Should Writers Specialize?
I've known since I was a young age that I wanted to be a writer. In high school and college, I wrote for my school newspapers. After working in corporate America and teaching both high school and college English and Journalism, I took the plunge into freelance writing.
Experts say "write what you know." What should I write about? Education? Writing? Cooking? Current events? I made a list of topics I felt I could successfully write about. Sure, they were fun, and my knowledge base in many of them ran deep, but I wanted to write and
learn. Would I be able to write about any topic and sell a piece to a magazine or should I focus on one area and specialize?
Sure, some experts preach sticking to one area. With social networking and author branding, specializing may seem like a no-brainer. For me, specializing limits my writing style. I've been lucky. I've had investigative pieces appear in national magazines. Regional topics appeal to me and make up half of my monthly sales. And since I have experience teaching writing, I've used that knowledge to bolster sales.
What I've realized about specializing is this: writers need to find the best fit for their writing style. This month, a national glossy may want a 3,000 word article. Next month, a regional newspaper or magazine may offer you eight assignments.
For writers who do choose to specialize - and for writers in general - here are a few ideas to break out of your niche and find new homes for your work:
- Branch out. Think about the subtopics associated with your specialization area. Under those topics, you'll find even more subtopics, and eventually you'll have a huge cluster of possible articles.
- Consider the opposite. If you primarily write for women, tailor an article on the same subject toward men. Write for adults? Why not focus on teens or tweens?
- Find common bond. I once had a writing teacher who said you should be able to write about any topic for any publication if your writing is strong. Look at a topic and consider how it can fit the editorial needs of a magazine or publication you've never queried before.
- Renew interests. Even writers need to renew their interest in a topic. Are there conferences or classes you can attend that offer new insight? Sign up and learn all you can. Not only may you find new writing ideas, you may also find that you'd like to write a different style of article.
- Understand trends.Use trends to boost timely sales. Look at trends and find a correlation between them and your area of expertise.
Determine if specializing will be best for your writing career. Discover what fits your style. Decide what writing goals drive your freelance business.
And then, write.
by LuAnn Schindler
Visit LuAnn's website http://luannschindler.com/ or follow her on Twitter @luannschindler.
Labels: advice for writers, freelance, LuAnn Schindler, specializing
I really, really don't mean to do it
I really, really don't mean to push my deadlines to within minutes of, uh, well, their deadlines. But sometimes, things just happen that way.
Last week, I was inundated with the annual family visit. (The pleasure and curse of living in a coastal town...a gathering of 31 in various locations around the beach.) The week before, I had incredibly good intentions that were washed aside as I landed on a half dozen calls for various projects.
All I wanted to do was sit down to write.
With deadlines looming ahead, I was trying to write long before my articles were due. Generally, I try to build a bit of cushion so I don't feel anxious and in a rush about my writing. My interviews were mostly done. Alas, with the pressure building as if in a popcorn popper, I flitted about on business call after phone call the days before the onslaught of relatives.
In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching, we encourage people to take small steps. That Friday, I was lucky if I could even consider any small actions. But, before I fell asleep that night, I had made a list...a list of all that I needed to do (which probably used up a good 50 words that might have made it into one of the stories I needed to write). But I took my list into my week of vacationing revelers and made progress, trying to write each morning before everyone woke. It was progress, albeit small progress.
A colleague once gave me a magnet with the Douglas Adams quote: "I love deadlines. I love the wooshing sound they make as they fly by." I've never enjoyed the whoosh, so I tend to get my articles written on time. But every so often, I need to release some of the built up steam. And ask for an extension. Last week, I did that a couple days in advance of the deadline--and asked for a couple extra days. It was granted.
The articles are now written and turned in. But my to-do list still looks longer than a novella.
But, day by day, word by word and small step by small step, I'm making progress.Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and TheWriteElizabeth.com, where she contemplates finding creativity...and time to write!...each day.
Labels: business writing, daily writing, Elizabeth King Humphrey, freelance, writers deadlines
What does it take to enjoy ALL your writing?
For the past couple days, I haven't been enjoying my writing and I blame my lack of time for my creative work.
I seem to just churn out assignment after assignment while the querying machine is working overtime and I'm giving my Web site a badly needed overhaul. Meanwhile, my creative projects remain buried, my journal is gathering dust and I feel exhausted. But I convince myself it is okay, because I'm able to bill for my time. I'll catch up on these other projects later.
In this economy, it seems foolhardy not to keep up the marketing and the queries to stay in front of every editor possible. But during the time when I love being paid to write, I forget to spend time on the writing that gives me joy. I scurry about, working to prove that I should be hired and that I am worthy of the next assignment.
Just like making time to exercise or spend time with friends or family, creative projects (in my case creative writing) help to give me the fuel for other projects. Instead of excluding these projects as a waste of time because of the bottom line, they need to be embraced during the week and nurtured.
Obviously, we have responsibilities to handle throughout our week, but creativity and fueling our own passions will keep us healthier and happier in the long run.
Are there times when you aren't enjoying your writing? What is it that you blame? How do you get around it? What are some of the things that inspire you to write?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms
. She is also a freelance writer, columnist and blogs for wilmaville
. She will be writing in her journal later today. She promises. Really. At least after she finishes this one article....
Labels: Creativity, Finding Inspiration, freelance, freelance writing
It's the latest secret
club to hit WOW! Women On Writing
!It's for Women Writers ONLY.
If you don't subscribe to our "Market's Newsletter" then you have no clue what we're talking about. But that's okay... only truly dedicated freelance writers need subscribe!What is it?
Well, if you've subscribed to our FREE "Market's Newsletter" you'd already know.How do you subscribe to our Free Market's Newsletter (AKA: Think Green)?
Go to our home page
or update your subscription
in the gray box -- actually, it's at the top of all of our pages. If you're a long-time subscriber, you may have missed this option because we recently added new newsletters in the past few months. And our Think Green! Market's Newsletter is free, but for the truly dedicated we offer an ultimate newsletter for freelancers called PREMIUM GREEN.
Here's what it's all about:
Support WOW! and we'll support you!
We at WOW! want to keep providing you with the best content out there for women writers and keep our free publication alive and well for many years to come.
The WOW! online magazine will always continue to be free as long as we exist, and we will continue to provide jobs and freelance gigs for women writers. It's our goal to support the blood, sweat, and tears of your writing efforts.
And we know that even in this day and age there still aren't as many places for women to have their work published -- as our monthly columnist C. Hope Clark observed in her September article. "Other than in the romance arena, men writers outnumber women. Or let's say that published men writers outnumber women."
That's why we continue to strive for the best and create needed markets for women writers. By subscribing to Premium-Green Markets we will guide you through the rough waters and help you get those published clips!
When I first started WOW! I made myself a promise -- that I'd NEVER ask for a donation from any of you ladies. To me, that defeats the purpose of helping women writers, and I've always found those things to be cheesy! I'd rather offer you a valuable product for your hard-earned dollars. So, let me tell you what you'll get when you subscribe to the Premium-Green Markets:
Select Markets Especially for Women Writers!
Pink & Green
This selection of Premium-Green called, "Pink & Green" goes in-depth to bring you the BEST in writer's markets for women.
And we don't just list them, we ask the editors what they want! This way you'll always get up-to-date information of what these editors want to see in their inbox TODAY! This increases your odds in finding a fit for your work, which is our goal.
Columns found ONLY in Premium-Green:In the Trenches by Chynna Laird
Editor Chynna Laird lives 'in the trenches' -- as a full-time freelancer, she knows what it takes to make a living from her writing. Chynna shares her personal experiences in the world of freelancing: publications she's submitted to, responses to her queries (both acceptance and rejection), and tips that have worked for her. Written in conversational journal-style entries, Chynna lets you step inside her world by sharing her secrets. Grow your freelance career with Chynna!Tips & Tricks by Angela Mackintosh
Angela loves to write How-tos, and step-by-step articles. If you're familiar with her blog posts or features on WOW!
, Angela breaks down complex topics in easy-to-grasp language.
Topics include: How to win over an editor's heart, how to start and maintain a successful website, blogging for bucks, how to set up your business structure for your home-based freelance business, promotion and guerilla marketing, & more!Get Writing, Mamas! By Chynna Laird
As a mother of three children under the age of five, Chynna takes you through the process of writing around life and what you have to do to make it work for you. And YES you can make a living and be a mommy too!
Topics include: workspace organization, prioritizing, anecdotes about motherhood and writing, inspiration for writing moms, networking, and motivation. This is not to miss!Interviews with Editors, Publishers, and Freelancers:Meet Your Mentor
Each issue we'll spotlight a particular subject and ask an expert for their advice to help guide you through the waters of freelancing. You never know, you may meet your mentor or life-coach!Inter-Activities for Freelancers:Workbook
Here you will find interactive exercises to help get you inspired, motivated, and provide feedback. It may be in the form of a quiz, or a worksheet that you can print out and fill in. We urge you to save these to track your writing progress over the year. It's a journal of YOU and your writing career. At the end of the year, we'll ask if you want to submit your wild notes and scribbles to "Project Workbook" -- an ebook compilation. We compile it and send them out to Premium-Green subscribers at the end of the year so you can read through your fellow freelancers notes and be inspired!Your Questions Answered:More than you Magic 8-Ball
Submit your question on anything you'd like to know the answer to, and we'll publish it in our Q&A column. Anything goes here. You can ask questions about life, freelancing, writing, editing, or personal issues. We'll answer all of them!
All signs point to yes!Markets, Markets, and More Markets:
Besides our fabulous columns to guide you through your freelancing career, we bring you a top-notch selection of markets tailored to your tastes.
- Pink & Green Markets
- Fiction Addiction
- Nonfiction: Freelancer's Delight
- Contract Jobs: Writer's Wanted
- Niche Markets (such as slogans, greeting cards, etc.)
All served up fresh to bring you the Green!Bonuses and Bunches for your Bucks:
At the end of the year you'll receive two ebooks:Fueled by Premium-Green:
A compilation of a whole year's worth of the Premium-Green newsletter's columns and markets in ebook form. Plus additional articles and resources for women freelancers not found anywhere else!Project Workbook:
This is all about you! (See the above section under "Workbook") This ebook combines all the worksheets given throughout the year that you filled in. It'll be put together in 'slam book' momento for all subscribers. This tracks your progress and your fellow freelancer's progress all in one fun and inspirational slam ebook!Specials only for Premium-Green Subscribers:
At times we'll have specials that will only be offered to Premium-Green subscribers. These may be discounts on books, products, services, or giveaways offered to PG subscribers only. You will not find these elsewhere. Lucky you!What are you waiting for?Subscribe today and let us walk you through your freelance writing career!And most of all, we'll help you have fun along your journey!Cost:
$24 a year
That's less than $2 per issue. With all the bonuses, you can't go wrong. And you'll be supporting women writers, WOW!
, and giving us the fuel to keep striving for the best!
Subscribe to the Premium-Green Markets today!
Support WOW! Women On Writing and we'll support you. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Let's make this a banner year!!!!
Labels: Angela Mackintosh, Chynna Laird, freelance, markets for women writers, pink and green, Premium-Green markets, think green, women freelancers, WOW Women On Writing, writer's markets
Call for a Ghostwriter: Celebrity Biography
Just in, from LAwritersgroup.com
:"I am looking for a ghost writer. I have a book about my brother the actor Jeremy Applegate. His life and sudden tragic death forom sucide in March 2000. I have some photo's I would like to use from when Jeremy was a child.
Please let me know.
Margaret Gomez"NOTE FROM LA WRITERS GROUP:
We have corresponded with this person and she is aware that cost / price needs to be worked out and she is primarliy interested in maintaining the copyright of the material but is willing to give credit to the writer (so *ghost writer* is a relative term.)
To contact Margaret Gomez, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This listing is courtesy of Nicole & Sanora at www.lawritersgroup.com
Labels: call for submissions, celebrity, freelance, ghostwriter, Jeremy Applegate
Contest update, Forum News & Freelancer News!
A Special Holiday Greetings to all of you!
If you entered our contest, you should've received an e-mail regarding your status on the Fall 2006 contest. If you entered and didn't receive an e-mail, please let us know. We try to respond to everyone, to keep you updated on what is going on.
Both Beryl and I have entered a number of contests in the past -- some where we got lucky and heard from the judges, and others where we didn't hear anything at all! So taking this into consideration, we strive to keep you up-to-date on what's happening. We know it's rough... you have your story that you worked so hard on, and want feedback. Isn't that what all of us want?
Well, great news! By mid-February we will finally have a comprehensive forum up! We are truly excited about this, since it's been a goal of ours from the start. But not just any forum for rants and raves etc. We are going to have sections just for you. A Virtual Writer's Group where you can post your work, discuss, and receive feedback from other women. A safe place to share your work, chat or post, and gain insight. It will be free (like all of our content), yet moderator approved. Meaning, that you can be assured that there won't be any message board 'flaming' going on... only constructive critiques and encouragement. This will help us all become better writers. In fact, best stories, articles, reviews etc. for the month will be published in WOW! and/or receive prizes. We truly believe that writers should be awarded for their efforts, and we will wrangle up goodies from our sponsors and ourselves to inspire your growth as a writer. This is important to us.
Other rooms in the forum may be: the daily struggles of writing, inspiration, prompts, reviews, freelancer's markets, magazine issue feedback, letters/questions to the Eds, PR & book promotion, post your events/press releases, contests, journaling, book clubs, and general chit-chat.
Every month we hope to have a professional guest to join our forums to answer any questions you may have regarding the business of writing. This is an extremely valuable resource to gain insight and professional advice to help you reach your goals as a published writer. You can do it!
Ladies, we're adding two new columns! Premiering in our January Issue: "Freelancer's Corner" -- a place for freelancers to write, share, and give tips to other writers, as well as event listings. This column is a paying market, as is the rest of our columns. Pay is .05 cents/word, up to 1500 words. Query your idea, we're open!
Another new column we're adding is "Funds for Writers" by Hope C. Clark. Hope will give you insider tips on grant writing, emergency funds for writers, retreats, residencies, finding funds for a conference, etc. This should prove very informative and exciting.
As always, our columns and features are open. Please query the appropriate department. Our pay is .05-.10 cents/word. Up to 2500 for features (that's $250!) and 1500 for columns. We're looking forward to your queries and submissions. We request that it be previously unpublished material for the uniqueness of WOW!
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, we're here, day in, day out, so give us a shout!
Labels: columns, Contest, forum, freelance, funds for writers, markets, writing
MoKa House is a media company that provides freelance writing services to both individuals and businesses. We make use of the diverse talents of our pool of freelance writers and our own skills as writer-editors to craft the perfect message for furthering the creative and professional endeavors of others.WOW: Kathryn, how did you start MoKa House Writers? (Photo of MoKa House partner: Kathryn Vercillo)KV:
MoKa House was one of those things that happened slowly and then suddenly. As a freelance writer, I had always thought that collaborating with other writers would be an excellent way to provide better services to my clients, but I wasn’t quite sure how to make that happen. Then I met Moniqua. In our first ever conversation, we tossed around our individual ideas for eventually starting a writing company. We’re both highly driven women who do more than we talk about doing, so the next thing we knew we were running a company together.WOW:
That's funny you should say that, because it sounds quite familiar! (Like a WOW!
story) Can you tell us about the kinds of services that MoKa House provides?KV:
We provide freelance writing services of all kinds to both individuals and businesses. This includes professional, creative and academic writing and editing services. Specifically, our services include writing of newsletters, articles, web content, business plans, artist bios, reviews, e-books, and business profiles.WOW: That's quite impressive. You seem to cover the full spectrum of freelance writing. What makes your company unique? (Photo of MoKa House partner: Moniqua Lane)KV:
The two of us have very different writing backgrounds, so we are able to apply our experiences in order to oversee a wide range of different projects. Additionally, we employ a staff of approximately forty writers who all have different types of experience. This means that we have the ability to select a writer with appropriate experience for each project, providing our clients with a professional writer who has knowledge in their field. For the client, this is different from working with an individual freelance writer who may have general writing skills but may lack the specific knowledge required to best complete the requested work. Additionally, working with a company (as opposed to working with an individual) offers the client a stronger guarantee of professional quality.WOW: That's wonderful that you're employing writers from various avenues, which in turn, lends the most qualified writer for your clients' project. What are some of the recent projects your company has been involved in?KV:
It seems like we’re always working on something different which is one of the things which we both love about this industry. It gives us a chance to apply our past experiences to broadening our horizons on a regular basis. Some of our recent projects have included travel advice columns for foreign country travel, profiles of up-and-coming musicians, real estate articles, and a series of technical internet blogs.WOW: How diverse! Kathryn, I read somewhere that you created a unique non-profit quarterly magazine for inmates. What a revolutionary idea! Can you tell our readers what the magazine is about, and how the idea was conceived?KV:
In 1999, I started a small (now-defunct) non-profit organization called Create Me Free which was based upon the idea that creative self-expression can lead to both individual and societal growth. I worked with incarcerated artists and writers, using creativity to foster change. The literary magazine, which was published from 1999 – 2003, published the completed works and works-in-progress of those individuals involved in the program. Although Create Me Free is no longer an active organization, I do hope to eventually return to this type of non-profit work which would ideally be focused on forming a similar program for incarcerated youth.WOW: That's an inspirational idea, and a needed one. Your heart shines through in your caring for others.
Speaking of others, you and your partner Moniqua Lane apparently work very well together. I'm always interested in women who collaborate on a higher level. There seems to be a real supportive energy that makes a business work...KV:
We were really lucky to find one another, because our backgrounds are very different but we seem to have nearly all of the same goals. We compliment each other really well. It seems that nearly everything that I don’t know how to do is something that she has experience with and vice versa. Additionally, our work processes are different so we balance each other out really well. It’s a benefit to our clients, because we double-check each other’s work so that they get the best of each of us. And it’s beneficial for us because we challenge each other to develop new skills while supporting each other in doing so.WOW: There seems to be a fabulous balance between the two of you, yet I'm sure, considering your diverse backgrounds, there are different projects you would most like to take on. Could you tell us what kinds of projects you're interested in?KV:
I, personally, prefer projects which allow me to work with creative professionals in other fields. Music journalism and working with artists to create bios and press releases are areas which interest me because I believe that they allow me to use my talents to help further the creative talents of other individuals. I place a lot of emphasis on developing creative connections. Alternatively, Moniqua prefers projects that allow her to make use of her legal background. She enjoys making arcane aspects of the law accessible to the average reader. We are lucky to have a staff of excellent writers which means that we are each able to develop these areas for ourselves while providing our clients with the services of professionals whose areas of interest and expertise differ from our own.WOW: After you decide to take on a project, what comes next?KV:
We work with the client to identify his or her exact needs and goals. This allows us to determine which one of us is best suited to overseeing the project. From there, we can determine which writer or writers may be most qualified to complete the project. We work closely with the writer to make sure that the work meets the client’s specifications.WOW: It sounds like you've got a very 'hands-on' approach. How do you manage to maintain this ongoing working relationship with your client?KV:
We believe that regular, clear communication is the most effective method of maintaining a positive working relationship with our clients. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration and truly enjoy working to help our clients further their own endeavors, and I feel like that genuine interest in their work comes through in all that we do, encouraging continued partnerships over time.WOW: Do you think attorneys should use freelance writers, and if so, why?KV:
Moniqua tells this story about how on her first day working for a large firm her supervising attorney told her to do as little writing as possible because she was not being paid to write. She says that what she came to realize was that attorneys are paid to know the law and use that knowledge to further their clients’ interests. Writing is an important part of that, but there is a lot of writing that attorneys do that is incidental to that – a lot of marketing and non-legal writing. Moniqua thinks that this is the kind of writing that attorneys can, and often do, hand off to freelance writers. She thinks, though, that for ethical reasons and for the sake of writing quality, it is best for attorneys to have non-practicing lawyers do their hired writing. She says there are lots of them out there like her, so it should be no problem to find one.WOW: I think everyone could use a freelance writer like Moniqua! That's wonderful that she has that background to bring to the table. (Moniqua, we'll be in touch!)
The two of you sound like an unstoppable team, I'm sure all of our readers would love to know what you're working on right now, either personally, or for your company.KV:
Personally, I’m working on a number of small projects related to music journalism, including collaboration with several local musical artists in the development of online promotional content. I’m also collaborating with my brother (an artist and business owner in Los Angeles) in the development of a magazine relevant to the work that he is doing. Furthermore, I’m in the process of completing a book entitled Ghosts of San Francisco which is to be followed by a book about ghosts specific to Alcatraz Island.
Moniqua is working on a real estate practices book, answering user-submitted questions about real estate and finance at a mortgage lenders’ portal, and researching trends and breaking news in digital music for a daily digital music news journal out of England. Moniqua also maintains a small legal practice focusing on tax and estate planning and real estate law.
Together, Moniqua and I are collaborating on several small creative endeavors, with particular emphasis on writing pro-female erotica which supports the sexuality of women within a framework of diverse situations.
As a company, MoKa House is branching out in to a number of different areas. We are working on a two-pronged approach to immediate development, expanding our client base to include both more creative work and more business-professional work.WOW: It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate! Where would you like to see MoKa House in the future?KV:
The short-term goals for MoKa House continue the aforementioned two-prong development approach. On my end, I want MoKa House to be providing more direct services for artists and musicians, working closely with emerging artists to assist them in furthering their goals as they grow in popularity. On Moniqua’s side, MoKa House is looking in to expanding our options for improved services to our corporate clients as well as for involvement in regular work with government contract writing.
Within the company, we want to see increased opportunity for our writers to expand their own opportunities. MoKa House operates on the core belief that following our own inspiration in collaborative efforts leads to overall success for all people involved in a project. It is our goal to work with our writers in assisting them to develop the skills they each would like to develop in order to improve their writing careers as well as to offer improved services to our clients. We would like to see some of our high-level writers eventually overseeing and editing for other staff members.
As far as long-term goals, we have discussed the possibility of eventually opening a publishing arm for the company. We would be interested in being involved in more creative works and I would like to see development of a non-profit area for the company. However, we’re open to seeing where things go from here. I have always worked through a process which combines drive and motivation with a willingness to take chances as they are presented to me. This is what allowed Moniqua and I to immediately recognize the opportunity to work with another and I believe it is what will continue to allow MoKa House to succeed.WOW: I don't doubt that one bit. I'm sure you two will go far.
Thank you so much Kathryn for sharing your inspirational story with our readers. I'm sure they'll all want to visit MoKa House and check out the wonderful services you provide!SPECIAL PROMOTION: (You won't want to miss!) MoKa House is happy to offer 10% OFF of their standard rates to anyone who mentions reading this interview.
Additionally, MoKa House is always happy to consider website link exchange with other creative and professional people.http://www.mokahousewriters.com/
Labels: articles, artist bios, business plans, business profiles, copywriting, e-books, freelance, newsletters, reviews, web content, writing