Thursday, June 21, 2012

Launch your very own freelance writing career in 6 easy steps

Okay, that's a very SEO-y title, and I apologize for it. :) I recently reached out to another blogger who had announced she planned to try her hand at writing full-time. I wanted to give some quick and easy tips for getting freelance curriculum writing assignments, as well as some general thoughts I have about writing fiction. After typing up my e-mail to her, I realized it might be a good blog post. Here you go!

Freelance curriculum writing tips
1. One of the best places to look is craigslist. Visit the jobs section of the major cities and scan for freelance and curriculum writing work. I got some good gigs this way. Another option is simply to Google "freelance curriculum writer" and see what comes up. Sometimes the smaller educational publishers will put job listings right on their websites instead of listing them anywhere. Google different combinations of the phrase. "freelance item writer," "freelance ELA writer," "freelance writing jobs," "contract curriculum writer," etc.
2. If you have any aptitude for writing multiple choice questions, you'll do well. Sadly, test writers are in huge demand. This depresses me, of course, but it is a fact.
3. Rework your resume to reflect any writing you've done and be prepared to send samples of your work. Usually 2-3 pages is fine; only send if requested. The cover letter is the most important thing. I kept mine short since you'll always apply for jobs via email.
4. Try this blog:
5. Don't work for less than $25/hour. There are a lot of people trying to scam writers and it's not cool.
6. Publish your own curriculum materials at for the homeschool market or at I think that you have to write a LOT of material to break through on these sites; I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

Fiction writing
The traditional route.
1. You have to get an agent. This is a lot easier if you have a "high concept" pitch. For example, the YA writer Lauren Oliver broke through the noise by pitching something like: "it's Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls" when she wrote BEFORE I FALL. I got the attention of my agent with the pitch, "How about I turn the Facebook meme '25 Things About Me' into a novel?"
2. Good writing matters a lot, but the traditional publishers only offer nice advances to people who already have a fan base or to a book concept that is super fresh. THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (sp?) is a good example of what was fresh last year. I have no idea what will be fresh next year.
3. A lot of people are saying traditional publishing is dead and ebooks are the wave of the future. I think both traditional publishing and self-publishing will do fine, but we're definitely in a time of flux. As William Goldman once said, "Nobody knows anything."

The self-pubbed route
You can upload your book(s) directly to Amazon via: and to other websites via their own self-publishing platforms. I've done this and I like it. You have total control over your own work, you keep 70% of the cover price instead of 5% or 10%, and it's really fast. Promotion is hard, however. There is growing respect for self-pubbed authors and it's the route I'm taking with Planet Explorers. If you're curious about this, I'd recommend lurking on the Writers' Cafe at Kindleboards for a little while:,60.0.html


  1. It is really informative post for freelancers; I really like your work. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up.


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  2. Thanks for the insight from an experienced writer. I am just starting to dip my toes into the travel guide writing market, and actually wound up here by following your bio from the Planet Explorers series. Great concept, btw! Mine are similar, but aimed at the parents. My plan is to start with with Kindle and see what happens. I'm off to check out the Kindleboards you recommend! Thanks again!

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