Steve Slaunwhite

10 Life-Changing Books for Writers (Hint: They’re Not About Craft)

10 Life-Changing Books for Writers (Hint: They're Not About Craft). Makealivingwriting.com.

What happens when freelance writers want to build their careers? Well, since we’re ‘word’ people, we tend to ask our friends, “What good books for writers should I read?”

Lengthy chats erupt on Facebook in response, about the most inspiring and useful books on writing craft. Books such as Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Stephen King’s On Writing are enthusiastically discussed and endorsed.

I’ve read and loved these books, too. But I don’t think they’re the ideal books for writers, especially if your focus is making a reliable living at your craft.

My experience is writers read these books, think, “Aaah, wonderful! Terrific insights.” Then, they go straight back to starving.

Also, most writers I know don’t need to improve their craft. They write just fine.

The books for writers that will make a bigger impact are the ones about how to make a business from writing. How to freelance successfully. How to finally find the confidence to put your writing out there.

Those are the books for writers that can really change your life. The books that show you how to feed your family, on a regular basis, with your craft.

If that’s the sort of help you need, here’s a list of practical books on the business of being a writer that I frequently recommend.

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Transform Your Freelance Marketing: 5 Things You’re Probably Getting Wrong

Transform your Freelance Marketing

Every week, I meet writers who are taking their first plunge into freelance marketing. Maybe they’ve grown tired of applying for UpWork gigs they don’t get, scanning Craigslist ads for hours, or of getting $10 a post from a content mill.

To me, this is an exciting moment, when writers realize they’re in business — and running a business means you do proactive marketing. Passively trolling online ads that are each going to get 1,000 responses isn’t your ticket to high earnings.

This is all good, but often, when you first start active marketing, it can be discouraging. Early results may not be stellar. There’s a decent bit to know to win at pitching your writing services.

While some writers make phone calls or do in-person networking, the majority send marketing or pitch emails. For publications, we send queries.

And most of these pitches don’t get results. Why? Here are my top five probable reasons freelance marketing is ineffective, based on my experience reviewing hundreds of pitch letters over the years:

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Exciting News for Freelance Writers: Email Copywriting is Hard

Good news for freelance writers: Email copyrighting is HARD. Makealivingwriting.com

You probably write emails every day. But emails that make sales? That’s not so easy — and that’s good news for freelance writers looking for lucrative writing opportunities.

In a recent interview for the Litmus.com blog, Ann Handley (bestselling author of Everybody Writes), spoke about how hard is it to write an email.

In fact, it’s one of the most difficult tasks in marketing.

I couldn’t agree more.

In my experience, companies struggle every day to craft effective emails that engage their audiences, generate leads, and bring in the business.

To them, success is just a click away. But so is failure.

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5 Idiot Blunders I Made on My First White Paper Writing Assignment

Freelance writer makes a mistake

One of the biggest moves a freelance writer can make to earn more is to move into better-paying types of writing.

When you go from, say, writing $20 blog posts to writing white papers that can pay $1,500-$10,000, it’s a big leap.

Of course, a lot can also go wrong when you step into a new, more sophisticated kind of writing that you haven’t done before. But if you want to earn more, at some point you have to buck up your courage and go for it.

A few years back, I fell into an opportunity to write my first white paper, when a writer I knew referred me for the project. I’d heard this was a great-paying writing niche, and I was dying to sink my teeth into one of these big, detailed projects.

Even though I hadn’t written white papers before, I was tapped because the topic was a big company’s nonprofit efforts — which I’d covered in the past, as a reporter. So I knew the end client and what we’d be documenting fairly well.

Maybe that made me a little overconfident. I made a boatload of rookie mistakes that made this first $2,500 white paper gig a lot more unpleasant and lengthy than it should have been.

And I never ended up working for this client again. So. Relationship blown.

Where did it all go wrong? Let me count the ways…

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