I. Paid to Write
You never know when you'll stumble across a new market for your work. I once got a thirty minute writing job while attending a national sales convention. I was working in the business center on a presentation handout for my boss, and another manager came in, read what I was typing over my shoulder, and asked me some questions about it.
I explained the effectiveness of a handout when addressing a large group, and how unobtrusively product information and business cards could be distributed along with the handout to everyone in the room versus trying to hand out cards and flyers during mix-and-mingle moments. I must have impressed him, as he immediately offered me a hundred bucks if I would compose and type up a similar handout for his presentation.
I was in luck; I knew his product line very well (it was a paper industry convention, and at the time I worked for the second-largest manufacturer in the country.) So I accepted, he gave me his notes and I returned a handout to him in about thirty minutes. He was very happy with the end result, and I had a nice bonus to take home and put in the bank.
While it doesn't sound like a lot of money, think about what else you'd have to do at a convention that rates $200 an hour.
II. The New Market Hunt
As a writer, you can't expect new markets and job opportunities to drop into your lap on a regular basis. You need to get out there and look for them. A new market is any place that publishes written material, is open to outside submission, and does not charge you a fee for the privilege of getting into print.
While there is no guaranteed payment scale for writers, you should know what your work can sell for. For example, rights to publish articles and short pieces are generally sold per word or flat fee per piece. A trade magazine might offer you five cents a word, which sounds like a lot until you multiply it by the 500 word maximum length for submissions in their guidelines. That means the most you can get paid for any submission to this magazine is $25.00.
Novel markets or markets for book-length fiction usually pay by advance against a percentage of sales, or royalties. This means the publisher will pay the writer a sum in advance, which is then subtracted from the writer's share of subsequent sales. A typical book deal is $5,000.00 advance, with 6% royalties on a $7.99 paperback. That advance doesn't sound like a lot of money, but at least 11,000 copies of this book will have to sell before the writer pays back that advance (assuming there are no returns, and there are always returns.)
Specialty, private or non-traditional markets can pay anything and do. I've seen writing jobs being offered for less than migrant workers make picking oranges ($1 an hour), and for more than most writers will make in their lifetime ($250,000.00 per book for an ongoing series.) Generally these jobs tip more toward the migrant-worker end of the pay scale, but enough pay very well to be worth checking out.
While you're looking, always remember the #1 rule of the working writer: We get paid to write. We do not pay anyone else to write.
III. New Markets in Trade Magazines
1. The Writer Magazine -- probably the best source of new market info in print; subscribers get free access to their online database of over 3,000 publishers, publications, contests and agents which they claim to update weekly. You can get a free trial issue and gain instant access to the database here (scroll down.)
2. Writer's Digest -- If you scroll down on Writer's Digest Contest page, you'll find a section devoted to their monthly "Your Story" contest (you write a short story, 750 words or less, based on their prompt.) Submission is open and free (electronic subs only), and the winner receives $100 in WD books, but the publication credit is really the valuable prize here. Caution flag: because Writer's Digest does not screen their advertisers, I was nearly scammed by Edit Ink, via one of their phony agents who ran an ad in WD. Based on my experience, I strongly recommend avoiding any market or job offered in this magazine's classified section in the print issues.
3. Writer's Journal -- has lots of contests, unclassified ads (most are not offering writing jobs), and a brief market report and some listings in every issue.
IV. Market-Focused Bloggers and Websites
1. Along with her writing blog, Angela Booth publishes a free weekly writers e-zine, Fab Freelance Writing, which gives great tips on how to freelance your way to success. This is more an advice source than a markets list, but it's good for those who are looking for new market ideas and motivation.
2. Finding new markets can be as simple as visiting your local online classified ads. Craigslist always runs job listings for writers; when I looked this morning at the listing in my region I found want-ads for copywriters, freelance editors, web content writers and writer-for-hires, and Craiglist has more writing job listings for every major city and urban area in the U.S. Caution flag: Always check out anyone who advertises writing jobs thoroughly before you sign on with them, and get the financial terms up front. For example, that writer-for-hire job I linked to only offers a $2K flat fee for the work, which frankly isn't much for a book-length job and the expertise required.
3. I occasionally list sub ops here at PBW, but Deborah Ng posts long lists of writing jobs every week at her Freelance Writing Jobs blog. She also gives advice on getting published and the professional writing life. One thing I appreciated about this blog is the little notations of how much $$$ is offered by the market and if they have any restrictions such as location; you can quickly skip the ones that don't work for you.
4. Ralan.com: if you write horror, SF, fantasy or humor, you should be visiting this site at least once a month. By the way, August is fund-raising month at the site, and I can't recall ever seeing Ralan asking for donations. I find about half of the sub ops I post on PBW there, and he certainly deserves the support for all he does to keep his market listings online and updated, so I sent him a few bucks along with my thanks. If you are one of the 11,000 people who visit the site every month, and you're able to, I hope you'll do the same.
5. Writers Weekly's Market and Jobs section is updated weekly, they also have a search page for jobs that welcome new writers.
V. Market Writing Strategy
Some final thoughts before you start your new market hunt:
Know thy market. If there is anything that pisses off an editor, it's when a writer submits something that 1) violates their submission guidelines, or 2) is inappropriate for their market. Simply put, if you want to sell your 300K epic highland Scottish historical romance, you do not submit it to the earth science editor at Popular Geek Magazine, because he's looking for 1500 word essays on water purification in third world countries. Don't send it. Not even if you have a love scene that takes place next to a pond of semi-brackish water in Chapter Twenty-Four.
Be persistent, not obnoxious. It's one thing to send a half dozen different submissions to the same market, and quite another to submit the same piece that you've rewritten a half dozen times over and over. When someone says no, they usually mean no. You can always send them something else, unless they ask you not to. Which they will, if you keep subbing the same thing to them.
And one more thing: when you're rejected, accept it gracefully and professionally. Don't write anything back to the editor to inform them of how stupid they are for passing over your masterpiece. Don't rip the editor to pieces on your blog. Don't even respond to them if they behave ungraciously and/or unprofessionally toward you. Save it for the end-of-the-career expose, take the hit and move on.
Don't sub yourself into oblivion. It's ridiculous to try to sell to every market out there; research the markets where your work has the best chance to sell, and then submit to the ones that pay the most.
Two excellent articles about the realities of freelancing: Freelance feast or famine? by Amber McNaught, and Michele R. Acosta's Starting a Freelance Writing Career (or How I Sifted Through the Muck and Found My Way)
Is Blogging a Good Way to Make Money? by Chris Garrett
Before you write up your publishing credits, check out Frank Giudice's article Writing a Resume That Works for You
How to Find Foreign Writing Markets by Gary McLaren
Tina Samuel's article Freelance Writing Ideas: Where to Write for Music Markets.
That's it for the biz post this month. To test out the topical suggestions for the New and Improved Friday 20; any questions out there regarding new markets and how to find them?