Landing Freelance Work with Your Book

You wrote a book. Great! Aside from selling it in ebook, print, and audiobook versions, how else can you leverage it for income? How about use it as the basis for getting some freelance work?

2016-04-20 Landing Freelance Work with Your Book

My Sad Story Pitching on Upwork

2016-04-20 journal notebook laptop pen paper page bookNot long ago, I decided to add freelance writing and editing on top of my indie publishing activities. The first place I went was Upwork, a site that helps freelancers and potential clients connect and collaborate. (I’ve worked with Upwork from the hiring side, too, and love their service.)

My initial foray into pitching clients was pretty dismal. I pitched numerous clients for proofreading and copyediting and couldn’t get a bite in the cesspool of competition. I was getting discouraged.

Don’t Pitch Useless Jobs

2016-04-20 writing writer pen paper page book journal notebook coffee mugThe first thing I did was to re-evaluate the kinds of clients I was pitching. You’d be amazed how many job descriptions on Upwork read like this:

I have a 24,000-word document that needs editing.

That’s it. No elaboration. No explanation of the content of the document. No idea what kind of editing we’re talking about–content editing, copyediting, or proofreading. Just words that need edits.

I stopped pitching these jobs. Given such limited information, how was I supposed to explain the ways in which I was the perfect fit for the job? “I can edit. Hire me.”

Pitching Awesome Clients

2016-04-20 writer writing pen paper pagesI started using a keener eye when looking for clients.

  • Did they specify what kind of editing or writing they were looking for?
  • Did they mention specific tasks that were a unique fit to my skill set?
  • Did they say what their document was about?

Here’s an example of a (pretend) client that would be a perfect fit for me:

Hello! I’ve written a 52,000-word memoir about growing up in foster care. I need help with the flow of the writing, grammar, and punctuation. I’d also really like help with formatting the book for Kindle and CreateSpace.

This is a job I could ace. Here’s why:

  • My book Journaling to Become a Better Writer is part memoir; so I have experience writing and publishing in the genre.
  • My up-coming series stars a girl who is growing up in foster care, so I’m very interested in the topic of this person’s book.
  • She’s told me exactly what she needs help with–and it amounts to both copyediting and proofreading, my two specialties.
  • To tie the knot on the deal, I’m one of few freelancers who can not only edit but also format.

Using Your Book to Clinch the Deal

2016-04-20 books pages wordsIf you’ve written a book, you’ve suddenly joined an elite club–never mind that anyone can write and publish a book now days. Potential clients are still impressed if you pitch them and say, “I’m the author of xyz.

Let’s say you’ve written a romance. If you’re looking for jobs on Upwork or other sites, you should zero in on people looking for help with their romance novel. You’re a shoe in!

Get creative, too. I leveraged my book about journaling to land a job proofreading a book about business and life success. How? I mentioned the important part: that when I sent my book past my beta readers, entire chapters went by with no red marks. I used that to prove that I was an attentive copyeditor and proofreader. And I was hired!

If you’re looking for freelance work to supplement your income, how can you leverage your book to land jobs?

My Indie Publishing Adventure to Date

2016-02-01 latte coffee laptop computer tableBrew Your Own Adventure: Post 1

We announced in the IPT Newsletter that we were about to start a new thing: Monthly progress reports on my (Danielle’s) indie publishing venture. Carrie’s and my goal is to make a full-time income writing through self-publishing. The Brew Your Own Adventure series will document my progress!

To get you oriented, this first post will summarize my indie publishing life thus far. Then I’ll end with my goals for the coming month. Let’s go!

2016-03-07 My Indie Publishing Adventure to Date

Where It All Began

I first heard about indie publishing in 2013. After some research, I realized this was exactly the thing for me. Why wait for a publisher to give me a nod of approval when I could sell directly to my readers? My research also revealed that a lot of work was involved. I wasn’t daunted. I love a challenge. And I was strongly drawn to the liberty to make my publishing decisions myself – from pricing and promotions to cover art.

My First Book

Journaling Front Cover lores (432x648)My first book happened by accident. It started as a series of blog posts here at IPT that did quite well. I decided to write up a quick booklet based on those posts. Well … it grew and became a full-length creative writing guide: Journaling to Become a Better Writer: Seven Keys to More Authentic Fiction. I self-published it in December 2014 – my first book!

How My First Book Did

I decided to go wide (non-KDP Select) and put up my book on both Amazon and Smashwords. (Smashwords is a company that will automatically publish your book to multiple platforms, like B&N, iTunes, Kobo, etc.) Like all authors, my best sales were at Amazon (which dwarfs the other platforms), especially during the first three months.

Then it kinda tanked. The 90-day cliff, as they call it. After three months, Amazon no longer promotes your book as a new release, so you’re on your own.

The old cover for Journaling to Become a Better Writer

The old cover for Journaling to Become a Better Writer

I floundered with marketing for quite a while, primarily because I wasn’t proud of my book cover. It was a home-made cover Carrie and I put together. I eventually realized I wasn’t going to market the poor thing until it sported professional cover art. So I kissed some money good-bye and hired a professional designer through 99Designs. Once I had a better cover, I was absolutely raring to go with my marketing.

One of the first things I’ve tried is Facebook ads. (Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula is the go-to for that info.) I’ve been running ads for a few months now and have been earning back my investment plus a little income over the top. Yay!

I also released a paperback edition of the book in summer 2015. Formatting it for the print-on-demand company CreateSpace – and holding my first book in my hands – were extremely satisfying experiences for me. Can’t wait to create another one!

What’s Next?

My goal is still to make a full-time living writing. I want to clarify that there’s a difference between full time hours and full-time income. I’m very lucky to have the former and still working diligently towards the latter.

DSC03349 (640x480)The more I study up on profitable indie publishing, the more I hear that you can’t expect a full-time living off one book. Having put my first out there, I heartily agree. I’m on the brink of putting out my first published fiction books, The Mailboat Suspense Series, which will contain four or five titles. Once I have multiple books, I can experiment with setting the first in the series at permafree or $0.99, see how follow-through sales go from that, and Facebook ads on the boxed set.

March Goals

2015-11-18 target bulls eye darts arrowsSo, what do I want most to accomplish in March 2016?

  • Finish edits on Book One of the Mailboat series
  • Invite fifty bloggers to read and review Journaling to Become a Better Writer
  • Mess around with a Facebook ad for signups to my personal newsletter

What are your goals for March? Let us know in the comments! I’ll check back in with you guys in April to let you know how I did!

It’s Okay to Have Fun

2015-03-16 Fuzzy Reader (2)I see my massage therapist once every six weeks. During every heavenly, muscle-mangling visit, my masseuse will ask, “So how’s the writing going?”

Lately, I’ve had to tell her there wasn’t much to report.

The truth was, I was missing more writing days than I was hitting. But I’m a full-time writer. How could this happen?

When I sat back and took an honest gander at my daily activities (thanks, in part, to the Time Recorder app), I found myself doing everything BUT writing books. Blogging, networking, marketing, balancing the ledgers, etc.

But not book writing.

2015-02-18 Its okay to have fun Optimist

Writing Isn’t Work (Apparently)

2015-03-16 Coffee Shop Reader (2)I concluded it was because blogging and networking and marketing and balancing the ledgers all felt like work – and writing didn’t. In fact, I felt guilty  for sitting down and creating stories. It was too much fun to be serious work.

For as long as I can remember, it’s always been my goal to be a full-time author. (We’re talking, like, since I was seven.) As I learned the ropes of indie publishing, I heard everyone saying that if you wanted to make a go of being truly successful – especially if you wanted to go full-time – you needed to treat your writing like a business. You needed to embrace the “boring” stuff like marketing and ledger balancing, etc.

Combine that with the fact that I had many voices from my family telling me that “author” wasn’t a real job. To prove to them (and myself) that it was, I embraced the technical sides of my new job and pursued them with gusto.

But the most important part – writing – was falling to the wayside.

So what did I do?

It’s Okay that My Job Is Fun

2016-01-13 joy, happy, smile, smiling, runningI changed my mindset.

First, I reminded myself that my income is based, not on my Twitter account, my blogs, or even my ledger; but on my books  and how many of them are available for purchase. Hence, writing fiction is the most important part of my job.

Then I reminded myself that I’m lucky to have the most fun job in the world – the job I dreamed of as a child; the job countless thousands of people dream of, whether or not they’ve so much as put pen to paper yet. I haven’t abandoned the business mindset that I need. Marketing and ledger balancing are all still important.

But when writing time hits, I completely switch head spaces. I quit being a self-employed entrepreneur. I forget about the email and the new Facebook page and the bank balances. I silence the nagging voices ringing in my ear, accusing me of not having a real job.

I become a kid again and run away to fairy-tale land. I let myself have fun.

Story creation is the core of my business. No stories, no income; no income, no business. So it’s not only okay to have fun – it’s foundational.

What about you? What’s keeping you from writing?

Using Amazon Giveaway to Grow Your List and Thank Your Readers

The holiday season is upon us (in case you hadn’t noticed), and the spirit of gift-giving is in the air. How about giving a gift to your loyal readers? I recently learned about Amazon Giveaway. While not built specifically for authors, we’re in a great position to take advantage of it – and let our readers know how much we love them.

2015-12-09 How to Use Amazon Giveaway

What Is Amazon Giveaway?

2015-02-20 BenchAmazon Giveaway is a tool that lets you choose any physical item from the Amazon store – your book, somebody else’s book, a Kindle, whatever – and use it as a prize in a drawing. Any physical item works, so long as it’s eligible for Amazon Giveaway. How do you know if an item is eligible? Check the bottom of the item’s product page; scroll waaaaay down below the customer reviews. You’ll find a button that says, “Set up a giveaway.”

You can also choose how many prizes to give away, and how winners are selected. Amazon can select winners randomly, or via a lucky number (such as every third entrant), or first come, first served. (Great for those, “Be one of the first ten to reply!”)

Finally, you select what the entrants have to do to be eligible for the give-away. The options Amazon makes available are following you on Twitter, watching an Amazon Video Short, or watching a YouTube video. Also, you can make your giveaway no-strings-attached.

You pay. Your selected number of entrants win. Amazon ships.

It’s that simple.

“Grow Your Following”

2015-12-09 at symbol, twitter, follow, social media, green, growOn its home page, Amazon Giveaway advertises itself as a way to “create buzz” and “grow your followers and customers.” However, I’m not sure how exactly they expect that to work.

Amazon Giveaway doesn’t appear have any built-in  feature to help you grow your following. For example, there is no requirement for the participant to SHARE a social media message to be eligible. A feature like that, combined with, say, a Kindle tablet or a boxed set by a famous author, would be HUGE.

You might argue that people might share your tweets and Facebook posts that advertise the giveaway. Well, I wouldn’t count on that. When there’s a contest for a limited number of prizes, why would a participant reduce their own odds by inviting everyone in their circle to enter the competition, as well? The only way you could encourage sharing is if it were a requirement of participation, or if the participant could increase their own odds by sharing. (“Click share, and we’ll add your name twice.”)

As far as I can tell, the only way to get people engaged in your Amazon Giveaway is to tell them yourself (and through your network) that you have a giveaway going on. You’ll have to use your own means to get your giveaway to reach people beyond the following you already have.

Sure, you can require interested parties to follow you on Twitter. But chances are, you’re using Twitter to tell people about your giveaway. Hashtags will be your only salvation here to attract participants from outside your current following.

Okay, so this isn’t an Insta-Grow solution to your followship woes. What are some other ways to turn an Amazon Giveaway into a mode of growing your following? Maybe start a Thunderclap campaign. Maybe ask all your friends in your network to let their  followers know about your giveaway. Maybe go on a blog tour and tell everybody that you’re holding a drawing.

Grow Your Mailing List

2015-12-09 book plus love equals mail reading fans mailing list subscribersOne review I read about Amazon Giveaway lamented that there wasn’t much of a way to keep in touch or follow up with the participants after the giveaway is over.

Your most valuable asset as an author is your mailing list – your direct link to those people most interested in buying your books. If you have a small list, your top priority should be to grow it. (And write books.)

So here’s one idea for linking an Amazon Giveaway to growing your mailing list: Choose your product to give away – either your own book, or a book by a best-selling author whose work is much like your own, or even a Kindle. Then instead of directly advertising the Amazon Giveaway itself to your social media outlets and network, invite people to join your mailing list in exchange for a chance at winning the product you selected. Don’t share the Amazon Giveaway link on Twitter or Facebook; put it in an auto-responder and share it only to the people who sign up to your mailing list.

Can we make this even better? And can we curb the disappointment of your new subscribers who didn’t win? Sure! Try this: All subscribers to your mailing list will receive a free copy of one of your own books (that’s author mailing list 101, right?) PLUS they get a chance at winning a book (or boxed set) by a popular author whose writing is similar to yours. Pow! Everybody wins, because everybody gets your  book, but you’ve also got the power of a well-known title behind you, which should draw even more people in.

One way or the other, you’re going to have to advertise your Amazon Giveaway. Why not make all that work count, and get all your participants on your mailing list?

Combine with Facebook Ads

2015-12-09 Free book, leather, old bookI’ve just started experimenting with Facebook ads. (Promising results so far!) One way you can use Facebook ads is to (again) grow your mailing list. Advertise your free book in exchange for readers’ email addresses.

Oh, wait. What if you don’t have a free book?

Well … why not use Amazon Giveaway to give them somebody else’s book? Again, make it a book that’s both well-known and similar to your own writing. Amazon Giveaways only run for a limited time, though, so this would be a way to create a boost of new subscribers … such as just before you release your first book. (Clever, eh?)

Or Just Thank Your Followers

2015-02-20 Humor (1)The place where Amazon Giveaway promises to excel is in taking all the hassle out of running your own giveaway, packaging items, and dropping them off at the post office. You select the prize, Amazon handles the rest.

As you can see from my comments, I don’t see Amazon Giveaway as a simple way to magically grow your following. (Contrary to what they seem to imply on their homepage.) You have to get creative to advertise your Giveaway to people outside your current following.

So why did I get excited about Amazon Giveaway when I first saw it? Because I value the people who have already signed up to my email list. What a great way to let them know just how much they mean to me!

At some point in my career, I would absolutely love to make a Giveaway an annual, holiday thing, just to let my subscribers know how much I appreciate them. These are the devoted people who enjoy my writing so much, they want to be the first to know when my next book is coming out. They want to receive my blog posts and/or newsletter in their inbox every week and month. One of my subscribers even sent me a handwritten Thanksgiving card! My fans mean a lot to me, and Amazon Giveaway would make it really easy for me to show them just how much I appreciate them.

So, I’ve proposed several ways to make Amazon Giveaway work for you. Your turn! Have you ever run a giveaway? What did you like or dislike about it?