"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: June 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

5 Easy Ways to Make Money Writing

Dear Fellow Writer,
Of all the social media sites, my favorite would have to be Google+. 

It's the one I look forward to opening these days. I'm not quite sure what it is that makes it different - but it seems fresh and full of inspired people interacting with conviction and integrity.

And when you spend a lot of time online, as I do, that's refreshing! 

BTW: I started my new author blog - and your response has been very encouraging! Go here to see: http://robparnell.blogspot.com

Write From The Start

5 Easy Ways to Make Money Writing

Rob Parnell
writing for profit
Here are the five main writing related activities you can make money from relatively quickly:

          1. Editing
          2. Proofing
          3. Rewriting
          4. Ghosting
          5. Mentoring

And the good news is that the demand for this kind of work is huge - and growing. At any one time there are thousands of writers out there wanting to get published - and they all know one thing: that their manuscripts must be polished and error free - even if they're publishing themselves, or through Kindle, or through a local printer.

In any one week I turn down this work pretty much every day. But I know that if I needed to keep myself afloat financially, then I could always engage in this kind of work.

How To Get Easy Writing Work

You need only advertise yourself as an editing service. Either through your local writers' group, a writer's newsletter, or even online through Facebook or your website or blog. You don't need any flash or expensive graphics. Just a typed notice in your writers' center, for instance, or a post on your blog. Trust me, requests for this service will start pouring in to your in box.

Do you need samples of your work? Not usually - but if you do have a 1000 word story or article that is edited perfectly, you can always use this as an example of your work. Many writers won't even ask to see it.

When people inquire after your service, ask for a look at the work they want edited. Get them to email it over. Take a look at it and decide what it needs: a simple proof, a thorough edit or perhaps more: suggestions for improvement or a rewrite. Let the client know what you think needs doing and tell them what it will cost.

I think it's a good idea to suggest three options: each differently priced. Then you let the client decide which service they want.

What to charge? It's really up to you. An hourly rate of between $20 and $50 is common. Or a price per word - say $5 per 100 or 1000 words. It's your call.

But there is one rule you need to stick to - it will save you a lot of heartache and will get rid of all the major time wasters. And that rule is you don't start work on a project without an upfront part payment.

Usually between a fifth and a quarter of the final fee. You need to insist on this for a couple of important reasons.

One, you'd be amazed how many people 'commission' writers to edit their work with absolutely no intention of paying. I don't know why this is. I think it's because they undervalue what a writer can do. Plus, they want the option to say they're weren't impressed with what you did after you've done it. Getting people to part-pay upfront seems to zap most of these time wasters - and freebie hunters - and also establishes a more professional relationship from the start.

Two, in the corporate world, not everyone who 'commissions' a writer has the authority to spend money on the company's behalf. This happens a lot. You get an employee who thinks she might look good to her boss if she gets a report, for instance, edited into something polished. She might promise, in good faith, that you'll get paid on completion. But nine times out of ten you'll find that your payment can only be authorized by someone further up the corporate ladder who, without all the proper paperwork in place, won't/can't sanction payment.    

And of course, you should never start working on a gig until you get the part payment. Not one word. Never work for free or on approval. It's better not to get gigs at all than work for nothing upfront. As Tom Cruise shouts in that movie: "Show me the money!"

Think of it this way. Fifty people may express an interest in you editing their work. You might think this is good. You might think the world is your oyster - and you get excited by what you can do with all these projects. But only one of those people will give you a part payment up front. Only this person is a real client. The rest are, in effect, time wasters. Don't feel bad about rejecting those who won't pay upfront - because these are more than likely going to be the ones who would never have paid you anyway!

You've lost nothing by refusing to work until you see a part payment. Plus, you get a lot more respect when someone is paying you. Funny how that works.

And rest assured - you don't need to worry about whether you're good enough to edit other people's work. If you're taking one of my courses, you're already good enough. Why? Because 99% of the time, the people who think they need editors, really do need editors. Plus, often what most writers really need is fresh eyes - and someone to catch their typos.

If it so happens that you receive a manuscript from someone that really doesn't need editing, then tell them that. Or, if the writer's manuscript needs a lot of work to fix punctuation and grammar problems, let them know that too. And price your job according to how long you think it may take you.

Other Writing Jobs

Until you have more experience, it's probably best to stick to the five basic writing jobs mentioned above. Other, more specialized activities like book doctoring (where you pull apart a book's structure and suggest ways to heighten the impact of the story or a non fiction text etc) are better left to long time professionals. You can of course charge a lot more money for services like these but writers will want to see 'evidence' that your advice is solid and commercially successful.

These days there are many new authors putting their work up online - and often the first criticism they receive is that their work needs a good edit. These are the people most in need of your services. So if you can find a way to tap into this market, you could be working for a living, profitably, in no time at all.

There's no doubt that the more work you do for writers, the quicker the word spreads about your services - and the more work you'll be offered. Just remember not to commit yourself to any project without seeing some of the money first - and you'll be fine.

Whatever you do, don't ever pay for writing opportunities, don't promise to pay finder's fees to agents, friends or middlemen, and never work on the understanding you'll receive royalties if and when the book gets published. 
My experience is that this last option will be offered to you frequently. And my earnest advice is: Don't get suckered in because it almost never pans out.

Besides, the publishing industry doesn't work this way.

Freelancers should get paid first - always.

Keep Writing!
 rob at home


"The tale is often wiser than the teller." Susan Fletcher

Thursday, June 20, 2013

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing


Dear Fellow Writer,

It's a terrible shame about James Gandolfini - he died so young at 51, this week in Rome. 

The Sopranos will always have a special place in my heart. Tony was a character with the right mixture of dark complexity and shining humanity that is so often hard for us fiction writers to get right!

Hey! Soon to be available for sale, you can now watch my short movie, FIRST CUT, for FREE - in HD - but only for today. 

Click on the screen below!

BTW: I'm starting a new author blog soon - one that is dedicated only to my fiction and film projects. 

I want to be able to share free insights on creating fiction, give away some of my stories and films - and have a place where there's absolutely no selling in sight! Look out for that!

Keep Writing!

Your Success is My Concern

Crime FictionWrite From The Start


10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing

Rob Parnell

Following on from the last couple of week's 'Easy Ways' Articles, I thought this week we should look at writing - apparently my area of expertise - as a few subscribers have pointed out to me recently!

1. Study The English Language

I know this sounds blindingly obvious but you will always benefit from learning current phraseology, syntax, punctuation and grammar.

Your writing shines with luminescence when you get everything right - something not all wannabe writers seem all that concerned about!

I'm not talking about adhering to all the fussy rules of correct English, I mean that your writing should look perfectly natural to the majority of English-speaking readers.

2. Get To Know Basic Structure

All good writing has a beginning, a middle and an ending. You need to introduce ideas in the right order, develop them and finish with a conclusion based on your premise and your evidence.

This is true of books, chapters, even paragraphs - down to the humble sentence.

When you don't write using an obvious structure, your writing can appear incoherent and rambling. Learn to spot structure in other people's writing - and emulate how they use it effectively.

3. Understand the Purpose of Writing

Writing is not just about putting your thoughts on paper.

The purpose of writing is to present a proposition - an idea or a concept or a point of view - and convince the reader that your proposition is correct and/or believable.

In fiction your proposition is your fictional world and the story you are telling.

In non-fiction the proposition is often a personal interpretation of facts.

In articles, blogs and shorter works, the proposition can be a anything you like - as long as it follows the first two rules above!

4. Read Everything

Read as much as you can find time for - anything in any form or genre.

See what everyone else is doing - and then do something different yourself.

Nobody wants to read the same old thing written a thousand alternate ways. Readers want new information, new insights, original thinking.

Any artist is a craftsperson first - and craftspeople learn everything there is to know about their craft - and then go beyond.

5. Engage Your Reader

Make your reader feel like they're part of a journey of discovery - either through your story or your chosen topic.

Don't explain everything as though you're dealing with a child. Trust the reader's intelligence. Leave some questions unanswered for a while - let them think for themselves while they're reading.

Allow the reader the space to ask their own questions, and permit them to choose their own interpretation of your 'proposition'.

Angry people shout and won't let you think until they're finished stating their position. Calm, rational, objective writers invite consideration, debate, and the involvement of the reader.

6. Enlighten Your Reader

Tell readers something they don't know. Let them see something from your unique perspective.

In fiction you can describe worlds or systems or just ways of doing things that most people are unfamiliar with.

In non-fiction you will hopefully have access to information that only you know in your chosen field of study.

Introduce interesting facts that highlight and illustrate your argument, your propositions. Quote famous people, draw parallels, invent original metaphors.

7. Be Amusing

Any comedy writer will tell you that 'being funny' is perhaps the hardest thing to do in writing. So much depends on the reader - and it's easy to look foolish or crazy if you don't get it right.

But if you do have an innate talent for making people laugh or saying funny things in writing, then definitely use that!

Publishers in particular often say they'd like to read manuscripts that make them laugh (in a good way!) 

Believe me, if I could do it well, I would!

8. Be Entertaining

The writing is not about you.

Stop being self indulgent and writing because you need to express yourself or get some sort of cathartic kick out of seeing your words on paper.


Give your reader pleasure. Write for the reader. As Dickens once said: "Make them laugh, make them cry, make them wait."

9. Be a Sharer

Make it personal sometimes. Share yourself. Don't be afraid to give away your darkest secrets - and even your most trivial thoughts. Readers will often love you for it.

Use the second person - you - when you talk to your reader.

It's not all about you, the author - and readers get tired of seeing I did that, I think this, I get so excited when, I, I, I...

10. Be Yourself

Do it your way.

All the advice in the world from other writers can only improve your particular style and tone of voice.

It's okay to deliberately break all the rules once you know what they are.

Strive to improve but remain committed to being unique.

Sharpen your skills, hone your talent - but don't aim to trot out the usual, done to death stuff - in fiction or non fiction.

Be specifically YOU.

Oh, and, of course,

Keep Writing!
 rob at home


"Stories tell us of what we already knew and forgot, and remind us of what we haven’t yet imagined." Anne L. Watson

Thursday, June 13, 2013

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Luck

Dear Fellow Writer,
Today, I'm writing and uploading this newsletter on my tablet - really just to see whether it can be done!

A long time ago I wanted to write an ebook on how to run an online empire from an Internet cafe.

I never got around to it - one of those ideas you have on holiday that seems impractical once you get home.

I guess today, the ebook would have to be about how to run a business empire from a mobile phone! Because, with the ongoing state of technology, soon we won't even need a desk -or a proper computer.

Everything could be done via voice command through a pair of shades to remote servers via wifi.

Actual writing could become a thing of the past - eventually. Scary thought.

Bill Gates once said that we won't really appreciate the power of computers until we don't see them anymore... and I think he may be right.

Keep Writing!

Your Success is My Concern

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Luck

Rob Parnell
Following on from last week's 5 Easy Ways topic, I thought this week we should look at luck - old Lady Fortune, or Providence.

There's no doubt that some people are luckier than others. Or at least they appear to be.

But what's going on here?

One thing is certain. Luck has got nothing to do with being optimistic.

According to top insurance companies, people who blindly believe that things will always go their way tend to be the unluckiest!

So what is the secret?

How do you improve your luck in this world?

Below are five rules based on a wealth of business success material and recent psychological data.

1. Make Yourself Known

In previous times this meant simple networking - being out and about and meeting people, lots of them. Nowadays it means having an effective web presence - and usually a high Google ranking.

The rule is that the more people you know the more accidental things can happen to you. Most successful people can track back a piece of monumental good luck to a chance meeting.

The trick here is not to be ruthless or pushy about your meeting and greeting. It's better just to make friends. Don't always be a salesman, or a guru, or a self centered bore.

Be a nice person, make people happy - and they'll remember you. But constantly try to promote yourself and people will want to avoid you. 

2. Trust Your Intuition

There's that little voice inside your head for a reason.

Your conscious mind doesn't have the power to assimilate all the facts about an given situation or opportunity.

That's what the subconscious is for. Trouble is, the subconscious has a difficult time effecting your judgment. It does it through your gut.

Your instincts, no matter how much they fly in the face of reason, are always trying to warn you of imminent dangers and point you towards the good stuff.

Lucky people follow their hearts. The cautious tend to push their luck away through over-analysis and rationalization.

It's okay to let go sometimes - and trust your intuition.

3. Be Brave, Be Stupid

Have the courage to change course every now and then.

The path to success is not straight and narrow. It's a long and winding road.

Fortune favors the brave should be your motto. Because it does.

It's about not taking life too seriously - and not always plumping for security over chance.

You should strive to do what makes you happy, gives you a buzz and puts you in touch with your true purpose.

Be adventurous - and don't be afraid of failing spectacularly.

Have the courage to know that at least you tried and didn't regret never having a go.

4. Stick to What Works

Don't let yourself get stuck in a rut. Learn to be more flexible.

If you narrow down your options, you'll make it hard for people to offer their help - or know how to deal with you.

Specialize too soon and you might be backing a loser.

Jump at opportunities, try lots of things but learn to get out quick when something's not working.

Lucky people know when to quit and admit defeat. Lucky people are ready when the next idea needs developing.

Be smart. Stick with what's working for you. Build on your success.

But don't keep whipping that dead horse!

5. Imagine The Worst

Far from being Pollyanna, lucky people have a firm grip on reality.

They know that luck is fickle and unreliable. While they may be superstitious and irrational about their good fortune, they know that bad luck is just as likely as good.

Apparently lucky people see things from all the angles. They have a fall back plan for when the luck runs dry.

Understand that you can't control everything - and that probability says sometimes the luck will be on your side - but it's not guaranteed to last.

It's okay to be pessimistic, foolish not to be sometimes. But don't let the downside rule you - just be aware that it can happen.

Know that while it's potentially dangerous to rely on good luck, it would be irrational to never expect it to happen.

Luck is always out there waiting for you.

You just need to be ready when it comes along.

As it will.

Keep Writing!
 rob at home

"Possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it." Thomas Mann

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Five Easy Ways To Be More Original

Dear Fellow Writer,

Great to talk to you again this week, and I hope you're feeling well and happy.

Today we look at originality, and how to manifest the appearance of it in your work, especially if you're a writer, a blogger or any kind of creative artist.

As always,

Keep Writing!

Your Success is My Concern


5 Easy Ways to be More Original

Rob Parnell

Original Thinking
People always say they want originality.

Whether this is actually true or not is debatable. But many people, especially in the arts and in the media, say it anyway - like a mantra.

If you're any kind of artist you'll know that what people actually want is the SAME but DIFFERENT - which, at a stretch, could be regarded as original... it depends on your point of view.

Anyway, that opinion aside, how do you become more original - in your thinking, your writing and your overall self expression?

Here's some tips:

1. Know Your Stuff - and Everybody Else's

Read more, study more, take in everything and process it. Think about it, mull over the facts and the fiction and make your own conclusions.

It's too easy to just accept what you read. Not everyone out there is an expert. Don't take everything you absorb as gospel, question it. Dig around the subjects that interest you for links and connections - and discrepancies.

Know what other people have to say about stuff - and avoid doing the same, having the same opinions or taking the same stance.

Be a lateral thinker. Be obtuse if necessary. At least be interesting!

2. Do Google Searches on Your Ideas

This can often be a particularly depressing exercise - but do it anyway. There's little point in repeating...

Pretty much anything you've ever thought - no matter how revelatory and inspiring it may be to you - has most likely been thought and recorded in some form before.

It's a type of synchronicity. A good idea occurs to many people at the same time. (Ask any publisher!)

See how others have explored your idea. Make a conscious effort to come at issues from a new angle. Bring the issues up to date, make them your own, hone them into new ideas.

3. Ask Yourself - Am I Exploring New Ground Here? 

Writers especially are often accused of continually writing the same book. Ask yourself whether you're not a victim of the same modus operandi.

Deliberately set out to explore new questions and offer new conclusions. Find new ways of expressing cliche ideas.

This is what Hollywood calls 'development'. Take your ideas and try to think of the myriad different ways there are of expressing them. Try to find more intriguing angles.

Don't just accept the first idea that occurs to you- it's usually not the most inspired. Develop it - try alternatives and see where they lead you.

A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR:Crime Fiction Masterclass

4. Am I Being Truly Honest?

Apparent originality often comes from uniqueness of perspective.

There's no point having a generic attitude that is echoed by a million other people. Ideas become cliche because people don't question the wisdom within the words - or indeed if the wisdom is even there.

People want to know about your own unique perspective - especially if you're some kind of genuine expert - with integrity.

Nobody gets respect for simply repeating the wisdom of others.

Go deep into your own mind. What do you really think? How is that view shaped by who you are?

Don't be afraid to go against the grain and state an opinion that you believe in - even when others might regard you as a little 'off'. The most profound and life changing ideas are often ridiculed at first. 

5. Inject HEART

Ask yourself: will anyone care?

Sometimes this is a hard question to answer, especially the more objective you try to be. Think for too long on this and you'll most likely never put pen to paper again!

So what does make people care?

Not just facts and information, not just a story or anecdote. Not even a grand painting or song or sculpture or a novel.

None of these things work without 'heart'.

That little something extra that displays a tacit understanding of humanity.

Originality is not always in the details - but it is apparent in the whole, the entirety of a creation.

Don't just work on the things you create, work on yourself too.

The genius of the Mona Lisa, for instance, is not just in the fact that it's a great portrait - there are millions of those. What shines from the Mona Lisa is Leonardo: his implicit understanding of the world and the people in it.

If in doubt, make people care through providing benefit, a new perspective or by pushing the envelope just a little bit further.

And don't be afraid to truly be yourself. Because you're unique - and so to express yourself with complete honesty, integrity and humility is to tap into the divine.

And that's original!

Keep Writing!

 rob at home


"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!