Some Good Advice From Direct Experience

Making money from creative writing is not for the weak of stomach or thin of skin.

I recently did a real-live book event for 5 Star trails Flagstaff and Sedona. More on that in my alternate blog: Are We Lost Yet?

Book signings and presentations are one of the few vestiges left from Olden Days. It still wasn’t easy writing for money back then, but it was simpler.

The simple formula of write-submit-get paid is increasingly obsolete.

I am old enough to have worked a bit in olden times, when you had an idea, poured through your recent copy of Writer’s Market to find an appropriate publication, pitched the idea in a query letter, got an assignment, spent a month crafting your 2000 word masterpiece, saw it in print, and got paid about a week’s wages for it. If you landed such stunts often enough, you could make a living just from writing.

Sure, rejection rates were 90%, but ten cents/word was considered low-ball wages. (So you know, most “content writers” nowadays would be thrilled to see 10 cents a word in up-front cash). And there was a viable reprint market. You could sell an article two or three  or ten times.

There’s no reprint market on the internet. Once its up – it stays up. Unless you’re me.

Here’s some good advice from direct experience: write your blog in a word processor, and paste it into the WordPress interface (or whatever).

I have a lead on a gig writing for a basketball blog. I have done this sort of thing before, but it’s been awhile. Meanwhile, every single post I’ve written for any of those sites is off the internet. BUT the ones I drafted in Word are still on my hardrive. So I have that – for whatever that may be worth.

This is what has become of Phoenix Suns News – the site I used to write for.

I dare you to read any of those articles all the way through.

Do people get paid to write that sort of drivel?

Maybe. A bit.

When I started out as a writer, the logistical realities of typewriters and snail-mail and actually doing research in libraries limited the number of folks willing to commit to writing an article.

Then again, magazines made show-biz seem stable by comparison, even in their glory days. For every magazine that has imploded, though, a hundred websites have sprung up to replace it. And a thousand people tap at keyboards to fill those sites for every old-timer that once researched articles via microfilm.

The simple days are gone. The demand remains. People who can write good articles – articles that you will want to read – are still few and far between, and now separated even further by gigs and gigs of drivel and clutter and spam. So what hope s there? Lots.

But you need sturdy guts, thick skin, and good copy.

And now some better advice from people who know what they’re writing about:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch  (whose entire body of work on this subject is worth reading) on Playing to Win

Our recommended regular site to visit Wordcount on Thinking Big.

It can be done, fellow scribes, but not by just any old hack. The first step is realizing the collapse of The Old Ways is nothing but opportunity.


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for recommending WordCount, I really appreciate it. I try to cover what other self-employed writers want to see on writing basics, how to run a successful (read money-making) business, and media industry trends. If there are subjects you’d like to see covered, let me know.

    I agree with you about the old ways giving way to the new. But new doesn’t necessarily mean ‘write for content mills.’ Personally, the new ways I’ve explored in the past two years have included paid blogging and doing work for digital media companies building websites for corporate customers; think custom publications or advertorials that live online instead of print. I’m using the same skills I used back when I was a daily newspaper reporter – finding sources, reporting and writing on deadline, and working collaboratively with a team of writers, photo editors and graphic designers – just with a different end product. It pays to be adaptable.


  2. […] GAFDE on blogging (which I am ignoring right now) at Writing Made Visible […]

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