Tuesday, January 10, 2012
A Q& A With Author Wendy Burt
Please join me in welcoming Wendy Burt-Thomas. She and I "connected" some years ago, when I penned a review on one of her great books for singles.
Over the years, I've found her to be a great resource and inspiration. And you will too. In today's interview, she shares freelancing tips as well as secrets to her success.
Feel free to pose any questions or comments in the comments section below.
1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and your background?
I’m a full-time freelance writer and editor. I’ve worked out of my home for the last nine years. I write just about everything for clients: articles, blogs, press releases, ads – you name it! I’ve also written four books for traditional publishers, including “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters.”
2. Describe your creative process. Do you write everyday?
I try to work only Monday through Friday because I have a 4-year-old, 6-year-old and husband who complain if I work at night. (I also have two English mastiffs and a black lab but they like it when I work because they get the crumbs that fall under my desk.) As for my creative “process,” it’s really about butt-in-chair work. If I waited to get inspired I’d never get anything done by my deadlines. I have three hours Monday through Thursday when my 4-year-old is in preschool. I use that time for my high-concentration work and phone consultations. Then I break for lunch when he comes home and use the afternoon for work that needs less focus.
3. How would you define success as a writer?
Doing what you love when you want to do it. Unless they’re self-employed, people don’t understand that writers have deadlines, phone/Skype conference calls, and limited time to work. Yes, you have a lot of flexibility to set your own days and hours, but if I were going to an office every day, you wouldn’t ask me to babysit your kid! (I get this a lot.) Obviously, money plays a role in defining success for many of us, and I am proud to say that I make a great living from home. But I also make a great life, which is more important.
4. What has been your most rewarding accomplishment thus far?
Writing “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters.” I felt like I had birthed (another) baby and really felt proud of the work I had done. Query letters can be a dry topic so I tried to put some humor and real-life examples in the book, which Writer’s Digest let me keep. I didn’t feel like they altered my voice at all, which was wonderful.
5. What would it surprise others to know about you?
How much I still doubt myself. My friend Christina Katz (author of several books on writing, including “The Writer’s Workout”) and I have talked about this before. I think many successful authors/writers have dealt with the “Imposter Syndrome.” No matter how many books and published articles you have, no matter how many classes or keynote speeches you make at writer’s conferences, there’s this nagging voice saying, “You’re a fraud” or “You don’t deserve to make this much money for creativity.” I think more female writers underbid their worth than males. I try to surround myself with other confident, successful creatives (writers, artists, designers) – even if mostly through emails and social media.
6. In your opinion, how has the publishing/writing industry changed in 2012, and how does it impact today‘s writer?
Much of what I do today is completely different than what I did just a few years ago, even though I still have the same clients. I was doing a lot of writing for magazines and print ad copy until the publishing industry nearly went under a few years ago. Now those same clients have me doing a lot more social media (blogs, Facebook posts, tweets), online PR and copy for ecommerce sites. Most magazines now have a digital version, which means I have to take keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into consideration when I write articles and do copywriting for websites. I had to educate myself on methods, terminology and changes in online marketing and publishing so I could adapt to the time. Writers today will be hard-pressed to find consistent work that doesn’t require at least a basic knowledge of these things.
7. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Well, my dad (Steve Burt) is also an author of several books (most recent is “FreeK Camp” – a paranormal YA mystery), so I am genetically obligated to mention him. (Just kidding. His books have won countless awards!) I love the humor of Anne Lamott and David Sedaris, but I think the two books that inspired me the most in terms of writing were Stephen King’s “On Writing” and Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” (not to be confused with “The Art of War”).
8. What‘s the biggest myth you think others have about writing or publishing?
Can I name two? They’re two ends of the spectrum. One is that writing is easy. (I have an uncle who always says, “I could write a book if I wanted to. I just don’t have time.” Incidentally, I worked a full-time job when I wrote my first two books.) The other is that you can’t make a living as a writer. There are plenty of us that do, you just don’t hear about us because we’re too busy working to complain there’s not enough work. ; )
Wendy Burt-Thomas is the author of four books, including “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters.” Her freelance credentials include more than 1,000 published articles, short stories, essays and poems. Follow her blog (http://askWendy.wordpress.com) to get writing contests daily!