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Eight Ways to Become a Value-Added Writer
by Jennifer Brown Banks

Seems everywhere you look these days, folks are trying to get more bang for their buck. And who can blame them? The more progressive and evolved we become as a society, the more demands that are placed on our time, money, and resources.

As such, the term “value added” has become a buzz word to attract customers and give businesses that competitive edge. For instance, cell phone providers use it to plug services that are offered beyond their core. Restaurants use it to designate bigger portions and or greater nutritional value.

And writers should follow suit. With corporate downsizing and the many changes in the publishing industry, overworked editors are constantly seeking scribes that have an awareness of their needs, can add to their bottom line and bring an array of advantages to their association. It’s no longer enough to have a few creative ideas and a degree in English. So do a hundred of other writers.

What else can you bring to the table?

If you want to broaden your horizons and your bank account, here’s how to become a valuable asset to publishers and editors.

  1. Do your homework. Not all publications are created equally. Go beyond writers’ guidelines. What is the style and slant of the publication? The editor’s agenda? His pet peeves? Pet projects? Remember, knowledge is power. Make sure it’s part of your arsenal.

  2. Bring something to the party. Do you have name recognition? Your own following? A popular Blog? These factors can bring a potential readership and added appeal to separate you from the pack.

  3. Be easy to work with. Truth be told, I don’t always agree with the suggestions of some of my favorite editors. But unless “their words of wisdom” compromise the meaning or integrity of my work, I go with the flow. You should too.

  4. Honor deadlines. No matter how skilled you are with the written word, if you can’t be counted on you’ll be counted out. QUICKLY!

  5. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions or give input on the direction of a project, if you’ve established a relationship with the editor. Sometimes two heads are better than one.

  6. Always be business like and brief. Though editors are “people too” don’t bog them down with Emails about your first-grader’s first day at school, your gripes with other editors, and other trivialities. It’s okay to touch base and be friendly, but don’t wear out your welcome.

  7. Labor over your words so others won’t have to. Sure it’s an editor’s job to perfect your prose, but if you make it as error-free as possible, it saves them time and will keep you on their go-to list for future assignments. And don’t rely solely on “spell-check.”

  8. Be diverse. Like most writers, I have my preferred projects. But in addition to writing how-tos, I pride myself in producing reviews, poetry, columns, and articles on numerous topics. Expand your repertoire. Whether it requires taking an online class or reading more books.  

Master these eight tips, and you’ll increase your earnings and your perceived value in your writing career.

© Copyright 2010, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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