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Planning for a Bumper Year:
A guide to boosting your writing income in 2007

Cheryl Wright - All Rights Reserved

 

Last year my main goal was to boost my writing income considerably. I mapped out ways I would do that, and stuck as much as possible to the plan.

I had decided to use a combination of wall planner, conventional diary, and electronic diary to help me stick to my set dates. However, I found this wasn’t sufficient as the wall planner was too small to cope with the loads of notes I needed to add, and as a result, I didn’t use it to its full potential.

The electronic diary also proved to be a flop. It was way too easy to hit snooze, or to simply dismiss.

Yes, my income did receive a good boost, but I feel it could have been better had I been more organised, and also if I’d had the right tools at my fingertips.

So I’ve changed the game-plan this time around.

This year I’ve purchased a massive sized wipe-off wall planner. That is, a wall planner that works like a whiteboard. And when I say massive, I really do mean massive. This planner is almost as big as my work-desk, which is pretty large.

Here’s my plan to again boost my writing income:

Firstly, I recently purchased Nick Daws’ Quick Cash Writing ebook. If you’ve read my review you’ll know I was extremely impressed with that book.

I made several submissions after reading the book, and have already had some bites. One of the magazines I submitted to (which I found through a bonus book that came with QCW) was quite taken with one of my ideas. However, unbeknowns to me, I’d submitted outside their set reading period.

So they asked me to resubmit during the appropriate time, which is January to March, but also asked if I would include any other ideas I had.

This magazine is quite large, but unfortunately doesn’t have an editorial calendar. I was wracking my brain trying to come up with something unusual or unique, but couldn’t think of anything. (Perhaps panic had set in!)

Then I got to thinking about all the magazines around the world who do have editorial calendars. What if I could use some of their ideas and put my own spin on them? So that’s exactly what I did.

I went to Google and searched the internet for appropriate editorial calendars. I found gazillions of them.

Basically what I did was type "editorial calendar+TOPIC". For instance, if you want to query a travel magazine, type "editorial calendar+travel" or if you want to query a parenting magazine, type "editorial calendar+parenting" and so on. Sure, you’ll get some duds, but mostly I didn’t. The majority of the editorial calendars that Google found for me were exactly what I was after.

Most of them were in pdf, so I just saved them to my computer in a specific folder, so I can easily find them in the future. Those that weren’t pdf were easily copied and saved to a Word document. I then used the pdf option on my computer to save them to the same folder as the others. (If you don’t have that facility, go to www.cutepdf.com and download the free version which works wonderfully for this process.)

I searched on several topics of interest, and have already brainstormed quite a few ideas I can use throughout the year.

With all this information on hand, I was able to come up with some re-slanted ideas, and within days of the New Year, resent the original submission and several more ideas to the magazine in question.

The next thing I did to assist in boosting my income, was to purchase Hope Clark’s Tis the Season ebook.

This book is chock full of ideas for each month of the year. What I did was print the book out, (I like to scribble little notes to myself!), then flick through and see what I could gain from the book.

There was so much information that I didn’t know where to start. So I began all over again, this time I had put aside an hour to go through the book properly.

As I turned over the months and read all the holidays, I could see the potential dollars clocking up. For instance, let’s look at a few months:

March – Shrove Tuesday in the UK. How many people know the story behind Shrove Tuesday? Many non-profit associations use this day to create awareness and raise funds for their cause. This would make an interesting article, especially if some quotes could be obtained.

November – Lung Cancer awareness month. I’ve now lost two parents to lung cancer, and am a contributor to an anthology about lung cancer. Plus I’m one of the spokespersons for the World COPD Day activities in Australia. I feel certain I can come up with an idea for a magazine. Personal experience counts for a lot with many editors.

October – National Spina Bifida Awareness Month. Some years ago I lost a brother who was severely handicapped because of Spina Bifida. A personal essay from a sibling’s point of view should fit nicely.

June – National Zoo and Aquarium Month. Perhaps one or more US magazines might be interested in learning about some of our Australian Zoos or Aquariums? June is also Adopt-A-Cat Month. I’ve already queried a magazine about that one, putting a different spin on the idea.

Between Hope Clark’s Tis the Season ebook, Nick Daws’ Quick Cash Writing ebook, and the editorial calendars I snafued via the internet, I’ve got more than enough ideas to keep me going most of the year.

The next step is to map out the queries on the wall planner, keeping in mind that most magazines have a lead-time of at least three months and sometimes six. I have to ensure this is taken into consideration when querying. This has been one of my major problems in the past – I simply haven’t planned well enough ahead.

So the March query would have to be sent immediately (January), November’s query needs to be sent August, and the June query would have to go in March. These would be the latest dates I could send, and earlier would certainly be better.

Having a wipe-off planner means I can add and move things as necessary, including ensuring everything works around my regular magazine work.

Next you need markets. Nick Daws’ Quick Cash Writing  ebook provides you with loads of markets (and details of exactly how to submit to them to be successful). One of the bonuses – which I mentioned earlier – is Nick’s little black book of contacts. This is where I found the magazine that is very interested in my ideas.

I also use Hope Clark’s Short and Sweet, which is absolutely full of markets for fillers, and also Laughing Markets. Hope’s newest book Just Hit Send is another book I’ll be investing in soon. As you can see, several of Hope’s books will assist my quest to make more money from my writing in 2007. (All these books contain paying markets only.)

Another book in my personal resource library is Moira Allen’s How to Write for Magazines. In addition to information on how to actually write non-fiction articles, the book comes with several market guides.

I’m gradually building up my personal resources, all the time knowing the small investment for each book will also build my bank account if I work diligently and in an organised fashion.

Book reviews are another great way to earn extra income. Hope also has a book on this subject – Get Paid to Write Book Reviews.

I read a lot of books about writing, as you probably realise, and I’ve recently finished reading The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success (The Renegade Writer's Freelance Writing series) by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. Our resident book reviewer Beth Morrow recommended I purchase this book, and although it cost quite a bit to get it to Australia, I’ll really glad I did. It’s put a whole new perspective on a lot of things, and I found myself brainstorming while reading it – much the same as I did with Nick Daws’ book. (Beth’s review can be read here.)

Another book I highly recommend for non-fiction writers is Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction--and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato. This book was the basis of a course I did when I first began to write. The information is extremely valuable, but the book is quite inexpensive.

Okay, I hear you – you’re not interested in writing non-fiction. So here are some ideas to boost your fiction writing income:

Doing much the same as I’ve outlined (above) for non-fiction writing, there is no reason you shouldn’t outline your game plan for submitting and writing fiction.

A great way to break into the novel market is to write and sell short fiction. Last year Lee Masterson released a new book on this subject. Writing Short Fiction that Sells is a terrific book for those interested in writing short stories. Lee also included her private collection of markets from around the world as a bonus. Our own Beth Morrow reviewed this wonderful book, and you can read her review here.

You can also find a gazillion fiction markets via Hope Clark’s books, especially Funds for the Fiction Writer.

If you feel your skills are not good enough to start submitting your work to paying markets, then it’s past time you took a course. Even today, I continue to take at least one, and more often than not, two workshops or classes per year. I’m a sponge for knowledge, and believe you can never know enough.

As we already know, the start of a new year is a great time to think about what you want to achieve for the coming year, and it’s also a good time to think about what courses you would like to take, or need to take, to improve your skills and chance of having your work accepted. There are a number of courses on a variety of subjects available via the Writer2Writer University. I suggest you check them out sooner than later to start your year off on a positive note.

With the wide range available, there’s sure to be something that suits your personal requirements. If you haven’t visited for awhile, you’re in for a surprise, because I’ve added several new courses in the last few weeks.

There are also a wide range of books available for fiction writers, and here are just a few of my personal recommendations :

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich and Ina Yalof.

How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling (How to Write a Damn Good Novel) By James N. Frey (there are several books in this series)

The Art of Romance Writing: How to Create, Write and Sell Your Contemporary Romance Novel By Valerie Parv (Valerie is an Australian romance writer with hundreds of published books)

Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies By Leslie Wainger (Leslie is a senior editor with Harlequin, Mills & Boon)

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (Genre Writing Series) By Orson Scott Card

You Can Write a Mystery (You Can Write) By Gillian Roberts

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile By Noah Lukeman

On Writing By Stephen King

Writing the Breakout Novel By Donald Maass

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed - also by Donald Maass

Write Any Book in just 28 Days or Less by Nick Daws (this book is also suitable for non-fiction writers)

Rob Parnell’s Easy Way to Write a Novel

More than 50% of these books are in my personal resource library, the others have been highly recommended by friends. All are written by best-selling authors and/or editors who know their stuff.

There are hundreds more books, many covering genres not dealt with in these books. For more ideas or information, check our fiction resources page at Writer2Writer, which has hand-picked ebooks for fiction writers, or go to Amazon.com and search for books in your area of interest.

Another excellent source of income for writers is ghostwriting. This is an extremely lucrative form of writing, and can pay exceptionally well for the talented writer. If you think you’ve got what it takes to become a ghostwriter, here is my recommendation for you. The Essential Guide to Ghostwriting by Marg McAlister, is the book for those looking to earn income from ghostwriting. (Marg makes most of her writing income from ghostwriting, so she certainly knows what she’s talking about!)

The other book on this subject that I highly recommend is Ghostwriters from the Inside Out. However, if you purchase Marg’s book, you will receive this book as a bonus. It’s actually written from the view point of someone looking to hire a ghostwriter, and gives great insight.

If I don't mention screenwriting, I'm sure to get a rap over the knuckles!  So here's one of the best books I know about on this subject - Write Your Screenplays in 28 days or less!  If you would rather learn in a workshop situation, Rob Parnell has recently begun teaching this valuable information.  Rob worked as a screenwriter for many years, and certainly knows what he's talking about.  Check it out here.

Now you have all this great information at your fingertips, there’s no excuse not to boost your writing income in 2007.

 

 

About the author: Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author and freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner of the Writer2Writer.com website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for writers.  Her publications include novels, non-fiction books, short stories, and articles. To keep up to date with her publications and new releases, visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryl-wright.com

 
 

         Last updated: August 04, 2008