Taking Stock of the Books That Brought Me Here

My husband and I recently moved out of the one-bedroom condo we’d been trying to sell for the past two and a half years and into a four-bedroom house 10 minutes away.

On moving day, I was giddy at the sight of the boxes upon boxes (upon boxes) of books that made their way to my new home office. Reunited at last! I thought, as they had been in storage this entire time. My TBR pile was ridiculous — and my Amazon Wish List was eight pages long — but I was suddenly seized by the desire to re-read every single book in those boxes.

Yesterday, I finally got the chance to open up those boxes and place my books on the gorgeous new double bookcase my husband and brother strong-armed into place against the wall. (I think it’s actually supposed to be a china cabinet, but watch me not care.) As I alphabetized my books by author’s last name, I was mindful of the limited space I had, and of how my collection of books might grow in the future.

Several weeks ago, I received a review copy of Jane Mount’s My Ideal BookshelfMount paints “portraits of people through the spines of their favorite books: the ones that changed your life, that defined who you are, that you read again and again.” I had admired Mount’s artwork for years, and had been coveting my own custom painting. Getting my hands on a copy of the book — filled with the ideal bookshelves of a slew of notable creatives — allowed me to at least experience a vicarious thrill.

Flipping through the book, and reading the accompanying first-person essays by the book owners, also made me think about why we love the books we love, and how they change the course of our lives. What would be on my ideal bookshelf? How could I possibly pare down my collection to the handful of books that truly define me as a person? [Read more…]

So You’re a Freelancer. Do You Still Need a Resume?

I’ve always been a cover/query letter junkie. My freshman year of college, I learned from my most favorite professor of all time that all resumes looked the same. It was the cover letter that set you apart.

So when I fled the corporate world five years ago to freelance full-time, I was relieved. Finally, I thought. I can toss that resume into my virtual recycle bin.

But I was wrong.

First I needed a resume for that post-college internship I decided to take on so as to beef up my portfolio and build my network.

Then I needed a resume for that permalance gig I applied to so as to beef up my income.

And I’ve needed a resume so many times since then, even for the smallest of projects.

What can I say? Some clients are traditionalists. The query letter / online portfolio / blog / social media awesomeness / online empire doesn’t do it for them.

Unfortunately, my resume was a snore.

That’s where Jenny Foss came in. [Read more…]

The Freelance Writing Book That Will Take You From Small Potatoes to Professional

About a month ago, I attended the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference for the first time ever, having snagged a free day pass because I was a panelist.

I had a fantastic time. I popped my public speaking cherry. I took a shit-ton of notes at the other panels I attended. I drank too much wine at the end-of-day cocktail party and met some pretty darn awesome writers. I was so impressed by the strong community of professional freelance writers that I wanted moremoreMORE!

So I applied to be a member and then sat back and waited.

And then I got fidgety and impatient and started reading the copy of The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing I’d picked up the conference. [Read more…]

How To Achieve Full-Time Success with Part-Time Hours

Forget grad school. As most of you know, I’m a huge proponent of learning by doing. Of course, before I do anything, I also typically read a shit-ton of books. (All of the education at a fraction of the cost!)

Back in 2007, it was Michelle Goodman’s The Anti 9-to-5 Guide that got me up and running as a full-time freelancer. Later on, I read My So-Called Freelance Life (also by Goodman) and wished I’d had it from the very beginning.

Last week, I speed-read Kelly James-Enger’s Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success and realized it was the book I should have had when the economy — and my business — first hit the skids. Luckily, no matter how long you’ve been freelancing, there’s always something to learn.

I’ve been reading Kelly’s blog — Dollars and Deadlines — for awhile now, and also recommend her book on ghostwriting and coauthoring — Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks — to just about every writer I come into contact with. So I was thrilled when I heard she had written a new book. In fact, I devoured the entire thing in two days, dog-earing pages on market research, story ideas, reprints, and contract templates.

What struck me the most, however, was that Kelly had created a level of success that allowed her to bring in a full-time income while working part-time hours.

Basically, my idea of perfection.

After the jump, Kelly is generous enough to share how you can do the same. [Read more…]

How To Make Your Marketing Plan as Much Fun as a Glitter Hula Hoop Dance Party

It’s no secret that publishing houses’ promotional budgets have shrunk, making it necessary for authors to act as their own publicists. Hell, when I was a mid-level marketer for an academic publisher five years ago, I was often frustrated by the limitations placed upon me when it came to promoting my authors. What I was able to do then is very similar to what most publishers are limited to now:

  • sending out review copies and press kits to a select group of media outlets
  • writing copy for forthcoming catalogs
  • if the timing was right, sending copies of the book to BEA, or to relevant professional conferences
  • and maybe — just maybe — sending out direct mail pieces focused on the book

It’s not much. But I don’t see these limitations as reason to abandon the traditional publishing model entirely. [Read more…]

How to Make Your Marketing Copy POP!

Despite being a writer — and a writer who once worked her way up the corporate ladder in the marketing department of an academic book publisher, no less — writing effective marketing copy for my own small business is still a struggle for me.

Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time poring through business books and marketing how-tos, and even took one of Dave Navarro‘s workshops in order to revamp the sales page for my career coaching business.

My latest read? Sam Horn’s POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything. A marketing book written to help readers connect with customers, it’s not just about marketing — it’s about branding as a whole.

I was skeptical about this book when, within the first 40 pages, Horn held up both the Daddle and the Smitten as examples of fantastic branding. After all, both products are pretty ridiculous, and people regularly make fun of them. (Check out the Amazon reviews for the Daddle. Absolute comedy gold.) Could I really take advice from someone whose paragons of branding were so corny?

But as I read on, I realized that Horn was actually pretty brilliant. [Read more…]

Why You Should Change Your Definition of Success

I started freelancing full-time almost five years ago. At the time, success meant matching my previous income, and saying yes to every project that came my way. As a result, I found myself working nights and weekends, skipping meals, and pushing exercise to the very bottom of my to-do list, where it never got done.

These days, success means being pickier about projects, preparing home-cooked meals with my husband, and having time for both my personal book project and my daily yoga classes. I have the potential to make more money… but the other stuff comes first.

Which is why I love Laura Vanderkam‘s work. In both 168 Hours and her most recent book, All the Money in the World, she shows readers that they don’t necessarily need more time or money to achieve a successful and fulfilling life. They just need to know how to spend what they already have.

In this Q+A, Laura shows us how we should redefine success. [Read more…]

Why It’s Totally Cool If My Kids Skip College

I have a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, despite myself.

I mean, there was never a question I would go to college. After all, it never occurred to me that any other path was available.

But I started out studying journalism at the College of New Jersey. I became disenchanted and discouraged by my choice of major. I fell into a depression after both the death of my grandmother and the end of an abusive relationship. I dropped out of college with the certainty that I didn’t need it to be a writer.

Which was true, but I wasn’t sure how to go about making money. I ended up in a crappy retail job, at which I lasted for two months. Is this all I’m capable of without a degree? I asked myself, horrified. It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that. I ended up at Emerson.

After graduating, I was lucky enough to get a job within two months (though not in my field). I was miserable there, and felt relief when I was laid off after six months. A year later, I had my feet planted firmly within the publishing industry. Finally. I was content… for awhile. But I soon realized I had no interest in working my way up the corporate ladder. I wanted to create. I wanted to be my own boss.

And so I made my circuitous way to the here and now, where I’m a happy, and pretty well-balanced, business owner. I’m lucky enough to be one of the few people out there who has ended up making money in the field they studied in college. But I could have gotten here quicker. I could have gotten here without incurring debt. I just didn’t know. [Read more…]

The LinkedIn Lowdown: How To Pump Up Your Social Media Campaign

I'm quoted in here, yo.

I create content for online magazines. I blog here at Freelancedom. I spend way too much time on Twitter. I get all my news from whatever I happen to be subscribed to in Google Reader. I spend my days seated in front of this laptop and, when my phone rings, I get confused. Why didn’t they just text or email? I wonder. (God I’m a recluse.)

My husband, meanwhile, works full-time for SocialFlow, a social media startup that optimizes tweets. He has a web development business on the side. He’s always glued to his Droid, and he uses Foursquare even when we’re at the goddamn recycling center.

His best friend says we’re “so Web 2.0.”

Yet I avoid Facebook. I’m not as active on LinkedIn as I should be. And when Google+ launched, I wanted to flee the country (or at least my inbox). Am I missing marketing opportunities?

[Read more…]