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Monday, May 26, 2014

Are You Ignoring Your Best Source of Clients? And Here Comes the Blogathon

Do you know who your best source of clients is? 

You should. Your best source of clients are your current--and former--clients. 

Clients who you've worked for before are an overlooked marketing tool for freelancers. When you've done a good job for an editor, private client, or corporate contact, he is (presumably) happy with you and your work. That means he's a potential walking advertisement for you.  

So let me ask the tough question: do your clients send potential clients your way? Do they think of you when someone they know is looking for a writer? Have you even asked your clients to refer you or give you leads?  

If not, why not? 

I suggest you get in the habit of asking your regular clients for referrals. I don't hit up a regular editor for work all the time, but when I'm getting slow, I'll mention that I'm actively looking for new work and ask her to keep me in mind for referrals. When I complete an assignment for an editor who's new to me (and she's accepted it), I'll ask if she knows of other editors looking for freelancers. For a ghostwriting client, when I finish a book, I'll ask if he knows of any other would-be book authors looking for a ghost.

No, I can't expect my clients to do all of my marketing for me. Depending on where you are in your freelance career, and the type of work you do, you can expect to spend 20 to 90 percent of your time marketing your business. But looking to satisfied clients for leads and referrals should be one of your go-to freelancing strategies. 

**I'm excited to announce that in June I'll be participating in the 2014 Freelance Success/Word Count Blogathon. I commit to blogging every day for 30 days, along with 50+ bloggers on a variety of topics.  I'm already putting together a list of topics but if you've been wanting me to cover a specific topic here (and I'm already considering the ones readers suggested here), comment below and I'll see what I can do!  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Goodbye, Byline is Now in Print--Get Your Copy Now!

Want to learn how to add ghostwriting to your freelance repertoire? Wondering why content marketing is so hot (and how you can do it, too)? Do you want to make more money as a freelancer (and hey, who doesn't)? I first published Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks in 2010 because I couldn't find a book on ghostwriting that told writers what to expect; how to find clients; how to market themselves; how to work efficiently with clients; and how to address (or avoid entirely) common ghostwriting mistakes. So I wrote it! (Here's the story behind the book and how I wound up going POD, or print-on-demand, for the first time.)

Well, last year I updated and expanded the book, including new templates, new rate information, and new advice and strategies from successful ghostwriters, content marketing writers, and other successful freelancers. It's been selling steadily on Kindle (don't have a Kindle? Get it on Smashwords here) but I know there are are readers like me who prefer the "real" thing--the print version. It will be available on Amazon shortly, but if you can't wait for your copy, buy it here

And stay tuned for more posts on marketing yourself as a writer, regardless of what types of nonfiction you write. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Most Effective Follow-up You Can Write

Last week I talked about the importance of following up on your pitches and letters of introduction. Well, if you've never done that before, you may be wondering what to say. Here's a template to follow, with my comments in pink (my daughter's favorite color)

Dear Stephanie:

Hope you’re doing well. I’m writing to follow up on a query I sent you (working title, “Sleep Yourself Thin”) four weeks ago; I’ve dropped it below for your convenience. [Remind the editor of which pitch you're following up on, and include it in your follow-up (in the body of the email, not as an attachment) to make it easy for her. ]

Would you let me know at your earliest opportunity if you’re interested in this story for Complete Woman? If I don’t hear from you within two weeks, I’ll assume you’re not interested in the idea at this time and may market it elsewhere. [Here's the bonus of following up--you put the onus on the editor to get back to you. If she wants the piece, great! If not, I'm not going to sit around for months hoping for a response--I'm moving on, baby. I've found this tends to provoke a response, even it's a "no thanks." You can give a market more time to respond--say three to four weeks--if you like. The idea is to give the editor (and yourself) a deadline.]

Thank you very much for your time; I look forward to hearing from you soon. [Standard closing line.]

Very truly yours,
Kelly James-Enger

**See how simple an effective follow-up is? It should take you less than 10 minutes to send, and should provoke a response. If you don't receive one, then find the next market that may be interested, and move on. Your pitches won't do you any good on your hard drive. 

Want to see more templates? One of the reasons Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets and Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition are so popular with readers is that they both include more than a dozen templates--real-life queries, LOIs, sample contracts, and even examples of what to say when contacting a potential source, for example. Well worth the money--and if you don't have a Kindle, you can pick up electronic versions (Dollars) (Six-Figure Freelancingat Smashwords here. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chicago-Area Freelancers, Freelancing Panel on Wednesday, May 28th (and I'll be on the Panel)

Are you a freelancer in the Chicago area who wants to make more money--or are you considering becoming a freelance writer? Then you'll want to attend this panel sponsored by the Association for Women Journalists and ASJA. (I'll be there and will have copies of Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition on hand--come and get your own signed copy!) 

"How to be a Freelancer and Still Pay the Rent: Tips from the Trenches on Expanding into New Markets" will include a panel discussion featuring freelancers (including me!) who will share their successes and setbacks, plus offer advice on how to break into a wide variety of writing markets beyond mainstream and trade journalism. I'm looking forward to participating and to hearing the other panelists' tips--I plan to come home with a slew of ideas and ideas I can immediately put to you, and think you'll be able to do so, too! 

Here are the details: 

Wednesday May 28th, 6:30-8:30 pm

Columbia College Chicago
33 E. Congress (Wabash/Congress)
2nd Floor 
Room 219 Auditorium 
Closest EL: Red Line, Harrison stop 
Parking Garages on Wabash, south of Congress

$10 for AWJ members, Columbia College students & faculty
$15 for ASJA members
$25 for non-AWJ members.

Let me know if you plan to be there, and please spread the word to your freelancing buddies! Thanks and I hope to see you soon. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blast from the Past: The Power of The Follow-up

Hey, did you miss last week's post about how to get a free copy of Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks? It's a $14.95 value and has everything you need to get started in ghostwriting and content marketing. Post a comment and you're likely to win, considering only one person has done so! Hope to see more comments soon. 

**Today I'm following up on my pitches that arose out of the ASJA conference. I figure it's a good time for a "blast from the past" post, on the importance of following up on your queries, letters of introduction, and other methods of reaching out to editors and potential clients. It appears below, in blue.  Here it is: 

Years ago, I chaired the mentoring program at ASJA’s Annual Writer’s Conference, matching ASJA members who were experienced, successful freelancers with newer freelancers seeking career and publishing advice. I did my share of mentoring as well, and I’ll never forgot one “mentee” I met. He was an emergency room physician who wanted to freelance and had sent his first pitch to Outside. The editor didn’t assign the piece (the magazine was already covering the subject), but had been impressed with his writing and asked him to follow up with other ideas.

The writer never did.

Let me repeat—his first pitch as a freelancing was intriguing enough and well-written enough to spark interest from an editor at Outside—and he never did anything about it. That’s a mistake. A big one. He threw the door open with his first pitch, and then dropped the ball. (Puns intended.)

Failing to follow up is one of the biggest mistakes freelancers, especially new ones, make. You send a query to a potential market, and you hear nothing. After a reasonable time (say, four to eight weeks), follow up. Send a brief email that includes your original pitch, and ask if the editor’s interested in the idea. If so, great; if not, let her know (politely) that if you don’t hear from her in say, two weeks, you may market the idea elsewhere. That often triggers a response, and shows you’re serious about your business and marketing yourself.

After all, if you don’t bother to follow up on your own pitches, what kind of research job will you do if you get an assignment from the publication? Following up isn’t being a pest; it’s being professional. Follow up on every query and LOI in a reasonable time frame—you’ll get more results and be taken more seriously as a freelancer.

Readers, I follow up on queries and LOIs to new-to-me markets in two weeks; regular markets in a week or so. What about you? Do you have a follow-up rule of thumb? And would you like to see a sample follow-up as my next post? (Just want to see if you're reading all the way to the bottom!) 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Reviews Sell Books--and How to Get a Free Copy of Goodbye Byline!

I've posted already about the ASJA Writers' Conference, which I attended last month in NYC.  (You'll find a quick roundup of tips from the conference here.) I went to the conference with several goals in mind: 

  • to introduce myself to book editors as a potential ghostwriter/book doctor for their authors who need collaborative help;  
  • to meet more content marketing clients, especially those that need writers who cover health, fitness, and nutrition; and 
  • to learn more about ways to sell my books through Improvise Press. 
Last week, I worked on the first two goals and sent six follow-up emails and pitches to editors I met at ASJA; I'll let you know how they fare. (Two book editors were particularly interested in my background, which is promising, and I came up with several solid pitches for print and online pubs as well, so I'm expecting an assignment or two as a result of the conference. Next week I'll send formal follow-ups on my pitches.)

But I haven't yet done a lot with my third goal. One of the tips I heard on the self-publishing panel, and that is that reviews sell books. Well, yes, I knew that. But what I hadn't heard yet was that according to Miral Sattar of Bibliocrunch, you should have at least 10 reviews on Amazon before you start promoting a book. (How do you get those reviews? By sending out PDFs and electronic copies of your book long before it launches.) 

So I'm on a mission to garner reviews, not only for Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition (which will be available in print this fall). It will be Improvise Press' third title, joining:  

As I write this, Goodbye Byline has only two reviews. (Sad face.) My goal is to have 10 reviews by end of the month, and that's where you come in. Post a comment here with a freelancing question, and you'll be entered to win a PDF of Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks. All I ask is that you review Goodbye Byline by month's end.  

If you've wanted to learn more about ghostwriting (including content marketing), here's your chance. You'll learn how to get started, how to find clients, how to work efficiently as a ghostwriter, and how to avoid common ghostwriting pitfalls--and find templates of everything from LOIs to contracts to permission forms. So post your comment below, and stay tuned to see if you're a winner! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Writing for The New York Times: Guest Post from Caitlin Kelly

          The New York Times. Few markets have the cachet or the draw of this world-reknowned newspaper, and many freelancers dream of cracking this market. It's not just the money but the notoriety and yes, the exposure, that is so valuable for freelancers  (I know of at least one writer whose feature in the Times led to a book deal--the editor saw the piece, liked it, and contacted him directly.)   
          So I thank veteran writer Caitlin Kelly for today's guest post. Kelly has also written for Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Smithsonian and More and is the winner of a Canadian National Magazine Award. She blogs at, with more than 10,200 readers worldwide. She's the author of Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail and Blown Away: American Women and Guns. 

           For many ambitious writers, a New York Times byline may seem a distant dream. But for those of us who frequently write for the Times  -- my byline appears usually once or twice a month, writing for them since 1990 – it’s a market worth breaking into. A Times byline offers serious journalistic street cred, prestige, and guaranteed visibility among assigning editors of books, magazine,s newspapers and digital media, most of whom read that newspaper every day.
            If you’re not reading it regularly, get to know the various sections and how much they differ in tone and content; a fun, light-hearted story for the Styles section isn’t a Sunday front-page, (called the dress page), feature for the Business section, (internally known as Bizday.)
The paper also shifts gears fairly often, with freelance opportunities arriving and departing as editors internally shift responsibilities. If you read the paper carefully and often, you’ll be able to spot these and jump quickly.
            Since starting to write for the Times doing short book reviews, I’ve written for sports, real estate, home, Metropolitan, business, (for four different editors and sections within that department), special sections, science and automotive. (There’s also Styles, OpEd, Sunday Review, Education Life and Arts & Leisure to consider.)
Times editors all share a few key expectations:

          1) Your copy is 100 percent accurate and you have fact-checked it thoroughly before filing (submitting) it
          2) You have no conflicts of interest, and have signed the Times’ long and detailed freelancers’ code of ethics and agree to abide by its rules
          3) You’re selling a work made for hire and your copy may appear in the Times International Edition or elsewhere for no additional payment
          4) Photo editors for each section need you to suggest sources willing/able to be photographed and to share their contact information
          5) You’ll be sent a “playback”, the edited version of your story, and must read it as soon as you get it, fixing anything they have asked you to address
          6) Once your story is scheduled for publication – typically for a weekly section or column – you and your sources are readily available to address and answer every question right away
         7) You’re ready to answer questions from multiple editors as your piece moves through the editing process, from assigning editor to copy editors
          8) You won’t be paid until your story runs, even if it is held for weeks or months.

           The good news?
They pay by direct deposit, and usually within a few days or week of publication.
They need copy! Whether a meaty feature for Sunday Business – 2,500 words or more – or a feature for Dining or Homes or Styles, Times editors rely heavily on a team of talented, trust-worthy freelancers. Pay varies widely, but can reach $1/word, usually more for their magazines, T and The New York Times Magazine.
This is a smart, worldly crowd. They know their stuff and expect you to know yours as well.
They need writers who won’t let them down. If you’ve done terrific work for one section and editor, that internal reference will be useful when introducing yourself to another one there.
            Having worked for three big daily papers as a reporter, The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette and the New York Daily News, I love writing for newspaper editors. They’re clear and straightforward and, once they know you’re solid, are usually happy to work with you again.
            Good luck!


****Want more of Caitlin Kelly's insights about smart reporting and writing? She is offering six 90-minute webinars May 10 and 17th by Skype: blogging, thinking like a reporter, personal essay, freelancing, developing ideas and interviewing. She's helped satisfied students from all over the world. Please visit for details.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Freelance Writers' Roundtable Q and A Now on YouTube

This morning, I was a guest at the Freelance Writers' Roundtable, on the topic of six-figure freelancing. If you missed it, check it out here on YouTube. We talked about working more efficiently; what to say when you contact a source; ways to overcome interviewing fears; and why it's smart to create a writing specialty, among other things. Enjoy!