Fall Membership Drive

For more than 70 years, ASJA has supported freelance writers across the country through seminars, workshops, professional development activities, our annual conference and Client Connections events.

If you’re just get started as a freelance writer or are trying to grow your business, consider joining ASJA. Our Fall Membership Drive runs until Dec. 9. Use code MI-NewMem to get $50 off the initiation fee when you’re accepted for membership and join by Dec. 9.

Want to learn more about the benefits of ASJA membership and how to grow your freelance career? Check out our Q&A series below with ASJA professional and associate members.

Interview with Randi Minetor


Published on Nov 8, 2019

Interview with Leslie Lang 


Published on Oct 31, 2019

Interview with Jennifer Billock


Published on Oct 25, 2019 

Interview with Stacey Freed


Published on Oct 25, 2019

Interview with Ilima Loomis


Published on Oct 10, 2019

Interview with Poornima Apte 


Published on Oct 3, 2019

 


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Jack El-Hai 

 

Jack El-Hai began his career as a fiction writer before transitioning into magazine work and nonfiction writing. Based in Minneapolis, Jack writes narratives about history and often covers the history of science, medicine and crime. Many of his books have been optioned for film, TV and theater. His clients include trade publishers and organizations and people looking to commission history books. If Jack’s schedule doesn’t seem busy enough, he also writes a few articles every year and has branched into podcasting and teaching. In this interview, Jack, a former ASJA president and board member, shares how he’s built such a diverse, rich and fulfilling career — and how ASJA has been a part of helping him do it.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I began in my teens and twenties as a writer of fiction, but a friend who had an editing position at a city magazine encouraged me to write nonfiction pieces for her. I did that, enjoyed it — especially the freedom to pick my topics and approaches — and began to write for other publications. After nine years of freelancing part-time, I became a full-time freelancer. That was 26 years ago.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

Every day is different, although I try to keep regular 9-5 weekday hours. Only rarely do I work weekends or holidays. I do nearly all of my writing in coffeehouses, although I also have a home office. I enjoy public speaking and will accept most any chance to do it.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer? 

The best thing about freelancing is transforming a found kernel of a topic into a fully realized narrative story. Plus, everything that goes along with that: brainstorming, researching, structuring, adding, and reducing. I love archival research and I enjoy interviewing.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has ASJA helped your freelance career? 

I first heard about ASJA when I was not yet qualified to join. I wanted a community of nonfiction writers. I've belonged to many writers organizations over the years, but ASJA has been especially valuable in helping me find markets, find my literary agent, build a group of professional writing colleagues, and get involved in helping shape an organization. (I was on ASJA's board for nine years and served as its president for two years.) An ASJA colleague helped me sell my first article to a national publication, and my initial ASJA conference was thrilling. I continue to attend whenever I can.

What are you most proud of in your freelance career?

Proposing, wrangling, and completing about 15 nonfiction books. Planning a book is like strategizing a war, but books don't kill anyone. Also, I have successfully learned how to write a multi-episode narrative podcast, produced in collaboration with my local PBS station, and I loved learning a new way of telling nonfiction stories. The podcast, Long Lost, tells the story of three young brothers who vanished in 1951, which is also the topic of my newest book, The Lost Brothers. Long Lost will be available for listening before the end of 2019. 

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

It's more difficult now than when I started because the pay for articles has dropped and there's more competition than there used to be. I often suggest that new freelancers develop several writing niches, not just one. It's also essential to understand contracts, learn how to negotiate them and know when to walk away. Our copyrights are our most valuable business assets.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

I've thrived and had fun by experimenting with form, medium, structure and voice. We write nonfiction, but our narrative voice is the one aspect of our writing that can be manipulated and even invented. I like learning new approaches, and I earned an MFA in creative writing and literature when I turned 50 to improve my writing and see it in a new way. I've also embraced the advantages of new technology, and I now write using a much different process than I did when I began freelancing. I expect and hope my process will keep changing.

Any other words of freelance wisdom?

Know what you enjoy writing, and write more of it. I’ve developed a formula that helps me identify which story idea I should take up next. It's based on story characteristics that are important to me.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and Associate Membership. 


If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Randi Minetor

Randi Minetor, a journalist and author based in Rochester, NY, has been a freelancer for more than two decades and ASJA member for the last 12 years. Randi writes about everything from theatre technology, medicine and healthcare to national parks, travel, hiking and nature. In this interview, she shares why she made the leap into freelancing, how she’s built her book writing business and why joining ASJA has made a difference in her career.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I left the corporate world on June 11, 1998, just as the dot-com boom began to gain momentum, so I could have control over which clients I chose and how much money I earned. I founded a one-woman corporation and served as a freelance marketing and PR writer for about 10 years, and then I began writing five or more books annually and decided to make being an author and journalist my priority career.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

I do my best to get all the distractions out of the way in the morning. Mornings involve exercise, correspondence, meal prep, and interviews, leaving the afternoon to write without interruption.  

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer? 

People talk about the lonely life of a writer, but I really like my solitude, and I cherish the lack of meetings — those time-wasters that used to sap my energy and devour my productive time. I get to work with my husband, photographer Nic Minetor, on great projects involving wildlife and scenic photography. 

What’s the hardest thing? 

The one downside for me is the constant need to bug publishers and other clients for payment. I'm fortunate that the magazines I write for pay promptly, but checks from publishers can take up to 90 days to arrive. Money management skills are key to survival as a freelancer.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has ASJA helped your freelance career? 

Joining ASJA had been a goal of mine since the 1990s, and I finally had the credentials to do so in 2007 when I got my second book contract. I have secured a number of clients through Freelance Writer Search, and I've made some wonderful friends among members and former members.

What are you most proud of in your freelance career?

When I got my first book contract back in 2002, I promised myself that I would become the author that editors always came back to for new projects. I've managed to maintain that standard of quality and service since then. I work with the same editors over and over, which is very gratifying. 

What’s some advice you’d give new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

Specialize. Editors like to work with journalists and authors who know their subject matter and deliver great work, and they talk to other editors about how good you are. If you can get all the work there is in a specific field, you will always have assignments. 

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Keep asking yourself, "What do I really want to write about?" If you do what you enjoy most, it will never feel like work, and you'll never struggle to get out of bed in the morning. It sounds like a cliche, but working within your passion makes all the difference in having a satisfying and profitable career.

Any other words of freelance wisdom?

I walked away from a very lucrative career in advertising and PR, and while I know that my former colleagues make far more money than I do today, I also know they envy the life I created for myself. To me, every day is a gift. I have never looked back and wished I hadn't made this move to freelancing.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today. 


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Anna Katherine Clemmons

Before Anna Katherine Clemmons became a freelance writer, she had a gig that many writers would consider a dream job — writing for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com.

Today, Anna Katherine, who is based in Charlottesville, Virginia, writes features and profiles about everything from sports to motherhood and creates branded content for several publishers. In this interview, Anna Katherine shares how she balances teaching at a university and freelancing with young kids, and why she decided to join ASJA. 

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I was a contracted, full-time writer for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com from 2008-2015. I had my second child in April of 2015 and returned to reporting, writing and traveling for stories by July (including taking my eight-week-old son on a reporting trip to former NFL wide receiver Jordy Nelson’s family farm in rural Kansas — definitely an adventure!) However, the editor-in-chief of the Magazine called after that trip to tell me that my contract would not be renewed as of October 2015. He offered me a potential editing job with ESPN, which would necessitate relocating my family to Connecticut. I declined, and I subsequently became a full-time freelance writer. I loved my time at ESPN, and I hoped to write again for them, which I have been fortunate to do in a freelance capacity ever since 2016.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

Ha! I don't think I can profess to having a 'typical' workday :) My sons are now 6 and 4, so once they are off to school and daycare, the working hours are filled with researching, reporting, writing, interviewing, pitching, filing invoices and following up on story payments. 

I also teach two courses in the University of Virginia’s Media Studies department, so during the academic semester, I’m particularly swamped since I’m also juggling lesson plans, grading, teaching, meetings with students and additional reading. I try to pick up my kids by 5 p.m. each day, and I reserve the 5 to 8 p.m. hours (as best I can) for family time. Often, I will resume working once they are in bed. If I am traveling or on assignment, which is usually about 7-9 days per month, I report during the day and catch up on other work at night.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer? What’s the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 

The best thing, to me, is the autonomy. I love pitching new stories, new outlets, new ideas and controlling my own schedule. I am a bit of a workaholic, so it’s also a challenge to remind myself not to overload my plate. That is also one of the hardest things — along with worrying about family finances (my husband is a public school teacher, so our family relies on both of our incomes). Sometimes, my day is filled with pitching an editor I've never written for and never hearing back from him or her, having pitches rejected, chasing down story payments and missed interview calls. Other days are accepted pitches, fantastic interviews, and incredible reporting experiences. There are lots of challenges within freelancing, but overall, I love the entire experience. I recently pitched two outlets for whom I have never written and whose focus is outside of sports. Both story ideas were accepted. I love pushing myself to report and write stories outside of the confines of my comfort zone (i.e. sports), while also continuing to contribute to sports media platforms.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

I sometimes feel very isolated as a freelancer working from home, so I wanted to foster more of a community with other writers and editors, while also seeking out new publications that I can pitch. I haven't taken advantage of nearly all that ASJA has to offer, but I hope to do so in the coming year!

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

First, ensure you have the financial flexibility and stability to become a freelancer. If you do, market yourself, build a website to aggregate your work, join freelance writing listservs and groups, attend the ASJA writer's conference, read the publications you want to pitch and understand what types of stories they are looking for. And find stories that you love! It's hard to write a fantastic story about something you’re not invested in.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Continue to re-invent yourself and tackle new genres. While I come from a sports background, I have published travel writing, and I love pitching stories that aren't related to sports. Network, too! Ensure you can be a cross-platform entity.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.

 


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Leslie Lang

Leslie Lang parlayed her journalism degree into a successful freelance career that has lasted 20 years (and counting). Today, Leslie writes B2B technology content for corporations and marketing agencies from Hilo, Hawaii, which is located on the eastern side of the Big Island. In this Q&A, Leslie shares how an online work buddy helps her stay accountable and how ASJA has helped her land work and grow her freelance business.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I started freelancing 20 years ago. I'm one of those people who has always been a writer and so I got a journalism degree and then held a handful of different jobs. My best life though, work-wise, really started when I decided to go out on my own and build a writing business. Best decision I ever made. It's a great career and I still love what I do

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

My typical workday finds me at my desk in Hawaii with the sleeping cat sprawled across my to-do list. I work when my daughter is at school, usually about six hours a day Monday through Friday. I do occasionally work in the afternoon or on a weekend if I need to, but not all the time. 

Many days I work with an online work buddy (also an ASJA member), who is also a freelancer here in Hawaii but on another island. We work about the same hours, so we check in by text when we start our days. We also discuss questions, proposals, and anything else we want to run by another writer. We often set one- or two-hour blocks, tell each other what we will try to accomplish or finish in that time, and work "together."  The accountability keeps us focused and I think it's made us both more productive.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer?

The best thing is the flexibility: I can work anywhere I have my laptop and internet. I can pivot to write about any subjects I want, and I can take a morning off without asking permission if I want or need to. There’s also the flexibility to make as much money as you are willing to go after.

What’s the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 

The hardest thing, in my opinion, is when you have to chase after work. I'm much happier when I have anchor clients that give me regular work each month.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

I joined ASJA to meet other writers and learn more about freelance writing. I've gotten plenty of work through ASJA, whether through referrals from other members or by reading about opportunities, and I've learned a lot by reading the forums and seeing what other writers are dealing with. I've also gotten help with business questions from other ASJA members. I wouldn't be where I am in my career today without ASJA.

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

Treat it like a business (business license, bank account, taxes, etc.). Market yourself at least an hour every day (a tip I learned from ASJA member Wendy Helfenbaum at the most recent ASJA conference — it works!). Raise your rates regularly. Network with other writers and learn what they do.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Change it up if you get a little bored or restless. I've changed the focus of my writing career a handful of times in these 20 years and it was always the right thing to do. Evolve with the industry and have writer buddies to compare notes with.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Jennifer Billock

Jennifer Billock, a Milwaukee-based freelance writer, covers travel, food, culture, and history, and works with diverse clients ranging from magazines and corporations to marketing agencies and coaching clients. In this interview, Jen shares what she’s learned since she began freelancing 15+ years ago, why mindset is so important for new freelance writers and how ASJA has helped to grow her freelance business.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

In the early 2000s. I was trying to be a choir teacher because music was my lifelong dream. I realized I hated it after one semester of teaching, so I went back to school for a journalism degree and started freelancing while in school. I had a few steady clients by the time I graduated in 2006. Writing was always a constant in my life — I've kept journals since I could hold a pen — so it was a natural choice. 

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

I start working between 9 and 10 a.m., focusing on assigned stories. In the afternoon, I switch gears to anything I need to do for my content marketing clients, the book I'm working on, or my students and coaching clients. I try to send three queries at the end of every day.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer?

The best thing is pretty much everything: the freedom to plan my own schedule, the choice to work on things I want to work on, the ability to work in my pajamas, not having anyone checking in on me every day.

What’s the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 

The hardest thing is making sure income is steady. I have enough anchor clients right now that I don't have to worry about it too much, but some days are difficult when I feel like my monthly income isn't going to be up to par.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

I wanted to be part of an organization for professional writers because my network was very small, and I was looking for more opportunities. And since I've joined, I've found my community! There are so many wonderful people in ASJA and we work together in hundreds of different ways. I've gotten assignments because someone recognized my name from the association, and now I handle the SIGs program, which allows for even more connections.

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

Don't ever tell yourself you won't make enough money to live doing this job. The second you do that, you've given yourself an out. And be persistent — send LOIs and queries as often as possible and follow up regularly.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Diversify! Don't pigeonhole yourself into one type of writing or one aspect of the business. More types of work mean more income streams. Don't forget about passive income, too. Try to set something up like a class or a book so you'll get paid when you aren't expecting it.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Stacey Freed

Stacey Freed, a Pittsford, New York-based writer, has been a full-time freelancer for the last six years. Stacey covers construction, remodeling, design, architecture and housing topics, along with stories focused on dogs and education.

In this Q&A, Stacey shares how she balances fiction writing with her work for consumer publications, content providers and trade associations, the best thing about being a freelance writer and the huge impact ASJA has had on her freelance career.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I worked in publishing/editorial for about 25 years and always wrote a freelance piece here and there. But in 2013, I was laid off from my job as a senior editor for a publisher and began freelancing full-time. 

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

Aside from freelancing full-time, I'm a fiction writer. (I'm currently looking for an agent for a completed novel.) I used to try to squeeze in fiction writing at the end of my workday. But I'm tired of writing — and full of excuses — after 6:00 p.m. 

A friend suggested I do "the unpaid work first." When it comes to paid work, I know that I will stay up until midnight to meet a deadline. It’s too easy to scrap the unpaid work. So, I try to put in two hours on my own writing first thing in the morning. Then, I get to work on the paying gigs — scheduling interviews, going over notes, writing articles and finding more work. 

I always exercise during the day — it's imperative. Plus, my trusty lab Gerty makes me get out of my chair several times a day.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer?

The best thing is being able to do my own thing. I can take a day off if I want. I never worry about being late to the office and I don’t have to commute, especially during the winter here in western New York. I'm the best boss I ever had.

What’s the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 

The hardest thing is the loneliness. Despite making lots of phone calls and scheduling coffee and lunch dates outside the house, it can become a grind being in my home office day in and day out. The other difficult thing is the stress of constantly having to find work. But I still think the positives outweigh these things.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

I joined ASJA about a year after getting laid off. I wanted to meet other freelancers, and I wanted to get out of my house. Plus, I promised myself that I was going to take myself seriously as a business owner and would attend one professional conference a year — whether in the industry I cover or for writing.

ASJA has helped me in a number of ways: I found work through Client Connections at one of the conferences. I also have met other writers from other parts of the country with whom I keep in contact and get to see when I go to the conferences. I also get together with a group of local ASJA writers a few times a year. Community is so important. All of the writers I've met have been willing to share the names of editors and possible outlets and business suggestions. I couldn't have done any of this without ASJA.

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

If you want to earn an actual living at this, find a niche to focus on and look for bread and butter publications. Don't just try to look for work at the big consumer pubs. 

Grow your skills by attending conferences and networking.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Volunteer when you can. There are often perks that go with doing so and you get to meet and work with great people.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Ilima Loomis

Ilima Loomis covers health care, HR and the sunny paradise she’s lucky to call home — Hawaii. Ilima works with hospitals, healthcare companies, professional employer organizations (PEOs), hospitality companies and all kinds of local businesses. She also occasionally writes magazine articles for some of her favorite editors. 

In this Q&A, Ilima shares how she pivoted from journalism to content marketing, why freelancing has been so empowering for her personally and professionally and why she decided to join ASJA.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, then three years as a magazine editor. Through it all, I would freelance on the side for fun, experience and extra money. I always wanted to freelance full-time because I wanted the flexibility but never had the confidence to take the plunge. I knew my magazine job wouldn't last forever, so I started making plans to transition. I ended up getting laid off earlier than expected. It was the push I needed. I went straight into freelancing.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

I'm a single parent, so my day revolves around the hours my daughter is in school. I try to protect my work time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so I don't meet friends for coffee or schedule appointments during that time. If I have writing or creative work, I try to do that before lunch when I'm fresh. If I have phone calls, I try to do them in the afternoon, although that doesn't always work due to my time zone. I always plan my schedule for the next day before I go to bed, and I check my calendar and to-do list first thing in the morning before I wake up my daughter.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer?

I love being the master of my time. I get to decide what hours are most convenient for me and my family, and I make it happen. I've been fortunate to have wonderful clients, but on the rare occasion where they haven't been wonderful, I've let people go because they didn't value me or treat me well. On a personal note, I can say that freelancing has been incredibly empowering for me as a woman. Of course, it's also nice that I make more money, have more job security and work fewer hours than I did when I worked for an employer. 

What’s the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 

Walking away from journalism was the hardest thing about being a freelancer for me. I made it work for several years, but in the end, I decided that financial security and freedom had to be the priority for my family. Fortunately, I still enjoy the work I do and I'm at peace with my decision.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

My friend recommended ASJA to me. I'm pretty isolated living on an island in the middle of the Pacific, so I value being connected to an extended network of other writers.

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

One mistake I've seen new freelancers make is staying too long with low-paying clients. They think they need to spend years paying their dues, but that's not true. Sometimes these clients can be a good foot in the door, but that's it. Get in, get your clips, and get out. Think of yourself as climbing a ladder and don't get stuck on the bottom rungs. You should be constantly looking for the next opportunity to move up. Most writers can move up much more quickly than they believe.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Play the long game. It can take a long time to start seeing results when you make a change or try something new. After I started marketing myself as a content marketing writer, it took six months before I started getting new clients, and a year before I felt I was getting momentum. Eighteen months after making the change, though, I was earning more than twice as much money as I had the previous year. It was worth it. Don't give up. Think of yourself as driving a battleship, not a motorboat.

Any other words of freelance wisdom?

Freelancing was a great fit for me, but it's not for everybody. If you give it a shot and you don't love it or feel it's making your life better in some way, it's ok to admit it's not right for you.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte has been freelancing for the better part of 15 years, going full-time in 2015. The Boston-based engineer-turned-freelance writer covers AI, robotics and smart technology and has worked with a roster of name-brand clients, including Samsung, Adobe, Autodesk and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

In this interview, she shares the thing she loves most about being a freelancer, how ASJA has helped her career and what she does nearly every morning before starting her workday.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I was a part-time freelancer for a long time (15 years?) doing mostly book review editing and reviewing literary fiction. I switched to full-time freelancing in January 2015. I am trained as an engineer, but I had moved far away from anything engineering by the time 2015 rolled around. I had done a lot of technical writing but I knew I didn't want that. 

I wanted to write about technology and wanted to explore that. The trade magazines I was editing were being sold. My kids were ready to leave home and I felt like it was a good time to take the leap. I continued to do the freelance book review editing and maintained ties with the trade magazines I edited, so I started out slowly. I was looking for ways to leverage my engineering degree.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer?

Most days, I go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. After coffee and breakfast, I start work at 8:00 a.m. I’m done by 5:00 p.m. 

My day usually includes writing mixed in with a few phone calls. I try to keep a couple of days for only writing, as I find that to be more efficient and it gets me in the "zone" faster. I don't work beyond 5:00 p.m. and don't work weekends either.

What's the best thing about freelancing?

My eggs are not all in one basket, so the income is spread among many clients. Even if one were to leave, my income wouldn’t drop to zero. 

What's the hardest thing about freelancing?

Not knowing if/when edits are coming back. I usually pack my days too tight and then if an editor requests edits, I’m unsure of where to fit it in. I need to get better about that.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

The honest answer: Fellow freelancer and friend Lisa Rabasca Roepe kept insisting I would love ASJA. She and I have been accountability buddies for a while and she knew my work and clips and encouraged me to apply. ASJA has increased my visibility among colleagues. I have received work referrals from ASJA colleagues. Melanie Padgett Powers and Satta Sarmah Hightower come readily to mind who are now also friends. It's the camaraderie that I love the most. Writing can be a lonely sport and ASJA makes it less so.

What's some advice you'd give new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business?

1. Don't just sit back and assume work is going to come to you. People kept telling me things would "snowball" but it took some time to get there. Even today, I don't assume work is ever a given. 

2. Don't make every relationship with a colleague a transactional one. Build genuine relationships and focus on that first. The work follows. 

3. Hit your deadlines every single time. Be easy to work with. Don't balk at edits. Soon, you'll be your editor's pet and get more work.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Spread the love. If you can't take on an assignment, remember a colleague. Build up plenty of good karma. Attend the annual ASJA conference. It buoys my spirits every year. I am an introvert but I love meeting my colleagues — and fellow introverts. 

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson