning public. or writers struggling to become professional.000 to 3. profession. for lapidaries and gemologists. and some for computer hobbyists. nor is it at a sacrifice in benefits: The rewards are quite adequate. industry. philosophers. They are good places to start. for wood workers and for craftsmen. playwrights. but enough do to make writing for them a worthwhile proposition. There are such publications--almost always several--for just about every business.
although that is not an absolute and consistent truth. If your manuscript is clean. it is also wide in types of publication. I have no difficulty persuading marketing and PR executives in companies to send me such material. Actually. legible.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. based on one of the preceding scales or not. In fact. In fact. as long as I "make attribution"--identify and credit the source. and text. and instead of offering photos to go with their articles. But the publishers of these lower-paying periodicals are aware of that too and therefore not too demanding. drawings. they offer a little text to go with their photos! A camera and/or a little artistic talent helps enormously in selling articles. subject matter. I wrote to manufacturers and explained what I wanted. the reverse is often true also. I use that system today. when I wanted to write an article on transponders. Obviously. How to Make Succeeding Just a Bit Easier Photographs and/or other illustrations help a great deal. an electronic device. An Especially Valuable Tip Here is a tip that is perhaps the most valuable one I can give you. For example. 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. reproducible drawings. contains useful information. gathering material for my books. Given these factors. that is. instead of the one I originally contemplated. and size of article. including photographs. and is double-spaced to permit the editor access to edit your manuscript. There are many photojournalists who are better photographers than writers. you will have no problem. Some pay by the final printed page: $50-100 per page is probably average. 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. is in reasonably good English. To get that help I send out a form . I got so much material that I wrote several articles. the editor's concern is with content--useful information for readers. Some pay by the column-inch: 50 cents per column inch is not atypical. there are at least four different bases generally for rates paid: Some pay by the word: 3-5 cents a word and up. and explanatory texts. Some make a flat offer. But it is wide in more than one dimension. newsletters and tabloids tend to pay less for your writing than do the more costly trade magazines. 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. and which I developed into a useful system that I use constantly: I get material. the range is wide. free of charge and with permission to use it freely. Before long I was receiving fat manila envelopes stuffed with photographs.
build a porch. People want to know how to collect stamps. and a great many are on these kinds of topics. file a tax return. but supplying a release form facilitates matters considerably. There is a large and quite hungry market for the . There are other approaches to these subjects. and many other subjects. There are "where to find it" books and articles--sources of financial assistance for a college education. 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. This chapter was based on an original folio I published. such as Kitty Kelley writing the famous book purporting to tell all about Frank Sinatra and the politicians. start a business. and is mostly on business topics. how to market by direct mail. (This is my own major writing field. There is a large and hungry market for "how to" writing. cite. explaining the metric system. how TV sets and VCRs work. One is "how it works" treatments. There are many highly successful "expose" writers. how to publish a newsletter. lists of discount markets. of course.) RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. (A letter from the respondent granting permission is equally valid.) Publishers are quite eager to get good books on practical subjects. form a corporation. and do many other things. and including a simple release form (as shown) for the recipient to sign. 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. with full attribution. explaining what I am looking for. comment on. pledging full attribution. and other little-understood subjects of interest.letter.000 new books published each year are nonfiction works. find antiques. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. newspaper reporters. how to use a word processor. More than one-half the 40-50. But I have written entire books on how to write a proposal. cut and polish gem stones. the political system. Types of Writing The writing I do is principally "how to do it" writing. and other directory-type information. to start a business.
(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.) Think about what you have done for yourself.) Consider other aspects of a popular subject. in many cases. Some highly successful books. Many books today are much smaller than that. many publishers are reluctant to publish large books. when they hear the word book. Have you invented or discovered a way to solve troublesome problems? Maybe others would like to know about them. You probably have your own store of information and knowledge--or access to it--that many others would like to know about. immediately have an image of a volume of several hundred pages (at least 200). were paperbacks of only about 100 pages and even less.) 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. Small-business owner? Write about secrets of success or how to get started in that business. The Freelance Writer as a Writing Consultant We are today in a service economy generally. in which people increasingly . and how it might be of interest to others. and with book-manufacturing costs as high as they are. Etc. for example. What is a "Book?" Probably most people. That is only one kind of book. but none on the business side of being a public speaker--until I perceived the gap and wrote a book to fill it. School teacher? How about a book/articles on the teaching profession. and/or where you have good access to information. telling the reader how to get paid for speaking publicly and even to become a full-time professional speaker. Be sure that you fully understand this."inside story" on a wide variety of subjects. (Some of my own books were conceived in that manner. for the cost-price-profit ratios get less and less favorable with increasing size. It is an era in which consulting is in the ascendancy. the public at large and the turning to vendors for services of many kinds. There have been many successful books on how to speak publicly. (Big family? How about articles/book on your methods for raising children. with hard covers. 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. 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. books that earned a great deal of money for both their publishers and their authors.
write. to prepare (and even to present) their training programs. to help them abandon cigarettes and alcohol. edit. 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. In fact. and to cope in a hundred other ways with today's complex society. $50 to $200 is not an unrealistic range. press kits. 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. brochures. and a myriad of other materials.) 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. (In 1975 my resume-writing fees started at a minimum of $35. Even as individual citizens they are turning to specialists to solve their medical problems. to prepare the speeches they will deliver. 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. Time enough to specialize more then. Just specializing in a few of these will keep you as busy as you want to be. They bring in specialists to write/edit/rewrite their company newsletters and annual reports. I recall. here are just a few of the kinds of things I have been called on by clients to design. one woman who had just become a member of the public school board and wanted my help to prepare for her first board . writing. nor is it necessary to know them all. or publications consultant when a client wants you to provide such services. to produce acceptable theses and dissertations for their graduate courses. You are really being retained as an editorial. This is grist for your mill. salesletters. How to Get Clients There are many ways to go about pursuing business of this type. and to write dozens of other important things--proposals. complete direct-mail packages. revise. Corporate executives and business owners recognize such needs no less. rewrite. news releases. to write letters of complaint to corporate officers and civic officials. for example.recognize and agree that they need to call on a wide variety of specialists to meet their needs. and/or ghost write to his or her specific needs. And in that respect. It depends on just what you want to do. and many went to $150. Hardly anybody knows how to write them all. unless you are sure right now of exactly what you want to do in the field of writing professionally--writing for money.
it is hurtful to work too cheaply. and computer stores. according to my little calculator. That almost always produces business. if you wish to. and the right places include bulletin boards in public libraries and other community buildings. art supply 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. and meeting halls. Many people want help in writing letters. take on crash projects that require you to work evenings and weekends to help a client--make that clear in your brochure or letter. there is no reason not to solicit other writing chores. and the demand is growing faster than the supply. the competition is simply not that great. A few other merchants with whom you are likely to have a mutual interest so far as types of clients are concerned are stationers. Be sure you keep the local newspapers and business clubs--Lions. of course. In fact. You will find that that kind of service is especially in demand. 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.) 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. (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. which I think is competitive with rates you would pay for most kinds of professional and paraprofessional specialists. Make deals with other local businesses--your local printer and you can refer clients to each other. in my opinion. businesses are always having difficulties in meeting schedules. And. volunteer to speak at meetings. A competent consultant is today worth a minimum of $1. for example. local colleges (especially useful for students needing resumes and help with term papers and theses).meeting so that she could hold her own in discussing the issues. Not so in this field. for which she was quite willing to pay me my fees. for that matter. That .000 per day. And if you don't mind speaking to groups. 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. Chamber of Commerce. A good bit of business can come your way from these sources. What to Charge Clients In some fields it is necessary to undercut established competitors as a means of getting started--building a beginning clientele. although to have a few of them in your personal library. Posting a modest little sign in the right places often helps. There are many other resources that will help you. etc--advised also. If you are willing to help people out in emergencies--that is. You find most of them in any good public library. Rotary. and such service is well received and leads to work from satisfied clients. That works out to $125 per hour.
Helen. 1987 ----------. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books. monthly magazine. Create the Perfect Sales Piece. Bowker Co. read by direct marketers. an annual of the Writer's Digest. Philadelphia. Inc. Westport: Quorum Books. Direct Marketing Success. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. Writer's Yearbook. an annual. The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. Sr. Marvin and Ashmore.R. New York. Inc. A Few Useful Books and Periodicals Arth. Writer's Digest Books. Val-Tech Publishing. The Direct Marketer's Workbook. Bowker Co. St. How to Write Books That Sell. New York. Cincinnati. John Wiley & Sons... William. Paul. New York. A few suggested candidates for that library follow. MN 55125. 1987 ----------. 1986 ----------. PA 19108.. an annual.R. 1979. 19 West 21st Street.. Freeman F. Inc. an annual. You will have to use your own judgment. DC are considerably different than they are in Tuscaloosa. Writer's Journal. Inc. Herschell Gordon. Admittedly.. locality is a factor too: Prices in New York City and Washington.. Concord Reference Books. 1988 Kuswa. 1986 ----------. Ed. Caples. Target Marketing... New York: John Wiley. How to Make Your Advertising Make Money. 1985 Hoge. Writer's Market.Writer's Resource Guide. The Newsletter Editor's Desk Book. Herman. Of course. Literary Market Place. John Wiley. Sell Copy. Inc.. 1983 Gosden. New York. Robert W. Cincinnati. New York. Cecil C. .1984 Wilbur.. National Directory of Addresses and Telephone Numbers. R. Chicago. But you have a few reference points now. Direct Mail Copy that Sells!. R. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. 401 N. Speaking for Profit. 1980 Bly. Mail Order Moonlighting.1981. DM News. 1976 Holtz. Writer's Digest Books. 1979 Lewis. This has been a relatively brief report. Ohio 45207. Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. 1507 Dana Avenue. monthly slick paper trade magazine for marketers. Box 25376. There are many more detailed publications you may wish to consult and even keep in your permanent reference library.. 1985 Brohaugh. Cincinnati. 1979. Writer's Digest. L. New York. How to Write Articles That Sell. 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.should give you a bench mark. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. The. Webster. Jr. John Wiley. The. Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. just as there are others--those who have used consultants before--who will wonder why you are so cheap.. a bimonthly periodical for writers.. an annual.. ------------. Broad Street. John Wiley & Sons. New York: John Wiley. there are clients who will balk at that rate. Shawnee Mission: Parkway Press. Alabama and Pocatello. Idaho. New York. The. Great Promo Pieces. Perry. NY 10010. John. New York: John Wiley. Contemporary Books.
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