“You were lucky to have FundsforWriters to sell your books. I don’t have that luxury.”
I hear this so much, in one version or another. First of all, there is no serious luck in this business. It’s a matter of constantly putting yourself out there in terms of writing, publishing, appearing, working social media, fighting to be current, taking chances. There is no one right way or best way, only the way that happens to work for you at that moment in time.
Frankly, I started FundsforWriters because I could NOT sell my mysteries. I wanted to be a writer and make an income from writing, so I figured any sort of reputable recognition could only help me in becoming a professional writer. As someone who loved stringing words, I walked through whatever door opened for me, wrote whatever might help me take one step further in my career.
However, I had my conditions and parameters in who I wrote for and what I wrote and how I proceeded:
1) Markets had to pay. Even as a beginner, I recognized that being paid mattered not only in my pocketbook but also in the eyes of editors I pitched. They knew who paid and who didn’t, and that mattered in their judgment of me. I wrote a column once for nothing, hoping to aid my resume, but after several issues, when the editor still could not afford to pay, I stepped away. And I learned that nobody cared that I’d written that column.
2) I had to build and retain a following. I couldn’t just write and build up credits. I had to have someplace to flaunt those credits (website, then social media) and some means to retain those people who read my work and liked it (newsletter).
3) Repetition matters. I wanted to become Google-able, which meant frequent and reputable appearances. If I wasn’t on the first page of a Google search for my name, I strived to submit to enough magazines, websites, newsletters, and blogs to improve my search ranking. A book a year wasn’t going to work.
4) Quality matters. It’s a given that your writing quality matters, but be careful where you make your appearances. I wish I knew way back when what I know now about that. I would’ve been a tad more selective in some instances as to whom I wrote for.
You might be new. You might be a struggling mid-lister. You might be seasoned and coming back into the fold, trying to remain pertinent. Fight to present yourself as strong, diligent, and reliable. Keep putting yourself out there, but don’t give it away. People will respect you so much more.
BIO: C. Hope Clark is editor of FundsforWriters.com and author of two mystery series. www.chopeclark.com