Aren’t many writers out there, especially new authors, who don’t dream of hitting it big with a bestseller. The odds of it are akin to winning the lottery. Chris Redding gave a presentation at the GLVWG September general meeting and offered some tips for making money with the craft before you get published. In the afternoon session, Chris gave us her top ten list of writing good fiction. The following is a summary of her talks.
Morning Session, September 24, 2016
How to make money before you get published
Writing for others is a good way to build a portfolio.
- Who can you write for? Here’s a few examples.
- Magazines – which are getting smaller, and more focused by subject matter.
- Newspaper contributions
- Beta Reading – Sites do exist where people will pay to beta read material
- Writing, Editing, Proofreading
- Speech Writing – Lot of corporate folks who need a ghost speechwriter.
- Ghost Writing – Penning someone else’s story
- What skills are needed?
- Writing ability – Seems obvious, but necessary to gain trust of potential client
- Professionalism and good Business Sense.
- Motivation, Perseverance, Discipline
- Goal Setting
- Start Broad. Look for specific jobs where you have expertise. If you’re into gardening, search for all on-line sites and publications that do gardening. A few more examples:
- The academic community can be very lucrative, especially students where English is not their primary language. Graduate students who need someone to pen their thesis.
- Reputable book review organizations are always on the lookout for credible reviewers
- Business writing for corporations, executives in need of someone to take their ideas and organize it into a presentation.
- Doctors who don’t have time to pen their articles.
- Short fiction for magazines. Chris mentioned the “Confession Market”, or short stories written in the 1st person for magazines such as Women’s World, or True Confessions.
- In choosing markets, look for news agencies, writers markets. Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly good places to look.
- For those without a portfolio, Chris suggested a few sites to browse, but cautioned a need for careful vetting of potential clients.
- Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, Guru.com
- Then, there’s the money side.
- When starting out, might have to accept lesser fees until established.
- Editors and Proofreaders may charge by the page or number of words
- Established, well-known editors charge hourly rates, ranging from $35 – $100 per hour.
- Ghost writing someone else’s book can run from $7,500 – $50,000.
- Things to consider with a writing job.
- Will it further your career?
- Most periodicals pay by the article, which usually have a defined word length. Some periodicals don’t pay, operating on the premise “the writer gets exposure”. Unless you’re desperate, suggest avoiding these.
- Pay careful attention to fee structure and fine print with bigger jobs
- With big projects, like ghost writing a book, or preparing materials in business, insist on a written contract. Always front-load the fee. Chris recommended at least 50% of the fee up front, 25% when rough draft is complete, the remainder upon completion. Agree on how many rough drafts will be allowed.
- Try to avoid ghost writing projects where potential clients unrealistically believe their story will be a bestseller, and offer percent of future proceeds.
- Always have an “out” in all contracts, if project isn’t working for you and the client.
- Problems you might encounter.
- Chris looks at all writing jobs with respect to how much of a “pain-in-the-derrière” a potential client might be.
- Client not making themselves available to keep the project moving in a timely manner.
- Subject matter not a good fit for your expertise, or not a good fit with potential client.
- How taking on writing jobs affects your work/life balance.
- Lot of nutty people out there. Go into all projects with your eyes open.
GLVWG Treasurer, Joe Fleckenstein, summarizes Chris Redding’s tips for writing good fiction.
Fiction Writing Workshop
According to Chris, important writing techniques consist of the following.
- Have unforgettable characters
- Describe your protagonist
- Cultural influences
- Did he/she finish high school, college?
- City or country person
- Occupation (cop, chemist, etc.)
- Physical traits
- Is he/she active, passive?
- Best to have flawed persons – readers do not like perfect people
- Characters must have emotions (and the writer must convey these emotions)
- Make the reader care about the protagonist
- Show what characters have feelings
- Talk about body language (since all persons communicate not only by speech but by tone and words as well)
- Descriptions of tactile interplay between characters is important (hugging, kissing, holding hands, pat on back)
- Settings are important
- Can set tone for story
- Can set up reader’s expectations
- Writer can incorporate metaphor and simile
- Verb usage is important to flow of story (best to “back-load” sentences, i.e. put the more important words near the end of sentences)
- Finish all stories with a setting
Chris Redding has been writing since she was 10 years old, and is an established author of many novels, novellas, short stories, articles, and a growing number of ghostwritten books. When she’s not penning novels, Chris offers ghostwriting services, as well as developmental editing consultation. She holds workshops and writing retreats, where authors can get away from it all to chat with other authors, write, and learn how to better their craft.
You can find Chris at her new website, ChrisReddingAuthor.com.