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                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 11:10           12,560 subscribers             May 19, 2011
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: The Secret of Success, by Moira Allen
THE WRITING DESK: Earnings, by Moira Allen
FEATURE: Tickler Files Increase Your Success, 
by Robert Moskowitz
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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The Secret of Success
In the previous issue, I took a little nostalgia trip, looking at
where we were fourteen years ago.  That prompted a couple of
e-mails from readers pointing out the vast difference between where
we were then and where we are now -- in a positive sense.

One reader wrote to tell me that she had suffered a major auto
accident twenty years ago, and lost the ability to work outside the
home.  "Twenty years ago," she points out, "I was convinced I would
never work again."  Thanks to the Internet, she is now a successful
editor.  Another reader wrote to tell me that she'd just found a
new market through our newsletter, and is now earning an extra $100
a week writing for a content provider.  "I will not get rich... but
I will be able to eat a little better because of it," she notes. 
"In addition, the satisfaction of once again earning something,
anything, from my writing... is a sweetness only another writer can

I often wonder what I would be doing today if there were no
Internet.  Obviously, I would not be doing THIS!  Most of my
"business" is conducted online or, at the very least, promoted
online.  When I self-published my first book, we spent hours
folding flyers and stuffing them into envelopes, not to mention
hundreds of dollars on printing and postage.  When orders did
arrive, I wrapped them up in my little "mailing station" in the
hall.  Now, a website does the work of promoting the book, and
Amazon does the work of shipping it. 

Thanks to the Internet, we can gain clients and customers around
the world.  My first experience with an online newsletter was
Inklings -- working with an editor who lived in Canada, and whom
I'd never met.  Now this newsletter is edited by a writer who lives
in England -- and whom, for years, I'd never met.  

The Internet has opened doors that, twenty years ago, we couldn't
even dream of.  It has opened doors that people thought would
remain forever closed to them, for reasons of disability, of
distance, of discouragement.  But there is one thing that it hasn't
changed -- and that's what happens once we choose to step THROUGH
one of those open doors.

Thousands upon thousands have looked at the opportunities offered
by the Web and thought, "Wow!  Look at all those open doors --
here's my chance!"  Here's my chance to be rich, to be famous, to
be published, to be a success.  But an open door is only that -- a
doorway.  When we step through, we find that it's not the door that
leads to success.  It's what we do on the other side.  

The two writers I mentioned at the beginning of this editorial
aren't successful because they found new doors to step through. 
They are successful because, to put it crudely, they stepped
through those doors and then worked their butts off.  

I get loads of e-mails from writers who want to know the "secret"
of becoming published, of becoming an author, of "getting started,"
and so forth.  Generally I refer them to our "beginner" sections
and suggest that, once they've read the many articles we have
published offering exactly the information they claim to seek, I'd
be happy to try to answer a more "specific" question. I never hear
from them again.  

I never hear from them, I suspect, because they learn to their
dismay that the "secret" of success has never been a secret.  And
it hasn't changed, not in fourteen years or four hundred.  Nor is
it GOING to change, no matter how technology changes in the future.
 It's still dramatically, painfully simple.

Find an open door.  Go through.  Then, work your butt off.  

-- Moira Allen, Editor

(Dawn is coping with a family emergency and will be back with an
editorial "from the newsletter editor" next month.)


Read by over 1,000 children's book and magazine editors, this
monthly newsletter can be your own personal source of editors'
wants and needs, market tips, and professional insights.  Get 2
FREE issues to start. http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/AJ934  

The Writing Desk: Earnings 

How much does the average writer make?
Q: I have a question about monthly income for writers. I am
somewhat young -- 23 -- and have decided upon a career as a writer.
My question is, How much can an average writer make (1) writing
articles for magazines and (2) writing books? Given time to
establish myself in the industry, is $1,000 monthly a little too
much to expect? And will having a degree help me in the writing

A: I'm not sure there is such a thing as an "average" writer.  It
depends on your skill, experience, and the subject area that you
might wish to write about.
Magazines may pay anything from $25 to $2500 for a 2000-word
article. However, needless to say, it's a lot easier for a new
writer to break into those $25 markets than to break into the $2500
markets.  Your first question might be to consider what you want to
write about, and then research the market potential in your field. 
For example, if you want to write about pets, you're stuck with
about four major magazines that pay up to $500 per feature.  If you
want to write about business, your options are considerably broader
-- but your expertise must also be stronger as well.
Rarely does a beginner in the industry start out by writing for the
$1000-per-feature magazines.  Generally you'll find that you're
starting with those that pay $100 for an article.  (You should at
least shoot for that -- you'll soon find that writing 2000 words
for $25 isn't worth the effort.)  Then it's a question of math.  If
you can successfully break into the $100/article market range,
you'll have to sell 10 articles per month to earn $1000.  Generally
you'll have to start with queries, so you'll first have to write 10
queries (at least) per month -- and that's assuming they all get
accepted. If, as is more likely, your acceptance rate on queries is
50% or less, you'll have to write 20 queries or more per month to
get to that rate.  Some people find queries easy to write; others
find them more time-consuming.
Let's say that you get ten assignments.  That means you must write
10 articles per month to earn your $1000.  That means, in turn,
that you must be able to write an article every three days --
including research, interviewing, etc. (plus finding time to do all
those queries).  It sounds like you're recently out of college --
imagine writing a term paper every three days and you'll get the
To earn "real" money as a writer, then, you have to try to crack
those higher-paying markets as soon as possible (but you will
usually have to "work up" from some of the lower-paying markets to
get the clips to give you credibility).  If, for example, you can
start selling to $500 markets, you only have to write two articles
per month to get that $1000 -- and that's a lot more reasonable
But -- even if you earn $1000 a month, that's $12,000 a year.  I
don't know where you live, but when you take out taxes etc., it's
pretty darn hard to live on $12,000 a year.  Remember that as a
writer, you're paying for your own medical coverage, social
security, etc.  So there's a difference between earning even
$12,000 a year and earning a living as a freelance writer.
Writing books isn't going to improve the odds.  First, writing a
book usually takes approximately a year, counting research and
writing time (assuming we're talking nonfiction).  A novel usually
takes that long as well.  If you're writing fiction, you will have
to complete the novel before you can even begin to market it, as no
publisher or agent will discuss an unfinished novel with a
first-time writer.  If you're writing nonfiction, however, you can
often presell your book before you write it by submitting a solid
proposal to the right publisher.  (Sometimes that can happen very
quickly; I've sold proposals in as little as two weeks.)  So you
might see payment on your nonfiction book within the first year;
you won't see a penny on a novel for two to three years (and
possibly two to three years after you actually write it).
How much will you see?  As a first-time writer, chances are that
your advance (for either fiction or nonfiction) will be in the
range of $3000 to $5000.  If you're very lucky, it might be as high
as $10,000, but it will have to be a blockbuster book.  If you
write the next Harry Potter, you'll get more -- but the reason we
know about books like that is because they come along once every
decade or so.  So that's $5000, tops, for a year of work -- and a
year in which you won't be able to do much other writing, because
the book is going to consume at least 80% of your time.  Plus, it
may be the last penny you ever see on that book, as most books
don't do more than earn out their advances -- don't bet the farm on
ongoing royalties.  (I just got a whopping $80 for one of my older
books, for six months of sales.  That's two dinners out for my
husband and myself at a fairly modest restaurant.)
Does all this sound depressing?  Unfortunately, the business
prospects for freelance writers ARE depressing -- and I honestly
don't encourage anyone to try to start their first career in this
field.  You can get to a living wage eventually, but it usually
takes several years of hard work to get there.  Since you have to
have something to eat during those years, most people (myself
included) recommend that you have a way of building a financial
cushion before you decide to launch this type of career.
I'll get back to the financial issues in a moment, but there's
another reason I don't recommend jumping straight into a career as
a freelance writer, and that's "experience."  This may sound odd,
but it's hard to make it as a writer if all you know how to do is
write. If, however, you explore other areas and career paths, you
can build up some background and expertise that you can later write
about.  As a freelancer, having some experience in the field that
you're writing about can go farther toward selling your queries and
articles than simply having the ability to write (and research)
OK, back to the financial issue.  What I recommend is that if
you're serious about writing as a career, find a day-job that
involves writing.  It's often not as "glamorous" as freelancing,
but it will give you loads of excellent experience, in the industry
where you most need to know the ropes, and it will give you a
steady paycheck. It will teach you what works and what doesn't.  It
will give you a chance to find out what interests you most about
writing (maybe it's writing for magazines, maybe it's writing
novels).  It will give you an opportunity to freelance on the side,
and build clips and credentials, without having to worry about
where your next rent check is coming from.  In three to five years,
you'll be able to build (a) a reputation, (b) a nest-egg, and (c)
contacts that can give you information or assignments.
Will a degree help you?  That depends on what the degree is in and
what you're trying to do.  A degree in English or journalism can
help you get a job in the publishing industry (e.g., working for a
newspaper, magazine, book publisher, website, etc.).  A degree in a
specific field can often help you get a job within that field --
i.e., if you have a business degree, it might help you get a job in
a business publishing company.  A degree in a specific field can
also help you sell articles within that field; it's a credential.
However, it won't help you outside that field.  However, in
general, a degree of any kind will almost always bring you a higher
salary than no degree.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Moira Allen


Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. Write a poem, 30 lines
or fewer on any subject and/or write a short story, 5 pages max.,
on any theme, single or double line spacing, neatly hand printed
or typed for a chance to win cash prizes. Visit
http://www.dreamquestone.com for details!



Ebooks Leading to Increase in Digital Piracy?
An article in the Daily Telegraph claims that one in eight women
over the age of 35 in Britain have admitted to reading unlicensed
or pirated books on their digital book readers.  If these figures
are true it could be worrying for publishers as they strive to
publish more books in digital format.
For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/69nr3ao

More Short Stories by Anthony Burgess Discovered
Researchers have discovered over 20 short stories, letters and a
few film scripts written by the author of "A Clockwork Orange," who
died in 1993.  Amongst the works found was Burgess' original script
for the film of "A Clockwork Orange," which was rejected by Stanley
Kubrick.  For more on this story visit: 

Report to Recommend a Relaxation of UK Copyright Laws
A report is being submitted to the UK government to suggest that UK
Copyright Laws be relaxed.  The Hargreaves Report wants the
government to change Intellectual Property Laws to make it legal
for people to parody other's works as they can in the US.
For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/6fpxnt4


NEW AGENCY, Best Wishes Literary Management seeks fiction and
nonfiction writers.  No Reading fees.  Visit 
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/jjamie663/ or email



Chainbooks Seek Chapter Writers
Chainbooks.com is a social-based website where people from all over
the world can take part in writing a book together, one chapter at
a time. The site will launch in summer 2011, and right now they are
looking for people to be "Starter Chapter" writers.  They would
like to have about 500 first chapters complete before our launch
this summer.  Each Starter Chapter needs to be around 3000 words in
length. The Starter Chapter writers will receive $25 for each
approved chapter plus additional compensation on books that meet
successful sales goals. To find out more visit their website at
http://www.chainbooks.com or to get involved in this project send
an email to eapoe"at"chainbooks.com 


FEATURE: Tickler Files Increase Your Success
By Robert Moskowitz

There are many differences between successful and unsuccessful
freelance writers that have nothing to do with their relative
abilities to write. One of the most important is how well they
manage the critical business functions that are essential to
surviving in the writing game. 

As the author of "How To Organize Your Work and Your Life," I've
been interested in "time management" for decades, and I've used my
"Tickler File" to great advantage not only to meet my writing
commitments, but to build and maintain a freelance writing practice
that paid for my two sons' college educations, a couple of homes,
and countless hot dinners.

In today's electronic world, it may surprise you that I advocate
the standard old-fashioned paper "Tickler File." It's a simple
device consisting of 12 file folders labeled "January" through
"December," plus 31 file folders labeled "1" through "31." Into
these folders you place, as they come up in your mind, written
reminders of every task you want to do on a specific date in the
future. On the first of each month, you sort through this month's
folder and distribute your written reminders into the appropriate
locations within the 1-thru-31 dated folders. Each day, you look in
"today's" folder and retrieve your notes and associated paperwork
for each of the tasks you've set for yourself. 

If you've switched to any form of electronic calendaring system,
you can dispense with the paper folders and simply post the same
kind of "tickler" notes to yourself electronically, each one under
the appropriate upcoming date. (It's more difficult to keep
associated documents with these electronic reminders, however, so
you may want to use the physical file folder system, in addition.)

Now let's look at how you apply the power of your "Tickler File"
(TF) to some essential tasks for thriving financially as a

You already know to spend a good portion of your time looking for
new sales and new markets. Whether you generate ideas first and
then go looking for appropriate markets, or find new markets first
and then generate suitable ideas, it is essential that you maintain
continuity. And that's where the TF is a big help. Place your ideas
and/or your prospective markets in your TF to make sure none of
them falls through the cracks and dies, unexplored. After each
contact with a prospective market, place a reminder in your TF so
you are certain to follow up in the right way at the right time

If only pitching were as easy as making a phone call and spewing a
spiel. But as you probably know, keeping a pitch alive and
nurturing it into an assignment often requires a long, convoluted
series of communications, sometimes with several people, in which
your original idea gets restructured to better meet that market's
needs and preferences. It's easy to lose track of where you are in
the process and your best next step, particularly when you're
juggling multiple pitches to multiple markets all at once. Keeping
your notes on each pitch to each market moving forward in your TF
is the simplest and most reliable way to avoid getting tangled in
your own glib tongue. 

Once you've established yourself with a particular market, it's
basic good business practice to keep going back to ask for more
sales. But how often, and what to say each time? Your TF provides
an excellent mechanism for making sure you pitch your best markets
at the most appropriate intervals, and also for keeping track of
your past interactions with each market so you can make the people
there feel well-remembered each time you call or write. 

It's great to write a story for pay, and it's even better to write
the invoice for it. But I never like to send my invoice in the same
envelope or e-mail with my story, because I don't want to give the
impression that I am done working until my client is satisfied. So
I put a note in my TF to bill for the story a week, or in some
cases a month, into the future. This way, I give the editor enough
time to ask for changes, if he/she wants any, with no risk of my
forgetting to ask for payment.

Writing an invoice is fun, but cashing a check is even better. So
I'm careful to put a note in my TF that reminds me whom I've
billed, when, and how much. Usually, I place the reminder about 45
days out. This way, if the billing and payment process goes
normally, I won't bother the editor or publisher unnecessarily for
my payment, and I can simply discard the reminder when it pops up
in my TF. But if there's any unusual delay, my TF makes sure I'm
right on top of the situation quickly enough to keep my cash flow

As you'll see when you try it with these tasks and others, your
"Tickler File" can be a successful freelance writer's best friend. 

Copyright 2011 Robert Moskowitz

Robert Moskowitz is a successful author and editor with a knack for
conveying complex and difficult topics in a friendly, down-to-earth
style. He resides in Santa Monica with his wife, a novelist, where
they collaborate on writing stories. In addition to his countless
articles for dozens of popular magazines, his published non-fiction
books include "How To Organize Your Work and Your Life," "Small
Business Computing -- A Guide in Plain English," "Out On Your Own,"
and "Parenting Your Aging Parents." 

For more information on handling the business side of writing
visit: http://www.writing-world.com/rights/index.shtml


An epublishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own ebooks.



Although this site is aimed at would be self-published authors, it
has articles that are of interest to all writers covering SEO
techniques, article writing, script writing and novels.  It also
has several free ebooks on writing for you to download too. 

WARNING: This site appears to have good information, but when I
visited, Kaspersky Anti-Virus warned that it was a "dangerous URL."
We're not deleting the reference, but advise readers to visit with

Writing Forward
This is an excellent blog on creative and poetry writing.  It has
lots of posts on such topics as creative writing, grammar, poetry,
lyrics as well as useful exercises to help you to develop or polish
your creative or poetry writing skills. 

One Million Monkeys Typing
If you like collaborative writing or are thinking of dipping your
toes in the creative writing genre, then this site might be just
what you were looking for.  You read a story then when you come to
the end of the section you can either continue to read or add your
own section. 


WIN PRIZES AND GET PUBLISHED! Find out how to submit your stories,
poetry, articles and books to hundreds of writing contests in the
US and internationally. Newly updated for 2010, WRITING TO WIN by
Moira Allen is the one-stop resource you need for contests and
contest tips. Visit Writing-World.com's bookstore for details:


This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 
For a guide to more than 1000 writing contests throughout the 
world, see Moira Allen's book, "Writing to Win: The Colossal 
Guide to Writing Contests" 

DEADLINE: June 1, 2011
GENRE:    Books
DETAILS:  Submit a minimum 75,000 word horror novel.
PRIZE:    $2000 cash advance against royalties, publication and
eligibility for membership of the Horror Writers' Association. 2nd
Prize $500, 3rd Prize $200. All winners will receive publication by
URL: http://journalstone.com/contest/2000-in-2011-horror-contest/   

DEADLINE: June 1, 2011  
GENRE:   Books
OPEN TO: Authors with no published books in the mystery genre
DETAILS: Minimum 60,000 words murder mystery, or mystery novel.
Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the
story, and emphasis is on the solution rather than the details of
the crime.  The story's primary setting is the Southwestern United
States, including at least one of the following states: Arizona,
Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and/or Utah.
PRIZE:  $10,000 advance against royalties and publication by St.
Martin's Press.    
URL: http://www.wordharvest.com/novel_contest.php   

DEADLINE: June 1, 2011
GENRE: Young Writers
DETAILS: Short Stories or Creative Nonfiction. Any genre. Poetry: 1
poem, up to 30 lines; Essay: maximum 1,500 words; Short Story:
maximum 2,500 words. 
PRIZE:  $75 
URL: http://tinyurl.com/5ruko4o

DEADLINE: June 1, 2011
GENRE: Nonfiction
OPEN TO: High School, College and Graduate Students
DETAILS: 1,000 - 1,500 word essay on the topic "Is Capitalism
Dead?" See website for more details. 
PRIZE: C$1,000, 2nd Prize C$500, plus a prize of C$250 for best
high school entry. High school students are also eligible for the
main prizes. Winners published on website, and possibly also in
Fraser Institute periodicals.    
URL: http://tinyurl.com/5t54f2a

DEADLINE:  June 30, 2011
GENRE: Short Stories, Creative Nonfiction
DETAILS: One story or essay, to 10,000 words
PRIZE:  $500
URL:  http://www.hofferaward.com/ 
DEADLINE: June 30, 2011
GENRE: Short Stories
OPEN TO: Authors with No Published Books: The Contest is open only
to those who have not had professionally published a novel or short
novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short
stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be
payment, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits for online
DETAILS: Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Horror: All types of science fiction,
fantasy and horror with fantastic elements, are welcome. 17,000
words maximum. 
PRIZE: $1,000 first prize awarded each quarter; one of those
winners also receives the $5,000 annual "Gold Award" grand prize.
Each quarter, 2nd Prize $750, 3rd Prize $500
URL: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/contest-rules  


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women, 
by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Patty Ratty and her New Tap Shoes, 
by Marion McKibben

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer (Second Edition), 
by Moira Allen

Find these and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know: 
just click on the link below to list your book.


on how to reach more than 100,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com) 

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2011 Moira Allen
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Back issues archived at

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Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
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For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor