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Stet | March 2017

28 Feb 2017 4:38 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)
Stet Newsletter
March 2017

Volume 36 | Number 3

Editor's Note

Stet Editor Cynthia TomusiakCynthia Tomusiak

Writing tends to be a solitary occupation – that is why IWOC is so important! See what another IWOC member has to say about IWOC (among other things) in the second member article this month – “Writing Tips”.

In looking for something for this month’s note, I found some other (one hundred to be exact) websites that might useful to you. The Write Life proposes that writing “takes a village” and puts together an annual list of the 100 Best Websites for Writers. The topics they include are: Blogging, creativity and craft, editing, freelancing, marketing and platform building, podcasts, publishing and writing communities.

This is their third list and the criteria they use are:

  • It was recommended by readers of The Write Life
  • It publishes content helpful to writers
  • It has been updated recently and regularly

The list has some repeats from years’ past but has fifty new sites. I recognized some that I already read and many that are new to me. I did not click on all 100 sites (yet!) but a couple that really intrigued me were Lucy Flint and the Lionhearted Writing Life and Kathy Steinemann. Hope you find some that are beneficial!

Changing gears slightly...

90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal

Have you checked out the new look for the IWOC website? Our webmaster has been hard at work creating a responsive website that will function correctly and look good on any electronic device. If you are wondering why this is important, consider a few statistics from Aspire Internet Design:

  • 56% of American adults have a smartphone (Pew Research Center)
  • 28% of cell owners own an Android; 25% own an iPhone; 4% own a Blackberry (Pew Research Center)
  • 34% of American adults own a tablet computer (Pew Research Center)
  • 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer. (Pew Research Center)
  • Average smartphone usage grew 81 percent in 2012 (Cisco)
  • 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal (Google)

Thank you Roger!

If you would like to contribute an article to Stet or be featured in an upcoming IWOC member profile, contact me and plan to submit before the monthly deadline of the 15th. Thank you.

- Cynthia Tomusiak

March Meeting Preview

Literary Agent to Offer Practical Tips on Writing Super Query Letter for Publishers

If you’re looking for ways to get a new book manuscript published, you might consider seeking out a professional literary agent who can point you in the right direction—including tips on how to write a superior book-query letter for a publisher.

Join IWOC-ers for the Tuesday, March 14 program, as a prominent literary agent from a Chicago-based agency offers practical advice for freelance writers on putting together a superior query letter as an essential first step in the publishing process.

Literary agent Abby Saul founded The Lark Group literary agency, following a decade in publishing at John Wiley and Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne and Miller Literary Associates. IWOC members also may recall that she was well received at IWOC’s program last July, when she presented tips on how to best utilize the services of a literary agent.

Abby says she has worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors, as well as major brands. At each publishing group where she’s played a role, she also has helped establish e-book standards, lead company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and create and manage numerous digital initiatives.

Importantly, she also points out that she’s currently looking for “great and engrossing, adult commercial and literary fiction.”

A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the e-books on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. For example, Abby says her personal library of titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, and dark and twisted thrillers.

A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby says she spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband. You may find her @BookySaul on Twitter.

Importantly, she also points out that she’s currently looking for “great and engrossing, adult commercial and literary fiction.”

All are welcome to attend—past, current and future authors, as well as those with still festering dreams, or a burning passion, to be “heard” in print.

You can meet her in person at IWOC’s upcoming March program, where you will have the chance to tell her about any brilliant ideas you have for writing another great—and both you and she hope—best-selling book.

All are welcome to attend—past, current and future authors, as well as those with still festering dreams, or a burning passion, to be “heard” in print.

Join us at 5:00pm for networking on Tuesday, March 14, program at 6:00pm and a 'pay on your own' dinner after the program at the Gratz Center, Room 4F, 126 East Chestnut, Chicago, IL.

- Tom Lanning

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February Meeting Recap

Invest on a Freelance Income

Thinking of investing part of your income as a freelance writer?

Then, “you need to focus on your earnings and spending, maximize your income and invest with a plan,” said Danielle Schultz, the principal of Haven Financial Solutions, Inc. in Evanston, IL and presenter during the Valentine’s Day IWOC workshop. Schultz, a former IWOC member and author of Idiot’s Guide: Beginning Investing, summed up the essential strategy above that freelance writers ought to take to start and build their investments.

JSchultz recommended that writers divide their earnings 50/50 between business and personal allocations. They should devote 60 percent of their personal income to paying their bills for housing, utilities, food, basic transportation, insurance and clothing. Ten percent should be saved for retirement, 10 percent for goal savings (including emergency fund or debt repayment) and 20 percent on discretionary spending.

Schultz recommended that writers divide their earnings 50/50 between business and personal allocations.

Writers should set aside part of their earnings as profit, which can function as a business emergency fund, she said. Schultz said that business expenses should comprise no more than 30 percent of total earnings. Additionally, writers should set aside at least 10 to 15 percent of their income for taxes. Schultz advised them to examine their records to determine what they’ve paid after deductions.

Schultz said that they must build an emergency fund before they can afford to invest. Once an emergency fund is established, writers who need to pay off debt should use the "snowball method". They should continue to pay the minimum required payment on all debt. Then, they scour the budget to find a little more that can be put toward the lowest bill.

While they are building their emergency funds, she added, freelance writers ought to begin to learn about investments by, for example, reading her book and The Little Book of Main Street Money: 21 Simple Truths That Help Real People Make Real Money by Wall Street Journal writer Jonathan Clements.

Additionally, freelancers can consider giving to charity. Saying that she was shocked to learn on the job over time how few individuals donate to charity, she coaxed IWOC-ers to select their charities but to at least choose one. Freelancers need to build up retirement funds in the same way that employees do. They should contribute a regular percentage, at least 10 percent of earnings, to tax-sheltered retirement accounts.

Schultz said that they must build an emergency fund before they can afford to invest.

Most individuals want “safe investments” that avoid serious financial risk or losses. However, having a safe investment and making substantial returns are two “contradictory things,” she explained. The more that investors can tolerate risk in investments, the higher return they should get from those investments. If an investor needs or wants safety, the investments will produce lower returns.

Writers can begin to build their wealth on such types of retirement accounts as the Roth IRA, Traditional IRA or SEP IRA. They “might consider a target date fund, a balanced fund or a combination of funds that match” their risk tolerance, she said.

Schultz gave some pointers on choosing investments. She recommended “passively managed, no-load index mutual funds.” No-load funds are those in which a commission is not being paid.

- Vladimire Herard

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President's Column

Attractin’ da Yutes

Laura Stigler

You know what “yutes” are, don’tcha? Like from dat movie, “My Cousin Vinny,” when Joe Pesci defended doze two yutes accused of a crime dey didn’t commit? Yeah, YUTES!

Anyways, gettin back to da subject at hand, it’s always been IWOC’s intention to continue bringin’ more young people into da fold. So how do ya go about doin’ dat? Foist of all, take a look aroun’ IWOC. We got a buncha peeps wid lotsa experience. Success stories. Maybe even some wisdom. So why not share? Wid da yutes! Spread da mental wealth, as it were. Help out da younga generations as dey ventcha into da woikin’ woild. Show ‘em different ways dey can build dere careers. And maybe, just maybe, we can attract summa dem in owa organization. As membas. Which wouldn’t be a bad ting, am I right? Huh? Huh? ANSA ME!

We got a buncha peeps wid lotsa experience. Success stories. Maybe even some wisdom.

Alrighty den. So wid dat in mind, last munt, me (da Prez), along wid Veep Jeff Steele and Parliamentarian David Steinkraus, hightailed it on ova to Columbia College where we met wid Dr. Eric Freedman, Dean of da School of Media Arts. Imagine! Us meetin’ da Dean! (Don’t worry, we wiped owa feet befaw we went into his office.)

Turned out to be a great meetin’. We tawked of how we can arrange some kinda relationship wid Columbia College, foist by presenting our Speaker’s Bureau tawk, “Life in da Freelance Lane” – to give deze kids an idea of awl da options dat await dem. I mean, dis ain’t ya fodda’s economy any maw. Nowadaze, ya don’t necessarily dream of gettin’ a job where ya punch a clock (and a few co-workers) for toity yeahs, only to be kicked to da curb wid a gold watch at da end.

It’s a gig economy, baby. Da millennials, dey like da idea of bein’ (fancy word alert:) entrepreneurs. Woikin’ as contract playahs. Bein’ independent. So how do dey survoive in such a woild? Dat’s weah IWOC comes in. We can show ‘em how to build a freelance business – and give ‘em real woild advice, born outta real experiences. Which may even include some positive woids about foist woikin for corporate for a couple a yeahs – just to polish one’s chops and enforce some of da disciplines dat would do dem well as a freelanca.

Dat’s weah IWOC comes in. We can show ‘em how to build a freelance business – and give ‘em real woild advice, born outta real experiences.

Da Dean also mentioned da possibilities of IWOC havin’ a (fancy word alert:) symbiotic relationship wid such organizations as da McCormick Foundation, wheah businesses come to speak at IWOC events and den dey promote IWOC to udda businesses. How ‘bout dat! Nice, huh?

So dat waz owa foist foray inta owa effort to attract da Yutes. Nobody’s made no promises yet, but we tink we opened a daw, and only good tings can come of it. Like helping doze who are about to graduate, figya out what to do in dat confusin’ toime of life. And if summa dem join IWOC? Dat wouldn’t just be a good ting. It would be a great ting. And dat’s da trute.

- Laura Stigler

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IWOC Member Article

Doggone It! What We Can Learn About Marketing from a Canine

Diana Schneidman

Peter Bowerman in The Well-Fed Writer, his best seller about how to freelance, retells a story he learned from his sales manager during Bowerman’s early days as a door-to-door salesman.

His mentor claimed that if you take an order book and a pencil, tie them to a dog’s tail and send the dog out to walk around town, eventually it will return to the sales office with an order written in the book and the pencil and book reattached.

Hmmm, what does this teach those of us who would like to sell our services professionally?

It may mean that instead of working, we should put our lazy, freeloading pets to work earning their kibbles.

A second conclusion is that anything can work. Stick with what you are doing—or begin doing what some expert claims is the latest, greatest way—and your success is inevitable.

But here is a third lesson and the one I favor. One success does not prove you have a method that merits the effort and time required to keep it going.

While the dog story sounds a little far fetched, people we know or even we ourselves justify ineffective sales techniques with isolated stories of how they have worked for others.

People love these stories and use them to prove any cockamamie marketing plan works. “See, lightning can strike,” they say.

Yes, but the real question is: Will this lightning strike consistently in the same place so that we should add it to our sales arsenal?

Many of these beloved sales stories involve the internet. Take blogs. The experts claim that blogging is easy.

Well, technically speaking, blogs are easy to create, but getting them up and going is just the beginning. They require ongoing writing and management and they also demand substantial work to build traffic that may convert to business. Yes, they can be highly effective, but success demands commitment.

Or take Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites. Here, if you don’t know where you are headed strategically, no amount of irrelevant, silly postings will lead you to steady profitability.

For any marketing technique to be worth undertaking, it must be strategically sound.

Blogs? Social networking? Meaningless chitchat if not linked to a strategic goal.

Let’s plan our marketing by thinking through our efforts and employing marketing techniques that are effective in gathering sufficient leads and ultimately, paying opportunities.

Doggone it! Let’s not be like the canine with the order book.

Instead, with clear-headed thought, we can develop successful marketing that reliably brings in excellent paying opportunities.

Diana Schneidman is an IWOC member and the author of Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less, available on Amazon.

- Diana Schneidman

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IWOC Member Article

Writing Tips

Karen Schwartz

Throughout my freelance writing career of 25+ years, I’ve written about practically every subject under the sun. I figure, if I interview the right people, there’s practically no subject I can’t write about. I’ve pitched stories to – and gotten assignments for articles from - dozens of editors at mainstream and trade publications. I’ve also done many other types of writing as well, including website content, annual reports, speeches, fundraising letters, ghostwritten content, press releases, corporate histories, and much more. Another IWOC member once referred me for a six-month freelance job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and IWOC Vice-President Jeff Steele and I for many years, have – and continue to - refer numerous jobs to one another.

I figure, if I interview the right people, there’s practically no subject I can’t write about.

In the past year or so, I decided to take my freelance writing career in a somewhat different direction. I needed to bring in more income, and so I decided to specialize in certain types of writing in terms of the subjects I write about.

Several years ago, I attended an IWOC networking event, where I met the editor of a legal publication that’s published by a legal organization; this led to my writing for this specific publication. I no longer write for that publication (it no longer pays its writers!), but I thought, Hey, why not find out about other publications that this legal organization publishes? Now, I’m not only writing for another one of that legal organization’s publications, but at IWOC renewal time, I listed “Legal Writing” on my list of categories. And this past December, I edited a 200- page legal dissertation for a doctoral student in Italy who had viewed my IWOC profile.

Real estate and construction is another area of writing in which I’m specializing. A construction company viewed my IWOC profile in November – “Real estate and Construction” is another one of my IWOC profile categories - and so far, I’ve worked with them on two projects.

Carry your business cards everywhere you go, even if it’s just out for a walk.

When it comes to my LinkedIn profile – you do have an updated LinkedIn profile, don’t you? – “Legal,” “Real Estate and Construction,” as well as “Healthcare” and some other categories, are listed in my main heading. Though I will of course, write material on any subject for a client, I’ve decided to turn myself into more of a specialist. I’ve also joined LinkedIn Premium, which allows me to send messages to more people and contact more individuals who have viewed my profile. I even call people who have viewed my profile; this sometimes results in actual assignments!

I have some other tips for obtaining clients:

  • Carry your business cards everywhere you go, even if it’s just out for a walk.
  • Making cold calls is not that difficult! If you get someone’s voice mail, leave a message.
  • If you haven’t been to an IWOC meeting in a while (or ever), come to (at least) one this year. I’ve been a member for 30 years and am so glad I joined. The friendliest group of people you’ll ever meet…and you may even get a job lead!

- Karen Schwartz

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IWOC's New Members

Please welcome IWOC's newest member: Peter Ricci- Professional Member!

- Pam Colovos

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IWOC Board of Directors

Laura Stigler (President), Jeff Steele (Vice-president), Claire Nicolay (Secretary), Brent Brotine (Treasurer), David Steinkraus (Parliamentarian) George Becht, Tom Lanning, Diana Schneidman Cynthia Tomusiak

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