Book Review: Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps

You can do it…although the steps may not be that easy.

Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps by Grant McDuling. Amazon Kindle book. $4. 99.
Even the most seasoned writer needs a kick in the pants once in a while. And Grant McDuling provides it in his new e-book, Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps. Ostensibly, this book is designed to help the person deciding to become a freelance writer or, as McDuling prefers to call it, a “practicing writer.” Yet this hundred page inspirational volume also helps people who have been in the field a long time. It is also full of useful information. In between lines of exhortation, such as Descartes’ famous quote “I think therefore I am,” McDuling own “it’s a question of attitude” and “take control of your life,” the author truly does provide us with seven helpful steps to get a writing career started. He’s talking primarily about career in freelance journalism, but he doesn’t rule out ghostwriting books and writing promotional copy for PR agencies.

Here are a number of tips that I found particularly useful:
  • Put testimonials on all types of self-promotional material like business cards and stationery.
  • Testimonials can come from colleagues as well as past clients.
  • Put all your receipts in an envelope, one envelope per month. Don’t wait till the end of the year to start sorting them.
  • Think of yourself more as a profit generator than a word generator. This will get you in the mindset that you are in business to make a living, not to express yourself artistically or to nourish an expensive hobby.
  • Marketing consists of “The Five P’s. They are as follows: Product, Position, Place, Promotion, and Price.” (He describes all of these in detail in the book.)
McDuling spends the first chapter describing how he came into the business. While I may have trimmed this section a bit, it is certainly good information for a beginning writer who wants to learn from the journey of an exemplary writer, and find out how he came to do what he does. He also talks about some of the hurdles he faced along the way, such as when he tried to become a writer for the Irish Times and found out that their union was so full he couldn’t become a member.
He also speaks of the importance of setting goals, such as short-term, medium-term, and long-term ones. And of course, he believes in establishing a business plan. He mentions writing a media release to sell yourself to an editor (but doesn’t provide a sample). He also gives examples of the types of advertising tools that you could use to promote yourself, such as direct marketing, postcards, editorials, and display ads in trade magazines. But again, it would’ve been nice for him to have reproduced one that he did that was particularly successful.

We could all learn from McDuling’s ambitious approaches to his craft and his tireless tips about self marketing, which include public speaking, association memberships, radio spots, and above all, an overweening and infectious confidence in one’s ability to get the job done. This last one is perhaps the most important in producing success.

Author: Peter Bates

Peter Bates is a writer and photographer living in Florida. He is the administrator of this blog and runs the blog The Bodega Project.

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