Monday, 28 January 2019

The Truth about being a Freelance Writer

I have reached a point where I am about ready to give up my dreams of making a living from my books and my writing. For the past five years or so, I have tried all sorts of strategies to try and break into the “professional” arena. But just last week I learned a valuable lesson: there is no right or wrong way to do it. When it comes to earning money from your writing, you simply need to have contact with the right people in the right places, at the right time. For example, I could submit a manuscript to a literary agent, but depending on if and when they find time to look at it, I probably won’t make an impression.

The key lesson, I realised, is that we should never give up. I only submit manuscripts once or twice a year to agents and publishers, unless I am paying a publisher for their services. I have probably submitted even less pitches for freelance writing work if I take an average. Mostly it is because the publications I want to write for rarely share their contact details in public places. And the smaller publications that I approach usually tell me they can’t (or won’t) pay for my work, but they are happy to publish an article for free. Well, I am done with that. I publish free articles on my SpookyMrsGreen blog three times a week, and I have submitted more work than I care to remember to professional organisations. It is time for some payback in the form of cold, hard cash. I am still searching for that lucrative contract, but I need to give myself a kick up the backside, stop being complacent, and get on with it. Let’s see how we get on…

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Monday, 21 January 2019

When Life Gets in the Way

It’s a bloody good job I didn’t set any New Year’s resolutions! So far, I have been so busy with domestic chores, mothering and being the supportive wife, that I have barely even switched my laptop on for more than an hour at a time. I did manage to apply for a few writing-related jobs, so all is not lost, but today I am feeling rather fed-up and frustrated. My blog stats are slipping because I have been absent from social media, my books won’t sell because nobody knows about them, and I haven’t been able to prepare a manuscript for submission to agents. There is always so much to do!

Tomorrow is a new day, however, and for an added bonus it is my birthday. Since I just ran myself ragged preparing and hosting a birthday party for my daughter at the weekend, I am taking some time off while the children are at school, and I am going out for lunch. At least being my own boss, I can take a day off when I need to – but I can’t stop being Mummy and Wife. It’s a good job I love them!

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Monday, 14 January 2019

Books Won’t Die!

The publishing industry has undergone massive change during the past decade or so. It seems that nowadays almost everybody can self-publish a book, and most people have done (hello!). Ultimately, we still strive for that elusive contract with a big publisher and all the trimmings, even though the reality is often far from the dream. However you publish your books, one thing is certain: books are immortal. Readers will always crave something new and will devour series after series in the quest for adventure and knowledge.

When the Kindle was launched, and a whole range of e-readers appeared on the market, industry experts claimed that the good old paperback was dead. How wrong they were! I heard on the radio earlier this week that independent booksellers reported a boom in book sales during the Christmas 2018 period, a surprise result considering that high street stores are failing to meet targets and are closing at a rapid rate. I wonder if readers still like the feel and smell of a book? I know I do. I mean, yes, I love my Kindle, but truthfully, I read more physical books than eBooks. My Kindle is a useful, portable device that can fit in my handbag, but nothing beats a book. And I still love hardback books. Indeed, I dream of having my own novels published in hardback one day, if only to fulfill a long-held desire.

Do you still read? What is your preferred medium for a book? I’m still seeking an audience for #TheRedcliffeNovels series, and I am working on my new vampire hunter series of standalone novels. You can find the first two already published: Vampire of Blackpool and Return of the Vampire Hunter. I also write and publish short stories and the occasional poem. But I love books. I always will.

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Monday, 7 January 2019

New Year, New Book Submissions

Hello, my friends, how are you? Back to work and back in the old routine now? Or did you engineer a major life change for 2019, and you have changed jobs or retired or embarked upon a new adventure? Do share! I have decided to start 2019 without any formal New Year’s Resolutions. In previous years this is the day when I would sit at my computer, scribble notes in my diary, and attempt to plan a rigid structure for writing new books, updating my blogs, finding freelance work and building my brand. Inevitably I would be distracted by domestic challenges, supporting friends and family members, and my own spiritual development. And I didn’t create the magical, easy career as a writer that I dreamed about.

Now I have seen the light, as it were. I know how the industry works. I have done a lot of research, tried and failed a lot of systems and projects, and learned a lot about my place in the book world. Shortly before Christmas I watched a documentary on Sky Arts featuring the food critic Giles Coren, and his journey as a failed author (his words). I learned that he was paid a very generous advance of £30k to publish a literary novel about ten years ago, and it didn’t sell. Or at least, it didn’t sell enough copies to make him a success by industry standards. With his established career as a journalist and his privilege to know the right people in the right places, he would have expected more, and he admitted that. I enjoyed watching the documentary.

You would think that I came away feeling deflated and defeated. I am most definitely a failed author by those standards. Nobody has ever paid me an advance for a novel, I have never been offered a book contract by a publisher, and I don’t have an agent. Everything has been done independently, on a very low (non-existent) budget, with very little emotional support from people around me. And I am proud of what I have achieved. Ok, nobody knows about my books. Most people don’t know that I have 5 published books in the Redcliffe novels series, or that I have published 3 standalone novels, half a dozen short stories, and have run two blogs for almost ten years. None of that matters, because I am a failed author. Well, guess what? I refuse to back down, and I refuse to give up. There are more novels waiting to be published, and quite a few prestigious agents are open for submissions this year. I will try again. We will not back down!  

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