Darrell Laurant has put his querying skills to work to provide a service to other freelance writers through The Writers’ Bridge. He answered a few questions for us about his experiences as both a writer and setting up a writing-based business.
Could you describe how The Writers’ Bridge operates?
Simply put, the idea is to “clone” writers, supplying them with ideas for non-fiction articles, trying to find markets for ideas they suggest, aiding with queries, sending out a daily list of writing jobs and providing an editing service for accepted stories before they’re sent to market. In other words, helping them find more time to freelance. The idea is not to take over anyone’s freelance business, but to augment and stretch it. The fee is $10 a month, but I offer two free months at the beginning, and there’s no contract to sign. Everybody goes month-to-month.
What is your background, writing-wise?
I’ve been a journalist since 1972 and a freelancer for about as long. For a short period, I worked as a magazine editor. My columns have been featured in several anthologies, and I’ve also published four collections of columns and two non-fiction books (“Even Here” and “A City Unto Itself”). On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered through a lot of the frustration that all freelancers experience.
What prompted you to choose writing as a career?
I couldn’t help it — writing is a central part of who I am, and something I always felt driven to do. I published my own neighborhood newspaper when I was in third grade and sold it for a dime, and I’m just as enthusiastic about the craft today. I’ll talk all day about writing if you let me.
What prompted the idea of The Writers’ Bridge?
I came to realize that the system — if you can call it that — was inefficient, self-defeating and isolating. Writers sent blind queries to editors they didn’t know, editors were often forced to fill their pages with whatever wandered in. On our Website, I compare this to people trying to communicate with messages in bottles from separate islands. Part of the goal of The Writers’ Bridge is to break down this division and create a conversation (and some trust) between buyers and sellers.
What have been the key differences for you between running a business based on writing, such as The Writers’ Bridge, and freelancing?
I’ve had to learn to focus. The more members we get, the more difficult it is to track all the correspondence, ideas and finances. There is a huge difference between managing my own affairs and those of 100 other writers.
What advice do you have for writers trying to expand their businesses, especially when they’re stepping outside of pure writing?
Find a niche. Develop a game plan and search to see if anyone else is doing that. If they are, figure out a way to do it differently.