Writing for fun and for money is definitely possible, as I discuss with Jason Brick in today’s interview. He writes flash fiction for fun and takes high-paying freelance writing jobs for income and shares tips for both.
In the intro, highlights from the Audio Publishers Association survey [Publishing Perspectives]; PublishDrive announces Abacus, a tool for co-writing payment splitting even if you don’t publish through PD; Academic publisher, Pearson, goes digital for textbooks [The Guardian]; and Elon Musk’s Neuralink in the futurist segment [The Guardian]. Plus, how my LASEK eye surgery went (well, obvs!)
Do you need a professional editor or book cover designer? Do you need help with marketing, publicity or advertising? Find a curated list of vetted professionals at the Reedsy marketplace, along with free training on writing, self-publishing and book marketing. Check it out at: www.TheCreativePenn.com/reedsy
Jason Brick is a professional writer, a martial artist, a travel addict, and a professional speaker whose work has been published across multiple genres and formats.
He has over 3000 published articles and short stories and has ghost-written more than 20 books, as well as writing novels and non-fiction under his own name. Plus, he has edited and crowdfunded a number of anthologies.
- What is flash fiction anyway?
- Types of flash fiction anthologies
- How to make money freelance writing and blogging
- Tips for pitching for freelance work
- Dealing with rejection
- Tips for writing for the gaming industry
- And tips for getting into ghostwriting
You can find Jason Brick at BrickCommaJason.com and on Twitter @brickcommajason
Transcript of Interview with Jason Brick
Joanna: Hi everyone I’m Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com. And today I’m here with Jason Brick. Hi Jason.
Jason: Hello Joanna.
Joanna: It’s great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction.
Jason is a professional writer, a martial artist, a travel addict like me, and a professional speaker whose work has been published across multiple genres and formats. He has over 3000 published articles and short stories and has ghost-written more than 20 books, as well as writing novels and non-fiction under his own name. Plus, he has edited and crowdfunded a number of anthologies. You are a busy man, Jason!
Jason: Yes ma’am. I love to eat and sleep indoors but I don’t ever want to get a real job so that requires that I write as much as I can as often as I can to fund the lifestyle my kids like to live.
Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing.
Jason: Well, it’s a funny story. One of my first memories is of pretending to write stories in a notebook before I knew how to write. I was scribbling lines and pretending that they meant something. I got a lot of feedback even as an elementary school student about my ability to write.
And then as a high schooler, my two best friends each had a parent who was a professional writer. One was a journalist, the other was a technical writer. In college, I got a lot of feedback from my professors and a lot of support for my skill at writing.
So, of course, I went into an entirely different field for the first 10 years of my adult life. That was when I ran a martial arts studio. And then when my first child became an elementary school student working evenings and weekends job just wasn’t cutting it.
I sold my creative studio at that time and I had developed a large enough portfolio through writing ad copy for my school. I had a column in the local paper about safety and parenting and things like that that I was able to turn that portfolio into a full-time freelance career in about six months.
Joanna: Wow! So I’ve got to ask you: this wasn’t a question I primed for but I’ve got to ask you about productivity because you clearly write fast.
What are your productivity tips?
Jason: One of the best tricks ever that I learned – I learned this about five years ago and I’ve been using it every day – is that when you’re done writing for the day resist the urge to complete the sentence. Because usually that first half-hour we sit down to write, we’re stared at a blank screen bleeding from our for heads trying to wonder what we’re going to write next.
But if you’ve got an incomplete sentence on the page, you know exactly what to write. And you’re in the flow and you’re in your rhythm immediately.
And besides that, it’s just knowing the rhythms of how you work and not fighting them but rather designing a day that can match up. As my writing career kind of indicates, I have a lot of interests, I’m easily bored, so I work in half-hour sprints and then take a 15-minute break to clean part of the house or go do a short workout and then I come back and do another half-hour sprint.
Where some people have a better time just blocking off four hours and writing. And neither is better or worse. The only mistake is trying to do something that doesn’t work for you. If that makes any sense.
Joanna: That is a really good tip. I’m definitely someone who needs a bit longer than the 30 minutes. I like to have a bit longer but that’s really interesting.
We are here to talk about flash fiction, although you’ll feel you’ve got so many things we could talk about. But we’re going to start with flash fiction.
I have a just recently discovered flash fiction and I’ve been to some evenings.
Let’s just start with what flash fiction is. Why is it not poetry or a short story?
Jason: So it is a short story. It’s just an extremely short story. The difference between flash fiction and a short story is like the difference between a novella and a novel. It’s simply word lengths. Various people will argue about what that limit is.
For the anthologies that I’ve published of flash fiction, I put the limit at 1000 words but you hear some people saying 500 words and some people start using terms like micro-fiction and things like that. But really the conceptual difference is that when you’re dealing with flash fiction you can’t tell the whole story.
You’re implying most of the story in old school Hitchcock fashion, where you leave most of the details to the imagination of the reader and provide just enough rope for them to hang your imaginations on.
Joanna: The ones I’ve read are probably more like a couple of hundred words rather than a thousand words.
My feeling with it is that it seems less serious.
Is it a more fun way to be creative than taking on a big book-sized project, for example.
Jason: It really depends. My favorite flash fiction tends to be funny but there can be horrific flash fiction. I’ve seen very effective horror in the genre, very stirring stories about human psychology about human relationships and, of course, there’s the probably the most famous flash fiction story of all time by Hemingway, which is, “For sale. Baby shoes. Never used.” That’s just heart-wrenching.
Joanna: I thought that had become apocryphal like maybe someone wrote it. Or it’s become known as his.
Jason: It might have been.
Joanna: Who knows the truth of that?
I have looked at flash because I really like it. I think it’s brilliant. It works really well with things like Instagram and the modern ways of marketing. But it seems super hard to me. I write very big books. They have big scope lots of global conspiracies.
What are your tips for writing flash fiction? How do we go from writing these longer pieces to writing shorter?
Jason: What was it Oscar Wilde said about I’m writing you a long letter because I don’t have time to write a short one. Getting those stories out there, and again I think it depends on some on people’s different processes. Some people write very short naturally and then expand as the drafts go on. Other people write very long drafts and then narrow them down.
And again, the only mistake is doing what’s not natural for you in terms of monetizing flash fiction. Don’t even try to make a living just writing flash fiction unless you’re already famous. It’s the market just does not exist to you.
Joanna: We’ll come back to markets. But just getting back to writing short. I think it has to come down to the size of the idea. Because I can’t write a whole story as you said. What are your thoughts about choosing the thing to write about?
Is it a vignette that we pick from the world or how do you actually choose the right topic?
Jason: For me personally and I can’t speak to other people’s processes but usually, a flash fiction story that I write comes from a larger idea that’s rattling around in my head and then focusing on one individual’s experience of that idea.
Almost none of us have the experience that is the whole story, whether you’re talking about your relationships, whether you’re talking about your job, whether you’re talking about your understanding of science or current events. Excellent flash fiction I think takes one person’s narrow experience of a larger topic and then implies the things that they don’t know. The things that aren’t on screen in a way that’s effective and compelling.
Joanna: It’s that topic that I find so hard.
Are there specific writing prompts for people writing flash? I’ve seen some Twitter hashtags for example.
Jason: I’m sure they exist but I haven’t really interacted with them at all. Flash fiction is just another kind of story that I write. My flash fiction thing has come from being done with a story and realizing it’s in the flash range rather than being a fall short story or a novella.
Joanna: Oh that’s interesting. So you write it first and then the length will determine what you do with it.
Joanna: OK right. I have never done that. At this time I kind of only think of things on a much bigger level. I’m trying to adjust my mindset to doing it like that.
Coming back to the market for it, tell us about the anthologies you do.
Why do anthologies of flash?
Jason: So the real question for me is why Kickstart anthologies of flash?
What are the issues with flash anthologies from a traditional publishing standpoint, as you have to have so many authors to fill a book that the royalties are tiny and it just doesn’t work out. That’s why you don’t see a lot of anthologies of flash fiction from the big five or even independent publishers.
On the other hand, if you kickstart that – my flash fictions are all anthologies with one hundred authors. I have 100 people with a vested interest in the success of the campaign. And so it’s very naturally suited for that particular style.
And so that’s why anthologies of flash fiction work for me personally.
Joanna: How do you find those authors?
Jason: So what I do is a combination of I have a fairly extensive mailing list of aspiring authors, of professional authors from some of the services I do for people who want to succeed in the writing industry, as well as I use social media outreach. I used to use Craigslist but they recently started charging for their ads.
For the first anthology, I went to 20 different cities. Now when I put out an anthology I only advertised in New York, Chicago and L.A.
Joanna: If you have one hundred people putting money in together, I guess everyone is going to support it if they are in the bank.
What are your other tips for a successful Kickstarter? Because it seems to me that a lot of them do get funded but many don’t last.
Jason: To me that’s a topic for an entire show. You can teach courses on this. And in fact, I would recommend Russell Knowlety’s course on this specifically. Using some of the advice in that literally quadrupled the amount of backing I got on my third anthology as compared to the first two.
But the biggest thing is to start early. Your first day of work gathering backers for a Kickstarter project is not the first day the anthology is open. You need probably 90 days of lead time for getting people ready, for it for setting up podcast interviews, for setting up a blog tour, for setting your schedule and then why you’re doing it.
This is the equivalent of a part-time or even full-time job if you can manage it. Being online every day. Harrying, harassing and chivvying people to make the donations they promised they would. Doing various shenanigans online to get attention. Reaching out to press things like that.
The biggest mistake people make with Kickstarter is having an, ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach, which just simply isn’t true.
Joanna: So you have 100 people involved. I struggle with anthologies. I’ve had short stories in an anthology, so I get it from this marketing perspective. But in terms of making money, like you said, it’s kind of a part-time job. Everyone listening wants make some money from their writing.
How does it become a viable prospect financially?
Jason: I don’t know of anybody who makes a full-time living writing short fiction these days. It’s important to remember that the average rate for short fiction per word hasn’t changed since the pulp magazines of the 1920s. Robert Howard, Dashiell Hammett, and those guys were making a penny or two a word and most of the short fiction markets today are paying about a penny or two maybe three cents a word.
Some of the markets are open to five and six cents but making a living through short fiction is probably impossible unless you can write like three thousand words an hour. That’s the short fiction to support of longer fiction habit. You can use short if you want to write short fiction and collections and self-publish it. I think that is a market that is growing where you could make a living on that. Using Amazon and Kobo when things like that.
But the idea of writing for anthologies and magazines and making a full-time living, I don’t think that model is viable anymore.
Joanna: Okay so then let’s talk about the market for people who read flash fiction. Are the people who read flash fiction writers?
How do you actually sell copies of these anthologies? What are some of the ways you do book marketing for these anthologies?
Jason: I use a lot of social media marketing. I work with a couple of magazines and online sites that specialize in flash fiction. And because flash fiction is a kind of niche market, the folks are pretty close and open about sharing. We’re all word nerds and so we’re part of the same tribe.
So, for example, Flash Fiction Aficionado is a magazine in Washington D.C. that actually has print copies that publishes flash fiction once a month. They just reach out to as many websites and magazines as you can.
You mentioned Twitter, just popping up a flash fiction, a short flash fiction story on Twitter is not a bad idea. I’ve seen some of that also on Reddit.
Places like that. And you just keep throwing spaghetti against the wall and then when something sticks definitely compound that. As soon as you get positive attention from one place give them attention back like any other kind of social media engagement.
Joanna: So you really are marketing to people who were already buying anthologies.
Jason: Yes absolutely. There’s no better customer than the customer who’s already bought something very similar to what you have.
Joanna: I didn’t read many anthologies. I much prefer a full story. And I know everyone has a different way of writing, which is really interesting. I feel the same about box sets. I feel like there are readers who buy box sets and I have box sets but I don’t buy box sets. So I feel like maybe there are these different categories.
Do you get that sense?
Jason: Very much. I think that’s very true that most readers read what they like to read and people have a favorite. Often they’ll buy every single thing they can from that author. And often they’ll be a little suspicious of an author who’s very similar even until they finally read that book because it was the only book available to them at that time. Then they become a fan of that author.
There are some authors who are like that, very specialized. There’s other readers who are very open with their reading and I tend to be one of those. I read anthologies mostly to meet new authors and I’ll find an anthology that has one or two authors whose work I really admire and then find out what else is in there.
Joanna: It is really an interesting thing.
Would you do Amazon advertising that targets other anthologies in the genre?
Jason: Yes absolutely.
Joanna: I would think that’s a good thing.
Now I wanted to ask you because when I start first started out as a writer I got stung by one of these pay to be in an anthology things where there was one big name and then you had to pay. It was considerable. It was in my first year of writing and I’m certainly not saying that that happens with most anthologies.
How can authors tell the difference between a viable anthology that actually would be good for their career and something that might not be?
Jason: If they ask for money don’t do it. Period.
One of my earliest writing mentors was actually one of my martial arts instructors, a guy named Walter John Williams who is a cyberpunk and science fiction author starting in the nineties. When I first started going out on submission with stories the first thing he said to me was if anybody asks you for money you should use the other things I taught you.
Joanna: Which are?
Jason: He taught me how to kill people with my bare hands.
Joanns: There you go! Very useful in anthologies.
Jason: Yeah. But that’s the thing. There’s a lot of people out there, a lot of scammers, a lot of people who are using the fact that prospective authors really want to be published as a way of profiting at their expense without giving any value.
Although there are a few contests that are legitimate, that have an entry fee, when it comes to anybody who is going to print your words, if they ask for money that is a huge red flag. Just walk away.
Joanna: I didn’t know that at the time. We will have our beginning days.
On your website, you do a lot of different things but you describe yourself as a working writer and say, “I don’t make my living from a single bestselling series. I make my living by writing a lot of things.” I always love talking about multiple streams of income on this show.
Can you talk about your different streams of income right now?
Jason: About a third of my income comes from corporate blog work on American Express and one of my clients, healthline.com. Things like that. Those are the way I really fund the rest of the lifestyle.
Those kind of assignments pay 25 to 50 cents a word, even a dollar a word. And once you get in with a client you’ll usually be doing a couple of thousand words a month for that individual client. So that’s about a third of my income.
Another third of the income comes from my traditional and self-published book projects of one sort or another. And then the other third, I’m actually a huge nerd and write for the tabletop role-playing game industry which does not pay very much but is a whole lot of fun.
Joanna: That’s really very different forms of writing. So let’s talk about the corporate blog world because my understanding of freelance writing is that probably 90 percent of people writing freelance are not making decent money and they are struggling. But you have obviously targeted specific clients.
How do you suggest that people identify the right clients where they can write good work and get paid decently?
Jason: Start with the blogs that you’re already reading and the magazines are already reading. That’s how I got my first paying gigs as a freelance writer was by going to the websites of other martial arts studio owners that I knew and telling them how I could do it better. And from there, turning that portfolio into other small business-related things.
Eventually when I was working for American Express, a small business community, and Intuit, a small business community, by capitalizing on the knowledge and the contacts I already had from my previous career.
Another really good place to start is whatever your hobby is. Walk into the store and to the right or the left of the cash register there’s a rack of magazines. And go pitch all of those magazines and those magazines are mostly written by hobbyists. If you can go to one of those editors and be somebody knowledgeable about the hobby who can also write you’ll get a lot of repeat work from that magazine.
For three years I was doing black-belt magazines obituaries because I was one of the few people the editor knew who could actually write on deadline and do decent research. The same thing applies to industry magazines for whatever you’re doing for a living right now. There’s an industry magazine, there might be a union magazine, there’s probably a regional journal. Those places also are written mostly by experts not writers. So if you can come to them as an expert who can write that’s another really good place to break in and some of them actually pay surprisingly well.
Joanna: How much did you do for free? Because this is what I feel like maybe you have to work your way up, as you say.
How long did you spend doing things for free or for lower rates before you kind of moved into that premium level?
Jason: Never write for free. Never ever ever ever ever ever write for free. At the beginning, not for free could mean writing a menu for a restaurant where you know the owner in exchange for a couple of free meals. Writing for barter is OK but never write for free.
The idea that we should write for exposure is a lie foisted upon us by people who don’t want to pay for our words.
Joanna: Which makes me laugh because I allow guest bloggers on my blog and I don’t pay for that. They are actually people who pitch me to be on my blog for the exposure and incoming links.
What are your feelings about that?
Jason: So that is a bit of a different thing. I will write a free blog for a friend as a favor. I will write my advertising copy for free. And if your career is at a point where you are writing a blog post for a major publication or somebody is a bit of a celebrity in the community you’re wanting to write for that can be an exception.
But even then, you’re not writing for free. You’re writing for established exposure in a very specific niche. That to me is writing your own publicity as opposed to writing something not associated with your career really doing your first blog for somebody’s web site for free because they don’t want to pay you. Those are two very different things in my mind.
Joanna: OK good. I’m glad you said that.
So let’s talk about pitching a little bit because let’s say if you’re writing flash fiction for example as a creative way of writing but when you’re pitching for work what are some of your tips? I get pitched all the time and some are very clearly good and some are clearly bad.
What are your tips for a good pitch to get paying work?
Jason: This is something I deliver in many presentations and I think it might be in my book Nine Habits of Highly Profitable Writing, which is available on Amazon. I have what I call the four paragraph perfect pitch letter and it’s three paragraphs plus one.
The first paragraph is you’re awesome. The second paragraph is I have this awesome idea. And the third paragraph is I’m awesome.
The sad truth is that nobody cares about you. They care about them and how you can help them. So your first paragraph needs to be telling of the person you’re pitching about why you like the publication and why you want to be in that publication. What’s great about that publication.
It also just is polite that if you get to ask someone to give you money to show that you’ve done a little bit of research. So a paragraph real quick about I like this magazine. I like this web site and I usually will use one sentence describing something I read in that magazine a website recently that I particularly liked, even if I read it 10 minutes before writing the pitch letter, because that gets their interest. People are interested in themselves and not interested in you and that piques their interest.
Second paragraph is you just describe the idea briefly. You can use bullet points if you want. And the third one you need to describe very quickly why you are the only person in the world who is appropriate to write this story.
Just one, two, three paragraphs. Then you sign off and then there’s the bonus paragraph at the bottom which is probably made me more money as an idea than anything else I’ve done. Which is just. P.S. If this idea doesn’t suit you but you like my writing. Here are a couple other ideas that might be appropriate.
Joanna: And it’s good to say that because I think the biggest issue.
There were issues in each of these levels actually but it’s interesting. So you’re right. Most people will email me, for example, and pitch for this podcast with “I’ve written a book, I want to come on your podcast.” That’s not very useful.
So when it comes to ideas, how do you make sure you craft an idea that is interesting to the person you’re pitching?
Jason: So there are two ways to go about it. And I use them about 50/50. Sometimes you have your idea first. And then you go find publications that might carry that idea.
The other one is you target a publication and you come up with a cool idea. The first major national magazine to carry my work was Black Belt Magazine and I decided I wanted to be a black belt. So I read a few issues of Black Belt and looked at the blog and. Came up with an idea that was similar to but unique enough to get attention.
In that case, I did an article on the non-combative non-self-defense benefits of martial arts training. Things like cardiovascular endurance. I’m a middle-aged man in his 40s. What’s going to kill me is a heart attack. Self-defense for me is jogging every day. And applying that was something they hadn’t seen but was clearly relevant and interesting to their people. And so they bought it.
So that’s what you do if you have focus on a publication or a website. You want to look at what they’ve already published. Find the themes and then brainstorm unique takes on those things.
And then the other way is you brainstorm your ideas and then you just hop online, grab your copy of Writers’ Digest and find out who is publishing what you want to write.
Joanna: And then when you’re pitching that idea, do you actually pitch a headline that is SEO, Search Engine optimized, already or are you pitching something more nebulous?
Jason: Again it depends on the publisher. You can kind of tell often in the submission guidelines which they’d like to see. And my Achilles heel is titles. I’m terrible at them. So I try to avoid that if I can.
Joanna: When people pitch me with a blog post I do like to see some kind of idea of the headline.
And then the other thing you were saying about what’s great about you, the person pitching. I’ve had pitches which are brilliant, which are all saying nice things about me. They come up with a nice idea and then they’re from a credit card company and I’m like well, I don’t want you to write for my blog. I only let authors and writers and people who are like me, small business people, on the blog. So that’s really interesting to say.
Another tip I think is important is saying only pitch people you actually care about. You are a martial arts guy.
So you weren’t just BSing about that article.
Jason: Exactly. I’m actually married to a literary agent and one of the things that keeps me humble is that I’m married to a literary agent but currently unrepresented.
She gets more than one hundred e-mails a week in her slush pile and easily 50 percent of them are for genres she doesn’t represent. Having the common courtesy of only pitching people who are appropriate for your idea and for your interests just seems to me to be common courtesy and it seems to be lacking.
Joanna: Absolutely. I totally agree with you.
How do you deal with the inevitable rejections? You’ve spent your time, you’ve done your pitches. What do you do with the nos?
Jason: I ignore them and move on. If I have any information in there that can help me be more successful with the next pitch I’ll put it in my database.
I use an Excel spreadsheet but my superpower for my writing career is the fact that it came to it from the martial arts industry. Feedback that doesn’t involve a bloody nose I consider a win.
I’m just told no over and over again. In fact, there’s an interesting story related to that: I was speaking at a conference in southern Oregon and I was sitting with the other presenters there.
There were about 12 of us for a conference of about 300 people and there were three men nine women and all three of the men had wrestled in high school and college and we found that interesting. We reached out and it turned out almost everybody who was speaking at that conference was either an athlete in high school or a musician or in drama.
The people who were successful in the field had, from their teens on, had experiences where they were told no, that’s wrong, try it again, in ways that weren’t emotionally fraught.
Whereas if your experience is only in academics you get a ninety-nine percent on your math test. Number one you feel kind of bad about that 1 percent and number two you can never go back and fix it.
And that paradigm of just being used to being told No you did it wrong. Do it right and just internalizing that as quickly as you can and getting used to it I think is very helpful and powerful in the life of a writer. Which is why, when people ask me “What’s the biggest piece of advice I would give for beginning a career in writing” is submit early, submit often, get used to it.
Joanna: It’s so funny because you say that and I’m the opposite. I love the indie way because I don’t need to ask anyone’s permission. I don’t need to get rejected.
The people who reject me are the people who try my stuff and don’t like it or who try this podcast and don’t like it. And that’s fine because I didn’t feel their rejection. They can just turn off. Some people will have just stopped listening to us that’s fine, that’s their choice, but I don’t feel that.
And it makes me think maybe that’s why I never pitch. I love having a podcast because people pitch me. I don’t have to pitch. I need to learn. Which is great.
So I see you’ve mentioned speaking a couple of times.
How does speaking fit into your business your multiple streams of income?
Jason: I speak at writer’s conferences both for the paycheck from the conference itself and as a way of bringing people into my writer’s community and my Write Like Hell community, which are ways I do some coaching for writers and get people who are interested in writing interested in and knowledgeable about my work.
And I also go to business conferences and talk to them about writing. One of the things I really recommend for anybody who writes, especially nonfiction but fiction as well, is you’ve got to go to a writing conference once a year just to hang out with your tribe.
But the trouble is writing conferences in terms of your career if you’re in a room full of writers. But if for example you write about coding in Ruby and you go to a convention about Ruby you’re the only writer in that room surrounded by people, some of whom need a writer. So going to a business conference about whatever it is you write about can be a really great source of exactly the kind of clients you need.
Joanna: And presumably maybe find some people to pitch later on who might remember you.
Jason: Exactly. If you do your job right you’ll walk out with a job offer.
Joanna: I think that’s fantastic. I wanted to come back on your role-playing game writing because I think this is so interesting because I can’t remember the numbers but the gaming industry now is far bigger than Hollywood. It’s huge. It is massive.
There’s a whole ecosystem of gaming that go on and a lot of money in that industry. So if people were interested in getting into writing for games and I know writers who write for games it’s fascinating.
What are some of your tips for getting into that niche?
Jason: So to be clear there is video games, which is a huge multi-billion dollar industry. And then there’s tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, which is a much smaller industry and much harder to break into the pay is much worse. And unfortunately, I chose that smaller one.
But breaking into both of those is very much a social game because the number of people who want to write for those industries as compared to the number of slots for writers it’s the ratio is very large.
The best thing you can do is go to conferences, go to conventions, stalk people on Twitter, forge some kind of relationship with one editor or one director of Human Resources, one person who can make the decision to pay you. And then just do that assignment extremely well.
Because that market is glutted with prospective authors. And editors who know somebody who will get the job done on time, they will use you again and again and again and again and again.
My assignments in that industry include some self-published posts called random encounters, which people can find on Amazon, where I just share ideas about the game. But also 90 percent of it came from two editors that I happened to write for. I heard about a project on a podcast and was so enamored by it I wanted to write for it. So I hassled the owner of that company until he gave me a chance. And then those two editors kept recommending me to other editors and to other editors and to other editors until my career’s at the point it is. But breaking in cold I think would have been very very very difficult.
Joanna: Relationships make such a difference. There’s so much I could ask you but I do want to ask you about the ghostwriting because there’s been in the author community some controversy about ghostwriting.
I’m sure you know about the #copypastecris thing in romance where supposedly a ghostwriter plagiarized or she plagiarized and the whole thing is very difficult.
But I think a lot of people don’t understand ghostwriters mainly because you’re ghosts. You’re not meant to be out there, fessing up to things.
Why make ghostwriting part of your writing portfolio as such, when you write your own stuff as well?
Jason: There’s a couple of reasons. I fell into ghostwriting because one of my mentors was a professional ghostwriter and had some overflow. It wasn’t something I got into on purpose. Some of the reasons to do ghostwriting is the highest end ghostwriting pays extraordinarily well.
You can charge 50 cents to a dollar a word for an 80 thousand word book. And that’s not even the folks who are writing for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Trump’s going to come out there and pay some ghostwriter a ridiculous sum of money.
But just work-a-day ghostwriting usually is you’ve got some expert who’s too busy coaching, too busy working but wants to be the guy who wrote the book on this thing or wants to be the woman who wrote the book on this topic but just doesn’t have the time or the skills to write the book themselves so they find a professional writer to do that.
And because these are people who are highly successful in their careers and see the potential for profit from their book, they will pay you very well to do the thing.
Joanna: And again it’s the same question about the other writing; how do you find these high paying clients?
Jason: So again for me it was mostly connections and I was fortunate enough to be mentored by somebody who had an established career as a professional ghostwriter.
One of my favorite projects that I’m just finishing up was from a woman I knew in high school who encountered this person in the course of her job was actually a really fascinating one. This one didn’t pay as well because it wasn’t that kind of corporate ghostwriting. It was a C1 quadriplegic who was told he had an hour to live in 1984 and is still alive and involved in activism and advocacy for people with disabilities. And he wanted his book out to support his speaking career.
But again it’s the whole thing about it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, especially for ghostwriting because it’s going to be a close relationship and they’re going to spend a lot of money so they’re going to want the recommendation is somebody they trust.
Joanna: In your book, the one you’ve got on making money with writing, do you talk about ghostwriting?
Jason: I don’t think so. I wrote that before I really broke into ghostwriting.
Joanna: Maybe it’s time to update it.
Jason: I think so. That’s all my list of things to do. Absolutely.
Joanna: It’s probably a big list, like the rest of us.
Well, this has been so interesting. Tell people where they can find you and your books and everything you do online.
Jason: Absolutely. BrickCommaJason.com is my core web site. I am very active on Facebook as well. My iron writer’s challenge community is a place where writers get together, talk shop, dare each other to accomplish some degree of productivity on Monday and then start hassling each other on Thursday to see if it got done.
Those are the best places to find me. You can find me an on Amazon.com look for Jason Brick. You can find my books on writing my books on tabletop role-playing games in a couple of other little things.
Joanna: Fantastic. Thanks so much for your time Jason. That was great.
Jason: Well, thank you, Joanna. Appreciate it a lot.