Novelist and freelance writer Kelly James-Enger just released a new book, HONESTY INDEX (which is fabulous by the way!) and a new nonfiction book for aspiring freelancers called WRITER FOR HIRE. Kelly is an experienced freelancer and ghostwriter and has published hundreds of aritcles in national magazines as well as authored/co-authored 12 books. Her book READY, AIM, SPECIALIZE helped me get my start in freelancing, so if that’s an interest of yours you should definitely check it out.
And if you’re interested in getting paid to write (!) then read on!
Tell me a little bit about your writing career.
I’ve been a full-time freelancer for more than 15 years. I started out writing for magazines and newspapers as well as nonprofit and business clients. About a decade ago, I started publishing books (both fiction and nonfiction) with traditional publishers, and then branched into ghostwriting/coauthoring after that. In the last couple of years, I’ve also published several books through print-on-demand, or POD, and am doing publishing ebooks as well. I just published a new novel, The Honesty Index, and am now writing both fiction and nonfiction.
How did Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success come about?
I’ve written several other books about successful freelancing, including Six-Figure Freelancing, which was published in 2005. That book sold well but has gone out of print, and besides, the freelancing landscape has changed radically in the last few years. I’m a contributing editor at The Writermagazine and I blog about making money as a freelancer at Dollars and Deadlines, so I decided to pitch a book on the dozens of freelance strategies I’ve used to create a successful career to Writer’s Digest.
How has the freelance environment changed in the last few years?
There’s good news and bad. On the positive side, there are more opportunities for writer than ever before. Websites, blogs, online publications, print publications, companies, and nonprofits all hire writers. Of course many ofthose markets pay little or nothing (that’s the negative side), but Idefinitely think it’s a great time to be a freelancer.
Another big change is in book publishing. Would-be authors no longer have to sell their books to traditional publishers to get into print; now they can opt for an e-book, use a print-on-demand company like CreateSpace, or become their ownpublisher. There are pros and cons to every option, but writers definitely have more choices than they did before.
What’s your advice for writers who want to make more money for their work?
If you’re a new writer, think about the subjects that you already have some background or experience with and use that to pitch ideas or introduce yourself to potential markets. For example, if you’re an interior decorator, you might pitch articles about home décor to print and online markets, or contact furniture or home-improvement companies about freelancing for them to get your foot in the door. Use what you already have in your arsenal—your experience and knowledge—to launch your freelance career.
If you’re a more experienced writer, I suggest you take a look at the work you’re doing and focus your energies on several subject areas or types of work. It’s more efficient to specialize, and helps you develop an expertise you can become known for. I started out as a generalist, writing about anything and everything but once I started specializing in health, fitness, and nutrition subjects, I got more assignments and started making more money. I’ve since used that expertise to branch into speaking and ghostwriting and coauthoring books for health and fitness experts.
There’s a perception that writers can’t (or don’t) make a lot of money. Is that true?
It depends on who you ask! I survey freelancers every year about how much money they’re making. My January, 2012 survey of fulltime freelancers revealed that while 17 percent grossed more less than $20,000 in 2011, 43 percent grossedmore than $60,000. Can you make a good living selling poetry and essays? Probably not. But if you focus on finding clients who pay fairly, giving them what they want, and treating your writing like a business, not a hobby, then yes, I think you can make a good living as a freelancer. I personally know hundreds of writers doing just that! (And yes, Writer for Hire will help you make more money, too.)
About Kelly: I’ve been a successful self-employed author, speaker, ghostwriter, and coauthor since 1997, and have written twelve published books and 700+ articles in more than 60 national magazines. I write under my own byline (Kelly James-Enger) and ghostwrite and coauthor as well; BodyWise is the name of my consulting business which provides a variety of services to corporations, nonprofits, and private individuals. I’m also an ACE-certified personal trainer and specialize in health, fitness, wellness, and nutrition subjects.
Enjoy contemporary women’s fiction? Check out my new novel, The Honesty Index, about two 30-somethings in suburban Chicago.