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See Jane Co-Write

When Texas socialite Joanne King Herring, the woman portrayed by Julia Roberts in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, wanted help writing her memoir she didn’t choose a big shot author from the New York Times best seller list. No, it was Birmingham’s own Nancy Dorman-Hickson who was selected for the job, thanks to her Southern roots and her ability to find common ground with people.

The importance of being able to relate well to others was just one of the many tips Dorman-Hickson offered Tuesday evening during her presentation “A Ghost Story: My Life as a Co-Writer and Print/Web Writer.”
At this event, hosted by See Jane Write Birmingham, Dorman-Hickson discussed ghostwriting and collaborative writing, freelance writing, and personal branding to a crowd of 30 local writers.



Is co-writing for you?

The primary difference between ghostwriting and co-writing is with ghostwriting you won’t receive any credit for helping with the book. Your name won’t appear on the cover and you’ll even have to sign a contract stating that you won’t reveal your connection to the project. With co-writing, you will receive credit, but it’s still important to check your ego at the door. As Dorman-Hickson explained when recounting her experience with Herring, the person you’re working with gets the final word when making creative decisions.

With co-writing, you may be paid a flat or hourly rate. Dorman-Hickson said that on average the hourly rate is about $73 per hour. Flat rates run the gamut and can range from $6,000 to $150,000, but typically average at about $22,000.

To be a successful co-writer you need much more than good writing skills. This is a job that will call for you to be an editor and to manage people.

If you think co-writing is for you, one of the best ways to land co-writing gigs is by networking with other co-writers. You should also place a profile on PublishersMarketplace.com, Dorman-Hickson recommended. And don’t be afraid to approach prominent people and offer to help them tell their story.

The Truth About Freelancing


During her talk, Dorman-Hickson was very honest about the realities of freelancing. It is nearly impossible to survive as a full-time freelancer these days because most publications pay writers such meager fees. But don’t be discouraged. Learn to maximize each assignment you get and also think outside the box. Market your writing services to companies that haven’t been hit as hard by the economic downturn.

 

Buidling Your Brand
Dorman-Hickson also discussed personal branding because whether you want to admit it or not, to be a successful writer, you have to build a successful brand for yourself. This may sound like a daunting task, but it can be easier than you think. A few things you’ll need: business cards, a website and/or blog, and an e-newsletter.
You can even use your email signature and your voicemail greeting as promotion tools.
Give presentations to writing groups and book clubs.
And work on your elevator speech. Be sure that you can give a short, yet captivating description of what you do at a moment’s notice.
One of the things from Dorman-Hickson’s talk that stood out to me most is the idea that one of the best ways to help your writing career is to help other writers with their careers. That’s exactly what I strive to do with See Jane Write. It’s nice to know I’m on the right track.
 

Scenes from the See Jane Write August Event



 
Cross-posted at WriteousBabe.com.


See Jane Write presents A Ghost Story

Are you looking for new ways to earn money as a writer? 
If so, you need to mark your calendar for the next See Jane Write event, set for Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Matthew’s Bar & Grill

Author and freelance writer Nancy Dorman-Hickson will present “A Ghost Story: My Life as a Co-Writer and Print/Web Writer.”  She’ll include fun experiences she’s had as a writer such as the strangest places she’s taken her laptop or conducted an interview; techniques for capturing a personality; and the ego-boosting (and ego-crushing) acts of creating personal bios and author photos and participating in book signings. 
Before freelancing, Dorman-Hickson was an editor for Southern Living and Progressive Farmer magazines during which time she received praise for her writing from Harper Lee, Pat Conroy, Naomi Judd, Fannie Flagg and many more. She is the ghostwriter of a book on family violence and the co-author of Diplomacy and Diamonds, the best-selling memoir of Texas socialite Joanne King Herring, who was portrayed by Julia Roberts in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War. You can learn more about  at Dorman-Hickson at http://www.NancyDormanHickson.com.
Ghostwriting may be something you’ve never considered because there’s no fame or glory in this line of work. “In fact,” Dorman-Hickson said, “ghostwriters sign contracts agreeing not to tell anyone that they worked on the book at all, thus the term ‘ghost.'”

So why would anyone want to be a ghostwriter? For the money, honey! 

It can be a lucrative field,” Dorman-Hickson said. “The figures are all over the board. I’ve heard everything from $2,500 to $100,000, but those high-figures come about only after a writer has deep experience and a lot of luck.”
Still, if ghostwriting is completely out of the question for you, there’s always collaborative writing, such as Dorman-Hickson’s project with Joanne King Herring. On the cover of that memoir you’ll also find Dorman-Hickson’s name. 

“It can mean good money in a time when writers are having a hard time getting assignments and being paid adequately for their work,” Dorman-Hickson said. “Also it is fulfilling to complete a book, especially when it bears your name.”
For those wondering if ghostwriting or collaborative writing is for you, Dorman-Hickson said, “If you are a writer who enjoys knowing what you’re going to be writing and what you’re going to be working on for a long period of time, book-length projects are ideal. They provide security in the topsyturvy world of freelancing. You use the same skills you use with other types of writing. You just use them for a longer period of time focusing on the same subject.”
Dorman-Hickson will have copies of Diplomacy and Diamonds for sale (cash or check only) for $25 at the event. 
In addition to information on ghostwriting and collaborative writing, Dorman-Hickson will also discuss how to freelance for magazines, websites and other publications and how to build your brand as a writer.

See Jane Write August Event 
What: Nancy Dorman Hickson presents A Ghost Story: My Life as a Co-Writer and Print/Web Writer
When: Tuesday, August 28 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Matthew’s Bar & Grill, 2208 Morris Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35203

This event is free, but registration is required. Register by visiting aghoststory.eventbrite.com

Special thanks to our venue sponsor Matthew’s Bar & Grill. Please support Matthew’s by purchasing food and/or drinks at this event. 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens

Writing often feels like a solitary act, a lonely occupation. Many of us create our best work in moments of quiet solitude, rubbing our tired eyes as we stare at a bright computer screen in a dimly lit room.

But any writer who thinks she can do it all on her own is kidding herself. As author Natalie Goldberg has taught me, writing is a communal act. Sometimes we need someone to help us banish writer’s block or to make us submit that article, short story, poem, or proposal. Sometimes we need someone to tell us to stop talking about being a writer and actually write something for heaven’s sake!

This is why I have a writing partner. For the past month or so I’ve been meeting with my writing partner every Tuesday afternoon at a local coffeehouse. For two hours we just sit together and write. And it is wonderful. It’s hard to explain how much I enjoy our time together, but I know it simultaneously feels like recess and worship. Each pen stroke is an act of prayer and a moment of play.

I recently helped some members of See Jane Write Birmingham find writing partners and blogging mentors within our group. I call this little literary matchmaking program  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens, a name for which I cannot take credit (Thanks, Erin). Last night a few of the women in The Sisterhood got together for dinner at a local pizza parlor. Over slices of warm pie and glasses of cold beer, we chatted about our writing goals and the books we’re reading. We dished about family drama and confessed our Twitter obsessions. And in just two hours we felt like family and were trying to figure out when we’d do this again.

Irene Grubbs, Glenny Brock, Javacia Harris Bowser (me!),
Mimi Latoine, Mindy Santo, Jennifer Dome, and Amber Roberson
Writing partners Mimi and Mindy share a laugh. 
The reaction when Glenny revealed the topic of the book she’s currently writing.

The hilarious Sherri and Irene

Amber and Sherri

Cross-posted (with larger pictures and a bonus photo) at The Writeous Babe Project.


Remembering Nan



The women of See Jane Write were hit with horrible news yesterday when we learned that author, artist, and filmmaker Nancy Stricklin was killed in a car crash Tuesday night.


Stricklin, known as Nan to friends and Nan Lin on social media networks, was an active member of See Jane Write and an inspiration to writers and artists all over the city.


On Tuesday evening, Stricklin died after her car left I-459 near Parkwood Road and hit a tree. News about her death was reported yesterday on al.com. She was 31.


Between 2008 and 2011, Stricklin wrote and filmed two short films, wrote five books, and saw her paintings showcased — twice — at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Stricklin had also received recognition for her work with On the Set Summer Film Camp, which teaches children about filmmaking. Last year for the camp she wrote the script for “The Hop Off,” which starred actor Kadeem Hardison. She was working on another script for the camp this year. 

Stricklin was also busy raising funds and creating a buzz for her first feature film “Beautiful Disaster.” The work she was doing to bring this dream to fruition was truly an inspiration and a prime example of her dedication to her art. 


On the homepage of her website, Stricklin left us with these wise words: “NEVER be afraid to live your dreams. Life is but a moment. Make it an amazing one.”  


To learn more about Stricklin’s life and work: 
Birmingham filmmaker and UAB graduate Nancy Stricklin is remembered for her talentsBirmingham Exam: Nancy Stricklin, author, artist, filmmaker

Let’s Eat at #AlaBlogMeet

Alabama Bloggers


Birmingham resident Rachel Callahan had made connections with writers all over the world, thanks to her popular blog Grasping for Objectivity. But she knew very few bloggers in her hometown. She searched for a website that helped local bloggers connect, but with no luck. 


“So I decided to create one,” Callahan says. 


Callahan launched Alabama Bloggers in May of 2009 and eventually took these online connections to real life with regular meetings now known as #AlaBlogMeet. The next meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Friday at The Silvertron Cafe, 3813 Clairmont Avenue in Birmingham. I’ll be there and I hope those of you in town will join me. 


“When I started the site, I said that I would provide meet-ups, but I didn’t really mean it,” Callahan confesses. “I was scared to death to meet people in real life! But one of the original members called me on it and offered to host the first one. We had 19 people show up, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”


Since then the group has had a meetup at least every other month. 


What can you expect if you’re a first-timer? 


“Lots of laughter, banter, and some really good blogging advice mixed into the cracks,” Callahan says. “You’re sure to walk away with some new friends. And we always have at least one first-timer at every meetup, so don’t be afraid!  You’re always welcome.”


Click here to RSVP if you plan to attend the Alabama Bloggers June #AlaBlogMeet. 

Crossposted at The Writeous Babe Project

See Jane Write founder featured on Magic City Made

In March of 2011 I decided to start a networking group for women writers in Birmingham, Ala. At the time I only knew two women who were interested in such a group, but I felt in my heart that there were many more out there craving a creative writing community. So I gave my idea a name — See Jane Write — and browsed blogs, magazines, newspapers, and websites looking for women to stalk, er, contact about being a part of this new group.

Today the See Jane Write mailing list boasts about 200 names and has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter as well. Through the organization I’ve hosted six events — three social events and three educational events on the following topics: how and why writers should use Twitter, the keys to successful blogging, and freelance writing.

This week I was honored to be featured on the website Magic City Made to talk about my work with See Jane Write.

In the interview I share the story behind the name tag you see in the picture above and my love for Birmingham. Click here to check out the article.

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