Let’s say you develop and market one story a week. Before long, you are juggling dozens of articles at various stages of development and sale. If you are not selling reprints of your published articles, then read my blog on Reprints & Rewrites.
WHAT TO TRACK
You will need a system for tracking the status of your articles. Whether you develop your own method or use a ready-made tracker, these are the items to include:
- Publisher name and address
- Publisher/Editor phone number and email
- Publisher website
- Date when query was sent and the expected date for reply
- Reader demographic info
- Rate & Rights
- Date of payment
HOW TO TRACK
While I prepare a simple chart (for each article) that includes all this information, if you prefer to track all your articles in one place, here are a few ready-made trackers.
Writer’s Database (free) www.simonkewin.co.uk
SAMM (free) www.sandbaggers.8m.com
Writer’s Market Tracker ($6 per month, $40 per year) www.writersmarket.com. The Writer’s Market Tracker has 9,000 listings and their listings are detailed, just as in their printed annual book The Writer’s Market. While it is difficult to add publications not in their database, the rest of the tracker is easy to use. They have few newspaper listings.
It is vital to track your submissions, rejections, payments and publications so that you can make the most money from them. The timing of queries for reprints makes the difference between a sale and a miss.
Once your work has been published, you should consider using GOOGLE ALERTS to notify you if a title of your work, or your name pops up on other websites. Search for Google Alerts online. You could have emails sent to you whenever your article’s title appears online. This can help you find websites that “borrow” content without paying you for it. I urge you to set up at least a Google Alert for your name. In case you have a name that matches someone famous or infamous, you can eliminate notifications of the similar name by using a minus sign. For example, a writer named Alan Jackson would not want to get notices about the musician, so in a Google Alert the writer would enter his name as Alan Jackson –music. The minus sign means ‘except for’ music-related.
I found two unauthorized uses of my writing on websites. I sent an invoice to the webmaster of each website. One paid, one took down the article. How easy is that for making money? Another reason to monitor use of your work is to prevent free distribution of something the publisher has paid exclusive right to publish. Fortunately for me, the article that was used online without my permission was used months after the print publication used it and the rights had reverted back to me. Otherwise I would have notified the publisher to take action.
Financially, I track my work by keeping a separate category for my writing income on a software program called Quicken. More than a glorified checking account register, it can be set up so that all income and expenses are categorized the same way your accountant needs stuff categorized for preparing your income taxes. Every deposit is listed by the employer/client and in the notation field I enter the title of the project. You can also track expenses this way, if your publisher reimburses you for expenses like travel, long-distance phone calls, shipping and such.
This blog series is an overview of important things to know when writing for magazines or for a monetized blog. I used my journalism degree to make a living, to support my husband through medical school, and to have fun until I could write novels. Now that my hubby is in practice and we don’t have to live solely on my income, I am focusing on novels and doing less and less magazine work.
If you are considering a career as a freelancer, I urge you to invest in the following books for more in-depth advice from the queen of freelancing—Kelly James-Enger. Her detailed, disciplined approach to writing is a model to follow. Here are a few of her books on freelancing. She also has a book on how to make money as a ghostwriter.
Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money
Ready, Aim, Specialize!: Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money!
All her books are listed on her Author’s Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Kelly-James-Enger/e/B001HOL840
Working as a writer doesn’t require starving. It takes discipline, flexibility, and creativity. Okay, and a thick skin to handle the rejections. Look at rejections as “no thank you” notices, because that is all they are. If you send queries without doing proper research on the publication, expect rejections. If you miss deadlines or employ sloppy business practices, then yes, you are likely to be a starving artist. But if you treat your writing as a business and take it seriously, you can build a successful career as a freelance writer.
Cheers to you!
For more articles like this go to www.jonimfisher.com.