Each month, award-winning author Joan R. Neubauer will answer questions from you, her readers. She will answer questions about writing, promotion, publishing, and any other aspect of the publishing industry you can think of. Send your questions to her emailbox firstname.lastname@example.org SUBJECT Neubauer Nuggets and maybe yours will be the question she answers next month.
Big Bucks To Be Made
Q: Dear Joan,
I've heard many references to copywriting lately, and I hate to admit it, but I'm not real sure what it is. Can you please explain it and is it something a freelance writer can do successfully?
Marge G. Tampa, Florida
A: Dear Marge,
As its name implies, copywriting involves writing copy. Freelancers write copy all the time for newspapers and magazines, but all too often, they tend to ignore a far more lucrative market right in their own backyard -- businesses. These days when companies downsize and lay-off, staff writers are among the first to get pink-slipped.
Businesses need catalogs, letters, brochures, ad copy, in short, all manner of written material for internal use as well as public consumption. Most non-writer employees lack the skills to compose and produce such materials, and if the business no longer employs a staff writer, that sets the stage for a freelance writer with a little imagination to step in and take up the slack.
As a freelance writer, you can offer your professional services on an hourly or per project basis to businesses in your area. Build your client base to a comfortable level. When I started copywriting years ago, I started by answering a want ad in the newspaper for a company looking for someone to do word processing. I made an appointment for an interview and went armed with my writing credentials. I got the job. They liked my work and referred me to other businesses. Within the year, I had acquired 49 more clients-strictly through word of mouth.
Copywriting can prove both an interesting and lucrative way for you to make use of your writing talents. With a little work and self-promotion to get started, you may surprise yourself of your level of success as well as the positive feedback people give when you tell them the kind of service you offer. In no time at all, you can have clients calling you, willing to pay you for your talents. Good luck!
Keep The Rights!
Q. Dear Joan,
I recently sold an article to a regional magazine. They sent me a contract for publication, but I had to sell all rights to the article. I was so happy about the sale, my first, that I never gave it a second thought until the check came in the mail. Now I'm wondering if I did the right thing because I'd like to try to sell it again. Do I have any recourse?
Myra H. Bristol, Pennsylvania
Congratulations on the sale! I know how that first one feels. Take it from me, the thrill never diminishes. But don't go beating yourself up for selling all the rights to that article. You did what most new writers do, and you did exactly what you needed to do.
As a new writer, you need to build your clip file so you can send samples of your published work to other editors. Your clips give you access to a greater number of markets. If you don't believe me, just look through Writer's Market and take note of all the publications that say, "Query with published clips."
Now, about the rights. Okay, so you sold them all. If the magazine has already published the piece, you can write and ask them to reassign the rights to you. Since they've already used it. they're not likely to use it again. If they haven't used it, wait a reasonable amount of time, about a year, and send the same letter. In either case, they'll most like reassign the rights to you without a problem. Most writers don't realize how common a practice this is.
That said, in the future, always be aware of the rights any publication wishes to buy. Before you sign the contract, exercise your option to negotiate the rights. If the editor indicates that their publication does not negotiate rights, then make your decision on how much you want the sale, and the clip. Personally, I have never been shy about selling rights, and have always managed to get them back!
Good luck in the future. Keep writing and keep selling!
Joan R. Neubauer is an author and works as a publisher at WordWright.biz. Joan invites you to visit her website at WordWright.biz or to drop her an email at JNwriter@aol.com You can sign up for WordWright's monthly email newsletter at the site as well.