Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Boost Your Sales With Business Writing

In your quest for freelance success, don't overlook the importance of business writing, or commercial writing, as some call it, as an income booster. I know, it doesn't sound very glamorous, but there is a need out there and you may be just the writer to fill it. A good place to start is local businesses looking for someone to put together a media kit for them or a preschool who would love some updated brochure copy. Make a list of all the advertising and public relations agencies in your area and put together a few samples and a copy of your resume and business card. These places typically need contractors when they pick up a few new accounts and they have more work than they can cover off with their full-time staff. I worked in public relations before making the switch to freelance writing, and I still do business-writing projects (even if it just requires fact checking/proofreading) from time to time. Browse an updated copy of The Writer's Market for a handy chart on what you should charge for specific services.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rejections Can Be Good

I've decided to consider any rejection from an editor to be a good sign. Many, many editors do not have the time or inclination to respond to every query they aren't interested in pursuing. I've heard from other writers that one should take a personalized rejection from an editor as an encouraging sign to keep the queries coming. Some "positive" rejections I've received in the past include:

"I enjoyed reading your essay. However, I must report that we’ve decided to give it a pass. Please note that this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of your work (we receive about 750 submissions for every seven we publish). I wish you the best of luck placing this piece elsewhere."

"We actually have covered this within the past year or two--a bit too soon to revisit it, but thanks for your interest."

"Thanks for your interest in ----- Magazine. Currently we're working
almost exclusively with people who work in the ---- field and are
willing to write free of charge. I wish I had a different answer for
you, but that's what we're doing at this point."

"Hi, and thanks for the look. Sorry, but we'll have to pass. Most all freelance we buy is set in the non-Florida Southeast; we rely on staff, wire service and travel columnists for coverage of destinations farther afield."

Nowhere in any of these rejections did I pick up on any kind of "bug off, your work stinks" kind of tone. Some feedback is better than no feedback, right? At least when you receive a personalized rejection, you know to cross that publication off your list and move on to the next editor.

What sort of "positive" rejections have you received? What did you learn from them? Check out this article to learn what kinds of pitches won't get rejected.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Need a New Blog Design?

Hilary at Simply Yours Designs is giving away one free custom blog package, which is worth $90. The giveaway ends on Oct. 26, 2009. Head on over to her blog and read all about it, and don't forget to visit her shop to learn more about her gorgeous design packages. I'm salivating, really. Blogger, I love your free and convenient program, but my blog needs a little help. It does not reflect my personality at all, but I am very design-challenged. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who feels this way! Where do people get all these cute, whimsical, modern designs I keep running across?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Has This Ever Happened to You?

In March 2008, I came across an interesting newspaper article on the AP wire about volunteers in "The Doe Network," a network of amateur sleuths who help i.d. unidentified unnamed bodies in the United States. There are volunteers in almost every state, and they help track down friends and family of the more than 40,000 unidentified in the United States.
I clipped out the article and put it in a file marked "Research for novel," and didn't pick it up again. But I'm obsessed with crime shows like Cold Case, so I was interested to see the previews of a new ABC show "The Forgotten" advertised recently. I've been watching it, and so far I'm enjoying Christian Slater in the lead role and watching how the volunteers work the cases in their spare time. Instead of "The Doe Network," they go by the name of "The Forgotten Network."
Have you ever had a similar idea that you then saw showcased in a television pilot, novel or screenplay? Please share! It's always bound to happen, as there are pretty much no original ideas anymore. It actually made me feel good that I picked up on something that had entertainment merit with television producers, even if I didn't do anything with it at the time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Polish Your Popular Fiction

The deadline is approaching for the Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards. Submit an entry into the following categories by Nov. 2, 2009:
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Crime Fiction
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Thriller/Suspense
  • Horror
The grand prize is $2,500 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books and the 2010 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. There will also be first place winners and honorable mentions in each category. Entry fee is $15.
I hope you've enjoyed this week and all the writing competition leads. I don't know about you, but I've got a lot of projects to polish up for submission in the next few months!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Do You Have a Freelance Success Story?

If so, the annual publication Writer's Market wants to hear about it. Each year they hold a contest open to writers who have achieved some form of freelance success. You can write about your first sale, first byline, etc. in 800-1,500 words. The top three stories will be selected (and awarded $250, $150 and $100, respectively) and published in a future issue of Writer's Market. Deadline is Dec. 31 and entries are only accepted via e-mail at Address your entry to the attention of Robert Lee Brewer. Browse through a copy of the 2009 or 2010 Writer's Market to read previous winner's entries.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phone Consulting

I'm now offering phone consulting for freelance writers. I've learned so much about the business over the best several years and I love to talk about writing so I decided to combine the two into a (hopefully!) helpful service. You can find the details in the "consulting" section of my Web site. With each session, you'll receive a complimentary query letter critique within seven days of the consulting appointment.
I've been on a roll cranking out queries in the past few months. I'm happy to say I just broke into a national magazine for writers, and had an editor tell me my query was one of the best she'd received in a while. Encouraging.
Set up your appointment today!

Writing Contests at

I came across an interesting community today over at It is a writing site that was established in 2000. Members have the opportunity to post their work and receive valuable feedback from site members. The site also hosts many writing contests -- often with cash prizes. You must be a member to use the site, but membership seems pretty cost effective. Writers can enjoy a free trial membership for one week. has a flash fiction contest that deadlines Oct. 23. The theme is "the dance." If you've never written flash fiction, I encourage you to give it a try. I've written two flash fiction stories (typically under 800 words) in the past few months and found it to be a great learning experience. It helps you hook the reader at the beginning and write tighter in order to tell the story in one piece.
I've been a freelance writer for the past six years, but have only really started writing more fiction this year. I'm having a blast. Has anyone ever tried What were your experiences?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cup of Comfort Seeking Submissions

The popular book series holds contests to determine publication in their anthologies four to six times a year. You can find a complete list of guidelines on their Web site. The grand prize is $500, and 49 other stories receive $100 payment and publication. Currently, Adams Media is seeking stories about what it means to be in love and the the joys of golfing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Write About Motherhood and Win Prizes

Who hasn't wanted to be published in one of the big parenting magazines? Here's your chance. Parenting is sponsoring "The Meaning of Motherhood" contest through Nov. 1, 2009. Put together a 300-word essay on what motherhood means to you and include an original photo that illustrates your essay's theme to win $1,000 worth of Baby Bjorn products and publication in the print version of Parenting and See official rules and regulations here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fiction Writing Competition

I hope you're enjoying researching writing competitions as an additional avenue for your work. Writer's Market has a section devoted specifically for contests and awards, and I found the following competition in the 2009 edition:
The Glimmer Train sponsors a "November Short-Story Award for New Writers." Submit any work of fiction that hasn't appeared in a nationally-distributed publication with a circulation over 5,000.Word count is 1,200-12,000 words. Submit online at $15 entry fee. Submit Nov 1-30. Winner receives $1,200 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories. Runners-up receive $500 and $300.

Eighth Annual FundsforWriters Essay Contest

As I promised, I bring you day one's featured contest. I recently subscribed to C. Hope Clark's FundsforWriters weekly newsletter and it has been a wealth of information on writing grants and contests. She also accepts article submissions, too. Each year she sponsors an essay contest, and this year's theme is "Invisible Writing." I know, it sounded a little obscure to me when I first heard the theme, but it makes since when you read the description. You can pay $0 or $5 to enter your submission; prizes range from $10-$200. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2009. Good luck!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Contests, Contests!

Well, I've had an interesting yet exciting past few months, to say the least. I saw two of my favorite musical acts in concert this summer -- Coldplay and Tori Amos. They rocked, of course. And, after trying to juggle two children with completely separate needs at different schools with a part-time editing job for the past year, I made the decision to return to freelancing from home. It wasn't an easy choice to make. The steady paycheck from that job definitely helped our household, but I felt too torn to help my kids in every way I can while they are still young. So, I've been freelancing since about mid-August.
I had about two weeks where I was sending out queries like crazy and had no assignments coming in where I started to panic again . . . but then work starting coming into my inbox. The lead times in between paychecks has been a little hard to juggle, but I'm getting there. I entered the 78th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition back in May, and I found out a few months ago that I won first place in the feature magazine article category! One of the prizes was a manuscript critique from editors and/or Writer's Digest board members, so I've been polishing up that non-fiction book proposal I put together this past summer in the hopes that I can get some valuable feedback on the topic, or better yet, a future book deal!
Going back to freelancing has given me precious time to work on some other projects I didn't have time to work on while working at an office 20 hours a week. I submitted a 750-word short story to the WOW! Women on Writing Summer Flash Fiction Contest and found out I made it through the first round of judging (beating out roughly 200 entries). I haven't written fiction in years, quite honestly. I came across the short story on my hard drive and honestly don't remember writing it, but the characters were so obviously based on me and an ex-boyfriend that I know I did write it at some point, probably when I my son was still an infant and I was delirious from lack of sleep. It gives me hope that I have a future writing fiction, as I've slowly returned to working on my novel-in-progress.
So it will be exciting to hear about the results from that contest this month. I'm afraid all this exciting news has left me a little obsessed with entering writing contests now. I never realized how many of them were out there, and the publishing and monetary rewards they offer.
I'm hereby declaring this coming week "Contest Week" over at Renee's Pages. I will post links to a different writing contest every day this week. Check back daily and join in on the fun!