“So, what do you do?” is a popular icebreaker question at any social gathering. The answer “I’m a writer” opens the floodgate to follow-ups such as “What do you write?” and “Where might I have seen your work?” Having a few specific answers “on tap” is vital to appearing professional. These questions are not only getting-to-know-you party tricks, they are networking opportunities to discover alternative writing career avenues.
While talking over free wine and cheese at one of my wife’s departmental parties, I found myself talking with Naomi, the artist spouse of my wife’s colleague. When she found out I was a freelance writer, Naomi asked, “Do you do editing, too?” I replied I did, mentioned some proofreading I had done for a Woodland Press release about The Mothman urban legend, and then I asked if she needed a wordslinger. “I write like an artist,” she admitted. “I need someone to make my words understandable.” When I said I could do that, she was even more delighted. She offered her business card.
I long ago realized the importance of carrying contact information. Preparation is a clue to professionalism. However, simple business card exchanges have become an ignorable routine. Adding a mnemonic message adds the personal touch. Brief is best. In this case, I wrote “wordslinger and editor” before handing her my card.
Within a week, Naomi had sent me an email with a two page statement of purpose for an arts grant, a close deadline, and queries about my rates and availability. I glanced through her document, considered the time-crunch and sent her a $40 quote and a delivery time well in advance of her deadline. She agreed to the terms, and I went to work. What she considered editing turned out to be a two-hour rewriting gig. I turned the piece in before both deadlines. Naomi has not only given me more work, she has suggested me to friends needing editorial assistance. Since her husband is a scientist and she is an artist, this means numerous opportunities from a wide range of people.
Opportunities to make a living as a writer can appear in unlikely places. A Neighborhood Night Out event or a spouse’s work mixer are two possibilities for practicing networking party tricks. Free food and/or socializing are reasons enough for attending. The business opportunities are a delightful bonus.
Daniel R. Robichaud lives and writes in south Texas. His nonfiction can be found in GreenPrints, Dark Scribe Magazine and Cosmic Crime Stories. He also writes adventure fiction under the name C. C. Blake, and his romance and erotica appears under the Kaysee Renee Robichaud byline.
WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION: ADVICE FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
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