Are you looking for an extra way to gain income as a writer, or perhaps a different way to earn exposure and prestige in addition to the usual freelance or “starving writer” grind? There are two great ways to get them that we writers, especially new writers, tend to overlook.
You might smack your forehead when you read these and go, “Oh yeah. Why didn’t I think of that?”
And no, this isn’t a “make money online” or “make money blogging” pitch. You’ve seen those before — in many different incarnations, at that. This is simply a writer opening your eyes to more available tools that can bolster your writing career.
Killer Source #1: Writing Contests and Competitions
Now before you wince, writing contests are a great way to hone your craft and build your renown. You hone your craft by carefully choosing every word and making sure none is wasted, knowing that the manuscript will be judged; and winning the contest builds your renown. There’s something almost enviable about reading a writer’s byline that’s filled with writing awards and literary, trade, or commercial magazines he’s been published in.
You know you want that, too. And that’s a good thing.
However, what’s even better is it’s easily accessible. Websites like FundsforWriters, Poets & Writers magazine, Writers Digest, and FreelanceWriting.com list credible writing contests on their sites, including the links to the contest sites themselves.
Some of the contest hosts are literary magazines that, once you research them, offer contests on a quarterly basis, such as Glimmer Train Press, so even if you miss the closest deadline, there is always a chance for you to enter.
Do these contests require an entry fee? Yes, most do. However, there are some really great ones that don’t. Some of the most prestigious contests will run you entry fees upwards of $35-$75, but there are plenty of contests with economical entry fees that range between $5 and $20. The choice is yours entirely.
Besides, most contests, even those with lower fees, offer great grand prize payouts, usually $1,000, $500, or something in the three-figure range, and publication. Also, if they want the winner present at the awards ceremony to do a reading, they’ll offer either an all-expenses-paid trip, or a stipend of some sort to cover travel costs.
Furthermore, if you’re struggling with the confidence to enter one of these writing contests, you can take heart: many of them offer a runner-up prize, and some even offer a third place prize.
If you’d rather not gamble so loosely and prefer a more straightforward approach to gaining extra money to advance your writing career, here’s another option for you.
Killer Source #2: Grants for Writers
Applying for grants is a bit less fun creatively speaking, but no less meticulous. For all intents and purposes, you’re producing a proposal that gives the grant makers insight about your manuscript-in-progress, your current finances (you have to prove the financial need), and in some cases, your plan for after it’s published.
In addition to grants, you can also apply for writing fellowships and retreats, in which you’re flown out to an artistic site or school to attend informative seminars and just have the exclusive peace and quiet to concentrate on nothing but finishing the manuscript.
Then check out the sites listed above to start hunting. These opportunities can help you build your portfolio, add great credibility, and provide an additional source of income you perhaps overlooked before.
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Flickr photo by Vassilis Online.