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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

Bypassing Bylines
by Tama Westman

When would-be writers first start out, it is often the gleam of that first byline that lights our eyes with hope and sees us pouring through writers' guidelines, market guides and magazines galore.

“Maybe I could write about perennial gardens, or the top ten things not to feed your child on vacation.” The possibilities are endless and hope runs high. Traditional markets are researched, along with newsletters, newspapers, and Internet Web sites that publish new writers.

Once attained, everyone in our address book gets a copy, as we proudly display our published work and that all-important byline. After several years of writing, I still get goose bumps when I see my byline. I clip and tape and add it to the portfolio.

Lately, however, in this ever-changing career, I have been asked to lend my writing abilities to areas where no byline is given, no mention of the writer documented. Promotional materials, advertorials, articles for non-profits, ghost-writing, and now, technical writing and editing are some of the new areas I am experimenting with.

It is a difficult decision as a writer who still thrills to see her name in print…so why do it?

Mo’ money, mo’ money
Bypassing the byline equals bigger bucks. While bylines feel good and stroke the ego, it is often the writing that receives no credit that generates the better income.

In error, I have always frowned on such writing, trying to remain a “purist,” true to the art, true to the call, until I woke up. It takes real art to make technical writing sound interesting, or to find the story that will capture the hearts and wallets of investors for non-profit organizations.

My ignorance in ignoring these other avenues of writing is now over. Do you have any idea how much money can be made in these markets? Now granted, I am just starting out here, learning how the demand for technical writers is high and lucrative, but even as a novice, I am earning over $30 an hour. That’s not bad for a parent in PJs working from home with no overhead or travel expenses….in fact, that’s not bad for anyone.

Finding lucrative markets
Where do you find these high-paying positions? Look in your local newspaper, technical writers are wanted in almost every arena, from manuals to teaching materials, to promotional and marketing descriptions for ads.

Internet markets, such as Writer’s Market , and Craig’s List  have opportunities listed all the time. You can even do a Google search of technical writing jobs and come up with thousands of opportunities. What qualifies you to write in this area? You are a writer—that alone is a qualification. Being willing is another qualification. True, it takes a different set of guidelines, so, if you decide to follow this course, study it.

Check out writers' magazines and resource books to gather your technical wits before you begin. You don’t have to forgo the markets that give you a byline, however, you may want to consider adding those that do not. I love being surprised by success. It is exciting to stretch and expand our writing careers and see what more we can do.

You may find it profitable to try your hand at a new genre or area of writing. Who doesn’t want to be gleefully, joyfully, surprised by success? It’s as easy as click, open, read, learn, try.

Happy hunting!

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary magazine, Haute Dish. Her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.

She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students, and teaches beginning and intermediate writers at conferences throughout the country. Married with two grown children, she keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Further samples of her writing can be viewed on her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com feel free to e-mail comments to tama@tamawestman.com









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