PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This is a newsletter I found when I did a search on freelancing last year. Its one of those newsletters you want to make sure comes to your email box. They are always on top of the current market and give sound advice. I highly recommend you check them out. You won't be disappointed.
Shades Of Romance Magazine: Please describe your newsletter's background and purpose.
Funds For Writers: FundsforWriters originated in early 2000 after I spoke to a writer's group and realized how little many freelance writers knew about the world of finance and income. I went to speak about my writers website (I was working with WordWeaving.com at the time), and instead ended up answering questions about how to find sponsors and income just to mail manuscripts and buy printer ink! A friend of mine, a 30 year journalist with cancer, had been prompting me to write a column on grants for writers and I didn't want to do something along the line of my fulltime day job with a federal loan/grant agency. But after answering the umpteenth email, I decided to start FundsforWriters. Word was spreading mouth-to-mouth that I could answer some questions and help people find help financially, so I felt a calling of sorts. I especially felt it after I got started when just a couple months later my friends died. The topics on grants, nonprofits, and finding work come easy for me because I've been involved ith them for 25 years! So I've meshed my love of writing, the writer world and my financial background and come up with a click that works for me.
Our purpose is to help writers earn a living writing - short and sweet. Not get rich with a best-selling novel, but to earn a living. Writers just love to write, and I want to help them do so.
SORM: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
C HOPE CLARK : My degree is in agriculture - LOL !! From Clemson University in SC. I wanted to go into agriculture research for a while. An internship convinced me otherwise. So I got into agriculture lending which led to other lending. Throughout that 25 year career, though, my directors recognized my writing. I wrote politicians' ratings, progress reports, analyses, strategic planning reports, award recommendations, budget justifications, terminations (ugh), you-name-it. My job evolved from a loan specialist to administrative program director. After dealing with one too many good-ole-boys and being cut out of staff meetings as the only skirt on staff, I decided to opt for an early retirement and try my hand at FFW fulltime.
So my technical writing has been around for twenty years. But my freelance work is only three years old. But I've sold a few articles to Midlands Woman Magazine (contributing writer for a while), Women as Managers (regular writer), ByLine Magazine, Writers Weekly, Hotel.com, When Teens Write, Whispers From Heaven anthology (twice), I Love My Job (that was a hoot), and many online sites about writing, teens, business and finding income. Probably about 30-40 articles.
I self-published FundsforWriters: The Book in Oct 2000 with 1stbooks.com while it made an okay showing. I gained more from the knowledge of POD/self-publishing than the income received. And I've self-published two ebooks - Grants for the Serious Writer and $1000 Awards for the Serious Writer. I love non-fiction how-to books. It seems to be my best voice. I'm dying to write a novel - I have one bouncing around my head all the time, but FFW is time consuming right now.
SORM: Why did you choose to focus on this particular subject matter?
FFW: It's what I know and what I did for 25 years. I have a nose for research as well. As Administrative Director of my agency, I served as Ethics Officer, Budget Director, HR Director, Freedom of Information Director, Personnel Investigations Officer, and many other key roles. Each required extensive research and frequent documentation. I became known for the extent of my research in many circles. I love digging through something and writing a conclusion for it all. It all seems to work for FFW, too.
SORM: What do you want readers to take away from your newsletter?
FFW: This is going to sound corny, but I want them to take away "hope" that they can earn something as a writer. "Hope" is actually my middle name. I've always loved it, and I felt it suited this arena well. I want writers to find something they can submit their writing to and feel they have a chance at earning some dollars doing what they love. And I believe writers can learn to write with much practice, dedicated research and perserverance.
SORM: What do you feel makes your newsletter stand out from the competition?
FFW: It's to the point. I'm frank - almost to a fault - and I want to get to the point. I subscribe to about 30 newsletters and services (maybe more), and I've seen so much "fluff" in newsletters. Writers don't have the time to read and write. Many are FT workers elsewhere or moms with tikes. So I tell them where the money is and list no more than one article not to exceed 500 words about making money somehow. I figure they know how to write or can get the knowledge somewhere else. I want to give them facts to find funds.
Second - I respect each and every member of FFW. I feel each and every email needs attention. Every problem that comes my way is returned with 3-4 positive suggestions on what to do with whatever situation he/she has. And I feel that comes through in the newsletter. Just yesterday I received a short thank-you from a member..."Thanks, Hope Clark, for your help over the last year. At the top of my list this year is to also help someone in the writing field...a starter, perhaps. It's my spiritual ministry to do that. Thanks for your inspiration. M. Tucker, Writer." Now THAT is what keeps me running FFW.
SORM: What types of submission are you looking for and how can a reader submit or subscribe to your newsletter?
FFW: To Submit: We do not print articles on the art of writing.Â We want information on making a buck through writing.Â It's that simple. You'd be amazed at how many broke writers want to talk about how to write. Writers like to talk about their craft, not the financial aspect. I believe, without being derogatory, that it's a left brain/right brain thing. Writers are right brain - creative type people. The checkbook and stockmarket are not their cup of tea for the most part. And we want submissions short and sweet - 500 words. We pay $20 per article and $10 for reprints. I'm a firm believer in writers reselling their work so we take reprints. More details can be found at http://www.fundsforwriters.com/submissions.htm .
To Subscribe: Depends on the newsletter. Here's the info on all four newsletters...
FundsforWriters - the parent newsletter for the serious writer with markets at 25 cents/word or a flat $500 or more. 15 paying opportunities. Send a blank email to:
FFWJunior - the second newsletter for the novice or hobby writer - The markets are under 25 cents or $500. These are usually fun or lower paying markets. About a dozen paying opportunities. We started this one because so many were intimidated with the listings in FundsforWriters. Send blank email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
WritingKid - the newsletter for the young writer. This one is actually the toughest newsletter to do. People and markets don't respect young writers very often and as I find them, I throw them here. This one is biweekly compared to the others above being weekly. Blank email to: WritingKidemail@example.com
TOTAL FundsforWriters - Wow don't get me talking about this one or I'll talk forever. It's my baby. TOTAL is a paid subscription - $9/year for 26 issues delivered biweekly. And it contains 70-80 paying opportunities in terms of 12-18 items in each category of grants, contests, freelance markets, jobs, publishers/agents. This one opened in November and is just getting off the ground. It's bumping 200 members but I assure you they are dedicated writers. My ads are just beginning to make their rounds pretty well and I have ads in The Writer magazine in March and April. Subscription to this newsletter is through the website - http://www.fundsforwriters.com/ffwnewsletters.htm or simply send $9 through paypal.com to firstname.lastname@example.org or through amazon.com's honor system to the same email or just send a check (with email address, please) to C. Hope Clark, FundsforWriters, 7001 St Andrews Road #366, Columbia, SC 29212
SORM: What is the strongest encouragement you have for writers considering entering the freelance market?
FFW: Encouragement is this...submit frequently and often. The jobs don't come to you. I have a saying over my computer ..."Keep 13 in play..what's your story today?" Another corny saying, but I try to keep 13 queries in the pipeline at all times. When a rejection comes in, all else stops until I get that query out to keep 13 going. By submitting all the time, you write all the time. Your writing gets better and the positive letters start coming in. Some take weeks - other months - and others years - but it eventually happens.
SORM: What is the strongest warning you'd like to offer those same writers?
FFW: First and foremost - have a safety net income to pay the basic bills. Do NOT leave a well-paying job and go out on a limb unless you have excellent prospects lined up for your freelance writing. Writing does not make you rich, and I've seen many writers get themselves in financial trouble thinking they can write fulltime when they haven't done the research to know what it takes to be self-employed. I waited till I could take an early retirement to write fulltime, and even then, my husband and I are moving for a promotion for him to help offset the cut in income. If one is worrying about paying the rent, he/she can't put the right dedication to the writing. Freelance writing is a slow process and it can take several years of dedicated writing and submitting to make a decent income.
SORM: Many authors complain about publishers who don't do enough to publicize their work. What advice do you have for freelancers to help publicize their work?
FFW: Quit whining and start marketing. It's regretfully the nasty part of the job, and no one hates it as much as I do. It's part of the reason I haven't completed my second novel (the first sits awaiting another rewrite on the shelf - critiqued by a couple of nice agents and one best-selling novelist who nicely told me to rewrite it - so now I do nonfiction - LOL).
Start reading up on how to market yourself. But use common sense! In teaching people how to make a living writing, promotion tips come into play. I try to tell people to look at the opportunities around them and capitalize on them. Many writers don't have the financial resources to do big marketing plans. But your local markets are quite lucrative if used. Create a book fair for area writers at the local library with the schools behind you during National Book Month. Hold a contest with the winner getting a dinner with you and an autographed book. Know all your local bookstore owners by first name! Know your English teachers in the area - your journalism professors - your newspaper columnists! Send review copies all over the place! Talk to local gift shops - they love to promote locals. Just think!!! Lot's of places to sell. And when the income grows from sales, expand your territory of marketing to the rest of your state - your region...then wherever it takes you.
SORM: If you had a magic wand and could change the world of freelance writing, what changes would you make?
FFW: Ooh - good question. I'd require that magazines, periodicals, anyone that utilizes freelance writers, have a clear set of writers guidelines and past practice of payment posted online with a website. I'd make it mandatory. If they didn't need articles, they could just say they weren't accepting for 6 months or whatever the time. Magazines get rich on the backs of freelance writers but don't give enough new writers opportunities.
SORM: What can you tell writers that will help change their mind about editors and their rejection slips?
FFW: 1st - editors don't know you from Adam (my mother's saying). It isn't personal !!!! They read a few lines and accept or discard - and they do it dozens of times a day. They might have a cold, a hangover, been up with a sick child, going through a divorce or dealing with firing someone. They are humans and they have reasons or maybe they don't, for rejecting your work. They are rejecting the order of the words on paper and not the composer. Never, never take it personal.
2nd - each rejection is a learning experience. Sometimes you don't fit the magazine or editor's tastes. After three tries, discard that editor and move on to another. There's lots of fish in the sea. If one article keeps getting rejected, it needs to be rewritten. Learn from these rejections. Be flexible. Right now I get about 70% rejections. And it doesn't bother me a bit. I keep looking and keep submitting. But you know what? When I hit one that suits me and likes my work, I milk it for all its worth. When you find an acceptance, keep submitting. When the well's dry, find another. After all, you are "freelancing", right? If you want stability and steady work, get a 40 hr/week job. Ride the roller coaster and enjoy the ride.
SORM: What tips would you offer others looking to get into this field, when they haven't even landed their first assignment?
FFW: Submit to contests and periodicals whether they pay or not. Clips count and editors never ask how much you were paid - just if you were published. The 13 Rule I use doesn't have to always be to paying sources.
AND, read, read, read about how to operate as a freelancer. Newsletters are marvelous tools and I've learned some wonderful tips from these jewels. Being a freelancer is at least half business and marketing.
SORM: How do you feel about people starting out writing for free, to get a few clips under their belts, then turning to paying markets?
FFW: I'm all for it. BUT, don't be afraid to jump in to paying markets as soon as you can. Always submit to some markets you think are over your head. They might not be! Many people are afraid to make that leap.
SORM: What steps should a writer take when putting together an article for publication?
FFW: 1st - ALWAYS know what the editor wants. Don't think that you are different and wiser and can offer something keenly different they'll take. Chances are they'll toss it out the minute it doesn't fit the 1st guideline. You have to know the magazine/editor and what they want. You don't apply for a waitress job and say you're a wonderful plumber. If they want a waitress, give them the best waitress they've ever seen.
2nd - Also, know who the editor is - Dear Mr. Johnson is better than Dear Editor. And read a little of the magazine to know its flavor.
3rd - Always be professional. Be basic. Be to the point. Don't be cute. It's unprofessional and quickly discarded.
4th - Proof it till you're sick of it, then proof it again. One typo is death.
5th - Send it and forget about it. Then start on another one.
SORM: What should a writer do to make his or her article attractive?
FFW: Some of this is personal opinion and from the volumes of reading I've done. Use plain white paper of good bond quality. Have a good printer. Always double space with 1 inch margins all around (unless the guidelines state differently). Send a SASE for a reply (or you might not get one). Know how to make a query/cover letter sing! The first paragraph needs to be a slammer! The second about how the article first the mag, and the third about your background (brief) and qualifications for writing it. The final wrap up should be very polite with a comment about whether it's a simultaneous submission, repint, rights offered, etc. and a sincere thank-you/look forward to hearing from you comment.
SORM: What is the biggest mistake that writers make when trying to get published?
FFW: I can speak about this from experience - not rewriting enough. We want to send it off when we finish the first draft - especially if it's a long piece or a book. It ought to be almost memorized when you're done reading and rewriting it.
SORM: How can a writer find out the best places to publish his or her articles?
FFW: I'm a Writers Market believer - http://www.writersmarket.com online, but they also publish an annual catalog, as well. The online subscription, however, is more current and only costs $2.99/month. Jeff Herman's Writing Guide is supposed to be good as well. I'm looking forward to purchasing it soon. I understand FundsforWriters is mentioned as a resource.
All that said, searches online help a lot. Sometimes when I'm trying to meet a newsletter deadline, I'll throw in a good search and find all kinds of new stuff not readily found. I love doing that. Makes me feel like I've hit a vein of gold since the other writers newsletters don't have it.
SORM: Are there any "golden rules" about writing or publishing articles?
FFW: Follow the writers' guidelines is the main "golden rule" I follow. Follow them to the letter.
SORM: Any last advice for someone who is hoping to get published?
FFW: Don't do it to make money - and don't think you'll make money quick. Do it because you have a place to fill with your writing. Do it because you are good at it. Do it because you want a hobby. Do it for any reason other than making money because you'll be disappointed. The money is an afterthought - a nice thing that can happen when it all clicks and fate is good to you. Enjoy the writing.
SHADES OF ROMANCE WOULD LIKE TO THANK MS. CLARK FOR THIS INTERVIEW. WE WISH YOU MANY BLESSINGS WITH FUNDS FOR WRITERS.