SCBWI one in my Southern Breeze region, I sat down in an auditorium to listen in on a discussion of alternate streams of income for writers and illustrators, and boy, did I learn a lot!
So I figured that I would share a few of the panelists’ ideas, in case you, too, thought you knew all about ways to make money beyond a book contract.
Writing Test Passages
Many freelancers are familiar with work-for-hire projects on nonfiction subjects, but there are many more jobs available in this field than writing children’s books. Jobs like writing for tests.
If you’re a writer with a background in teaching and/or education, if you know all about the Common Core Standards, then you’re even more likely to get work in this area. And it’s work that might be better compensated than a book contract (when compared to time invested).
The trick is in finding the jobs. A quick internet search led me to a couple companies that specialize in testing, like Pearson.
Market guides can be helpful in your search as well, and don’t forget conferences. Often, the best connection to this kind of work-for-hire is the person sitting next to you at dinner. Talk to people who write test passages and pick their brains!
Beyond the Research
Have you become an expert on a subject, thanks to all the research you’ve done? Maybe it’s time you made that research pay off beyond articles. (Though if you haven’t looked into writing articles in niche magazines on your subject, then by all means, get cracking on that!)
Work up a program on your nonfiction topic and check with public libraries about presenting. Even if they’re unable to pay more than an honorarium, they will most likely allow you to sell your books. Could you share your topic with a scouting group? A club? A senior center?
If you’ve spent hundreds of dollars, not to mention hundreds of hours, getting to know your subject inside and out, then it’s worth a little bit of thinking-outside-the-box time to come up with ways to share that knowledge (and get paid for it!), as well as sell your books.
And finally, during the illustrator’s presentation when I wasn’t expecting to learn anything (because I’m not by any stretch the artistic type), I perked up when I heard something about contract templates.
Of course, there are lots of wonderful sites all about freelancing, including here at WOW! Women on Writing. But Freelancers Union might be helpful for business information and/or insurance opportunities. It’s free to join and it’s for writers, yes, but it’s also for artists and musicians and…well, any freelancer.
So a special thank you to panelists Heather L. Montgomery and Sara Lynn Cramb who helped this writer—and maybe a few of you, too—learn a little something new!
~Cathy C. Hall