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The Writing Equation: Make Your Time = More Money

As a writer, I’m much more word nerd than mathematician. But when it comes to money, I’m willing to do the math. In order to earn a living pecking out words on a keyboard, I know I have to get the most $$ from every idea I pursue. You’ve heard the old adage: Time = Money? Here are three tips to help you make your time = more money.

1. Sell your article before you research it. In most cases, if you have a little background knowledge you can write a query letter for an idea and send it off to an editor with no research at all. If you must research an idea before you query, stop when you have enough to put your pitch together. Save your research time for ideas someone wants to pay you for.

2. Research once, write many. Editor A wants your idea on puppy toys? Great! Now that you’re getting paid to research the piece, brainstorm three additional places you could pitch a different slant of the same article. For example, you might write about the latest and greatest puppy toys for Editor A, a filler about puppy toy safety for a general interest magazine, a roundup of the best toys to give a puppy a mental workout and a profile of a dog toy company for a business magazine. Do all the research at once, write a few more queries, and cash a few more checks.

3. Sell it again, Sam. A reprint is an article you’ve sold to one venue that you resell to another. Before you can do this, you must own the reprint rights to the piece (you can’t resell rights to works you signed away all rights to. For a quick refresher in, see A Novice Writer’s Guide to Rights). Think reprints for any article you’ve done for a local or regional publication, that you could sell to a similar publication in a new region. For example, I have an article on do-it-yourself Halloween costumes. I originally sold it to a parenting magazine in New Jersey. Since it’s initial run, it has been reprinted in parenting magazines in six other states, and every year I market it to a few new markets and cash in on the work I’ve already done.

Do you have other tips for getting more money for your time? Let’s talk about them in the comments.



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