In fact, I think I have narrowed down the scope of being a writer to eight jobs. Plus, I've included two extra jobs for those writers who are always in pursuit of extra credit. These jobs are the hats a writer must wear to find success as a freelancer in today's publishing/media environment. Not every hat will fit perfect at first, but writers should play off their strengths and work to improve their weaknesses.
Here are the 8 jobs of modern writers:
- Writer. Believe it or not, the writing should always come first. If the other seven jobs ever start to overwhelm you, remember to fall back on the writing. That's your bread and butter as a writer.
- Editor. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that someone else can correct all your mistakes. Sure, an editor will help improve (or at least alter) your writing, but that's only after your work has been accepted. Your job as a writer is not just to string words and sentences together; it's to string the best words and sentences together--with a minimum of grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Copywriter. Jane Friedman wrote a great post about why this is important over at Writer Unboxed. Copywriting skills are needed for everything from writing query letters to bio notes.
- File clerk. Once your writing is great and your query skills pay the bills, you need the ability to keep accurate records. The WritersMarket.com site I edit offers a submission tracker tool, but writers need to also keep track of bills, payments, and expenses--for tax purposes. It's not fun for most people (raising my hand), but it's essential to freelance success.
- Negotiator. Here are my negotiation tips for writers--from the perspective of an editor. Put them to good use. For tips from the writer's perspective, check out this post by Carol Tice. You don't have to be super pushy to be a good negotiator--sometimes all you need to do is ask.
- Accountant. This is sort of related to number four, but money complicates everything and needs an extra level of care. If you're trying to make a business out of your writing, you'll need to keep receipts and accurate records of payments, expenses, bills, etc., that are related to your writing. If you go to a conference, that's a business expense, including the hotel, mileage, etc. Learn more in the 2012 Writer's Market, which has a great piece on this subject by full-time freelancer Sage Cohen.
- Marketer. Most writers don't want to think about this job. After all, many are introverts. Then, there are the extroverted writers who actually want to move this ahead of the writing on the list of jobs. However, I think the writing always comes first, but writers have to build a platform. It's essential to building your brand as a freelance writer and making you visible to potential opportunities.
- Speaker. Speaking of introverted writers, I'm sure most are spitting their coffee all over the computer screens in disbelief that I would include number eight as an essential job of modern writers. However, it's true. Many of the best opportunities (both for platform building and making money) for writers moving forward will involve speaking. You don't have to be the best speaker ever, but speaking is a skill that you work on and can improve over time. Trust me, I used to think it was impossible, and I still get nervous, but I am much better now than I used to be. Click here for a few of my tips on speaking.
Advocate. Writers should be advocates for their own work but also for the work, rights, payment, treatment, etc., of other writers. If you see a writer banging his or her head against a wall looking for a door that only you can see, please direct them to the door. Educate them on negotiating rights, keeping accurate records, and building a platform. What benefits one writer benefits all of us.
Connector. Connected to being advocate, writers can help others and themselves by acting as connectors. That is, connect people who can benefit from each other. If you're offered a job you can't take, don't just say, "No thanks." Try to recommend someone who's more qualified or available. This helps the two parties who were connected and helps you, because they'll suddenly be advocates for you and your goals. Remember the golden rule.
So what do you think? Did I miss anything? It wouldn't be the first time. Share your thoughts below.
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Check out previous Not Bob posts:
- Why Do You Write?
- Don't Wait for X to Do Y: Platform-Building Traps for Writers to Avoid.
- 11 Tips for Writers to Find Success.