Day: September 15, 2019

Ten Things I Learned in Twenty Plus Years as a Freelance WriterTen Things I Learned in Twenty Plus Years as a Freelance Writer



1. If you want to become rich, go back to school and become a lawyer or doctor. Yes, there are rich writers but the odds are against you. That’s not to say you won’t become one of them, it’s just to say if you’re in it for the money, it’s no place for you. Most freelance writers have full-time, or at least, part-time jobs. If seeing your name and something you’ve written in print sends you into orbit, then you’ll make a good writer.

2. If you’re a hardheaded person, writing is not for you. Very few editors will work with someone who is stubborn. One editor wrote he received an article he liked but it needed work in order to fit into his magazine. He called the writer, explained the changes needed and asked the writer to rewrite the article. When the editor received the rewrite, all the writer did was change a few words. So he called the writer again and tried to get the writer to agree to the changes needed. The writer fought many of the changes but the editor was able to get enough changed to publish the article. However, after that, whenever the editor received anything from that writer, he simply put it into the SASE and returned it unread.

3. Too many people think they can write for publication without learning how to write for publication. This is mind boggling. You wouldn’t expect to perform brain surgery without going to medical school, why would you think you can write for publication without learning how? Okay, that may not be the best example, but learning how to write for publication will save you years of struggling to get published. (Hint: If you don’t know the difference between a book and a novel or an article and a story or don’t know want an SASE is, you better take a writing course.)

4. Very few writers escape the thrill of receiving rejection slips. Louis L’Amour, who at one time was among the top five best selling authors in the world, was reported to have received 200 rejections before selling anything. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected several times before it was accepted. I received over 100 rejections before I sold my first article and I still get rejection slips.

5. The first page of a manuscript is the most important page of the manuscript. Believe it or not, many editors decide if they are going to reject manuscripts based on the first page, and in some cases, the first two paragraphs. I used to think this was a rip off. What about the middle and the ending? Then I was asked to judge a writing competition. I learned everything an editor needs to know is within the first two paragraphs. If there are grammar errors, there will be grammar errors throughout the manuscript. The same holds true for poor writing, misspellings, bad sentence and paragraph construction and even facts. (If there’s one mistake …