Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog

by Kim on June 7, 2012 · 9 comments

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Even though I’m in New York for Book Expo America, I wanted the chance to participate in Armchair BEA for the first time. Today’s daily blogging topic is:

So, you enjoy writing do you? Would you like to be involved elsewhere on the interwebs or possibly start writing for your local paper? Perhaps you’d simply like to start drawing an income from your blog? Today we will be sharing tips that will help you move your blog forward or perhaps your own personal goals of writing and making an income from what you love to do. Today we’d love you to share your top tips for getting beyond your blog! Have you done any freelance writing? Are you monetizing your blog and how so? How do you make connections outside the book blog community on the internet? If none of these apply we’d love for you to share a fun aspect about your blog or life that may be completely separate from books! We’ll have another link-up this day as well.

I do a good bit of book-related freelance writing outside my day job and this blog. I’m currently a contributor to Book Riot, and before I moved from Madison I was a regular contributor to The Capital Times (you can find links to some of those stories on my About Me page). By no means am I am expert about how to go about getting paid exclusively to write about books, but I have a little bit of advice if you’d like to try and make a little money on the side or use freelancing to gain exposure for your blog.

Start with your local newspaper. Your local newspaper might have interest in book reviews, a monthly bookish events column, or interviews with local authors. Find out who the editor is, then write to them introducing yourself, linking to a couple of your best blog posts or stories, and sharing a couple of ideas you have for stories. Keep story ideas locally focused (or targeted to the audience of the publication your pitching to), and keep your introduction short. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away, but don’t be afraid to call and introduce yourself or ask to set up a meeting.

However, most small newspapers don’t have much of a budget, so I wouldn’t count on getting paid right away. Writing for a local paper is more about getting experience and clips (stories) that you can use to try and pitch stories to bigger publications. Most journalists have, at one point or another, written for free. That might have been a college newspaper, perhaps an unpaid internship. You need clips to move to bigger and better things, and often those first clips don’t net you any money.

If the paper does agree to let you write for them, it is imperative that you behave professionally — get stories turned in on time, at the length the editor requests, and without major grammar and spelling mistakes. There is NOTHING worse for an editor than to get a story from a freelancer that requires a lot of extra work. I’m the editor for a small newspaper. Trust me on this one. By the same token, ask if you have questions so that it is very clear what the editor is expecting from you.

If a local newspaper isn’t your style, the same principles apply to writing for book websites. Figure out who is in charge, e-mail and introduce yourself and offer some story ideas. Online publications may want you to write a couple of posts for free before you start to get paid, it just depends. Just go exploring and see what you can find. And if you know bloggers who do extra writing, consider asking them about it for advice.

You may have also noticed that this blog has some ads. I work with LitBreaker, the same company that does some of the ads for Book Riot. I don’t know much about other advertising options; I didn’t do any research before agreeing to work with LitBreaker, the founder approached me about advertising. I will say that LitBreaker has been fabulous to work with. Getting the code for the ads was easy, I’ve been paid regularly and on time, and the owner is responsive to any problems that have come up.

I’m happy to answer any other general questions about freelance writing if I haven’t gone into enough detail here. Just leave questions in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them when I get back from Book Expo America!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya Patrice June 7, 2012 at 5:52 am

This is such great information! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Kim June 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

Of course, I hope it is helpful!

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sawcat June 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Those are nice ads, and relevant. I hadn’t heard of LitBreaker before

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Kim June 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

I hadn’t heart of it before the owner approached me either. I like it because the ads are relevant, even if they don’t make as much money as some other ad networks might.

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Susannah June 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Stupid question, but what do you mean when you refer to “book websites”? Sites like Book Riot, or something like your own (with multiple contributors)?

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Kim June 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

I was thinking about sites like Book Riot, websites that had ads, are working to make a profit, and write about books. I’m blanking on other examples, but there are other websites that do some books coverage that are worth looking into. But it could also include blogs with multiple contribtors, which would be a good way to reach out and get your writing to a wider audience.

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Susannah June 7, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Also, FYI, the Audible banner at the top of this page is currently advertising “The End of the Affair,” read by Colin Firth. Yesplz.

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Kim June 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

Lol, yes. That sounds dreamy :)

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