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Writing for a living - new fledgling career please help

(49 Posts)
lisalisa Sun 21-Oct-12 22:02:21

That's just it really. I have been a solicitor for nearly 20 years and have always felt that I wanted to write. Due to life circumstances recently have written about 4 articles all accepted for publication. Publication is to be in 2 different magazines sold in England USA and other countried but aimed at my religious group.

the pay is not soemthing you could live in or even start on really - more like pocket money.

Which publications in England are known to be good to write for money wise?

Any tips anyone?

Thanks xx

PuffPants Wed 24-Oct-12 21:40:00

Wordfactory - I know you won't want to out yourself, but can you give us a hint as to the nature of your book? Fiction? Non-fiction? Romance/historical/humour etc?

Just curious.

motherinferior Wed 24-Oct-12 21:40:55

I am a journalist. It is bloody hard to get work. I am actually rather a good journalist, editing a section of a mag at the moment. It is still bloody hard to get work.

(My book, though obviously a Terrific Work of Genius, is also not quite cutting the mustard.)

wordfactory Wed 24-Oct-12 21:54:59

Crime fiction.

I've also written some drama for radio.

The journo stuff I've done has mainly been about writing lol!

wordfactory Wed 24-Oct-12 21:55:40

Mother do you mean you can't sell it at the mo?

motherinferior Wed 24-Oct-12 21:59:55

Yep. No bugger of an agent nature has so far been interested in it. Admittedly it is rather complicated non-fiction.

wordfactory Wed 24-Oct-12 22:08:51

Thing is, and I know everyone says this, but the market is trully awful at the mo.

I got in quite a few years back when things were less gloomy, so it's been easier to keep on keepin' on. Agents are soooo bloody risk averse at the moment. Terrified of trying to flog stuff that the publishers don't want for fear of being the agent who tries to flogg stuff the publishers don't want.

Frankfurt was like the Marie Celeste apparently.

oranges Wed 24-Oct-12 22:16:38

That's reassuring to know wordfactory. I'm a journalist and always had good jobs and good money through writing. But my book (complicatednon fiction too) is getting zero interest Interestingly, one agent said he;d take if I could turn it into a novel.
I'm getting the feeling that Frankfurt depressed instead of inspired the industry.

PermaShattered Wed 24-Oct-12 22:20:00

Mother, you 'sound' familiar! Can almost hear you speaking...

wordfactory Wed 24-Oct-12 22:24:06

I spoke to my agents after Frankfurt and they were fairly sombre.
They really wanted to sell a new children's book they've got which they say is one of the best new things they've had for a while and got very little interest.

And a fair few UK writers are now selling all their fireign rights to their UK publishers. I think that's bonkers myself, but the UK publishers are really throwing their weight around asking for all mannner of rights for the tiniest of advances.

Curtsey Wed 24-Oct-12 22:34:29


I make a living as a writer and I make good money from freelancing, but my area is very specialised and I have trained long and hard to get where I am.

You've made a great start already, and continuing in that vein (focussing on religious publications etc.) seems like a good idea to me. You've got to really know the market you're writing for. You say you've got loads of ideas for articles. Keep refining these and keep pitching. Read as much as you can - analyse the work of the professionals you admire. See how they do it and be hungry to learn. Read read read!

I know you only want to hear positive stories, but I do have to be negative about one thing. Short stories with morals. Please do not write these. Please, just don't.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 24-Oct-12 22:41:27

LisaLisa, I am sorry to hear about your father, and I hope you are on your way to recovery.

I know nothing about law, and I know little about writing. Other than how hard it is to get published. I came pretty close to get a book published many many years ago. It is buried far into my hard drive, and I guess it will always be the one that nearly got published.

But one thing I DO know, you have a fantastic imagination, and you do have some writing skills, judging by your funny threads with knickers in lunchboxes, and ghosts.

Good luck.

You could consider writing for blogs, and just for fun, but dont give up your day job.

MissM Fri 09-Nov-12 22:05:34

Do you want to pass some of your excess work my way Perma wink?

Lougle Thu 29-Nov-12 17:21:34

I'm sure it takes a lot of dedication and talent to write for a living. However, having seen the spelling and grammar in many Daily Mail articles, the standards are shocking.

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 29-Nov-12 18:39:15

The Daily Mail doesn't often recruit. It seems to headhunt people instead - so they are very unlikely to have been chosen for their writing ability, more for their fame and reputation, or their connections.

Lougle Thu 29-Nov-12 19:13:41

Surely, though, they have editors who can see the errors?

"Authorities said that zoo staff and then police responded 'within minutes' but visitors described that time as being filled with screams for help.

Zookeepers called off some of the dogs, and seven of them immediately went to a back building.

It was shot dead by an officer. Experts said the death is highly unusual.

The dogs were put in quarantine, not euthanized." For example.

It doesn't even flow confused

Today, a headline:

"Mechanic whose heart stopped beating for 80 MINUTES brought back to life 'like a spluttering old Fort Cortina'."

Really? You didn't notice that one of the most famous car manufacturers on the planet is spelled incorrectly in a headline?

WilsonFrickett Fri 30-Nov-12 16:49:19

Is that the paper or the website Lougle? As far as I can see, the website isn't subbed or checked at all, and a lot of the stories are bought in through syndication. There's always at least 3 Kardashian stories on the website and I can't see them being in the main paper, for example.

Lougle Fri 30-Nov-12 16:57:35

Website. I have to say that I didn't realise it was different from the paper version.

"Lily was prescribed with methotrexate number of unpleasant side-effects, which include vomiting, hair-thinning, weakening of the nails, and a lowered immune system. here

It looks like a set of crib notes, ready to be fleshed out later.

WilsonFrickett Fri 30-Nov-12 17:03:03

Yeah, the main stories from the paper will be uploaded to the website, but there will also live content management (probably not by actual journalists although that's me speculating) which won't be subbed. You also see a lot of poor updating, where new info is added at the top, then the background is added next, then you see the original background further down the story.

MysteriousHamster Fri 30-Nov-12 17:13:16

It is hard earning any kind of money as a writer. Most people can read and write and it doesn't necessarily seem that hard but there's a bit more to it than that.

OP, if you've sold four articles you're clearly not doing too badly. If you can find a niche and build up some regular work you're doing well.

But generally, people are naive to think they can jump into freelance work and make money.

The best way to do it is to make yourself an expert in a particular field and then you might get decent freelance, regular work or even consultancy work.

re. trade mags, I work for one and we don't have any freelancers. Often people write for us for free.

I've done a tiny bit of freelance for other magazines but most of it has been based on my connections and has faded away now - there's not a lot of money out there to get in the first place.

Also journalistic writing and creative writing are different beasts. I'd love to sell a novel too (have finished a couple) but I'm realistic that doing so is a long shot. The first step is actually finishing and polishing a book - most never manage it. The second is writing another book instead of pinning all your hopes on dreams on just the one.

It winds me up when people say 'oh yeah, I want to write a book' and they've never even typed out the title. I'm not exactly the most disciplined writer either, but I'm here at my computer most nights, at least, trying to get better.

It's easy to talk about writing. It's hard to finish things.

MysteriousHamster Fri 30-Nov-12 17:23:08

hopes and dreams, jeez. Better get back to novel editing.

spatchcock Fri 30-Nov-12 19:21:02

Lougle I'm a former sub editor who worked in a sub editing 'hub' (ie, loads of newspapers subbed by one central team), and the pressure I was under to sub 60+ stories a day meant that I often missed mistakes. Some were real clangers that I cringe about now. It was like working in a factory.

Just another symptom of yet another industry that is constantly 'downsizing'.

Nancy66 Sun 02-Dec-12 14:06:07

the website and the paper are totally separate.

There are always loads of mistakes online but you don't find many in the print edition. Pages in the Daily Mail's print edition are proof read twice.

Lougle Sun 02-Dec-12 16:12:57

Perhaps I should be a volunteer proof reader for the Mail then grin The errors leap out and I end up remembering them more than the story!

MathairMahoney Mon 07-Jan-13 00:11:44

WordFactory I just stumbled across this thread after starting my own and you were exactly the kind of person I was looking for - Anyone making a living from freelance writing?. I got a book deal last year and while it was an excellent advance I did have to sell world rights rather than just world English. I'm philosophical about it as it was a great deal for an unknown author and unless the books REALLY take off the publishers are likely to lose money rather than me! And if they don't do well I reason that they have helped me get established and give me a better chance of self-publishing afterwards. On the flip side if they do well I get royalties and am in a better position to negotiate on future deals.

It is still possible to get a book deal but you do need to be tenacious. A lot of well known authors have confessed that there is no way they would have book deals if they were starting out now because you have to do well from the very first book. I remember reading an interview with Ian Rankin who said it wasn't until his sixth or seventh book that he started to sell - and that he knew no publisher now would give him anything like that long to get established.

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