When someone asks you what you do for a living and you tell them you are a writer, you are often likely to receive confused and questioning responses. But what do you really do? Yes, but where do you work? How do you make money from that?
Writers are actually employed across various industries and are often at the heart of many successful businesses. Freelance writers can have thriving, lucrative, and satisfying careers. The American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA), which formed a Texas chapter last year, helps with this effort. ASJA’s mission is to be the voice and career resource for independent, entrepreneurial, professional nonfiction writers. Since 1948, ASJA has been giving freelance writers the confidence and connections to prosper.
On February 3, 2018, ASJA will have a day-long conference in Austin “Write In The Heart of Texas,” a day full of panels and workshops for emerging and established nonfiction writers. We caught up with Deborah Lynn Blumberg (@dlblumberg), co-president of the Texas ASJA chapter and co-chair of the Austin conference, and asked her a few questions about day. Debbie is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, the Houston Business Journal and Newsday. She works with corporate clients like JPMorgan Chase, the YMCA and Keller Williams on their content. She’s also working on her first novel.
INPRINT: Who do you recommend should attend this conference, do you have to be an ASJA member?
DEBBIE: Anyone working as a professional nonfiction writer – or anyone interested in working as one – should attend. We’ll have writers with many years of experience, those new to the profession, and local students. There will be sessions that are interesting and useful to people at all stages of their career. Everyone’s welcome, and you don’t have to be an ASJA member to attend.
INPRINT: What can people expect to gain from the conference?
DEBBIE: We have an exciting day planned! We’ll open with a session on Mindfulness for Writers, which will set a great tone for the day. We have panels on a wide variety of topics, including self-editing, handling tough conversations with clients, enhancing your brand, and breaking into content marketing. For ASJA members (you can apply to join here) we’ll have a Client Connections session with top editors from across the state. It’s like speed dating sessions with editors looking to add fresh freelance talent to their team. Attendees will also be able to network with each other over lunch, and we’ll have a cocktail reception for everyone at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be unusual to leave the event with a great new contact, a new skill or possibly even a paid assignment.
It wouldn’t be unusual to leave the event with a great new contact, a new skill or possibly even a paid assignment.
INPRINT: How do you think this Texas conference will be different from others around the country?
DEBBIE: The conference is modeled after other ASJA events. We have a big, national conference in New York City every year, and regional ones across the country. This is ASJA’s debut Texas conference. It takes what’s great from the national conference and adds a Texas spin. Many of our speakers are bringing an expertise in healthcare and technology, two of Texas’ strengths. We’ll also have editors from top Texas publications and companies speaking on panels and attending Client Connections.
INPRINT: How have conferences similar to this helped your career as a freelance writer?
DEBBIE: I attend ASJA’s New York conference every year; it’s a priority. Writers conferences offer so many benefits. Most freelance writers work at home (and sometimes in our pajamas!) in isolation. Being around other writers doing the same thing you’re doing is both educational and inspiring. I’ve made great friendships at conferences, picked up new skills, learned how to set and negotiate rates, and gotten paid assignments. I always leave a conference like this one feeling energized and excited about what I do, eager to get back to work and to do what I do better.
Being around other writers doing the same thing you’re doing is both educational and inspiring. I’ve made great friendships at conferences, picked up new skills, learned how to set and negotiate rates, and gotten paid assignments.
INPRINT: What made you and your ASJA co-chair start a Texas chapter?
DEBBIE: We both recently moved to Texas, and noticed that while there have been ASJA members in the state for years, there was no official chapter. I grew up in Houston, spent a bunch of years up east and moved back a year ago. Starting the Texas chapter has helped me to meet some amazing local writers!
For more information on Write In The Heart of Texas, and to register, click here.