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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #390

Let It Snow, Let Is Snow, Let Is Snow

No White Christmas for us this year, I’m afraid. Children in the Pacific Northwest will once again be disappointed.

It’s not that we don’t get snow here. We are usually good for at least one decent snowfall each winter, but for whatever reason it rarely happens on December 25th. I can only remember three, maybe four white Christmases during my time on this planet. Oddly, two of the greatest snowfalls ever here have happened in February in the last three years. I say oddly because winter is pretty much over for us in February, historically, but Mother Nature has decided to mix things up a bit of late. So your guess is as good as mine, and probably better.

Thanks to all of you who still read the Mailbag, despite the commenting problems, and I appreciate all of you who find the forum postings and take the time to comment on those. That is going above and beyond, and you are greatly appreciated.

Let’s see what the Mailbag has for us this week.

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Secrets to Freelance Writing Success

From Millie: “I know you freelance, and I know you are fairly successful at it. Are there any secrets you can share for someone looking to enter this field?”

Millie, I hate to burst your bubble, but no, there are no secrets. You just have to dive in and get started. The day I started freelancing, about ten years ago, I had business cards printed, I started a blog because I couldn’t afford to have a website made professionally, and I announced to the world, without any experience at all, that I was a freelance writer looking for work.

It took me two weeks to get my first paying gig. It took two more weeks to nail down the next job, and three weeks after that I signed on with a firm in Texas and I’ve been with them ever since. Today I work as much as I want to, and I turn down jobs I don’t want to do.

None of that would have happened if I hadn’t developed an attitude that I can do this, so I guess there’s the secret you were looking for. Develop a positive, can-do mindset, and then get out there and market your skills, provided you have any to market, of course. You have to be honest with yourself. You need to have some elementary writing skills. If you don’t have those, you’ll have a hard time getting any jobs at all.

Good luck!

Being a successful freelancer, and making decent money at it, is not easy.

Being a successful freelancer, and making decent money at it, is not easy.

Amazon Kindle Keywords

From Linda: “Hi Bill - I'm in the end-stage of my book (oh, that sounds grim, doesn't it?) and am not having much success with finding "keywords", "Amazon/Kindle key phrases," keywords to insert in the copyright page of the book, and so on.

“I'm old and lazy. Can you direct me to some magical website to solve my problem? BTW my book is non-fiction if that matters.K”

This one had me confused at first, because I’ve always been instructed by Amazon to choose keywords from their list when I’ve published. Then I realized you hadn’t started the publishing process yet, so there it is.

When you go to publish, start the process with Amazon; don’t download the book until after you have chosen keywords from their list. Once you do that you can type them into your copyright page before you download the book. Make sense?

You can also follow these instructions from Amazon:

“To see the existing Amazon categories, search for categories on the Amazon store. You'll find them in the menu on the left side of the page under Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks (in the Kindle Store) or Books (in the Books store) “

The Going Rate

From Michael: “What’s the going rate of pay for freelance writers? What should I expect to earn if I get into it?”

Michael, it’s like the Wild West out there in freelance land. I know people who write 250 words for $10. I know people who get paid three times that much for the same number of words. I know a ghostwriter who did a novel for some guy for $500, pauper’s pay if you as me. And I know a ghostwriter who did a novel for $5,000.

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The going rate is the rate you sign on for, end of story. What are you willing to work for? It’s out there waiting for you, no matter what you think you are worth, but it might require some marketing on your part, and it might take some time.

I don’t want to paint a rosy picture about freelance writing. It is a very competitive field today. There are thousands of freelancers vying for the really good paying jobs, and there are tens-of-thousands vying for the low-paying jobs. You just have to keep on keeping on, believe in your skills, and market the hell out of yourself.

Deleting Hp Account

From Christina: “Do you know how you go about deleting an HP account? I’m having a hard time finding it on the HP website, and I thought you might know off the top of your head.”

Well, Christina, it turns out I don’t know that, but I did find out for you . . . or at least I think I found out. I found two differing answers to that question. The first answer was to delete all of your articles, individually, and then send an email to HP telling them you want to delete your entire account.

The second answer I did find, online with a Google search, and that said the following:

If you would like to close your HubPages account, please sign in to the account that you would like to close, navigate to the Close Account page, and follow the instructions.

I hope that helps! I suspect quite a few HP writers will want to know this information because of the comment problem.

Making a Difference

From Star: “I’m twenty years old, I love writing, and I would really like to start a blog so I can write articles which will make a difference in the lives of people. I want to touch people. I want to make them feel good about themselves through my words. Any advice on how to go about that?”

Oh my!

First of all, I have never known a Star. Very cool name!

Secondly, good for you. I can feel your enthusiasm through your words, and I love that you want to help people. That is so cool of you, and in no way am I being condescending when I say that. I really want you to succeed.

I know I’m going to sound like an old-timer, but so be it. It takes time to establish yourself. All these influencers we see nowadays online and on YouTube, it took them time and a lot of work to market themselves so that people would take the time to watch them or read their blogs. You have to establish a market one person at a time, and that means hours and hours, and days and days, of online marketing through social media . . . and then you have to work on your craft so that what you deliver is interesting enough for people to want to spend time with you online.

If you are a good writer, and if you know how to connect with people through your words, and if you know how to play the social media game, you are still looking, bare minimum, at a year or two to be noticed in any volume.

So, no easy fixes. No master pill which will turn you into a successful online writer/influencer. Just hard work, determination, and a message which resonates with many people.

Best wishes to you! I hope you succeed. I really do! The world needs more writers like you who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

Last year, here, in February, not Christmas, of course.

Last year, here, in February, not Christmas, of course.

Merry Christmas

It just dawned on me that Christmas is in five days, so let me take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, may you have a brilliantly-happy week ahead. Thank you for following along. If you have questions for the Mailbag, email them to me at or find me on Facebook under Bill Holland and post a question for me there.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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