Why All Freelance Writers Need Regular Clients

Why All Freelance Writers Need Regular Clients

A question I am asked quite regularly is how I have managed to sustain a freelance writing career for over thirty years.

There are various answers I could give to this, but probably the single most important factor has been having regular clients.

Over my career I have had somewhere in the region of thirty regular clients – people and companies who have supplied me with work over a lengthy period. As a matter of interest I have listed some of my main clients over the years below:

Maple Marketing (UK) Ltd – books and ebooks, distance learning courses and email newsletters

Streetwise – newsletter articles and training course content

Lagoon Games – puzzles, games, novelty books, quiz books, and so on

Agora (Fleet Street Publishing) – newsletter articles and web content (currently I am contributing two articles a week to their Creating Wealth email newsletter)

Hilite – newsletter articles, distance learning courses and web content

WCCL – distance learning courses, website content and copywriting

The Writers Bureau – distance learning courses and copywriting (I was also for several years a tutor and assessor for them)

Some of the above I’m still working for, others not – though my door is always open, of course!

Having regular clients has meant that almost every month I know there is some money coming in. Obviously I have also had other occasional and one-off clients, but I’d hate to have to rely on that to pay the bills.

For one thing, you get to know your ‘regulars’ and build a relationship with them. Good clients can be guaranteed to pay you for work done (even if once in a while their accounts department may need a prod). With new clients you simply don’t have that reassurance. They may be good, or nit-picking nightmares, or at worst downright crooks. When a potential new client approaches me these days, I am quite cautious about whom I will accept!

Regular clients are a lot less worry and hassle, and over the years I have developed strong working relationships and even friendships with some of them. This is great when, on occasion, you  need a little extra flexibility (over a deadline, say).

And of course, it makes work less stressful and more enjoyable.

And finally, if you have a core group of regular clients, you don’t need to spend so much time marketing your services. You can therefore concentrate on your writing, which is presumably what you enjoy doing, and also what you get paid for.

So my top advice to any writer starting out today would be to make every effort to build long-term relationships with clients. For me anyway this has been the key to sustaining a long career as a working professional freelance writer.

If you have any comments or questions, as always, please do post them below.




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Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2017!

Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2017!

The nights are drawing in now and that can only mean one thing. It’s time to start planning for NaNoWriMo 😀

For anyone who may not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month, and it comes around every November.

From humble beginnings in 1999, when there were just 21 participants, NaNoWriMo has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. In 2016 384,126 people took part, and the numbers this year are likely to be even greater.

There is no entry fee for NaNoWriMo (though donations are always welcome), and no prizes either. Essentially, it’s a challenge to help you write that novel you had always meant to write but keep putting off.

By registering with NaNoWriMo, you are joining a world-wide community of writers who are all seeking to achieve the same end, and are thus able to encourage and support one another.

Although there are no prizes for completing a novel for NaNoWriMo, if you do (and you have to prove it by uploading your work to the NaNoWriMo site), you will be able to download an official ‘Winner’ web badge and a PDF Winner’s Certificate, which you can print out.

And, of course, you will have the first draft of a novel you should be able to polish and submit for possible publication (or publish yourself).

There are lots of useful resources on the NaNoWriMo website, including wordcount widgets, web badges, flyers for downloading, motivational articles, and much more. There is also a busy forum where you can compare notes with other participants.

NaNoWriMo is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in my publisher WCCL’s Novel in a Month course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

I’d like to wish you the very best of luck if you do decide to register for NaNoWriMo. Please do post a note below if you succeed in completing the challenge!

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Start Writing Fiction

Free Fiction Writing Course Starting Soon

I have mentioned FutureLearn on this blog before. It’s a UK-based platform for short online courses from British and international universities. All FutureLearn courses are free and open to anyone in the world.

Anyway, I thought you might like to know that a course titled Start Writing Fiction begins on Monday 25 September 2017. It comes from The Open University, a well-respected UK distance learning institution. It will run for eight weeks and you can enrol now if you wish. It is also usually possible to register for a few days after a course has started.

This particular course runs regularly via FutureLearn and I have mentioned it on this blog before. If you can’t fit it in this time, you can put your name down on the website to be notified the next time it is scheduled.

Start Writing Fiction is intended for anyone with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing. There is a particular focus on creating interesting, believable characters. The course does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

On the website, it says:

Start Writing Fiction focuses on a skill which is central to the writing of all stories and novels – creating characters.

You will listen to established writers, such as Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey, talk about how they started writing. You’ll consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal.

You’ll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you’ll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.

You’ll also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on your own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback.

The course is run by short-story writer and novelist Dr Derek Neale. It requires a commitment of around three hours a week.

The course itself is free, but optionally you can pay £39 to upgrade. Upgrading entitles you to receive a Statement of Participation when you complete over half the course. In addition, you get unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, and quizzes). With the free version, your access ends 14 days after the end of the course. You can, of course, sign up for free and upgrade later if you choose.

For more information (including a video trailer) and to register, visit the Start Writing Fiction information page of the Futurelearn website.

FutureLearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I recently took one called Secrets of Successful Ageing from Trinity College, Dublin, which was informative and thought-provoking. As well as the teaching itself, another big attraction of FutureLearn courses is the opportunity they provide to interact with fellow students all over the world. You can see all upcoming courses on this web page.

If you have any comments or questions about FutureLearn, as ever, please do post them below.

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Power Up Your Writing With Parallel Construction

Power Up Your Writing with Parallel Construction

I haven’t done a post about the craft of writing for a little while, so today I thought I’d take a look at parallel construction.

Parallel construction (also known as parallelism) is a technique of good writing. It’s a way of constructing a sentence to show that two or more ideas within it are of equal importance.

You apply this principle by writing the sentence in grammatically parallel form, lining up a noun with a noun, a verb with a verb, or a phrase with a phrase.

Julius Caesar did it with three simple verbs:
I came; I saw; I conquered.

Winston Churchill did it with four nouns when he told the British people what to expect in World War II:
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

The need for parallel construction is most clearly seen in sentences that include the use of the conjunctions ‘and’ or ‘or’. Items linked in this way are parallel and therefore usually need to be expressed in the same grammatical forms (nouns, verbs, infinitives, adjectives, etc.). Here are some examples of faulty parallelism, each followed by one or more corrected versions:

1. To write well and listening well are important communication skills.

Correct parallel construction:

Writing well and listening well are important communication skills.

OR

To write well and to listen well are important communication skills.

2. Remind Judith to go to the store, the library, and check if the laundry is ready.

Correct parallel construction:

Remind Judith to go to the store, return her book to the library, and check if the laundry is ready.

OR

Remind Judith to go to the store, the library, and the dry cleaner’s.

3. He wanted three things out of university: to learn a skill, to make good friends, and learning about life.

Correct parallel construction:

He wanted three things out of university: to learn a skill, to make good friends, and to learn about life.

4. The reorganization of the company is neither simple nor will it be cheap.

Correct parallel construction:

The reorganization of the company will be neither simple nor cheap.

5. There’s nothing I like better than putting my feet up, switching on the TV, and to watch one of my favourite serials.

Correct parallel construction:

There’s nothing I like better than putting my feet up, switching on the TV, and watching one of my favourite serials.

Faulty parallelism is quite common among inexperienced writers, who may feel the need to change some components of a sentence for the sake of variety (as in many of the examples above).

Parallelism is a good thing to check for when reviewing your work, as it can present opportunities to strengthen it. For example, in an article I wrote recently for a client about how to succeed at job interviews, I originally wrote the following:

Try to relate the skills you acquired then to the job you’re now applying for.

On going through the draft article, I realised this was faulty parallelism. The words ‘then’ and ‘now’ need to be in the same relative position in the phrases concerned. So I changed it to:

Try to relate the skills you acquired then to the job you’re applying for now.

That’s better parallelism, and I think makes the sentence stronger.

In general, of course, parallel construction is a stylistic principle rather than a grammatical rule. Faulty parallelism is not in itself ‘wrong’, but if you are guilty of it, your writing will lack the impact it would otherwise have had. To illustrate this, I will close this post with a few classic examples of parallel construction.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
– Winston Churchill

A college is a corner of men’s hearts where hope has not died. Here the prison house has not closed; here no battle is yet quite lost. Here, we assert, endow, and defend as final reality the best of our dream as men. Here lies our sense of community.
– Howard Lowry

We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.
– Benjamin Franklin

Do not ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.
– John F. Kennedy

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.
– Benjamin Disraeli

If you use the principle of parallel construction correctly – as the examples above demonstrate – your writing will be stronger and more compelling as a result.

If you have any comments or questions about parallel construction, as always, please do post them below.

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Writing for Newsjack

Sketches and One-Liners Wanted for Newsjack (BBC)

If you’re an aspiring comedy writer, here’s a market opportunity you should definitely check out.

The BBC’s satirical radio comedy show Newsjack is returning for a new run, and inviting submissions of short topical sketches and one-liners from freelance writers. This is primarily an opportunity for UK writers, though if you live outside the UK (and understand the British sense of humour!) there is nothing to stop you submitting work as well.

Submissions are open now, with a weekly deadline of 12.00 pm on Mondays from 11 September (last submissions for this series Monday 16 October 2017).

More information, including the format for submitting work and downloadable templates you can use, can be found on the BBC Newsjack website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1hDdvFLfWClPHW7zT3sq01S/submit-a-sketch. You can also view example sketches and one-liners on this page.

And there are more tips on writing for Newsjack in this BBC Blog post from 2015.

This is, of course, a paying opportunity. Payments are as follows:

£43.00 per minute for sketches
£21.50 per 30 seconds for sketches
£21.50 per one-liner

They say this fee will take in all rights for the work on a non-exclusive basis (so no repeat fees, unfortunately!).

This is a great entry-level opportunity for anyone hoping to get into radio comedy writing. If you consistently submit work that gets noticed, you may be invited to join the show’s team of commissioned writers, which in turn will present all sorts of further networking opportunities.

It’s also a market I have a soft spot for, as some years ago I had a number of sketches and one-liners accepted by the long-running predecessor of Newsjack, Weekending. I was invited to meet the show’s producer and was sounded out about joining the writing team, but in the end decided against as it would have meant relocating to be nearer London.

Good luck if you decide to try submitting work to Newsjack. Please do leave a comment below if you are successful!

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Crystal Lake Publishing

Submissions Invited for Tales From The Lake Volume 5

My friend and former myWritersCircle moderator Joe Mynhardt is inviting stories for a new, non-themed anthology of horror fiction to be published by Crystal Lake Publishing (which he runs).

It is the annual Tales From The Lake anthology, which this year is being edited by Kenneth W. Cain. Details from the website are copied below:

Crystal Lake Publishing will be accepting submissions for the non-themed anthology Tales from the Lake Volume 5 from October 1st, 2017 through December 1st, 2017. In previous anthologies we’ve published Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Elizabeth Massie, Rena Mason, Graham Masterton, Lisa Morton, Kealan Patrick Burke, Damien Angelica Walters, Joe R. Lansdale, Gene O’Neill, and Tim Waggoner. We can’t wait to announce who will be headlining this anthology!

Tales from the Lake Volume 5 will be edited by Kenneth W. Cain.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:

  • We want stories that haunt the readers for months to come.
  • We prefer quiet horror and dark fiction with a literary bent. Don’t use gore for the sake of grossing us out. Use it sparingly, and only to further the story.
  • Stories should be no longer than 6000 words, but that doesn’t mean the story should use all 6000 words. Use the word count it takes to write YOUR story. The sweet spot will likely be closer to 4000 words.
  • Ground your stories in the REAL world.
  • Create believable, three-dimensional characters just as real as your friends and neighbors. The world these characters inhabit should be equally authentic, hitting all the senses.
  • Originality is important—we don’t want your version of someone else’s story from yesteryear.
  • Although our arms are wide open, we’re more interested in fiction that reflects the modern. Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Joe Hill, Damien Angelica Walters, and Mercedes M. Yardley are prime examples of current dark fiction writers encapsulating the above in their work.
  • Quality of the work must be top notch! The authors mentioned above represent the high-water mark we’re looking for.

WHAT WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR:

  • Stories sent before or after the submission window. These will not be read.
  • Rape stories or sexual abuse or any explicit abuse toward children or animals is expressly forbidden. This can be mentioned or remembered by your main character, but be subtle.
  • Stories that are not short horror stories.
  • Novels or novellas.
  • Stories with flat worlds.
  • Stories about serial killers.
  • Stories about zombies, vampires, werewolves or ghosts need to bring something new to the table. You must have a unique premise.
  • To avoid too many writers writing about lakes, please keep in mind this is a non-themed anthology.

PAYMENT:

For this anthology we are paying 3 cents (USD) per word up to 6000 words via PayPal.

REPRINTS:

We DO NOT accept reprints.

Simultaneous/multiple submissions:

We prefer you do not submit your story elsewhere while it’s being considered by us, especially if it’s been shortlisted. No multiple submissions, either. You get one shot. Make it count.

RESPONSE TIME:

For the most part, acceptances will not go out until some time after the deadline. Rejections and shortlisting notices will go out sooner. Feel free to query if longer than 3 months.

RIGHTS:

We are seeking FIRST world rights, both in print, electronic, and audio forms as well as film rights for an exclusive period of 1 year and then non-exclusive after that.

For further information, including formatting information and how to submit, please visit the submissions page of the Crystal Lake website (from which the above information has been taken).

Note that as stated above the anthology doesn’t open for submissions until 1 October 2017, so that gives you plenty of time to write your story and polish it.

Good luck if you decide to submit a story for this anthology. Do let me know if you are successful!

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One Page Publishing Profits Review

Review: One Page Publishing Profits

One Page Publishing Profits is a new self-publishing guide from my colleague Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful author herself and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me reviewer access, so here’s what I found…

As the name suggests, One Page Publishing Profits is a guide to researching, writing and publishing one-page products that can be sold for profit or used for various other purposes.

The main guide is a 66-page PDF. As with all of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with screen captures where appropriate.

Amy starts by explaining what ‘one pagers’ are. The main types she covers are cheatsheets (like the example below, taken from the manual), tip sheets and checklists. She then goes on to explain the benefits of producing them.

Cheat sheet example

You can attempt to sell one-page products directly, but Amy emphasizes that they can serve many other purposes as well. A popular one is to provide an incentive for people to sign up to your mailing list. Once you have a list of people interested in a particular subject, you can of course email them offers for your own (paid-for) books and products and those you are an affiliate for.

One Page Publishing Profits sets out lots of other potential uses for one-pagers as well, including supplementary products to accompany a book or ebook. For example, Amazon don’t provide any contact details for people who buy your books or ebooks, but if you advertise a free one-pager in the book many buyers may sign up to get their hands on it. This will work for fiction writers as well as non-fiction, incidentally.

The main part of the manual sets out a six-step method for producing your one-pagers. The steps are as follows:

  1. Select Hot and In-Demand Topics
  2. Grab Your One-Pager Content
  3. Formatting Your One-Pager
  4. Monetizing, Publishing and Selling Your One-Pager
  5. Promoting Your One Page Content
  6. Repurposing and Expanding Your Content

Although One Page Publishing Profits is quite concise, there is still plenty of useful, detailed information in it. In addition, there are links to many other related websites and resources, including some produced by Amy herself (a 16-page downloadable guide to setting up an Etsy store, on which you could sell printable copies of your one-pagers, for example).

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. I didn’t see these myself, but they include four over-the-shoulder videos covering the steps set out in the manual, a cheatsheet (of course!), a 19-page guide to generating more subscribers with your one-pagers, a press release template, and more.

Finally, although I’m not normally a big fan of upsells, one of Amy’s did catch my eye. It’s for software that will semi-automate the creation of your one-pagers. Amy says it will help you create cheatsheets in about five minutes. Additional training and templates are included. For the modest extra price, it is definitely worth considering.

In summary, One Page Publishing Profits is a comprehensive guide to writing, publishing and promoting one-pagers, and the many benefits of doing so. It is currently on a launch special offer, after which (as is Amy’s normal practice) the price will be rising by at least $10. If you are looking to build additional income streams for relatively little effort, in my view it is well worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about One Page Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Three Great Posts on Publishing a Box Set on Amazon

Three Great Posts on Publishing a Box Set on Amazon

In this post a few weeks ago I discussed the new option for Amazon self-publishers to produce print copies of their Kindle e-books via the KDP dashboard.

At the time I promised to reveal more based on my own experience, but since then I have been sidetracked by two clients offering me loads of work, as well as the growing popularity of my new Pounds and Sense blog.

Anyway, my friend and near-neighbour Sally Jenkins has now published a series of blog posts covering some of the territory I planned to explore myself. So to avoid any further delay, I thought I would share links to her posts here.

Sally’s posts concern how she created a ‘box set’ of her short stories for sale on Amazon in e-book and print versions. That’s interesting in itself – box sets are a hot trend on Amazon – but what caught my attention especially was the fact that she used the new KDP print publishing tool rather than the older Createspace. If you’ve been thinking of doing this as well, therefore, these posts are well worth reading. They are as follows:

Creating an E-book and Paperback Box Set – Part 1

In this introductory post, Sally explains why she decided to produce a box set of three volumes of her short stories in e-book and print form.

Creating an E-book and Paperback Box Set – Part 2

In this post Sally discusses how she created a cover image for her box set, based on a sort of collage of the three existing e-book covers.

Creating an E-book and Paperback Box Set – Part 3

In this post – which personally I found the most interesting – Sally talks about how she published her new box set using the KDP e-book and print publishing tools. She lists the ways in which KDP print publishing differs from Createspace (which she has also used). She also offers some tips and advice for fellow authors thinking of going down this route. For example, she writes:

Product description – this can be copied from the book’s Kindle product description. However, on publication the line breaks may disappear. My description initially appeared as one mass of text. I queried this with Amazon and was advised to manually insert HTML coding to force the line breaks. To do this insert <br> where a line break is required.

It’s all valuable, eye-opening stuff. As I said in my earlier post, the likelihood is that eventually KDP will become Amazon’s main hub for both e-book and print self-publishing. The future for Createspace after that is uncertain. For this reason if no other, then, it’s good to at least take a look at the KDP print publishing tool now. And if you decide to try it yourself, I’m sure you will find Sally’s tips and advice helpful.

For those new to Kindle publishing, incidentally, I highly recommend Geoff Shaw‘s comprehensive Kindling course. Or if you would like a lower-cost alternative, I also recommend Self Publishing on Amazon 2017, a Kindle e-book by Dr Andy Williams I have been reading recently. This covers both Kindle e-book publishing and print publishing on Createspace, although it doesn’t (yet) include print publishing using KDP.

And, of course, if you enjoy reading beautifully written, character-driven short stories, you should definitely check out A Coffee Break Story Collection by Sally Jenkins!

As ever, if you have any comments or questions about this post (or self-publishing on Amazon more generally), please do leave them below.

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Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018 Now Open for Entries

Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018 Now Open for Entries

Here’s a writing competition with a prize worth winning!

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018, with a £30,000 first prize, is now open for entries.

The contest is open world-wide, though you do have to have had work published professionally in the UK or Ireland. More information from the contest website is copied below…

The prize, worth £30,000 to the winner, is an international award, founded in 2010, that is open to any story of up to 6,000 words written in English. Stories need to have been either previously unpublished or only published after 31 December 2016. Five other authors shortlisted for the award will each receive £1,000. The prize is administered by the Society of Authors. To be eligible, the author must simply have a record of prior publication in creative writing in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Full terms and conditions for the prize can be found here (PDF) and you can access the entry form via the Short Story Award website

The winning story from last year’s contest by American Bret Anthony Johnston, along with the other five works shortlisted for the 2017 prize, can be read in this low-priced Kindle e-book. The closing date for entering this year’s contest is Thursday 28 September 2017.

Good luck if you enter this contest. Even being long-listed would be a considerable feather in any writer’s cap. And if you win the top prize, remember who told you about it!

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Read more From Me in the Creating Wealth Newsletter!

Read More From Me in the Creating Wealth Newsletter!

Just a quickie today to let you know that I am back in harness with my former clients Agora (also known as Fleet Street Publishing). As some of you will know, I worked for several years on their More Money Review membership site.

I am now working again with my old editor, Michelle Roberts, on the Creating Wealth newsletter. This is a free, UK-based email newsletter featuring a huge range of strategies for making money and building your personal wealth.

I shall be writing about ways of making, saving and investing money for CW, together with business and self-development topics, e.g. how to boost your productivity.

You can sign up to Creating Wealth here. As well as the newsletter, you will receive a free report titled Secrets of a Self-Made Millionaire (and no, that’s not me!).

I highly recommend subscribing to CW, not only because it is putting bread on my table, but because I genuinely believe you will enjoy reading the tips, advice and information it contains from me and my fellow contributors.

And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time if you decide it’s not for you.

I shall continue to publish on Entrepreneur Writer (and my new Pounds & Sense blog too), but perhaps not quite as frequently. I am meant to be semi-retired, after all!

If you have any comments or questions about Creating Wealth, as always, please do post them below.

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