The Jobs Behind Writers

Work_life_balance_rat_raceBefore I went to school, I did a lot of research on what I wanted to be. I emailed people from all over the world who had the jobs that I wanted to see how to get there. This was how I figured out what I wanted to do. At first, I wanted to be a copyeditor. I have always wanted to be a writer, but I wanted to learn the intricate rules of writing so that I could write in the best way possible.

After figuring out where to go to school, what to take, and so on, I started classes and soon changed my mind about being a copyeditor full-time. I thought that I would despise sales and marketing, but I actually really enjoyed it. Although I have never liked selling things to people who didn’t want them, I found a lot of joy in assisting authors with selling their books and getting the word out to other people who would be interested in them.

I asked every one of my instructors how to start my career, but found the answers to be vague and less than helpful. It seems that writers, marketers, and editors all have different starts. It isn’t as easy as “go to school, graduate, get a job” like in some professions. I faced the usual “you need experience to get experience” difficulty. I did an internship and started to offer writing and editing online and through family and friends. My business did not prosper immediately, but after I signed on with an independent publisher, things got a little better.

Still, I wasn’t satisfied. I spent a few years gaining experience by offering social media marketing, writing, blogging, and even by volunteering once in awhile. I provided these things to many different businesses in various industries. I had to branch out from publishing, but I was ok with it. Still, the constant issue of inconsistent income had me down. Doing what you love doesn’t always pay the bills.

Tomorrow I will be starting my first job as an employee since I went to school. I won’t work for myself, I won’t be a consultant, and I won’t be a contractor. I’ve finally gained enough experience to become employed as a full-time marketing writer. This is both exciting, and a little overwhelming. I’ll still be taking some clients here and there, because I’m addicted to the high that comes with giving someone a hand, but I’ll be doing less and I’ll have a boss that isn’t me.

I know that many writers and editors start out by growing their own businesses while working full-time at an office or elsewhere. It’s what we have to do to get the experience that will get us to where we want to be. I don’t know if I am there yet, but I have been lucky enough to be able to catch a job doing something along the lines of what I want to.

Where are you on your journey as a professional writer or editor (or other)? What’s the best or worst job that you have had while trying to get to where you want to be?

Note: I’ll try to keep up on my posts, but I might miss a few in the beginning as I adjust to my new schedule. Bear with me, folks. I have a feeling I’m going to be pretty worn out.


24 thoughts on “The Jobs Behind Writers

  1. Good for you! Landing a full time gig as a writer in any capacity is not easy. I worked independently as a desktop publisher for years (hired by print publishers) and had to pack it in because the opportunities literally dried up. Working independently was great while it lasted. I am now employed full time doing accounting. Funny thing, running your own business gives you great transferrable skills such as accounting and, as you’ve mentioned, sales. Never thought I’d be good at accounting. I am trained as a certified English editor and I’m good at detailed work. I’m wise to the benefits and tax differences between contractors and employees. This experience is valuable in the job I do currently. I continue to take courses to do with self-publishing and writing. I hope to become more involved in the production of ebooks and helping independent writers in this area. Good luck on your career journey. I’ll keep tabs on your blog. Cheers.

    • That’s very true. I have gained many different skills after working for myself. Since I started as a freelancer, the skills that I offer to clients have also expanded to include things like start-up support, name and logo info, site mapping, and all kinds of other things.

      I decided to put the freelance gig on the back burner for now because it gets pretty stressful, and the opportunity that I was offered is worth it. We’ll see how it goes!

      Thanks for your input and I wish you the best of luck with getting into self-publishing. I offer publishing support to my clients and I found that it opens new doors because you are reaching for a pretty wide market.

  2. Good luck! Good for you!

    Sometimes I wish some of my friends that work in less liberal fields could see that there is no set path for creative fields. It’s just a matter of trying things that work and holding on to whatever you need to do to keep yourself afloat in the meantime.

    Worst job: full time nanny. Best job: full time nanny. Kids can be crazy like that.

    • Thank you!

      I did the nanny thing too, right out of high school. Some days were awesome, like the ones where the kids would pick flowers for me. Some days were less than awesome, like when they would jam each others pants full of rocks.

      It’s tough trying to follow a creative path. No one seems to be able to tell you where to start, or if they do, it’s usually really difficult. For example, some advice I received was, “just get a job at a literary agency”. Yeah, because that’s super easy with no experience, haha.

  3. New job! So exciting! Congratulations and good luck. I have had 2 jobs that I LOVED on my way to being a children’s author. I worked at a bakery (yum) and was a teacher. The bakery job was awesome because we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted as long as we didn’t waste anything. My uniforms went from a size 8 when I started to a size 14 when I left. I didn’t waste anything.

    • Thanks! I hope that it goes ok.

      That’s hilarious! I’m sure the same would happen to me if I worked at a bakery. Just thinking about all of the rolls and cakes and pies makes my mouth water. I’m much better off far away from the food industry, I think.

  4. I believe that becoming a skilled writer can open the door to countless job opportunities in addition to professional writing, since effective communicators are needed everywhere. So as a current college student, in addition to pursuing an English major, I am angling to become a writing mentor at my school’s writing center. In reading and commenting on other peoples writing on a daily basis, my hope is to further hone my perceptions of what makes writing “good” and “not-so-good.” And who knows, I may like mentoring so much I end up going into education as a career path. For the time being, now that the academic year is over, I am an assistant at my local public library, and I’m enjoying it.

    • In my experience, and living where I live, it can, but it’s definitely a lot of work. Of course, that can change depending on your location, your concentration, and so on. It’s good that you are getting as much experience as you can while in school so that you are prepared for when you get out.

      I also like to mentor others with writing, so I still do certain types of editing for others as part of my business. The library job sounds awesome! I applied at my local library countless times, but with no luck.

      Best of luck to you!

      • Several months ago I was applying for a camp counselor job at a summer camp. In addition to the interview, I invited the woman who was reviewing my application to read my blog to get to know me better. She came back gushing; “Thanks so much for sharing your blog, you’re a great writer, I’m so glad you decided to apply this year!” I got the job. For certain jobs (like camp counseling) I think being a good writer, especially a creative writer, can make you stand out of the application pool.

        But you’re right, what concentration you go into makes a difference. My English major is combined with another major in environmental studies, and my goal is to go into environmental non-profit work.

        Good luck to you as well!

  5. You mentioned not knowing where to start on your creative path, that you can find no one to tell you where to start. The reason for this simple. . .they can only tell you of the path they have taken. . .it may not be your path. . .that is something you have to find for yourself. . .If I may make a suggestion along those lines. . .stop looking. . .There is a very old saying, “When the student is ready, the master will appear”. The same holds true for creative paths. . .be open to new experiences, be curious. . .the path you seek will appear when you’re ready to follow it.

    • Yes, that’s true. I just meant that it’s not like other careers where you go to school and get a job as soon as you are done. Trades are one example where you are almost guaranteed employment after completing your certification. Of course, it depends on your education and industry.

      It was harder in the beginning, but I have since taken my own path. I just wish that it was easier for those who wish to enter the professional writing, editing, publishing, or even marketing fields.

      • Please forgive my reliance on “old saws”, etc. . .But as the saying goes, “Its not meant to be easy; if it were, everyone would do it.” Firstly, nothing worth doing (or having) comes easy. Think of the difficulty you encountered as a “test” to determine whether or not you’re really motivated to pursue the career path you chose. Secondly, difficulty tends to separate “the wheat from the chaff”, in a manner of speaking. So many people choose one career or another because it sounds easy, or because they “like to do this or that.” I think, at this point, you would be better served pursuing your own passion; learn, be curious, be open to all the new experiences that await you on your path, and then, when the opportunity presents itself (and it will, I assure you) become a mentor to an up-and-coming young writer, editor, publisher, etc. . . The best way to change the world (in fact, it may be the only way) is by helping one person at a time. Good Luck and Stay Curious!

  6. Congratulations! That’s exciting and I’m sure will open many other prospects still unknown. I often wonder what it would be like to be paid only to write…quite an unfathomable circumstance. Then I think maybe it would take the edge off my writing and I’d become blasé . And so I console myself 🙂

  7. This post excites me for several reasons! One) congrats on the new job and I hope it goes well! Two) this is a shining example of how hard work can get you into the field you want. This is definitely inspiration to continue pursuing my career!

  8. You need experience to get experience, ha ha ha. So common, so frustrating. I am on my way, pushing, pushing, pushing. It is how it works, isn’t it? Congrats on your new job. I hope you enjoy it

  9. I see myself as a “professional student”! Now, I’ve only been working a few years (versus having done school all my life), so perhaps I just haven’t adjusted to worklife yet, but I think I make better student than worker. So that probably means I’m doomed to walk the “school forever” route until I’m a grumpy prof somewhere hitting other profs with a cane to get tenure…

    Then again, I’m currently on a co-operative work placement with my university (I’m an undergrad) and I’m doing communications for a grassroots environmental conservation group. I have to say I quite enjoy the work. It’s busy, intense, hectic, but gratifying at the same time because I basically get paid to fiddle with Photoshop and InDesign all day. My boss is a creative writer as well and consistently mentors me on how to write writing that sells.

    So, I think I may take a marketing/publishing diploma after getting my degree. Or, land a similar job, work a few years, save up some money, and do another degree. Or, I become J.K. Rowling and strike rich. But I highly doubt that’s gonna happen…

    • I know a few professional students. I always thought that I would become one, but I don’t enjoy school enough. It’s good to have people around us who do similar things to what we want to. They help us to figure things out and to get to where we want to be.

      Your job sounds pretty sweet. I try to work with eco-friendly companies when possible, it’s always such a thrill, and the marketing is quite enjoyable.

      Best of luck to you in whatever you do! 🙂

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