Success Story

Keep Writing! By Rev. Dr. Steve Burt

In the eighties and nineties I published dozens of Christmas short stories in newspapers and in "little and literary" magazines. I didn't make much money, but I picked up many legitimate publishing credits. In 2000 I collected twelve of the stories into a self-published book, A Christmas Dozen: Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart. A backyard hit, it sold out its first printing of 1,000 in 40 days and 40 nights, then sold half the second printing of 3,000 in the next 20 days. By the end of a full year I had sold 8,000 and professionally recorded the audio book myself. …

Baby = Endless Article Ideas By Carrie Steinweg

From as far back as I can remember I have had two goals in my life: to become a mother and to become a writer. I've finally fulfilled both wishes and am ecstatic at being able to fulfill both roles simultaneously. …

How to Kick Start Your Freelance Career By Susan Miles

I must admit, I have never had dreams or lofty ambitions of being a writer. I have always been in awe of those who could write and their ability to inspire and motivate those who read their offerings. …

From Betting Shop Manager to Author of Eight Books! By Belinda Levez

In 1992, I was a UK betting shop manager and aspiring travel writer. With more experience in odds than words, I journeyed to the local library for knowledge. Fully educated in query letters, contracts, copyright and the prospect of rejection, I joined the local writer's group. It was run by novelist Elizabeth Lord who was very supportive and offered helpful criticism. Not everyone was so positive. My husband (now ex) derided the prospect of me being a writer. Undaunted I posted five query letters. My husband found it highly amusing when two rejections arrived. 'I told you so' he laughed. Then three commissions came and promptly wiped the smirk from his face. …

TWO PEOPLE BESIDES MY MOTHER RECOGNIZE MY BYLINE By Pat Hensler

After college I started submitting personal essays to freelance newspaper columns that receive anywhere from 200 to 500 entries a week. In one, I wrote about a relationship falling apart as if it were a divorce. Another was a tribute to my family doctor on his retirement. A couple of my articles were published, which gave me hope that I might have some talent. …

WONDER OF WONDERS By Johnnie Ann Gaskill

The Christmas my first book was being published, my younger daughter gave me a beautiful pen engraved, Johnnie Gaskill, Author. As I blinked back tears over the gift commemorating my arrival at that significant milepost, I realized I could never have reached that destination without the help of other writers. …

A LITTLE LUCK AND TALENT By Miss Humera Abdul Basith

I never knew that one day I would become a freelance writer, had it not been for my father's encouragement and belief in me. I was first published at the age of seven in a local children's magazine. It was a small poem, with my photograph published alongside it. …

WHAT 9/11 TAUGHT ME ABOUT MY FUTURE By John Peters

Here it is again, September. Like so many people I know Autumn is my favorite time of year. I remember the first real Fall-like day of 2001. The calendar said it was still summer, but driving to work that day the cool air, the crystal blue sky dotted with a few wispy clouds all said Fall was here. It was, as far as I was concerned, the first day of Autumn. …

OF MYSTERIES AND MILESTONES By Deborah Dee Simmons

The Mystery of Castle Dawn. That was it. That was the title of my first body of work; in fact, those five words WERE the body of work. They came to me one day, in a flash of literary brilliance, during my fourth grade year and I knew right then I wanted to be a writer. …

FOUR AREAS OF PERSEVERANCE By Kathryn Lay

For the last 14 years, I've followed my heart and written whenever possible and about anything that struck my fancy. But it wasn't until two years ago that I found the confidence, power, and opportunities that changed my writing income from less than $1500 a year with 60 sales to $12,000 a year part-time and 200 sales. …

THE KEY TO THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE By Ellen Neuborne

Two years ago, I quit a perfectly good editing job at BusinessWeek magazine to be a freelance writer. Why? To have more flexibility, to spend more time with my children, and to never, ever sit through a Friday staff meeting again. …

SELLING TO NEWSPAPERS By Sally Mesarosh

This morning I dashed down my driveway to get the morning paper. I'm not usually this excited to read the daily paper, but today's edition is especially thrilling for me because it contains my first paid article for a newspaper. …

HOW I BECAME A FREELANCER By Martha White

I was working for a handloom and yarn manufacturer, weaving, and writing promotional materials. I also did volunteer editorial work for a non-profit historic preservation group. One day I was under deadline, editing (heavily) a manuscript that a historian had been paid $40 an hour to write. The thought hit me -- I was pushing the wrong pencil. …

I DON’T GIVE IT AWAY By Nancy Robinson Masters

For more than a quarter of a century (yikes, that makes me sound old!) I've kept a small piece of paper I found on the floor of a motel restroom tacked to my writing room wall. These five words sum up how I've succeeded in supporting myself as a freelance writer: …

HAPPILY EVER AFTER By Chris Gavaler

I missed the phone call from my agent, but Lesley wrote down the information on a piece of paper and folded it into a ring box, the kind you hand a prospective fianc…

ROUNDABOUT WRITING SUCCESS By Eileen Coale

As a child, I was always writing. I wrote lots of stories, and the summer I was eight, I put together several issues of a neighborhood newspaper, which my father copied at work so I could distribute it to the neighbors. I still have a battered copy of one of the issues. …

THE SPIN DOCTOR IS IN By Susan Erling Martinez

Since the early eighties, I have been a fairly successful freelance public relations writer. My career began because my daughter, Amber, needed toe shoes. No kidding. It was 1984. At that time I was working as the director of a non-profit agency, writing a bit on the side, and trying to raise five children mainly on my first husband's meager teacher's salary. Money was always tight. …

WHERE THE BOXING TACO LED By Dena Dyer

A boxing taco. That's the subject of the first story I ever wrote, which I read to the other second grade students in Mrs. Moore's class at Morningside Elementary. Their laughter was like medicine to me, a shy and often frightened child. …

GETTING PUBLISHED WITHOUT SUBMITTING By Wendy Burt

My freelance writing career began with a poem that I never submitted. My father (also a writer) had sent it in on my behalf when I was 24. The interesting thing was, it was a poem I wrote at age 16. When the acceptance letter arrived, I thought, "Wow! If I can get something published that I wrote at age 16, what could I do now?" …

RECIPE FOR FREELANCE SUCCESS: KEEP THE BEANS, FORGET THE MONKEYS By Elizabeth Bartlett

RECIPE FOR FREELANCE SUCCESS: KEEP THE BEANS, FORGET THE MONKEYS By Elizabeth Bartlett

When I quit my day job two years ago to jump into the perilous pool of freelance writing, my co-workers gave me retirement cards. Little did they know how many 50- and 60-hour weeks I would spend at the keyboard, searching for markets and taking on-spec assignments. I had no idea, either, which explains why I was so excited at the prospect of making a living as a writer. …

APRIL SHOWERS By Shaunna Privratsky

When it rains, it pours. My first taste of success happened a year ago, in April 2001. My essay "The Silk Robe" won in the 2001 National Literature Competition sponsored by American Mothers, Inc. The essay about my Mom placed first in North Dakota and second at the National level. Seven months later, my booklet "The Silk Robe" was published. …

BACKING INTO WRITING By Yvonne Scott

I've only written one query letter in my life. Never got so much as a form letter response. I've never written a manuscript proposal or created an outline for anything. Yet, I'm a writer. It's in my blood and in my dreams. The fuel was there and fear kept me from igniting it until this winter. …

YOUNG CHILDREN AND FREELANCING: CAN THE TWO MIX? By Shanna Bartlett Groves

I didn't think so two years ago before I had my son, Weston. The office environment suited me well. I was working for a women's organization and writing for its magazine. There were weekly planning meetings, phone interviews and research projects to occupy five days a week. …

DEVELOP MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES TO CURE WRITER’S BLOCK By Barbara L. Workman

Starting in the second grade when I learned how to print, I loved writing. To take the ideas from my head and put them on paper excited me. Whether it was keeping a diary or writing long newsy letters to Grandma, I loved it. But as I got older things changed. We've all had the naysayers in our lives. Teachers, family members, and an ex-spouse all dismissed my writing as a waste of my time. …

YEARS OF HARD WORK PAY OFF! By Diane Schmidt

I've been a writer at heart since the age of 10. My love of writing led me to major in Journalism. After graduation, I worked in marketing and graphic design. I was happiest when I was writing, but the positions I held were not writing-focused. In order to break into the writing field, I decided I had to do something different. …

Someone Moved the Goal Posts By Elaine Ingalls Hogg

It was a private dream and I'd had it since childhood. Over the years several friends encouraged me to pursue it. Their words watered the seed, dormant for so many years but there were still a number of obstacles to overcome. Perhaps the main one was my lack of conviction that the dream was really attainable. I had no trouble encouraging my friends to believe their dreams would come true but I did have a problem believing in mine. …

It’s Not What You Know – Not Now, At Least By Damien Roohr

Writers are steadily admonished: Write what you know! Well, I don't know about you, but I know a lot, and much of it, okay, most of it, would not go any further along the transom than the nearest circular file. After all, who wants to read that trash pickup in my neighborhood is Wednesday mornings? Or, what editor would buy a piece about replacing household light bulbs? …

I’m a Writer, Thanks to a Brain Tumor: PART II!! By Bill Asenjo

Curious about freelance writing courses offered at our community college, I called someone teaching an essay-writing course and mentioned that I was a freelance writer. He urged me to contact the community college. Encouraged, I also approached my local community center. Bear in mind, I'm in Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa's internationally-acclaimed Writers Workshop. Yet after receiving a surprisingly warm welcome, I began teaching freelance writing courses for both. …

Versatility is Essential When You’re An Expert on Nothing By Mary Cook

I first met success while staring down the twin barrels of poverty and debt. My husband and I were going through a bad patch financially. Actually, "patch" doesn't begin to describe this encumbrance the size of Asia. And our rented house in rural England had all the conveniences of the average garden shed. …

The Write Stuff By Darlene Ryan

One of my favorite movies is the Billy Crystal/Danny Devito comedy, Throw Momma from the Train. In it Crystal's character, a creative writing teacher, gives what I still consider is the best piece of writing advice, "A writer writes." …

A Writing Career Made From Dinner By Christi Gillentine

Long before I began my writing career, I was dreaming of it. Like most closet writers just starting out I worked full time while writing and submitted pieces to magazines in between the cracks of my busy life. My big plan was to build a writing career around published clips. Only problem seemed to be that I was rejected many times more than published. Truth be told, three years into my fledging career, my clips were still embarrassingly minuscule. I can hardly say I had a portfolio. My failure to become a published writer steamed from writing about things I really didn't know. In the beginning, I would write about any subject if I thought I had a chance of getting published. What I should have been writing was on subjects I was passionate about, those things that lit me up inside, even if they were simple. …