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Here are some of the topics we covered.
1) I always like to start each interview by allowing the guest to share a little about themselves on a personal level...
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I now live in Nashville, Tennessee where I’ve been for eleven years. I have two adult children; three adult step children, and six grandkids. My office mascot is a 6-year-old chocolate lab named Java. She lies beside me as I work each day.
2) Since our subject today is all about writing, I’d like to start off with how you discovered you might have a talent in this field.
I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was first introduced to the crayon, but I didn’t realize that I had talent until my creative writing teacher discovered it when I was a senior in high school. All throughout the raising of my children, I wrote stories about the cute things they did; I wrote songs and poems on a regular basis, so I was familiar with language and painting imagery with words.
When I took a job as an executive assistant, I was required to write business correspondence and press releases. I have always been such an independent person that I really didn’t like the corporate environment and its politics. It occurred to me in 2002 that I might be able to make it as a freelance writer. I spent a year planning and arranging my finances in a manner that would allow me to break away from my day job and give business ownership a try.
Today, almost five years later, WITS (Writers in the Sky) is a six-member team of writers and editors and we are also able to offer graphic design through our seventh member, Jessica Dockter.
3) Okay, now could you define the term “freelance writer” and what this involves?
To be a freelance writer, you have to first of all be able to write, but equally important is the business side of operating. You have no boss other than your clients. You also have no guarantee of a paycheck each week. It’s up to me to market the business, bring in new clients, and give them the best writing and customer service possible in hopes that they will refer me to others.
There are so many different types of freelance writing: commercial copy writing, business and technical writing, grant writing, book and article writing, writing for the media (journalism). It took a couple of years of trying each of these before I found my niche. Today, I do mostly editing and ghostwriting for nonfiction books, and the promotional writing for the business itself. My team members have backgrounds and specialties that cover the other types of writing. For example, Joe is our copywriter. He does Web text, brochure text, biographies, and any marketing or sales copy our clients need. Al does book proposals, query letters, and nonfiction ghostwriting and editing like me. Taryn is our fiction expert; Barbara does editing only; Sarah does resumes and business writing as well as book reviews. Both Sarah and Barbara serve as podcast hosts for our weekly writing show.
4) What are the most common challenges that a freelance writer faces?
Waiting for the next check to arrive! LOL! Seriously, I suppose the greatest challenge for me is organizing my daily tasks for maximum productivity. By that, I not only mean family time versus work time, but also the time spent during my “office” hours: it was a challenge at first to not be a workaholic because my office is only a few steps from my living room. Now it’s about balancing time spent marketing/networking versus time spent writing for clients.
5) Great so now that we have a good idea of what freelance work is like, lets discuss the life of an author. What do they face that is different from what a freelance writer faces?
Authors are like freelance writers in that they are also business owners. They may not recognize
this role, but if you consider they have to manage their time and money, promote their product, generate sales, keep records, book their next speaking engagement. Authors are different than freelance writers because many still have their day jobs with the corporate benefits that get them through when books are not selling.Today’s author must be a marketer, public speaker, and business person if they are going to be successful. Anyone can publish a book with the technologies now available, but only a few authors are actually making money; those are the ones who see their book as a product and take their role as a business owner seriously.Most writers think they can write a book and make a living from it without doing anything other than being accepted by a traditional publisher. That is a myth. Most books sell less than 100 copies.
6) What are some common misconceptions about the world of writing?
Most folks are not aware of the business side of writing. A lot of people can write, but selling what you have written is another venture altogether. You have to do both to be successful as a writer. Either you must query magazines and newspapers in hopes of selling an article idea, or you must market and promote your writing services to the world-at-large in hopes of gaining clients. Otherwise, there’s no money in it. Writing for fun is one thing. Writing for profit is another. Hopefully, a writer can do both.
7) Your newsletter deals with a lot of these issues and more. Would you like to tell our listeners about the newsletter, Yvonne?
Writers in the Sky Newsletter is published the first Tuesday of each month. It has about 20-25 pages of information for writers, authors, and readers regarding writing, editing, publishing, and book marketing. We feature book reviews, articles, poems, information about the guests we are featuring on our podcast that month, and a networking section. Everything is geared toward our subscriber-based community. Subscribers send me their articles, poems, announcements, and other literary features and I publish them for free.
8) So how does managing the newsletter and blog compare?
The newsletter items have to be edited because many times people send in sloppy work. The content is good, but I can’t put the blurb out there with mechanical errors and typos. Fortunately, our graphic designer does the formatting.
I post something on my blog every day. I could easily post twice daily, but I don’t want to wear out my welcome with the hundred or so people who are subscribed to our RSS feed. Most of the material on our blog appears in our newsletter, but we also sponsor authors who are doing virtual book tours. We also post any time-dated material that needs to go to the community of subscribers before the next issue of the newsletter. I pay an administrator to manage the blog for me. The newsletter and blog require about 6-8 hours each month.
9) Now I have had the pleasure of appearing on the Writers In the Sky podcast on August 24, 2007 – I believe. And that was a very nice experience! Why don’t you tell our listeners about the podcast and give us some examples of recent topics that you have covered.
The podcast mainly features authors who are promoting their book. We hear about the storyline and the writing process, but I also bring in a teaching element by asking the guest to share their publishing and marketing experience. We learn from one another through sharing. I try to have a variety of genres represented on the show.
I’ve also had publishers, book publicists, and marketing experts on the show. In June, I am interviewing Sandy Powell from WordClay—a do-it-yourself publishing company, and Jerry Simmons who will share his 25-year experience of working for a large NY-based publishing house.
10) Hosting your show, if it is anything like my own experience hosting the Conscious Discussions program, is a learning experience and can involve a lot of labor as well. A labor of love, to be sure. But sometimes the work can bleed into time we should be spending elsewhere. With this in mind, could you give us some behind the scenes information on how you manage the scheduling, marketing, record keeping end of things in the office.
People don’t realize how many hours it takes to operate a weekly podcast. They think that all we do is interview the guest and post it on the blog. What goes on behind the scenes is another story. We actually read the author’s book before interviewing them as a guest. We write a script of the questions we plan to ask, and write promotional blurbs for the show which we post on our blog and in our newsletter. Most months I write and send an online media release about the show. Once the interview is recorded, our audio editor adds music, takes out any misspoken words, and EQs it. We have started charging for guests to be on the show as part of a publicity package. Fifty dollars gets you on the show with all the promotion mentioned above. An extra $25 gets the author a book review. Some people think it is wrong to charge for book reviews and podcast interviews, but how many business owners do you know who would give away 8-10 hours of their time each month?
11) Are you open for guest applications on your radio show?
I like to have a variety of guests. Since we are promoting a book, I like to know something about the book, how it was published, and the quality of the product. I cringe when I get a book that has not been edited because it is hard to promote a literary work that has obvious errors throughout. I’m not talking about one or two boo-boos; everyone makes mistakes. But I’ve had books submitted that contain a mechanical error in nearly every paragraph. Therefore, I want to see a copy of the book before we decide about having the guest on the show. Most people submit a PDF of their book for this purpose. If it passes mustard, I’ll ask the guest to send the hard copy with their payment.
Time slots fill quickly and we are booked through mid-July. The application process is outlined on my Web site writersinthesky.com.
12) What kind of marketing services or author services are you able to offer?
We offer a book review service, an article marketing package, a media release package, two podcast interview packages, a full media kit, a one-pager (bio sheet with book details), and book trailers for authors who have already published their book.
We have a book evaluation service,ghostwriting, proofreading, and both copy line and developmental editing services for authors who are in the process of bringing a book to market. We will serve as a book doctor for those who have made a total mess of the book writing process. We’ll fix the manuscript and get it ready for publishing. For those who are self-publishing or going through a publish-on-demand company, we can have our graphic designer layout the book’s interior and create a cover for the book. She is expertly able to comply with Lightning Source’s standards for printing. There’s something to assist every writer and author at any stage of the writing, publishing, and promotion processes.
Thank you so very much, for sharing a wealth of information with us today. I enjoyed hearing about these interesting options for us all to consider.
Thank you, Lillian for having me as your guest.
Dave and Lillian Brummet are the authors of several books:
Purple Snowflake Marketing - How to Make Your Book Stand Out In A Crowd (e-book) ISBN#: 193335304X
Trash Talk - An Inspirational Guide to Saving Time & Money through Better Waste & Resource Management ISBN: 1-4137-2518-X / ISBN-13: 978-1413725186
Towards Understanding - a collection of 120 poems on society, the environment & overcoming trauma. ISBN: 1-4137-9337-1 / ISBN 13: 978-1413793376