Success is Relative By Yolanda Navarra Fleming

Success is a relative term. I would rather be writing for magazines and my ultimate dream, writing best-selling novels. That’s the truth, but here’s the reality. I like to eat – not just once in a while – every day. Until my novel is finished, published and on the best-seller list, I must work to support my sushi habit.

In 2001 after 11 years, I resigned as a reporter at a NJ daily newspaper to write a novel. I worked hard for about eight months, until that severe hankering for sushi kicked in again. I started freelancing for the same paper I left simply because they asked. At least I was writing. Then, my agent came up with a contract to write a mini-encyclopedia of yoga. So, I did. But when my editor took off, the company dropped all her acquisitions and all I made from the deal was half of the “advance.” Then, I had a baby. I struggled to write and collect payment on magazine stories. My point is that by age 30, when I thought I would already be famous, I never made it to the tax bracket of my dreams. Poor me, right?

Wrong. After my second baby, I wised up, earned a master’s degree in creative writing through Lacrosse University, an accredited correspondence course, and started freelancing again. But when my new credential didn’t help me get the fashion magazine assignments I lusted after, I realized it was time to open my mind about what I was willing to write. My first revolutionary assignment was writing for a website, which actually paid a steady monthly income for a while.

Anticipating both of my children being in school full-time this year, I was about to start applying for full-time jobs in marketing/public relations. That’s when a newsletter for an auto group was offered to me by a former co-worker from the newspaper. Cars? What do I know about that? In the past I might have flat out refused. But I hadn’t had my favorite Dragon Roll in way too long, so I knew I had to do it.

I discovered the real pay-off when I called to accept the task. The job was coming from an international ad agency, not from the auto group itself. They were offering $500 per month to edit the newsletter, paid upon delivery of the first draft – a far cry from waiting six months or more after publication from magazines. It seemed too good to be true, but it wasn’t.

After writing the newsletter for three months, a task that takes eight hours or less, I asked the account executive for more work. When he sent a company-wide email about my talent and availability, other executives began offering more work. In the past six months, I have already tripled my monthly income writing press releases ($200 each), brochures and website copy. It is a beautiful arrangement.

And who knows, if the work load continues to snowball, I may even be able to remove myself from the full-time job market. So, open your minds, my friends, to new possibilities and start earning more money for your writing talent.

Yolanda Navarra Fleming, Jersey Shore-based author of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Rare Diseases (Facts On File, NY), is also a musician, belly dance instructor and mother of two.