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By Herman Holtz
The Freelance Writer
as an Independent Consultant
Why This Book?
I have had two main career interests in my life, and been fortunate
enough to be successful in both: They are writing (and I use that word
to refer to and include the whole spectrum of publications activities)
and consulting. In fact, I consulted as a proposal writer and of all
the more than 60 books I wrote for publication, the best-selling ones
were books on consulting. So it is hardly strange that I associate the
two careers, writing and consulting, quite closely with each other.
In the pages that follow, you will find frequent observations that
certain kinds of writing work and writing projects are consulting
tasks at least as much as they are writing projects. Having made that
observation over and again in my writings, spontaneously and without
contemplation, it has finally come home to me that many writers are
actual consulting, and doing so at far lower rates than they are
entitled to earn. As you read on, I think you will see the truth of
this. My intention here is to encourage all writers to get a more
accurate look at what they do, and start seeing that they are and
should be paid as consultants.
History of This Book
This book is based on and is largely a compilation (supplemented with
new material) of many how-to articles and reports I wrote and
published (with periodic updates, as necessary), over the past 20-odd
years. About one-half of those pieces were on the subject of writing,
on some of the many aspects of writing as a career profession or
sideline activity. The remaining one-half were on the subject of
independent consulting and sundry business subjects, such as public
speaking, marketing, and contract negotiation, but also touching
frequently on writing.
I have presented these articles and reports here in a rather random
order, with some revisions and additional new material to round out
and focus the main emphasis of this book, which is this: Freelance
writing and consulting are both ancient and honorable professions, and
the pages of this book will guide the reader to many markets for
writing and consulting functions, explaining their needs and
opportunities. In today's complex world, the modern freelance writer
often functions much more as a consultant than as writer or editor in
writing and publications matters. I hope to inspire and guide you to
upgrade your skills and knowledge to the status of consultant in some
Whether your own greatest interest lies entirely in writing per se,
part-time or full-time, as a freelance or to supplement your job
skills, or for the higher purpose of becoming an independent editorial
consultant, there is useful information and guidance for you in the
pages ahead. It is my hope in writing this book, however, that I will
inspire you to become a dedicated, independent consultant, to the
enrichment of yourself and your clients. Or, if you are already an
independent consultant of some kind, I hope that you will use the
information in these pages to supplement your consulting skills and
the services you provide your clients.
What is an Editorial Consultant?
The term editorial consultant is my own coinage, as far as I know. At
least, I do not recall encountering it elsewhere than in my own
writings. I define it as one who offers consulting services in
writing, editing, or other related skill, including publishing. Of
course, that raises two questions:
What is an independent consultant?
What are some examples of an editorial consultant?
Both questions will be answered in these pages, answered abundantly,
in fact, as we explore the many ways and byways of writing and related
How Does One Become an Independent Consultant?
At one time, hardly anyone ever planned to be a consultant (although
universities now offer courses in the art of consulting). Most of us
stumbled into consulting, somehow, as I did. I became a proposal
consultant by chance, because many of the proposals I wrote as a staff
tech writer were successful in winning contracts. That inspired
friends and acquaintances (and ultimately, strangers) to call to ask
for my advice, and then my writing help, until it became too much and
I began to say no. Then they offered to retain me as a paid
consultant. That put things into a new light, and I began to charge
for helping people write proposals, and soon expanded into marketing
in general, especially marketing to the federal government and its
many agencies. I found, soon enough, that I was also in demand as a
lecturer on the subject, and conducted many lectures and seminars at
my then daily fee of $1,000.
Why Make the Change?
Almost any kind of writing/editing/illustrating or other publication
experience and skill can become the basis for and be developed into an
independent consulting specialty: Skills in general in writing and/or
editing, illustrating, training systems development, speech writing,
public relations, technical writing, medical writing, news writing,
and other skills within or related to editorial and publications work
have been so translated successfully by others. Moreover, the
metamorphosis need not stop with the initial upgrade:
A gentleman named Howard Penn Hudson became one of the (if not the)
leading authority on newsletters, and has written widely on the
subject in books and his own newsletter about newsletters. Open to the
advertising sections of direct-marketing periodicals, such as DM News
and Target magazine, and see how many writers are today high-paid
consultants in writing sales letters and other elements of direct
Hubert Bermont, founded his own independent consulting career
But it is not necessarily the only reason. 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. advertising or publicity notices and business cards and letterheads include the address of an Internet Web site. The list of examples is almost end-less in its size overall and in its diversity of independent consulting specialties. The personal computer and the advances it has inspired. to name a few. Of course. g. consulting means working with others. 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. Fax and email are cutting sharply into surface mail and may soon obsolete it. and publishing. conventional consulting specialties. sales promotions. but others . as are the big. than writing did. the electronic bulletin boards and commercial online services. They are being replaced by personal computers with word processors. and the Internet and Web alone have inspired many new independent consulting specialties. mainframe computers. a greater sense of achievement. More and more commonly. after I had applied this idea successfully to my own career. ultimately becoming a publisher himself (The Consultant's Library) and founder of an association of independent consultants. copywriting. Their work has greater significance for them. Revolutionary change has come about far more rapidly than any of us could have foreseen. although I suspected that they would continue to grow. but they were much more significant than I knew. the fax. clients and often clients' staff people. I know now how prophetic my words were.. the developers of materials to train people in the new technologies and method-. Fax machines and fax boards in computers have largely replaced clumsy older systems of rapid written communication. and those who write the new direct mail of online advertising for clients. 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. public relations. desktop publishing programs. writers of manuals for users of new equipment. 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. e. speech writing. Some writers handle the loneliness well. writers can also upgrade to the older. such as conventional direct mail. Too. broadcasting. and laser printers. I could certainly not have predicted how much both writers' specialties and independent consulting itself would burgeon. One other reason many consultants have reported to me is that consulting gives them greater satisfaction. Among today's newer breed of independent consultants are the designers and creators of Web sites for clients.as consultant on book publishing. But not only are those words as true today as they were then. proposal writing. whereas freelance writing is often a completely lonely activity. I first expressed this basic idea of growth from writing and related skills to independent consulting in my writings of some 20 years ago.
writing or any other skill. a writer. as necessary. the dramatic effects of turning your writing know-how into consulting know-how. I was able to charge and get fees of $1. Of course. and even more difficult to be credible as that far-ranging an expert. a consultant in all matters and kinds of writing an publications. What I told this woman was entirely true: A proposal consultant. Consultant or Writer? One other factor is more subtle. I analyze the requirement. as such. I solve the problems that inevitably crop up. but is also able to design. lead your proposal effort and write some or all of it. After a few more minutes of this kind of exchange. Even as the most expert of freelance writers. rarely commands equal respect. Unfortunately." she insisted. you do not become a consultant simply by calling yourself a consultant. however. and the difference between the two know-hows. Once (but only once). a sizable daily rate even in today's highly inflated marketplace. people in our society may be impressed by a writer who is published between book covers. than simply a freelance practitioner of some skill or craft that is the basis for the enterprise.000 per day. The fact that it happened at all is significant in that it illustrated. "But writing is only incidental to what I provide you. but in general. "No writer is worth that much. covering some of the kinds of activity in which many writers have chosen to become specialists and offer consulting services: . and otherwise cover the entire waterfront for the client. a prospective client balked at my fee: "That's too much money to pay a writer!" she exclaimed indignantly. an expert in winning contracts. Here are a few ideas. I did not represent myself as a proposal writer. In the case of editorial services. especially government contracts. is more. although equally significant: There is much more prestige in being a consultant than in being a writer. The consultant is not only expert at whatever he or she does. Note that this client insisted that I was "only" a writer to support her unwillingness to pay my fee. it was the first and proved to be the only time I ran into this problem. It's pretty difficult to be knowledgeable in all fields.find it depressing and have great trouble enduring it." My prospective client was unmoved. although that was the major service I provided my clients. as much as any experience could. but in today's world that is biting off quite a lot. advise. I gave it up. But more than a title is required. Here is a case in point: As a freelance proposal writer. or any consultant. you can decide to offer your services as a general editorial consultant." I explained. a number of years ago. I presented myself as a proposal consultant. solve problems. for I delivered far more in services and results than would be expected of a writer. Anyway. I devise strategies for you. I was obviously not going to prevail. and there was no point in wasting more time. but did not dispute that a consultant offered services of greater value than one would expect of a writer. "I am a consultant. much more.
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
Marketing Your Services Success in consulting. There are at least two reasons for this: . You could. Again. who are often their own marketing and sales managers. and write any or all kinds of marketing and sales materials. One that clients often do not understand because the very term consulting has so many different definitions and interpretations that those who offer up such definitions are always in conflict with each other. You might opt to target all directors of marketing or sales managers. also enables you to broaden the scope of what you do without appearing to dilute your focus of specialization. which the Carter Administration found to be excessive. there are millions of prospects who are not online and may never be online. conventions. Consulting is a very special kind of enterprise. In no venture you can undertake is your professional image and level of visibility more important than it is in consulting. while still maintaining the image of the specialist. in finding clients for your services. by industry or corporate function. You can decide to specialize in the kind of clients in another way than by industry or business: You can appeal to a given office or functionary of businesses. (In the Carter Administration. You can publish a free newsletter. 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. For example. you can turn to online —search of clients. Networking For most independent consultants. and may even know some key people who should know about your new venture. for example. suppose you wish to consult on marketing materials--sales letters. there was a government-wide dispute and discussion of what the term meant in relation to government use of consultants. depends on success in marketing. the most effective marketing medium is the informal network--word of mouth. You must reach them via the more conventional seas in which to cast your net in search of clients. as in any enterprise. and the like.word out. Of course. and may be a factor to consider in deciding how to specialize and focus your targets. as many consultants do. despite their inability to define or explain consulting.) Marketing Online Today. 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. They are the print media--periodicals and direct mail--and networking via associations. specialize in marketing support (call yourself a marketing consultant). to build your professional image and raise your visibility. Specializing in these ways. commercials. for example. this simplifies your own marketing efforts to the extent that it brings focus to it. and word of mouth. and that might include owners of small businesses. brochures. if you are not intimidated by modern high-tech devices and have learned to operate a pc. That is not a small consideration in itself.
It is again the growing familiarity and increasing sense of comfort and trust. even when the appeal is unchanging. You publish articles and even Letters to the Editor in periodicals read by those you have selected as prospects. if not slightly more. your represent yourself to be both an expert in whatever you claim as your specialty and a wise counselor. either online in cyberspace or in ink on paper sent by mail. you are compelled to charge at least as much as your competitors do.. 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. but it happens quite a lot when your name becomes well known and your image well established. typically. 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. fourth. Even if you do not make such claims specifically. The small effort--e. A spin-off of such activities is word of mouth. The prospect must get an image and develop a sense of belief in and security with you as an independent consultant who is otherwise a complete stranger and an unknown quantity. You respond in these posts to others' requests for help. For these reasons. 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. making people aware of your existence. 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. furnishing samples of your skills and evidence of your friendly and helpful attitude. or fifth appeal. .As a consultant. These are all networking methods that help you accomplish both goals of creating a favorable professional image and raising your visibility. that is--by your price. clients do not usually retain consultants about whom they know nothing more than that the consultant exists. Here are a few of the ways prospects begin to develop that sense of comfort with you as an independent consultant of whom they knew nothing heretofore: They see your quiet advertising notice (shun hype and loud claims in your advertising) steadily and unchangingly consistent until it becomes a familiar and reassuring symbol of reliability. the small advertising notice. brief letter. the large advertisement or thick direct-mail package.) Thus.g. that is what the client expects. It is an even bigger mistake to underprice yourself than to overprice your service. and are well impressed with what they read. (More than one independent consultant has reported greater success in closing sales when he or she raised his or her fees. Consulting is one of those fields where a client tends to judge the worth of your services--to judge you as a consultant. Probably no single factor in marketing yourself this way is quite as important as patience and persevering consistency. You publish a free newsletter. It's a strange phenomenon to find yourself recommended by strangers. Many prospects who do not respond to a first or second appeal will respond to a third. from any consultant: That is implicit in the very idea of consulting.
brochures. What is to come is preparation to hang out your shingle as an independent consultant. is to create customers. this book begins and may be viewed as a conventional course in writing for the business or "corporate" world. 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. 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. you probably have never heard of me. The following are factual notes. you could upgrade that knowledge into a consulting practice more easily. if there were only one subject of writing I was permitted to present. you will have lost nothing here and. the purpose of business. Who/What am I? Unless you are a consultant or happen to have read one of my books. which is also a quite honorable career. Therefore. but the other fields will be covered too. the one kind of writing that all businesses need and use is advertising/marketing/sales writing. If you are not yet prepared to make that change. but devoted primarily to helping you become familiar with the writing needs of business. In the business world. and/or broadcast commercials and nothing else. It's an obvious truth that needs saying. So please forgive me if I appear to be bragging. As noted business/marketing guru Peter Drucker has observed. the subject matter: those classes of writing and associated work that are suitable as specialties in which you may consult. sales letters. Therefore. there will be great emphasis on these things. of . with occasional excursions into consulting as a specialty. nothing is quite as important as marketing. two classes of information to be covered in the pages to come: here is. As an independent consultant. first of all. any business. it would have to be persuasive writing. a businessman or -woman. On the one hand. But you have a right to know why I presume to impose so many of my opinions on you. as I have known it. it is possible that you are quite content with simply being a good freelance writer. I am the author of over 60 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. There are in that respect. If you learned how to write proposals. probably. That accomplished. you are a professional and. than any other writing specialty. In that case.What is to Come All the foregoing has been orientation and preview. and so we must provide here some guidance in both the profession and the business of consulting. but I have lived a long time and thus have had time to have many experiences. more importantly. However. print advertisements. if you are ready to make the change immediately. Thus. the writing of business. In that respect. I hope. this book ought to provide you with the basis you need to upgrade your skills until you are ready to make that change. gained a good bit from your reading. and it needs repetition.
in the course of writing a successful proposal for that center. the U. proposal consultant. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). reports. audiovisual presentations. Automotive Accessories & Parts Assn. Apollo moon-landing program. Dept of Commerce C&P Telephone Co. Army. Inc.S. the U. and many other programs for the Air Force. large and small.) I am still called upon by corporations. Overall. winning many contracts with the U. the Job Corps program. EPA. speeches. Federal Systems Div. and many other agencies. NASA. proposals. training. USDA Forest Service. Analysis & Technology. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. reports. Michigan). RCA. FAA. Reentry Vehicles Division Dun & Bradstreet Volt Information Sciences Control Data Corporation Chrysler Corporation Vitro Laboratories Hercules Aerospace Division US Industries. lecturer and seminar leader on the business subjects about which I have written. I worked on such projects as the LARC computer.S. I have been employed by or been a consultant to many organizations. and others to write manuals.S.Postal Service Georgetown University Saginaw State University U. brochures. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting firm. and training programs. .. Job Corps Centers (Fort Custer. 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. I have developed a reputation as an authority on government contracting. brochures. audiovisual presentations. Communications & Weapons Remington-Rand. clients. colleges. newsletters. OSHA Job Corps Environmental Protection Agency U. I have written extensively on marketing subjects. Defense Electronics Products Philco. including the following: IBM.S.S. Army. Atlas.manuals on complex and sophisticated defense and space systems. GE. and other such material. I designed the vocational and academic training programs for one of the first U. Michigan Employment Training Land Improvement Contractors Assn. Typhon and Titan missile systems. Sterling Associates United Communications Group Prince Georges Community College Schoolcraft College Salvation Army U. Navy.Postal Service. BMEWS. EPA programs.S. technical writing. Civil Service Commission Training Magazine New Jersey Professional Engrs Assn. training programs. as well as in my own independent ventures. my experience includes newspaper work (Philadelphia Inquirer) and many years of employment since in engineering.S Navy. but especially on the how-to of building a successful independent consulting practice. I won contracts for and directed numerous other projects providing engineering support and related services for NASA. and other federal agencies. Educational Science US Labor Department. and of many magazine articles and custom/contract assignments--.g. consumer product safety programs. General Services Administration. and myself. and other organizations as a proposal consultant and seminar presenter.
John Wiley.. Profit-Line Management. Inc.. John Wiley. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. John Wiley. 1991 Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. John Wiley. 3rd Ed. and Contracting Opportunities Digest. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer. 1987 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. Scott Foresman. 1986 **The Direct Marketer's Work Book.S. Upstart/Dearborn. Scott Foresman. 1982. 1990 Choosing and Using a Consultant. John Wiley & Sons. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability. John Wiley. Prima. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. 1995 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. 1995 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. Upstart/Dearborn. l983. Facts on File. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. John Wiley & Sons. Second Edition. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. Bob Adams. 1983. Chapman & Hall. John Wiley & Sons. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. . 1983. A FEW BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Priced to Sell. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. (One of my more novel projects was the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. 1986 Advice. 1983. The Consultant's Library. 1991 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. 1994 *How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer. John Wiley & Sons. 1991 The Winning Resume. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. John Wiley. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. Dow Jones-Irwin. McGraw-Hill. John Wiley. John Wiley. Prima. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. Prentice-Hall. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. Greenwood Press. McGraw-Hill. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. 1981. The Complete Guide to More Profitable Pricing. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. while also designing a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. 2d Edition. McGraw-Hill. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. Dow Jones-Irwin. 1992 Databased Marketing. Scott Foresman. Dow Jones-Irwin. Government Marketing News. John Wiley. 1986 ***Computer Work Stations.I was also a full-time consultant to the education and training office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for nearly a year. 1993 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. 1993 Doing Business with the U. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. now part of the Energy Department). Consultant's Library. Prentice-Hall. 1992 Marketing Without Money. 1985 Beyond the Resume. a High-Profit Business. John Wiley. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. Mail Order Magic. Government. John Wiley. Dearborn Trade. 1988 The Business Writing Problem Solver. 1982. John Wiley. 1981. 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. Arco. Greenwood Press. 1987 Speaking for Profit. John Wiley. 1996 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. I published the newsletters. 1984 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. John Wiley. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. 1989 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. AMACOM.
and I have made some changes to them again in making chapters of them. This book is made up of chapters that were each reports about writing that I published originally over a period of about 20 years. I have also added some new material.000 a Year in Editorial Services 7: How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles 8: How to be Your Own Publisher . or read some and not others. I hope you will read them all. eventually. 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. l980. 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. From time to time. and there is no direct connection between or among the various chapters. 1980. Each chapter was originally a complete an independent discussion and how-to revelation of some subject pertaining to writing. I hope this because each chapter focuses on treats a different subject of writing. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. the one a client may call on to satisfy almost any writing need or to be an outstanding expert at one or more. and it is my main theme that the virtuoso freelance writer. 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. __________________ *Best seller. I find it difficult to refrain from making these few remarks. One point I wish to make immediately is this: There is no particular logic to the order in which these chapters are presented. I updated them as I saw the need. although there may be some redundancy. translated into Indonesian **Translated into Italian ***Translated into Russian PREFACE This will be a mercifully brief author's preface because there is an Introduction to serve some of the purposes a preface might otherwise serve. and go on beyond these brief introductions to so many writing specialties to much greater enlightenment in them. is in fact an independent consultant. such as this preface and an Introduction. as one chapter reinforces some point made in another chapter. an editorial consultant. AMACOM. But as a writer.The $100 Billion Market AMACOM.
when. what. how to work. I have been writing for more years than I ever thought would be granted me. and I am going to extrapolate from these a few more questions that I think the hopefuls should have asked. One result of this lengthy exposure and modest celebrity status is that I am constantly being asked questions about writing professionally and independently. but I far prefer the term independent. columns. And finally you do it for money. Then you do it for a few friends. Moln r What About the Rules of Writing? Freelance is the popular term for the independent writer. (Not too surprisingly . It spells out more firmly that the freelance writer is self-supporting and a free agent. . controlling his or her own life. with many articles. 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. the hopefuls often do not know which are the most important questions they ought to have asked. F. many are highly proficient writers--but are usually quite naive about the practical side of freelance or independent writing. Certain of the questions asked are definitely of the deja vu variety: I hear them again and again.) First will come those routine items. (Unfortunately.000 a Year Thru Self-Syndication How to Write a Press Release How to Write a Book Proposal Make Money Writing about Your Troubles The Tools of Writing The Evolution of Writing into Freelance Consulting CHAPTER 1 A Few Tips on How to Succeed as an Independent Writer Writing is like prostitution. The questions come mostly from hopeful aspirants to writing or beginners who are not necessarily beginners or tyros as writers--quite the contrary. and books published under my name as the author. I am going to try to answer a few of those familiar questions here. the more critical and important ones. First you do it for the love of it. later.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 I have been doing it full time as an independent or freelance writer for a respectably large number of those years.
the page number might appear here or elsewhere on the page." at the head of each manuscript page there will appear something along the lines "Senior Citizen Holtz. so you may wish . (Your computer can count them for you!) Start well below the top of the page. The typical manuscript format today ought to carry a running head that identifies the ms and author. except the admonition to double. registering the copyright only at that time does not document when you created the work. if someone infringes and you want to sue or if someone claims you infringed and sues you. If you are writing a book. and other such preferences. centered in caps on about line 18 or 20." All nonsense.Manuscript Formats I have been urged by countless alleged experts to prepare my manuscripts--margins. (If you have them. unless your editor objects to that. is followed by the name you wish to use in the published version. your nom de plume. and other details--according to their standards. With typewriter composition we used underlines to indicate italics and other devices to indicate our desires for boldface and other typographical preferences. boldface. special symbols. the one you wish to have appear as the payee on the check! But the title. it is easy enough to print out corrected pages. and we should do so. What may have been difficult detail in that time is now easy routine. and telephone number. e. Use your true name here. as far as I am concerned..) Many of the guidelines laid down years ago were influenced by the Stone Age practices imposed on us by the Underwood and Remington typewriters." Depending on your word processor and your preferences. Other than that. (My own practice is double-space.) It is usually expected that you will include the estimated number of words. trying to maintain control over paper and postage costs. (I customarily leave about one third of the first page.) 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. titles. g.) Place your name and address in the upper left corner (my preference. to "how it is done. at the top. you can use the right corner). they make it difficult for copy editors. you may also offer a footer identifying the chapter to which the page belongs. It is necessary to register your copyright only if you get into a legal dispute over the copy--e. With today's computers and word processors. feet. (I know of one who does. Most of us (I hope) now use computers and printers. It is a must to double-or triple-space copy. (That is taken to mean when you have a completed manuscript. If I am writing a piece called "Selling to Senior Citizens. allow one-inch margins all around and minimize pen and ink changes. and insists on using the old methods. for example. Of course. with word processors we can actually reproduce italics. The first page of the manuscript ought to bear your name. you advise everyone that you are reserving your right to the copy. i. if you use one. When you publish a copyright notice. especially for magazine pieces. heads.) You own that copyright whether you do or do not register it with the Copyright Office. address.. as white space for the editor to use. include fax number and email address.or triple-space copy so the editor can make his/her cabalistic marks.
Selling What You Write. I have known some who become indignant at the idea that they deliberately set out to write something salable. ù Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. however. They want to think of themselves as artists. Far from it. that they sully their art with money. Ordinarily. 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. despite Ferenc Molnar's jest. that is. It doesn't happen that way. not cash. Certainly. you sell it to them. . (Send check or money order. It suggests that you can write anything you want to write--even literary garbage--and learn tricks for selling it. Successful writers are writers who have learned how to write what will sell. no reputable publisher will do so. DC 20559 You will learn that same address: you must send the following three items to that A completed application form. 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. it is unnecessary to register your copyright. You can be a sincere and dedicated writer. If you do wish to register a copyright.) A nonreturnable deposit of ù One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. whether your write fiction or nonfiction. His/her business is buying from authors. sending it to an engineering journal.to register it when you create it. It doesn't require compromising your standards. not merchants. Perhaps they have never consciously studied their craft as a process of learning how to write what the public (and the editors) will buy. you must write what you can sell. they hate the very idea that theirs is a commercial enterprise. As many do. and I wrote a how-to article on the subject. (So many of us waste years trying to compete in writing fields that are all wrong for us. Marketing The most important part of being an independent or freelance writer is marketing--selling your work. You can find many books and articles that promise to teach you how to sell what you write. write to the Copyright office and request forms and instructions: Register of Copyrights Copyright Office Library of Congress Washington. and everything I advise or suggest here is in the interest of marketing your work--being successful. A nonrefundable fee of $20. That's backwards. Many of them will deny it. I learned that when I was still a technical writer. Editors don't buy your work. and 2) what I was best suited to write and should make my main writing niche. But that is not to say that you prostitute your art. It won't happen.) The following subjects are all part of marketing. But consciously or unconsciously. Plagiarism and infringement are relatively infrequent and usually not serious matters anyway.
especially not in the case of the "working" title. I changed the brief lead. See?" And then I did that.The Magic Lead. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. then. 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. but I have also had many of my working titles retained as final titles. Editors try to come up with good titles. Engineer. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. 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. titles that are good leads or almost leads. so here are a few suggestions to make the task a bit easier for you. Engineer. I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. and "See?" to explain why and how that is so. and sent it straight back to the editor who had rejected it. They probably simply have . That title for the proposed book or article is solely to help me sell it. this is about/for You! and that distasteful writing chore. He bought it immediately! Here. is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. approximately. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. writing is a distasteful task that many people would avoid. About Titles. Yes. I was truly puzzled. as long as it lives up to its promise. the one that will probably be dropped later and replaced. And I do not fear using a long title. Editors are reputed to tend always to change the author's titles. sometimes very good ones. firmly rejected. In my lead. That is unlikely. and nothing else. Editors try as hard as you do to attract readers to your book or article. titles that contribute to the Hey! You! See? Idea. For another. Titles are an important element in marketing your work. I studied it and suddenly got an inspiration. with the promise of revelation. But when I am writing my proposal. I was saying "Hey! Mr. "You!" to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. "Hey!" is to get attention. The Elements of the Lead. For one thing. That works especially well." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. brief and to the point. Government Paid me $6. But engineering usually requires that you write. confronting the reader with this: "The U. with some tips to solve your problem. I need one to use in my proposal to help me sell my idea to the editor. we will probably use an entirely different title to attract readers. that venerable writer's periodical. it is what sells your work. 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.000 to Answer its Mail. sometimes you can compress a good lead into a title or a headline. Later. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. editors are often also writers. The article on technical writing came back promptly. (Some of it was two years old!)" The text then went directly into an explanation of what that title meant. I was not only stung by the rejection. I knew it to be a tightly written piece.S. That is what a good lead does. a much-to-be-desired reward for it. I have had many of my working titles changed.
Some editors prefer not to get the whole ms. and others ask that they be advised if the manuscript is being submitted elsewhere at the same time. we submit query letters or proposals. not manuscripts.a more objective view than you do in choosing titles. perhaps. That was unfair: An editor can sit on your submission for a long time before deciding that he doesn't want it. If you are trying to sell a short story.. That doesn't mean that those who recommend 25 pages are wrong. you probably ought to explain that to the editor. Writer's Market) to find out what the editor prefers. Once in a while two editors have wanted the same piece. Experiment and discover what works best for you. I would not submit a manuscript to more than one editor. I am aware that the rules are slightly different for writers of fiction. but I have no hesitation in submitting a proposal to several editors simultaneously. 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. You don't really need much else. your ms will speak for itself. Check reference sources (e. the lead. Think positively in marketing: Shun querying. today. and proposal are the way to approach an editor. I don't bother to tell them. if it is based on an actual happening or main character. A few editors object to it. either. The editor who likes your proposal won't worry overmuch if you don't send clips (I never do). Querying--i. I am opposed to use of the term query letter because I believe it bad psychology to think in terms of querying. 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. However. I think that is my right. Think proposal. I don't think it's any of their business.. A proposal for an article is usually a lengthy. e. they would rather have the lead to sample your style and approach. Most editors want queries and will not read unsolicited manuscripts. you probably must submit the whole manuscript. but the matter is still not that simple. Make your proposal sell. and a synopsis/outline of the story. don't worry about it. A book proposal can be lengthy. a synopsis/outline. with enclosures. just make your proposal as strong as possible. usually clips of published work to demonstrate your professional capabilities. "Would you be interested in the following article?"--is a negative approach.g. Some sources urge you to devote at least 25 pages to the effort. two or three pages. It is no longer taboo. and a ton of clips won't sell an article idea the editor doesn't like. I choose what I think is the better offer. Simultaneous Submissions. If you happen not to have clips. and I have never had trouble over this. If you are trying to sell a novel. rather than proposing. 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. Consider what it is you are submitting: Usually. write a . whereas proposing--"I propose to write for you the following article"--is a positive approach. To do that.
and you should probably handle this kind of marketing yourself. When you create the piece. and may even if you don't ask. and TV shows. and will return all secondary rights to you after they have published the story. 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 you need only furnish another copy of the manuscript. Rates for reprint rights are lower than for first rights. and relieve the writer of the marketing task. many writers resell their articles over and over as reprints. Most agents are reluctant to take on a client who has not yet had any significant success. protect the writer's interests in negotiating sales and contracts. you own all the rights. that most successful agents represent only writers who turn out books. Must You Have an Agent? Beginning writers often think that they need an agent to become successful. and even some of the smaller consumer magazines. you can sell the thing again as a reprint. and use it as the lead for your proposal. They have it backwards. however. plays. In any case. in the end. What a good agent can do is find the best markets. If you capture the editor's attention and arouse immediate interest. But agents are listed . That will be the most decisive influence. You can sell newspapers the right to publish in their own area. 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.great lead for the article. It does not pay an agent normally to represent writers of magazine articles and short stories. Many writers work such markets regularly and earn a substantial living doing so. no agent can sell an unsuitable manuscript. newspapers. Be advised. your publisher can suggest some suitable agents. and 10 cents a word may be profitable on a task that can be written without research. A dollar a word is not enough for an article that requires exorbitant research. getting the right to publish the piece first. but the typical agent today does not keep up with these markets. earning dollars per word. but sell the story to newspapers in other areas at the same time as self-syndication. Generally. A great many writers balk at the rates offered by trade periodicals. make the best bargains. There are also area rights. as is so often the case with conventional wisdom and popular myths: You get an agent when you have begun to become successful. Rights and Rates. In either case. of course. Here is why: There are various rights in publishing. When you are ready for an agent. you are halfway to a go-ahead. no matter how promising or well recommended. It's when you begin to sell that you need this service. movies. Some publishers insist on buying all rights initially to protect themselves. Agents will accommodate their regular clients--writers of--the clients want help in marketing to periodicals. If you have retained all the other--secondary--rights. The second reason is even more cogent: You may be able to sell the piece over and over.
and elsewhere. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers.inspired me to research and write my own book on the subject. Above all. Self-Publishing It is far from easy to find publishers for your books and articles. a great many people would like to know about it. set it in type. because the editor knew of a successful book in another publishing house and wanted one of his own to compete directly with it. News & World Report. they provoke ideas.S. illustrate it in some cases. new services. However. Often. 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. (List appears here later. There are always better ways to do things. Be alert for new products. Many people therefore ask for guidance in self-publishing their books and articles. You think. you are almost entirely on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. publishing the work of other authors. e. Winning Through Intimidation and Up Your OWN Organization! are just two outstanding examples of that kind of success." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. You have to edit your copy. there are many possible sources to provide the seeds of ideas and provoke your imagination. To a degree. Literary Marketplace. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. there are those who think it is by far the best way to get their work published. Some agents advertise in the writer's periodicals and in the telephone yellow pages directory. a news magazine. For example.) Getting Ideas The editor has been described as someone who doesn't know what he wants until he sees it.) Generally speaking. work consciously at searching out new ideas. design the . and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea. and many have done so quite successfully. You may also find help in getting an agent if you belong to one of the many writer's associations.in the annual. when you come across stories in your field. (And that. However. in fact. "Hey. Some best-sellers were self-published. therefore. Here are a few: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest. probably.. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i. I can do better than that. that there was currently a spate of "home offices"--businesses based in offices in private -. that's only half the story. and some authors have been so successful at this that they started successful publishing businesses. when I read an article in U. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use. new methods of all kinds. the benefits and costs of self-publishing a book depend at least partly on how much you can do for yourself. It drives a great many authors to think of publishing their own books and articles. I must be honest and say up front that self-publishing a book is expensive and difficult.
000 words or more--it is worth considering publishing them as bound booklets. including getting your book reviewed. which includes marketing it. captions. hire a PR firm to handle the promotion. job opportunities. you would have to offer them as monographs or white papers. And you can sign up mail-order booksellers to act as dealers for you. (Those brokers who specialize in selling remainders often buy the flats and have them bound as inexpensively as possible. but bind only part of the printing. for example. many of the book review editors are reluctant to review self-published books. and headlines--and even print on both sides. get rid of gophers." in the jargon). since you can produce copies as you need them. when you have suitable equipment. Martin's Press. There are a number of national associations with . and other guides.x 11-inch pages. and distribute it. If you don't have space and facilities to store. books are a very good mail order item. If your monographs are large -. for example). Self-publishing articles your write is a much different proposition. those "publishers" (the quotation marks are thoroughly justified) who promise to do it all for -. find a printer ("book manufacturer. and group health plans. you do not have to carry an inventory.. you can often find large printers--book manufacturers--or fulfillment houses who will provide storage for a fee and ship for you. Distribution is hard work. Many mail-order dealers do just that.covers. The economies of scale are in printing. many printers print (32-page signatures. these are of the how-to variety--e. since articles normally appear in periodicals. with or without a copier--and if you have a modern laser printer. g. was distributed by St. one of the established book publishers who provide that service to smaller publishers. especially in cloth bound (hard cover) books. something most small print shops can do for you. Therefore. You can find lots of help offered in the advertisements at the back of any issue of Writer's Digest. You can also sell your books by direct mail. Most such guides. A book I did for Prima. You can distribute through book wholesalers--there are several of those (Ingram and Baker & Taylor are two wholesalers. Avoid the vanity presses. Writing is a lonely activity. bound with a single corner staple. usually) in quantity. 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. Too. however.. to name just a few. and some publishers distribute for the publishers too small to have their own distribution systems. In fact. To self-publish them." Usually. with services that help you: Seminars and conventions at which you can learn many things. and many freelancers feel the need to get out and associate with others. associations help in other ways. how to minimize your taxes. if you have the wherewithal. are published in letter-size format on 8. not in binding. you can turn out a professional-looking product with suitable fonts--e. However." and will be bound into books only as sales justify. The rest remain on skids as "flats.10.a large fee. and you may not get all the reviews you wish. Writer's Associations Belonging to a writer's association is a great help to many writers.) You can. package. and ship your own books. incorporate. Times Roman in various sizes for body copy. calling them "reports. g.
by any means. Ohio 43215 (614) 221-1900 Computer Press Assn. PO Box 3535 Omaha NE 68103 (402) 390-1000 ext 290 National Assn. although not all. of Science Writers PO Box 294 Greenlawn NY 11740 (516) 757-5664 . San Francisco CA 94122 (415) 681-5364 Editorial Freelancers Assn. PO Box 2050 Madison Square Sta. 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. as in the case of WIW. 1260 25th Ave. Suite 1200 Columbus. NW Washington DC 20009 (202) 429-6639 415) 524-4195 Aviation/Space Writers Assn. New York NY 10159 (212) 677-3357 Florida Freelance Writers Assn. Lauderdale FL 33310 (305) 485-0795 Independent Writers of Chicago 8137 S. 17 S..local chapters. High St. PO Box 9844 Ft. DC area. Yates Blvd. Following is a list of such groups. Washington Independent Writers of the Washington. and there are also many independent groups. National associations tend to be large and have the power of large groups. American Society of Indexers 1700 18th St. but even the independent groups can be quite large.
NW Washington DC 20005 (202) 347-4973 Women in Communications. PO Box 4335 Spartansburg SC 29305 (803) 578-8012 Society of American Travel Writers 1155 Connecticut Ave. Inc. 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. Inc. VA 22201 (703) 528-4200 Writers Guild of America. NW Suite 500 Washington DC 20036 (202) 429-6639 St.New York Business Press Editors PO Box 5771 Grand Central Station New York NY 10017 212) 297-9689/697-6248 North American Ski Journalists Assn. Suite 1230 New York NY 10019 (212) 245-6180 NATIONAL WRITERS UNION NWU National Office 13 Astor Pl. of America 2017 Cato Ave. NY NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 . 2010 Wilson Boulevard. Louis MO 63177 Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Building 733 15th St. East 555 W. 57 St. PO Box 5334 Takoma Park MD 20913 (301) 864-6428 Outdoor Writers Assn. Louis Writers Guild PO Box 7245 St. Suite 417 Arlington .
MN 55408 Marc Hequet. SF.O. NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 Westchester Local P. MA 01035 Steve Simurda (413) 586-9354 Wash DC Local 1924 Park Road NW Wash. MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. CA 94102 (415) 252-9876 . NY 10709 Sarah White. Chair (914) 682-1574 New Jersey Local 20 Pine Knoll Drive Lawrenceville. IL 60654 (312) 348-1300 Twin Cities Local #13 PO Box 80026 Minneapolis. Box 292 Eastchester.New York Local 873 Broadway #203 New York. H Austin. NJ 06848 Eric Lerner (609) 883-8878 Boston Local Box 1073 Harvard Square Sta. TX 78751 (512) 450-0705 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 Chicago Local #12 PO Box 3454 Chicago. PO Box 398 Hadley. Lcl. CA 93924 ( 408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 209 Golden Gate Ave. Cambridge. Chair (612) 222-0581 Noelle McAfee 4405 Ave.
and several times that today. After experimenting a bit. regardless of your work or life style. 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. I got some ideas for other uses. for example. tabloids.Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale. I wrote an article about it. are highly receptive to small items. or industry. Many Markets This idea works in every area. Many years ago. such as tips for solving problems. more than the equipment had cost me! (That $150 would be at least $500-$600 today. In fact. I got those items from my everyday working experiences. There may or may not be popular newsstand magazines related to your profession. and other such material. when I was in the radio-TV service business (in its infancy). business. is that many have columns or sections featuring special tips on using your computer. brief news items. Sometimes it was an unusual service problem that I had encountered and solved. Many. it was a rare week that I didn't sell an item or two to Radio Craft or Radio Electronics. and magazines--covering your . usually worth about $15 to $25 in the dollars of that time. for which a magazine paid me $150. They were easy sales to electronics periodicals. and other fillers and squibs. A tip on writing for computer magazines. and they welcome contributions to those sections. I have met many veterans of freelance writing who were not aware of many of the ideas you will be reading here. or some new servicing kink I had learned or even developed on my own. 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. On one occasion I bought a new piece of service equipment and while learning to use it as the manufacturer explained in the manual. but you can bet that there are trade publications--newsletters. two popular newsstand magazines read widely by those in the TV servicing trade. Tips For Breaking In An easy way to break into freelancing for any periodical is by writing short pieces: fillers. of course. but there was always something. tips. Most periodicals.) On another occasion. trades and general interest alike. 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. But it is not only computer magazines that have such columns or departments. short-cuts to getting things done.
(And some manage to do that. Ask your librarian for help. You'll be quite amazed at the selection. Many freelance writers therefore refuse to write for them.industry and career field. Whatever your career. research all the trades and other periodicals for your business or industry. but newsletters are easy to write for and easy to sell. but it's acceptable and they can produce it quickly enough to make it worthwhile to do. How not to do it. A how-to item sold somewhere may be reversible as a how-not-to item sold elsewhere. You Can Make Money Even at Low Word Rates Many markets. many free-lancers earn a full-time living in these markets. You won't get rich in these markets. but the editors will therefore not be too demanding. full-time freelancer will not usually offer anything to these because not only are the rates low. she'll guide you to the directories and guides to periodicals. too!) . However. such as $5 for an item or some fixed fee for a photograph or cartoon. usually not more than 50 to 100 words. they develop the ability to write acceptable first draft copy. They manage to do so by either or both of two methods: Knowing that the rates will be low. A restaurant kitchen trick for Florida Restaurateur may be adaptable as a home-kitchen idea for Family Circle. Just browsing through it will provoke some ideas. for example.000 words for $150 or $200. selling it a second. They can take the same idea and write it or rewrite it in several ways. although some simply pay flat prices. pay low rates--10 or 15 cents/per word and even less. you will earn a little money. and you will get a start as a freelance writer. Novel ideas or experiences. selling it each time to another market. It's not that hard to find them. Among the many kinds of short items to look for are these: How to do it. and often even more times as a reprint at about one-half the original rate. but the items they buy are little items only. many pay tiny word rates. Notice how many of these ideas are twists on others. Search out the most well-stocked newsstand in your town or in the nearest urban area. Humorous ideas or situations. Where/how to find it. They recycle virtually every piece several times. including many of the trade journals and newspapers. such as 3 or 5 cents a word. They think it not worth their while to research and write an article of 1. One kind of periodical that many writers do not consider is the newsletter. possibly as a humorous piece. even at the low word rates. What else you can do with it. The professional. In fact. third. you will collect a few clips to show other editors as your bona fides. One outdoors writer reported selling a canoeing article 37 times! That's almost like self-syndication. That's one way to find new ideas or salable short pieces. It's a practical approach to writing. How it works. Finding and solving the novel problem. Solving the common problem. and go browsing there. It is perhaps not the best copy of which they are capable. but you will get published. 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 there were still others. photographs. Putting all these tactics together. As a rule in research. finally runs out of steam and sells so poorly that book-stores return it to the publisher. I use these techniques today in writing books. The needs of each are quite different. One book was written for large companies pursuing government contracts. but is commonplace. One was about an ultrasonic security system. and you try to make that clear in your title--try. and still another designed especially for the needs of independent consultants and other self-employed professionals. with permission to use them in my writing--with proper attribution. which. Manufacturers are understandably cooperative in such circumstances: It's free advertising and publicity for them. I have written several books on proposal writing. that is. For example. in itself. if ever. That fellow who sold the canoeing article 37 times has made a fine art of this. and whatever else was available. if you plan for it). write for everybody: You usually write for a specific audience. the residue includes material you can use for other pieces. another for small companies who wanted to break into government contracting. if you do a thorough job of research. which generally runs from 3. so the experience described here is not a rare one. In the residue of research materials that didn't fit the transducer piece. an energetic and skilled writer can earn a full-time living even at the lowest rates paid by the trades and other small publications.000 to 5. so that I was able to write and sell about a half-dozen articles from that one research effort. to appeal to that chosen reader. and several on selling to the government. Remember that you rarely. was unbelievably easy: I simply wrote to a dozen manufacturers and asked for data. some remaindered books are those left over when a successful book. another on a power sequencing device. of course. for example. . Quite often. if you are alert to detect opportunity (and even more so. drawings. 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). brochures.000 copies. I gathered data and photographs for a technical article on transducers. but the three different kinds of books were based on the same basic methods that are required and salable as separate books. 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.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. even a best seller. I found material for several other articles most of them suggested by the residue. you wind up with a great deal of residue. and manages to make even the lowest rates pay him in this manner. What this means for the average book is that it does not sell out its first print run. (However.
with Times Roman fonts. it could easily become an inventory problem. The stores are therefore required by the publishers to return only the front covers of paperback books (that is. are cheap enough now to be affordable by anyone who is serious about running a small. It's actually illegal. as well. and usually highly specialized on specific topics. some of them quite easy to do and within anyone's means to get started on a modest scale. They are on a wide variety of topics.500 to 3. one of both storage space and investment tied up in inventory. They therefore shouldn't be selling the coverless books and magazines for which they've already gotten full credit. It's not difficult to get started in this comfortable little business. I print out the reports." These are normally of about 2 to 10 pages (most of my own run 6-8 pages) of single-spaced copy. An Easy Way to be Your Own Publisher For many people. "self-publishing" means writing and publishing one's own books. But it doesn't always mean that. to tax tips. from favorite recipes. and it's fun to operate. which most of us who do this (I am only one of many) refer to as "reports. I do a much more sophisticated printing job than formerly: Most are very professional looking.000 words. my "inventory" is in my computer as a collection of files. The reason is that it doesn't pay to ship unsold paperback books and magazines back to the publisher. But as I got experience in mail order. one for each report. we typed these little reports up. And since I use a laser printer. and then advertised them for sale. There are many kinds of publishing. had them printed at a local copy shop. he went on to start a newsletter that has been his main business for quite a large number of years since. Years ago. the mass market paperback books) and magazines to get full credit. One man I know once sold about 14. I do some specialty publishing myself as a self-supporting hobby. . to how to how to make money writing. but some small bookstore owners do it anyway. As orders come in. by mail and now online. so I started with reports on subjects related to how to do that. cheating both the publishers and the authors. I wrote reports on that subject. if you are equipped with a modern computer and printer. But if you had more than a few such reports.) Today. I happen to have had a lot of experience in selling to government agencies. (You may even have a copier of your own. I write and sell.Books Without Covers You may wonder how it is that you see many paperback books and magazines sold without covers for cut prices. From that beginning. Although my main work in recent years has been writing books for publishing by the major book publishers. It's gotten much easier and much different in recent years.000 copies of his $2 report (which would be $5-$8 today) on how to get rid of gophers. a number of how-to-do-it monographs. so the typical such report is about 2. bind them (corner staple). and ship them out. and on many others. over the years. since these. spare-time or full-time business. too.
but they don't seem to give equal consideration to the time spent in necessary research. with a release form. However. I have also used this method to gather quotable opinions from experts and well-known figures in the relevant fields. either because I am already quite familiar with the subject or because I have most of the needed source materials already on hand. Thus you have six hours invested in the job. which is undertaking only those articles or books where the research burden is a light one. and another is to use the computer to gather information online. from which I culled what I needed and could use. (A good argument for writing about subjects you already know well. and it has almost always resulted in a deskload of material. Writer's Research Writing research is always a topic of controversy. Today. at least until your circulation has grown to a point where it makes more sense to have it printed in quantity by offset press. and to the relevant trade associations. Or the converse. 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. such as making sure that my research serves for more than one article or more than one book (mentioned earlier). and other material available. photos. you may have invested four hours in researching it before you began writing. and produce it as you do your reports. But there are other considerations. to the marketing directors of commercial fishing and fish-processing firms. and it simmers down to a rather simple question: How can you minimize research time? For me. explaining the book or article and requesting any literature. 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. So while you may have spent only two hours in writing a certain piece. If I wanted to do an article or book on the fishing industry. and even to persuade some people to write forewords or sidebar pieces for me. . it is quite easy to start one on a modest scale. the problem is still yours. which eliminate or minimize the leg work and the time that requires: One is to use the mail to get source material.There is also the possibility of publishing a newsletter. something I have learned to do increasingly. and so are too slow for large-scale printing of many hundreds or even thousands of copies. I have done that many times. more and more printing is being done by laser printers. the answer lies in several shortcuts I have developed. They may take the position that they ought not to pay for your research time. you need to get a minimum of $300 for the piece. If you think your time is worth a minimum of $50 per hour. with far more extensive used of these planned for the future. In any case. Researching by Mail.) Editors may disagree. The laser printers that most of us use with our desktop computers run from 4 to 10 copies a minute. I started and sold several newsletters. Again. with permission to use them in my manuscript. I would send out a letter.
I have used all such utilities for research many times. You can send and receive files directly. through the various online utilities now in existence. get answers to questions. and copier. Many of the sources are free." a common term used today to designate an electronic bulletin board system. since installing a laser printer several years ago. my need for copying has dropped sharply. The Modern Writer's Shop Thus the modern. 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. run by individuals as hobbies. and charging fees for usage. CompuServe. well-equipped writer's shop (I like to think of it more as a shop than an office. However. You need to have a modem and telephone to use your computer for researching outside sources. since it is even more convenient and less expensive to print multiple copies of anything I print. find experts. by companies as promotional efforts. One great advantage of this is that you can send out an appeal to individuals on a national basis.Researching by Computer. Most need resumes today in their job hunts. That said. combining the BBS and the public database ideas. such as America Online. under direction of the computer. starting at about $100 and $300. and many are fairly costly. to conduct small-scale surveys. However. whereas the laser printer paints the image on the drum. For the most part. the laser printer and the xerographic copier have a great deal in common. Some of these sources are "BBS. and by government agencies as a public service. (They are virtually standard computer items now. there are some other relevant observations: Modems and fax machines have become inexpensive. and Prodigy. Copiers are now available at under $400. and even enter into writing collaborations with other writers in distant places. fax machine. as we become more and more specialized and there . by associations as conveniences and services for members. with both using somewhat similar disposable toner cartridges. get help in tracking down information. included with every computer. printer. And today there is the Internet.) Laser and bubble-jet printers are available today at reasonable prices--many well under $400--and they turn out high-quality copy. The copier copies the image of the original onto the electrostatic drum. you can have a modem and fax together on an inexpensive fax-modem card inside your computer. Business For the Times Despite the ups and downs of the economy. but the easiest way to transfer files by computer is by email. and they turn out copy of quality equal to that of the most expensive copiers. Actually. the BBS are free. which has already become the dominant online entity. respectively. through such facilities. and some are public databases. with modem. There is also a kind of hybrid. when it is outfitted with all the useful facilities now available) would include a modern computer.
As an added feature. and fonts. Cover letters. address. qualifications. again. Doing so will put you above and apart from most resume shops. You will want to show all the possible formats and all the possible type sizes. Prices for these services vary widely. But there are other services that will help you build your business: Resume writing. the job of creating a professional-looking resume can be made much easier by using one of the many resume-writing programs available. but can modify the ones shown or design your own original formats." If you are suitably equipped with a modern computer and the usual ancillary devices. have an assortment to offer. for which you can charge extra. ask for elaboration. few of which offer this refinement. Here. (Of course. and then interview the client to clarify what you don't understand. including various qualities. You need to have a supply of paper of good quality. and other considerations. you can charge for extra copies. Many people believe that a resume ought to be accompanied by a cover letter. 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. However. and so many businesses cutting back and laying off employees--"downsizing. . You review this. styles. Number them in some manner so that clients can easily identify the style they like. perhaps 2 to 10 copies.are fewer and fewer jobs for anyone who "can do anything. a choice of papers is appealing to most clients. To accommodate clients fully. This is based on interviewing the client and/or on copy supplied by the client. and otherwise get the full story." At the moment. job sought. types.) The most convenient way to organize your samples by placing them in a 3-ring binder. to be produced in your own office or to be printed in some local copy shop. the market is better than ever because there are so many unemployed. Setting up a Resume-Writing Venture You will have to have a set of sample resumes for your clients to choose from. and colors of paper. have some standard letterhead styles into which you can fit the client's own information to create a distinctive letterhead. The most basic one is simply composing the client's resume from copy the client supplies. you are not restricted to the suggested formats. You will probably include in the standard fee some small number of copies of the resume and letter. some typical prices are $65 and up for a resume and $10 up for a cover letter. "up" depending on number of pages. you can create a large portfolio of sample resumes. paper selected. With resume-writing software that offers variety in type styles and sizes as well as variety in resume formats. However. with clear acetate covers enclosing each sample to enable them to withstand repeated handling. You can offer a variety of services. and other such data. and that is an extra item for which you can charge a fee. employment history.
in a great many cases. For the small. Companies are especially prone to discovering at the eleventh hour that they are not going to meet their deadline for a report. if the individual can give you a note to the other party or make a telephone call in your behalf.g. Oddly enough. 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. You will be surprised how eager many people are to help. be sure to ask everyone you talk to for referrals or suggestions as to whom else might be able to use your services. weekends.Resume shops tend to do most of their advertising in the newspaper sections carrying the help-wanted advertising. becoming a virtual recommendation. and call on companies in the area to talk to purchasing agents or other executives and leave your business card and brochure. 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.. in most cases. 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. libraries. and elsewhere produce results also. you must ask them for it: It simply does not occur to them. join the local business club (e. also. that you would appreciate their suggestions. if you ask. when you get a referral. That can be important: It makes quite a large difference. 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. notices posted on bulletin boards in supermarkets. Many of the profitable writing jobs I won in government offices and elsewhere were the direct result of my asking for such referrals. The client may have a preference. a logical place for it. proposal. home-based resume writer. rather than a mere referral! . Ask. 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. Lions or Rotary) and/or a trade association. run some advertising locally. or they may be done on the client's premises with the client's equipment. and holidays to get them out of trouble. Many. Jobs of this class may be done in your home with your own equipment. or other important document. When you do so. or you may wish to suggest one or the other work site as more conducive to getting the job done on time. 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. however. and quite often they have no one in-house to work late or over a weekend to met the need. a surprisingly large number of people will not volunteer their help.
A fellow technical writer I introduced to proposal writing became highly successful at that and is today highly paid proposal writer and consultant. 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. Perhaps you will have to identify and explore many avenues and niches of freelance writing success. 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.CHAPTER 3 Finding Your Niche as a Writer A most common difficulty beginning freelancers encounter is that of finding their metier--the writing niche or specialty that is right for them. and growth usually means change. as they gather experience and encounter problems. However. One of my writer acquaintances of many years started out to be a novelist. . without a plan or pattern. And the computer had not yet been invented when IBM began in business. and eventually found a more successful and satisfying writing career in writing about Hollywood and movie stars. obstacles. (There are plenty of well-known examples for that. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was an itinerant printer and newspaperman before he became an outstanding novelist. As the auctioneer says in accepting a too-low opening bid. and opportunities. you ought also to be always flexible. he did not find fame and fortune in writing those. Succeeding in business is a learning process for most entrepreneurs. In The Beginning. Milton Hershey was in the candy business. While you ought to never start out on a venture without a specific goal.) It works that way with writers also. Montgomery Ward started as a mail order entrepreneur. To find your niche as a writer without wasting time. we look at just one broad area of freelance writing opportunity: custom or contract writing.. but they tend then to flounder about almost aimlessly. too. but not in chocolate. as you proceed to develop a contract-writing business--it is a business.. and the stubborn ones who refuse to read the signs wind up failing. Elisha T. making little progress in any direction and wasting many years. you must seek it deliberately." Progress means growth. Many start with only the vague notion that they are going to become freelance writers. Thus. Most businesspeople change direction. and did write and publish several novels. when he started. Fate May Take a Hand Remember. The Hoover vacuum cleaner company started as leather-goods manufacturers. and the flexibility to take advantage of opportunity and make appropriate adjustments is often the important key to success. ready to adapt to and take advantage of unexpected opportunity or need for change. the successful often wind up doing something quite different than that which they started out to do. Here.
. experience that will be useful to you as a writer. and offer them as products to publishers. In my own case. I found more rapid and greater success as a writer of how-to business and professional books than I had in other specialties. (Or perhaps it is the other way 'round. You might very well do better in some other writing specialty. writing to order. dissertations Reports Training programs Catalogs Audiovisual scripts Speeches Direct mail packages Salesletters Product descriptions News releases Brochures Presentation packages In practice. clients who need writing and/or editing help. I truly did not enjoy writing fiction. or book to a publisher.. custom or contract writing is the writing of almost anything a client will hire a writer for. many who do this kind of work get a substantial part of their fees in advance. much neglected by beginners but offering great opportunities as means to make a beginning. most independent writers find it easier to break in to freelance writing success by this latter route. article. even some that you think are not what you want to do. You may be quite wrong about the kind of writing you think you do best and will enjoy most. It is likely that you will do best at something you enjoy doing. There are almost innumerable opportunities--i. i. You never write "on spec." but are always sure of being paid for your work. e. no matter what direction you take later.We do not start out knowing whether we will be happiest and most successful as novelists. that you will enjoy doing that which you find you can do most successfully. in the beginning. I learned rather early that fiction was not my forte as a writer. which is itself an indication that it was the wrong choice for me. as retainers. you may wish to be a playwright or novelist. but there are two immediate choices you can make. or in other writing specialties. It offers many immediate advantages: It is easier to sell your services as a writer than it is to sell a story. . In fact.) Try your hand at every kind of writing you can. but it may be the wrong choice for you. The alternative. e. Keep your mind open. The Several Avenues There are a number of paths you can follow as an independent or freelance writer. playwrights. You may or may not have a given aim as a writer. Classic or traditional freelance writing is the writing of articles and/or short stories or novels. You gain experience every day. whether it is fiction or nonfiction. such as the following few examples: Resumes User instructions Newsletters Theses. is to do custom or contract writing for clients. journalists. One is to write things entirely at your own initiative.
lecture on. 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. but can you widen your area of specialization and still be identifiable as a specialist? Yes. and other relevant materials. and my success in that role resulted inevitably in my future work as a proposal consultant. and the company executive who wants to launch a company newsletter wants a writer with lots of newsletter experience. Serving marketing needs of companies for salesletters. the broader purpose or arena of your work. as you have probably noted. principally. you can't expect to be equally knowledgeable and able in all areas. there are pros and cons in both choices. and some. but you do maximize your marketability in terms of the kinds of writing work you will accept. advise. in some manner. of course--or so you think. Here are a few suggestions of how you might do that: Serving individuals' needs for resumes. on proposals." The individual who needs a new resume may demand a resume specialist. I am a marketing writer. Two Ways to Specialize Specializing as a resume. that is. Most writing needs can be fitted into one or the other of these general categories. whether I am asked to write. direct mail packages. etc. fit into more than one category. Whether you choose to be a generalist or a specialist is up to you. speeches. Serving PR (public relations/publicity) needs for releases. In fact. a large part of your marketability as a writer for hire depends on your special experience. 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. or lead proposal-writing teams. on your credentials as a specialist: It is the day of the specialist and many clients are not comfortable with a writer who writes "anything. catalog sheets. letters. newsletters. term papers. indeed. 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. (Who knew.Generalist or Specialist? Opting to sell your custom services as a writer for hire need limit you. or newsletter writer is specializing in an end-product. speeches. obviously. you certainly can: To do that. press kits. Fate alone cast me in the role of proposal writer. speech. and there are writers in both modes who are successful. As a generalist. 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. Still. usually unforeseen. and other such materials. often dictate the outcome. early on. you must identify. for example. And so generalizing and specializing as a writer for hire each offers some benefits. for it was proposal writing that eventually led me into a career . train others.
but sometimes the chance circumstance of Fate proves far more beneficial than your conscious goal or planned objective. and others. while I was off on a consulting assignment. 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. Suppose. And it does not always stop even there. some of these fields are so broad that specialists in them normally specialize further. However. and publishing their newsletters. Among the many fields in which writers most often become consultants are marketing. for example. Still. for example. Of course. and other organizations. Quite the contrary. One day. audiovisual scripting and storyboarding.of writing how-to-do-it business and professional books: I had offices in downtown Washington. either because you have some reason to opt for some special field or you happen to have fallen into it and prefer it. now numbering more than 60 and occupying most of my time for some years since. You . I might have chosen not to write that first book. let alone more than 60 others. As a writer or writer/editor you normally work from client-supplied format. associations. outlines. and advertising copy specialists. DC. Before long. who helped me run the office. and public relations. your writing experience and skill is very much a part of what you are. which field is dominated by direct mail as the most active and largest segment. happened to meet a publisher at lunch. brochure specialists. The Editorial Consultant Should you pursue the role of specialist. with resulting great increases in the value of my services as a specialist with a day rate of four figures. as I did not realize immediately that I had advanced from proposal writer to proposal consultant. I might never have written my first book. it is always your choice. launching. There are salesletter specialists. may specialize in direct marketing. specifications. At least. government agencies. 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. although you may not realize that immediately. speech writing. where I did writing and consulting for individuals. You have then become a consultant. and/or notes and draft copy. What is an Editorial Services Consultant? Becoming an editorial services consultant does not mean that you give up writing. for example. That led to a second book. The marketing specialist. you may find yourself evolving into and actually functioning as a consultant. and press on to pursue whatever goals we have set for ourselves: In the end. consider the opportunity carefully when you reach such a crossroads. private companies. We can always reject the "decisions" of Fate if we choose to contest them. and her conversation with him led to a contract to write and publish a book on proposals. my wife. Without those circumstances. there is a definite distinction between being a writer or writer/editor and being a consultant in that field.
advise the client. Most. That requires you to prepare training materials. 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. see you. notes. however. when y on the client's premises as a temporary employee. adviser. even though you are an independent. As a consultant. you may be asked to make presentations to the management of the organization or to train the client or the client's staff. The client has contracted with you to do a specific job for an agreed-upon price. however. as opportunities arise. accepting both writing assignments and consulting assignments. a report. and present seminars. who must decide that you are a consultant. write. and many will find you and your services especially attractive. and specifications necessary or guide the client in doing so. not your client. What you write. you have many more skills and services to offer than writing itself.edit. freelance entrepreneur working under a contract for each job. formats. Their perceptions establish your value. has itself at least two avenues of approach: One is undertaking individual tasks under individual contracts--writing a resume. I have known a client to insist that I was a writer and not entitled to collect the high fees of a consultant. if you are a consultant. You are a writer for hire (or a consultant for hire) in a more literal sense. 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. and do the final copy. and rewrite. you work with far less. (You can be both. Therefore. catalog. Even so. . clients especially. and otherwise act as a counselor. Always pay attention to your image. But that is not all. teacher. or other end-product for an agreed upon fixed price and schedule. marketing presentation. to how others. make appropriate presentations. 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. You are then a writer for hire in legal terms. direct mail package. Consultant Vs Writer for Hire These all present opportunities for growth. rather than merely a writer! It is ironic. will accept your representation of what you are. if you prefer. therefore. You are then a writer for hire in more practical terms. The Advantages in Being a Consultant You can and should charge larger fees as a consultant than you would as a writer or editor. submit the material for client review.) Being a writer or consultant for hire. often must yourself develop the outlines. One thing you may be sure of is that it is you. or other such creation. you write as the agent of your client. lecture. a newsletter. 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. newsletter. You render a more valuable service when you develop a style guide or specification for some publication. but true. As an editorial consultant. You design the end-product. what you write belongs to the client (unless you have some special agreement to the contrary). As a consultant. arising out of being a writer for hire and/or an editorial services consultant.
Fortunately. If you undertake to work on a client's premises as an independent contractor entitled to get a Form 1099 and take care of your own taxes. you work on the client's premises. If you also offer to edit term papers. in this modern day there are many ways to do this and even other ways than conventional advertising to find business and win clients. not all on clients' premises. with the IRS reluctant to recognize many independent contractors as such. That is. Once upon a time. including graduating students who will soon be seeking jobs. This situation applies whether you contract as a writer for hire or as an editorial consultant. of course. In this arrangement. There has been some difficulty with IRS over this arrangement. rather than provide a number of hours of general writing service. are likely prospects. the phrase means to advertise somehow. in small towns everywhere. theses. The first step in marketing is to identify your targets: Who are your most likely prospects? That will depend. and the business of selling your writing services is no exception. with the client required to issue a Form 1099 to you and to the IRS at the end of the year. and you are an independent contractor. and do whatever you are ordered to do by the client for as long as you are wanted or have agreed to stay.although you are employed under contract and not an employee in a legal sense. as the means to tell the world about what you offer. on what service you want to sell. You have a diverse mix of assignments. one literally hung out his or her "shingle" (sign) and waited for customers to notice it and come calling with business. The following conditions will help greatly to prove to the IRS that you are. indeed. rather than long-term assignments with only one or two clients. and requiring the clients to issue W2 forms and treat the for-hire workers as employees. and . Today it is not enough to hang out a shingle. 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. 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. If you wish to write resumes. be aware of the potential problem. You do at least part of the work on your own premises. You must attend to paying all taxes yourself. usually without a specific end-product. You contract to produce some end-product at a fixed price. You are incorporated. insisting that they are really temporary W2 employees. "Hanging out your shingle" is symbolic of announcing to the world that you are now an independent. How to Market Your Services All businesses require marketing. an independent contractor: You have short-term assignments with many different clients during the year. under the client's work schedule. You are usually contracted for a daily or hourly rate. freelance writer or editorial consultant who offers your services to all. Today. working people.
) Spread the word through all your family and friends. train their people. talk to members. You would have to take out expensive display advertising in newspapers and magazines to use print advertising effectively. 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. (You local Better Business Bureau and others. attract new members. Post signs on bulletin boards in schools. such as copy shops: You will send them printing customers. can help you compile a list. Some libraries provide places to leave cards and brochures for anyone interested. libraries. and see if you can attend a meeting as a guest. get one and learn to use it. distribute your cards. For these and many other services. join all the local BBS (electronic bulletin board systems) and make your services known to all others logged on there. associations. (See if you can leave your business cards and brochures on display there. colleges. promote their organizations. etc. On the other hand. write a letter to the editor discussing the need for a good resume and sign it "Joe Jones. 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.) Write Letters to the Editor and let it drop there that you are a freelance writer offering services. and they will send you writing customers. Lions. many other things you may write are items that organizations want written to sell their products. executives.g. Send out brochures and announcements to all the companies. Join. supermarkets. it is students you wish to reach (although they may also be working people. if possible. or professionals taking advanced or special courses). (They are cheap enough now. Make deals with local merchants. and wherever you can find space to put up your notice. you must advertise where you can reach these prospects. Do the same with stationery stores and other businesses whose customers are likely to be good prospects for you.dissertations. including local government agencies and business clubs. . if there was a story about jobs and careers in the publication. Be sure to distribute your cards and brochures freely to them so they can pass them on to others. Advertising your services to organizations is a bit more difficult. If you have a computer but no modem. resume-writing for job seekers. and other organizations you can locate in your area. Contact all local business clubs--Rotary.) If you have a computer and modem. and otherwise satisfy their needs. perhaps. For example..
you need to find the owner or chief executive. such as how to write a good resume. out sick. But all contract for help. Don't neglect government offices. and holidays. weekends. you might find a membership manager. Keep in touch with them and keep reminding them that you are available and eager to help.) Use some of the methods recommended for reaching individuals. (Think up a subject of general interest to discuss. in many cases. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times are two that circulate widely. Keep trying and keep calling. that companies sometimes get in a bind that requires them to work evenings. these are very good targets. Offer a "sudden service. state. a term paper. You can do business by mail. Be aware. Invariably. One day a scheduled guest will cancel at the last moment. Most federal agencies have their own procurement offices on their premises. (In fact. The sales manager or marketing director are good targets on these calls. etc. with staff on vacation.) 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.Joe Jones' Resume Service. a thesis. and holidays. Visit all federal. Actually. Or they are temporarily short-handed. carrying your cards and brochures. on travel. week-ends. if you write marketing materials. and the producer will be glad to get you! Do some cold-calling on organizations. In the small organization. (Individuals own or work for organizations. and city halls. (In large membership associations." Call the producers of local radio and TV talk shows and try to get on as a guest. such as in the case of resume services. They have such departments and staffs because they write a great many things on a regular basis. county seats. Persistence is the key to success here." a willingness to work nights. Advertise in papers other than your local ones. the Wall Street Journal has a national edition that goes all over the country. and often you reach the organization in the same ways you reach individuals. In the larger organization it may be the purchasing agent or some other office. such organizations get overloaded frequently and are delighted to pay for help. State and local governments have centralized purchasing and supply departments in state capitals. or otherwise unavailable. and you will get assignments and win some new clients who will be back for more. also.) . and local government procurement offices and talk to the people there about getting on bidders lists and otherwise winning some of their business.
In a $65 market. Technical writers usually charge by the hour. 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. I wrote letters of that sort at $25 for the first page and $10 each additional page. especially when they must write to an official agency to straighten out some problem. in those days. RCA. or other individual with writing skills.Pricing Your Services Most freelance writers seem to have difficulty deciding what their services are worth. (The former English teacher or journalist with no engineering training was more likely..g. That's not all of it. and includes much of what some call "business writing" or "corporate writing. the market varies with the area in which you operate and with the type of writing called for.) The term technical writer has thus become much broadened in its meaning. while others charge less and some charge more. to become an editor in a technical writing organization. and I would be forced to charge considerably more today. It's plain enough: There is "a market" for such services as you offer. Today's tech writer may be a former English teacher. and more. a journalist. and other professionals who create products and design services. most of us signed on with the high-tech companies as consultants and functioned as temporary employees. "Decide how much you want to earn a year. and may or may not be endowed with an engineering education. but that was a number of years ago. either. It was necessary then to be an engineer or at least a trained engineering technician. there will always be one or two operators who are able to win all the business they can handle at $75. for technical knowledge was as important as writing ability and perhaps even more so. CHAPTER 4 Freelance Technical Writing What is Technical Writing? Everything changes. designers. but instead of the work being almost exclusively with high-tech companies--e . There are some people who want professional help in writing a simple letter. I can't give you more than a rough idea." That is obviously useless advice." Technical writers today still interview engineers. writing highly technical manuals. and the profession was fairly new. You can be one of these. et al--the clients . and rates apparently run from about $35 to $75 per hour. General Dynamics. GE. There is the matter of what you do as an individual to build the customers' perceptions of what you are worth. $100. and you must find out what it is. IBM. When I was a freelance technical writer a number of years ago. Some who claim to be experts and offer advice start by saying something to the effect. One resume writer I know of charges from $65 up for his resumes.
Today. and production services of various kinds. (In fact. newsletters. mainframe computers. technical writers wrote manuals for automobiles.) Among the many specialized functions or capabilities you might provide are writing. If you provide services beyond simple writing and editing services per se. proposals. Knowledge of and skills in using desktop publishing software is a valuable asset in any writing or publishing work. Campbell's Soups. of course. parts lists. satellites. and sundry other items. a valuable asset. design. Give this serious consideration. and others prominent in commerce but not "technical" in the sense formerly implied by that word. You are not alone in the field. is a broad one that offers you many possibilities to expand the service you provide and the fees you can command. Levi Strauss. you may be and are probably justified in regarding yourself as a consultant and pricing your services accordingly. parts lists. and other such end-products. and other such developments of earlier decades. training items. operator's guides. annual reports." which I use here. and both in many cases. aircraft." The term "editorial consultant.today may include Pepsi Cola. Many writers and editors sell themselves short in this regard. but may come from academic or technical backgrounds. but you have ample competition and so must compete effectively to win your . even making arrangements for printing and solving a variety of the typical problems that arise in publications projects. layout. specification sheets. the tech writer may be called on to produce catalogs. and composition. Traditionally. editing.) What is Required to be a Technical Writer Technical writers of today thus tend to no particular background. Selling Your Services Marketing--winning clients and assignments--is at the heart of any service business. when writers were hired to develop the maintenance manuals. 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. illustrating. audiovisuals. tech writers were the authors of maintenance manuals. user manuals. missiles and their launch systems. indexing. and other documentation required to support the increasingly more complex and sophisticated automobiles. the range of kinds of writing is so broad that one may specialize in any way desirable. layout. it would be difficult for anyone to handle every possible kind of writing assignment. radar. as well as the truly technical items that have been classically connected with technical writing. 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. Originally. However. (The profession of technical writing is believed to have origins in Detroit. much of technical writing is devoted to the development of computer software manuals. Today. policy manuals. and many tech writers make good use of some knowledge of programming for that kind of assignment.
modems. their offers. the practice of medicine is today more and more dependent on electronic and other high-tech equipment. scanners. laser printers. and the marketing departments of the manufacturers of such equipment need manuals. Sales/Marketing Literature. rather than a resume. but using the plural terms may help you perceive yourself as a business and present yourself properly as a business. rather than as a self-employed individual. despite cutbacks.x 11-inch sheet folded into three panels. and their qualifications in brochures and proposals. It can be an 8-1/2. six panels. For that kind of selling yourself. Of course. if you are imaginative enough. Your basic brochure does not have to be an elaborate affair. You must change your thinking when you change from someone's employee to independent practitioner. Some entering this kind of venture use their personal resumes as brochures. you will need a resume. as it does many other newly launched independent entrepreneurs in a variety of solo ventures. and all the complex software necessary to operate these." for example. For example. if you plan to function as an independent contractor for writing and/or related services. including some who may seem to be unlikely prospects for technical writing. fax machines. Markets. you will need a brochure. Use "we" and "our. There are many possible markets for technical writing. and product descriptions written. In this manner. However. and learn to think of yourself as a business organization. depending on how you propose to approach your marketing. At the minimum. 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.share of the market. In many cases. Businesses explain their services. just as if you were in pursuit of regular 9 to 5 permanent position. hiring out as a true temporary and working on the client's site. specification sheets. You will actually appear on the agency's payroll as an employee and be assigned to their client. your markets will depend on you--on what you can do and on what you prefer to do. the military will continue to contract for many high-tech products. Industries that were once somewhat pedestrian and mundane have been forced to become high-tech operations.) Describe what you offer as a business organization. you need a business card and either a brochure or a resume. and the technology has affected or become part of many industries that are not themselves developers of high-tech products or services. But so are many industries. Most organizations today use computers. brochures. Be careful that you do not shut your mind to prospects without being sure of your conclusions. by educating . if you are going to approach and contract directly with clients as a consultant. That is not a businesslike or professional approach. To a large degree. since you print on both sides. (Actually. even though you function alone." It is perfectly acceptable to use the latter singular terms. How do you market your services and products? Let's look at some conventional methods first. This is a high-tech age. instead of "I" and "my. You must have some basic sales literature to support your marketing efforts. and companies serving the military are prime targets for your services. One way to start is to market yourself to clients indirectly by going through agencies such as "job shops" or brokers.
but you need not take that as a rejection. Don't confine yourself to corporations and for-profit companies. You simply start calling on each company you can reach and solicit work openly and honestly. the method will work for you. the fastest way to get your first assignments is usually the direct method. If you were laid off for lack of enough work. it will be a . In some companies. you can often actually create a new market or niche. I asked everyone I talked to. your employer may welcome the opportunity to use your service is on the less-expensive basis you offer as a contract writer or consultant . the probable reason you find it so offensive a prospect is because you anticipate rejection. a serendipitous event. if you can steel yourself to it. your former employer may welcome the opportunity to reduce costs without losing services. and even when you try to prepare for it. but didn't know how to go about finding a technical writer. often on the first day. and non-profit corporations. that traditional and time-honored method of making cold calls. But even if you chose to resign and start your own venture. and not all the writing you will do is truly technical in the strict sense of high-tech activity. Most people find making cold calls on prospects a distasteful business. cold calls are most likely to produce results. You need to be persevering and to have faith that you will meet with eventual success. There are many other kinds of organizations who make good prospects for technical writing services.prospects in what you do and how it can benefit them. (Bear in mind that "technical" is a flexible term here. it is a terrible experience. Marketing Methods. at least not in the early stages of researching markets and finding your niche. associations. I was myself not delighted to undertake canvassing for business. after they told me that they had nothing for me if they could recommend me to someone. but keep your mind open in the beginning and be ready to sample all while you search for the most hospitable niche. Cold Calling. Other than this. If you can do that. It's true that not everyone you approach will have need for what you offer. It happens quite frequently because your former employer can also benefit from this new arrangement. However. Most people. are quite pleasant and try to be helpful. and simply procrastinated. Consider all of these in your service area. The newly launched independent technical writer often gets his or her first client and assignment from a former employer. 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. government agencies. I was to them manna from Heaven. Find the Right Individual. approached properly. and I got some very useful referrals that way. The whole problem in cold calling is your own mental set. If you are one of these. You may eventually find it expedient to specialize in one or two as niche markets.) I have found that many clients for writing jobs and related editorial services are also individuals. You have to find out which individual in the company would be the one to see. In fact.
Nowadays. you will find if you ask pleadingly for help. (Amazingly. As you read the trade journals and the local newspapers. available in paper and online editions. In time that database will be among your most valuable business assets. The modern way to gather. it is much easier to both gather the information and keep it up to date.) Market Research and Market Intelligence. Subcontracting is an option you should be aware of. and you might have to talk to several people in turn before you reach the right person. but watch the business section of your daily newspaper too. Marketing success depends on information. Keep asking for help. the government agencies. The more you have. But don't join any more groups than you can find time for: The memberships . (The information all gets added to your marketing database. while in others it might be the personnel manager or a general administrator. organize. features. 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. and large contractors must subcontract what they do not do themselves. the easier time you will have to win new clients and assignments. The most important thing to do in marketing is to research the market possibilities. focusing on those that will bring you in contact with prospective clients and other writers. Search them out by all the available methods. 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. as a source of leads for many federal government contracts and subcontracts. It is usually necessary to make inquiries to find the right party. You must keep your data growing by adding to it and updating it as you get new information. 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. and any others--and record them in your database. of course. with personal computers. No one--no organization--does everything. Networking is a method of marketing that works for many. such as advertisements. and the more complete and up to date your information is.purchasing agent who would contract for your services.) Don't overlook the Commerce Business Daily. The Marketing Database. the associations. a great many people suddenly accept an obligation to help you and go to extremes to do so. quite often. Gather the names of all prospects for your services--the companies. Subcontracting. and you will eventually find the right party. and build a suitable resource of marketing intelligence today is to set up a marketing database in your pc.
Your business cards should be prepared by a good print shop. information about taxes.. In any case. will bring you leads for clients and assignments. and insurance. Nor does it guarantee that he or she will remember that business card much longer than it takes to have lunch. I am not one who believes this. 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. sample and recommended contract forms. Conventions. with an arty logo. You must project an image that commands the respect of your peers and your clients or prospective clients as a serious professional." Be professional and businesslike. your stationery. but be restrained also. whether they are tech writers or not. Creating the Right Image.g. It ought to be on a good grade of paper. may backfire on you because they will alarm discerning and sophisticated prospective clients. rather than impressed. They don't have to be unusual. trade shows. tastefully done.won't help if you are not active in the associations. Mixing with others. many prospects will see this as hype and be amused. Even worse. setting up your business organization (e. and not ostentatious. but that is not likely to have much to do with the other's sales decision. and a distinctive logo with which to adorn everything and mark your business distinctively. I shudder at what many beginners in business spend so naively for these unnecessary refinements. Through the relevant associations you can get guidance and help in determining what fees to charge. Not only must you make yourself highly visible as a specialist.. Yes. licenses. Association memberships are an important element in networking and making valuable contacts otherwise. I think you will do best to keep it all businesslike but . someone may note your business card and even remark on it. sole proprietorship versus corporation). Likewise. In short. Your image is important. and other such gatherings are good prospects for this. but you must always appear as the respectable and completely professional specialist. and many other supports that would cost you a great deal of money to buy individually from lawyers. Ostentation. There are many small business people who believe that it is important to be incorporated and to have expensive stationery. Many pay large sums to designers to create these delightfully ornate and distinctive manifestations of their glorious professions and businesses. but they also bear importantly on other matters. such as those disgracefully costly cards and stationery. There is no doubt about that. accountants. who often tend to see such trappings as evidence that you lack good business judgment and might be too expensive a supplier. Be careful that you do not "protest" your professionalism and appearance of success too forcefully. I have known elaborate ornamentation to play a role in a prospect's decision to do business with a supplier. seminars. Associations. for example. They can be in black ink on any good grade of card stock. an attention-demanding business card. There is an inevitable hazard in going a bit too far in impressing prospects with your "front. and other specialists. It is necessary to be dignified and businesslike.
as this helps me avoid some of the difficulties. Many freelance technical writers do no direct marketing. to local groups of all kinds. (You can use a press release to announce this service and invite groups to call on you to learn about technical documentation or whatever topics you offer as subjects.) Speaking Publicly. releases that will reflect your name and what you offer to do for clients. your stationery and literature ought to be the best of all witnesses to your ability to do this! Writing and Speaking. preferably in some niche or specialty. and profession. although apparently most tend to charge by the hour. Search out those most likely to reach the people you want to reach. business. free of charge. Certainly. g. They market indirectly through such measures as networking and active PR--public relations and publicity--efforts. write a letter to the Letters to the Editor column. You can offer seminars. who is or ought to be a specialist at getting to the point. at annual conventions and trade shows--as often as possible. which kept my name always visible. There are trade journals. Be active in the associations to which you belong and speak there--e. Writing for Publication. My consulting assignments came to me almost entirely by referrals then because my name had become familiar to many who needed such help. 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. craft.) Send press releases to these journals. Readers need to know who and what you are. Others tend to be well impressed by your writing for publication and speaking publicly. I prefer to charge by the day or by the job. craft. Publication there helps too to make your name--who and what you are--known to the readers. which produce word-of-mouth marketing: referrals. and try to get articles published in them. and they don't have to be day-long. making yourself available as a speaker. if the article is to serve you as helpful publicity. They had read my articles and books and attended my seminars and other public speaking. directly and forcefully. business. Be active on the speaker's platform.. publications about an industry.) What Can You Charge? You can charge by the hour. as the big companies do. Set yourself up as a one-person speaker's bureau. (The impact of well-written Letters to the Editor is greater than you might imagine. for every industry. or profession. trade. trade. This is especially important for a writer. they can be brief ones of an hour or two. Let's talk about rates first: . Writing and speaking are among the best ways to make yourself well known_--o become highly visible and be recognized as an expert. I worked to become known as one of the people to consult when one needed help with a proposal to government agencies. or by the job.simple and direct. (You can find reasons to write press re leases if you work at it. The concept is simple enough: Become well known as an expert in what you do. by the day. If you can't sell articles to the editors of these publications.
. by region. Miscellaneous Considerations There are some other practical considerations that are necessary to conducting a business of any kind. to give you maximum dtp capabilities. and that must be reasonably up to date software. you should have a fast machine with a great deal of RAM and disk storage. That is what drives many to favor the hourly rate. In fact. a great many work for $35-$50 per hour--you probably need to work on your image and your marketing. and by individual. frankly. accessible directly or via one of the commercial online services. Most freelancers charge time and one-half for overtime and even more for working Sundays and holidays. illustrating. Of course. Getting my rate means I must sell aggressively. clients do not give you a blank check. you will require a laser printer or its equivalent for print quality. for one. and will probably want to run Windows on your system. There is equipment. that was represented by a number of public databases. but it does require doing the right things and working energetically at it. Until recently. What you need in the way of equipment depends on what services you will offer and what it takes to provide those services. What Resources do You Need? There are several kinds of resources you need. of course. which must include computer. even if you are not yet ready to command a top rate. You might also find a scanner indispensable. but merit that rate. and will want an estimate. And there is access to a variety of information sources for research. it is less and less difficult to get my rate. as a minimum. Today. It is possible to do better.The rates that represent "the market" or the accepted "standard" rates for technical writing vary widely by industry. as prospects learn that I do demand a substantial rate. However. and printer as a minimum today. but it does take time to build. 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. 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. which you may not exceed with approval. such as an inkjet printer. I take a different tack: I demand a rather high daily rate. That is the best kind of reputation to get. one high enough to permit me to "eat" a few extra hours or some late-night effort without experiencing excessive pain in the pocket. fax. If you cannot command $500 or more per day--and. by market. but I usually avoid headaches later. you will probably need some fairly sophisticated dtp software and adequate hardware capability to use the dtp software well--e. much of what you need to gave access to online is available via the Internet and the Web. and production support. by subject matter. If you will do a substantial amount of layout. (Make no mistake about it: . you should set the goal now and work toward reaching it. One problem we all encounter is difficulty in estimating the amount of time required for the job. Still. g. There is software needed for these. modem.
if you have no signs. and that is almost always the major cost in a service business. 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. however. and no excessive number of delivery people calling on you. you can probably do your own taxes. travel. such as Quicken or the Dome program. PRICING or the fees and rates you charge are dependent on both direct and indirect costs. It does not hurt. DIRECT COSTS are what you spend directly and exclusively on a project. You might also visit the nearest Small Business Center. Mistakes to Avoid Many beginners in business make more mistakes with regard to their accounting systems than with any other aspect of their operation. Whether you do or do not use a CPA or a commercial software package to handle your accounting. A visit to a CPA to discuss your accounting needs and probable tax liabilities is an option you may wish to consider. and must be conducted as such. I need to know continuously how I am doing. heat. depreciation of equipment. such as rent. you intend to operate as a sole proprietor. That wasn't good enough for me. no procession of clients visiting. Profit is what have or should have left over after you have paid yourself and covered all other costs of the business. insurance. and they can be quite restrictive. 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 other such items. I have found it best to keep our own books and use a CPA to do our taxes. light. taxes. probably the major item of cost. INDIRECT COSTS are the costs you can't assign to specific jobs. to go down to city hall and get a copy of the relevant zoning laws. . It is part of cost. It is labor. 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. you will have no problem. which are usually set up at local community colleges. I turn them over to my CPA to do my taxes at the end of the year. These are also known as OVERHEAD COSTS and they are as real as the direct costs are. or other costs incurred solely and exclusively for the job. the least complicated business structure. and I can do that only by keeping my own accounts.Providing independent service of any kind is a business. If. Never forget that. using any of the popular programs. and so it wasn't until three or more months after the event that I found out how I was doing. a most unlikely possibility).) Freelance writers generally work at home--have done so traditionally--but there are zoning laws in every community. such as your salary for the hours you spend on the job. Probably. however. printing. and that is still before you pay taxes and take a profit. It is more likely that your overhead is $20 or more per hour.
New York.e.Box 294. Unfortunately. Belonging to a writer's association benefits you in many ways. Contact the NASW Administrative Secretary. they start losing money. Stuart Street. VA 22203-1822 703-522-4114 The National Association of Science Writers. Executive Director The National Writers Union is also a writers' organization with many chapters. highly recommended for technical writers and with many local chapters. Washington Independent Writers 220 Woodward Bldg 733 15th Street. The Headquarters office is in Washington. Associations for Writers There is at least one association for technical writers and many associations for writers in general. Belonging to a good writer's association is an even better idea for you as a technical writer. has a strong local D. if he or she is keeping your books. Suite 304 Arlington. P. Belonging to any relevant association is a good idea for anyone who is in business. National Writers Union National Office 13 Astor Pl. DC 20005 202-347-4973 Isolde Chapin. including freelance writers. 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. chapter. they are not always able to recover. Presumably. Greenlawn. the DC-SWA (pronounced Duck-SWA). all or write the headquarters listed here for help in finding your nearest local chapter. Diane McGurgan. One bad experience convinced me that I must hold my business close to hand in this manner. NW Washington. Washington Independent Writers is a good group to belong to if you are in the Washington area. NY 10003 .C. many of whom will be technical writers. but accountants get busy and may not notice the growing problem soon enough. NY 11740.O. and by the time they do. they sometimes do not find out about this soon enough. national organization. (516) 757-5664. your accountant should warn you. (516) 757-0069 (fax) for more information. one of which is that an effective writer's association helps you get business. Society for Technical Communication 901 N..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_--.
CA 93924 (408) 659-4536 Bay Area Local #3 . 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. PO Box 398 Hadley. Lcl. NJ 06848 Eric Lerner (609) 883-8878 Boston Local Box 1073 Harvard Square Sta. NY 10709 Sarah White. MA 02238 (617) 492-0240 Western Mass. DC 20010 Carolyn Weaver (202) 755-4556 (703) 532-4571 Chicago local PO Box 3454 Chicago.O. Box 292 Eastchester. Chair (914) 682-1574 New Jersey Local 20 Pine Knoll Drive Lawrenceville. MN 55408 Marc Hequet. Chair (612) 222-0581 Santa Cruz/Monterey Loc 7 c/o Ray March PO Box 343 Carmel Valley.(212) 254-0279 New York Local 799 Broadway #222 New York. NY 10003 (212) 677-9705 Westchester Local P. Cambridge.
What is an Agent? Many beginning writers think of literary agents as magicians. Understand contract law and know what belongs and does not belong in a publishing contract. and probably no agent meets all these "requirements. able to guide the writer. able to guide the writer's career. That's a tall order. Be an effective marketer. There are many false beliefs revolving around the question of literary agents and their role in one's writing career. The ideal literary agent would have all the following characteristics: Know and thoroughly understand the publishing industry and its markets. Have a great many "contacts"--editors and publishers--in key positions in book publishing. That's an image only partly true. Be an alter ego. yes. Portal Ave. Agents are primarily marketers. CA 94127 Stacy Frederick (415) 654-6369 Los Angeles Local PO Box 11043 Glendale.236 W. They perceive of the agent solely as a marketer. the ones most agents focus on and most writers expect. Be an expert negotiator." The last two are probably the most essential ones. 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. but they do or ought to furnish other important services. 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 corollary of that belief . able to bring instant success in selling the writer's work. SF. Be an expert editor.
in re agents. It is not easy to get an able and established agent. persistence and patience are often much more responsible for sales success than is any special genius or contact and agent may have. the question of whether you need or ought to have an agent at all: For one thing. But let's get to a consideration even more basic than that. Even that is only a part of the truth about selling. as for books. and it is not easy to determine in advance how good a given agent will be for you. Hardly ever does one excel in all departments. Thus. but they may specialize further within one of those categories. These are considerations when seeking an agent. but in more than one subsequent sequel and alternate edition. the thirties. 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. while others handle only nonfiction. you may have to seek out an agent with compatible interests. Chicken Soup for the Soul) in not only its original edition. That often embodies the further belief that an agent can sell anything you write--that the agent is a magician in the marketplace. when we were all pretty hungry. Some handle novels only. even some that later turned out to be blockbuster best-sellers. even when I had an agent representing me for my books. It is probably wise to do so. and that is as true for articles. even if you have an agent. During the days of the Great Depression. If something you write is unsalable. Those interests may represent or reflect an agent's main strengths: He or she may handle all kinds of books. Let's set the latter mythology at rest immediately: The best agent in the world cannot sell anything editors do not want to buy. it would be a rare agent who would do so. Today. I have always marketed my articles myself. were turned down by many publishers before they found one with faith and a sympathetic ear--or perhaps more insight and vision than others. Thus. A good agent may not be able to sell even a good book. . Sometimes it's a matter of timing. asking if the article I had originally offered was still available. it is appropriate to consider having an agent only if you write books.is the myth that an agent can sell what you write much more easily than you can. and in their general competence. if editors do not perceive its worth. an agent cannot sell it. although he or she may be able to make suggestions for changes that would make it salable. for example. Or a given agent may be a great marketer but a poor negotiator. Editors have sometimes called me many months--even a year--after I had sent then queries. I happen to know one of the editors who was unable to sell what became a runaway best seller. except as an accommodation to a writer client whose main work was books of some sort. It can be the right book at the wrong time. agents would represent writers of articles and short stories. Agents vary quite widely in at least three respects: The kinds of books they handle. Most agents specialize to some extent. their respective strengths vis a vis whatever kind of material you write and offer. Here are a few facts of life that agents probably would like you to understand and writers don't want to know: Many books.
that demonstrates why charging fees is not unreasonable. except by your track record or by studying your manuscripts and making a judgment. and thus depend on reading fees." These are fees to pay for their time. But there are those legitimate agents who want to add new authors to their client list. 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. An agent is in business. working on commissions. Unfortunately. 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. and the experience of most agents is that the odds are against that time being well invested: Few of the hopefuls work out in the end. and probable appeal to readers) and how much editing it might need. Again. which is so often wasted reading unpublished and. Don't assume that if you write well. far too often. style. Do Lawyers Make Good Agents? . subject matter. 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. 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. That is not an unreasonable requirement. and has no way of knowing whether you can write salable material or not. That is simply not true. Thus the quandary the agent faces between the desire to sign up new clients and the difficulty of evaluating prospective clients. especially in the beginning Work as hard at learning to market as you did at learning to write. success is assured. unpublishable manuscripts. Real Agents and Reading Fees Some agents charge "reading fees. A piece that wins immediate and enthusiastic acceptance in the right market will win immediate and unhesitating turndown in the wrong market. But here again is the basis for another myth. the myth that no "real agent" charges reading fees. especially the first part of that theory: You can and should sell without an agent's help. 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.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. 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. that the quality of your work will be readily recognized and eagerly bought by editors. But that takes time.
both as a craft and as a business and industry. where it had been for years 10 percent. nursemaid. some of them quite experienced. but they are exceptions. I think the author-agent relationship ought to be closer than that and integrated to work at its peak efficiency. and the lawyer who does not know writing and publishing. (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. 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. Fees and Charges There seems to be today a strong tendency by agents to ask for 15 percent commission. the primary nominal duty of an agent is to represent us in the marketplace: find buyers for our work and negotiate acceptable contracts. that would make it appear that they believe the agent's primary job is to negotiate or. and perhaps a few other things. According to some of the film dramatizations. not content with that substantial increase. applied to all money received by the author. instead of an agent. but it has become virtually a standard. who believe that they can use a lawyer. I think there should be continuous dialogue. errand boy. is poorly qualified to act as a literary agent. I happen to believe that to be totally wrong. It ignores the fact that few lawyers know anything about professional writing and the publishing industry. alter ego.I am always surprised and puzzled by those writers. or even that a lawyer makes a better agent than an agent who is not a lawyer. Some agents may do more than this. pass judgment on the contract offered. For you and me. and as much effort as possible by the author to work with the agent in the marketing of the work. but these are not great qualifications as literary agents representing authors. It certainly is not true for you and me. dresser. That is not to say that there may not be an occasional exception. press agent. Logically. but most will not.) What Should You Expect of Your Agent? Hollywood has given us a false idea of what an agent is and does. some agents also ask for expense money from authors to cover postage and telephone calls. A truly professional agent will also guide your career. business manager. at least. I don't think one can justify logically demanding that much larger a share of the author's income. an agent is a hand holder. Probably most writers leave almost all marketing responsibility up to their agents. mother and father confessor. with suggestions for projects and all efforts to sell additional rights to your works. with our agents. financial manager. However. normal overhead. I believe the agent's cost for postage and telephone calls is a normal cost of doing business. much less marketing and publishing contracts.) One does not have to be a lawyer to understand and negotiate a book contract. although there are a few exceptions. (There are some lawyers who specialize in copyright law an the publishing industry as consultants. such as an express delivery or other . I object to that latter burden and I will not pay it. joint planning of marketing strategies between agent and author.
Contracting With an Agent Some agents ask you to sign with them for a year or longer.extraordinary expense. Publishers were perfectly willing to pay author and agent separately--85 percent to the author and 15 percent to the agent. It is possible to sign with an agent for a single book. so I was apparently the exception. explain the market for it and the anticipated sales. Getting Paid Getting paid can be a touchy proposition. The traditional practice of agents adds delays: They generally ask that all checks be sent to them. If the publisher is interested but your credentials are not impressive. I think it in your interest to insist on this arrangement. My book proposals generally run 8-12 single-spaced pages. it is possible to sell a book without an agent. If that arrangement works out well. Businessmen writing business books are quite likely to be their own agents. you can sign for another book or for a term of months or longer. I believe it is by far the better arrangement. Nonfiction books are generally sold by submitting a book proposal to the publisher. whether you have an agent or not. for several reasons. Or you may be asked to discuss . and present your credentials for writing the book. That is a common belief.) In the proposal you describe the proposed book. so perhaps I am atypical. How do I know that I will find the arrangement suitable? I have found some unsuitable. in the light of my experiences. I learned. I found that to be unworkable for me. But then most businessmen and -women who write books are likely to write only one or two books. First of all. you may be asked to submit two or three sample chapters for approval. They will then deduct their commissions and send the rest on to the author. which suggests that they are a bit confused: Manuscripts are double-spaced to enable the editor to make changes. Selling Without an Agent It may be easier to sell a book with an agent than without one. Certainly. but that ought to be an exception and authorized in advance by the author. you may get an offer. whereas I planned to go on writing one book after another about business. and instructions to the typesetter. but no editor is going to work on your proposal! If your credentials are strong enough and the publisher is interested enough. at most. although some writers recommend proposals about twice or three times that length. many publishers are none too swift in paying. although it is not necessarily true. provide a reasonably detailed outline. (Your agent would submit the proposal normally. But then they urge one to double-space their book proposals. In fact. I hesitate to do that now. I learned that it didn't have to be done that way. more than one publisher with whom I did business was a little surprised to learn that I had an agent. comments.
. 12.000 copies sold. the book club usually pays the publisher a royalty. Negotiation Obviously. when the publisher wants the book and you. The secret of success in negotiation is attitude: Know that you have a valuable property to offer. Are you stuck with these "standard" terms because you do not have an agent? No. and distribute it--you do not normally convey all your rights. one the other party wants. and the contract should state that clearly. according to suggestions made by the publisher. (You don't have to pay the publisher the difference if your book does not earn back the total advance payment. if that is what you wish to do. there would be no negotiations!) Your job is to find out how much the other party wants your property. which is not an uncommon problem for . The same thing generally applies to other subsidiary rights. Bear in mind that the advance is not a gift nor a fee. (You should be so lucky!) There are many secondary rights. Under the law. Book authors are generally paid royalties. e. but it is usually a mistake. no matter what publishers say. it is possible that a publisher will want to buy your book outright for some fixed price. under which you relinquish all rights. (If he or she did not want it..your proposal and possibly to revise it. and 15 percent on all copies sold thereafter. will not sell on the terms offered. That is legal. the price the other party is willing to pay for your property. not at all. bind. These are the terms they would like to persuade you to believe are standard. and it is your property. 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. Thus you trade back and forth until you find that point. If the book goes to a book club. It is a portion of the royalties the publisher expects your book to earn. you own the copyright to anything you write as original work. more or less standard--contracts and practices For example. with an initial advance against royalties. Whatever the publisher gets for that license is normally split 50-50 with you. They will impose these when they can get away with it--when the author does not know better and will accept these terms. such as a movie sale. and you split that equally with the publisher. 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.000 copies sold. have sold--certain rights. He will be reimbursed the advance out of those royalties. Typical or "Standard" Terms There are standard--well. you always have the right to negotiate for your property. but not all of them. the author. You are or should be still the copyright owner of record.e. Mail order sales usually pay 5 percent of dollars received by the publisher. and have licensed someone else--i. Suppose your publisher sells a magazine the right to publish an abstract of your book.5 percent for the next 5. But they will negotiate when it is necessary--. and even when you contract with someone else to publish your work--print.
the third portion paid only when the book is finally released--but those are exceptions. (Some publishers insist on paying advances in a different manner--e.. Usually..e. a publisher's books in inventory fall into three lists: the front list.. including advance money. and Back Lists The harsh fact is that a majority of the 50. It is not the most common event. There are no hard and fast rules about this. and the manuscript has been accepted. Thus it is in your interest to work as hard as you can at getting the largest advance possible.) The remaining one-half will be paid when the author has submitted the manuscript. That could make the total royalty earnings larger than they might have been otherwise.) If your book does well.000 books published every year do not earn out. 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. as yet unpublished. 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. Typical Terms on Advances Well-established authors can negotiate book contracts and all terms. the author prepares a proposal and sends it out to one or more prospective publishers. but usually the new books . It is usually in the form of a grant. and the back list. large investment--to motivate the publisher to work hard at making it a success in the marketplace. g. and so you can expect a large advance--e. my own principal publisher orders the second one-half of my advance paid when my manuscript is sent to production. This does not mean that the new author cannot get an advance against royalties.publishers. in thirds. the author is usually paid one-half the advance. Mid-. e. it probably doesn't matter whether you got a large advance or not: Eventually. Front. That is not unreasonable when the author is new and without a track record--i. you will probably earn the same amount. but it means. money that is not counted against royalties nor paid back in any way. that the advance negotiated and contracted for will be paid only when the manuscript has been delivered and accepted for publication. before writing the book. At the same time. g. (Typically. regardless of the size of the advance----. the mid-list. and is given only in exceptional circumstances. and do not even return all the publisher's costs.) The new writer is not likely to get paid advance money on the strength of a contract only. (Even after signing a contract.) Grants and Expenses Occasionally a publisher provides money for extraordinary expenses. usually. however. some authors never produce the manuscript. Once the contract is negotiated and signed.. whatever the total of royalties the book is able to garner for you over its lifetime. In general.
such as Frank Bettger's How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. revised editions--while others merely require fresh printings. the "trade" or "quality" paperback version. 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. and that depends on how the publisher assesses the market. as the cloth bound book does. (That does not mean that quality does not vary. the publisher will produce a number of cloth copies as a "library edition. has been a solid backlist book for many years. a classic of its kind. and books selling in modest volume but steadily as staples are the back list. and the mass market paperback will sell for one-half or less than a trade paperback version might sell. The Lancelot Hogben book. but the cover will be of paper or light card stock. cloth versions can range from inexpensive to very expensive editions. called "perfect binding. Those are usually the sturdiest of backlist books. with sewn signatures. The trade paperback is printed on the same quality of paper as the cloth bound book. especially if it becomes a best seller and the publisher continues to publicize it. None of this means that every book is produced in all versions. e. Many books are produced in one version only. and the "mass market" or pocket size paperback version. to see how well they go (unless the publisher has some compelling reason to believe that the book will sell in much higher numbers).) But there are two paperback versions. A book may remain on the front list for a long time. However. Mathematics for the Million. The mass market paperback is the kind you see in the supermarket and drug stores. there are three classes of books: The hardcover edition is. If the publisher has reason to believe that the book ought to be a trade paperback. It may even have sewn signatures. usually 3. for example. Some require updating--new." (Trade paperbacks may also have this less expensive binding. .000 to 5. There are books that sell well year after year. recently released books that are still doing very well in the market are the mid-list.000 copies. many years after its early printings. and is the most expensive method of book manufacturing. Mass market paperbacks are a practicable proposition only if they can be sold in large quantity and distributed widely. the trade paperback will sell for about 25 percent less than the cloth bound edition. and finally became available. in a paperback edition. and with a glued back." although focusing the marketing effort on the trade paperback edition. Alternate Versions From the manufacturing viewpoint. however. a "cloth bound" version. printed on a pulp paper similar to the newsprint of the daily newspapers.) Typically.a publisher releases are the front list. although a few have been. it is a good backlist that is the real strength of most publishers. but that libraries will want a cloth edition for their shelves.. technically. Trade paperbacks are generally conceived as books that will reach substantial sales volume in "the trade"--i. book stores. Cloth bound books are expensive to manufacture and are generally produced with a low initial number.
I have had occasion to learn of various editors' reactions to certain agents. but it does mean "gets along well with editors" in every sense of that phrase. if you have an agent. and there is a great deal to learn. a story or an article. Most agents who advertise for clients ask for reading fees. typemarking. If you go this route. Presumably. and far more than the 15-percent commission the agent earns. Most freelance writing then was "on spec"--you wrote something. As in the case of most professions. and other services to prepare it for production and distribution--publishing. there are fairly good agents. and there are poor agents.000/Year in Editorial Services A Vigorous Business Market for Writers Today When I started out as a freelance writer the market for such services was different than it is today. There are also agents who are very aggressive and abrasive. for an effective agent gets you far more than you can get for yourself. then peddled it. the agent knows all these things we have discussed and is a good negotiator as well. Once the publisher bought it. when you are finally ready to be represented. That doesn't necessarily mean popular or well liked. Like every successful writer of books. and they can hurt your cause more than they help it if they are disliked by editors. there are good agents. and at least some of them are interested in reading fees more than in developing and representing successful authors. 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. that is. . Those are not agents you want.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. 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. An agent who truly knows the ropes and is a good negotiator costs you nothing. 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. How to Find an Agent Finding an agent is a major problem. he or she provided editing. Finding the right agent may be even more of a problem. layout. If a publisher bought it. you were finished with it. A good agent is also one that gets along well with the editors. usually. be sure that you are ready for an agent! CHAPTER 6 $60. I am frequently confronted by aspirants pleading for help in finding an agent.
It was . You may be called on to help conceive and plan the piece. So while I may talk of writing throughout this chapter. then. "big league" ones. and otherwise provide counsel--consulting services. layout. a not unusual rate in the pulp markets of that day. that he or she doesn't write at all well. publicity releases. scripts. at the time. and production services required to accomplish your client's aim and to earn you your fees. You are therefore advised by the client that all that is needed is a "little editing. It wasn't much money. and others. at an agreed-upon price. which you have set or negotiated in advance. It is in your interest to be expert in as many kinds of business writing as possible--brochures. what do you care what the specific editorial chore is? In most. Ultimately. How it Happened for Me I decided." rather than to freelance writing? Simply for these reasons: Frequently. of just what a writer was and did. and a few minor ones. an enormous business market.) Why. 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 publication.) I began to read them regularly and to absorb from them. presentations. but it was satisfaction to have my name in the press and some of my work worthy of purchase. speeches. if not all of this market. I discovered the writers' magazines. at the ripe old age of 12. in fact. storyboards. theses." However. for one reason or another. if the client is willing to pay you what you ask for your time. and/or other such editorial services. that I would be a writer. even to himself or herself. reports. and you don't starve in a garret. either. writing assignments often require more than writing. You get paid for everything you write because you write to order. since you are going to be paid on the basis of whatever your time is worth and the amount of time required. you do rewrites of someone else's bad or incomplete writing. what difference does it make what the work is called? In some cases. Once in a while--once in a great while--I sold something for a penny or even a half-cent per word. a few years later. I had rather vague ideas. advise about printing or illustrating. All I knew was that I enjoyed explaining myself in writing. and you don't write best sellers--but you don't work on spec. You can work this entire market or you can specialize in segments of it. what is needed is proofing. editing.Today there is an entirely different market for freelance writers. analyze/identify/define the need. (Most of us begin by working the entire market until we finally settle into some specialized segment. You don't (usually) get bylined in this market. please interpret that to mean all the spectrum of writing. proposals. Again. typemarking. I didn't really envision myself as a great novelist or playwright. (There were several of them. But the client is reluctant to admit. as you wish. do I refer to "editorial services. I hadn't come that far in my thinking yet. three prominent. Learning and using all the related skills means earning a great deal more money.
(That was where the job openings were!) This turned me into an expert writer of resumes. despite the occasional major sale. brochures. which turned out to be also valuable experience. while I considered my next move. I even managed to win a few prizes in writing contests. doing some writing chores for a large city daily and. I had all the tools I needed to be a successful freelance business writer. GE. although I was not yet ready to freelance full time. which proved to be quite a boon to my career. I was meeting just enough success to convince myself that I was. manuals. although at such low rates that I could not yet earn my living at freelancing. And I was meanwhile learning how to write effective proposals. I knew where and how to find the work and what rates to charge. And by now I was at a salary level that made it rather difficult to find an equivalent job quickly. directly into technical writing. technical writing. a writer. format. an open-sesame to where I wanted to go: My years in working for and consulting with many major Government contractors--IBM. That. either. propelling me into a consulting career. and eating on a reasonably regular basis as an objective. and others--required me to go to whatever company had a major contract at the time. such as a book for $4. eventually. I managed to get in a little newspaper experience. Eventually. which soon led to activities as a seminar leader and public speaker. The trick was to learn how to earn a living at it. Army newspapers during my WW II service. as a result of my technical-writing experience. But that was not often enough. introduced me to Government contract work. training programs. first as an employee and later as a consultant and independent contractor. Still. The diversity of my earlier experiences proved to be a most valuable asset. 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. a valuable experience that I tucked away for future reference. and began to sell a bit more frequently. and write resumes. earning a living at writing. later. I used the GI Bill to get an electronic engineering education. most important. since they had to be constantly updated and oriented to the latest needs. with my continuing education as a writer. I began to do some freelancing by calling a few people I knew to offer my services on a fee basis.000. I knew how to organize. proposals. and many other things but. reports. I discovered the trade press.vindication of my claim to be a writer. one drawback of reaching above average levels in your field! So. At this point. contributing to a couple of U.S. RCA. And that led me. Too. leading me to the management of writing and writers and into direct experience as a marketer and contractor to the federal government. With that. indeed. I stumbled into the design and writing of training systems. I was beginning to get closer to my goal. 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 .
as I had thought it to be. etc--must be considered when you set the rates you quote prospective clients. That time. which ultimately produced several thousand dollars for a few weeks' work. and even that does not leave room for a net profit. including what you pay yourself. and you don't have to make all the mistakes I made in learning. I soon learned that my idea was not original. dentists. You have to spend part of your time finding assignments and making sales--marketing your business. Once firmly established. Most freelance writers work from their homes. 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. I had won my first assignment to write some proposals and a sales brochure for a company. but already had many practitioners. I soon added my own special fillips to it. faster. Your rates must cover all costs. architects. lawyers. automobile expenses. and others--must observe business principles and methods if they are to succeed. . You may prefer to regard it as a profession. armed with what I have to reveal to you now. probably a third of your time. telephone. is part of your indirect or overhead costs. Probably. writing books and articles for commercial publishers. Remember that you will have to spend some part of your time in marketing and administration of your own enterprise. and still writing and selling my own little reports. And any of that cost that is not directly compensated by charges to a client for your time. a good rate even in these later days. as I do today. even if that office is a small room in your home. with an occasional one running as high as $150. you can do it better. but it was not and is not a necessity. for I will pass on to you what I learned. and that salary is not profit. at the time. in fact. which you ought to be realizing. for example. and probably with greater success than I did. postage. You don't have to do it all or know how to do it all. as well as all other costs--rent. As a freelance writer you have expenses--office rent. But all professionals in private practices--doctors. that you must pay yourself a salary. Anyone can do it. although occasionally the projects were larger and ran to much higher figures. 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. Business or Profession? Freelance writing is a business. of course. if you have a professional accountant keep your books for you. Actually. which it is also.) And so I became and am a freelance writer/editor/ publisher. That's a business expense too because you are paying for that time out of your own pocket. still taking on an occasional custom-writing assignment. (Of course. That was my preference.000. printing. you will learn why you have to account for your own time as a business expense. usually small jobs of from about $2. it is cost. I also turned my attention to bidding for Government writing projects.000 to $5.offers and open an office in town.
or the lack of it. and was all I could get. while charging no more than a competitor who earns only $40 an hour because he or she is far less productive than you. Familiarity with the subject." the average price charged by others for similar work. if you estimate a 75% overhead. 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. in fact. of course.50 to arrive at a price (adding other special costs. or anything else required). So hourly rates are really a rough measure of fair prices. of course. Keep information about your productivity and your hourly earnings to yourself. Clients. they are proprietary and confidential information. there is another consideration: How efficient you are. and the reverse is true too. That is. Your "speediness" as a writer/editor is only one factor affecting productivity. You might earn $75 an hour. a flat price is called for. even then. regardless of the total price for the job. You may not always charge by the hour. You should benefit from your productivity and whatever investments you have made to increase productivity." so you estimate the number of hours the job will take and multiply that by $52. Here. but and I wanted the job enough to sacrifice a bit. 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. But you are under no obligation to charge one cent less than you think is a fair price. however. When you deduct all operating expenses. 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. tend to rebel at what they think is a high hourly rate. you can turn that to your advantage in two different ways: You can be highly competitive without working below your desired minimum rate. your research time is lessened. On one contract I may have charged only $25 an hour because that was the market price. You may. That is up to you. In other words. and you can earn more than that minimum rate. is another factor. The ease or difficulty of finding the source information is another factor. such as printing. If you are a fast worker and can do the job in far less time than most competitors can. and I decide what the job is worth. however.50 an hour for your time. as well as how long it will take me. a quite reasonable rate. you are better off to charge by the job as often as possible. At the same time you can't simply ignore "the market. illustrating. The Productivity Factors If you are highly productive.Pricing Your Work Taking in $1200 for 40 hours' work does not mean that you can afford to pay yourself $30 an hour. And these considerations apply with respect to the kind of . If you are somewhat expert with the subject. but "for the job. if you want to pay yourself $30 an hour. however. you must know what your expenses are and allow a margin of error in making the estimates of overhead and other costs. you must charge clients $52. On many jobs.
and you don't worry overmuch about how profitable the job will be or how much your net per-hour earnings will be. "Research. you begin to develop a more detailed outline or "book plan. And your personal resources are still another factor. or even a rough draft. as my first OSHA assignment. Of course. The research is then entirely up to you.g. You may get all the information. But after a while. the task of developing a curriculum guide for use in junior colleges teaching the OSHA program "Voluntary Compliance. But that is a personal decision you must make for yourself. you begin to consider specializing to at least some extent. interview people. when you can get enough work to keep you busy most of the time. and many writers do so. (I manage to do a great deal of my research without leaving my office. And you start with a rough outline or just an idea. or it may be a total. your familiarity with storyboards.) How Specialized Ought You to be? These are arguments for specializing in subjects and/or kinds of written products." This is not usually the case when you are working on contract. and my access to other computer databases via my own computer and modem-telephone links. and otherwise delve wherever you can. by utilizing the mail. perhaps an outline. report formats. you decide for yourself what you will write. Labor Department). in the hope of finding a buyer after you have written it. in the beginning you tend to undertake almost anything and everything you can get a purchase order or contract for. speculating. "from scratch" effort. the telephone. for example. Some Typical Cases To illustrate the above more clearly. You decide that you like certain kinds of assignments and dislike other kinds. As your research progresses. If you are equipped with a good computer system and adequate software. . proposals. but.writing--e. of course: You visit libraries. What is "Research"? When you freelance in the traditional manner. In that case the client provides you with a requirement and usually at least some beginning information in the form of rough notes. in some form. gave me. without a conscious decision to do so. or whatever it is you have undertaken to write.. search through old records. and you may very well begin to specialize gradually. I personally do not undertake to write books that would require what I consider to be excessive amounts of research. you may get nothing more than the bare requirement." may therefore consist of nothing more than sorting out and reading everything provided. we'll look at a few cases of my own: The training development office of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration." The guide was to assist college faculties in preparing a relevant course of instruction. again. you have advantages that help you achieve a high rate of productivity.
However. It was not a profitable job. because most of the technical knowledge is already in my head. including research and writing. every organization. A client who organizes retained me to prepare reports on the seminar perhaps 500 words. A non-profit corporation near my office sold a "prepaid legal services. I was hired to handle their publicity." group plan (analogous to group hospitalization plans). I therefore recommended the development of a "study guide" of about 60 pages (about 15. and I need to refer only to standard technical volumes in my own office library. When I write on subjects in which I am already reasonably expert--electronics.400. The client furnished all the or conference. for which I had to develop my own outline and plan the extensive research required. speeches. for training seminars for government agencies often the brochures. This was a $9. and I had to do complete research. estimating the job at $2. far beyond anyone's capacity to pursue them all. For example. that something more than a curriculum guide was necessary. This took about two days and paid me $600. I decided. expending about 100 hours on the job. begged many more from the U. I bought a number of books. Two hours' study of the manuals showed me that more information for the instructor was needed. a student manual and an instructor's guide. 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. and other things of this type everywhere--every business. uses written products.My research consisted of studying the two volumes that made up the course material. which would include the curriculum guide.000 project. I took on the job of preparing a two-hour presentation of the history and culture of the American Indians.000 words). I had no prior knowledge of the subject at all. I happen to be a professional writer in the most literal sense of the word. And the markets are enormously diversified.500. and I wrote a brochure of which I was usually paid $150. for example--most of my research is in the client's outline or book plan. visited with officials of several Indian reservations. Bureau of Indian Affairs. I then took the materials home and did the job there. On the other hand. for-profit or non-profit. many of the . Where (and What) Are the Markets? The markets for writing brochures. audiovisual scripts. 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. and discussing their content with several OSHA experts.S. (1974 prices!) The job was approved and a government purchase order issued. after this research. The client furnished the information and the original script that had never been completed.) 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. writing newspaper articles and other PR for them. lecture guides. (In 1996 I would price that job at about $8.
even--for the buyers of a small calculator or kitchen blender. The point is that you do not have to be an author. The training field is an excellent example. to succeed at this business. Manufacturers also need such things as specification sheets. 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. Before long. have an advertising agency handle their writing chores. slogans invented. for example. There is a substantial market for developing training programs of many kinds. basic accounting principles. in this field of freelance writing we are more writing consultants than freelance writers in the classical sense.freelance writers making a good living in this kind of writing work are not professional writers at all. junior executives. news release. seminars. sales letters. clerks. 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). Some of the larger organizations have their own writers on staff. and hundreds of other subjects considered to be a necessity for modern living. signs designed. beyond high school and even beyond college. brief instruction manuals--brochures and booklets. engineers. They need advertising copy written. and other "canned" programs. You do not have to be one who has the psychological need to be a professional writer. but even those are often overloaded or need someone with special skills and experience and vend writing work out to freelancers.g. all work for writers. energy conservation. And still others are former teachers. and still another managed one of a chain of hardware stores. frequently. audiovisual presentations. Many large organizations. In actuality. But they cannot always find off-the-shelf or proprietary programs (e. if they do a great deal of advertising. supervisory principles and practices. And soon he found himself spending as much time writing as he did illustrating. Manufacturers need manuals for the equipment they manufacture. For example. With technology developing rapidly. was an illustrator who found himself preparing advertising art for most of his clients. who didn't do a great deal of . Many just happened into this field by chance and found it profitable. in the classical sense of that word. but quite often they are simple. sociologists. catalog sheets. Bear it in mind. but advertising agencies often hire freelance writers to help them. circulars. to teach these. One person I know. value management. and so must develop their own programs. and many other such items. Sometimes these are technical manuals. psychologists. marketing brochures. product releases. almost everyone who isn't a day laborer requires specialized training of some kind. Another writer I know started as a sign painter. 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. he discovered that he could write acceptable copy for that advertising. one large corporation. Anyone who can handle the language with reasonable facility and fluency can do this kind of work adequately.. safety.
That may require working evenings or over a weekend. I have often worked by the day as a proposal specialist. I may find it expedient to make special arrangements. in fact. Others negotiate a flat price for each job. You make your own rules. (Yes. companies. A number of individuals built up substantial companies offering such services. that are typical of proposal schedules. and they suddenly realize. paid me over $4. associations. I and others . Professionals are called on to prepare and deliver papers at conventions and conferences.) But that is not necessarily how others work. in part. your talent. often 14-hour days. The client is buying your time. we have talked mainly about organizations--corporations. is a "quick response" service.000 a day. but if you are willing to make a few sacrifices you can usually win such jobs (rescue operations!). and the better you satisfy it. I simply do not count the hours. report. For long-term assignments. the more valuable your service is. It's worth doing. others for an 8-hour day and bill time-and-one-half for overtime and double-time for weekends and holidays worked. which were at least as much work as the writing I was paid for all this work. You are. and printing. your energy. or other obligation. Working people must write resumes and special letters of many kinds. was. I charge and am paid accordingly. your expert knowledge. your effort. theses. You are satisfying a need. on a consideration that many days will be well in excess of 8 hours. generally charging from $150 to $300 a day in the early days. if you are willing to. because each situation is different and each individual's preferences are different. So far. But that daily rate is based on a presumed short-term assignment. and some individuals specialize in such services. If you wish to take advantage of such opportunities. I prefer a flat day-rate. and governments. as inflation progressed. at least as much the writing consultant as the writer.000 to develop a marketing of 20 pages. then $500 a day. usually a few days. that they are not going to --make the date" without some extra help. But individuals often need writing services too. advertise your quick response or quick reaction services. even if you do not yet realize it. and to write articles for technical and professional journals.national brochure layouts. Students must write term papers. I had to arrange for typesetting. art work. as they approach the deadline. Some charge by the hour. 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. 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. (My daily rate is based. and then $1. 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. dissertations. One of the great inducements you can offer. and I have a most flexible scale as to how many hours make up a day. to make speeches. Many organizations find themselves in difficulty meeting a deadline--a scheduled delivery date--for a proposal. but only the day. but advertising.
term papers. a good rate for those days. as a kind of briefing paper! A graduate student paid me nearly $1. I believe.000 to write a master's thesis. By mailing or otherwise distributing brochures and sales letters.) 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. especially letters to organizations. going as far as he could go without some professional help. (Not exactly a form letter.800 to attend a week-long training session and critique the program. A placement firm paid me to develop an entire marketing approach. addresses to groups. A federal government agency hired me to answer their mail and to design a complete set of standard replies to the most frequently asked questions. is to simply distribute your brochures in office buildings.) It came out to about $20 per letter! Another government agency paid me $1. Mailing can be difficult. in seeking orders from individuals for resumes. (An idea you might borrow. By making in-person and/or telephone solicitations. She hired me to review several school journals she supplied and abstract all the pertinent articles for her. for which he had already prepared an outline and drawn up a rough draft. Get enough brochures/circulars/letters out this way. It is usually not effective in getting work from organizations. In this case. A few initiatives: Many individuals begin by placing small classified advertisements in the daily morning newspapers. . You need to collect names. Far better. That works reasonably well. some of them chief executives of important companies. either. An association paid me to prepare a newsletter for them every month. I merely wrote.are often hired to write letters for individuals. paid me to write resumes and cover letters for them. typed. Now comes the critical question: How to get assignments and orders--how to get started doing business. That is better pursued in other ways: Advertising in trade journals that the organization members read. A city employee hired me to write a letter appealing a decision of the civil service board. and delivered the camera-ready copy to them every month for a fee which averaged about 25 cents per word. in preparation for her first board meeting. And it can be expensive: postage costs are high and still climbing steadily. since almost every office is a prospect. including the presentation to individual applicants. a contract form. then went out and sold it to a national association. I developed the newsletter idea.) They took care of the printing and distribution (mailing). with my recommendations for improvement. and sometimes remarkably well. and you are almost certain to begin getting calls. and the like. (He got the decision reversed!) And many individuals. and a resume workshop for clients.
libraries. Take on jobs you know you can handle swiftly and with good results. (Why is that? Who knows? Ask your psychologist. Ask them to take a handful of your brochures and cards to give to their business associates. friends. Follow up.) Be highly specific in your literature. efficient. in the end. accommodating service. in the long run. Tell the prospect exactly what you offer to do. as many as you can. ". Build a reputation. Or specify references available on request. When you get the "Sorry. often of utmost importance. but blessed with great persistence. other organizations." ask for referrals or suggestions as to whom else to call. local companies.g. list references. I don't have a thing for you right now. Make your telephone number prominent. g. and acquaintances. All we know is that it is true. and before you know it you won't be seeking assignments. (You will be surprised how many people want and need professional writing services. Call some of the prospects later.written speeches for prominent. local architect". Post notices on public bulletin boards in supermarkets. newsletters. magazines.. convenient.. Many people throw a brochure away the first time it comes into their hands. Make personal calls with your literature. Stress service--fast. for reasons too complex to explore in this limited space Start small. trade journals. When you have completed a few assignments. than the brilliant individual who is not persistent. Write up press releases for yourself and send them out to newspapers. business clubs. third. You'll be surprised at how much help you can get this way. Make it easy to do business with you--e.Call every acquaintance. community buildings. local colleges. will almost always do better. many who hesitate to call because they never take the initiative will hire you if you take the initiative. than single mailings to new lists. and tell them about your service. easy to find. but hang on to it as it arrives for the second. either by name or by general reference (e. business and personal. they'll be seeking you! CHAPTER 7 How to Get Ideas for Books and Articles Early Difficulties . one simple 'phone call and you will do the rest. Persistence is important. or fourth time and becomes familiar and recognizable. Repeat mailings to a given list are almost always more effective. The individual of average talent and ability.) Ask them to recommend you to others.
But then you worry about not only where you will get the next worthy idea. (Anyway. outline idea Write first draft Revise/rewrite/polish draft Submit final draft. as well as their writing skills. as well as for beginners. It involves three phases or functions. That is. spellings.Editors have been defined as people who don't know what they want until they see it. or weeks. you do the necessary research and gather together the data to flesh the idea out and expand it into an outline (and book plan. which you submit. the greatest difficulty is in getting ideas to develop into articles. At that point. story. and polish it into the final. punctuation. from draft through as many revisions and rewrites as necessary. The Creative Process First of all. Translated. Work on it as long as you can. but also whether you will ever get another good one. It seems to be such mental agony to try to think up ideas. editors will change them!) But first we must get and develop the ideas. Ultimately. stories. That can and should continue doing that for as long as you think you are making any progress at all. and so difficult to succeed in doing so. or book. getting basic ideas proves to be the easiest part of the task. Evolution of a Manuscript The logical evolution of any writing follows this general sequence: Get idea Research idea Organize. In fact. to get enough ideas to keep you busy writing salable articles. try to understand the creative process. much later. finished draft. if it is an idea for a book). it is time to incubate the quest. But that comes later. they can have someone fix that if they like our ideas and the ways in which we present those ideas. Then you write the ms. You get one that you think is right. Our natural inclination is to do just that: ponder the problem and research our memories for relevant information and ideas. Getting ideas is a typical beginner's difficulty. this means simply that editors depend on writers--freelance writers--for their ideas. even if your grammar. for most writers. whether that is in hours. (There is another important step. nor even our rhetoric (such skills are easily and cheaply bought). days. Let us talk about how to do that. Editors do not buy the accuracy of our grammar and punctuation. when you have trained yourself to be creative. They are what we sell. that of setting the slant or angle so necessary to making the idea salable.) In the beginning. 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. but we'll get to that presently. can be a difficulty for old pros. and rhetoric are perfect. and you may or may not turn it into a salable article. you get the basic idea or concept. and books. Ideas are the currency of writers. .
Forget about the quest. your subconscious passes an answer to your conscious mind. (Note that the art of hypnosis requires that the hypnotist persuade you to relax totally so that the hypnotist can gain access to your subconscious. and books. It will report when ready. As a result. You will always address your problems this way. You will have more ideas than you can use. that is--at least for the present. Go out dancing. after I had written and sold my first one. Perhaps you are simply resting in the sun or idly listening to music. and is working on it for you. and go on to other things in your life. when you have forgotten about it. has managed to pass the problem on to your subconscious mind. During incubation. and especially when you are in a relaxed mental state. for now. even though you cannot consciously remember it." That is how your subconscious works for you in getting ideas for articles. The Entire Process Becomes Subconscious In time. The supply of . but after you put it out of mind. your subconscious is working on the problem.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. Go to a movie. Literally. I am still getting ideas for new books. Go to an amusement park. Voila! You have an inspiration! Did you ever try to recall a name or a face and find you couldn't. and they come to me at odd times. and you will find them popping into your head unbidden. and contact between your conscious and subconscious is easiest then. in concentrating on the problem and working at it as long as possible. Your sub-conscious now has it. when you have done enough of this. while you have dismissed the problem from your conscious mind and gone on to other things. heard. Now. it will become second nature. to a degree: When you have invested enough time in intensive conscious efforts to get new ideas. You can control it. Inspiration comes to you when your subconscious mind passes a solution to your conscious mind. at some later time it suddenly popped into your head? That is one example of the process. Then. Some-how. (I worked hard to get an idea for a second book. or read. 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. You will recognize leads you would not have recognized before. your subconscious will come to be always on the alert for ideas. it seems that the conscious mind is most receptive at that point. more than 60 books later. I recently tried for an hour to recall the name of that flammable stuff dropped during the Viet Nam conflict and couldn't. This normally happens when your conscious mind is relaxed. when books are the last thing on my mind. Several days later it suddenly popped into my head: it was napalm. It has the advantage over your conscious mind that it tends to remember everything you have ever seen. Read a book for pleasure. Forget about the problem. take a break. Go off and relax. You then put the problem out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. stories.
One morning. Let's talk now about these sources. that it is second only to back problems in frequency. some of the stories are amusing enough to appeal to everyone--George Washington's false teeth made of wood (or so it is alleged).) . How about visiting a few of these and doing some articles. TV especially. (In fact. hadn't thought about it wearing down over the 22 years it has been in my mouth. for example. we researched the subject. (If you visit enough of them. such as tips for the bargain hunter. the National Enquirer has carried such articles. It must be fed and stimulated. 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. since it appears to still be in perfect shape. No doubt we could turn some of the research we did into popular articles on the subject. Another story in the paper that morning was of a federal employee who stole $1.7 million in freshly printed currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. 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. followed by columns of ads announcing estate sales and auction sales.) What stories do they have to tell of finding rare treasures or adventures they have had? I went to the dentist yesterday to have my dentures checked. 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. 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. My wife suffers from inner-ear problems--vertigo and nausea. Simpson pursuit on the Los Angeles freeways. I learned that my upper denture is so badly worn down that it ought to be replaced. J. Other published material is one prime source of new ideas. the market for such material is not only the denture wearers of society. In fact.ideas is free and yet it is not free. although there are plenty of not-so-old-folks who wear dentures of various kinds. We found that it is a problem much more common than we realized. you will begin to see some familiar faces. I see column after column of classifieds advertising garage sales. when the Washington Post headlined the drama of the O. Sources of Ideas There are many fonts from which to draw ideas. I wondered about other spectacular police chases: Have there been others as widely covered by the press as this one? Others involving public figures? How did the media. After she developed this problem and it was diagnosed. What other cases of stealing directly from the government's printing presses have there been? What other robberies of equal magnitude in dollars? How about a book of "million-dollar robberies"? Or maybe "The 10 largest robberies in history"? Even the classified ads stimulate ideas. The daily newspaper is one of the best sources.
If you have a periodical in mind.egg proposition: Which do you do first? (Note that while this was written with reference to writing articles for periodicals. or into studies of interesting individuals who pursue and shop at garage sales regularly. That might be novel or unusual garage sales or insight into the great numbers and variety of garage sales. Or I have read a chapter in a book that inspired an entire book on the subject. and auction sales--is only the beginning. 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. for most book publishers specialize in the types of books and subjects on which they publish..g. And it can easily be a general-interest piece for a general-interest periodical. an article (or book) on garage. but the book was much too heavy technically to be of much use to any reader who is not a technical expert. consciously or unconsciously. 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. in which case you want to write for and address it to such a periodical as Income Opportunities.I have read magazine articles that inspired ideas for books because the subject of the article merited a book. But the idea can also be slanted to other interests. it applies equally to books. Let's return to the classified advertising I mentioned earlier. But even then you need an angle. be sure that you understand just what kind of slant is right for that publisher. so I wrote a book on the subject that anyone could read and understand. and have gone on later to write that book. Most ideas can be turned into more than one article by slanting it to an audience. Or I have read books that were on subjects more people ought to know about." The rest of the wording makes it appear to be an . Most teachers of freelance writing stress the need to understand the slant of the publisher and the publisher's books or periodicals. such as how to find rare coins. for example). and recommend or at last imply strongly that you ought to choose the periodicals first. at generating ideas. (Databased Marketing. Using Others' Ads as Idea Stimulators There are many other ways of stimulating your mind to work. One other way is to turn the quest into a problem to be solved. Many of these are rather mystical. What could they mean? Let's look at a few: Under "Miscellaneous" an ad appears that begins "PROTECT YOURSELF and your loved ones. But either way. The Chicken and the Egg Slanting an article or and choosing the right kind of periodical is a chicken-and.) You can do it either way. Ideas Must be Slanted Getting a raw idea--e. in which case it ought to be addressed to a periodical that addresses hobbyists generally or numismatists especially. for example. estate. Frequenting such sales can be a business idea--looking for items to resell. you must understand the periodical's own slant and match it.
such as police officials. especially with book publishers. On the other hand. Would idea: How about finding and interviewing and not to do if you are assaulted. That is. Magnifying the Probability of Acceptance Slanting your writing to the interests of the publisher's market is not as simple as it may appear because there are degrees of matching your slant to the publisher's slant. home. You must allow for that margin of error in judgment. Many successful books. traveled from one publisher to another for many weary months before finding a home. That is a most common story in publishing. you have an almost certain sale. of course. the periodical addressing coin collectors is obviously more narrowly focused and specialized than is a periodical that addresses collectors generally. and yet prove to be wrong in it. But if you find a few shoppers who actually have made good finds of rare coins at garage sales." 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. in that respect.) On the other hand. even some that have become best sellers and some that became classics. Stacking the Odds in Your Favor . your article might not be a new idea to the readers of that numismatics periodical.advertisement for some protective device. 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. who may be entirely justified in his or her judgment. precisely with their focus is. (It is not always easy to tell. to use an example we have already used here. with descriptions and some expert opinions for qualified people. such as a chemical spray or perhaps an alarm. have to interview and quote a few people who had some kind of credentials as experts. 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. 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. the chances of acceptance would not be as great as they would be at the periodical focusing on coin collectors. The publisher's slant may be narrow or it may be broad. such as nutritionists or well-known authors of diet books that have done well and been accepted. rejection of a query or proposal may be simply a reflection of judgment on the part of the editor. 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. Patience and perseverance are essential traits for success in freelance writing. If you sent that article about the chances of finding rare coins at garage sales to the latter periodical.
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
You Don't Have to be an Expert The interesting thing is that you do not have to be an expert.What I am selling is information: how to do certain things--write a resume. get free advertising. and other such items. It's not hard to get ideas for such reports. get rid of gophers. many subjects from government agencies. xerographic copy made in copy shops is as good as printed copy. to see what people are interested in.x 11-inch. That will be more complicated. write a will. you must rewrite it and put it into your own words. that is--it would be most practicable to go to an offset print shop for them. Most of these are in the public domain. is to start with the 8-1/2. There is a great advantage in having your reports stored on a computer disk and being able to print them out individually. Many people want this information and don't mind paying to get it. But if you turn to copyrighted material. and thousands of other kinds of information. The federal government is one. My suggestion. Composing and Production You can type reports on a conventional (and rapidly becoming old-fashioned. however. buy at wholesale or discount prices. you will find. although not the language. such as how to cook good barbecue. This is a quite acceptable format. especially those weekly tabloids sold in the super-markets. Prices may . That is because copyright does not cover ideas or information. That means that they are not copyrighted. and you can use the material freely to make up your own reports. One cannot copyright ideas and information. If I need large quantities of copies--numbering in the hundreds. start a business. or you can type it as two-column copy to be printed as a 5-1/2. Read the display advertisements too. become a consultant. you can still use the information. I have my own copier today. if not obsolete) typewriter or on a computer printer. and you can get many free and nearly free pamphlets and brochures on many. manage their money. such as books and magazines you turn to. they will also give you a good idea of what the public is interested in and wants to read about. Today. I sell to a specialized audience--people who need business information. unless you want to turn the job over to a printer and invest in an inventory. if and as it is in your interest to do so. Study the classified advertisements in any good newspaper. reduce their tax burdens. corner-stitched report format until you learn whether the demand is great enough to justify investment in a regular printing. as long as the information offered is useful. But there are others who want other kinds of information. but I usually find it more practicable to print copies on my laser printer as I need them.x 8-1/2-inch booklet. There are abundant sources of information. get social security benefits. You can type it in this format. it covers merely a given combination of words (and/or illustrations).
the cost of learning. Elder Wheeler put it. they do not. etc. And sometimes it does not. Those are emotional appeals. Take note of TV commercials. under their own labels. That is. secure. especially when you are starting out. they buy quarter-inch holes. That is because we all have many wants. Does it work? Sometimes. how you present your product determines how well your copy succeeds in attracting orders. you should offer a smaller discount than if they . not to his or her reason. "Sell the sizzle. Assume that you will make mistakes. not the drills. will cost you $5 a word and more. make them thirsty! (But he is best remembered for his dictum. Do they sell beer? No. if you want to sell people lemonade. Writing Advertising Copy In preparing advertising copy. and to be a success in life. These are the kinds of benefits that motivate them to buy. Selling Your Report The obvious approach to marketing is paid advertising. deduct their commissions.") And. admired. That means that they take the orders. however." (It's the holes they want. You must appeal to the prospect's emotions. writing advertisements and buying space in periodicals to run the advertisements. rational appeals do not. such as beer commercials. paying them a commission or discount--probably 50%--and having them do the selling to the consumers. they sell fun--good times with your friends. have limited funds. emotional wants: everybody wants to be amused. many of which you could not possibly have foreseen or calculated.) Gauge how well your ads pull before you invest in the more expensive media. not the steak. among many other things.) Expanding Your Business Base You do not have to market your reports directly. loved. and respected. As that late great salesman. "People don't buy quarter-inch drills. including TV commercials. (The biggies--National Enquirer. and are learning. Emotional appeals bring sales. If you drop-ship for them. and learn from them. that is--rarely has anything to do with how much you spend on it. You can drop-ship for them. they buy what the things do. so you will have to determine what is most appropriate for you in your own case. along with a shipping or mailing label. happy. it is a good idea to supply them with reproducible copies of advertising copy you have developed. People don't buy things. Try some small newspapers. receive payment. so it is indeed a gamble.vary widely from one place to another. at a few cents a word advertising rates. such as circulars or print advertisements. and send you the balance. you must sell the benefits--what the product does for the buyer--not the product itself. You can establish dealers. They are what produce sales. There are many variables. If you do this. to save money. Study successful advertisements. Be modest about your advertising budget. romance on the beach. Popular Mechanics. have fun. as another wise seller observed. Do as much testing as possible. macho manhood in the mountains. And whether it works or not--works well or not. such as country weeklies. enjoy good health. however.
monthly. a Rhinebeck. and sundry other topics. And Howard Penn Hudson. quarterly. 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. if circumstances justify it. But the distribution is so wide that "averages" do not really reveal much about this astonishing market. Newsletter Publishing Newsletter publishing is a profitable venture for many small publishers. bimonthly. businesses. 32. for even more. There are many thousands of newsletters published. weekly. thus is relatively more difficult to market. two-way radio licenses issued. and even annually. environmental pollution. profession. The list price must probably be at least three times the cost. and ore--although most range between 4 and 12.. semi-annually. DISADVANTAGES: Burdens you with a regular commitment (monthly. and there are newsletters published on virtually all subjects--investments. is a repeat business. and even . weekly. builds a salable asset. Pricing Your Product To succeed in any business--and you must regard publishing as a business --you must charge enough to recover all expenses. Should you decide to undertake newsletter publishing. You can always increase the number of pages and the frequency of publication later. It has its advantages and disadvantages as a publishing venture: ADVANTAGES: Provides continuing income. etc). product safety. g. 8. with pressures and deadlines to face. government procurement. Whatever you sell must retail for considerably more than its cost to you. for example. 16. in some cases. occupational safety and health. Washington man. and establishes a medium for your own advertising and sales promotion. technologies. There are newsletters on every government program--e. publishes a newsletter on the subject we are writing about here.000. in this case. the cost to manufacture them.stock your reports in some quantity and do their own shipping. not of your profit). There are many thousands of newsletters published in the United States. crafts. Virginia woman launched another newsletter on writing and editing generally. also known as profit. They are published on every schedule--daily. The value of the newsletter is whatever the subscribers think it is worth to them. and a relatively high-priced item. Estimates of the total range from 30. biweekly. An Alexandria. They range in size from one page to many pages--4. New York man known widely as an authority on newsletter publishing. hobbies. and just about every business. writing and self-publishing.000 to as high as 100. and craft. Jerry Buchanan. and still show a return on investment. and they sell for from $12 to $200 per year and. The average subscription price is probably in the area of $36 to $48 per year for a monthly publication. publishes a newsletter about newsletter publishing (Newsletter on Newsletters). in most cases. pay yourself a reasonable salary (your salary is part of your expenses. a Vancouver.
The counterpart of this in selling reports. but should try for a break-even and earn profits out of renewals of subscriptions. that is--are notoriously difficult to win. That does not include your labor--what you must pay yourself--or the taxes. and perhaps even more. The reason for this is the great cost of marketing most products. In cosmetics. That is usually easy to do in this field because the manufacturing cost--printing and binding--is a small fraction of the selling price. Let's estimate it at 60 cents per copy. You must therefore charge at least three times your manufacturing cost for your publications. or anything else. principally. Still. That is because newsletter subscriptions--initial ones. selling. 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. That must come out of the gross profit and still leave you a bit of net profit. for that matter.00. often the package--tube. that is a bare minimum markup. and postage--adds about 70 cents. which must cover all other expenses and profit. jar. The selling price is also determined by "the market"--by what equivalent competitive products are bringing. depending on quantity. if the business is to be worth your time. insurance. is that there is a vast difference between making sales and making customers. but the new customer is an asset that will soon produce profits via follow-up sales to that new customer. and fulfillment. Manufacturing this report costs perhaps 25 to 90 cents to print and bind each copy. or bottle costs more than the cosmetic contained therein. for example.50. which should be essentially without cost to win. For the selling price is not simply three times the manufacturing cost. the manufacturing cost is almost minuscule. The established newsletter is a great asset in that it represents a customer list and a medium by which to sell those customers other . this great markup does not produce exorbitant profits.50 the report that costs you 50 cents to manufacture because the market for the report is likely to be $2 or $3. costs one-half the cover price: $2. including-advertising and/or commissions-. Many businesses actually lose money on the initial sale to a new customer because of the great cost of winning that customer. including printing. Selling. envelope. The range between the manufacturing cost and the selling price shrinks quite rapidly when all the costs are considered. Understanding the Costs There are three kinds of cost to consider: manufacturing. To be on the safe side in the beginning. Fulfillment. and other overhead of conducting a business. So you do not sell for $1. Conventional wisdom in the field is that one should not try to make a profit out of initial subscriptions.that is often too narrow a margin. There are some special considerations in newsletter publishing.
the "hook" to capture the viewer's attention and interest immediately. That was the publication that got me into mail order on a serious basis. At that point I began to research the mail order business seriously. That is what a good lead in a story or an article does. and soon you begin to get ideas in plentiful quantity. recently asked me how to write a query to a magazine editor. not because they are engineers but because a great many people hate to write. if it is done well enough. and more and more ideas presented themselves to me. The article came back promptly. I began by writing and selling a resume guide for people who wanted help in writing their own resumes. but he should have had no trouble with the idea. but sold those off eventually to concentrate on writing books for major book publishers. I knew it to be a tightly written . technical writing. firmly rejected. a playwright who has never tried to write for periodicals. Most engineers dislike this part of the job. 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. I was therefore inspired once to write an article on the art of technical writing and send it off to an engineering trade journal. I was disappointed. The Little Lead That Could Many years ago. more and more material came across my desk every day. I don't know if he understood that or not. you are more or less reports. while I was working as a technical writer and learning to freelance in my spare time. but even keep those fees modest to encourage a large circulation.) As my name got onto many people's mailing lists. This ultimately conditions your mind to be alert for ideas. Until then. with an eye-opener of some sort. for he didn't reply directly. arouses interest. as must most professionals. since they earn their profits through selling other items to subscribers. In my own case. as part of their duties. (I formerly published several newsletters also. and soon began to develop a series of a writer. I was also truly puzzled. for he has written enough of those TV scripts that open. of course. In fact. many newsletter publishers do not make great efforts to earn profits from subscription fees. and that the rest of the query would not matter greatly if the lead was powerful enough. It captures attention. Getting Ideas It may be hard to get that first idea for a newsletter or a report. even before the titles.items. and sets the stage. But once you begin to focus and concentrate your attention on the problem. fortunately for those of us who like to write. CHAPTER 9 The Magic of the Lead How Important is the Lead? Someone. such as reports and books. My answer was to start with the best lead he could come up with. Then I expanded that into a guide for people who wanted to start a resume-writing business.
000 to Answer its mail. He bought it immediately! Here is what my magic new lead said: "Mr. The first page of one of my books on selling to the government started with a chapter title in large bold type. confronting the reader with this: "The U." The magic of that new lead was simply that it gave the reader a powerful reason for reading the article. 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. That is what a good lead does: it captures the reader and sells your work. while setting the stage for what is to follow. making the job easier. Engineer. It all adds up to here is what this will do for you about that distasteful writing chore. And then I did what I promised: I provided the tips to make technical writing easier to do. this is how you do it. (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. I finally got an inspiration: I changed the lead--nothing else--and sent it straight back to the same editor who had rejected it. . that venerable writer's periodical. In my lead. with some tips to solve your problem. You have to work at making it appear to be natural and spontaneous. 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.S. idea. He presented that illuminating idea in the Writer's Digest. Here are a few tips and suggestions to make writing a lot easier for you. I was saying this: Hey! Mr. trying to deduce a reason for its rejection. with the promise of revelation. It will help You. but it is an inescapable part of engineering. Evaluate Your Lead Good leads are sometimes spontaneous inspirations that spring directly from your subconscious into your conscious mind suddenly. and yet to the point. But I wasn't ready to give it up. Engineer. "Hey!" is some relevant way to get attention. often startling. direct language. thorough. Most of the time you aren't that fortunate: You have to work at developing a dynamite lead. and "See?" is the copy following that explains what your lead has introduced. Government Paid Me $6. 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. writing is a distasteful task. "You!" is something to hold the attention by connecting the idea with the reader's interest. See. this is about that distasteful writing job. so I studied the piece I had written. It is in forceful. that is what it ought ideally to appear to be. I also knew it to be sound. then.piece. hence a reason for the editor to buy it. as well as an explanation of what the article was about. written out of my own extensive experience in technical writing.
Heads. even shock value. it can be combined with or compressed into a title or a headline." Such titles are unimaginative. and capture its essence. That works especially well when you can manage it. boring.000 to Answer their Mail! to see what I mean with respect to those factors. I) will probably select and use an entirely different title to attract readers. 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. It is dramatic. and Captions While I am on the subject of titles. of themselves. . and ought to do the same job for it that any lead does: forecast what is to come. I want something with high impact. attention-demanding.) I always assume that anything I write for publication must have at least two titles. It helps you get a good focus on what you ought to try to do in writing a title. Ideally. 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. since it may be dropped later and replaced. Titles are thus an important element in marketing your work for the very reason just described: They are. (Were I writing it today. Often. Compare The $100 Billion Market with The U. revelatory of the presentation strategy. 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. my book titled. (My own book proposals always present a suggested title in full caps. I want the title to be novel. it's a good idea to always think of titles as leads. In fact. I am thinking only of how I can explain my idea quickly and arouse the editor's interest immediately. That title for the proposed book or article (call it the "working title") is solely to help me sell it.It is a promise of what is to come.S. The U. novel. although not always. The $100 Billion Market would be called. Every headline and caption is a lead to what follows. Or should be. possibly. since they are usually the first thing the editor sees in your query or proposal. But when I am writing my proposal. Good Leads are More Than Attention-Getters Don't get the idea from what has been said here earlier that the sole or even chief function or purpose for a lead is to sell the book or article idea to an editor. that elaborates on the theme set by the title. Government Paid Me $6.000 to Answer their Mail!) Later. Make your titles a part of your story. and contribute absolutely nothing to moving the story along. followed by a subtitle in initial caps and lower case.S. Avoid generic titles. There is a much more value to a lead than that: A good lead helps you write the story. or amusing. And I do not fear using a long title. Government Paid Me $6. such as "Introduction. especially not in the case of the working title. we ( the publisher and. leads.
as I write. I am laying the groundwork for the piece. Does that mean that you must do this too? No. I suppose that different writers get their ideas from different sources and in different ways. the style. an article.or how I discover them. usually. It doesn't matter whether it am working on a book. every word I had written--typed. For a short piece--an article or a report--I start with only a broad idea and what I know about the subject. I must still develop a lead and that becomes a first chapter. On one occasion. but it works for me. I think it significant that the result was the best-selling book of all that I have written. The lead is your road map. if you work this way. but necessary. I know." I am actually thinking out and trying out a number of ideas. while sorting them all out and developing an organization. It is your lodestone. certainly not. In it or with it. It sounds disorganized. when I did not adhere to that guide. who write from their leads. and a new lead had to be laboriously re-typed. that is. or a letter to someone: I can't go on until I am satisfied with the lead. 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. For the latter kind of writer. . I was forced to discard it all. I learned to trust my feelings in such matters before I get 50 pages into a new piece of work. For me. a lead that defines the job for me and tells me where I am going. its slant. the strategy of its organization. in effect. Titles and Leads as Basic Ideas One of the inevitable questions every author of books gets from strangers is. but it works best for me (as I presume it must for some other writers) to work out my ideas this way. working on the lead--and. And it illustrates not only how important and useful the lead is. It's no different. every writer has to develop his and her own style and own working habits: Do whatever works for you. you define what the piece will be about. I find myself unable to proceed with any piece of writing until I have developed a lead I am satisfied with. although I know that I will make changes later. of which I am one. the lead takes the place of an outline. It was most painful. and they generally follow their outlines as closely as possible. revising it many times and starting over frequently--is "thinking on paper. and it's not unrelated to leads and titles. but I do know where at least some of my ideas come from and how they find their way to me. usually. than developing a classic outline. For a lengthier piece--a book--I do write an outline. but how indispensable it is for me and other writers who have similar working habits. with as much detail as I can muster before actually writing anything. and I can speak only for myself. "Where do you get your ideas?" It's a fair question. your compass.Writing From the Lead There are many writers who prepare a careful outline before writing even the briefest of pieces. and other characteristics. There are others. or preface.
Make the title long enough to do the job. it inspired me to research and write my own book on how to set up a home office. 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. thinking about what you read.S. start with a long title deliberately.e. If you deliberately pursue ideas by reading extensively. (I can recall my struggle. new developments of all kinds. but it is a good way to provoke your mind. and can always be shortened later. another book that started with an idea for a title. If theirs are common problems and you have some answers. I did not have a great deal of trouble selling the idea of writing a book with that title. Be alert for new products. a news magazine. when I read an article in U. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas started out as How to Get Money-Making Ideas. 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. Don't be afraid to write long titles. methods. and sometimes even a stream of new ideas. but the first step is to get the idea written out. the title The $100 Billion Market lodged in my head and wouldn't go away." Pay attention to the problems friends and acquaintances have. That was before I had succeeded in . When I learned that the federal procurement budget had reached $100 billion (and more) each year. after my first book was published. Many successful books have long titles. and in a surprisingly short time. nor was my own How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant.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. you soon find yourself with more ideas than you can use." businesses based in private homes. The classic How to Make Friends and Influence People was not a short title. Marketing Without Money was another one that started with a title and kept the original title all the way. I can do better than that. when you come across stories in your field. as you read.. After a time your subconscious gets the idea and does all the above work for you--i. which was actually a brief lead. you think. a great many people would like to know about it. For example. News & World Report. and you don't know where they come from! Every experience you have seems to trigger a new idea. and discussing ideas with others. "Hey. new services. for example. to develop a workable idea for a second book. that there was currently a spate of "home offices. Long titles are not a burden. that's only half the story. You can trim it down later. if necessary. Sometimes editors will suggest ideas for books and articles. new Above all. but usually you are on your own in conceiving and developing ideas for your stories. in time. not all my books and articles start with ideas for titles. and they will occur to you spontaneously and with increasing frequency. listen. However. and observe life every day. work consciously at searching out new ideas. In fact. Often. It will quest constantly for ideas. Of course. Here are a few you can use: Read extensively in the field(s) of your greatest knowledge and interest.
Significantly. Everyone has problems of some sort. had used up all the ideas I would ever have. Specializing in this way has advantages: You maximize the results of your research and expertise. pestered with gophers. does a regular syndicated column on small business. and you begin to build a reputation as an expert in some special field. Timeliness of subject is another key to success in choosing subjects. and sold 14. If you learn of a solution to some problem. Another writer. such as high-definition TV. If you choose to write about small business.) Many of the ideas will be of no use. There is quite a large advantage in both these aspects. Two writers I know specialize in writing about automobiles and the automobile industry. Some subjects are timeless. but your conscious mind will perform the critical function and sort the ideas out. or you might opt to write about only some special kind of small business. trends in employment and job opportunities. One local writer in this area. for example. and new trends in automobile accessories come and go. since you have a special interest in the field. by all means consider writing about it. 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. 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. One man. depending on how diverse the general field is. evidently specializes in career activities--job finding. usually about the software programs. Research becomes much easier--is continuous and automatic. which is one reason for raising the . offering solutions to the most common ones are among the most salable writing. new tax laws. found an effective way to discourage them. of course. Sheryl Silver.conditioning my subconscious to help me in finding new book ideas. such as information brokering or consulting. people always want to know how to succeed. (Ten years and 25 or 30 books ago a well-known editor in a major book publishing house assured my agent. In more general terms. But pick up any magazine and see for yourself how many of the articles are about how to solve certain problems. You can carry this specialization further. when she approached him.000 copies of his two-page report on the subject. and anything. resume writing. you provide information in these books and articles. Many writers write about computers. and has had a successful book published on the subject. this writer's byline appears on page after page. But interests in many other subjects. Jane Applegate. books or articles. for example. That is what readers want: useful information. that I was all written out. to almost any degree. When the Washington Post runs its frequent special sections on jobs and careers. you might write about small business generally and range over the entire field. the subject of specialization is not unconnected to the subject of leads and titles. in fact. did some research.
suddenly and unexpectedly. One. who produced a highly successful series of "Dummies" guides to computer subjects. and I submitted it to my editor at AMACOM without comment. The Magic of the Subconscious Mind I am not a believer in mysticism or metaphysics. The editor rejected it. but I have learned something of the power of the subconscious mind and how to enlist it in your service. as the story I just related indicates. The friend wanted to write a rather scholarly book on consulting. Rockefeller. All because someone else's proposal planted a seed in my subconscious.") But it also inspired several other books of my own dealing with various aspects of consulting. A competitive publisher borrowed the idea and is imitating it with books for "Idiots. it was only a number of years later that a similar idea occurred to a publisher of computer books. a seed had been planted. The fact that a great many people are almost phobic abut using computers has not been lost on all computer writers. He wanted me to submit it to my current publisher. for him. etc. Why not? I had been a consultant myself. Or even by someone else's lack of success. and it turned out to be the most successful of my books. AMACOM. the thought of writing a book about consulting struck me. especially in the publishing of books: Just as Hollywood is quick to imitate a success--an unusually successful gangster movie will inspire a stream of gangster movies and TV shows--so it is with books. Some time later. An acquaintance sent a friend to visit me. and promptly forgot the entire incident. somewhere in the recesses of my mind. John Bear. rather than undertaking risky new beginnings." Oddly enough. I had no interest in the subject. wrote a highly successful book purporting to be directed to what he called in his title the "computer wimp. 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. 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. Eventually I did.subject here. It can be an internal source of great help. Somehow. with another publisher. and had written a proposal for such a book. and to this day I am writing "consultant's guides" to various activities--writing. I saw no harm in doing so. However. and I have since become known as something of a guru on the subject. negotiations." That illustrates another fact of life about publishing. John Wiley & Sons. the subject was not one that I would have to research from scratch. The following explanation of how it . And so I began to toy with the idea of doing a book on that subject. contracts. The late John D. 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. and has since expanded to subjects in other fields. himself an immensely successful oil magnate (Standard Oil) was one who recommended emulating others' success. At the moment. It created a specialty for me. and certainly knew other consultants. and I returned the proposal to the author.
It may be laziness. and put the matter completely out of your mind--out of your conscious mind. and without a satisfying lead. you can use the magic of the subconscious mind to make you a better writer. Beating Writer's Block Probably every writer suffers from block now and then. there are other even more valuable uses possible. The latter will work on the problem below the conscious level and get back to you at some future time. and listen as widely as possible. or the idea you couldn't generate consciously. Write a bad poem. blocked or not.) That is another place where I use my subconscious to help me. usually when you are relaxing at some casual activity. One of the beauties of writing with a computer and word processor is that you can do this so easily. That is the key to getting all the ideas you will ever need or can ever use for things to write about. and your subconscious will sort and sift the information and come up with ideas. Start scribbling. When I finished my first book and managed to find a publisher for it. Scribble anything. that is. and does everything but write--works at finding reasons to delay getting to work and writing. number. Anyone can do it. I am nowhere with the new book or article: I simply can't get going until I get that lead mastered. fatigue. The way to impart a need to it is to concentrate consciously on the problem or need for as long as you can. looks out the window. suddenly pops into your head. that is. Turn your total attention to something else. view. and it does. then. After more than 60 books. If I don't manage that. I struggled for a time to get a good idea for a second book. But using it to get new ideas is only the beginning. but must use an indirect channel. That turns it over to your subconscious. That is when the name. I will fall victim to that dread writer's disease known as writer's block. despite all efforts. .works resulted from a study done by interviewing a number of prominent inventors and thinkers on how they get their ideas: The subconscious is a wondrous mechanism one that can accomplish near-miracles for you when you learn to recruit it in your service. I always have trouble starting a new book or a new article--trouble developing my lead. For one. unfortunately (or perhaps that is fortunate). Read. makes telephone calls. goes to the kitchen to make coffee. straightens up the desk. My remedy is to write. You can't communicate with it directly. psychic rebellion--who knows? But it's debilitating for a writer. 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. It's a disease of unknown origin. it's just understanding how to make your own mind work for you. You can condition your subconscious mind to be always alert for ideas and to suggest them to your conscious mind without being prompted further. browses in the dictionary. and then discard everything or any part of what you have written. (That is the disease where the writer sharpens pencils. write anything. or word you couldn't remember earlier. and then abandon it when you have exhausted all conscious efforts.
not the writing per se. in a great many cases it requires not only writing ability. It means that you have been retained to do a specific job. But write. financial management. It makes you a consultant. psychology. For those of us to whom writing comes easily and is even an enjoyable thing to do. Before long. for which I was paid $1000/day. but also some subject-matter expertise. and not as a writer. personnel. printing. banking. It does. Make an analysis of those subjects in which you have substantial knowledge and experience--e. It is thus an indicator of where you ought to concentrate your efforts as a writer or. There are many areas of need in which this is possible. the professionals. more specifically. or it ought to. Start the juices. e. and I hope it will work for you. but that also qualifies as consulting work. do it as a consultant. doing custom work for a client--actually makes you more than a writer.000 a day without difficulty as a proposal writer: It was because I was more than a writer: I was a proposal strategist. The average person hates to write. under contract. considerable expertise. that may be hard to understand. This is how and why I could command $1. There are many needs for writing in the business world and particularly in most of the specialized businesses and professions. serving a specific client need and probably solving a client's problem.Start a science-fiction absurdity. so that the program followed a specific marketing strategy I had designed.. marketing. preferably. management.. At least. more specialized. and the proposal followed a specific presentation strategy that correlated with the marketing strategy. It was that. you will wipe out the nonsense and get down to work. as well as the presentation. however. accounting. electronics. point to opportunity for those of us who enjoy writing. g. as a writer-consultant. enough at least to relieve the client of most of the chores of planning the written product and outlining the approach to it. and worth considerably higher fees than you could command as a writer per se. . finances. trouble-shooter. However. Consider the typical writing needs of the various areas: manuals. If you are going to do custom writing. You can and should be more than a scribe in those circumstances. reports. taxes. or any other area of special knowledge. and problem solver: I helped the client design the program and its strategy. Do it in subject-matter areas in which you have knowledge and competence and. manufacturing. sales. End of block. construct-ions or whatever. That is especially the case when you write in some area where you are expert--marketing. Writing itself is only part of the task in writing for and in the business world. that's how it works for me. but that does not make it less true. politics. training. That's true for even the more highly educated. for example. Writer or Consultant? Working as a writer for hire--i. 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. It makes your services more valuable.
and some of the most beautiful are useful mostly for starting a fire or recycling into packing material. a valuable one. or other.) It is no less true of every other document: the newsletter. to be sure. Anyone who can run a computer and handle the desktop publishing software available today can turn out a professional-looking newsletter. most of us learn many things in the course of our careers. Anyone can (presumably) write a press release. of course. Specializing as a Publications Consultant Many small business owners would like to publish a newsletter or turn out a better brochure. Then pursue assignments as an editorial/documentation specialist within the areas of interest. the annual report. and judgment as a writer and editorial expert. brochure. However. that they will necessarily be well written or effective in meeting whatever their objectives are. specifications. 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. newsletters. It is one way to sell your services as a writer. and especially if you are going to freelance. no matter how handsomely they are laid out. the proposal. of course. the capability brochure. but the art lies in writing a press release that the press will use.salesletters. not unimportant. (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. there is also the possibility of being a publications consultant. but content is another matter. They seek out opportunities to make their own competitive bids for such assignments. but it is not the only way nor necessarily the best way: There is an entirely different approach to the problem of . Let's take the matter of the newsletter alone: Even with the dtp software doing the layout and format design for the user. The probability is that you can claim reasonable expertise in a number of areas. press release.) That is not all there is to it. But the computer is only a tool. ability. and whatever else a business needs. but still only a tool: It does not lessen to even the slightest degree the need for knowledge. or any of most other publications today. but they simply do not know how to go about it. if you are going to write at all. audiovisuals. Cosmetics are one thing. public speaking. however. Some of the homeliest newsletters have been among the most successful. speeches. 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. It is. (That does not mean. catalog sheet. however. brochures. Creating Your Own Market The average freelance writer seeks clients who have a felt need for writing help.
start looking for subscribers. mailing. or internal communications. 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. however. and will pay you to help them. presumably. up to the point of printing and mailing. a publicity campaign. Direct marketing--marketing via salesletters and direct-mail packages in general--is obviously an effort to win sales. you can go in pursuit of clients in whom you can inspire a sense of need for a newsletter. The most motivating consideration to interest prospective clients is that of the marketing benefits such activity can bring. or some other activity requiring your expert services. are also valuable and effective marketing tools when used wisely. there are variants possible. You can also write clients' newsletters for them. 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. will contain the . direct mail. such as public relations. You can. and the association would have it printed and mail it out to their members. You can create and publish your own newsletter. printing. I did not want to undertake a new business--i. e. however. They need someone to do it all. while you help yourself too.finding clients: Opting to be a publications consultant and. especially if you have a flexible plan for helping these clients. of course. Newsletters and press releases. direct marketing. and a great many business owners are excellent prospects for this service. many executives managing organizations really don't have any idea about what to put in a newsletter. I would deliver master copy. It is possible for you to create a newsletter that can be published by clients as their own. Twists on Newsletter Publishing There are at least three ways to make money writing newsletters. for example. You supply this each month to each client as a master copy. You can help even these kinds of clients. There is also the case of the small business owners who would like to have a newsletter. create a newsletter on computers. offering useful articles and ideas. but really can't afford it. and they spell opportunity for the enterprising freelance writer. but at relatively small cost. Many organizations would like to have their own newsletters. what the client will send to the printer to be printed in sufficient quantity for mailing. however. That is not difficult to do. selecting a special field therein.. and all the rest of it. identical for all except that each client's master copy. Even then. However. It worked well for both of us for a long time. but find it too much of a job to produce one. That is only one way to do this. Much of the information was already crossing my desk every day. They liked the idea. for there are several ways to do it. Even in that last approach. opens up new possibilities: Instead of seeking clients who have felt needs for the services of a freelance writer. and we struck a deal.
and it is available for literary works. You leave one page blank. only you and/or others to whom you grant permission or assign your rights can reproduce. What is Copyright? Copyright means literally the right to copy or the right of ownership of the creation. the newsletter becomes much more affordable for the small business-person. as you will soon see. in the words of the Copyright Office. which became effective January 1. (You might even allow each client to make up his or her own title for the newsletter. that is. Copyright was always easy to get.) Thus. POPULAR BELIEF: To get copyright protection you must register your property with the Copyright Office. but under the newer law (the Copyright Act of 1976. computer programs. there are reasons for registering a copyright in many cases. copy. and it is considerably less than a full-time job for you each month.client's identification as the publisher. with the client's own title and information imprinted. music. some of which will probably surprise you. The current law provides copyright protection for the life of the author plus 50 years. so the client can insert a page of his or her own information or editorial. and similar works of creation. here are the facts: Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. there is nothing to prevent you from expanding this idea and doing several newsletters for clients in different businesses or industries. or make other use of your property. In fact. while it is profitable and provides a steady income. However. you research and write only one newsletter each month (or whatever period you wish to issue the publication) and deliver a master copy. with no renewals . it is an incident of the process of authorship. Here are the basic facts. Done this way. Of course. Either the client or you can insert that special page. drawings and paintings. or the client can pay you to write it especially for him or her. 1978) it became even easier. It's a worthwhile proposition for both of you. if the client wishes. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. 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. It is not even necessary to register a copyright with the Copyright Office to get the protection of copyright. As the author of the work. WRONG: Copyright protection is far simpler to secure than that.
and other such brief items. What Cannot be Protected by Copyright? Obviously. computer commands. listings of ingredients.) The notice should be placed in some prominent position on the item. colors. colors. No one has the right to reproduce your book or article--or any lengthy portion of it--for example." followed by the year and name. If what appears to be information is. as it did under the original law. or other transfer of ownership of the physical property. etc. brush strokes. Publication is defined as distributing copies to the public by rental. musical notes. This. etc that constitute the artistic property. short phrases. Other items that are not protected by copyright are less obvious. because copyright is automatic when the work is produced in some final form. use the symbol P in a circle. from a practical viewpoint. it may be possible to prove that the "information" was protected by copyright. Copyright Notices There are several ways to inscribe a copyright notice. however. slogans. would be the exception to the rule. you cannot copyright individual words. an inadvertent failure to post the copyright notice does not automatically bar copyright protection. in fact. calendars. the unique creation of an author. Publication should be accompanied by a notice of copyright. More significantly and less well understood is that you cannot copyright ideas or information. however. etc--titles. notes.authorized. 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. one that is not well defined because it is extremely difficult to be absolutely precise about it. they belong in the public domain as common property. advising everyone of the protection.. Publication It is no longer necessary to actually publish a work to afford it copyright protection. recorded. sale. use both the words and the symbol. But publication is still desirable. It may use the symbol c. They include works not yet in fixed form--printed. possible although it may be. It can be simply the words "Copyright (year) by (name). How to Register a Copyright . The first choice is the best because some foreign nations do not recognize the c symbol. however. as was the case under the older law. under the newer law. (For phono or sound recordings. Many publishers. computer commands. Fortunately. names. begins to get into a hazy area. It is only that combination of elements that is so covered and protected by the copyright. brush strokes." It may say "Copr. What Can be Protected by Copyright? Copyright covers the specific and unique combination of words. That. but anyone can use the information in it to write his or her own book or article.
it will be much easier to prove your claim if you had registered your copyright in the beginning. to continue indefinitely. bulletins. you may register your copyright at any time. a quite large portion are unregistered copyrights. SE for serial works. etc--Form SE is provided. VA for published and unpublished works of the visual arts--paintings. in fact. For serial publications--newspapers. On the other hand. SR for published and unpublished sound recordings. file or defend yourself against an infringement suit--unless your copyright has been registered. registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright claim. newsletters. magazines. including the . drawings. despite the abundance of copyright notices on literary and other properties. and other such works--Copyright Office Form TX is used. practical reason: You cannot seek legal remedies. One reason is that registration establishes a public record of your copyright claim. articles. thus requiring full protection?--and the likelihood that anyone will infringe upon your copyright. perhaps you should not. other audiovisual works. Why Register? Since copyright protection--statutory copyright--is so easy to get. and not by registering that copyright.There are a number of forms used for registering copyrights. However. etc. it is hardly worthwhile to register every copyright. directories. all the following forms: TX for published and unpublished non-dramatic written works. sculptures. PA for published and unpublished works of the performing arts--dramatic and musical works--motion pictures. Because a great many publications are really not in any great danger of infringement and are not especially valuable. plays. Hence. why bother to register a copyright? Well. dissertations. journals. There are. such as newspapers. But there are some other provisions of interest too: If made before or within 5 years of publication. etc. reports. works to be published in successive parts with numerical or chronological designations. if you must at some point defend your copyright via legal action--i. such as novels.. CA for supplementary registration to correct or amplify information given in an earlier registration. For ordinary textual works--single works. The question revolves around the value you assign to the property--is it potentially of great value. magazines. in the bargain. there are some good reasons for registering a copyright. e. But there is one immediate. Of course. many publications are protected by only the statutory copyright cited here. RE for claims to renewal copyright rights for properties protected under the 1909 Copyright Act.
Two copies of the work if published at the time of registration. dates from the day your application was received by the Copyright Office.) nonreturnable deposit of One copy of the work if unpublished at the time of registration. to that same address: A A A ù ù completed application form." One reason and usage for this is to permit critics and other reviewers to cite from the works they are reviewing. when issued. I have always refused to yield to that kind of a demand and found some other way to illustrate or document my . DC 20559 To register a book or manuscript." so "fair usage" remains a rather difficult area to define. Too. Relevant Matters You will notice. And always make attribution--identify and credit the source--when quoting anyone. nonrefundable fee of $20. The address is as follows: Register of Copyrights Library of Congress Washington. should you wish to quote someone. in your reading of various publications. regardless of how brief the quote. in fact. This quoting of brief excerpts from copyright works is authorized under the doctrine of "fair usage. both in text and in footnotes. However. it is best to request permission from the copyright owners before quoting more than a sentence or two. Other-wise. 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. Of course. A Few Other.statements in your application. especially if the quotation is to be a lengthy one. If you have registered the copyright not later than 3 months after publication or prior to the infringement. you may collect statutory damages and attorney's fees from the defendant. send the following three elements. Another is to permit scholars and other authors to document their own published works. it is usually not difficult to get permission for brief quotes. to review and approve that portion of your own work in which you cite or quote them. As a matter of practical application. packaged together. not cash. (Send check or money order. Registration Procedure First request from the Copyright Office the application form(s) you will need. copyright publications without any indication that permission for the quotation was granted. except philosophically. we have no good definition of how brief is "brief. that authors often include brief quotes from other. you can collect only actual damages and profits. copyright owners may request payment--a royalty--for permission to quote. This is not at all unusual. Unfortunately. The copyright. whether you agree to permit that action--virtual censorship--is up to you. as explained here.
And there is good reason for so describing them. You must be sure to get written permission--a signed release--from the copyright owner before using his or her material. If there has been an exchange of correspondence with the copyright owner and he or she has given specific permission in correspondence. Government offices and other facilities scattered throughout the United States and our possessions are spending about $14 billion per year. It is my opinion that the other author ought to accept your representation that you will make attribution and treat his or her work fairly. That the government generates a great deal of "paper" is well known. and/or reproduce in my books are materials originating with business firms. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith. although the bulk of the effort required is. quote. at current budget rates. A Basic Orientation The 34. cite. for what might be described as editorial services. I suppose a lawyer would draft a formidable release form for this purpose. writing effort. with full attribution.S. But you can easily adapt this to your own needs by simple changes. and it has always worked well for me: This was designed for my own use. The form was thus designed with that in mind. phrased in my own language.000 U. in fact.work. and so most of the materials I cite. but I write books for business owners and other entrepreneurs. RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. often by paraphrasing the other author or by simply reporting his thoughts. but I have not found it necessary to be quite that formal. is a multibillion-dollar market for every kind of writing conceivable. that should suffice. Name and organization:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Signature:------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date:-----------------------------------------------CHAPTER 11 Government Markets for Writers The government. What is not so well known is that most of this . and most of it is done under contract by private organizations and often by individuals. But I use a simple form that I supply with my request. comment on. with its hundreds of agencies and thousands of offices.
proposals. manuals. offering training courses to the rest of the federal government. Publications Government publications fall into two broad classes: those for internal consumption and those for public information. motion picture scripts. several agencies--the Internal Revenue Service. Virtually every government agency of significant size and importance has both publications and training responsibilities. and problems. 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. Each agency does so according to the needs of its own missions. lecture notes.generation of "paper" does not take place in government offices. and even books. audiovisual scripts. and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. they are not the only purchaser of such publications. However. Training responsibilities may include the development of materials to be used for training. for the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA). or training materials may be developed by a publications group. In fact. in others the responsibilities are vested within some other office or department. Consequently they may include reports. the constant growth of new technological developments and the ever-swelling government bureaucracy add up to constantly growing markets. often along with personnel and other administrative duties. In many cases. size. the agency may even have special departments or offices dedicated to these activities. not surprisingly. so they are normally by far the largest developers of publications. since training is one of their prime functions and goes on continuously. The military agencies have by far the largest training establishments. in military and civilian agencies. internal training facilities. There is no set standard in government organization. But training is a concern throughout the government. operates a training division with six branches of training. also require such documentation. 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 has a large degree of freedom in organizing itself internally and allocating necessary functions. the year around as a permanent program. newsletters. the Postal Service. brochures. training programs. have entire residential training institutes of their own. where the size of the agency and its publications/training requirements are large enough. articles. Who Does All the Writing? . For writers. the Office of Personnel Management (formerly the Civil Service Commission). the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). the government contracts out most of this work to private industry. speeches. and other agencies. Training In addition to the agencies' own. to name three.
that is not the case. For the Public Buildings Service. $600 to upgrade their rate manual.500 for an audiovisual storyboard and script. by far the bulk of such work is done externally." explaining the year's work in safety engineering. Small-Purchase Opportunities . but much also performed by individuals and organizations hired under contract for such tasks specifically. Rather. For the Energy Research and Development Administration. for a few years I kept myself quite busy writing for government agencies exclusively. and thus often cannot compete effectively for small jobs and do not wish to do so. many billions of dollars' worth each year. Typical Tasks Contracts let by government agencies for writing can range widely in size. independent contractor and freelance writer: For the Federal Aviation Administration: A $23. in many cases the smaller jobs are set aside for small businesses.000 to develop an audiovisual training program in American Indian history and culture. Surprisingly enough.000 job to develop an "annual report.000 to answer mail and develop a system to enable them to handle the job. as an independent contractor. and even millions of dollars. Finally. from freelancers to large corporations. $6. For the Public Buildings Service. and the large organizations are thus barred legally from competing for them. whereas it is $25. For the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For the Postal Service Training and Development Training Institute. $9. On the other hand. here are some of those I was entrusted with as a small. of course. a great deal of it as a requirement under larger contracts for engineering and manufacturing. For the Forest Service. to give you an idea of both the kinds of writing tasks and their sizes.000 today. contracting directly with government agencies and subcontracting to the government's prime contractors. and with the size of our government and our annual budget you might expect the bulk of that writing to be done internally. $750 for a brochure about new procurement forms. $3. from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands.All of this calls for a great deal of writing. the large organizations often find that they cannot handle the smaller contracts profitably or efficiently. $2.) It is a market open to all. (In fact. However. Obviously.000. by government employees.400 for the development of a curriculum plan for training health and safety specialists. NOTE: Most of the above contracts were in an era when a small purchase was less than $5. the large contracts are not for the freelance writer or small editorial business.
Direct. but access to the "CBD. in an accelerated and simplified procedure. state. for example. By law all public purchasing for federal. at least. 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. and normally you would compete for a writing contract by submitting a proposal. The federal government announces its needs and calls for bids and proposals in a daily publication called the Commerce Business Daily.000. This permits agencies to use purchase orders. for purchases under $25.) This publication lists hundreds and hundreds of government needs--bid and proposal opportunities--every day. in many cases. and city halls. informally and with only nominal competition and/or a simple letter proposal. However. How the Government Buys How the government buys and how to sell to the government are different subjects. and local government agency with whom you expect to do business. with limited competition or without competition. and local government agencies is by open competition. Modus Operandi for Freelance Writers Writing is a custom service. DC!) State governments do most of their purchasing via a central purchasing and supply organization in the state capital. Getting on a maximum number of bidders lists helps in this case. personal contact with government officials is by far the best . (Subscriptions may be ordered from either agency. because so many writing jobs are relatively small--qualify under the law as small purchases--many can be and are awarded without competition or. it enables you to survey and choose from the maximum number of bidding opportunities. is available also via the Internet. while local governments have purchasing officials in county seats. However. You should register (file the bidders application form) with every federal. but you should understand the basic system.000 federal employees work in purchasing and procurement functions) all over the country. (There are more federal employees in California. which will put your name on bidder lists so that you will receive many solicitations without requesting them." as it is commonly referred to. Therefore. Department of Commerce and printed by the Government Printing Office. than in Washington. all procurement offices want you to register with them by completing their bidder's application forms. The federal government has thousands of contracting offices (some 130. although there are certain exceptions.Some of these contracts I won in competitive procurements through submitting the winning proposals. town halls. contracts are awarded as a result of sealed bids (awards to the low bidders) and competitive proposals (awards to those submitting the best proposals). state. published by the U. rather than formal contracts. others were awarded to me under the Small Purchase Act.S.
Seek out the various government agencies and inquire who is in charge of publications. help. and will probably pay off in future assignments and recommendations to others. often starting over from the beginning. representing yourselves as . writing and/or rewriting is required. equipment." Everyone is then happy! Of course. but do not embarrass the client by pointing this obvious truth out. that another contractor did the job and botched it. from initial research to having the final camera-ready copy ready to go to the printer. qualifications. describing your background. and other factors that reflect the kind and volume of work you can handle. Continue to make these calls and become a familiar figure in those offices. or they have been handed a hot potato of a job by a superior. That happens quite often.) You may at times find yourself entrusted with the whole ball of wax--an assignment to handle the entire job. how fast you can respond and turn a job around. solemnly agree that what has been done is an excellent start and that. That is opportunity for those prepared to handle it. and they often need help. (Repeat business and recommendations from a Department of Labor office for whom I did some needed editorial repair work resulted in over $65. and is the route to the larger and more profitable contracts. and they are often delighted to find a freelance writer who can help. a goodly bit of editing is required: It was wise of the client to perceive this. need editorial services: literally editing. as the contractor. sometimes. and other relevant factors). to have the publication printed and bound. yes. as everyone does. as they learned only after they accepted the job and paid for it!) In such cases.. experience. and training. Be prepared to recognize such situations. brochures. (Or.approach for this work. "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 advice--consulting services. It's good business to do so. and available resources (e. People in government have problems. editors.000 in additional business there and in other agencies. (There are even occasions on which the government agency wants you. in fact. Price the job for what is really required--writing/rewriting--but do agree cheerfully that it is editing. you can and should take advantage of this to cement your position with the agency and the individual client in the agency. and capability statements.) For this reason it is advisable to have "associates"--illustrators. actually. they too discover on Thursday that they are short-handed for a job due on Monday. For example. Make personal calls on these people and leave business cards. Instead. and bill for "editorial services.g. and others on whom you can call for support when you are responsible for an entire program or publication. Unless you object to doing such work. public information. there are cases where they do. proofreading. It is mutually beneficial to have agreements with others.
actually. although the law permits the agency to contract or projects up to $25.)You may want to consider this after you have gotten established. it is remarkably unstandardized and diverse in many ways. commissions. Monolithic although the government may appear to be. if you wish to graduate to an office outside your home and pursue more ambitious projects than solo writing tasks." even when cooperating parties do not share office space directly. a rich lode of contracts for several years. 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. it is also necessary to understand that each agency has its own policies. it enables all of you to bid for the larger jobs. high-tech age. to every-one's benefit in marketing. In general. I once found the Value Management offices of the General Services Administration. Some freelancers in writing and other professional-services fields actually share office space and expenses and advertise as a firm of associates. sharing in a contract. but the explanation is quite simple: The existence of a separate department or office for such functions (or burying such functions in another office. my government . That sounds like a strange idea to those not familiar with how large organizations do things. the best government markets are the organizations that have their own. which means. (In this computer. for any of you may want to call on others for support. although each has his or her own clients and projects. Not only are there hundreds of agencies--departments. an engineering office.000 via government purchase order. 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. It is a whole population of markets. for it makes marketing your services at least partially a shared function and also an important consideration. Check. Therefore. You must be alert for such windfalls too. Best Government Markets Government is not a single market. demonstrates that the agency has regular or at least frequent need for such work. Such organizations are almost characteristically overloaded and need help. usually Personnel). in-house departments or special offices for training and/or publications and other writing tasks. this arrangement is referred to as a "virtual corporation. although you should make all efforts to learn the official procurement regulations in general. administrations and other organizations--but in many of these entities there are multiple markets. Sometimes an organization does not by its nature furnish any clues to the probable opportunities for writers. And the Wind Energy Office of the then Energy Research and Development Administration was another totally unexpected and unsuspected opportunity. DC area. do not assume Finding Opportunities Although I am based in the Washington. For example. That is.associates. as already noted. as well as cooperating on large projects. of course.
San Francisco. DC 20585 . mentioned earlier. DC 20405 Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue. In fact. That is one of the key reasons for writing them at the addresses listed below. check the telephone directory blue pages. and Houston Some key agencies/offices to write (Contracting Officer or Public Information Officer) for information on procurement: Small Business Administration 1441 L Street. For Government offices near you.contracts were often in such distant places as Missoula. The most basic tool of marketing to the federal government is the government's own daily publication. in most cases. Department of Commerce (DOC). in which it sells a great many government publications. Los Angeles. Colorado. Florida. But you can get more information from any office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Be sure to visit any GSA Business Service Center near you or write the GSA in Denver. It is not necessary. New York. Request information about purchasing policies and practices. Many will then send you literature--pamphlets. NW Washington. NW Washington. Montana and Orlando. Philadelphia. Atlanta. many of the agencies will furnish copies of those manuals free of charge. and visit procurement offices in your state capital. (You may also request similar information from the purchasing and supply offices of your own state and local government offices. to be near the agency. Fort Worth. Many of them also publish thick manuals of instructions.) A Few References GSA Business Service Centers are located in Boston. a major federal center. in many cases you never meet face-to. Kansas City (MO). A starter list appears at the end of this chapter. on request. brochures. Seattle.face with the customer. or General Services Administration (GSA). the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). and even thick manuals explaining the systems in detail. as already noted above. The Government Printing Office operates a number of bookstores. Write also to the Contracting Officer or Public Information Office of major agencies. Chicago. Washington. county seat. However. you can use the mail and telephone for most contacts. even in a long-term contractual relationship. DC 20416 General Services Administration 18th & F Streets. including most of the procurement manuals published by the various agencies. SW Washington. State and local governments advertise their requirements in the daily news-paper classified columns under Bids and Proposals Be sure to keep an eye on those. The government has offices and contracts everywhere. Denver. and city or town hall.
DC 20546 Department of Defense The Pentagon Washington. DC 20230 General Services Administration Denver Federal Center Denver. DC 20591 Department of Labor 200 Constitution Avenue. Perhaps they are right. NW Washington. DC 20460 Department of Transportation 400 7th Street. an authority on newsletters. If it really required a great deal of money to succeed in publishing a newsletter. but my experience indicates otherwise. SW Washington.000 newsletters!) In fact. there would be far fewer than the 30. has been quoted as estimating the existence of 100. and within three months it was a self-supporting venture. DC 20301 CHAPTER 12 How to Make it Big with Your Own Newsletter Publishing a newsletter is a business. I started my first newsletter for less than $100. I can think of easier and less risky ways to invest $50.000 or more that exist. and it responds to the same rules as other businesses What Does it Take to Get Started? Pick up any of the $25 to $50 books on newsletter publishing and you will learn that the experts believe that it requires $50. SW Washington. DC 20301 Department of Commerce 14th & Constitution Avenue.Department of the Interior 18th & C Streets. Room 2A340 Washington. NWWashington. DC 20210 Directorate for Small Business and Economic Utilization Policy The Pentagon. SW Washington.000 or more to launch a successful newsletter. (Howard Penn Hudson. NW Washington. CO 80225 Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street.000! . DC 20240 NASA HQ Contracts Division 200 Maryland Avenue.
offering a swap of services: free subscriptions for the equivalent value in advertising. and building a subscription list. and I made a special. Getting Subscriptions Selling subscriptions to a newsletter is not easy. 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. etc. . But let us start at the beginning. And since my NL was devoted to business opportunities. 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. I didn't lie to my subscribers. I started Buyer's & Seller's Exchange. material for future issues. a massive subscription drive. It's the hardest and most expensive part of the job. and produced enough income to justify its existence. but 6-month subscriptions were available. When it works. I mailed many copies to others in the publishing business and to printers and mailers. From the beginning. mailing. Even more important. of course). I was getting a little income. I did not even list a volume and number for that same reason. printing. But it did become profitable very rapidly. composing it via typewriter (today I would use my computer and printer. whether they subscribed or not. and I began to get both paid and swapped-for subscriptions almost immediately.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. A newsletter can be a seedbed for other business. a fact of the newsletter business often overlooked or misunderstood. far from it. profitable business. 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. I offered free advertising--publicity--to anyone interested. But there are other ways. 3-month trial subscription available too. It's what those people who estimate $50. That gets a new newsletter off the ground and moving fast. 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. and printing 100 copies of the first issue.This is not to say that my first NL made me rich overnight. 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. it was the means for getting other.
and subscribers want editorial matter. 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. but gave full credit for the $2 if the buyer subscribed subsequently. But let's analyze costs a bit more. and one year became 18 months.) Suppose you put out an NL of a modest four pages and charge $24 a year. since space is at a premium. And even these are not the only profit opportunities a newsletter offers. many run complete mail-order bookstores in this manner. I charged $2 for sample copies.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. Few NLs carry advertising.By the third month my print order was up to 500 copies. I was quite surprised at how many orders for other things an issue could pull. and continued to climb steadily. (These are 1986 costs in the U. although there are some who do.e. Make allowances for today's prices. This is a major income producer for many newsletter publishers. for which they often gave me a free plug. So conventional wisdom estimates a 65% renewal rate necessary for profitable operation. also a modest number. In fact. profit results when you get renewals. That is. The Economics of Newsletter Publishing You have had just a small insight into some of the basic economics of NL publishing. helping bring in new subscriptions. but use their newsletters to earn money in other ways. although I never carried paid advertising. selling a variety of books published by others but related to the subject of the NL. . 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. Perhaps you have gathered by now that unless you are publishing the type of NL that can command $75-$200 per year. Let us look at the basic economics of the business. as I continued to offer many special promotions. 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.. this later became the basis for another highly profitable spin-off I devised. For 500 copies.S. The conventional wisdom is that profitable operation depends on renewals. I also sent many complimentary copies to publishers of other NLs. subscriptions that cost you little or nothing to get. not advertising. In one that was quite successful I offered to add one-half again to every new subscription--i. if you accept that breakeven is the best you can hope for in the first year of a subscription. for subscriptions. a 6-month subscription became 9 months at the same price. Sending out 1. Quite the contrary. it is difficult to realize a great deal of profit on subscriptions alone. I began advertising my other publications--books and reports--in my NL. In fact. there are successful newsletter publishers who do not do much more than break even on subscription income.
it would be difficult to win 500 subscriptions for an outlay of much less than $5. If you wish to. newsletters are addressed to highly specialized interests. But if you get a 3-month trial subscription at a cost of perhaps $5.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 . 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. 500 to 1. with bulk mailing and a 5% response. so you have a better immediate ratio of cost to income.000 a year for a gross income of $12. Even with an efficient campaign.) That's $3. You can see from this how important it is to get a reasonably high percent-age of renewals. In fact. 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. 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.000 paid subscriptions represent a reasonably successful newsletter--and it takes some-thing very special about a newsletter to command really high prices. But those are the exceptional cases.250. (It is rarely practicable to use a less costly form of mailing at only 500 copies. unless you are fortunate enough to either build a much higher number of subscribers or get a much higher annual subscription fee. But they did cost you. That would be nice if you had gotten the subscriptions at no cost. 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. hence a limited audience--in most cases. If the subscriber renews into a regular subscription. Typically.500. instead of 12 months! Too. effectively you get a 15-month subscription for $5. you have the same chance of a profitable renewal after only 3 months. 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. I therefore found it profitable to encourage the sale of trial subscriptions. and they may easily have cost you as much as one-half the subscription fee--$6.000. and you will probably pull more subscriptions from a mailing that offers trial subscriptions. Or you might offer a special deal on extending or converting a trial subscription into a regular one. 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. instead of a 12-month subscription for $10! If you pro-rate that. you will find that the cost of winning subscriptions is more than halved this way. 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. if all else is right. as well as income from ancillary sales. of course. A Strategy to Cut Those High Costs It normally costs more to sell a $20 item than it does to sell a $5 one.
And you may very well be able to launch that with a substantial advance sale of many prepaid subscriptions! (More than a few successful newsletters are born this way. I thought about it a long time. A Few Other Spin-Off Benefits Some of the advantages I gained from publishing BSE were unexpected. But unexpected was the discovery that the contents of my NL and readers' reactions would create both demand and ideas for new ancillary publications. rather than as readers of or subscribers to BSE. As my subscription list grew. the ancillary sales grew. to have an identity with something. when writing.periodical publishers.500 for such help. (I have myself paid other newsletter publishers as much as $2. and other details. You are likely to find. I did nothing but write the NL and prepare the camera-ready copy for the association. your research and daily mail begin to dredge up more good information than your NL has room for. presenting details of immediate interest. it led me to a $20. as you gather information for your NL. almost compelling you to prepare a detailed report and offer it to them for sale! Too. reports for which you have already done all the research. They took care of everything else--printing. Here is what happens: Newsletters are essentially digests. Readers often become interested in an item and clamor for more information on the subject. devised some benefits--several special reports and privileges--and offered membership at 1-1/2 times the cost of simple subscription to the newsletter. Here is still another profit idea: Many NL publishers will publicize someone else's item editorially on a commission basis. picking up extra income in doing so. Investigating. . A single paragraph may be a condensation of or abstract from pages of information gathered and digested.000 contract to turn out a camera-ready NL every month for a national association. that many of my subscribers referred to themselves as members of BSE. and then did something about it: I formed "BSE Associates. you will be wise to avoid actually plugging the product--although simple PR notices are okay--unless you have looked it over and found it worthy of a boost.) In one case. 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. suggesting many other ideas to you for special reports. mailing. after a while.) If you do so." I created a certificate of membership in BSE Associates. otherwise. your risk your own good reputation. I learned that this is not an unusual phenomenon: most people want to belong to something. making the report writing relatively easy! A successful NL often spins off other NLs. as I did. A Special Benefit I noticed.
who.) You may have to be more modest in pricing your NL if your targeted subscriber is a private individual. ideas Consumerism--news and advice Beauty--news. With a single idea. As a business necessity or business asset. not the paper and ink.More than one-half of my original subscribers responded and opted to become BSE Associates. You must find a reasonable middle ground. what Investments--news and advice The writing profession How to lose weight. styles Handyman--ideas. There is the hazard of becoming so specialized that there are too few prospective subscribers. On the other hand. gourmet foods Contests--where. There is an audience waiting for special information on almost any subject or for information on almost any special subject. Who and what is your typical customer. the individual to whom you have addressed your NL? If that customer is a company--i. cosmetics. methods. how. study the market--what your direct competitors are charging. Check out your competition. Again. health news Automobiles--buying. those are the two universes of subject matter. opinions This has some influence on price. subscribing out of curiosity or for other non-business reasons. (Remember that it is the information. Pricing Your Nl Consider first your customer in deciding on subscription fees. e. your NL ought to be worth at least that.. you ought to treat him or her as you would the business executive. expert or at least highly . opportunities Politics--news. I boosted income from subscriptions by nearly 50%! And probably made the whole idea more attractive to newcomers. tools Franchises--news. 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. cameras Sales promotion--methods. and many newsletters sell for several times that fee. and see what they get for similar information. A newsletter with exclusive information that is of special value and hard to come by elsewhere. It helps to select a subject area in which you are already something of an . What to Write About In the NL field. and virtually all new subscribers opted similarly. the universe is your territory. if your prospect is a private individual using your NL for profit-making goals. that you are selling. may command that premium price. maintaining Singles--adjusting to the single life Computers--news and technology Photography. cheeses. for the use and value of your NL are the same. Here are just a few of the topics covered by newsletters today: Wines.
not at them. There are still today a few successful newsletters "typeset"--composed--by manual typewriters or in a typewriter font (e. but you must know the field well enough to do the research and to judge. Style and Format Some NL publishers use formal typesetting. When you mention an individual or organization. which can be made to resemble typewriter printing. Your readers want to regard you as friend and mentor. of course). memoranda. That brings in more information. reports. To do this. with justified copy. However. Formal typesetting is a mixed blessing. You don't have to be a leading authority. associations. as are encyclopedias. It conveys an aura of spontaneity and up-to-the-minute coverage.. 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. is of value to your readers. and others by simply requesting it on your letterhead. using outside typesetting services or one of the modern desktop publishing systems. telegraphic style. Where to Get Your Information: the Research Some NLs are simply digests of information published elsewhere. government agencies. skip the adjectives. you must decide first who you want to reach and then how you will reach . more visibility. press kits. and not over their heads. interesting. You can easily get yourself on distribution lists for press releases and other information from corporations. but still businesslike.knowledge-able. Merit and earn readers' respect and friendship by being open.g. (Even casual browsing produces many items. but not as lecturer or drinking buddy. Typewriter or computer-printer typesetting. be sure to send that individual or organization a copy of that issue. photos. and. Successful newsletters often use terse. brochures. with freedom to reproduce each other's items (with attribution. legislatures. additional subscript-ions. Stand midway between stiff formality and breeziness: be informal. worth knowing. and letters. not down to them. with some accuracy. Courier. has certain advantages. sometimes. They will reward you with their loyalty and their patronage. and fair. something lacking in formal typeset copy. hard-hitting. That is the essential value of the NL. 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. catalogs. what is new. Public libraries are an A-1 source too. and manufacturers will be delighted to send you information about what they are doing. honest. stark facts and let them speak for them-selves. and worth publishing--what. distributors. Don't write flowery descriptions: stick to bare. They will send you releases. that is. Talk to your readers. Dealers.) Swap complimentary subscriptions with other NLs. at best.
However. as well as promotional material. 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. Inquiry advertising is a simple proposition. Sometimes it has the reverse effect. In my own case. But do offer many sales. but you can get $65 from a $40 customer! Therefore. many newsletter publishers who offer a sample copy do not send a sample of their regular issue. This is a mixed blessing. classified advertisements in periodicals to elicit inquiries. limited-time offer for some reason. you are not trying to get sales with the advertisements. so you can't get $50 from a $5 customer.. don't cut prices for the sake of cutting or because you think that is the best way to increase sales. You place small. but mail a special issue they have prepared for promotional purposes: it is really sales literature. and then mail your literature to those inquirers. The chief reason it took so long was that I believed all the myths--the supposed "rules" about writing. I found it relatively easy to find prospects in a number of publications addressed to such people. sale price without some rationale that explains the reason for the sale. A Special Note on Pricing It is a mistake to suppose that lowering prices automatically increases sales volume. a few dollars never deters anyone from buying what they really want--i.them. I targeted small businesses and opportunity seekers as my initial audience. and so was able to compile my own mailing lists to get started. and they become suspicious of what appears to be too great a bargain. representative editorial copy. That is through inquiry advertising. You can rent mailing lists quite easily. Remember. killing sales. But there is still another way to get your mailing lists. On the other hand. you are building a mailing list. e. anyone who would spend $20 for an item would spend $25 or $35 for it if they really want it. however. I was successful with a nominally $90 newsletter (Government Marketing News) that was always available for $60 or less on some special sale offer. Customers have price ranges. usually as part of a package deal with special reports or manuals. Fortunately. but only names of prospects to whom you will mail your package of sales literature. if you prefer. because many people judge quality by price. When I began to think for myself. with reasons. I . it isn't--unless you make it clear that you are making a special. It can be quite effective if it contains some useful. Never offer a special. Some of those publishers who use this approach offer a sample copy of their NL as an inducement to respond.
I had publishers pursuing me to write books for them! An Odyssey I started out to become a writer as a youngster.succeeded beyond my dreams. abstracts. more than 60 years ago. companies. turning out manuals to install and service all the Buck Rogers type of equipment being developed after the Second World War--high-speed jet airplanes. including government agencies. and other such items during this period. freelancing in a non-traditional way. as a rule (there are some exceptions). And they all came back. poems. missiles. plays. But I didn't yet know that.and third-rank periodicals. brochures. reports. writer. to write and sell a book than an article. usually quite swiftly. I found my way into staff work as a technical writer. I certainly wasn't yet mentally conditioned or qualified in any other way to do so. (And clients are individuals. GE. and others. of course. as a writing consultant. speeches. and still they came back. theses. if I couldn't sell short articles and short stories. but it was satisfying to be able to sell my writing as a freelance. and the money. I did what all beginning neophyte writers do: I wrote stories. with the usual printed rejection slips. but certainly not enough to suggest to me that I was on the verge of becoming America's newest genius of the keyboard. and editor. After a while. later. I also learned to write proposals. They don't pay a great deal. Philco. I wasn't even ready to believe that yet. I made an occasional small sale. Just enough to encourage me to keep on. reports. was welcome too. computers. a long while. that is) as a technical writer. for such companies as IBM. proposals.) I even had a contract with a federal agency to answer their mail! . catalogs--whatever clients want written. storyboards. I have now become a full-time. as a technical/professional temporary. audiovisual scripts. associations. why should I think that I could write and sell an entire book? That was mistake number 1: It's actually easier. of course. to keep trying. writing on contract or to order for clients: I write resumes. freelance consultant. And I surely was not yet ready to write a book. While doing that I became acquainted with a great many magazines (they are called "trade journals") serving those industries. and other such high-tech marvels. rockets. after getting an engineering education. I never attempted a book at the time. anyhow. in many ways. and anything else I thought I could write. After all. and other organizations. usually $25 to $75 per printed page then. Move ahead a few years. non-profit corporations. of course. I wrote a good many books (manuals. both as a staff writer and. newsletters. and I began to write articles for them in my spare time. RCA. articles. and I sent them out to all the top magazines in the country. training programs. And then I sent them out to second. Years later . sophisticated radar.
which I then sold to anyone interested in the subject. Still. both for my own small business and. (I even had clients hire me to write important letters for them. not what others wanted me to write. as a manager in larger companies an consultant to many companies. advertising and selling principally by mail. and appear as the author with full acknowledgment.S. In retrospect. but writing on contract as I was doing offered few opportunities to be truly creative and. but I did sell a respectable number of copies. I began to do my own small-scale publishing. earning a reasonably good living at my chosen profession. 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. it got better and better. And my subject was made to order for me: how to sell to the U.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. as I learned . 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. I did not suddenly get rich. I was not entirely happy with that success. I had that urge to get my own ideas into print and distributed to the world under my byline. but using my knowledge of publications. much of it from government agencies. a subject in which I was already well versed: I had had a great deal of success in winning government contracts. In any case. and usually with a substantial retainer or deposit before I began work. I still had that traditional writer's urge to write what I wanted to write. which I suppose is probable. Finally.) I was now a success of sorts. such is the one that was the basis for this chapter. earlier. as a result of bad advice I was given and heeded. I believe. I had won many government contracts for former employers and clients. How to Cash in on the Billion Dollar Bureaucracies. because I was already well-educated beyond that kind of foolishness. The Next Step Forward As a result of that. a Book I then gave birth to a bigger idea: I would write and publish my own book. But I didn't know that yet. The world did not beat a path to my door. I was getting more than enough work. I wrote the book and titled it. At least. a much better title. In fact. as other writers do. Not via a vanity press. Government. enough to make the enterprise worthwhile. I later retitled it Anyone Can do Business with the Government. unless it was knowledge buried in my subconscious. 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. originally. I was a full-time writer. I turned out many how-to-do-it reports and papers.
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
single-spaced.?) Identify the market: who are the buyers. buyers)--want to know about the subject. worksheets. references.g. how to reach) A brief description of the book (salient features) Special features to be included (worksheets. bibliography. how can they be reached with advertising? (This is linked closely with the preceding item.. often with a subtitle. These sections (textual explanations): The market for the book (who. preferably something that is "in your field. A brief blurb under the title. (It's best if you are personally expert in the subject. My proposals are usually 8-10 pages long. but if you are not. but choose one now that helps the editor understand the book and why a reader would want it--e. chapter by chapter. an expose of something sensational.for lightning to strike--e. without a chance meeting with a publisher who has already successfully published something in your field. explains the benefit to be derived by reading it.) Explain all this in your proposal. why will they want the book how will it benefit them?). although some . photos. g. as long as it tells the story I want it to tell. other) Competitive books (why/how this is different and better) The author's credentials (in writing and subject matter) An outline.) What Should be in a Book Proposal? My own book proposals include. as a minimum. estimated size. etc. and be sure that your outline is compatible with this. as suggested by the title. or because you have in some other manner become highly knowledgeable about the subject." either because you work in that field. (Would it be a how-to.. an insider's look at something that interests many people. other. I don't care how long the title is. because it is your lifelong hobby.. appendices. photographs. checklists. Select a working title (it will probably be changed before publication. g. Decide what readers--a reasonably large number of potential readers (e. expanding on the main idea of the book.) Provide your own credentials as a writer and as a source of information on the subject. explain where and how you will do the research and gather the information. noting illustrations. the following: A working title. These are the keys: Decide what you are best qualified to write.
Author's (free) copies are highly variable in number. are wanted. you can do better. as a minimum. Get that in your contract too.5% on next 5. you have to seek out the right publishers yourself. and they may want to see a sample chapter or two before offering a contract. and Related details Many small publishers will take a chance on you.writers on the subject suggest much longer proposals. the more detail you provide. However. Publishers. they apply directly in writing book proposals. Study marketing principles. Until you get an agent (and many authors prefer to be their own agents. Sometimes hardcover secondary paperback contracts the publisher chooses to produce your book in simultaneous and paperback editions. Those who urge longer proposals are probably giving better advice than my example suggests. rights sold to others. and Literary Agents.000 copies sold. ask for an advance to be paid when your manuscript is accepted. and is usually one of the more easily negotiable items. even if you do not have all the credentials. And perhaps I get away with providing less because I am somewhat well known now. It is worthwhile to get acquainted with this periodical. and have that written into your contract. but you will probably find publishers insistent on paying royalties on net--dollars actually received by the publisher. and the contract covers both. Royalties. They probably should be two to three times that length. You might also visit the public library and thumb through the current (annual) edition of the Literary Market Place. foreign sales. although I think a good agent earns their commissions and brings you more than that in added income). since double-spacing is for manuscripts. The typical contract should pay you 10% on first 5. but I get many more free copies of my books today. and the more specific your proposal is. 12. and 15% thereafter. and they are important. but I have always used short proposals. although (if you have not been previously published) they will probably not offer an advance before seeing at least part of your manuscript. You usually can buy additional copies at regular dealer's discount of 40%. and other possibilities.000. to permit the editor room to make changes and notations. I got only three copies of my first book. Do. For rights--and that includes book club sales. (But they call for double-spacing proposals. They teach you how to write "hooks" .) Perhaps I am too lazy to write more than I have to without a contract. especially after you are established and have some bargaining power. My outlines are usually two or three pages long. for some reason I have never fathomed. although sometimes. There is also the Insider's Guide to Book Editors. The "big names" can bludgeon publishers into paying royalties on list or cover prices. The Writer's Market is a good source. even 25 pages. About Contracts. the stronger a proposal it will be. although it may be negotiable in some cases. especially in your outline. And you will have a difficult time getting more than 5% on mail order sales of your book. most call for a 50-50 split between author and publisher.
Don't send a manuscript. But even if it is not exactly a how to. but look up the publisher and address the right editor by name. Don't lose sight of what a proposal is and what it is supposed to do. Keep track of what you sent and to whom. Here are a few that were highly successful: Winning Through Intimidation Dress for Success Five Acres and Independence In any case. William Buckley. how to lose weight faster. use those words freely in your working titles and outlines with the direct benefit described-. but . It is not a place to be subtle.000 to answer their mail!" That piqued an editor's attention immediately. but is probably less difficult than most writers believe. A proposal is a sales presentation. If you have a good idea and present it well. Write your proposal at length. He knew it would arouse the attention of prospective readers (buyers!) too. I led off a proposal for one book on government marketing with "The government paid me $6. the proposal ought to be able to stand on its own feet.how to catch more fish. Be careful in writing it. unless the editor requests it. but is widely accepted by publishers today. If you write how-to material. This used to be taboo. and Joyce Lain Kennedy are nationally syndicated: Established syndicates sell their columns regularly to newspapers all over the country. send your proposals out to more than one publisher. e.. probably.to catch an editor's attention and arouse interest. and get your main message stated immediately. or arty in your proposal. Editors are busy people and don't have patience with people who waste their time beating around the bush. your ability to make a clear and interesting presentation. "Dear Abby" is one example. It is not exactly easy to achieve. James Kilpatrick. Many writers of "service" columns are also widely syndicated. try to get the direct benefit in the title. The Stars of the Business Most people are aware that such well-known columnists as Carl Rowan. you will sell it. You can make simultaneous submissions--i. how to pay less taxes. a marketing tool. get the excess verbiage out. but then edit it ruthlessly to tighten it up. is that it is not only political columnists and "big names" whose columns are syndicated in this manner. CHAPTER 14 $75. Not so well known.000 a Year Thru Self-Syndication National syndication is a ticket to success in a big way for many writers. don't try to be cute. subtle. not even a sample chapter. it reflects your writing ability directly.
There is another way: Do it yourself. Rona Barrett. They are also realists. depending on many factors: Opinion columns--"think pieces"--are extremely difficult to sell. Of course. perhaps not nearly so well known. finance and economics. almost anything that would interest newspaper readers generally may be syndicated. Be your own syndicate by selling your material directly to a number of newspapers on a syndicated basis. The readers are the final judges. And that is why it is not easy to get them to accept you as a client. they know that even a good idea takes time to sell to enough subscribers--newspapers--to make the proposition viable. after all. You must be good. to an old-hand in the business!) The National Syndicate Syndication is usually done through an established organization. In short. Even this is not the complete list of types of materials that may be syndicated. They are the true professionals in syndication. correspondents. and probably Walter Cronkite and a few others of great reputation can do it. very good." or believe they have. two of many syndicates. such as the King Features Syndicate or United Features. including completely new ideas. That is why you must pay them as much as 60% of the selling price as their commission.there are also Sylvia Porter. The cross-word puzzles. But it is not hopeless. and other topics. career concerns. The market is both easy to crack and difficult to crack. such as those of Will Rogers and Robert Benchley to follow. but it's an uphill. writing on personal problems. He or she may be right or wrong. almost hopeless battle otherwise. (That is not the same thing as true analysis columns. he or she will never know without trying the column.) Humor usually sells well. political cartoons. Still. and many others. investment. household hints. medical matters. That is what it always comes down to. The editor buys what he or she thinks readers will like. such as those analyzing the stock market or the latest medical findings. But even then you must demonstrate impressive credentials. comic strips. and newspaper editors. (Maybe your "new" idea is not so new. That is what this report is about. They "have seen it all. they are hard to sell after all their years as reporters. almost impossible if you are not a recognized authority of some sort. But it is much more difficult to write than most people believe. Walter Lippman was able to do it. Eliot Janeway. and many other such items in your morning newspaper are also syndicated (as are many radio and TV programs!). Something truly different and original will go if readers like it. Some General Topic Ideas . They have a good idea of what is salable as a syndicated feature and what is not. You have tough acts.
Advice . who to call/interview. I get such releases.To help you get started in thinking about topics for a syndicated column. as well as full press kits. and some other subjects. You don't have to know it all yourself: If you are in a position to get good information on a continuing basis. There are dozens of trade publications that are distributed free of charge to many people. 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. (I get about eight of these. dealing with computers. But don't underestimate the value of research to supplement or even replace your own expert knowledge. such as wine. You can easily get yourself placed on distribution for news releases. Try to specialize as much as possible--it's much easier to be a true expert in a narrow specialty than in a broad one--and try to choose an area where you truly do have some credentials as an expert and where there are not an excessive number of competitors. 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. publisher. Obviously.Household problems Joyce Lain Kennedy . and what bulletins to read.About careers Abigail Van Buren: Dear Abby . for example. once you start: Your name will find its way onto many mailing lists. it is almost self-perpetuating. The marketing departments of most manufacturers issue such releases. news service. are not experts in their subjects. home-based second-income careers. from many Congressional offices. Many journalists. here are just a few ideas for columns: Advice. where/how. But you could also be an "amateur expert" in many areas. you can turn that to advantage. here are some of the columns and columnists falling into that "Advice" category: Jean Adams: "Teen Forum" . You don't have to apply for many releases and periodicals. some with large reputations. and will be happy to add your name. direct mail. or other relevant entrepreneur. as competitors. and request that your name be placed on the mailing list. for many of the areas. you must be a professional expert. for example. All you need do is make up a letterhead--you can simply type it--announcing that you are a columnist. and household hints. and federal agencies. Your local librarian will help you find lists of such periodicals.For teenagers Heloise: Hints . For example. gardening. for example. but they are expert in finding information they can use.
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
that will serve also as an inducement to try your column.It's a "numbers game"--playing the percentages or probability statistics. Start low--you'll be giving the first ones away as a promotion. so that you may be able to get only $5 from some weekly papers. . no obstacle can endure forever against it. That's the inherent nature of advertising. This time. If your column has worth and you send samples to enough editors. you cannot sell the other. Use this as the most general of guidelines in setting a price for your column. while you are trying to land a few subscribers. Each mailing. You must be sure to mention that the subscriber will have your column exclusively in his or her distribution area. That is. That exclusivity is one of the inducements. Persistence and perseverance mean going back to that list for additional mailings. to a point. 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. You can always raise your rates later. it will gradually become easier.) The rates. to the point where the response begins to level off. ask for a price and explain that such and such newspapers are now carrying your column regularly. Include any favorable comments you have had from readers or editors. will produce better results--more orders than the previous one. you are ready to begin the work of expanding it. Successes depend on it. clearly signaling the customer that the price may go up later. and a few more will order. where you might get several times that from a large daily if you are fortunate enough to sell your column to that daily. one way to handle this gracefully and leave the door wide open to adjust your prices later is to offer a low introductory price. vary enormously. based on the circulation of the paper. you will make a few sales. but you must persist to succeed. In any event. Many prospects who ignored the first mailing will pay more attention to the second one. Once you have sold one. anyway. If the copy and the product are worthy. inevitably. In fact. What to Charge You can charge subscribers to your column in either of two ways: a flat fee per column or a sliding scale. as you become established and accepted. Offer the special introductory price here. however. especially where there is a directly competing newspaper. And there are at least two ways to do this: Go back to your original mailing list with another offer. Once you are started. Persistence is the magic ingredient.) How to Expand Once you have those first legitimate sales--base of subscribers--and are actually being paid for your column. (The latter is not an uncommon practice. persistence produces sales eventually. while it is available at such a bargain figure! (That is always a good marketing strategy. It takes patience and endurance. Those first few sales are hardest to make.
adding to it when you discover some newspapers you did not know about before. known more informally and more accurately as publicity--is the release. PRESS RELEASE. The elements and characteristics generally considered to be obligatory are these: Identification as a news release by such words as RELEASE. If you decide that you prefer to do it yourself. Many of those are syndicated. use your mailing list over and over. novel. since you have shown that it is a salable product. but there are many published on news-print as tabloids. the headline may be the most important part of the release. I am for it. Double. The idea of the headline is to arouse interest and inspire the editor to read on. You will probably earn far more by marketing your column through them. Consider other kinds of periodicals. some for it. as are those regional slicks also. Do a fresh mailing every 30 to 90 days. including trade tabloids: Many trade journals are published as "slicks"--smooth-paper magazines. You now have an excellent chance of being accepted. and often not used.Go to an established national syndicate (your librarian can help you find a reference source listing all major syndicates) and offer your column. Single-sided copy. CHAPTER 15 How to Write a Press Release The Obligatory Elements The most widely used tool of PR--public relations. revising your sales letter to reflect your current success with the column frequently.or triple-spaced copy. Identification of issuing organization: May be a special form but also may be and often is the regular letterhead of the organization. NEWS. which is true enough. It ought to be dramatic. to capture the editor's interest and help him or her grasp the essence of the story immediately. if it is to do its job well. You don't have to limit yourself to newspapers. 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. but is irrelevant because they very likely will do so in any event! Actually. or otherwise strike a nerve. The argument against is that editors prefer to write their own headlines. or other such term. Dateline: City of origin and date. except where the date of issuance is important. Type on one side of sheet only. It is also not a bad idea to use a subordinate head-line immediately following. Headline. as in the sample release . inspiring. Not truly obligatory. Arbitrary: Some advocate against it.
It is not much of a task to get attention with news of a grisly murder or major airplane disaster." "###. attention-getting.g. as noted earlier (e. In the daily newspaper business. Then there is a different kind of news. Especially the eyes of a long-experienced editor who gets dozens of releases every day." followed by a name and telephone number. and often horrible events. No contact name or telephone number given. verify/validate.. But why not suggest that there is more to the story by using the phrase "For more information. Failure to provide embargo date when release "reports" some event that has not taken place yet. murder." That is news when it still is news--before it is well known to everyone. see the sample release for an example of this practice.e. make them work full time for you. and other such dramatic. such as which company has gone bankrupt. When to release. to further the idea. Should say "For immediate release" or "embargoed until" [some date]. or otherwise pursue more information and perhaps to even get the story behind the story. accidents. evasive language or hazy expression. ask for photos.included here. pure hype and all too obviously so.or triple-spaced. The latter is the kind of news you will normally deal in. Contact: Name and number to help the editor follow up. but it can be a substantial challenge to get a reader's eyes to widen over news of a new book or better kind of margarine. Guidance: "More" at bottom of each page to let the editor know that there is more copy and "End. Unclear message--e.. It includes war." or "-30-" at bottom of last page. who has just been appointed Secretary of the Treasury. what new medical breakthroughs are taking place. Newsworthiness "Newsworthiness" is not a precise term. when the release contains the text of a speech to be delivered or a product to be announced. and who just joined the company down the street. 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. there is such a thing as "hard news. Most releases bear a simple word "Contact. Copy on both sides of paper instead of on one side only. contact" followed by a name and telephone number? If you are using releases to promote your business.. Cautions . Copy single-spaced instead of double.g. Most Common Mistakes There are several common mistakes that many people make in preparing releases.
Be careful. It is therefore especially important to be careful about accuracy in general and such other details as have been mentioned here. editors. 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. but important. you will probably kill your chances of having that editor ever again consider your releases seriously. where someone attempts to judge the proper destination within the organization. Remember that getting a release picked up by a publication is a trade: You furnish a useful story to the publication. other. but you should follow the reverse pattern. columnist. On a large newspaper your release is likely to wind up on a managing editor's or city editor's desk. Find something truly interesting about whatever it is that you are trying to promote. but it could even wind up on the circulation-manager's desk if you have not specified otherwise. That is. columnists. Be careful about accuracy. All editors know hype when they see it. it is still necessary that the release be "right" for that party--be of true interest. 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. (An exception to this would be in the case of a small newsletter or other publication where the release could not possibly get lost. along the following line of procedure: Decide who--what reader/viewer/prospect you want to reach. even if you do manage to get it to the individual editor. and that is an important factor in conducting PR successfully.) Remember that in large organizations mail addressed to the organization generally is opened in the mail room. or even the state desk. other Slanting Your Copy Slanting copy is a simple. or other party you mean it for. Find the angle that will make it newsworthy. and you get free advertising--publicity--in exchange.--to pursue. On the other hand. concept. One of the common mistakes has to do with where to send releases. It is a mistake generally to address a release to a large publication or other medium without specifying an individual destination. Or he or she may simply decide to be too busy to bother and drop it casually into the "circular file" without r thought. your release will find its way to the "circular file" quite quickly. Decide what kinds of media--periodicals. If you make a mistake that causes an editor to commit some faux pas and be embarrassed thereby. Decide how to slant your release for the editor/columnist/producer. If it is hype and the hype is as obvious as it almost always is. It means writing the release in such a way as to address the direct interests of a . you should not ordinarily write a release and then decide where to send it. your relationships with editors is at stake.
Even that can vary from one publication to another. These must normally be addressed by name. (In fact. So an article or release on fly fishing might be slanted to fly fishermen with different interests--some like to tie their own flies. perhaps the most common factor among fly fishermen is their almost legendary zeal.given audience. ) 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. Suppose. It certainly is not likely to appeal to the owner of a small luncheonette or a high school youngster. Which one is most likely to attract the prospects you want? Obviously that depends on the kind of prospects you want. in the hope that they will become interested in your announcements." although the dullest mail room clerk may be able to interpret your wishes and direct your release to the right editors. What one newspaper calls the "Financial Editor" another may title the "Business Editor. Not everything can be slanted effectively. and each potential use and user suggest the keys to a slant. That's a rather obvious case. for example. An inventory program is going to attract only businesspeople for whom inventory-control and management is important. This is even more critical when you want to send releases to columnists. Few men are likely to take up crocheting. and reports on marketing to government agencies. 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. Your release will have to suggest some particular program or kind of program you will be demonstrating. a new word processor program. But it points up something: You can create more than one version of a release so that you can attract many people. and since many are syndicated and are not on the staff of the individual periodical carrying the column. In writing releases to publicize my own newsletters. which borders on fanaticism. that you are selling computer software and are preparing a release to help make your establishment more widely known. But you must also think in terms of the periodicals and other media to which you slant your material. On the other hand relatively few women are enthusiastic about fly fishing. I found many ways to slant them to . Not all are so obvious. Many products lend themselves to multiple uses and users. Suppose you have a choice among a new inventory-control and -management program. 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. books. you must either determine what the columnist's mailing address is or send your release in care of the periodical. There are several possibilities open to you. But the game program will not appeal to the businessperson normally. It would be difficult to slant a release for a male audience explaining how crocheting is making a strong comeback. or the latest and most popular computer game.
unfortunately. to businesses by the nature of the kinds of customers they would be going after. to businesses by the nature of what they sold. But there were many other possibilities: I could slant releases to small businesses. to very small businesses such as freelancing individuals. 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. P.S. April 25. and even more possibilities than these. MD. however. To companies who had done little or no business with the government. The theme here was how to break into the government market most effectively. Written literature. Box 1731 Wheaton. MD 20915 Fax: (301) 649-5745 Voice: (301) 649-2499Z ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NEWS For Immediate Release For more information. Business people need no longer complain about the difficulty of getting information and guidance in selling to the U. The most obvious and most basic slanting opportunities were these two: To companies already doing business with the government. to minority-owned businesses. A sample release follows.different audiences. INC. despite the poor quality of most literature on the subject. brochures. This idea is not for releases only. The theme was how to do more business with the government. most of it published by the government. It is equally useful in writing advertising copy. 1990. of which the characteristics of . Government. slanting is usually not especially difficult. magazine articles. has not proved very helpful to the newcomer to this market for many reasons. The key is simply finding the link between the reader's interest and what you wish to publicize. and just about everything else that might be addressed to the public generally or to any specific class or group of people. HRH COMMUNICATIONS. sales letters.O. With an active imagination and a bit of introspection on possible uses and users.
It is available from HRH Communications. such as how long a book proposal must be or how it ought to be formatted.000 pages of official documents to distill this 4-hour program. make others wrong or me right. at $98. the proposals is not offered up to be edited!). so I have gained some faith in my methods: They certainly work for me. I happen to believe that one ought to be able to sell most book ideas in a much smaller number of pages. Now. Most who speak out on the subject appear to believe that a book proposal must be at least 25 pages long.bureaucracy generally are major factors. of themselves. my approach has worked well enough for me to sell more than 60 books over the years. after all. The set includes four 1-hour cassettes and a 65-page directory of government purchasing offices. as of October 1. However. Conventional Ideas About the Book Proposal A great many people offer many ideas and opinions on the subject of writing book proposals. and a summary of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. and that is their bottom estimate. The program incorporates the latest information available. I happen to differ with many of them on some aspects. I have lived long enough to have learned that there are many right ways to do everything.50 (discounted for quantity purchases). ### CHAPTER 16 Writing the Book Proposal A discussion of the subject and a sample of a successful proposal. It is quite possible that my own case is an exception. so perhaps we are not truly in a great deal of disagreement about length. who interviewed dozens of government purchasing officials and reviewed more than 12. Inc. one that won a book contract. However. 1987. for the first time. But then I single-space my book proposals. and most have been somewhat smaller than that. The package was developed over the past year by a special team of government-marketing experts. and . Those differences do not. I have personally rarely offered a book proposal of more than 12-15 pages). a complete information and instruction package on selling to the government is available in a convenient audiocassette form. while others advocate double-spacing. or perhaps I would have been more successful had I written lengthier proposals. for some reason I am unable to fathom (certainly.
Management and the sales department will be represented there to review the proposals and the editors' recommendations. Note that the style used here is different than the style for a formal publication. The one shown here as an example was a successful proposal of several years ago. as you do in writing anything else. However. Use a "working title" for your book. the editor can only take your proposal to the next meeting of a committee and make a recommendation. but don't make sweeping claims. such as getting forewords and/or endorsements and jacket blurbs written by prominent individuals. and do not try to be clever or worry about how long it is. Rejection by one publisher does not mean your book is unsalable. but not at the cost of clarity. It includes a full space between paragraphs. Even if the editor wants to buy 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. with a proposal. IMPORTANT FINAL OBSERVATION: There is no absolute formula or model for a good book proposal. some of those proved to be highly successful books.that each of us must find our own best way. and will express their opinions too. . but I vary it for each case according to individual circumstances. just define. granted that I try to tailor each one to the individual situation. that I will show you. I do want to make a few general observations: A proposal is a sales presentation. in most cases. What I propose to do is to simply present an actual book proposal of my own as a sample. not a reader. It uses ragged-right. you are trying to sell an editor. as clearly as possible. rather than right justified type. 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. I have a basic model. and is reasonably typical of all my book proposals. and their judgment is as fallible as are yours and mine. The editor cannot. Many books have traveled to dozens of publishers before they found a home and were published. Make it as punchy--as attention getting--as possible.) Publishers are human. it may be rejected by the committee for any of many possible reasons. Moreover. which may have absolutely nothing to do with the merits of your book. (Chicken Soup for the Soul is a most notable example of this. Identify anything you can and offer to do to help with marketing. First. for one. In most cases. Use your creative imagination--you are a writer. make the decision alone. That must come first. Offer your thoughts about the market for your proposed book. such as this book. the prospective buyers and why they will be interested in buying your book. after all--in writing your book proposals. however. a book proposal that was successful in winning a contract and is a typical example of my book proposals.
the basic alternative methods include (but are not restricted to) barter. credit (itself a form of money). A true manager is one with the ability to get the job done without adequate resources. the home-based business. but it must inevitably include those millions who attempt each year to launch new. money. This can be applied successfully to marketing. recognizing the merits of minimizing start-up costs. (It is especially timely. "OPM" means Other People's Money. utilize PR and trade credit. trade credit. 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). PR. in fact. including the largest corporations. 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. often home-based enterprises. Briefly. great surge in home-based business starts. -----------------------. the knowledge of how to use these effectively constitutes a powerful business asset. and other assets--without undertaking loans or surrendering equity. and others.Herman Holtz c/o ----------------------. as already noted. and has two connotations: One refers to the use of debt and/or equity financing of business ventures. as it can be to capitalization generally. they constitute a powerful business asset--that is. CONTENT AND TREATMENT This is to be a how-to. and other resources. in such detail as to be almost of cook-book . and is often so applied by entrepreneurs who can not afford to market in any other way. even those businesspeople who can afford the cost of conventional marketing. among other methods for minimizing marketing costs. Together. But it can be done. including the freelance specialist.") However. 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 variations or special applications of these. advance payments by customers. The other refers to various means of managing to capitalize a venture with other people's resources--money. Never was it more true that knowledge is power. many recognized as "at home offices. in light of the recent. anyone can get the job done. and this is a primer on the art of doing that. That is especially true for marketing with little or no money. low cost methods for capitalizing the marketing of their enterprises. small businesses.
Starting on a Shoestring. One example is the recent Marketing on a Shoestring. The purpose of the book is to guide the reader in and to practical. although in highly practical terms. LET US SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE "Marketing" versus "sales. supported by many concrete examples and practical guidelines. John Wiley & Sons. Jeffrey P. and sales as part of--the final step in--marketing. An older work (1984). the approach and treatment for this book will be decidedly unacademic: It will offer guidance in lay language. the end-objective of marketing is sales. by Arnold S. even more serious. direct experience and. practical experience with a direct focus on marketing on a tiny budget.g. regardless of semantic or philosophical considerations. This is a quite credible effort.) More specifically. where appropriate. practical experience of its author. also a John Wiley publication. with recognition and quotation of the conventional wisdom of the many academic teachers and lecturers on business start-ups.. low-cost marketing methods. The book will therefore be divided into two parts. drawn from my own problem-solving marketing experience and that of others. Davidson. readers will have. and marketing. the business of getting orders. but it is also necessary to teach and discuss marketing generally. The book proposed here will bridge that gap and combine the best of each idea. . how to pursue them. given that lack of business experience that any.) Thus. That makes marketing and sales the primary function of business and even more the primary objective of business. sales. and the second addressing the main objective of guidance to low-cost marketing. OUTLINE PART I MARKETING IS WHAT BUSINESS IS ALL ABOUT As Peter Drucker has put it. is much more oriented in the direct. but it does not focus on marketing to any large extent.style. 1988. although the book will include useful information for others. and yet it lacks the authenticity of personal. and how to get them. and only minimally philosophical. and that must always be kept in mind. of practicable suggestions for implementation. joining the author's own. the first laying necessary groundwork by discussing and explaining marketing generally. inasmuch as it relies largely on academic or "textbook" theory for much of the rationale it offers. and so the message is largely lost in the broader coverage of building a business with minimal capital. (The reader is perceived as someone with little direct marketing experience. perhaps most. Goldstein. COMPETITIVE BOOKS There have been other books offering guidance in low-cost ways of marketing." do they mean the same thing? (E. the business of deciding which orders to pursue. the primary function of business is the creation of customers.
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. Some examples and quotations to illustrate the distinctions and reasons therefor. and actually asking for the order. 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. and they must be matched to the characteristics and needs of the business. about mailing lists--where/how to acquire them. e. A few basics of direct mail marketing. how to compile and build your own lists (e. THE ELEMENTS AND METHODS OF MARKETING On a broad basis. and most of those who are new to business and still largely inexperienced in marketing.g. A great many people in business generally. 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. and by sundry other methods for making the prospective buyers aware of your existence and what you offer.. card decks. and other. Some basic discussions and examples--e. directories. and cooperative piggyback mailings). But marketing involves more than that. w the best prospects for what you wish to sell). the difference in using direct mail to sell an automobile and using it to sell a set of kitchenware or a tape album. DO YOU KNOW WHAT BUSINESS YOU ARE IN? Probably the most common error in marketing made by many new to and inexperienced in business (and often enough even by those with substantial business experience) is their failure to define their businesses--their offerings--in the prospect's set of terms. by direct mail (sales letters. DIRECT MAIL AND SOME SPECIAL USES OF IT Direct mail selling is a multibillion dollar industry. by retail outlets. by telephone solicitation. . what the customer is really buying. what your market is (I. and how you can reach these prospects (make your offer and presentation to them).. marketing is carried out in a variety of ways: via advertising in public media (print. probably more accurately. Examples and anecdotes. radio. through distributors and dealers. creating opportunities for sales. but it is one of the favorite enterprises of the small. and TV. methods).. by trade shows. whether either of you realize it). inquiry advertising.Discussions and definitions of both terms. full direct-mail packages.g. by booths or space in weekend farmer's markets and flea markets. special. by PR methods. as used in these pages and practical reasons for making distinctions. tend strongly to think in terms of what they wish to sell or believe they are selling. principally). not what the prospect wishes to buy or thinks he or she is buying.
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. Examples and illustrations to help th r perceive and understand these concepts. More than a few business failures can be traced to the failure of the proprietors to gain an understanding of their proper markets. achieved at modest cost. It is one of the most fruitful avenues for marketing without money. but there are alternatives available to the innovative." The proper appeals: principles of the promise-and-proof concept.But the customer does not care about what you want. the best prospects for what you wish to sell--your market. security. WHO ARE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS? Identifying or defining the business you are in ought to be in also identifies. etc--even when they are not fully conscious of or can articulate that want. the hope of money. greater convenience..E. and that is always the key to sales success: You can always sell customers what they really want--e. recognition. Words that sell. Testing. DOES MARKETING HAVE TO BE COSTLY? Some typical costs of advertising in various media and by other means of broadcast advertising. Introduction to Part II. 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. How to develop sell-copy. Yes. and other conventional approaches. perhaps. Costs for fielding sales reps. the "trick" is always to discover what they want and offer exactly that--what they want. he or she cares only about what he or she wants. establishing dealerships. and so to doom their marketing efforts to failure in advance. at least by broad implication. conventional marketing methods are costly. and bold entrepreneur. But there are several other. and he or she will bestow patronage on the merchant or entrepreneur who satisfies that want most directly and most gratifyingly. sometimes. Having decided that. WHAT IS YOUR MARKET (I. not hat you want. PR ON THE CHEAP . which so many find difficult to believe--or. to their marketing disasters. conducting classical direct mail campaigns. Basics of writing "sell copy. 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. to accept--leading to their difficulties and. But that is only the first step.g. PART II EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES PR is essentially free advertising. imaginative. Examples and illustrative anecdotes. special ideas you can use to do your marketing at very little out-of-pocket cost.
direct instructions: Releases. Join as many relevant associations as possible and become active in the events--meetings. guesting at seminars and business meetings.." what they are and how to use them. THE SEMINAR ROUTE The free seminar is an effective PR and marketing tool also. how to get them published. 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. when. larger business organizations. Expansion of the marketing publicity base via complimentary subscriptions and exchanges with other newsletter publishers. A few tips and guidelines on being an interesting and effective speaker. 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. Cashing in on others' media affairs--e. even the "USP"--unique selling point--that can be so effective in marketing. Other PR: public speaking. But there are ways to contain the cost.. trade shows. but there is no need for such apprehension. related marketing tools: newsletter spin-offs--special reports and sales appeals. However. and conferences: what they are. avenues of continuing useful and free information. Methods for creating and sustaining the newsletter. especially in the early stages of a business and especially for the still-inexperienced or lightly experienced individual. conventions. creating an image and an awareness. especially in supporting some PR activities to be explained in succeeding chapters: Introduction to PR methods that merit their own chapters. NICHE MARKETING AND ITS COST ADVANTAGES Niche marketing offers several great advantages. The benefits are many. PUBLIC SPEAKING Public speaking represents a great PR opportunity and medium. Examples.All about PR: What it is. where and how to find the best opportunities to turn public speaking to advantage--e. conferences. piggybacking their promotion with your other marketing efforts. If a proper niche is selected. the several types. why. and of continuing useful and inexpensive information (via freelance writers). there is a . and trade shows. Unfortunately. where and how to find speaking engagements. Tips on how to overcome such fears. cooperative productions. what they are. when used properly. how to make use of them. A number of ideas for using seminars and producing them at modest costs by getting pace free or at low cost. 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. conventions. public speaking apparently frightens many people. how to create and use them. getting it conventionally. short-cuts to getting it. g. and how. although relatively expensive. what it can do for you. one that meets the conditions just stated. who. what. via "invited guests" and "hospitality suites.
BARTER METHODS In the light of IRS demands on our earnings. Other methods. typical suppliers who will extend trade credit. The U. such as "selling your paper" or factoring receivables. postal meters. SELF-FINANCING AND CUSTOMER-FINANCED APPROACHES There are certain types of ventures that require relatively little "front-end" capital for marketing or any other operating expenses because they are primarily service-based. and illustrates what an enterprising individual can do. Postal Service. many have turned to barter as a means for preserving capital and minimizing tax obligations. Methods for getting paid in long-term advance of delivery.decided cost advantage in niche marketing. Other distributor services that represent dollars saved: free and cooperative advertising. typical terms. Discussions. distributor/manufacturer-furnished fixtures. Mail order ventures and drop-shipping methods are other examples. 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. delivery services. And many of us who are entrepreneurs who can ill afford . payment before the service or product is delivered. related other methods. is always paid "up front"--before they deliver the service (often many months before. consignment merchandise. returns for credit. for example. as far as you are concerned. Postal Service is one example. The U. Worksheets and guidelines for g your own venture to discover opportunities for advance payments from customers. ideas. drop shipping. How to arrange for accepting credit-card orders. and deposit accounts). and thus justify advance payment or. TRADE CREDIT AND RELATED ALTERNATIVES What is "trade credit?" Explanations of buying merchandise on terms. Examples and illustrations. You can also accept credit-card orders. having merchandise sold drop shipped. middleperson (brokerage) ventures. What this means in practical terms is that you can have the customers help you finance your venture. since it simplifies the marketing problem generally and permits a cost-saving focus of effort. examples and anecdotes to illustrate. for example--even if their competitors do not. The result is that the customers finance the business. at least. They include such services as resume writing.S. custom services. how to use them advantageously. substantial up-front retainers or deposits. which are cash in advance. how to qualify for trade credit. to a large extent. Examples and anecdotes. But there are many businesses that can operate that way--with service contracts. and many other such ventures. A case history of getting such help in self-publishing a book furnishes another example of a special kind. Anecdotes and examples. day-care centers.S. as evidenced by millions of dollars worth of postage stamps in desk drawers. specialty publishing.
It is thus necessary to work at finding such deals.O. and the prime source will drop ship it under the publisher's label. although the term represents per inquiry.O. SOME SPECIAL DEALS--P." advertisement: The publisher is selling the item advertised and earning a commission or buying it at discount. but does make a flat payment for each inquiry. One prominent example of this is the exchange of a regular column of useful copy for some equivalent value of advertising space. "P. And many others have done likewise." deals. and probably a label of his/her own.I. They are reluctant to admit this. Many publishers of small periodicals are glad to offer this barter exchange. of course.I.to pay conventional rates for advertising in its many forms have turned to barter as one means of coping with high costs. and these businesspeople also do not admit freely that one can bargain with them or sell on any kind of contingency basis. advertising. These are simple enough: "P. A number of entrepreneurs who write well take advantage of this.O.I." and "P.I. in hope of an order.O.O. And you would probably be billed $2 to $4 for each such inquiry. and "P. you multiply the benefits twelvefold. system. and P. All these concepts and marketing methods have their counterparts in radio and TV advertising also. The publisher will send on his or her own check for the item at the wholesale or discounted price.I. but it is a simple fact.O.. in a special way.000 copies of his own publication in that way. When you see an advertisement in a magazine for an item that calls for you to mail your payment or credit-card number to the publisher. that is usually a "P. author of How to Become a Successful C nt in Your Own Field and publisher of The Consultants Library sold some 65. 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 the prime distributor of that item will ship it when the order arrives from the publisher. but they are to be found. Hubert Bermont." refers to per order. Barter works in many ways. such as P." sales are somewhat similar.O. AND "REMAINDER" ADVERTISING SPACE One of the very special deals available for many kinds of ventures are the "P. P. but is a prospect to whom you would mail your sales literature. Mail order dealers turn to barter also. Examples and . which benefits both parties in the resulting benefits without tax liabilities. probably about 50 percent. trading mailing lists. as they are reluctant to admit that they accept 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. as in the case of the P.I" refers to per inquiry. thus doubling the PR benefits for both. Publishers often have to "remainder" (discount) unsold advertising space. The advertiser does not pay for the cards or other publicity media. and P. Each inquiry is not an order. Many newsletter publishers offer each other mutually complimentary subscriptions and provide publicity for each other.
circular exhibits. audiovisual presentations. mailings in which you can include a circular or two of your own. thus making it easy for the recipient to become a respondent and order or send for more information. I have been employed by or a consultant to IBM. MATTERS There are a few other alternatives and options that are available to attack the problem. Hercules Aerospace Division. and hospitality suites. and conferences. One is that of cooperative mailings. AUTHOR'S CREDENTIALS I am the author of more than 35 business and professional how-to books published by major publishing houses. Navy. and the Educational Science Division of U. and many other programs for the Air Force.anecdotes. I have written extensively on marketing subjects (I have recognized credentials in selling to the government generally and in proposal writing especially). and I am called upon by corporations. I had early newspaper experience and many years of employment in engineering. and training programs. the Job Corps program. conventions. Typhon and Titan missile systems. as shown in several examples. GE. RCA. Army. and in executive positions of a number of small and large corporations. independent mailings. How to set up and utilize each to greatest advantage. Don't neglect trade shows. BMEWS. technical writing.Rand. Apollo moon-landing program. along with those of others. making the marketing cost of several of your own offerings shared among them. miscellaneous other listings. APPENDIX A few useful references: Bibliographic listings.g. Philco-Ford. 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. BUT RELATED. The approaches and opportunities include general attendance. A FEW MISCELLANEOUS. Control Data Corporation.x 5-inch card copy in a mass mailing of card decks is another means of doing this. Chrysler Corporation. Vitro Laboratories. and many offer opportunities to close sales on the spot. I later operated my own successful independent government-contracting . I worked on such projects as the LARC computer. EPA programs. NASA. You can often piggyback your own offerings. training. and other organizations as a marketing consultant and seminar presenter in the subject. in fact. sources of marketing services and help. Industries. colleges. You can easily make your card one of the postage-prepaid variety. In this manner.S. Volt Information Sciences. as well as many smaller companies. with none shouldering the entire cost burden. a typical and quite popular method. consumer product safety programs. as well as many magazine articles and custom writing assignments--e. as well as in my own independent ventures. and other federal agencies. Remington. They are great opportunities for marketing effectively at low costs. proposals. Including your own 3. Atlas.. thereby reducing your direct-mail costs. Dun & Bradstreet.
Greenwood Press. Scott Foresman. 1980. reports. Buyer's and Seller's Exchange. AMACOM. The Secrets of Practical Marketing for Small Business. 1991 The Winning Resume. 1985 Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. Consultant's Library. l980. McGraw-Hill. The Consultant's Library. 1981. winning many contracts with the U. In addition to the many highly technological. 1985 How to Be More Successful with Your Personal Computer.firm. 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. 1981. Beyond the Resume. Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant. Scott Foresman. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill. John Wiley. One of my more novel proje the answering mail for the [then] Energy Research and Development Administration. 1989 How to Make Money with Your Micro. Profit-Line Management. 1986 The Direct Marketer's Work Book. John Wiley. and others to write manuals. BOOKS BY HERMAN HOLTZ Government Contracts. USDA Forest Service. l979. Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). John Wiley. 1982. winning many contracts with the U. John Wiley. 1985 Utilizing Consultants Successfully.) I published several newsletters: Government Marketing News. l983. McGraw-Hill. Chapman & Hall. 1988 Great Promo Pieces. Profit From Your Money-Making Ideas. Directory of Federal Purchasing Offices. McGraw-Hill. Greenwood Press. 1990 Starting and Building Your Catalog Sales Business. FAA. while he designed a system to enable the staff to answer their own mail efficiently. Mail Order Magic. The $100 Billion Market AMACOM.Postal Service.S. brochures. the Commerce Department's MBDA (then OMBE). 1987 Speaking for Profit. John Wiley.S. John Wiley. 1985 The Consultant's Edge. General Services Administration. 1985 The Business of Public Speaking. and others. Prentice-Hall. 2001 Sources of Financing for Small Business. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Newsletter Profits. Persuasive Writing McGraw-Hill. John Wiley. 1984 Word Processing for Office Publications. 2d Edition. The Winning Proposal: How to Write it. 1988 How to Write Readable User Manuals. 1985 How to Sell Computer Services to Government Agencies. 1983. 1990 Marketing Without Money. 1989 Writing Winning Proposals with Your PC. training programs. audiovisual presentations. 1983. 1983. Dow Jones-Irwin. John Wiley. state-of-the-art projects I worked on. Plenum. the FAA. Prentice-Hall. Scott Foresman. 1991 . 1987 Expanding Your Consulting Practice with Seminars. Arco.Postal Service. 1986 Advice. 1990 The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing. 1988 Choosing and Using a Consultant. 1984 Computer Work Stations. 1987 The Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients. John Wiley. John Wiley. John Wiley & Sons. newsletters. 1982. Chapman & Hall/Methuen. a High-Profit Business. 1986 The Business Writing Problem Solver. I operated my own successful firm. John Wiley. and other such material. 1984 How to Buy the Right Personal Computer. AMACOM. the USDA Forest Service. the General Services Administration. and Contracting Opportunities Digest. Dow Jones-Irwin. Dow Jones-Irwin.
Of course.. 1992 How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. earn money. you are in possession of information that many others would greatly welcome as advice and guidance. Doing Business with the U. he and his little book. 1994 The Complete Guide to Being an Independent Contractor. But he was persevering. 1991 100 Ways to Boost Your Firm's Profitability. 1993 The Complete Guide to Consulting Contracts. 3rd Ed. 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. at first. Windcrest/McGraw-Hill. Bettger was a Philadelphia baseball player who was forced out of his sports career by an injury. 1991 How to Start and Run a Writing and Editing Business. The late Joe Karbo did even better. John Wiley & Sons. Inc. 1992 The Consultant's Guide to Hidden Profits. improve their looks. 1994 The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants. Dearborn Trade 1995 The Independent Consultant's Brochure and Letter Handbook. 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. John Wiley & Sons. There was also the book by the late Frank Bettger. find love. 1994 The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. . be more respected. with its imaginative innovations. It was written in first person. When you discover how to do any of these things for yourself. This idea has even been the key to many best-selling books. 1994 Computer Consulting on Your Home-Based PC. Bob Adams.. and was a quite unsuccessful one. will always find a welcoming audience. 1992 Databased Marketing. Dearborn Trade. Ringer wrote a best-seller he called Winning Through Intimidation. a book that has become a classic. Two Outstanding Cases Robert J. 1993. have been widely imitated by others since. gain prestige. eventually becoming the first insurance salesman to sell more than $1 million worth of insurance a year. and otherwise gain something desirable or avoid something undesirable. Government. going from near bankruptcy to great success in business. John Wiley. He became an insurance salesman. John Wiley. and he taught himself how to sell. 1994 CHAPTER 17 MAKE MONEY WRITING ABOUT YOUR TROUBLES Books and articles that help people solve their problems. John Wiley. John Wiley.S. He then sold over $6 million worth of copies of his little paperback. 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. republished frequently in various editions. Second Edition.Executive's Guide to Winning Presentations. Prima. Prima. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. John Wiley & Sons.
who started with a little $2 report describing how he finally. He believes in fighting back. His book explained how he fights back successfully at merchants and others who fail to give him satisfaction when something he has paid for. Ralph Charrell's book. In my own case. Troubles are Easy to Find The troubles don't have to be your own troubles. sometimes launched entire new careers. and his book explained how he does so. and most people never find good solutions for their problems without help. He came to Lesko for help. a book that did very well. after a great deal of effort and research. learning the hard way--via mistakes and other false starts that we call "experience"--how to succeed. You can write just as profitably about how others solved their problems. than Lesko's client wanted to know.000 copies of that little $2 report.000 copies. that publishes information about information--where it is and how to find it. goods or service.000 copies. of Vancouver. Bill Adler. based on his "TOWERS Club" newsletter. nevertheless. by the success of . Jr. selling well over 100. but they are only three of many such success stories. was a Washington lawyer with a client who was interested in potatoes and had a lot of potato-related questions he wanted answered. Eventually. found a way to rid himself of those pesky gophers on a new farm property he had bought. by writing about their troubles and what they did about them. That's why books and articles offering how-to-do-it information almost always find a swift welcome from the public. in a classic sense. Matthew Lesko. It is now in its third edition and has sold more than 160. I wrote a book I titled How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. for example. Since then. and he founded a business and newsletter on where and how to get information. Lesko discovered a man in the Department of Agriculture who knew more about potatoes than anyone. He reported selling 14. I founded a business as a consultant and struggled for a long time. He wrote Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed From Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels. and founded a new business. From that beginning he built himself a successful and prosperous publishing enterprise.These fellows were heavy hitters. more. Everybody has trouble of some sort. Information USA. and there are many others. even. How I Turn Ordinary Complaints into Thousands of Dollars became a best-seller. These writers all made money. is unsatisfactory. wrote an entire book on defeating some of nature's little predators. but didn't know how to get the information. Washington. 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. One is that of Jerry Buchanan. he has written a number of books. to date. Bells rang in Lesko's head. This is well exemplified.
a physician who specialized in plastic surgery in the infancy of that profession. they were still dissatisfied and unhappy. I was an independent television serviceman. Consider your own problems of the past and what you did about them. gave (and still give) seminars for parents having such troubles. wrote an article for one of the trade magazines. David and Phyllis (my wife and I later met them and had an association with them for a time). It is that therapy. and detective work to handle successfully. and a great many people will be eager to hear what you did to solve your problems. 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. as he related its origin. But strangely enough. I had the not uncommon experience of becoming divorced from my first wife. and never had any trouble selling those articles. for cosmetic surgery: Their chief concern was to improve their physical appearance and thereby solve their anxieties. as they had hoped. we heard about the Yorks. Here. In more personal terms. And each time I ran into and solved one of those. Later. now a classic on its own. torn between their natural love for their daughter and their desire to "straighten her out" and reform her. They had problems with a daughter who was into drugs and got into serious problems with the law as a result. Of course. into drugs. but often enough the problem was difficult to solve. In fact. MD. Most of his patients came to him. after many years of a less than . resourcefulness. the doctor found. they developed a process and philosophy they called "Toughlove. Most of the work was routine. are a few personal examples: Many years ago.") I managed to find the answer and solve the problem. and he therefore decided to make his patients' problems his problem. he reveals. (They undoubtedly thought the customer was a "crank." They wrote a couple of books about it. Struggling to cope with the problem. Even though their physical defects had been corrected and their looks were improved. he felt that he had failed his patients. written by Maxwell Maltz. when we had problems with a teen-age daughter.another perennial best-seller. titled Psychocybernetics. If the volume was turned down. Psychocybernetics is the term he invented for the therapy he designed as a measure to do help his patients with their emotional problems. For example. such problems were headaches for me. and founded an organization that has helped parents all over North America cope with similar problems with children who are rebellious. There is an excellent chance that your troubles are typical of the woes of a great many other people. "psychocybernetics. as well as for the customer." that he wrote about. Somehow. to serve as starter ideas. and troubles were a routine of that business. Another strange case was that of the TV with a picture controlled by the volume control. and in trouble generally. the picture faded! I persevered and found the answer for that one too. my business was helping others solve their TV troubles. gaining good looks did not solve his patients' problems. They required imagination.
but he was getting more and more discouraged at the initial investment he would have to make. I sampled several of these groups and joined two of them. too. with their desktop publishing software had not been invented. Of course. if I wanted them. Many other people were eager to learn what I had learned. for example. so that I did not have to be alone unless I wished to be alone. and all were inspired by whatever I did to solve my own problems. I later wrote reports about how to do this too. many of them single parents. . "Parents Without Partners" is one very large such organization. "The OPM Plan" and has been material included in several of my books. but there are many others given to helping newly single people. I hardly knew what to do to adjust to a single life and begin again. I soon had a full life again. I was forced to many cost-saving expedients. 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. I that manner. explaining how one can start and run such a group. and that information. In fact. too. lonely. (I met my present wife in one of these groups.) I later wrote and published a report. and miserable for a long time. Sometimes the recommended methods didn't work well for me. a report. I eventually up to a point where I self-published several books. even making a profit from it. went into my reports. All my reports are how-to instructions. I found it easy to convert every problem I solved into an article. later. Dates. if that is a goal. One happy customer wrote to chortled that he had spent a lot of money he didn't have. meeting other newly separated and single people. parties.completely happy marriage. so "OPM"--other people's money--paid for the first printing of the book. (Can a man past 40 "hang out" with teen-age youngsters around a corner drug store or 7-11?) In short. I was unhappy. I have encountered my own share of financial problems and found ways to overcome then. I couldn't afford to keep a large stock of the many reports I wrote. There were dances. dinners. When I started in mail-order publishing I could not afford the expensive typesetting and printing of commercial publishers. That came out of my own experience in writing successful resumes for myself and. or even an entire book. so I learned how to get reports duplicated quickly after the orders and the money to pay for them came in. and discussion groups. 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. when I needed to earn some extra money. and the desktop computers.000 before the manuscript was ready to be printed. solve the problem of being single again and totally unprepared to cope with it alone. having something to do and somewhere to go ight. 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. trying to learn how to get started in mail order. That later inspired my report. Those experiences. too. And. like most people past 40. 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. writing them for others as a business. I took in nearly $5. meetings. such as one that described how to write resumes and how to start a resume-writing service.
and Overeaters Anonymous. when circumstances forced me into that new career activity. incorporate. among others. or divorced--taught me something else: Whatever my problems were. but they are also rich sources of information you can use as the basis for reports. many people suffering from those same problems that trouble you and others in these groups. articles. for which he had to invest only $3. such as one on explosives and demolitions. they were not unique. These are all so-called "12-step" groups. which originally seemed so overwhelming. started newsletters. Later. 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. The mine of ideas is all about you. They include. The U. There are many. start small businesses. often things I did to surmount my own difficulties. while running a successful small business to help myself. and wrote entire books to help people learn how to do things-. and books. are not as bad as the other problems he or she hears about from others in the group! This has been equally true. I found later.become consultants. win contracts. I have thereby written more than 60 books. separated.S. Belonging to singles clubs--clubs for single parents who have been widowed. Narcotics Anonymous. All are about things I have done.following the advice he had gotten from other sources. Recently. in other groups. and many others had problems that were quite like my own. although I enjoy a great deal of success with them yet: I went on to write articles for magazines. Then. but I was able to do the impossible because I work at a computer and was able to employ . and they are all seeking answers. such as those meeting to seek answers to their problems with children who use drugs. drink. It is wonderfully rewarding for a writer to hear that! It tells me that I am definitely on the right track. In fact. everybody has problems. he said. That eventually led me to write my ow selling book on the subject of succeeding as an independent consultant. become paid public speakers. and that I am helping people. Alanon. and I didn't stop with these reports. Such groups are very rich sources of information you can use to solve your own problems. 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. for example. so far. But these reports are not the only way to make money writing about your troubles. 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. he finally found in my reports the information he needed to get started. in one especially. and/or refuse to go to school and behave generally in unacceptable ways. and might well have been impossible normally. They are your potential market--the people who will buy your reports and books--and a very large market it is. almost everyone who joins a peer support group finds that his or her problems. minimize their tax liabilities. It seemed an impossible task. you can gather equally useful information from others in such groups. I became a consultant almost by accident. and do many other things. write user manuals. Alcoholics Anonymous.
and the final solution finally appears. perhaps the "how-to" genre is not for you. Bear in mind that the solutions that appear so obvious to you. in fact. You are. using computers. They are about a "hero" or "heroine. which you can find in any good public library or buy in any good book store. as I do. and people seeking those answers are delighted to buy that information. an excellent guide to book publishing. doing a great public service. I often ran into quite novel TV problems. when television was still a rather new phenomenon. 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. When I encountered one of these and solved it. as it is for me. and I had to improvise extensively: I invented many new ideas and ways to "make it happen. for a happy ending. There is the newsletter. Even then I was aware of the writing potential in solving problems. as I have done. or plays. CHAPTER 18 WRITING TOOLS Every Craft Has its Own Tools . Again. Of course. these were weird symptoms and it took some technical detective work to find the answers. if publishing your own material does not appeal to you. I have done this kind of job before. 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. which get worse as he or she struggles to solve the problems. A number of years ago. Whatever your choice. Or. Many people earn a living simply by publishing a newsletter every month. you may wish to write articles for periodicals. In fact. and some even publish more than one newsletter and build a large enterprise. Now. Publishers. now that you know what they are. will guide you. You need not emulate me and publish your own reports. but this was an extreme case. for example." 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. Every business problem I solve for myself or for someone else becomes the subject of something I write. 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. novels. and Literary Agents. there are other ways." his/her intense problems. problems. But there are other ways to write about trouble. the Writer's Market. for these are always about trouble and problems. Yes. I was in the TV service business for a few years. such material is equally rich as source material for short stories. Or you may wish to even write books. the way to do it is to start. There is also the annu der's Guide to Book Editors. are not obvious at all to others. while you are yourself profiting by it. until the situation appears all but helpless. with many aids to anyone who wishes to write and sell a book.computer power.
even those who do write their drafts on their computers. Writing with a WP Columnist Robert J. Once. still later the electric typewriter. Most writers can do like-wise. Unfortunately. That reduced me to less than a dozen lines of copy visible at any time. Later. while setting the print commands so that the copy is printed double-spaced. In the beginning. many of us have not yet learned how to use this tool effectively. to attack with a pencil. the typewriter is all but obsolete. But it is more than a writing tool. ingrained habits: I had my copy double-spaced on the screen. For a long time. revise. He insists on first typing his copy on an old manual typewriter.Writing is a cerebral activity. but must have hard copy on the desk before them.) I finally realized that I could work single-spaced on-screen. giving me twice as many lines of copy displayed. Macro-Instructions One of the earliest and most useful discoveries I made was that of the macro. but its execution requires tools. others do not. (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. I made my own adaptation more difficult than was necessary by clinging to my own old. replaced by the modern desktop computer with its word processor software and laser printer. and compose his copy. almost in raptures. if they will put up with a little discomfort for a session or two. about the marvels of his computer and word processor as a tool to review. it was the first crude typewriter. a Royal. and there to revise and polish it. Samuelson is highly enthusiastic. by now in almost universal use as the writer's principal tools. and the IBM Selectric probably the peak of typewriter development. the main tool for writing was the quill pen (who knows what it was before then). and probably none of us uses it with more than a fraction of its full capability. complain that they are unable to proof and edit their copy on the screen. as I always did when writing with a typewriter. it was called a "key redefiner. however. I coaxed a few writers into forcing themselves to write and edit on-screen a few times. New Habits Can be Developed Perhaps it is a matter of simple adaptability: Some people adapt readily to new conditions." It was . But he refuses to learn to write with his computer and word processor. He isn't alone in this aberration. it was by far the most popular one. polish. It did not take long to become comfortable working with single-spaced copy. editing and marking it up by pen to input it to the computer as a rough draft. it is a tool for many uses. More than a few writers. However. I was not immune to following old habits slavishly and foolishly. and soon enough they found themselves adapting to it and becoming comfortable with it. Today.
It was probably the granddaddy of such programs. but draws its power from the computer. as well. a special format. and today. If you didn't like the placement of a certain key--say the Escape key--you could make some other key the escape key. In fact. 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. of course. even mailing lists. It's less costly than the standalone machines because. has been coined for it: The term is cyberspace." and the term used today). I do have a standalone fax machine. I can program any key or combination of two keys to type out my name. and recall it from memory when you press the designated key or key combination. the most powerful writing tool available to you is your computer modem. I used a key redefiner program called SmartKey almost from the day I began to use a computer. I use the Microsoft program Word and its built-in and highly flexible macro capabilities. I can record an entire page. and I used a standalone modem until recently. I use this cyberspace to communicate daily with CompuServe and various electronic bulletin board systems. Writing is an act of communication. A new term. via modems and telephone lines. which makes for a very convenient arrangement. and it worked some special magic. That is how you can send and receive messages and files. . working in Windows as I must. that are more diverse than those of SmartKey and other earlier programs. Suppose I needed to type out my name frequently. unlike the standalone machines. the receiving end. for one. This enables me to do many things: I exchange information with many other individuals. at the other end.software you installed in your computer. The fax-modem card can be used. certainly one of the best-known. built-in macro systems. to both send and receive. Modems appeared at first as standalone devices. gaining popularity swiftly. newsletters. and even other types of programs today have their own. All word processing programs. Have You Heard About "Cyberspace" There is a steady increase in the information traffic via this medium of the computer-modem-telephone line. and whatever else is useful in printed form. But with a macro. 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. a modem reconverts those impulses to the bits that the computer recognizes. and I use the internal card to send faxes and the standalone machine to receive faxes. I often find people I can interview for my books that way. and computers have become a most powerful means of communication. In some ways. but it does require 15 key presses to spell it out. as names go. with punctuation and spaces. for example. however. 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. It does so by converting the data bits your computer generates to electrical impulses carried over the telephone line as sound. when I retired it in favor of a fax-modem card in my computer. I also get answers .
even one's style improves when on is in full possession of the facts. For nonfiction generally. such as using cyberspace (exploring online) for much of it. searching public files. and something called "composition. and that you have at least twice or three times the amount of information you will need and use in whatever you are writing. I have visited libraries all over the country while seated at my desk. You cannot very well choose the most important and most relevant information to present if you do not have all the information on the subject. The Legwork of Research Writing research was once called "legwork" because it meant a great deal of physical activity. and made clear. to a large extent. That means that you must do adequate research. 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. expressed accurately. (Research tip: Research should continue until you are not getting anything new. This places an awesome array of resources at your fingertips--at your desk. just as the lack of belief in your own knowledge would be reflected. a temporary expert perhaps. you will get some inkling of some of what awaits you in c yberspace. In fact. the content is not only as important as style and fluency. are marketing and research. but only more of what you already have. the way a writer makes himself or herself ready to write on a subject. In a moment. and I "talk" every day with people all over the world without leaving my office chair. such as computer technology or law. That requires that the writer know the subject thoroughly. for those who use the little portable computers referred to popularly as "laptops.to problems frequently from individuals much more knowledgeable than I in certain areas. The selfassurance is reflected in your writing style. For the well-equipped writer today. Research is. And that means that as a writer you ought to have a great deal more information than you have presented. if you have a dial-up telephone line available. of course. again . 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. There is a logical underpinning to this. Writers and Research Courses for writers tend to focus on the mechanics of usage: grammar. Muddy writing is often the result of (and symptomatic of) an author who is not in possession of all the information and is (perhaps unconsciously) trying to slide glibly past the missing details. that you are now quite ready to write about the subject. wherever it is. visiting libraries. But first. calling on individuals for interviews. The reader wants full detail. and even for fiction. punctuation. the legwork is far less physical: A great deal of your research can be done from your own desk." these resources are at your disposal wherever you are with your laptop and modem. The best writing is usually the distillate of all the information you have gathered in your research. using these modern tools we have been talking about. but may be more important to the reader. let's talk about its special meaning for writers and for others who must rely on research for their work." Somewhat neglected. and other such chores. In fact.
once again getting my research data delivered to me at my desk. By calling in and getting connected to CARL through the BBS.through cyberspace channels of communication. Files and Library Systems Most electronic bulletin board systems--"BBS. other than a copying capability. related resources. Even so. The Facsimile (Fax) Machine The fax machine also uses a modem and also transmits and receives information via dial-up telephone lines. (I have also donated many reports of my own to these libraries for use by others.) Public Libraries in Cyberspace Many communities are establishing electronic bulletin board systems (BBS) in their public libraries systems. getting the article via my fax machine. When that finally broke down. (Some of them were available without cost in the past. there is such a BBS.) Downloading some of the articles does require a fee. even in California: I can access catalogs of university libraries and other. I can also use this facility to search out magazine articles on subjects I wish to research. although that appears to have changed since I last made use of the facility. have copies of many of the articles downloaded to me. with absolutely no added features. some written by lawyers expressing their views. the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. I downloaded many useful files. Here in Montgomery County. I can search the library catalogs. and I have used this too. CARL is readily accessible to Internet users. much of it was useful to me in providing insights into the need for and problems related to contracts." in the common jargon used today--maintain extensive libraries of files. I got a far superior one for one-half that price. My first one was a "plain vanilla" machine. The files included a series of messages from other users. via that great online entity. and determine which branch of our library system has the books I want available on the shelves. But I can also travel via the system to libraries elsewhere. whether it is or is not available through your local public library system. in writing a book on contracts. compile bibliographies. I usually get the fax the next morning. too. This brings up the subject of another important writer's tool: the fax. Maryland. I can. But it is possible to get a more elaborate fax system for even . Many of these are extremely useful as resources for writer research. That means that it was the simplest possible configuration. "Downloading" those files means that I copied them from the bulletin board system and stored the copies in my own computer as my files. and it provides access to CARL. In the beginning. reports of various kinds. and they were quite expensive. there were only standalone fax machines. get brief descriptions of books listed. download those lists and descriptions. others written by consultants relating their experiences and problems relevant to contracts. and related information relevant to contracts. Although some of the messages and reports were from lawyers and some from lay people. in fact. it was a bargain at $600 then. For example.
software that helps you utilize your computer more efficiently. if you like the file well enough to keep it and continue using it. to those who keep and pay for the file. To send a paper original. they are likely to decline in price even Fax Boards Before long. The suggested price asked is generally a fraction of that asked for an equivalent "commercial" program bought across the counter in a retail establishment. an electronic device that fitted inside one's computer and could send and receive fax messages. It may well be the equal of the commercial equivalent in every way. (I use both. Some are utility programs. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each form of fax facility. Scanning. and prints out on plain paper the data that you receive via that device. On the other hand. The Benefits May be Direct or Indirect Among the many kinds of shareware are programs that are indirectly useful to you as a writer and programs that have direct application to writing tasks. The fax-modem board enables you to send data that is already in your computer. That does not mean that they product is not first quality. if their usage is such that they can gain something in that way. the computer engineers designed a fax board. The author usually suggests a price to "register" yourself as the paid-up owner of these files. the owner will offer an inducement. You are welcome to download these files from any BBS or other online facility that offers them and try them. you must scan it with a device that copies the information and converts it to electronic signals. is rarely perfect. so that now most computers are being sold with "fax-modem" boards (a referred to as "cards") already installed as a standard item. Many shareware pr ograms are of even superior quality. and normally you must review the copy with a word processor or editor and correct the copy where the scanning operation misread a few of the printed characters. you cannot feed a paper original into your computer. it is not a convenient way to send a copy of some printed material: Of course. and further.programs and text files--written by individuals and offered to everyone on the basis of a try-before-you-buy honor system. and some people use both a standalone fax and a fax board to gain the advantages of both. which are input to the computer and made ready to send out as a fax message. Often. other than packaging in an attractive box with illustrations. Others are programs that will help you directly in your writing chores. such as a printed manual and free upgrades. handling both functions. after the fax began to gain popularity. Shareware is computer software-. That soon became offered together with the modem board.less than that now. . however.) Shareware Shareware distribution is another important function of bulletin board systems.
equally valid for finding any other information. education. I need merely ask the program to find every occurrence of the word "seminar" or "presentation. It can be a rather laborious job to sift through 150 or 200 pages of previously written copy. launch systems. In writing a book. even though I no longer use WordStar but am using Word for Windows. work progresses over many weeks. in communications software. I can thus review my earlier text in a very few minutes. and similar "Star Wars" technology. the bulk of technical writing was concerned with such high-tech subjects as radar. The "typical" STC member fits the following profile. If your own the word processor lacks the conveniences you need. a Society of Technical Writers and Publishers. as described by the . of course. STC is headquartered at 901 N. however.Search software. that small organization has grown to 17. mainframe computers. In actuality. Arlington. It was a small organization. attitudes toward the profession. searching for every reference to seminars. On the other hand. telephone: 703-522-4114. Suite 904. although primarily in the United States. which may be reached at 703-522-3299. Today. for example. even into a number of months. avionics. is a tool that helps directly in a number of ways. or STWP. STC has its own BBS--electronic bulletin board system--there. Nothing I presently have in Windows software offers me anything along the lines of ProFinder. shareware has been of outstanding high quality. when I was actively engaged in that field. That is. I do use a shareware communications program because I like it much better than the communications software that came with WordStar. In fact.500 members in 140 chapters throughout the world. in my own case. There was. Stuart Street. With a good search program. I may (and usually do) have many files I downloaded from CompuServe libraries or other sources. and no commercial communication software has proven superior in any way. if I want to narrow the search. then. I may need to find out just what I wrote about seminar presentations. there is abundant shareware that may do exactly what you want. Selected highlights of the survey results are presented in a special report. for example. satellites. describing job characteristics." or even of the two words together. and salaries. I use the ProFinder software that is part of my WordStar word processing software. It is often necessary to go back through copy I wrote many weeks ago to search out some item. In fact. Following are profiles of the Society for Technical Communication membership based on membership data and recent surveys and gleaned from the Society's BBS. Technical Writing Freelance technical writing has become a major activity of writers in recent years. and so I often return to DOS to use ProFinder. missiles. a considerable number of those who have established home-based small businesses identify themselves as technical writers. and I want to search those files for specific information useful to whatever I am writing at the moment. now known as the Society for Technical Communication or STC. Virginia 22203-1854. Earlier.
activity. Still. most of which are today . The enormous upsurge in computer ownership. Naval security regulations. and many are specialists. for example). I turned to what I thought of as "business" and academic subjects. a writer or editor in the computer industry. safety engineering for commercial airlines. A Definition of Technical Writing One thing that is obvious is that technical writing has an entirely different definition today. and to keep in formed through TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION. offering services in indexing. to meet others in the field. When I left what I regarded as technical writing. personnel management. a highly liberalized one. and numerous other subjects. and dozens of other subjects. postal service operation (a rate manual.000. cataloging.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. and INTERCOM.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. newsletter writing. and earns an annual salary of $37. Many are engaged in writing about many other technologies. desktop publishing. I wrote materials on government contracting. Note the shift toward computers as a subject. 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. not all members of STC are writing computer manuals. annual report writing. and knowledge brought on by the advent of the pc has had a dramatic effect on the focus of technical writing activities.
This is partly because so many freelance writers choose writing fields that pay best but are the most competitive ones. Those who write novels. Shockingly few freelance writers earn a living at writing. as well as a profession): One is selling writings created at your initiative and out of your imagination and research. The clients for . which we will come to presently. novels.considered part of the technical writing domain. and articles. it consists of clients who need direct help that can be supplied only by a writer--preferably a writer/editor. novels. it is a spare-time occupation. But don't despair. and opportunity-rich field. a combination of these two. Few modern writers are starving in garrets. plays. for the majority. the other is selling your services as a writer and editorial consultant. it is a business. 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. with too many others who write popular fiction--short stories. speeches. and other such writings for clients on a custom basis belong to the second category. working at income-producing jobs to support themselves. for acceptance as writers. laboring in cold and drafty garrets while struggling for recognition. but it is still not easy to sell what you write without a lengthy struggle. That is a large. plays. But there is lesser-known world of demand for custom writing services--writing under contract or on assignment--as a writing consultant. It's a hard road. unfortunately. Even then success is far from certain. those who write resumes. Studies and surveys have shown rather clearly that by far the vast majority of freelance writers--those offering novels. short stories. Creating and Selling Your Writings Writing stories. diverse. nonfiction books and magazine articles as freelance writers belong to that first category. in which so many starved. and offering them to publishers for publication is the freelance writing of tradition. There are two approaches to making money in the writing business (yes. plays. there are easier roads to writing success! Selling Your Writing Services Most people with ambitions as writers contemplate writing novels or plays. Basically. and popular articles. There is also a hybrid approach. etc--are only part-time freelance writers. plays. 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.
and many never do find that success. Physically. pulp-paper magazines. These other fields are publications devoted to relatively limited readerships. playwrights. slick-paper magazines. and hobby. for those interested in antiques. But before we probe that area. hobby publications. nor do all pay for freelance material. The following. it is a difficult challenge to meet and conquer. but enough do to make writing for them a worthwhile proposition. if you insist on being paid fairly for your work. and other periodicals. time to graduate into better-paying fields later. There are such publications--almost always several--for just about every business. for example. are among the many kinds of items I have been retained to create: Resumes Abstracts Catalog sheets Proposals Releases Commercials Term papers. theses Newsletters Brochures Manuals Specifications Sales letters Lecture guides Storyboards Speeches Scripts Print advertising Presentations Getting such work is not difficult. and other "serious" writers. and some for computer hobbyists.000 to 3. for lapidaries and gemologists. hobbyists and professionals. for example. To give you an idea of how well or how poorly such publications pay. in all fields. and newsletters. even if the rates are not as great. or writers struggling to become professional. An Easier Row to Hoe in Traditional Freelancing There are freelance writers who struggle for many years to find success as novelists. for wood workers and for craftsmen. some for computer professionals. profession. they are newsprint tabloids. They are good places to start.these services are both individuals and organizations. let's look a little more at the more traditional areas of freelance writing. industry. who find much earlier success because they enter writing fields that are much easier to sell to (there is much less competition). business publications. Typical Prices Paid Not all of these solicit material from freelancers. But there are magazines and newsletters for collectors of all kinds. after you get established as a freelance writer. philosophers. including trade journals. as opposed to general readerships. There are computer magazines--some for the computer-owning public. as you will perceive almost immediately when you consider just a few of the kinds of things people want written for them. But there are many professional writers. here are a few examples of fees I have been paid by such publications for articles of from about 1.000 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 . nor is it at a sacrifice in benefits: The rewards are quite adequate.
Before long I was receiving fat manila envelopes stuffed with photographs. 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. the range is wide. as long as I "make attribution"--identify and credit the source. In fact. Given these factors. Actually. 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. newsletters and tabloids tend to pay less for your writing than do the more costly trade magazines. I wrote to manufacturers and explained what I wanted. Some pay by the final printed page: $50-100 per page is probably average. and explanatory texts. they offer a little text to go with their photos! A camera and/or a little artistic talent helps enormously in selling articles. legible. subject matter. including photographs. To get that help I send out a form . is in reasonably good English. instead of the one I originally contemplated. contains useful information. and size of article. although that is not an absolute and consistent truth. But it is wide in more than one dimension. Some pay by the column-inch: 50 cents per column inch is not atypical.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. For example. If your manuscript is clean. free of charge and with permission to use it freely. I got so much material that I wrote several articles. and is double-spaced to permit the editor access to edit your manuscript. based on one of the preceding scales or not. I have no difficulty persuading marketing and PR executives in companies to send me such material. there are at least four different bases generally for rates paid: Some pay by the word: 3-5 cents a word and up. you will have no problem. Some make a flat offer. and instead of offering photos to go with their articles. An Especially Valuable Tip Here is a tip that is perhaps the most valuable one I can give you. There are many photojournalists who are better photographers than writers. that is. How to Make Succeeding Just a Bit Easier Photographs and/or other illustrations help a great deal. reproducible drawings. But the publishers of these lower-paying periodicals are aware of that too and therefore not too demanding. an electronic device. the editor's concern is with content--useful information for readers. the reverse is often true also. it is also wide in types of publication. and text. I use that system today. and which I developed into a useful system that I use constantly: I get material. In fact. drawings. when I wanted to write an article on transponders. 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. gathering material for my books. Obviously.
find antiques. start a business. There is a large and quite hungry market for the .000 new books published each year are nonfiction works. and other little-understood subjects of interest. This chapter was based on an original folio I published. newspaper reporters. But I have written entire books on how to write a proposal. with full attribution. There are other approaches to these subjects.letter. Types of Writing The writing I do is principally "how to do it" writing.) RELEASE Permission is hereby granted to Herman Holtz and his publishers to reproduce. explaining the metric system. and many other subjects. explaining what I am looking for. to start a business. how to use a word processor. build a porch. One is "how it works" treatments. There is a large and hungry market for "how to" writing. and do many other things. of course. More than one-half the 40-50. file a tax return. how TV sets and VCRs work. how to publish a newsletter. and a great many are on these kinds of topics. and other directory-type information. cut and polish gem stones. but supplying a release form facilitates matters considerably. (This is my own major writing field. There are many highly successful "expose" writers. form a corporation. the political system. how to market by direct mail. People want to know how to collect stamps. and is mostly on business topics. pledging full attribution. cite. 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. and including a simple release form (as shown) for the recipient to sign. 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. comment on. There are "where to find it" books and articles--sources of financial assistance for a college education. such as Kitty Kelley writing the famous book purporting to tell all about Frank Sinatra and the politicians. and/or quote briefly from material supplied or referred to herewith.) Publishers are quite eager to get good books on practical subjects. lists of discount markets. (A letter from the respondent granting permission is equally valid.
Be sure that you fully understand this. and with book-manufacturing costs as high as they are. There have been many successful books on how to speak publicly. What is a "Book?" Probably most people. and how it might be of interest to others. in which people increasingly . Small-business owner? Write about secrets of success or how to get started in that business. You probably have your own store of information and knowledge--or access to it--that many others would like to know about. telling the reader how to get paid for speaking publicly and even to become a full-time professional speaker. the public at large and the turning to vendors for services of many kinds. many publishers are reluctant to publish large books. Have you invented or discovered a way to solve troublesome problems? Maybe others would like to know about them. It is an era in which consulting is in the ascendancy. when they hear the word book.) Consider other aspects of a popular subject. for example."inside story" on a wide variety of subjects. The Freelance Writer as a Writing Consultant We are today in a service economy generally. were paperbacks of only about 100 pages and even less. 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. That is only one kind of book. (I will eventually do a book on all the tricks and techniques I use to maximize the use of my computer in making my writing life easier. and/or where you have good access to information. School teacher? How about a book/articles on the teaching profession. for the cost-price-profit ratios get less and less favorable with increasing size. Some highly successful books.) 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. immediately have an image of a volume of several hundred pages (at least 200). in many cases. Etc. but none on the business side of being a public speaker--until I perceived the gap and wrote a book to fill it. (Some of my own books were conceived in that manner. 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.) Think about what you have done for yourself. (Big family? How about articles/book on your methods for raising children. Many books today are much smaller than that. books that earned a great deal of money for both their publishers and their authors. with hard covers.
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. Corporate executives and business owners recognize such needs no less. You are really being retained as an editorial. news releases. I recall. and to cope in a hundred other ways with today's complex society. They bring in specialists to write/edit/rewrite their company newsletters and annual reports. to produce acceptable theses and dissertations for their graduate courses. or publications consultant when a client wants you to provide such services.recognize and agree that they need to call on a wide variety of specialists to meet their needs. write. Even as individual citizens they are turning to specialists to solve their medical problems. How to Get Clients There are many ways to go about pursuing business of this type. press kits.) 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. brochures. $50 to $200 is not an unrealistic range. for example. rewrite. and/or ghost write to his or her specific needs. Just specializing in a few of these will keep you as busy as you want to be. one woman who had just become a member of the public school board and wanted my help to prepare for her first board . In fact. 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. Time enough to specialize more then. salesletters. and a myriad of other materials. Hardly anybody knows how to write them all. It depends on just what you want to do. And in that respect. complete direct-mail packages. This is grist for your mill. to help them abandon cigarettes and alcohol. and many went to $150. edit. to write letters of complaint to corporate officers and civic officials. revise. to prepare (and even to present) their training programs. writing. and to write dozens of other important things--proposals. here are just a few of the kinds of things I have been called on by clients to design. to prepare the speeches they will deliver. that is--I suggest that you tackle as many of these as you can handle just to sample the lot so you can determine which ones suit you best. unless you are sure right now of exactly what you want to do in the field of writing professionally--writing for money. A simple classified advertisement in a prominent and well-circulated newspaper will bring you in many resumes to write at fees you set. nor is it necessary to know them all.
meeting so that she could hold her own in discussing the issues. That almost always produces business. Chamber of Commerce. You find most of them in any good public library. Rotary. of course. and such service is well received and leads to work from satisfied clients. art supply stores. 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. and the right places include bulletin boards in public libraries and other community buildings. which I think is competitive with rates you would pay for most kinds of professional and paraprofessional specialists. A competent consultant is today worth a minimum of $1. (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. Posting a modest little sign in the right places often helps. In fact. And. What to Charge Clients In some fields it is necessary to undercut established competitors as a means of getting started--building a beginning clientele.000 per day. there is no reason not to solicit other writing chores. take on crash projects that require you to work evenings and weekends to help a client--make that clear in your brochure or letter. the competition is simply not that great. and meeting halls. if you wish to. local colleges (especially useful for students needing resumes and help with term papers and theses).) 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. etc--advised also. Make deals with other local businesses--your local printer and you can refer clients to each other. There are many other resources that will help you. 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. for that matter. And if you don't mind speaking to groups. Many people want help in writing letters. A list find useful and keep in my own office for reference is can probably you will want of some that I included here. Be sure you keep the local newspapers and business clubs--Lions. in my opinion. You will find that that kind of service is especially in demand. A good bit of business can come your way from these sources. and the demand is growing faster than the supply. If you are willing to help people out in emergencies--that is. for which she was quite willing to pay me my fees. Not so in this field. That works out to $125 per hour. according to my little calculator. That . for example. although to have a few of them in your personal library. and computer stores. volunteer to speak at meetings. A few other merchants with whom you are likely to have a mutual interest so far as types of clients are concerned are stationers. it is hurtful to work too cheaply. businesses are always having difficulties in meeting schedules.
Val-Tech Publishing.Writer's Resource Guide. Writer's Market. 1987 ----------. There are many more detailed publications you may wish to consult and even keep in your permanent reference library. New York: John Wiley. ------------. National Directory of Addresses and Telephone Numbers. John.R. Bowker Co. . 19 West 21st Street. Great Promo Pieces.. an annual of the Writer's Digest. 1976 Holtz. DC are considerably different than they are in Tuscaloosa.. New York. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. Freeman F. 1983 Gosden. Herman.. PA 19108...1984 Wilbur. 1507 Dana Avenue.. Cecil C. Concord Reference Books. John Wiley & Sons. Writer's Digest. Westport: Quorum Books. Inc. Writer's Yearbook. Inc.. monthly magazine. NY 10010. Marvin and Ashmore. Box 25376. Helen.R. John Wiley. 1985 Brohaugh. New York. an annual. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall. Webster. 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. an annual.. The. St. Cincinnati. 1980 Bly. Writer's Digest Books. Inc. William. Literary Market Place. 1979. Sell Copy. an annual. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books. The Newsletter Editor's Desk Book. Of course. New York. Sr. Direct Mail Copy that Sells!. But you have a few reference points now. Contemporary Books. just as there are others--those who have used consultants before--who will wonder why you are so cheap. Herschell Gordon. Alabama and Pocatello. Admittedly. Speaking for Profit. A Few Useful Books and Periodicals Arth. Ed. Shawnee Mission: Parkway Press. The. Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. Robert W. 1986 ----------. Paul. read by direct marketers. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. New York. 1979 Lewis.. 1985 Hoge. New York: John Wiley. there are clients who will balk at that rate. monthly slick paper trade magazine for marketers. New York: John Wiley. This has been a relatively brief report. 401 N. Writer's Digest Books. New York. MN 55125. New York. Perry. John Wiley & Sons. Broad Street. Cincinnati.. The.should give you a bench mark. Cincinnati. How to Write Books That Sell. Bowker Co.. Idaho. Writer's Journal. locality is a factor too: Prices in New York City and Washington. 1986 ----------. John Wiley. Caples. Mail Order Moonlighting. The Consultant's Guide to Proposal Writing.1981. Philadelphia. R. 1988 Kuswa. New York. Create the Perfect Sales Piece. Jr. Inc. The Direct Marketer's Workbook. Inc. 1979. How to Write Articles That Sell. Target Marketing. L... a bimonthly periodical for writers. 1987 ----------. R. Ohio 45207. DM News. an annual. You will have to use your own judgment. Chicago. Marketing with Seminars and Newsletters. Direct Marketing Success. How to Make Your Advertising Make Money. A few suggested candidates for that library follow..
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