FF: What one piece of advice would you give to any writer considering a career in freelance writing?
BWP: Let the naysayer and "armchair" critic comments roll off your back. Often, the people who criticize the most and the loudest are the ones who are either intimidated by your potential or who have a lack of vision. Yes, it takes technical skills to write; yes, it takes a grasp of basic composition principles; yes, it takes a tough hide and a level of seriousness to succeed in freelancing. But it also takes enthusiasm and a positive foundation to set everything else upon.
Develop an "I CAN do it!" attitude, hone your writing skills, find a mentor who will encourage you every step of the way and most important--NEVER give up! As Richard Bach once said, "A professional is an amateur who never quit."
Expect rejection, but don't allow yourself to be daunted or crippled by it.
FF: Ever had problems collecting payment for assignments? What's the best way to avoid such a situation?
BWP: I've always been paid for assignments, but I did write a short story course that I never got paid for. The best way to avoid that kind of situation is to be sure there is a clear agreement with you and the editor--either in a printed agreement or through an email contract or verbal agreement.
If you are ghostwriting or editing for an individual, don't be afraid to work out a contract with them and require a security deposit to ensure you'll receive payment.
FF: What's you favorite subject to write about, and why?
BWP: Above all else, creativity and the writer. But more than that, how writers must combine creativity with the technical aspects of writing in order to produce consistent results.
FF: Do you write fiction? If so, how do you balance your fiction writing with your freelance assignments?
BWP: Yes, I write fiction. I've completed two novels (both contemporary romances) and I've started a third novel, a paranormal romance.
As for balancing fiction with freelance work? I'm still working on that. Freelancing takes up so much time, it's a challenge to find balance. My goal this year is to devote an hour per day to fiction--I'd like to publish my novel in progress as well as a children's book that's been bouncing around in my head for a year!
FF: What's the best way to get an editor to say, "You've got the assignment!"?
BWP: Do your homework. Know what the publication is looking for (tone, style, and readership); write a concise, professional query letter that leaves no doubt that you're the writer for the job. Be courteous and willing to revise when necessary.
Don't be so high and mighty that you won't allow your article to be edited for clarity or style. You say you have sworn a firm oath not to change any of your work? Fine, then get ready to miss out on a lot of writing projects. There are many more writers waiting in the wings to take your place, so be easy to work with and be gracious. Being polite goes a long way!
FF: You've been published in a variety of popular magazines and are involved with several web sites for writers. Why Coffeehouse for Writers?
BWP: I not only like the concept of Coffeehouse, but the name itself evokes a comfortable, relaxed image for me. This is a place where writers can practice their craft, dip into resources and network with others to increase their knowledge and confidence. I want to be associated with this kind of atmosphere, and I have a lot of respect for the vision and dedication Karen Hertzberg has for the project.