Miscellaneous

Some Thoughts on Turning Work Down...

Some Thoughts on Turning Work Down…

Last week I had to turn down a writing job I was offered.

I never enjoy doing this, but sometimes there is no alternative. So today I thought I would share a few thoughts about turning down work.

Of course, for those of you who are just setting off on your writing careers, turning down an offer of paid work might seem unimaginable. But soon enough you will find yourself in a position where you have to consider this.

One common scenario is when you already have lots of work on and another offer arrives. This has happened to me on various occasions, typically just after a period when work dried up! It’s frustrating, but there can be ways around it.

One thing I have sometimes done is subcontract the work (or part of it) to another writer. This is not something I do with any great enthusiasm, though.

For one thing, I know I will still have to edit that writer’s work carefully and possibly even rewrite it. Also, I will have to pay the writer out of the fee I am getting. By the time you allow for all the extra admin involved and the time spent editing their work, there will be very little money in it for me. If I do this nowadays, it is generally to avoid disappointing the client and try to ensure they don’t stop offering me work in future.

The other thing you can sometimes do is negotiate a longer timeframe. This is easier with regular clients who understand that as a solo freelance I have other jobs that need to be fitted in. With a new client a request for more time may not be so well received – but you can’t put a regular client on the back burner just to accommodate a new one.

The other situation that can occur is when you look at a job offer and realize it’s not something you feel confident or competent to take on. That was actually what happened last week. The job was for a regular client, although it came to me via a new contact there.

The clients in question are novelty publishers. While I can’t go into detail about what they wanted, essentially it involved coming up with a number of “challenges” for a book they were producing (pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, and that sort of thing). I thought about it and my mind went totally blank. I tried a few online searches, but they produced very little I could use.

I quickly realized that this had the potential to be the job from hell. I might have been able to come up with some ideas eventually. But it would have taken me a long time and I couldn’t quote a fee that the client would have regarded as reasonable. So I had to reluctantly turn it down.

Since then I’ve heard nothing from the clients in question. That’s obviously disappointing and a bit worrying, as they have been good clients over the years. I just hope they found another writer who was able to take the job on. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they come back to me with something else eventually!

To sum up, turning down work is never something to do lightly, but sometimes as a professional writer you have no alternative. If you can’t do the job to a good standard and in a timely way, it is better to decline the work, and maybe suggest another writer if you happen to know someone who might be suitable.

* Have you ever found yourself in this situation and had to turn down work – or conversely taken on a job and wished you hadn’t? I’d love to hear your views and experiences!

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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 before taking them on!

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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My Top 12 Posts of 2016!

My Top 12 Posts of 2016!

As is customary at this time of year, here are the top twelve posts on Entrepreneur Writer this year, based on comments, pageviews and social media shares. They are in no particular order. Obviously, I have excluded any posts that are no longer relevant, e.g. anthologies where the deadline has passed.

I hope you will enjoy revisiting these posts, or seeing them for the first time if you are new to EW. Don’t forget, you can always subscribe to Entrepreneur Writer to be notified of new posts as soon as they appear.

  1. What I Learned from my First TV Appearance
  2. Who, Whom, Whoever, Whomever – How to Choose Which One is Correct
  3. How to Apply the Advice “Show, Don’t Tell”
  4. My Seven Favourite WordPress Plug-ins
  5. How One Blogger Made £100,000 Working From Home on the Internet
  6. Get Your Book or Ebook Reviewed for Free at Readers Favorite
  7. Review of Outline Master by Lina Trivedi
  8. Property Crowdfunding: An Investment Opportunity for Everyone
  9. Save Money and Make Money with Cashback Websites
  10. Review: Pop Culture Publishing Profits
  11. Review: Puzzle Publishing Profits
  12. Call for Submissions for two new Anthologies from Crystal Lake Publishing

A quick mention too for my newly launched UK personal finance blog Pounds and Sense. I do hope you will check this out as well if you haven’t already. I look forward to bringing you plenty more posts on both blogs in 2017.

If you have any comments or questions, of course, please do feel free to leave them below.

 

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Cashback Websites

Save Money and Make Money with Cashback Websites

As I’ve said before on this blog, all entrepreneurial writers need a few strings to their bow. So today I thought I’d feature an easy way of saving/making money that anyone can apply. That method is, of course, cashback websites.

I shall mainly be discussing the top two UK cashback websites, Quidco and Top Cashback. The UK is where I live, and I can speak from personal experience about these sites. But of course, there are cashback websites serving other countries as well, and I’ll refer to such sites briefly at the end.

The concept behind cashback sites is that they are free to join and provide links to a range of online retailers. When a member clicks through one of these links and makes a purchase (or performs some other action) the cashback site receives a commission from the retailer. Rather than keep all this for themselves, the sites return some or all of the commission they get to the member in question.

So if, for example, you need car insurance, you could click through to a broker’s website from the cashback site. If you then buy a policy from that broker, some or all of the commission paid to the cashback website is credited to your account.

I have been a member of the two UK sites mentioned above for several years now, and have made hundreds of pounds from both. Via Quidco, for example, I recently made £110 in commission when I clicked through their link to the Nutmeg financial services website and opened an investment account. Although described as cashback, really this was more like a bonus, as the money I invested with Nutmeg does of course remain mine and I can get it back at any time. My Nutmeg investment has actually risen in value by £450 since I invested a few months ago, so this has clearly been a worthwhile investment in more ways than one!

With Top Cashback I recently pocketed a more modest £40 cashback by switching my gas/electricity provider using a comparison service listed on the website (the cashback came from the comparison service rather than the energy provider). I shall be saving around £500 a year by switching provider, so again the cashback feels more like a bonus than the return of any money I have spent.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of cashback websites. If you are a resident of the UK, I highly recommend signing up with both Quidco and Top Cashback, as they compete feverishly with each other to offer the best deals.

If you would like to join Top Cashback, or simply see what it is all about, please click on this referral link (yes, you can also earn a small sum if a friend clicks through your link, joins Top Cashback and earns the qualifying amount). Click here to join Quidco and you can earn even more cashback from their huge range of retailers as well.

There really is nothing to lose and unlimited savings/earnings to be enjoyed, so click through both of the links above and sign up now.

Finally, if you live outside the UK, there are cashback websites in many other countries as well (for example, Top Cashback now has a US operation, Top Cashback USA). Just do a Google search for “cashback website” plus your country’s name and see what results come up. Or check out this article on the MakeUseOf website which lists a number of such sites serving the US. Read the comments section below the MakeUseOf article for a range of international cashback sites as well.

As ever, if you have any comments or queries about cashback websites, please do post them below.

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Nick Daws

An Interview with Nick Daws!

A few months ago I was asked by my friend and former Writers Bureau colleague Iain Pattison, a UK humorist and short story writer, if he could interview me for his email newsletter. I duly obliged, and his subscribers apparently enjoyed reading it.

For various reasons Iain doesn’t archive old newsletters on his blog, so (with Iain’s approval) I thought I would republish the interview here. The version below is basically as it appeared in Iain’s newsletter, with just a few minor updates and amendments. I hope you enjoy reading it…

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The Festival on Lyris FiveNick Daws is a professional freelance writer and editor, age 60. He lives in the English town of Burntwood, near Lichfield in Staffordshire. He has written well over 100 books, mainly on business-related subjects. He has also produced copy for packaging, novelty products, greeting cards, games, advertisements, training guides, and more. He enjoys writing fiction too, and his humorous sci-fi novella The Festival on Lyris Five (pictured, right) can be downloaded from Amazon’s Kindle store.

What’s the quirkiest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Inadvertently appearing on Greek national television would be up there. I was on holiday on a Greek island with my late partner Jayne, when a UK tour company suddenly collapsed, leaving thousands of British tourists stranded. Jayne and I were walking along the seafront one morning when we saw someone pointing a large camera in our direction. The next day we noticed many of the locals staring at us. We later discovered via an English barman that Greek TV had shown pictures of us as background to the news story – I suppose they must have thought we looked like typical British tourists. Ironically we weren’t even affected by the collapse, as we had travelled with a different company.

What word or phrase do you overuse?

Great.

Peanut butter – crunchie or smooth?

Crunchy every time.

What’s the most surprising thing anyone’s ever said about your work?

“I was pleased to find out you weren’t dead yet.”

What first inspired you to write?

When I was about eight my favourite teacher put us all into pairs and asked us to write a story collaboratively. My friend Tim and I became totally immersed in this project and continued to pursue it for months afterwards, by which time it was turning into a novel! That experience gave me an appetite for writing which has never left me.

Writer’s block – real deal, or just an excuse to skive?

As a professional freelance writer I can’t really afford to have writer’s block. Very occasionally I will have a day when for whatever reason the words won’t come, and on that day I’ll go out for a walk or find something else to do instead. But I can’t afford to have too many days like that or the unpaid bills would start to pile up!

Who’s your favourite author? Why?

It depends when you ask me and what I have just been reading. But the late American sci-fi author Roger Zelazny would certainly be among them. Not only was he a great storyteller, he created wonderful characters and had a lyrical, almost poetic turn of phrase. Being able to combine all of those skills in one is a rare talent, in my experience.

Worst meal you ever ate?

A lunch consisting of home-made cottage pie, made for me by a friend. It didn’t really taste of anything, but worse than that it was a blazing hot summer’s day and all I really wanted was salad. But seeing as it had been made specially for me I dutifully ate it and attempted to look grateful!

How do you cope with rejection?

Philosophically.

I’m long enough in the tooth to know that you can’t please everyone, and in the world of writing personal taste plays a very large role. I never take rejection personally. I know my own strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and if someone rejects my work, I assume it just wasn’t right for them.

What makes you laugh?

Fawlty Towers.

Corrie or EastEnders?

Corrie.

Game of Thrones – hip or hype?

Never watched it. I did start reading the books years ago, well before the TV series. I got through the first book and most of the second, and then decided I had had enough. All the characters seem unpleasant and impossible to identify with, and I especially dislike what in my view is the misogynistic portrayal of the female characters. George R.R. Martin wrote some excellent short stories and books earlier in his career, but I don’t like this particular series, and therefore have no interest in watching the show.

Your biggest vice?

Sweet things. Chocolate, puddings, ice cream, you name it. I know I need to cut back for the sake of my waistline, but turning down a chocolate ice cream sundae just isn’t in my nature.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do they believe in you?

Yes, I do. I have seen ghosts, and have spoken to people who I am sure had seen them too. Whether the ghosts believe in me I really couldn’t say.

What makes you fume?

Not much these days. Getting steamed up seldom achieves anything and is bad for your blood pressure!

If you were given four sentences to plug your latest project, what would you say?

Entrepreneur Writer is my new blog. It’s aimed at writers and aspiring writers, especially those who have an entrepreneurial streak. I’m particularly interested in exploring new and different ways writers can apply their skills to boost their income, often via the Internet. Please do check it out at www.entrepreneurwriter.net.

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I hope you enjoyed the interview. Many thanks to Iain for allowing me to republish it.

Do check out Iain’s very entertaining blog if you have a moment. And don’t forget to sign up for his email newsletter while you’re there, of course!

As ever, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below.

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Nick Daws Course

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Wilsden bungalow

Lovely four-bedroom bungalow for sale in West Yorkshire!

Something a bit different for you today. Together with my sisters Annie and Liz, I am hoping to sell a beautiful four-bedroom bungalow in Wilsden, West Yorkshire, BD15, that used to belong to my stepmother, Shirley. A picture of it is shown above.

The bungalow is situated in a quiet, rural location, with lovely views to the rear of open countryside. The living accommodation is mainly on the ground floor (obviously!) with two additional attic bedrooms. A driveway and garage is also included, as are the small but beautiful gardens to the front, rear and side. I’ve posted another picture below (taken from Google Maps) which shows the gardens and garage a bit more clearly.

Bungalow02

There is no chain involved, and the buyer will be able to move in straight away.

You can see full details of the bungalow on this page of the RightMove website.

As it says on the RightMove page, if you would like more information and/or to arrange a viewing, please contact our local agent, Dacre, Son and Hartley, telephone 01274 399121. The full address of the house is 40 Spring Park Road, Wilsden, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD15 0EA. A local area map from Google Maps is embedded below…

 

Despite its rural location, the house is only two miles from Bingley and five miles from Bradford. It is also within easy commuting distance of Leeds and Halifax. The beautiful and historic town of Haworth (home of the Bronte sisters) is only five miles away, as is Saltaire, the Victorian model village built by textiles entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt.

Please feel free to share this post if you wish. And if you have any questions, as always, please do post them below!

UPDATE OCTOBER 2016  Although there has been a lot of interest in the house, as yet no genuine buyer has come forward. We have therefore lowered the price to £179,950. This is substantially less than the current Zoopla valuation of £198,000 and £20,000 less than the £199,950 paid when it was last sold in June 2011. We hope for (and expect) a quick sale at this price, so don’t delay if you’re interested!

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016 I am pleased to say that the house has been sold, subject to contract.

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DreamLab

Download This Android App to Help Beat Cancer

I’m off topic today, but I wanted to let you know about an Android app called DreamLab. You can download this free to your Android smartphone or tablet, to add its computing power to a massive cancer research project.

DreamLab was developed by Vodafone Australia and the Garvan Insitute of Medical Research. While your smartphone is charging (typically overnight), the app automatically downloads genetic sequencing profiles provided by the Garvan Institute. This information is then processed using your smartphone’s CPU and sent back to the Institute to be used in cancer research.

You can even choose which type of cancer research to support — breast, ovarian, prostate or pancreatic — and can also select how much mobile data (if any) the app uses every month. Personally I use DreamLab on a tablet that doesn’t have a data connection, so I only use it with my wifi.

The app keeps track of how many hours of computing time you have donated to the project and the number of sequencing problems your device has solved. You can also see what proportion of the overall project has been completed. In the case of prostate cancer – which I am supporting – the figure is currently 17 percent, so there is still quite a long way to go!

DreamLab is a distributed computing project, which relies on volunteers donating spare processing capacity on their computers and mobile devices to a specific cause. One of the best-known such projects is SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which uses this method to search for extra-terrestrial life by analyzing radio waves emanating from space. You can read more about this and other distributed computing projects (including DreamLab) on this Wikipedia page.

Unfortunately DreamLab isn’t currently available to Windows or iPhone users (though I gather an app for the latter is in development). If you have an Android device, however, I do hope you will consider signing up to this very worthwhile project. All you have to do is install the app and remember to start it when you put your phone/tablet on to charge. Here’s a link to the download page in Google Play.

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

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Salehoo

Salehoo – A Great Resource for Online Traders

Regular readers will know that one of my main clients nowadays is the More Money Review website and newsletter.

Among other things, I review home moneymaking opportunities for them. Quite a few of the products I see are mediocre at best, but occasionally I come across a really good one. And I like to share this information with my own readers when the opportunity arises.

Today I’d like to draw your attention to a product I reviewed recently for MMR which is aimed at online auction traders and Amazon sellers. I appreciate that this isn’t something that will interest all my readers, but if you are looking for a moneymaking sideline (and all entrepreneurial writers need a few strings to their bow) it is definitely worth considering.

The product I am talking about is called Salehoo. It is a subscription-based membership site for online traders. Its main feature is a directory of wholesale suppliers of products that can be sold via eBay, Amazon and Etsy, or in your own online store. Members also get access to a range of other features, including market research data and a community forum. There is also advice and information for new traders on how to get started and build their businesses.

I was very impressed with Salehoo, which appears to be a highly professional operation. I particularly like the way you can search their comprehensive directory of suppliers by various criteria.

Salehoo also has a “Market Research Lab”. Here they analyze products selling well online across a range of categories. For each product they show potential suppliers, and links to current listings on eBay and other trading websites. The information given includes the average price at which the product is currently selling online and the amount of competition from other traders. This information would be valuable for any trader looking for potentially profitable items to sell.

Members also get access to a forum and a blog. The forum is quite active, and is typically used by members to ask questions about aspects of their trading. Salehoo staff regularly reply to queries posted here. The blog has some interesting and informative articles as well. A couple of recent ones were “How to Make Sure That Your Dropshipping Business Makes Big Money” and “Online Shopping for Men: 10 Items They Can’t Resist!”.

You can read my full review of Salehoo on this page of the More Money Review website. Note that you will need to register for an account to read the whole thing, but this is free and only takes a moment. You can also go directly to the Salehoo website by clicking on any of the links in this post.

Signing up to Salehoo only costs $67 (about £44 in UK money) a year, billed annually, which strikes me as very reasonable for what you get. If online trading is something that interests you it is definitely worth considering, especially as there is a 60-day money-back guarantee if you find it’s not for you.

If you have any comments or questions about Salehoo, as ever, please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

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PLR

PLR Time for UK Authors

If you’re a UK author registered for PLR, you can now check your earnings for 2014/15 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on Statements.

This year (covering July 2014 to June 2015) they are paying 7.67 pence per library loan. Payment will be made between 10 and 19 February 2016, in accordance with your payment instructions.

For those who don’t know, PLR (in this context) stands for Public Lending Right. The UK PLR Office distributes money to UK authors based on the number of times their books have been borrowed from public libraries in Britain (and now also the Republic of Ireland) in the last year. This money is paid to authors as compensation for their presumed lost royalties on sales.

All UK authors are eligible for PLR (even if they don’t currently live in Britain), but you do have to register with the UK PLR Office first. If you’re a UK author with at least one published book to your name, therefore, you should sign up immediately to get what is due to you.

Non-UK nationals cannot claim from the UK PLR Office, but many other countries (though not the USA) have schemes in place to compensate writers for library lending. Australia, for example, has what appears to be quite a generous program, though payments are based on the estimated number of copies of an author’s book in libraries, not total loans. For more information on PLR schemes worldwide, visit the PLR International website.

In many countries there are also reciprocal arrangements to compensate non-nationals for lending in the country concerned. In Britain this is co-ordinated by ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society), and UK authors should also register separately with them. ALCS also collect and pay photocopying fees due to UK authors, incidentally.

I always find it interesting to study my PLR statement. One message that comes across very clearly in the latest is that library lending is down considerably. One reason for this is likely to be that  people are switching to e-books and the Internet. In addition, though, cuts made by local councils mean that there are simply fewer public libraries than there were before.

On the brighter side, I am still earning some PLR money from books that were published quite a few years ago. My book Advertising for the Small Business was published in January 2000, for example, and must be of mainly historical interest now. Still, it got borrowed from public libraries 170 times last year, earning me the princely sum of £13.04!

Over the years I have made literally thousands of pounds from PLR and ALCS payments; in the case of some books I have earned more from these sources than I have in publisher fees or royalties. So if you’re a UK author, it is definitely worth taking the few minutes needed to register yourself and your book/s with UK PLR and ALCS. Otherwise, you really are leaving money on the table!

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Writing

Five Things I Wish I Had Known as a New Freelance Writer

I’ve been a full-time freelance for twenty-five years now. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned a lot as well. So what advice would I give to anyone starting out on this path today? Here are five things I really wish I’d known all those years ago…

1. You Don’t Have to Know Everything

When I was beginning my writing career, I worried a lot about what I didn’t know.

Every time I came across a word I hadn’t seen before, rather than view it as an opportunity to learn something new, I took it as a further sign that my vocabulary wasn’t wide enough to succeed as a writer. (In fact, I now realise that while having a good vocabulary is definitely an asset, you could go through an entire writing career without ever knowing the meaning of palimpsest, clepsydra, ursine, and many more…)

It wasn’t just vocabulary either. I worried that I didn’t know whether I should use “toward” or “towards”, “forever” or “for ever”, “continuous” or “continual”, and many more. And I could waste a whole morning agonizing over whether I should use a dash or a colon in my opening paragraph.

What I realise now is that most of these things matter little. Quite often, either choice will be acceptable. My advice to a new writer today would be to get a good dictionary and style guide, and refer to these whenever you’re in doubt. But if you’re still not sure, just make your best guess and move on. The chances are that whatever you choose, your editor will change it anyway!

My American friends have a very good expression for this: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

2. It Pays to Specialize

There are lots of other would-be freelance writers out there, so you need to do whatever you can to make yourself stand out. For me, anyway, that has meant specializing.

Specializing has all sorts of advantages for a freelance writer. If you are regarded as an “expert” in your field, editors and publishers will turn to you when they need a writer on the subject in question. In addition, because of your perceived expertise, you may be able to charge a higher rate than an “ordinary” freelance.

Don’t just stop at one specialism, though. Try to develop a number. My specialist subjects include self-employment, advertising and PR, careers, the Internet, gambling for profit, popular psychology, English grammar, writing for profit, and several more. At least then, if there is a fall in demand for one of your specialisms (as has happened for me in recent years with careers writing), you have other strings to your bow.

My advice to a new writer would be to start with an area you know a lot about, or have a particular interest in, and make it your business to become an “expert” in that field. Write a few articles about it, perhaps for low-paying markets when you’re getting started. Once you have published some work on your specialism, people will start to regard you as an expert in it, and more work is likely to follow. By researching more articles and talking to “real” experts, you will build up your store of knowledge, until you really are something of an expert in your chosen field. It’s worked for me, anyway 😉

3. Don’t Take Criticism Too Seriously

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to constructive feedback on your work. However, you should evaluate it carefully and be prepared to reject it if you don’t agree with it.

Remember that judgements about quality (or otherwise) are often subjective. There’s a story I tell in my CD course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days about a time when I regularly wrote careers information articles for a large UK publishing house. These were basically four-page articles about different jobs.

I submitted my articles to one particular editor at the publishing house. Invariably they came back to me covered in red ink, with insertions, deletions and transpositions all over the place. I tried to learn from her comments and improve, but still every time the articles came back changed almost beyond recognition. She still put the edited articles through, but I honestly felt like a schoolboy whose report card read, “Could do better”.

Then I got a new editor – a man this time, as it happens. I submitted my latest article to him, and waited for it to come back to me covered in red ink as usual. And waited. And waited. So eventually I phoned him up and asked what had happened to my article. “Oh that,” he said, sounding surprised I had even mentioned it. “It was fine, so I put it through for publication.”

The truth is that in writing, as in life, everyone has different views of what is good and what is bad. So listen to criticism by all means, but try to evaluate it objectively, and always feel free to reject it if you think it’s wrong. And never, ever, take criticism personally.

4. You’ve GOT to Put Yourself About!

However good a writer you are, no publisher or editor is going to beat a path to your door. Especially when you are starting out, you must be prepared to send off torrents of query letters, emails, book proposals, and so on. Look for publishers seeking writers – the Writers Wanted board at www.mywriterscircle.com is one good place to start – and if a vacancy looks interesting, fire off an application.

Put yourself about in the flesh too. Join your local writers’ circle, go on writers’ courses and conferences, volunteer to give talks, and run classes in adult education. In the online world, set up a writing homepage and/or a blog, and join at least one writers forum. And sign up at social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and FaceBook. All of this will help raise your profile as a writer, and make it more likely that potential clients will get in touch with you.

And also under this heading I’d add, build up your network of useful contacts. These can come from all sorts of places: fellow writers you meet, proofreaders and editors you work with, folk you meet on courses, people you interview for articles, people you connect with via online services such as Twitter, and so on. Nowadays, at least half of all the new writing opportunities that come my way do so as a result of networking.

5. Enthusiasm isn’t Everything – Maybe Just 90%…

OK, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, but one thing experience (mine and other people’s) has taught me is that enthusiasm will carry you a long way as a writer. I’m sure it’s true in other fields as well, but clients generally are more inclined to hire writers who are enthusiastic about their work rather than those who seem simply to be going through the motions.

Obviously, you DO need in addition the writing skills and other qualities to deliver a good job. Without enthusiasm, however, you will probably never get the chance to demonstrate that you have these skills and qualities.

Look at it this way. If an editor gets two applications, one from someone who is relatively inexperienced but brimming with enthusiasm, the other from someone with an impressive CV who sounds as though they could barely be bothered to get of bed this morning, nine times out of ten it’s the writer with the enthusiasm who will get the gig, even if they may not have as much experience. It’s human nature that we all respond better to people who have a positive attitude themselves.

So before sending off an application for any writing job, ask yourself honestly: Do I really sound as if I want this job? Do I appear excited by the prospect of working with this company? Can the client see that I am bursting with ideas and raring to do a good job for him? Or, conversely, does my application sound half-hearted? Does it sound as though I don’t really expect to get the job, and don’t much care one way or the other? If the latter is the case, hit “Delete” and start again. You MUST, MUST, MUST convey enthusiasm in all your applications and proposals!

If you have any other useful hints or tips for new writers, feel free to add them below as comments.

Happy writing!

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