We’re talking about freelance writing in this Ebook I am writing, and specifically internet freelance writing. In chapter one (it feels a bit presumptuous to title a post a chapter, but forgive me, I’m a fiction writer at heart) we discussed the dream of freelance writing.
So now it is time to take a cold, hard look at the reality. Feel that cold water splashing over you? That is the wake-up call flowing about you, drenching everything. Sigh. That is the chill you feel as you print out yet another manuscript, try to figure out how much postage it AND the SASE require, and then realize you have to go to the PO after all because those stupid Homeland Security rules mean you must hand the heavier envelopes to a postal employee. There goes the dream of working in your jammies all day. As a reward, you get to sit back and wait to hear from the editor.
If you’re lucky, you won’t have turned 80 by the time you hear back. No, if you’re lucky you’ll only be 79.
Because we’re talking about relying on snail mail here folks. About sending a manuscript to an editor who is likely so overwhelmed with manuscripts she hasn’t seen the surface of her desk in years. About keeping fingers crossed that an article you’ve slaved over, interviewed people for, written and rewritten will be accepted when the odds of that are really pretty low.
Traditional freelancing requires heavy use of your computer printer. You’ll be printing out query letters and manuscripts and sending them by snail mail. You’ll be dealing with publication requirements that say "no simultaneous submissions" (which is the biggest load of bull ever)and editorial assistants who lose your work and people who for the most part don’t care you exist.
Sounds like fun, eh?
When I did most of my freelancing the traditional way, it was just such a damned hassle. Checking magazine guidelines, trying to figure out the correct editor to send work to, poring over magazines and newspapers to see if my story idea fit.
And then, half the time it fit so well I got back the response that they’d just done a story on that topic.
Or, I never heard back from them and when I contacted the publication, I was told they’d get right on it–only to never hear from them again.
Or, I heard back from an editor TWO YEARS after I sent the query–and they wanted the story in two weeks.
To me, the hassles of traditional free-lance writing career way outpaced the benefits and I was never very good at it. It was the little things that bugged me:
- I hated contacting people for quotes and information for a query, not knowing if the thing was going to be published or not.
- I hated waiting in line at the post office and trying to explain to the clerk how I needed to figure out return postage for a SASE.
- I hated getting those thin envelopes that signified a rejection in the mail.
- I hated printing out multiple copies of stories to send to literary magazines with a subscription base of 10: the editors, their spouses, and a stray parent and cousin.
- I hated trying to get the flow of the work established: I never could figure out how many queries I needed to send out to get an assignment and it was such a flippin’ hassle to send out the queries I never got enough assigments.
But all that changed when I discovered the world of internet freelancing. Now I
own a Mercedes and a mansion make more than I ever did when I was doing traditional freelancing. And it isn’t a hassle. I love it.
My family would probably tell you I love it a bit too much, because I spend a wee bit too much time at my computer. I have to tell myself, "step away from the computer" at regular intervals or else I’ll look up and realize that hours have gone by.
Like right now. My dog is pacing in the kitchen because it is past his dinner time, which is my cue to end this post/chapter.
Next time, we’ll look at some of the benefits of internet freelancing.
Meanwhile, if anybody has an freelance horror stories, they’d like to share, post a comment. I’d love to hear them.