How is freelancing writing different from fiction writing?

As mentioned in the previous post, there’s going to be some continued mingling of writing resources that deal with freelance writing as well as novel writing. Both are a great passion of mine and, as I am making a leap to full-time freelancing (in an effort to also have more time and energy to devote to my fiction writing), I wanted to incorporate some materials and insider perspective on the freelance writer career path. For some fiction writers, it can be a natural extension of the skills you’ve already honed and give you greater control over your schedule and resources.

Let’s start by looking at their differences, and a later post will discuss their similarities (there’s more in common than you might think).

Three big ways freelance writing is different from fiction writing:

  1. Writing for others, versus yourself – When you’re freelancing, you aren’t there to tell the story you want. You’re there to produce the best content you can for your clients. Sometimes this can involve storytelling elements, such as characters or emotional hooks, but the priority is providing your customers the best writing you can according to their specifications and goals, not yours. (Now, if you’re writing stories to try and hop on a genre trend or as a tie-in to a particular franchise, then that’s another issue for discussion)
  2. More immediate pay (if you’re fortunate) – Getting fiction work published, especially novels, can be a long and arduous process, fraught with uncertainty and fretting over advances and royalties. With freelancing, payment can be more upfront, such as a retainer to hold your services, as well as milestone payments depending on the type of work contract you’ve established with clients. Of course, there are times where clients can lag in payments (or try to avoid them at all) and so you must be on your guard to protect yourself against this situation and seek amends where it’s due.
  3. The markets you sell to – As a fiction writer, it’s editors, agents, and readers who will eventually judge your work. As a freelancer, it’s business owners, ad agencies, local offices, managers, etc. You’re outside the usual publishing industry and into wider markets of sales, advertising, design, web content, technical writing, government contracts, press releases, email campaigns, and more.

With those in mind, there’s a bigger list of their similar aspects coming up! What has your experience been with either freelancing, writing fiction, or both? Have you ever had to juggle the two, or are you still trying to balance either with a day job? Do you find that being a freelance writer complements your fiction, or vice versa?

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