The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Sixty-Eight
Let the Game Begin
It’s the bottom of the first inning. The visitors have scored some seriously good questions in the top half of the inning and now it’s time for the home team to respond. How will they handle the pressure of the playoffs?
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. The baseball playoffs are happening and I get a little carried away. Toss aside the baseball metaphor and let’s get busy with this week’s questions. There were only four questions this week so this will be a quick one. If you want more then, duh, ask more. J
From Zulma: “Lastly, (I promise) we are having a guest speaker tonight at my writers' group. The topic is historical research. I have a question that I will be posing to her, but I'd like to get your take on it. Let's say you're writing about a fictional town that's set in a real area. What's the best way to make that town seem real? Do you research the historical events of that area and allude to them while you write? Or do you state baldly that this thing happened at such and such a time and such and such a place?”
Zulma, you happen to be asking that question to a huge fan of historical fiction. My first real taste of it was the fine series on the Civil War by Bruce Catton. Then I fell in love with the Michener novels and even those by Jakes. All of that leads to my answer to your question: although I don’t think there are any set rules with regards to historical fiction, I do believe the writer has a responsibility to be as accurate as possible regarding historical events that happened in a particular area at a particular time.
Although I do not consider myself a historical fiction novelist, I do borrow from true events in every novel I write. As for a particular town I have done both. I have made a fictional town and I have used existing cities. The one thing they both have in common in my novels and stories is the accuracy of facts regarding that particular area and the particular era.
Otherwise, it’s not really a historical fiction now is it? J
Great question, Zulma. I swear I have the smartest followers on HP. That may get me in trouble but so be it.
From Maria: “I saw someone mention Kindle Singles in an earlier Mailbag but I don’t understand what it is. Care to elaborate for those of us who are uninformed?”
Do I care to? Sure, why not? It’s Friday afternoon and it’s raining, so all my outside chores are on hold. I’ll be glad to familiarize you with Kindle Singles.
The word “singles” was inspired from the music industry where “singles” are shorter than long “albums.” Kindle Singles tend to fall in the 5,000-30,000 word range. Anyone can submit original work to Kindle Singles. It is for new and established voices, and it can be on any topic. As the website says, they have so far posted “fiction, essays, memoirs, reporting, personal narratives and profiles,” and they are expanding every week.
To nominate one of your works for Kindle Single simply email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the title, ASIN and a brief summary. If it has not already been published as an ebook you can simply send the manuscript to them. Then a panel of editors will review your submission and decide if it belongs on Kindle Singes.
And that’s that! There are of course royalties paid just like any Kindle ebook.
What’s the advantage of this over regular ebooks on Kindle Select? None that I can see other than the fact it is a marketplace specifically for shorter works.
From Petra: “I know you are an established freelance writer and have been for several years. Can you tell me the best way to get started? And once started, which is the best avenue to take for a constant income feed?”
I’m laughing right now, Petra. I’m not laughing at you but rather at the complexity of the question. I could write a book about this one question.
The best way to get started? I had just quit my teaching job, had no safety net, had bills to be paid….so I sat down one day and declared myself to be a freelance writer. I’m still laughing right now at the hubris I displayed in thinking it was that easy. My dad used to tell me to fake it till I make it and that is exactly what I did when starting this new career. I read as much as I could about it, but at the same time I didn’t allow myself to suffer paralysis by analysis, as I’ve seen happen to so many freelance wannabes. I just started answering ads for writers. I had some samples of writing to send them, and I started flooding the internet with applications and submissions. The rest, as they say, is history. I was making about $600 per month within three months and it’s only gotten better since then as I actually learned my craft and the freelance business.
And what’s the best avenue to take for a constant income feed? The one that pays! LOL Seriously. I have friends who have made a good living on Elance. I personally have made good money writing blogs for local businesses like real estate companies and salvage yards.
Get yourself some business cards, set yourself up with a website or a blog, appear to be professional and then go for it until you actually qualify as a professional. I would never let fear or insecurity hold me back and you shouldn’t either.
Another Freelance Question
From Philip: “I saw the question in one of the earlier installments and that spawned a question of my own about freelancing. Are there really enough paying freelance jobs out there to make a living as a freelancer? It seems to me there are far too many freelance writers and not enough good-paying jobs to support them all.”
Philip, I don’t believe that last statement of yours is true at all.
Who hires freelance writers? Any business that has a website….any foundation that needs research papers…..anyone who needs a ghostwriter to write a book….anyone looking for magazine or newspaper articles….anyone looking for screenplays…..and on and on totaling millions of people daily who need freelance writers. Ever hear of “Chicken Soup for the Soul?” Those books are filled with the works of freelancers. Ever read a magazine? Practically ever article is written by a freelancer. Ever read copy online for a business selling products? All that copy is written by freelancers. My goodness, my question to anyone is how is it possible not to make money as a freelance writer if you really want to be one?
Check out my book on writing
I Guess That’s It for This Week
Only four questions? Come on, folks, you can do better than that?
Thanks to those who asked questions. I hope the answers were helpful. I’ll be back next week with another installment of the Mailbag. Until then, good luck as you travel your writing path. Remember that you are unique and what you do matters…so keep doing it!
Now, back to baseball!
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”