I am often asked questions by aspiring writers who hope to make something out of nothing in the writing business. Furthermore, I'm often told that I do not do enough to speak to people outside of my little writing cave, so I'm here doing my second AMA about writing.

I write under the pseudonyms Michelle Barclay (novelist) and Shelly Barclay (Freelance writer). As a novelist, I have completed two novels and have two more in the works. I self publish for a variety of reasons, chief among them being a severe anxiety disorder.

As a freelance writer, I have written travel, culture, arts, family and history (a lot of history) articles for publications such as CBS, USA Today, Yahoo! and countless online publications. I ghost write on a near-daily basis, so you may even chance upon my work without knowing it.

I had little education, having gone off on my own in my mid-teens. Nonetheless, I wrote on everything I could get my hands on and have a multitude of notebooks from those wayward years. Therefore, the wish to write was there. You can't do shit without that. I became a line cook to make money and got pretty damn good at it. I loved my job, but my life wasn't conducive to the hectic pace of a kitchen, so I quit after ten years and began writing.

My first pieces were . . . embarrassing. They are still out there and still have my name on them. It makes my skin crawl, but I kept at it. I read everything I could about writing. I wrote for pennies, literally, and kept on writing. I wrote for content mills, blogs, people's frigging twitter pages and the like. I did that until I finally had enough clout to start selling myself like the high-class word hooker I had become. Eventually, it became a modest career.

Ask me anything.

My Proof: http://michellebarclay.net/2014/02/161/

Edit: 12:37 a.m. EST I'm sleepy now. I will come back and answer any more questions tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for being friendly. Good luck to those of you trying to break out.

Edit 2: I'm back from sleeping. I have a cold, so I'll be chilling on Reddit answering questions while I sit here in my jammies. Thanks for all the questions.

Edit 3: I'm taking a break so I can be a whiny sick person. I'll still answer any questions. It just might be a while. Thanks for your patience.

Comments: 438 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

doubbg83 karma

Moderately successful...how much a year do you make?

Shelberius10 karma

More than enough. However, anyone who wants to be in this business has to be careful. The work ebbs and flows. There are months when I'm raking it in and months when I'm twiddling my thumbs.

JuanGuillermo5 karma


Shelberius9 karma

I quite literally fell asleep and woke up to people losing their minds about it. I already re-responded. There is an approximate figure given in my stead directly in this comment thread.

KoolKidKarma-1 karma

Why is OP getting downvoted..?

Shelberius1 karma

I wouldn't worry about it. This is Reddit. :D

Queentoad126 karma

Do you have a system of sending out material to different publications by tweaking the information in a single article? Have you made contact with editors or publishers who know your work and are willing to publish you?

Shelberius28 karma

Not really. If I publish in more than one place it is either because I sold something on a marketplace more than once (with the proper non-exclusive rights offered to both clients) or I publish it as is for a different set of readers. That really depends on the publication and the piece. If I write something exclusively for a client, which I most often do, it will never see the light of day from me again. They then own it.

I have made a great deal of connections and am confident I could publish easily going that road. I also have personal contacts in the editing world. As far as professional connections, they just kind of happen over time when you publish articles professionally, so I would definitely tell aspiring writers to start in the minor leagues and make connections. For someone like me, there are 100 reasons to do it yourself in a publishing climate like this one.

Queentoad112 karma

How is it that you got clients who ask for your work?

Shelberius32 karma

I started writing for the content mills who will let you publish anything and I did that all day with every spare minute I had. I made some connections directly through those sites. I also made connections through writing marketplaces. Eventually, people started contacting me for work personally. That was pretty cool. You go through all the misery that is publishing for squat and then someone comes to you because they want something they feel you will deliver better than the countless others they come across daily.

Queentoad117 karma

Very cool. Sorry but I don't know what 'content mills' are. Can you explain?

Shelberius39 karma

Content mills are basically places where anyone can publish, such as the old Helium and Associated Content sites. They often pay very little to start. You can make more as you get better or more savvy. The real money is in having private clients or having better clients through an intermediary, such as a marketplace. Going through marketplaces is great because they handle the clients. If the client does not want to be professional, I still get paid and I do not have to do much about it.

Queentoad115 karma

Thanks for the information. I write as a life-long hobby. Retired now and considering selling writing for a bit extra income. I appreciate the tips.

Shelberius13 karma

No problem at all! Feel free to message me any time.

tester4232 karma

Hasn't the business model of those content mills pretty much been destroyed by updates Google made to its search engine?

Shelberius1 karma

Not all of them. The shittiest ones definitely sank. Others have revenue streams behind the scenes where they act as intermediaries between writers and bigger clients.

mysterybox95021 karma

Who was your biggest inspiration?

Shelberius40 karma

That's tough. I want to say Stephen King because I write horror and was enthralled by how rude and disgusting he got to be and how it made me feel. I wanted to freak people out like him. That being said, there are dozens of writers who are amazing and have inspired me. Lovecraft, Wells, Harper Lee, and Bradbury leap to mind.

plynch14 karma

I had watched "IT" maybe a 3 or 4 times before I had a chance to read the book. The book is really disturbing compared to the Movie.

Boomerkuwanga10 karma

Yea. The part where they all fuck Beverly before they go down to fight IT always weirds me out.

Saarlak4 karma

King usually had some weird sex thing happening in his books. The fact that this involved a kiddie orgy was a bit over the top to me.

Shelberius3 karma

Yeah, I'm not going to emulate that, but we're all sitting here talking about it, so he got something right.

Generic1233 karma

Its awesome seeing professional writers who like King. I have had way too many teachers who hate him/look down on that sort of style. They always love to spout bs about the professional world when they've had little to no professional experience ( and not for a lack of trying).

Shelberius3 karma

It always confuses me. I mean, there are definitely shitty writers who do well. I mean, even I do okay and I have very low regard for my own writing. However, I don't think you ever make it to King's status without talent. He does small town eerie so fucking well. I'm jealous to the pits of my soul.

iwaitfortheclick3 karma

I've always thought that King is a much better storyteller than he is a writer (never have I thought to myself while reading him, "Wow, what a gorgeous sentence!"), but I have always been SO impressed with the way he writes people. I don't mean the way he writes characters, but the way he "gets" people. He understands what goes on inside people's heads, and his books are always populated with people who feel "real." I often feel that his secondary characters are written much more impressively than his main characters, because they seem so authentic.

Shelberius3 karma

I'm 100% with you. I'm a native New Englander and I can really see the people he writes about. I think "Bag of Bones" is the best example of this. It was such a beautiful love story intertwined with a horrible history/ghost story. Amazing people in that book.

sonictheplumber2 karma

he writes books that the average reader can understand and this pisses off the academy to no end

Shelberius1 karma

I think that sums it up pretty well. I've never thought sophistication was important when it came to writing and history agrees with me. I mean, Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger? Not exactly classy.

sonictheplumber2 karma

all that matters to the academy is how much symbolism and shit you can pack in. vonnegut and salinger have a lot more depth than king so they get a pass for their concise prose, same as hemingway. king's more interested in the story itself and not what people think they can find hidden within the story, which i respect/enjoy cause not everything needs to be an intellectual puzzle

Shelberius1 karma

I think his focus is more on characters as a homegrown function of story-telling, whether on purpose or not. Really, a lot of times when "experts" read deeply into the story, they are just making shit up. I wouldn't call Vonnegut concise. I think I was more aiming at the vulgarity of these writers, and many others, that people find "simple" in King's writing. If you dress it up with symbolism, it's all good. In my mind, I could not care less about style, technique or even good writing (Hello, Hubert Selby, Jr.). It is all about whether I enjoyed myself while reading the book. My stepson once wrote a story that he brought home from school for me and I was seriously into it for a whole page and a half. He was ten.

sonictheplumber1 karma

all the vonnegut ive read has been real clear and easy to understand, but youre right about the vulgarity. love him though. and yeah a good book's whatever i liked reading. and i love selby too haha

Shelberius1 karma

Now I think of it, you're right. I was just thinking of this one short story about a gay couple meeting up in Paris, I believe from the anthology released recently when I made that comment.

tropicm19 karma

A good friend of mine is doing something similar. He wants me to give him some feedback on his drafts. So that I can be as helpful as possible, any advice on what I should look for?

Shelberius36 karma

If he's writing articles, a compelling lead paragraph. Boring openers do not cut it anymore. Look for format. Long paragraphs are too daunting for the average Internet reader. Of course, make sure grammar and spelling is good.

If we're talking about a book, there are too many things to list, but I'll name the big ones. Plot holes are hell. Let him know before he ruins his life by trying to publish a book that has holes in it. The first sentence of every chapter should be attention grabbing ("Her skin was on fire." "The door wouldn't open." "I believe in magic.") and the first paragraph short. I remember reading that a person is more likely to start the next chapter before putting the book down if it seems like a quick thrill. The rest is really monotonous editing, which involves more than your average feedback.

*Note: I am mostly regurgitating great advice I have had from great writers/great writers' books that has worked for me. You learn to adhere to the good and toss out the rest.

tropicm9 karma

Thank you! That helps quite a bit. He's working on a book and being the hopeless optimist he is, thinks he can finish it in and hopefully find a publisher in 2 months. It may all come to nothing, like half a page of scribbled lines, but I would never discourage him.

Shelberius16 karma

Whew. I can say in all honestly that I find that to be an extremely optimistic deadline. I would do nothing to tamper his spirit, so tell him to rock on, but don't let him get disappointed. Too often the bullshit of publishing stops people from writing. At the stage he is in, tell him to just write the book. That is it. Write.

tropicm8 karma

Will do. Honestly, reading your AMA makes me want to start writing again. I had a blog in college (graduated last year) and I loved writing fake, satirical news. It was not highly popular, but it was well-received by friends and acquaintances who would read it.

Thanks for doing this!

Shelberius4 karma

That kind of stuff is wildly popular now. Check out sites like the Onion and network with people from there.

No problem!

Jaynechelsea17 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this AMA! This is really cool that you are successful at being a writer, I have just a couple of questions.

1) How did you come up with your pseudonyms?

2) What do you do when you cannot be creative or get writers block?

3) What was your first paid piece and how did you end up getting the gig/job/thing? (i dont know what to call it)

Shelberius19 karma

1.) They are bastardizations of my real name, though neither are my actual name.

2.) You know, that has never quite been my problem. If anything, I don't feel like writing sometimes. It isn't really a block so much as a general funk. When that happens and I really want to get something on the page, I start writing some pretty useless stuff and let it evolve. I can fix the starting run later. Once I get going, the steam usually builds and I get some writing done. It is never enough for me, though. I'm a perpetual self hater.

3.) Damned if I can remember. Wow. That's a really a good question. By this point, I have written thousands of articles. There are so many different orders with different voices, different tenses, different requested style guide usage, etc. It has all kind of blurred together. It must have been through a marketplace like Constant Content or Scripted (It wouldn't have been the latter, though.). I definitely would have got the job by sending a writing sample along with a pitch and possibly my resume.

Lewis_Pike16 karma

What is your favorite novel or series?

Shelberius39 karma

The Gunslinger or Dark Tower series by Stephen King. It's a slim margin, though. I love old school sci-fi series and many of the best fantasy series. Right now I am really digging George R.R. Martin.

filmdude312 karma


Shelberius15 karma

I write nearly every day and I spend a lot of time answering emails, etc. Because I work from home, I work in about one hour stretches. I break up my time grabbing snacks, working out, going for walks and doing chores. I have to get up and stretch my legs.

Some days, I will write for 12 or more hours all told, including taking notes. Other days, I write only a few hours and spend the rest of the time following up client leads, researching or wasting time. One thing about my job is that it is way too easy to get sidetracked. Another thing is that it is easy to say, "I'm not working today." when you do not have any immediate deadlines.

VanciousRex6 karma

That blasted sidetracking is a dastardly bastard...

Shelberius2 karma

Right? Summer is the worst. My hammock is awesome and I can't write there without falling asleep.

VanciousRex2 karma

Reddit is my downfall. Now I want a hammock...

Shelberius3 karma

Everyone should have a hammock.

themeatbridge4 karma

Do you have a preferred strategy for keeping notes? Like, do you always have a pen or tape recorder on you should inspiration strike? Thanks for doing this AMA

Shelberius3 karma

I'm never far from pen and paper. I also have a crazy person notebook (therapy book my doctor makes me keep) on hand all the time and I write crazy ideas in there all the time. I should keep a recorder for my walks and jogs, though. Sometimes, I keep notes in folders on my laptop too. I guess they are all my strategies.

SuckMyDax11 karma

As an old man who has only recently decided what his dream job would be, I'd like to know: what are your thoughts on chasing dreams versus growing up? If you had someone in front of you with the same eagerness that you had during your journey, but no guarantee they would succeed, what would you tell them?

Shelberius41 karma

That depends. If chasing my dreams would be detrimental to people who are under my care, I would have to stick with growing up. If the only person suffering any potential consequences is me, dreams all the way.

NotFreeAdvice9 karma

Sure, some questions:

1) How much do you make in a "typical" year. I realize that there is ebb and flow in this sort of business, but you must have an idea of what you expect to make.

2) Of the above figure, what percentage comes from the national markets that you listed? You listed things like USA Today and CBS, because people will recognize them. Do they pay better? If so, do they dominate your income?

3) You said you ghost write on a daily basis. Do you do so, because you need to from a monetary standpoint? Or do you do so, just for the enjoyment?

4) What percentage of your time is devoted to finding new gigs?

5) I know you said you published books. Have they actually sold well? What percentage of your income is from the sale of these books?

I know this seems intrusive, but you said ask anything. And without actual numbers it is very difficult to judge the feasibility of this career path.

If you do actually wish to encourage others to be writers, then you should provide concrete information. Again, I am not trying to be a jerk -- just encouraging you to brush off the strictures of the American society, and actually share something of yourself that is useful to people trying to make a decision.

Shelberius2 karma

1) See above one-sided calamity.

2) About half. I make most of my money ghost writing and writing commercial content.

3) Ghost writing is for the money, most of the time. Sometimes, a project is good and I take it on merit alone.

4) I would give a rough estimate of 25%, but that has gone down over the years.

5) I had good sales right out of the gate, but I stopped giving a shit and promoting after a few months. Now, they account for only a small fraction.

I've actually shared quite a bit of myself. Apparently, my bank account is my soul.

NotFreeAdvice1 karma

Apparently, my bank account is my soul.

I don't think that anyone is trying to equate those two. And I certainly was not. However, these are fair questions to ask. Especially if one is going to try to make a go of it as a writer. After all, one must eat. And some people like to do other things as well.

Besides, your opening line was:

I am often asked questions by aspiring writers who hope to make something out of nothing in the writing business.

So, the natural question is "what is 'something'?"

Anyway, I apologize if it seems that people are only interested in your money. If you want questions about your soul...

1) What is the worst thing you have had to sacrifice for your writing career? Do you judge that to be worth it now?

2) How often do you find yourself ghost writing things that you do not agree with, just do you can pay the bills? If you don't now, did you ever?

3) Have you ever turned down a job, based on moral grounds?

4) What do you view as the beauty of life? What is the meaning of life? What do you think is "truth?" How do these ideas come across in your writing?

5) What is your primary motivation for writing?

Shelberius2 karma

The problem was that I gave a single reply and was not allowed to return to it before it was implied that I had continued to dodge a question or that I was constrained by society. Odd conclusions, but I digress.

  1. Nothing. Everything important to me remains.

  2. I do not ghost write things I don't agree with because I feel unqualified, but I do write things I find boring.

  3. Yes.

  4. Family, happiness, calm. Truth is fact. Everything else is conjecture. I'm not sure they do come across in my writing. I am quite skeptical in my articles, so perhaps there is that.

  5. I would say mental health. I have trouble if I have too much time to think without focus. Writing helps. In fact, one of the books I am currently working on is at the suggestion of my counselor.

iamathrowaway69 karma

On your website you say you wrote your first book in a month (for National Novel Writing Month), but your second took a year. Why did you decide to take longer on the second book, and were there any advantages to that process?

Shelberius17 karma

Well, when I decided to write a sequel to my first novel, I had already done NaNoWriMo and survived. I intended to take longer on this one and write a longer novel, but it didn't turn out longer. I also thought it would be better, but I'm still not sure which method is better.

Advantages to writing slowly include having more shower thoughts about your novel and coming back with a fresh perspective more often.

Advantages to writing a novel in a month include badassery (I'm nerdy enough to find NaNoWriMo winners badass) and motivation. I really pushed myself to write that book.

TMDaniel8 karma

What books may we know from you?

Shelberius3 karma

Probably none. I'm not a known author. I'm relatively known in freelancing, but not as a horror writer. I've written a book titled, "Morrigan's Shadows" and am coming out with a sequel tentatively titled, "August's Gardens" this year.

thebonelessone8 karma

I'm in the process of editing my first novel (also a NaNo winner), and I'm very much on the fence about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. What would you say are the pros and cons of both? (I write fantasy, if that accounts for anything)

Shelberius3 karma

Traditional publishing takes longer and comes with more caveats. However, it is considered more reputable and you get all the perks that come with a publishing house.

Self-publishing is quicker and you maintain control of practically everything.

Havok4427 karma

What was the biggest obstacle you overcame to get to the place you're at now?

Shelberius2 karma

Learning to write things I didn't want to write so I could write the things I really wanted to write. Also, remembering that each is equally important and treating them both with care.

jahumaca5 karma

How did you first go about getting your work published? I've always thought about writing but I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do with anything I wrote. Any tips for someone who's thinking about taking it up?

Shelberius15 karma

I started by publishing it myself. I have several blogs for fun, but I focused on writing for sites that will take pretty much anything. That beat not having anything out there. I asked around. I read up on freelancing. I constantly checked for new online writing marketplaces and publishers. I visited forums for writing websites. I polished my writing with lower level work and the higher level stuff just started happening. Clients I had were suggesting me for new clients. I was getting emails from potential clients. It snowballs.

jahumaca5 karma

Thanks. I also suffer from severe anxiety and I've always thought that writing would be one of the few things that I'd be happy doing.

Shelberius10 karma

I am happy. However, there is a careful balance. It can make you more introverted, so I work with my therapist to make sure I am still getting out and working on my exposure stuff. It is also easy to get discouraged because you are a one man band always on the lookout for work and you do not always like the work you get. In my world, it is all about whatever keeps me writing for a living. Still, I have my days.

Ihmhi5 karma

How much did you have to pester Amazon to get your payments account set up? Because I've already written them twice and they "can't verify my tax information" even though I pay my taxes and have lived at the same address for 28 years...

Shelberius3 karma

I went right through. Try a self publishing or Amazon subreddit. (There must be one.) If you can't get an answer, I will post something on a writing site and see if I can't get an answer for you. I have a lot of questions, so pester me if you don't see anything. I'm losing a lot of posts. :(

anotherbozo4 karma

I want to write on a number of topics that are very sensitive and kind of taboo in my society (who will be my target audience). These include things ranging from political affairs to topics like sex education. To avoid any attention to my personal life; I want to write under a pseudonym.

What would be your suggestions on how to get started? Do publications easily accept pseudonyms or I have to give the publisher my own identity too before they publish under a different name?

As always, I am late to this AMA as well. But I hope you get to read this :) Thanks for the AMA!

Shelberius1 karma

Hey, I'm late to get back to this AMA, so no worries. In my experience, pseudonyms are always okay.

paperarmory4 karma


Shelberius2 karma

Blog tours, word of mouth, twitter, facebook, my blogs, my friends' websites, etc. Just talk about it all the time. I cannot claim to be successful in this department because I really freaking loathe promoting my work, but that is what I manage to do.

Acatullo43 karma

How do u self publish???

Shelberius4 karma

Find a good self publishing platform. You can probably get all the in-depth information you need from Google.

ig_883 karma

how many copies of your novel have you sold through self publishing? i assume it involves marketing yourself but your Facebook only has 96 fans.

Shelberius2 karma

To be honest, I'm not really sure. A few thousand on Amazon and I would have to check for paperback copies. Nothing major and the biggest bump was immediately after publication when I was really promoting.

I know, my Facebook is dismal, isn't it? I'm horrible at marketing. I'd rather talk about writing and write. I did a mini blog tour, promoted myself on communities online where I hang out (a few put up ads for me), put links to my site/books on my email signature and stuff like that. Oh, and Twitter. Twitter is good.

Filial13 karma

How did you afford to proofread your novels or did you do it yourself? I have a completed novel with over 80,000 words.

Shelberius2 karma

I did it myself with the help of others. I am lucky enough to have readers and editors in my life who were willing to help me out. Nonetheless, I am going to hire an editor this time around. It is expensive, but you may be able to find less expensive help by posting the job on a freelancing website. Freelance editors need work too.

Filial13 karma

Yeah, I think I may just end up doing it myself and getting other people who love to read to check it over. I've been over it twice now and still find errors :/ It's my first and possibly last novel as I'm a science writer. I wanted to prove that I could write a novel and I've achieved that now!

Thanks for the reply.

Shelberius2 karma

No problem. Seriously, I find errors in my books several reads into editing. Don't worry about it.

stoef2 karma

Is it possible for a first timer to self publish a hard copy? How does distribution then work?

Shelberius4 karma

That depends on the publishing company. If you want to pay to publish and make your money back in sales, I think you can.

Distribution is typically a book for a sale. In other words, they make the books when you sell them. However, you do some work on your own end to get your book on bookstores' lists. This way, these stores will know of your book and, if you're lucky, purchase them for the shelves. You get a cut of the revenue.

What I like most about self-publishing are the very limited contracts and obligations. A book tour or even a book signing sounds like a living nightmare for me, so I cut out that part and stick to what I know I can do.

Craw10112 karma

I too hope to one day become a writer, but often times I find myself questioning whether or not I have what it takes. Do you have any advice or words of inspiration?

Shelberius4 karma

All you have to do to be a writer is to write. Good is relative. Self-loathing comes with the territory. Just recognize it as part of the process, kind of like muscle pain with lifting weights, and keep going.

The_Elephant_Man2 karma

I have so many questions and am definitely going to save this AMA for later reading, but how do you go about using a pen name? Do you just submit/sell an article under your pseudonym or request them to use your pen byline? I have a pen name for my science fiction and I don't know the proper etiquette when it comes to using it.

Shelberius2 karma

Give your client your real name and request they use your pseudonym.

LookAround2 karma

Do you like Hunter S. Thompson? Ted Dekker? Did you go to college for writing? I am 22 -- how old are you? Beside the time invested, how do you feel that you are more qualified than other people to get your gigs? What does writing mean to you?

Shelberius5 karma

I love Hunter S. Thompson. Haven't read any Ted Dekker. I'm 31. I did not go to college for writing. I do not think I am more qualified. When I am hired, I imagine it is for my style, tone, research strength, etc. There are thousands of writers more qualified than I am.

Whoa, what does writing mean to me? That's a heavy one. Um, it means a lot of things. It means I can entertain people, escape from life, challenge myself, achieve, read a lot with impunity, etc. It is home, my inanimate best friend . . . you know. All of the cliches are realized for me.

swampbear2 karma

Are you structured as a sole proprietorship, llc, other business type, or filing self-employed?

Is it unusual (in America) to charge a scheduled rate based on length of display for the piece (internet) or based on publication type instead of an hourly or per word wage? I understand the former is a British practice; America seems a very free market by comparison.

Is it uncouth to ask for an advance of half or a quarter of the agreed fee (esp. with new clients as a good faith assurance)?

Do magazines or new media outlets still cover incidentals such as travel expenses, conferences, research fees? Like, can I invoice for it/should I ask after pitch is accepted? If not, how do you handle this financially? I understand you work from home mostly, but hope you can advise re:online journal, reference book, additional technology needs reimbursement.

Shelberius2 karma

I file self-employed.

Yes, it is unusual. Flat rate and per word are the norm.

No, it is not uncouth. In fact, it is quite the norm, especially for lengthy, research rich pieces.

Include it in your original pitch. When you give the client a price, always aim for it to be your final price. Only ask for more when they ask for more from you.

jimofthestoneage2 karma

For those of us who would like to venture into self publishing and getting content out there in hopes of making a little income, what steps do you recommend taking in order to accomplish that?

Shelberius2 karma

First, publish anywhere that will take your work. You are going to need a resume for the better paying work to come and this will fill it out if you manage to cultivate a few clients from it. Secondly, write a good resume. Include your work that is not writing. Clients want to know what your areas of expertise are and are not. Thirdly, talk to everybody and make connections. I should include reading everything on the topic in that step. :D There is some free information on this site and I believe an email newsletter. At least, that is who I think bombards my inbox with seminars.

HavenDan1 karma

How did you get your first clients? Also what kind of freelancing do you do; i.e marketing copy, features etc?

Shelberius2 karma

I begged them to let me write things. :D Nah, I just wrote and wrote and wrote until I got an email asking me for work. It's all kind of a blur where my fondest memories are of falling asleep on my laptop.

I write marketing copy constantly (hate it), history pieces for historicmysteries.com, travel and culture for CBS Boston, travel for USA Today, etc. Mind you, I am not affiliated with any of these publications. I'm strictly a contract worker.

blackplague11 karma

What do you do for healthcare? Freelancer here. Still trying to learn.

Shelberius2 karma

I pay for it based on my income thanks to the state I live in. Think of it this way: You would pay for it out of your paycheck if you were not self-employed anyway.

kelloo1 karma

Why do you use pseudonyms?

Shelberius1 karma

When it comes to my books, it is because I'm not entirely sure I want my family to read the grody shit I churn out. Then, I realized I couldn't hide behind a name. When it comes to my articles, I didn't want to put my real name all over the Internet so when someone doesn't like my opinion about genocide, they can't bug me on facebook or something. I failed there too.

ETA: I write a lot about Holocaust denialism, so sometimes I make silly people angry. (I'm not a denialist)

SuperEline1 karma

I want to be a writer since i was 8. But, im just afraid that nobody wants to publish my books... How did you handled that?

Shelberius2 karma

I wrote the book for me instead of with publishing in mind. When you are writing the book, just write it. That is all that is happening right then. Besides, you still have editing and whatnot to do, so there is no reason to jump ahead mentally.

octothorps1 karma

Thank you for doing something like this! I'm graduating high school in a few months and I'd love to become a freelance writer. I was wondering how do you get into the business? Even something like writing for twitter pages? Does it take a lot of pushing your stuff onto people?

Shelberius1 karma

Yes, it does. Well, I wouldn't say pushing it on to people. People who need you will find you. It's more about making yourself available. Your twitter page should be a promo page, as should facebook, etc.

Rig0rM0rtis1 karma

Isn't Yahweh over at AF the best person to ever exist? :D

Shelberius2 karma

You have to remember that you must be compared to Tiberius for that to be possible, so no, but hello Yahweh. :P

LadySwan1 karma

Hey, I'm using my friend's account. I just had a quick question. See, I write and wrote a bunch of scripts and such, including a pilot for a on adult swim style cartoon. I always have trouble getting funds to turn those scripts into films, and I've used indiegogo and kickstarter as possible avenues, but I never made enough, and therefore have very little to show for myself (my only completed film was a commercial for the Doritos contest a few months ago, under the name "Cool Ranch Fu" on YouTube). I want to pitch the bigger and better things to companies that may be willing to buy/fund it, but I don't know where to start, or if that's even the thing I should do right now. How do I start, or sell, my scripts?

Shelberius2 karma

That's tough. I don't work in the screenplay business, so I do not feel qualified to answer this. I'm hoping someone will come along who can and point you in the right direction.

quadodon131 karma

I know you write novels, but Poetry. where do you stand on it?

Shelberius1 karma

I don't. :) I'm horrible at it.

Wazula421 karma

Writer here, currently unemployed out of college and trying to make some cash. So far content mills are the only sites that seem interested in using my work. It seems kind of scammy. Are they safe-ish? Do they pay?

Shelberius2 karma

Yes, the big ones are safe. Read reviews on all of the sites that you use before you use them. I still make hundreds a month off revenue from those sites without writing a single word.

Gas_Master_Flex1 karma

Favorite Ramen Recipe?

Shelberius3 karma

I'm a straight beef Ramen girl. Not too much broth, though. I add the packet to the bowl.

Lunite1 karma

How do you get paid under a pseudonym?

Shelberius2 karma

My clients have my real name.

The_Write_Stuff1 karma

Anyone who thinks it's easy has never done it. How much time do you spend on pitches every week, or are you past that now?

Everyone has some early work out there they wish the internet would forget. USA today is big time, congratulations.

Shelberius1 karma

Yeah, definitely not easy. I used to pitch constantly. Probably about three days in a six-day week. Now, I only have to every few months when things get arid and I'm sitting around trying to figure out if I'm depressed or bored.

WhosOnFirst_1 karma

Have you ever had to travel for your writing? Anywhere interesting?

Shelberius2 karma

No, but I have been invited to numerous seminars and conferences. One of the coolest was in Las Vegas. The problem is that I have crippling OCD, so the travel stuff I write involves my home city or places I have visited when my shit isn't acting up.