Thursday, May 24, 2007

Freelancing: Professional Contacts Can Bring in Business When You Least Expect It

I started a website in 1997 called HistOracle: A Journal of Uncommon History. If you go into The Wayback Machine you can find it. It was hand-coded in HTML by me, and it is quaint. It was a webzine for historical fiction. I produced 2 issues.

A staff writer for an educational publishing division for a private school system contacted me after seeing HistOracle; he asked whether I knew any historical fiction writers who would be interested in a full-time telecommuting position, fully benefitted, writing historical fiction for kids.


My resume and cover letter went off to him with lightning-quick speed. That was in October 1998. I was 38 weeks pregnant. He didn't know that. My writing sample and job application went out the day I went into early labor.

I had my son in November 1998, and three weeks later I was dressed in business casual for an interview, trying not to leak through my shirt (I succeeded) and not mentioning my infant. Three days before my son turned three months old, I had my first official day as a Staff Writer.

I worked there until I was laid off in August 2002, and since then I have picked up freelancing academic writing jobs through personal contacts, Elance, and professional contacts. I've written articles for twelve reference books since 2005, and yesterday was contacted by an editorial company that heard about me through a publishing representative I've spoken with regarding textbook adoption for the courses I teach at a local college. I'd told the representative that I was looking for freelance textbook writing, but this was months ago.

Lo and behold, I'm now on a new project, new company, new publisher. It's not full-time, and I won't get rich (yet it's a paid, History job!), but it's interesting work (test development and chapter review writing) and I can put another Big Name Publisher on my client list (next to two names you already would know if I wrote them).

All from networking.

So make sure you network!

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