Archive for June 14th, 2007

Hire the Kids

hope_000.gifTime Management for Writers
By C. Hope Clark

Handling children while managing a home writing career is like adding oil to water – they do not mix well. Sometimes you have to shake the bottle a little harder to blend the two together to get those words on paper; but the union doesn’t last for long. Maybe you need a special ingredient in the mix to make a smoother blend. How about enticing the kids to join your writing team? Put them on your “staff.”

The only way most children will appreciate what you do is if you make it meaningful to them. Look at a magazine masthead and scour the employee titles until you find one or two that fit your tasks at hand, like “Circulation Director,” “Advertising Manager” or “Editorial Associate.” Then, depending upon the age of the child, assign a title and a few duties to make them a part of your team officially.

Payment can be anything you like. You may offer simple wages (AKA allowance), a Saturday outing, television on a school night, computer time, or a later bedtime in exchange for services rendered.

After you settle on payment, define the duties. If you want to be formal and dramatic about the arrangement, sign a contract with your kids. By reading what they have to do, understanding the reward and committing to a signature, they will pay more attention. Their first “real” job might make them stand a little straighter and speak in adult tones. Hold your breath, because it just might work.

Create a nametag, an ID badge, or even business cards depicting their positions. You can do so much with your computer these days, and the cost is pennies. Children adore playing adult, and these items really pump up the ego.

Duties have to be genuine. Pretend the employment is fictitious and you ruin the deal. Here are a few ideas about worthwhile support these young minds can provide for you:

  • Take out your writing trash.
  • Bring coffee, tea or a soft drink to sip on while you write. Only require it at a certain time on certain days so it gets to be a habit. You do not want your children to come running at the snap of your fingers or you erode their trust by reverting to Mom or Dad instead of remaining the employer.
  • Dust your computer screen once a week.
  • Put postage and return addresses on your submissions. (That will make you submit more articles, won’t it?)
  • File your papers. (And that will make you develop an organized filing system.)
  • Read over your Web site for errors or broken links.
  • Recycle your magazines and white paper.

Be clear about expectations regarding frequency, days, and quantity for each assignment. If your kids clearly understand their tasks, they’ll perform.

The best reward is when your kids learn to respect you and the work you perform. They may realize why you write into the night or wake up before dawn. They may come to understand the hard work required to create a simple magazine submission or a novel synopsis for an agent. Suddenly you may find yourself with nuisances transformed to cheerleaders whose responsibilities have created a mutual admiration between you.

C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Her magazine credits include Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, ByLine Magazine, NextStep Teen, College Bound Teen, Landscape Management Magazine, TURF Magazine, and American Careers Magazine. Hope is a motivational soul known as “Freelance Hope” in many circles. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com

Ask Wendy Your Writing and Publishing Questions

wendywotr.gifBy Wendy Burt

Q: I’ve got some funny ideas for bumper stickers, doormats, mugs, etc. Who buys that stuff and how much do they pay?

A: There are several companies that buy “novelty items.” Most are considered greeting card companies (primarily), so that may come into play when you’re doing your Google search. Payment varies – depending on the size, history and type of company. One of my favorites is Kalan (www.kalanlp.com). They buy text for just about everything that you’d find at Spencer gifts: shot glasses, gag gifts, key rings, t-shirts, beer mugs, lighters, etc. If I remember correctly, they pay $50 – $75 per item. Not bad for a couple words! You can sign up to be added to their freelancers list in the bottom right corner of their Web site.

Also check out Ephemera, Inc. (www.ephemera-inc.com). This company produces buttons, stickers and magnets. Be forewarned: the Web site has some very risqué items! But they do buy some “cleaner” stuff too – like age-related gags, political paraphernalia and job/boss topics. They pay $50 per “slogan” and accept submissions via mail or e-mail. Visit the Web site to read their writer’s guidelines.

And finally, visit www.greetingcard.org/gca_publishermembers.html for a huge list of greeting card companies with contact info. Some buy other items – like calendars, notepads, etc.

Q: How do I go about trying to get a column in a newspaper or magazine?

A: The main two things you’ll need are published clips and several columns written in advance. (The latter is because editors don’t like to save a space in the publication only to find out you can’t meet deadlines.)

As a first-time columnist, you probably have a better shot getting a column in a small local or regional publication. Although I don’t necessarily advocate writing for free, if you’re getting something ELSE out of it (a byline that promotes your new book or Web site, promoting your other business – such as consulting, accounting, marketing, etc.), it could certainly work to your advantage. (Small publishers often don’t have much money and are more likely to jump at the chance for a freebie.) Also, even those who CAN pay may have tons of other offers from businesspeople that are willing to write for free just to promote their business (which, unfortunately, makes it harder for those of us who write for a living).

In any case, pitch the editor your idea and offer one-time rights. Then, if the editor accepts, you may be able to sell the column to other non-competitive publications. This will give you more money for no extra work!

Articles, books, greeting cards, oh my! Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just three years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s typical day might including writing ad copy, greeting cards, health articles, personal profiles or her marketing column for Her Business magazine. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful baby, Gracie. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at www.WendyBurt-Thomas.com.


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