5 Ideas for Unconventional Writing Success

In the March/April 2010 issue, entrepreneurial writer Chris Guillebeau shared his secrets for making your passion make money for you. The key is to find the convergence between your passion and what people want—and then deliver just that. by Chris Guillebeau
Publish date:

In this online-exclusive companion, here Guillebeau shares five more of his ideas for achieving unconventional success in your writing career.

1. Help newspapers adapt to the online world. I get paid $30 to write blog posts for my local newspaper—not a fortune by any means, I know, but the posts are short and I’m grateful for the traffic to my personal website that comes directly from my posts there. Other opportunities can be found through the Examiner network, AOL and the Huffington Post, which frequently welcomes new (unpaid) writers. Although these outlets are also not lucrative (and there’s a lot of debate in the writing community over whether or not you should work for them), my personal experience is that writing for sites like these can help you establish credibility—and of course, you can include a link to your site in the bio section, which is a plus. Start by contacting an editor with a polite e-mail introduction. If you don’t hear back, follow-up once, then move on to someone else.

2. Use social networking (the right way). Much advice on social networking goes like this: “Sign up for Twitter, and all of a sudden you’ll have a huge fan group.” This theory requires a significant leap of logic. Twitter (or Facebook, or other networks) can be great, and you definitely can build a strong base of followers over time, but not without putting in some real effort. Start by listening in on other people’s conversations and seeing if there’s a way you can help them. After a few months, you can build your own brand by providing (and promoting) meaningful content.

3. Stand out from the masses. Whatever you do, you have to do it differently than everyone else does. Don’t be one of 1,000 query letters—that’s like the story I heard recently of 300 applicants showing up for one receptionist job in Portland. How can you win with those odds? Most likely you can’t, so you have to think differently.

4. Take ownership of your projects. My first print book, The Art of Non-Conformity, comes out later this year. Nothing against the nice people at Penguin, but I expect to do much of the promotion myself. First of all, I don’t really have a choice; it’s just how things work now. Second of all, I’m actually looking forward to the process. If I’m not willing to promote my own book, why should I expect anyone else to?

5. Whatever you do, become indispensable. If you do land a traditional writing gig somewhere, hold on to it with all you’ve got. Become the writer everyone calls when they need something good. When you get negative feedback, accept it gracefully even if you disagree. Do amazing work, and you won’t be forgotten.

Become a Writer's Digest VIP:
Get a 1-year pass to WritersMarket.com, a 1-year subscription to Writer's Digest magazine and 10% off all WritersDigestShop.com orders!Click here to join.

Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.


The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.


Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.


Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.


Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.


Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.


Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.