Writing: It’s Not Just About The Words You Put On The Page

Writing is not the only profession affected by this in the current market, but if you’re trying to become a professional writer (fiction, non-fiction, freelance, etc) this is an important list to keep in mind. Many thanks to Robert Lee Brewer (whose name is NOT Bob) for posting this on his blog.

Here are the 8 jobs of modern writers:

  1. Writer. Believe it or not, the writing should always come first. If the other seven jobs ever start to overwhelm you, remember to fall back on the writing. That’s your bread and butter as a writer.
  2. Editor. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that someone else can correct all your mistakes. Sure, an editor will help improve (or at least alter) your writing, but that’s only after your work has been accepted. Your job as a writer is not just to string words and sentences together; it’s to string the best words and sentences together–with a minimum of grammar and spelling mistakes.
  3. Copywriter. Jane Friedman wrote a great post about why this is important over at Writer Unboxed. Copywriting skills are needed for everything from writing query letters to bio notes.
  4. File clerk. Once your writing is great and your query skills pay the bills, you need the ability to keep accurate records. The WritersMarket.com site I edit offers a submission tracker tool, but writers need to also keep track of bills, payments, and expenses–for tax purposes. It’s not fun for most people (raising my hand), but it’s essential to freelance success.
  5. Negotiator. Here are my negotiation tips for writers–from the perspective of an editor. Put them to good use. For tips from the writer’s perspective, check out this post by Carol Tice. You don’t have to be super pushy to be a good negotiator–sometimes all you need to do is ask.
  6. Accountant. This is sort of related to number four, but money complicates everything and needs an extra level of care. If you’re trying to make a business out of your writing, you’ll need to keep receipts and accurate records of payments, expenses, bills, etc., that are related to your writing. If you go to a conference, that’s a business expense, including the hotel, mileage, etc. Learn more in the 2012 Writer’s Market, which has a great piece on this subject by full-time freelancer Sage Cohen.
  7. Marketer. Most writers don’t want to think about this job. After all, many are introverts. Then, there are the extroverted writers who actually want to move this ahead of the writing on the list of jobs. However, I think the writing always comes first, but writers have to build a platform. It’s essential to building your brand as a freelance writer and making you visible to potential opportunities.
  8. Speaker. Speaking of introverted writers, I’m sure most are spitting their coffee all over the computer screens in disbelief that I would include number eight as an essential job of modern writers. However, it’s true. Many of the best opportunities (both for platform building and making money) for writers moving forward will involve speaking. You don’t have to be the best speaker ever, but speaking is a skill that you work on and can improve over time. Trust me, I used to think it was impossible, and I still get nervous, but I am much better now than I used to be. Click here for a few of my tips on speaking.

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