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.
My success began when I traded in my old computer and began using the Internet to its full potential in my career. But it was four areas of perseverance that moved my career forward.
As I found many web-zines and newsletters that paid freelancers, I began writing for them as often as possible. Published pieces led to other surprise work and opportunities. One article published in Inklings on Marketing led to an iUniverse editor contacting me and asking me to write several articles for them. The work netted me 11 times more than the article they had read originally. Later, The Writer’s Handbook editor saw the piece online and paid for it to be reprinted in their 2002 edition. That is only one instance of online work that has led to more chances for sales and bylines.
My next advance toward enlarging my career was to step into other areas, to promote myself and my work, and find other ways to increase my income. A chance query to an online writing site resulted in an invitation to teach a class. The pay was good and led to ideas for more articles. My confidence built, I then approached Coffeehouse for Writers.com on several class ideas. They liked two and I have been teaching two very popular courses for them for over a year. I’ve also accepted requests to give chat-shops, live workshops, where I can promote my classes and my self-published writing book. These workshops promote myself and my work.
Another boost to my sales has been learning to step out and step up. After a query led to my first surprise sale to Woman’s Day, I began aiming higher and perfecting my queries. In the past, I’ve relied on articles I’d already written by pure inspiration, shot–gunning them out in hopes of finding homes for them. Now, I study publications and tailor query ideas to fit them. I had long feared to try, but without the leap, there is no hope of a miracle. The worst that could happen was rejection. The best, a go-ahead, acceptance, and a request for more.
My last ingredient for enlarging my sales and lowering my costs was to query and/or submit manuscripts by email whenever possible. I’ve found that many editors who request a snail mail approach in the beginning, will often prefer email contact once a relationship is established. Some prefer it at all times. Before submitting by snail mail, I always check writer’s guidelines to see if email submission is possible or encouraged.
It’s taken time and effort to move my career up a notch. But I’ve been amazed at the things that have happened because I’ve worked to get my name and work in front of others. An online friend approached me about recommending me to her agent, who took me on. An editor recommended me to a contest chairman as a judge, which I’m being paid to do and have since been asked to speak to this group for a nice fee.
One thing leads to another. It snowballs. And all it takes is persistence and stepping out into new areas.
Kathryn Lay has sold 700 articles, stories, and essays to Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Parenting, Healthy ChildCare, Guideposts, Home Life, Christian Parenting Today, CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE MOTHER’S SOUL, GUIDEPOSTS ANTHOLOGIES, and more. She teaches two writing courses at http://coffeehouseforwriters.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.