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Your Freelance Writing Business GiveBut Not Until it Hurts
by Patricia Fry
When a writer emails you asking for advice or resources, do you generally
respond? Do you take the time to discuss publishing projects with new
writers and hopeful authors that you meet in passing? Or do you avoid
getting involved for fear that these people might take advantage of you?
Knowing when to give and when to withhold is a challenge for professionals
and experts in any field. Who hasn’t attended a social event and
watched as someone cornered a doctor, a veterinarian or even a plumber
to ask for their expert advice? The longer you work as a writer, and the
more experienced you become, the more often this will happen to you. But
is this a bad thing?
We all give on occasion. Sometimes we recognize an unexpected opportunity
and we give joyously. Other times, we feel uncomfortably coerced into
giving up some of our time. And sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish
between the genuinely appreciative writers and the user. There are occasions
when I feel pressured to give and other times when I feel moved to do
If you are seriously building a freelance writing business, you are constantly
putting yourself out there. Hence, other writers have no trouble finding
you. Most of them want help. Some of them want a resource recommendation,
others want information or guidance and still others may be seeking financial
help. I suggest that you respond to them all.
Let your expertise and reputation work for you. When someone contacts
you with their burning questions, this should not be viewed as a bothersome
interruption, but a welcome opportunity.
I can’t promise that everyone you try to help will all bother to
thank you. Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to have an appreciation
for gifts of time and knowledge. Some of those who ask for your advice,
will actually argue with you. And, yes, there are those who will try to
squeeze every last drop of free goodies from your brain without regard
for your generosity and the fact that you actually make your living counseling
clients on these issues.
Just as I recommend sidestepping your fears about being used, it’s
also imperative that you know when and how to set and maintain boundaries.
It’s a balancing act and one that can improve or damage your business.
When do you stop giving? You can usually tell when someone is a bonafide
potential client or someone who will genuinely appreciate and use the
information and when this person hopes to drain you for all you’re
worth before moving on to his or her next victim.
A man who asks you to read his 75,000-word manuscript out of the goodness
of your heart because his book is that good, may be someone to avoid.
This is especially true if he also wants you to finance his project.
What if someone calls asking for help writing a memoir or another book
that you know is a bad publishing risk—another run-of-the-mill diet
book, for example. Would you accept the lucrative job or would you counsel
the hopeful author in an attempt to dissuade her from making an obvious
publishing mistake? In this case, the gift would be in the latter. If
she’s determined to write the book despite your warnings, as many
hopeful authors are, she will still probably engage your services.
I’ve learned after over half century in this life and 33 years
in this business that giving is part of living. As a writing/publishing
consultant and editor, there is only one reason to give—to help
someone realize his or her writing dream. If it brings business, then
it was a good business move. If it generates nothing more than a thank
you, it still leaves you with a heart full of warm fuzzies. But when the
joy of giving suddenly becomes an uncomfortable burden—when someone
is taking from you rather than graciously receiving—it is time to
Help others to meet their goals and live their dreams. It feels good
and it’s good for business. But be sure to take care of yourself
in the process.
© Copyright 2007, Patricia Fry
Patricia Fry is a career writer, author, speaker and editorial/publishing consultant.
She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)
www.spawn.org and the author
of 27 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book
Visit her informative blog daily, www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
New book of cat stories
Patricia Fry announces her latest book: Catscapades, Tales of Ordinary and Extraordinary Cats www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html.
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