Saturday, June 5, 2010

Funds for Writers

By C. Hope Clark
Guest blogger

Some writers enter the profession thinking as paupers, others as bestseller authors. The two schools of thought represent opposite ends of the spectrum, with the reality of how to earn a living falling somewhere in between. FundsforWriters began ten years ago to assist creative minds to think logically about making a buck with their words.

I served 25 years with a lending/grant federal agency, approving, auditing and managing funds. I wrote creatively before I entered the business world, so when I returned to my writing roots, I envisioned writing the Great American Novel. I couldn’t stand to write for nothing, however, and pursued freelance work online, back when Internet writing was nouveau. A writer’s group saw my byline on a few items and asked me to speak about this new world. The conversation diverted to the affordability of being a writer, and I captured the opportunity to advise attendees on grants and balancing a budget.

The dam burst. Emails flooded my box, and to avoid rewriting the same guidance to a dozen people at a time, I created a newsletter. Three months later, I had almost a thousand subscribers. The rest is history. Every time I tried to revert back to my novel, more readers lined up for FundsforWriters. Finally I embraced the need for such a resource, and I haven’t looked back. Today FundsforWriters newsletters reach 32,000 readers per week.

Business aspects of writing are distasteful to most, and lack of attention to business details often lead to a writer’s demise. Most of my readers search for reliable information. New writers usually rely upon search engines to find publishers, freelance work and contests. As a result, people self-publish without understanding the existence of traditional publishing, submit to writing mills, and get scammed by unscrupulous competitions.

FundsforWriters fights hard to be a respectable source of grants, contests, freelance markets, publishers and jobs. The organization strives to:

1. Only represent paying markets;
2. Screen the writing opportunities for accuracy and credibility; and
3. Provide paying venues for writers with limited time to search.

The mission of FundsforWriters is simple: to provide an honest resource for writers. In this effort, FFW consists of four newsletters, consultations, a dozen ebooks and a fun little set of resources called Tweetebooks for those seeking niche markets. Three of the newsletters are free; one is a paid subscription, and all aid you in finding income for poetry and prose.

FundsforWriters – Posts fifteen grants, markets, contests, jobs and publishers seeking submissions. Payment equals or exceeds $350 or 20 cents/word. It’s delivered weekly free of charge. This is the parent newsletter, the oldest, and the most popular.

FFW Small Markets – This free weekly publication contains ten contests and markets, all paying, although the threshold falls below that of FundsforWriters.

WritingKid – The smallest newsletter, it still reaches 3,000 readers. It provides a short piece of advice then ten contests, scholarships and markets for kids from elementary to college level. It’s distributed no charge every two weeks.

TOTAL FundsforWriters – Our paid subscription comes out biweekly with 75 or more of the opportunities posted in the parent FundsforWriters newsletter.

FFW also specializes in grants. Difficult to find, grants are still more plentiful than expected. They just don’t exist in one place. And if you don’t understand grants, they elude you even more. With a grant background, I chose to enlighten many writers on the benefits, chances and importance of grants to a career. Grants are free money, but qualification ranks up there with finding an agent or publisher. One has to search for the perfect union between writer’s goal and grantor’s mission. By posting these calls for submissions, I attempt to
educate writers on yet another funding opportunity to fuel their ambition.

I do not hesitate to brag that FundsforWriters has a personality second to few. The genuine voice of the publications attracts new and established writers, professors and professional journalists, creative writing instructors and fledgling freelancers. Many read it for the editorial alone in which the newsletter attempts to nail down a topic in everyday English with a twist of humor and a smack-down of common sense. The kick-in-the-butt flavor seems to be pretty popular with writers and the writing business. Writer’s Digest included in its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past nine years in a row.

Too many enter the world of writing and think a byline will catapult the career. Some of the hardest working people on this planet are writers, but through failure to plan, self-promote, diversify, establish a platform or organize, many of them fall by the wayside. A contest win might be the shot in the arm one writer needs to continue the novel. A freelance assignment can help promote the new book release. Blogging is excellent self-marketing, and nothing is wrong with earning a living with it while editing that nonfiction book project. A grant can provide seclusion to pound out a draft or feed income to a writer willing to present to schools.

We have to think like business people, utilizing all the avenues possible to make a career work. You might be dedicated to the novel, but at the same time you can enter it in a contest, write magazine columns about its topic and apply for a grant to assist you in final edits. We’re multi-faceted people endowed with a creative streak. Don’t waste that talent. Capitalize on all the tools of the trade and think like a business success. Writing block and busy agendas are no excuse for not pursuing your dream. You must find the time and means to accomplish what you love. FundsforWriters exists to help writers do just that . . . succeed at what they really want to do.

C. Hope Clark is editor of FundsforWriters. She writes nonfiction by day and mysteries by night from the banks of Lake Murray in South Carolina. She is also author of The Shy Writer: The Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success, 2nd edition, which continues to sell well to the tentative writer.


Carol said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Sandy! And thanks to Hope Clark as well for sharing such important information. Maybe I can get out of my garret now... :)

Hope Clark said...

Thanks for the beautiful post, Sandy. And all are welcome to come visit.

Hope Clark