Posts Tagged ‘freelance writing tips’

Publishing Trends for Freelance Writers: What’s Hot and What’s Not!

Publishing Trends: What’s Hot. . .and What’s Not!

Publishing houses are governed by what will sell, so understanding the trends is important—both for the houses and their writers. With that in mind, let’s look at what’s hot, and what’s not.


  • Romance: prairie romance, in particular
  • Contemporary women’s fiction (dealing with issues of the heart)
  • Action/Suspense/Thriller: This genre is really hot right now. Stories that keep readers up at night will always be in fashion!
  • Comedy: Romantic comedy has seen a surge in recent years.
  • Amish books/stories: What can I say? Amish/Mennonite stories are everywhere.
  • Sci-Fi, Speculative, Fantasy, Allegory (vampire stories, magical stories, etc)
  • Edgy is trendy, even in the CBA (Christian Bookseller’s Association)


  • Juvenile fiction: The market for this genre is not as big as you might think. If you do write for kids, make sure you’re writing about relevant topics. No “simple” kids stories (they want real issues/real world)
  • Biblical fiction: This genre went though a boom in the 80s and 90s, but is rapidly declining.
  • Cozy mysteries: This is a tough time for who-dunnits, no matter how beautifully written.


  • Cozies will always have a small audience. Not a lot of houses publish them, though.
  • Chick-Lit: When Bridget Jones’ Diary hit theaters, the world of chick-lit writing blossomed. First person novels about twenty/thirty-something fashion-forward females went ballistic. It’s getting harder to sell chick-lit, however. If you’re interested in selling first-person novels for women, give them a romance slant.


  • Don’t look at what’s popular now. Even if you sell a book today, it’s going to take a couple of years before it releases.


  • Subscribe to Writer’s Market Guide ( You will stay on top of all info related to publishing houses and their needs.
  • Conferences/editor panels will bring you up to speed. They’ll tell you what they are and aren’t looking for (you’ll know what to pitch and what not to waste your time pitching to a particular editor/house)
  • Consider taking an online writing course that caters to published authors. There, you can stay on top of trends.


  • Products run in trends, too, and can “date” a book.
  • Avoid using particular brand names and/or specific styles of clothing
  • Beware listing television shows or song titles as “contemporary” if you want your book to have longevity

There you have it! What’s in today will be out tomorrow, so stay on top of things if you want to impress that editor!

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Seven Days To Better Writing

Seven Days to Better Writing

What if I told you that your whole life could change in a week? You would sit up and take notice, right? The truth is, it can. If you’re a writer, all you need is one dedicated week to turn your career around.

  • DAY ONE: Spend a full day thinking about the topics that make sense to you (and your life experiences). Come up with a dozen ideas (for articles and/or books) to fit your life’s theme. Spend at least an hour free writing.
  • DAY TWO: Set major career goals. Write down where you hope to be in one month. One year. Three years. Five years. Write down your financial goals. Next, come up with a strategy to take you from Point A to Point B. Will you write fiction or non-fiction? Magazine articles? Devotions? Will you “brand” yourself by writing one particular genre, (say, romantic comedy)? Spend at least an hour writing a piece about how your life will change once these goals are met.
  • DAY THREE: Begin to diligently study the craft. When I first started writing, I picked up every book on writing I could afford. I read books on novel writing, magazine article writing, self-editing and so on. I participated in online writing courses, focusing primarily on my passion: fiction writing. My passion to learn captivated me. Inspired me. Motivated me. Perhaps you can relate. You’re ready to dive in. Do so…then spend at least an hour crafting the opening scene to a new book (or a magazine article that you hope to submit). Afterwards, look at it with an editor’s eye, weeding out passive verbs and making sure it has a strong hook.
  • DAY FOUR: Surround yourself with writers. There are a host of organizations you can join, both national and local. Look for a critique group in your area. Link arms with bloggers online. Once that’s done, spend at least an hour working on the book or article you started yesterday.
  • DAY FIVE: Incorporate fiction techniques in your non-fiction and non-fiction techniques in your fiction. Fiction techniques would include great characterization, plotting and strong themes. Non-fiction techniques would include writing tight, clear takeaways and compelling stories. Spend at least an hour adding these techniques to your work in progress.
  • DAY SIX: Figure out which publishing houses you would like to eventually target. If you don’t own the writer’s market guide, then join Membership is not terribly expensive and will open up a whole new world of possibilities. If you’re interested in writing for the Christian market, pick up a copy of Sally Stuart’s “Christian Writers Market Guide.” Look through every publishing house that fits your brand and your genre.
  • DAY SEVEN: Rest your mind, body and brain. Most writers burn out because they don’t take time to refuel.

There you have it, my friends. It’s going to be a busy week, but what wonderful prospects you will face at the end of it!

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How To Be a Freelance Writer: Learn From American Idol

Five Things a Writer can Learn from American Idol

American Idol is in its tenth season and going strong. New judges sit behind the desk, new singers belt out tunes, and new viewers pick up phones to vote for their favorites.

What does this have to do with writing? Everything! If writers pay close attention, they can learn many lessons as they watch American Idol.

  • LESSON ONE: Not everyone is ready to have a camera put in his/her face. C’mon now. You know what I mean. Some of those singers are no more ready to stand in front of the judges than some writers are ready to present their work to an editor or agent. Don’t embarrass yourself by thinking you’re “all that” when you haven’t taken the time to learn the craft. Do what you can to present yourself in the best possible light. Go to conferences. Take online writing courses. Establish yourself in a small venue before going large.
  • LESSON TWO: When a gifted singer feels “the call” to sing, he or she travels from wherever they are to wherever auditions are being held. Same with the writer. She drives from Kansas to Texas for a conference. She flies from Cleveland to Denver to meet the editor of her dreams. Why? Because she’s driven. She knows in her knower that she must go, just as that singer knows he must make it to the audition site.
  • LESSON THREE: Nerves can bring you down in a hurry. You’ve seen those gifted singers fold like a deck of cards during Hollywood week. Pressure can be a horrible thing, even for a truly gifted vocalist. The same is true with the writer. When the pressures of rejection, writer’s block, conference expenses, critique group issues, financial strain, contract woes hit…your nerves can get the better of you. Don’t let them! Make up your mind to stay calm and steady, no matter what threatens to veer you off-course.
  • LESSON FOUR: When the time is right, you will be chosen. Don’t you love it when the spotlight hits the right singer at the right time? Feels like magic, doesn’t it? The same is true with your writing. At just the right time, an editor will fall in love with your manuscript. At just the right time, a heavenly light will shine on your work, and agents, readers, critique partners and publishing houses will take notice. Hang on, writer. Your day is coming!
  • LESSON FIVE: You will be judged. There will always be those ready to offer advice—some good and some bad—regarding your work. Keep a stiff upper lip when that editor asks for a rewrite. Don’t crater when a reader offers a poor review. Celebrate when you’re told the book/article is great, but don’t let it go to your head. More judgment is just around the corner.


You might never sing on the stage in front of millions of people, but it’s likely your words will appear in print for thousands to read. What a wonderful day that will be!

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Magazine Article Writing: Going From Mii to Wii

From Mii to Wii

So, you want to write magazine articles to earn extra money? Great! Freelance writing is a great way to earn cash. Let’s assume you’ve already taken the time to learn the various article types and know how to slant a great piece to fit an editor’s needs. Your writing is strong, your topic compelling, your deadline looming.

What’s missing?

I’d like to suggest one thing you might have overlooked: the Wii factor. Oh, not the Nintendo version. I’m referring to the “we” factor: universal appeal.

Many twenty-first century articles are focused on the writer, not the reader. We need to reverse that. Any piece you write—personal experience, how-to, informative, inspirational—must ultimately be about the reader, not the writer. Engage him. Uplift him. Sweep him into your story with you. Remind him of something that happened in his childhood. Evoke a strong memory. How? You’ve got to shift from the “Mii” mentality to the “Wii” mentality.

So much of this comes down to captivating the reader. You can win him over with a great story that has a compelling takeaway. Make sure the “tiny nugget of truth” is something he can relate to. If you’re writing about a fishing experience you had as a child, for example, drive home the point that your grandfather taught you how to reel in that first fish. His hand tenderly wrapped yours on the pole as that tiny catfish lifted out of the water. Grandpa celebrated alongside you, and taught you by example that quality time spent with a child far exceeds any other gift you could give. (See the takeaway? It’s clear, isn’t it? And it probably reminds you of someone who poured into your life as a child. That’s the point, after all. It’s the nugget of truth that you, the reader, carry away.)

Think about your work in progress. What sort of article is it? How can you take that piece to the next level? Pause to really think about your reader. Who is he/she? Why will this person care about your story? What’s in it for him? What emotions are you trying to tap into? Will he walk away from your article feeling uplifted? Does your story hit the mark or will the reader toss the magazine down on the coffee table, feeling like he’s been left out?

It’s not about “Mii,” even in a personal experience piece. It’s always about “Wii” (us/the human race/the reader specific).

Here’s a fun suggestion, in closing: Cut a picture of a man or woman out of a magazine and tape it to the wall above your desk. Write for him. Write for her. Write for “Wii.”

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