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Interview with Hope Clark: Income Tips for Writers
Hope Clark edits Funds for Writers, a writing resource that has been been named in Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. Hope’s been a full-time writer for the past decade. Before she took the plunge to write full-time, she worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Write Naked: I am an avid reader of Funds for Writers. How did you transition to full-time writing? What advice can you give writers who want to make a full-time income?
Hope Clark: I actually set up a plan that took a couple of years to implement. Once I started earning an income as a part-time writer, I just projected what those hours might earn on a full-time basis. I made sure I earned that income somewhat steady.
I waited 2-3 years to make sure I could tap into a small retirement to take with me, which also entitled me to a reasonable healthcare plan. I knew that healthcare was extremely important to a freelancer.
My advice is to get your finances and healthcare in order before jumping into freelancing. Have a good feel for what you can earn regularly by doing it part-time until it is steady. Put six months’ worth of living expenses in the bank if at all possible, especially if you have no other income earner in the house or if your previous income was substantial.
WN: I read in one of your recent ezines that you sold quite a few magazine pieces based on the age old adage – “writing what you know.” I love that authors can tap into their experiences to make a sale! How can writers break into the magazine market which often seems as a “hard-to-crack” market?
HC: Writers can identify their strengths and knowledge and target those magazines. There are hundreds of magazines out there, way more than in Writer’s Market. They still need to purchase Writer’s Market religiously each year, but there are also other avenues to subscribe to: Worldwide Freelance, Wooden Horse Publishing, Mediabistro, as well as Funds for Writers. Take your interests and subscribe to the free trade publications available at Free Trade Magazines. Those aren’t often in your standard magazine resources. Learn how to query tight and polished.
Be diligent in pitching regularly. I use a tool called “Keep 13 in Play” where I keep 13 pitches outstanding, whether I’ve submitted to magazines or contests or freelance gigs. When I get rejected, the number drops from 13. Same with when I receive an acceptance. I stop what I’m doing and find a story to submit someplace else. (Your number can be different, but 13 is NOT hard to manage.) What’s great about being rejected is that you can now kill two birds with one stone. You take the rejected piece and submit it elsewhere; and you pitch a new piece to the editor who just rejected you, while you are fresh on his or her mind.
Also, don’t forget the 25/50/25 rule. In your pitching, submit 25% of the time to those markets where you can easily grab an acceptance. 50% of the time, pitch to challenging markets you can nail about half the time. 25% of the time, pitch to those dream markets. You’ll keep growing as a writer, and you’ll find yourself sliding up the scale over time. It’s easy to find yourself in a rut when you are your own boss. This way you keep testing yourself.
Dorit Sasson, an award winning speaker and author and creator of Giving Voice to Your Story radio show and website, is available for consulting, speaking and writing projects. She posts regular updates to her memoir fan page, Accidental Soldier: What My Service in the Israel Defense Forces Taught Me about Faith, Courage and Love. You can find her on Twitter @VoicetoStory.