Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Supplementing Your Fiction Habit

Attitude Is Everything!

We’re marching into spring, friends! What better way to face the new season than to set attainable freelance-writing goals?

Over the past couple of months we’ve broken down the word GOALS into bite-sized pieces. In January we looked at the letter G (Go for the Gusto). In February we examined the letter O (Over, Not Under). This month we’re tackling the letter A (Attitude Is Everything). Specifically, we’re going to talk about using writing and speaking to affect the attitudes of those we come in contact with.

I love this definition of the word attitude from Merriam-Webster:

• a : a mental position with regard to a fact or state a helpful attitude
• b : a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state

Have you made up your mind to succeed as a freelancer? If so, you’ve got to come into this business with a great attitude. Why? Because attitude changes lead to discipline changes. And when we change our attitudes, the internal shift can lead to attitude changes in those we come in contact with. Isn’t that the point? After all, we writers were put on this earth to bring hope. We are lights shining in dark places, offering flickers of hope to people who often feel they have none.

Romans 8:25 says, “But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure” (AB). When we have hope, we are expectant. We can’t see what’s coming, but we have the uncanny sense that it’s going to be good. That’s how we want our writers to feel after they’ve read our pieces. Expectant. Like the best is yet to come.

Where are these people we’re supposed to bring hope to, and what does this have to do with earning money as a freelancer? Everything! Marketing and attitude work hand in hand.

I once heard someone define the word marketing this way: Find your audience and stand in front of them. This month, as we discuss attitude issues, I want to talk about standing in front of your audience . . . literally.

Change Your Attitude about Speaking!

1. Decide you are a speaker. State it on your Website.
2. List your speaking topics.
3. Gather endorsements and have them ready to send in a one-sheet, if necessary.

Here’s my suggested list of places where you can speak. (Remember, the goal is to affect the attitudes of those in attendance, so be thinking about how you can do that at each of these places):

WRITING-RELATED ORGANIZATIONS: writers groups and guilds, online chat classes for writers, Webinars.

EDUCATIONAL: schools, homeschool groups, expos, colleges, libraries. (http://www.christianschooldirectory.com/)

CHURCHES/MINISTRIES: churches, Sunday school classes, senior citizen groups, singles ministries, women’s ministries, retreats, reading clubs/groups. (http://www.usachurch.com/texas/houston/churches.htm)

CIVIC GROUPS: Visit your local Chamber of Commerce to find civic groups: Lions Clubs, DAR, Rotary Club, Kiwanas, women’s clubs, Knights of Columbus, scouts, garden club, political groups, ABWA, historical groups, retirement groups, and so on.

Here are ten ways you can enhance your speaking experience (thereby affecting the attitudes of those in attendance):

1. Present yourself as an authority on your topic and develop a logical/reasonable stipend (but be willing to waive that if the group can offer you a large crowd and the promise of book sales afterward).

2. Tell the person who invited you that you need to sell books afterward (that this is your primary means of support), particularly if they do not offer a stipend. If you don’t have books to sell, consider putting together some audio or Word file lessons on CD, or printing up some teachings specific to the group you’re speaking to.

3. Suggest that the company/organization run an article in its local paper or newsletter before you arrive. If it cannot, consider sending out a press release yourself.

4. Never travel more than an hour away from home unless you’re assured of a decent stipend or a large audience.

5. Give an interesting and engaging speech. (In my case, I use a quiz that requires audience participation. They really get into it!)

6. As you finish your speech, read something from your book. When I'm sharing from my novel HURRICANE, I always choose the passage of the book where the nuns and children are being swept out of the second-story orphanage window by the storm waters. The audience members have to buy my book to know what happens to them.

7. Set up an attractive book table with your product strategically displayed. If possible, have your book cover blown up to poster size and mounted on art/foam board. Price your book at a reasonable amount, even if it means you don’t make quite as much money per book. I’ve found that dropping my original $12.99 asking price to $10 is a great moneymaker. Folks usually have a ten dollar bill floating around their purses or pockets.

8. If applicable, create a PowerPoint presentation to go along with your topic and your product. When sharing from HURRICANE, I use a laptop on my book table with photos of the devastation from Galveston's great 1900 storm. It runs throughout my entire presentation.

9. Make yourself accessible to the people. Many will want to ask questions, etc. But don’t spend too much time with any one person, because you might lose sales.

10. For those who are caught off guard and do not have cash or checkbooks on hand, offer to either: a) let them have the book now and send you a check later; or b) give them your business card and ask them to send a check so that you can mail a book. Include a cost for postage.

I’ll leave you with twenty suggestions to further enhance your speaking experience, thereby improving both your own attitude and the attitudes of those in attendance:

1. Celebrate the opportunity. Count it a privilege.
2. Dress appropriately.
3. Come early.
4. Get to know the person who extended the invitation.
5. Send a thank-you note after the speaking engagement.
6. Come prepared.
7. Practice in front of a mirror.
8. Use your family as a practice audience.
9. Use the same speech frequently so that it becomes familiar and comfortable.
10. Don’t eat (at least not much) right before speaking.
11. Take a bottle of water with you.
12. When you arrive at the podium, take a deep breath and try to relax.
13. Make eye contact with your audience. Don’t stay glued to your notes.
14. Smile at the audience and engage them as often as possible.
15. Use your “theater voice” when speaking if a microphone has not been provided.
16. To engage your audience, use visual aids.
17. If you’re offered a podium, don’t feel that you have to stay behind it.
18. Don’t preach and don’t be a know-it-all.
19. Encourage class participation.
20. Have fun!