Writers, Help your Financial Outlook and Say Hello to your State and U.S. Agencies

Money | Original Photo by TW Collins on FlickrAfter Friday’s Amazon fiasco, where myself and several other writers, publishers, and editors called out to the blogosphere, I realized that many folk probably are feeling a little devastated right now. Just asking Dear Amazon, What are you Thinking? isn’t enough; when things like this happen, getting upset and angry is justified, but in the end we need a plan to move forward.

On my way into work this morning, I was reminded of a few resources that are easily accessible to everyone, like the U.S. Small Business Association. It all started when I heard yet another radio ad for businesses advocating “Free Credit Reports.” Not well known to many people, you may already have one available to you under a state statute. In Madison, Wisconsin Residents are eligible for a free credit report.

To find out whether or not you qualify, most states have something similar to Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institution that you can reference. The purpose of this state agency is to help consumers with different aspects of their money; they are available as the go-between for all kinds of disputes ranging from credit repair schemes to services like setting up your LLC. The Wisconsin agency is also providing free seminars and classes to the public, which is vital information for freelancers who haven’t experienced the ebb and flow of payments yet.

When you’re a freelancer, tracking your income and expenses may be a “must,” but there are other business techniques that come into play as well–especially when you’re finding work or have to change your book-selling tactics on-the-fly.
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A Freelancer’s Service Announcement: Please Write your Emails

One of the more annoying things I’ve come across throughout the years is when other writers or businesses decide to utilize abbreviations and other forms of “netspeak” in email. Using ALL CAPS or writing things like, “hey, how r u? i see that u review books. can u review mine?” are fairly irritating. I often wonder why a writer would not take the time to write their emails out in a fairly professional manner. Needless to say, I’m not that keen to read a book if they can’t even be bothered to spell out “how r u?”

Emails, if written correctly, can act as mini-marketing tools to help you get that next job, assignment or speaking engagement. Since your potential employer wants to hire you as a writer, spelling and grammatical errors can reflect pretty poorly on you and your work. As a writer, you already have challenges to overcome like writer’s stigmas and what I call every writer’s conundrum, so we need all the help we can get.

Another way to look at emails, is that they often replace the query letter for article and fiction submissions. Those same keywords you use to sell your work can also be used in an email; I like to call them out in my message box by doing something like this:

[Article Submission] Words on the Water for Publication in Work Webzine.

After I write my query, I typically work in a one to two paragraph mini-resume that is tailored to that particular publication. The brief bio helps me remind myself what areas I’m focusing on as a writer, and gives me the opportunity to reassess my goals.

Remember, too, that some professionals don’t have time to be on top of internet trends; some people have no idea what the latest craze is on MySpace or even what icanhazcheezburger may mean. In an age where great communication is everything, emails are really something you can use to make you (and your writing) look good provided you cross your t’s and dot your i’s. Don’t even get me started on the writer’s resumes I’ve seen. That’s a topic for another blog post.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going offline because I’m no n00b an i am teh r0xx0R!

Er…something like that. *blushes*

You Can Market Your Work with Video

Take a look at this YouTube! video that horror writer David Wellington put together for his book “13 Bullets.”

The concept, as you can see, is pretty straightforward — a guy walks into a studio to turn into a vampire. The promotion for the book is pretty short, and the tagline is catchy, “Vampires that don’t suck.” This video works because it doesn’t beat you over the head with a “buy me, buy me” sign. There’s just enough mention of the book so it leaves an impression, but the content is decent so anyone can see it–even if they’re not interested in reading it.

What types of videos would you create to promote your creative efforts? I recommend donning your “mad scientist” hat for a day and playing around with the format; if done right, it can really help you become more visible in this space.

The Guild: Web Video about Online Gamers at “their Finest”

If you haven’t seen The Guild: an Independent Web Video Series about Online Gaming now is definitely the time. Recently, The Guild won three awards: Yahoo 2007 Best Web Series Award, the YouTube Best Series Award for 2007, and the SXSW/On Networks Web Series award.

Run strictly on a volunteer basis, this series is pretty popular and really shines with great acting that speaks to those of us who either have gamed online or know people who do. The writing is pretty funny, if only because it’s scary how “accurate” the personalities truly are in online gaming, especially when gaming bleeds into everyday life. Take a look at the first episode and notice The Guild’s professional cast of actors and actresses. Enjoy!

March’s Battle of Words: Nomination for my Blog

It’s almost been a year since I’ve started this blog, writing feverishly to bring relevant content for freelancers and writers from different aspects of the industry. I was surprised to see that my blog has been included in a voting process for March Writing Blog Madness at Poewar.com. Even more interesting to me was how it got nominated:

The rankings were determined by a simple formula based on the blog’s Google Page Rank and Alexa Site Rank.

It’s pretty awesome to see that there are other bloggers out there who are conscientious of benchmarking tools like Google’s PageRank and Alexa rankings. Whether you cheer me on or not, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to check out these other fine resources for writers. Remember, having more points-of-view and information is never a bad thing.

Here are the current brackets:

March Writing Blog Madness Seedings

Happy reading!

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