Hello, everyone! I am truly flattered that I get e-mails from readers, but it has reached a point now where I get the same kinds of questions on a regular basis. So I figured I would create a page of FAQ’s in order to save time. Please read this information before contacting me.
Q: I am an author who recently published a book on Amazon, and I know you’re a Top Amazon Reviewer. Could you please read my book and leave me a review?
A: Back when I worked an office job, I was really happy to do this for people. It was a free book for me to read, and I knew that my review would help the writer at least a little bit. Now, I get 2-3 book review requests every week in my inbox. I used to say “yes” as often as I could, but I realized that I would do this out of politeness, and these books would actually go unread.
Now, I am a full-time writer, which means that I spend all day reading for research and writing. Don’t get me wrong. I love it. But after 8-10 hours of reading for work, the last thing I want to do is read for pleasure. I want to go outside, go shopping, get some human interaction, maybe watch Netflix If I read a book and I review it on Amazon, it usually has something to do with work, or I listened to the Audiobook instead.
Q: I am an aspiring writer, and I noticed you write a lot for Listverse. How can I write for them, too?
A: Listverse is pretty much the only website out there who will pay a new writer $100. So I understand why so many people want to know how to do it.
First and foremost, read their author guide very carefully. I’m shocked at how many people e-mail me before even bothering to do that much. Yes, I know it’s 19 pages long. No, there’s no shortcut or secret password. Follow their instructions to a tee. Their website gets hundreds of pitches every single day, and they only need three. So if your list doesn’t fit what they’re looking for perfectly, it will be rejected.
Q: It feels impossible to come up with a new idea for Listverse that hasn’t been done already. How do you pull it off on a regular basis?
A: I think for me, it’s 40% natural creativity and 60% research. It becomes easier once you open up your mind to be inspired. I get my ideas from everywhere. Books, TV, movies, podcasts, magazines, conversations, you name it. I also save every little quirky true story I hear, just in case I might use it later. After a year of saving up my resources, it became a lot easier to write multiple lists a month.
Q: Yeah, okay, but really- tell me the secret getting published on Listverse, though.
A: There honestly is no secret. The really do lay it all out in front of you in the author guide about what they are looking for. There is also a post they published with more details on how to get paid as one of their writers.
Q: How did you first get a paid job as a writer?
My first ever paid job was one I found on Craigslist for a new website that specialized in popular culture and entertainment. The editor was willing to take me on as a writer after I showed her some pieces from the school newspaper. After about 2 years working for them and becoming a contributing editor, the site eventually went down, and I just focused on finishing my degree and only occasionally wrote for my own blog.
After college, I started writing Amazon reviews as a hobby. I became a Top Reviewer and started getting free products in exchange for my feedback. People started asking me how I did it, so I wrote a long post about it on Facebook to answer everyone’s questions at one time. A friend of mine who works at The Penny Hoarder read my Facebook post, and she told me to pitch it to them, and it became this post. From then on, I worked on pitching to more places and getting myself out there.
Q: Has writing for Listverse helped your writing career?
A: Yes. Absolutely. Getting published on any big-name publication in general is great for your writing career. I started writing for other trivia and history related websites, and it’s all because I was able to showcase my research abilities on Listverse. Getting published on The Penny Hoarder helped me get other finance writing jobs., too.
Q: How much money do you make as a freelance writer?
A: It’s not really any of your business, but I understand why people ask me this. I think what they really want to know is if it’s worth quitting their job to following their dreams to become a writer. The short answer? No. Don’t quit your job. You could be the next Hemingway, but if you’re not getting paid by anyone yet, hold on to your job for now.
The only time you should quit your job for writing is when you have so many paid opportunities coming your way, it would make more sense to write full time. The only way to get there is by building up your portfolio, which takes time. In my case, I probably waited too long before quitting my old job, since I had already been getting published and had a healthy portfolio for several years.
Q: Can you recommend any books or podcasts I should listen to?
A: Yes! Kelly James-Enger writes a lot of great books with advice for freelance writers. I also love On Writing by Stephen King.
The Self Publishing Podcast and the books by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt are great, as well. They also have audio books like Write, Publish, Repeat.
Last but not least, The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast is amazing. It is no longer updated with new episodes, but the interviews are priceless.
Q: Can I pick your brain?
A: This is called a professional consultation. It’s not something people give away for free. I do not give consultations, because I’m not a career coach. I took the time to write all of this as a way to replace the brain-picking process.
Q: Can I send you one of my stories so I can get your feedback?
A: No. Absolutely not.
Q: But you seem so nice, and it should only take you a few minutes!
A: Most people- I’d say 99% – don’t actually want honest feedback when they ask someone to read their work. They want a sugar-coated ego boost from someone besides their mom. I’m not here to do that for you, and I frankly don’t have the time.
I am also a very brutally honest person. I would pick your writing apart, because that’s the only way I know how to help someone get better. If I was your English teacher, I am absolutely positive you would hate me. It can only end in tears.
Q: I can’t get published yet, and no one besides my mom and best friends are willing to read my story. So how am I supposed to get valuable feedback?
A: There are tons of ways to get feedback, and I’ve done them all. There are online forums dedicated to fan fiction and writing. Online trolls will let you know very quickly what you’re doing wrong. There are also meet-up groups for NaNoWriMo, and writing circles at local libraries. If you’re still in college, sign up for a creative writing class, even if it’s not your major. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to do all of that, then chances are, you won’t become a writer.
Q: Can you change (insert thing here) about (insert article title here)?
No, I actually can’t. I’m just a writer, so I don’t have editing powers on any of the websites I write for. If you have a request to change something in one of my articles, please contact the editor of each respective website, and it will be up to them and the owner to make any changes they think are appropriate.
Q: I have a great idea for Listverse, but I cannot write it myself. If I tell you my idea, would you like to write it, and we can split the profit?
No, thank you. I am very lucky to be able to say that coming up with new ideas is not an issue for me anymore. I have roughly 30 new ideas sitting in my drafts right now, and I come up with even more new ideas almost every day. The issue is finding time to write it all. I suggest that you should try writing your idea yourself, because you never know what will happen until you try.
Q: Do you want to write for my website/magazine?
A: Maybe. You can always e-mail me at email@example.com