Three Important Lessons Learned from Freelance Writing


      When I tell people that I’m a freelance writer, they immediately have a bunch of questions for me. Where do I work? What do I write? What kind of money do I make? Can I get them a job? Everyone (from cab drivers to business owners to drunk tourists) wants to know.

      I see the light in their eyes as they imagine putting words to paper, seeing their books in stores, and receiving praise while the money rolls in. Every time, that bright light turns into careful consideration when I explain the reality of a freelance writing career.

1. It’s not you, it’s them. But it’s on you.

      This is something I didn’t figure out until I began my freelance writing career: your ideas are only half of writing. Whenever you are writing with the intent to publish, you are writing for other people. These mysterious and faceless people determine the success of your work. They must be able to understand your writing.

      Reader comprehension trumps personal expression. Do I hate it when my carefully constructed sentences are deleted or shortened or ripped apart? Of course I do. But I just shrug and move onto the next assignment. It’s nothing personal. 


2. Being your own boss means kicking your own ass.

      My income comes entirely from freelance writing and copy editing. I literally cannot afford to take it easy. Sure, there are mornings when I want to lie in bed and watch TV, and days when I want to ditch work and go to the zoo. That’s the worker side of me. The boss side doesn’t allow it.

My boss is like a separate character in my head who tells me what to do. If there are a ton of deadlines coming up, she tells me I need to stay in and work late. An article I really don’t want to write? The Writer can whine and cry and sulk at the keyboard, but the Boss stands over her shoulder with a grim smile and says, “Write.” She’s not mean, though. I do get vacation time and days off, but I have to earn them. Just like time off from any other job.

3. Panning for gold means throwing out a lot of dirt.

      It doesn’t matter what I write: I throw out material every time I create something. If I’m lucky, I’ll just ditch an introduction and a few sentences, then write new material. If I’m having an off day, I end up throwing out more words than I use.

      Right now, I’m writing in WordPad. I put the good material at the top. If I don’t think a paragraph fits here, but it might work somewhere else, I put it at the bottom of the document in a sort of writing graveyard. This article has 378 words in the graveyard, not counting the few paragraphs I scribbled by hand and the sentences deleted forever.

      When I’m writing for myself, I don’t mind a big graveyard: I can work the material into another post. If I’m writing for someone else, it’s time-consuming and counterproductive to have a graveyard bigger than the finished document. However, I have no hesitation about killing off paragraphs. The more you write, the less attached you are to individual sentences.

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The Fourth Wave of Ebooks [OPINION]

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      PopularSoda hasn’t been around in its current form for too long, but we’ve had our eye on ebooks since the beginning. Right now is a great time to get into ebooks. Here’s how the ebook market got here, what’s going on now, and what’s happening next for self-published and ebook authors.


An early version of the Sony Reader

      During the first wave, early adopters bought the first (and incredibly expensive!) ereaders. Everything was shiny and new, and this stage was mostly about figuring out the technology and capabilities. There was virtually no self-publishing: ebooks were nothing more than digital copies of already-printed books. Users could upload their own text files to the ereaders, but there wasn’t a place to share individual writings worldwide, or a way to make money off of them.

      Limited market meant limited choices. Limited technology meant that ebooks were really just text files. There was no interactivity and even the rendered images (when available) weren’t that great. Despite these hurdles, some people saw the potential and jumped on board (Lila is going to out herself as an ebook hipster here because she had a PRS-500 Sony Reader before they were available to the public). Most readers didn’t pay any attention to ebooks until the second wave.

      At this point, the technology was solid and ereaders were being mass-produced. The price was still pretty high and preserved ereaders’ status as a novelty and not a necessity. Self-publishing options opened up,but confusing programs and pricing structures as well as a lack of customization initially kept some authors away. The DIY publishing technology expanded and evolved over the course of this wave, becoming more accessible with every update.

The cover of one of Amanda Hocking’s books

      In the second wave, we really started to see the first success stories in ebook self-publishing. Amanda Hocking immediately jumps to mind. This self-published twenty-something author sold millions of her ebooks, landed a traditional publishing deal, and sold the film rights for one of her series. She wasn’t the only one to find indie success: John Locke, Michael Prescott, Louise Voss, and J.A. Konrath are also among the top-selling self-published authors. These highly publicized outliers and newer, better self-pub technology and increased availability of ereaders led to the gold rush of the third wave of ebooks.