Tuesday, October 25, 2005

So Now I'm a Successful Professional Writer!

Big news!

The first article I wrote for the Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society, Steve Jackson Games' official magazine for the Traveller role-playing game, was bought and appeared in the issue that came out today! Woo-hoo! That's a quick $150 bucks for an article that was actually a lot of fun to write. I've got another article in to them already, and will have a third by the end of the week, and I think there's a very good chance they'll buy these as well. The reason I feel so confident is that I've been reading this magazine for a long time, so I know the kinds of things they publish -- there's no substitute for market research. If you want to sell an article, give them a new article that is in the exact same style as the ones they typically publish. While that applies to fiction as well as non-fiction (and being a gaming article, there's a little of both in this one), I think it's especially important in non-fiction articles.

A few months ago, I wrote an essay about Heinlein's definitions of a professional and a successful professional writer. Briefly, that went like this:
  • In order to call yourself a writer, you must write, and you must finish what you start.
  • In order to call yourself a professional writer, you must put it on the market.
  • In order to call yourself a successful professional writer, you must keep it on the market until it is sold.
So, given that, I'm now a successful professional freelance writer. :) Oh, I've been getting paid to write for years now, in truth. But I was working full-time and getting paid a salary, not getting paid for each piece. Being a freelancer is much more challenging, since each piece has to compete on its own. There can't be any "this one was okay, but not the best thing I've ever written." If it's not the best thing you've ever written, it won't sell -- and you won't get paid. $150 for an article is not something you could live on, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either. 3 cents/word is a professional-level rate, so that definitely counts for something. I'm pretty psyched!

Doin' the happy dance...


Ris said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! That's awesome!!


Keith Watt said...

Thanks Ris! It's always gratifying to get that outside, independent verification that yes, I can in fact write! :)