WMBTSD Giveaway Day Ten: September 10, 2007

Welcome to day TEN of the Writer Mama Back-to-School Daily Giveaway.

(Can you believe we’re at day ten already? I can’t.)

Today’s giveaway is: September 10th: Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money (Random House 2005) by Kelly James Enger (The Writer Books 2003).

Tiffani requested this book by my friend, Kelly James Enger, so here you go, Tiffani. Good luck!

cover_ready_aim.jpgAbout Ready, Aim, Specialize!: When you develop a writing specialty, you set yourself apart from other freelancers, save time researching and writing articles and command higher fees for your work. Better yet, you needn’t be an M.D., or other recognized “expert” to focus your writing in a particular area. Your educational background, life experience, and interest in certain subjects can all be translated into a writing-related specialty. Need proof? The majority of freelancers who make a good living from their writing specialize—and you’ll hear from 56 of them in Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create your own Writing Specialty and Make More Money.
You’ll learn:
· Why you should develop a niche of your own and determine which areas are a good fit for your background and experience;
· What the top ten writing specialties are and how to break into and write about each one;
· How to better market your work and research and write more efficiently;
· How to find sources, research, data, and experts for articles;
· Techniques to help you maximize your time and income.

Read more about the book at http://www.becomebodywise.com/books.htm

This book has been pivotal to my writing career and I highly recommend it. And more good news. Ready, Aim, Specialize! will be published in an updated version in November, 2007. In the meantime, anyone looking for a copy can contact Kelly via Paypal to order one of only a few remaining copies. Here’s the link for ordering:


And without further ado (not adieu, silly me!), here’s today’s question that you must answer in 50-300 words to be entered to win this fine book (I bet you can already guess what I’m going to ask):

What’s YOUR specialty? If you don’t have a writing specialty yet, maybe you’ve thought about one, fantasized about one, or are secretly afraid to claim your topic. Perhaps your friends and family already consider you an expert on something. Perhaps lately you are just really interested in learning more about a certain topic . You may, as always, answer any way you like. So…what’s your specialty or what would you like it to be?

Click here for “Station Identification.” It will help you find the posts with the list of giveaways and the rules.


33 Responses to “WMBTSD Giveaway Day Ten: September 10, 2007”

  1. 1 Andrea McMann September 10, 2007 at 4:51 am

    I’m hesitant to claim a specialty because I’m so new at freelancing and I don’t want to close off any opportunities. I do, however, spend a lot of my time writing about motherhood and parenting. I’ve been a mother my whole adult life, and it’s one of the few areas in my life in which I am truly confident in my abilities. I know I’m a good mom, and everything else…I work to improve upon everything else each day.

  2. 2 Tiffani September 10, 2007 at 5:10 am

    Crossing my fingers, Christina! And thanks!

    When I got serious about freelancing late last year, I didn’t think I had a specialty. I can write about anything, so I figured that’s what I’d do. Turns out I have a knack for health stories – I’ve written about hearing loss in children, birth control for moms, postpartum depression, my state’s Early Intervention system and sports injuries in high school athletes. I’ve found my niche.

    But I don’t want it to be my only niche. I want to add another specialty to my repertoire: fitness. I love reading about fitness, I love sports, and I love being active, so it’s only natural that I combine that with writing. Plus it is a kick in the pants to make sure I practice what I preach. 🙂

    I love Kelly’s “Six-Figure Freelancing,” and can’t wait to get my hands on “Ready, Aim, Specialize” because I know it will help me focus and target the magazines that are right for my work.

    Thanks for the Giveaway! And Random Number Generator, I hope my number comes up. 🙂


  3. 3 Meryl K. Evans September 10, 2007 at 6:01 am

    Many view me as a specialist in tech-related topics from Web design to gadgets. I got my start writing about Web design and was trying to move away from that when I kept landing great assignments. I also cover business and marketing. Don’t think I could ever become a specialist in one thing because I love the diversity.

  4. 4 Claire Muzal September 10, 2007 at 6:34 am

    You can do it! In January of 2005, after Parkinsons had slowed down my right side and relegated me to mostly one handed typing, I had half-a-mind to learn how to write a newspaper column. So I submitted a 500 word column to the local small town editor in response to a tiny ad that said, “columnists wanted.” It explored the mystery of the seagulls that “lived” at a neighborhood grocery parking lot for 4 months each year – and miraculously, the editor said she wanted more!

    I called my column “Half-A-Mind To” and every other week tried to “Inform, Amuse or Inspire” my readers – or do all three! In 2006 and 2007 I wrote weekly. I have finally learned a little bit about how to write a column in these three years, (!) and have discovered that the columns that get the most responses are the inspirational ones, where I am bold and outspoken for good values, high ideals, and Christian truth.

    I am wondering about migrating from “Inform, Amuse, Inspire” to just “Inspire,” but am not there yet. Somedays, I just like to be silly!

    If any of you have had half-a-mind to do this, go for it — everything doesn’t have to be perfect to start!

  5. 5 Elizabeth September 10, 2007 at 6:44 am

    As much as I think it would be fun and effective to have a specialty, I’m not sure that my checkered resume qualifies me on any subject in particular. I’ve been a student, an office worker, a mother, a wife, a homemaker, a counselor, a retail clerk, a volunteer. I’m interested in domestic violence prevention, religion, science, writing, recreational vehicles.

    I think I resist specialization because I’m interested in many wildly differing topics, my interests are always changing, and I can’t imagine being tied down to any one subject for the length of a career!

  6. 6 Heather Haapoja September 10, 2007 at 6:54 am

    I haven’t really narrowed down a specialty in my writing, though I have published articles in the two areas I feel most knowledgeable about, parenting and quilting. The trouble is, I have SO many interests, and SO many things I want to know more about. If I were to specialize, I worry that I might get bored with the topic and then feel stuck in a rut. I also struggle with a lack of self-confidence when it comes to considering myself any kind of expert. I’m sort of a “Jill of all trades, master of none,” knowing a little bit about a lot of things. I do see the potential benefits in specializing, though, and would love to know how niche writers overcome some of these obstacles.

  7. 7 Mary Jo C. September 10, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Well, in Fiction, I “specialize” in hard luck stories where the male or female protagonist overcomes typical or bizarre obstacles to grow as a person and find their strength and purpose within, hopefully also inspiring the readers to view their world and relationships in a different way. (But isn’t that what all fiction writers aspire to do?)

    In non-fiction, I would love to start a column in my local paper on marriage, mothering, working, and living in our suburb. I would love to teach a writers’ course for kids. In my day job, I am a specialist in the administrative world, having grown from asst bookkeeper to office manager to supervisor to executive assistant in my 18 year working career. I feel I would be able to offer other assistants and their superiors some advice on communication, organizing, prioritizing, office etiquette and grace under fire. I just don’t know how to begin, where to look for submitting these types of articles.

  8. 8 marnini September 10, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Though I love writing middle grade fiction. I think I would have to say I specialize(at least in my world anyway)in inspirational writing. I like to make other’s see the overlooked in any situation. I like to tie the endings up with a circle from the beginning. But I like to do it in a mysterious type of way where the reader is questioning from the beginning just where I am going. At the end if I make someone go ah now I see then I succeeded. Is that a specialty?

  9. 9 Marcy September 10, 2007 at 8:47 am

    My specialty is writing short romantic fiction stories. I know, I know…not much of a market for that. I also enjoy writing about the trials and tribulations of parenting as a working mother. I’ve learned the hard way and would love to share some of my learnings with others who may be struggling.

    I’d love to get my hands on this book. It sounds fabulous!


  10. 10 Abbey September 10, 2007 at 9:08 am

    I’m new to freelancing, so although I gravitate towards certain topics, I try to explore all of my diverse interests.

    That said, I love writing about health and fitness. As a personal trainer, it’s a natural fit. Health and fitness writing is very popular, so I try and set myself apart even more. Currently, I’ve been focusing on health and fitness issues concerning pre- and post-partum moms. The topic is evergreen, but also ever-changing as we learn more about pregnancy.

  11. 11 Beth K. Vogt September 10, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Write what you know, right? For me, that translates write what I live. So, my book Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35 came about because I was stunned by an unexpected pregnancy at 41. At the time my other three children were 17, 14 and 12. My husband and I were just starting the empty-nest phase because our son was heading off to college–and then I was overcome with morningsickness.
    Come to find out, I was also a trendsetter, as late-in-life motherhood is the biggest thing in motherhood (bad, bad pun) in the past 10-12 years.
    So, I am now an expert on being a mommy-come-lately–my much more positive term for being an older mom. It sure beats being called Advanced Maternal Age or Elderly Mother. Ugh!
    I live it, breathe it, and write about it!

  12. 12 Kelli September 10, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Since I just finished 3 years of grad school, my speciality right now would be the craft of writing. However, I’m still a mom, so parenting does play into my work as well as “balance.” Actually, I think because our culture is always so rushed in this material world, I like to focus on writing about finding meaning in life as well as creating a balance. So, sort of new-agey-enjoy-life topics written by someone who enjoys nice shoes.

    Kelli R.A.

  13. 13 Larina Warnock September 10, 2007 at 10:18 am

    With four vastly different children and despite my earnest desire to be a fiction writer, I’ve found repeatedly that people regularly turn to my nonfiction. In particular, people respond to my writing about raising children with disabilities and maneuvering the social service system. Partially because I received very strong advocacy and self-determination training and partially because I’ve lived with mental illness throughout my life and succeeded despite (in many ways, because) of it, I view disabilities of all kinds in a very different way than most people. I think my perspective makes my work in these areas unique and my underlying hope is always that my writing can change the way others respond to these things, provide a hint of understanding and more importantly, acceptance. The catch-22 in all this? I’ve never submitted a single essay about these topics for publication as I struggle with the ethics of sharing my children’s lives with others–and making money from it.

  14. 14 kimhaynes September 10, 2007 at 10:36 am

    In a funny way, my specialty is what led me to a freelance career to begin with. I was a high school teacher who wanted to write, but never had the time. After a long-distance move forcibly separated me from the school I adored, I had to find a way to adjust, because the new school where I was teaching was not a good fit. I adjusted by writing a novel.

    I decided to leave that “bad fit” school, but couldn’t find another job I liked, until I was hired (thanks to my teaching experience and Masters in Education) as part of a team of writers designing a curriculum for a national nonprofit organization. Now, I have more curriculum writing work than I can handle, plus I’m starting to query mags and websites on education-based articles.

    I don’t want to stick to education forever, but it was a great way to get my start, and really forced me to think about the “expertise” that we might have and take for granted.

  15. 15 Mary Jude September 10, 2007 at 10:44 am

    In my dreams of “someday I will write…”, I always come back to the notion of writing columns, articles, essays related to the validation of the hard work of motherhood. I am a counselor by training and a very new writer and I would like to be able to combine the two to help moms get through tough days by hearing that others have been there and understand. I know that when I am struggling and a friend tells me that she has experienced the same thing, I always feel better, especially if it is something that is hard to talk about. We hear so much about motherhood and parenting, especially the whole “work vs. stay at home” debate, and I think what is often lost is the notion that it is hard no matter what. Moms deserve some nurturing and TLC to replenish all that they give everyday!

  16. 16 LauraE September 10, 2007 at 11:11 am

    I don’t really have a specialty. I’m not an expert on anything. My clips are mostly feel-good arts & culture stories and celebrity interviews. I have successfully raised two children while working flexibly and pursuing my writing career. I suppose I could write about that, but is that “special” enough. I’d love to write an essay column about funny things that happened to me as a freelance mom. Wait that doesn’t sound right. Not a freelance mom but a mom that is a freelancer. You get the idea? I really do have funny/strange things happen to me. My mom says my life is a soap opera. Um, while the sentiment is sweet somehow that doesn’t sound great. The other area I could specialize in would be graphic design and writing articles for art magazines. But I truly don’t know what I’d say about that. I could write about the perils/benis of freelancing. But it seems kinda boring to me. I’d rather write about life. I feel like I’m heart smart, not book smart. The other area that I know something about is being the daughter of a POW. Not sure how that might fit into specializing my writing career.

  17. 17 Erika September 10, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I am still in the early phases of trying to identify my specialty. I have primarily been thinking along the lines of Healthy Kids, but now I’m leaning more towards something environmental. Both are topics that I am passionate about so I think either could work eventually.

    I would love to write a column on Green Living – I think so many people want to do the right thing for our planet, but aren’t sure exactly what that entails and how much of a burden it might be in their life. I would love to inform and inspire people to move in that direction and show them how simple changes can really make a difference.

  18. 18 LaShawn September 10, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Hmm…I would say that fiction is my niche completely, but if I was going towards the nonfiction genre, I would definitely say book reviews. There’s something about ripping apart a book to see how it reads–how the plot meshes together, characters, dialogue. Even the grammar. I love writing book reviews because it helps me to study how the book was put together, if the story is done well or horribly. It helps me in my own writing as I polish my own voice. And finally, I can help spread the word to others about really great books I like, or warn them away from really bad ones.

  19. 19 Renee Roberson September 10, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I feel like I am lucky to have developed several specialties over the past few years. I write a lot about parenting topics, which is what catapulted my freelance career. But I’ve also developed an interested in writing health and wellness stories, and am currently trying to build up clips in that arena. Freelancing for the local newspaper has helped me hone my newswriting skills, and I think I’ve also developed a specialty in writing profiles of interesting people andplaces. That’s what I love about this field – – the possibilities are endless and you can write about what you want to learn more about!

  20. 20 SueMarie September 10, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    My speciality is legal writing. I find it a bit dry and uninspiring at times, but it suits my background and talents. I do fantasize about having other, more creative specialities such as food and the art of celebration. Or perhaps young-adult fiction. But I’m not quite sure how to develop these areas of speciality. I’ve read and researched what’s out there, and what’s lacking. But I’m at a loss for how to my voice to the mix.

  21. 21 Tiffany September 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    My specialty is green family values or living with healthy family, healthy planet concerns foremost in our minds. Many people write about green issues and health issues but I make thgem applicable to raising a family. I blog, I maintain content web sites, and I write a newspaper column about green living, organics, natural health and healing, and political issues that concern green parents. I love being able to motivate people to be mindful parents.

  22. 22 Melissa September 10, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Hmmm, specialty. I don’t have one yet. Not really. I write about mothering, but that’s a pretty broad category. If I was trying to carve out a niche within that category, I guess I’d look to those areas where I’m a not-very-mainstream parent. Homebirth, homeschool, vegetarian kids… something in there.

  23. 23 Marcia September 10, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    My specialty is definitely screenwriting. I’ve been writing screenplays since 1992. After receiving numerous awards, in 2005 I had a scene from my feature script produced. It was a surreal experience to say the least. I’ve always felt movie sets are so boring because of the receptiveness and the long, oh so long, hours. I didn’t show up until noon the day my short was filmed. I felt so honored because Harry Lennix had taken a red eye from California straight from the set of “Commander-In-Chief” to be on the set at
    6:00 am. Irma P. Hall, who played his mother, was already in Chicago and the director flew in from New York during a snowstorm. I am hoping to raise enough money to film the feature within the next year.

  24. 24 Dara September 10, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    My specialty, hmmm, let’s see…historical romance, oh definitly some of the time,… modern romance with a little bit of comedy, murder and mayhem, well I do like a good comedic murder mystery but as my specialty….no, funny stories with characters that are suspiciously like members of my family, no too sure anyone else would find it as humorous…hold on I figured it out…I have no idea whatsoever! My mind kind of runs around like my first sentence, twisted and all over the place. I think it is how I stay sane. One day I may write about dukes and maidens, the next day I may write a twisted-version-of-the-truth story about something crazy my family did. I haven’t been published yet so maybe I am waiting for when that happens to help me put all the pieces together. Until then I will keep on writing til it feels like it “clicks” for me.

  25. 25 beediva September 10, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    I have always felt like a jack of all trades, master of none. There are definitely certain topics that I am consistently asked about though. One is adoption. My husband and I have adopted two of our four children, one domestically and the other internationally. Because we have a combination of biological children and adopted AND we’ve adopted two different ways, people will often ask us to speak or write on the subject. I’ve also been asked to speak on arts ministries within a church setting. I enjoy both but don’t feel confident enough to proclaim myself an expert.

  26. 26 ShawnMarie September 10, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I’ve spent the last five years attending or working Renaissance Faires so that is my specialty.

    The thing is, just one hobby/job like this can lead to so many different writing areas:

    1.fiction about Ren Faires (especially romance!)
    2.travel articles about going to Faires
    3.how-to articles on making costumes for Faires
    4.parenting articles on how to teach children history through Faires
    5.children’s magazines articles on what it is like to visit Faires
    6.recipes based off of traditional Faire food (turkey legs!)
    7.articles on craft selling at Faires
    8.articles on improv character acting
    9.photographs from Faires for photo contest
    10.articles for history magazines (such as Renaissance) concerning the time period Faire covers

    And that is only ten ideas and I have tons more! Just because we may have deep knowledge in only one area, writers really should brainstorm and see just how far that specialy can stretch!

  27. 27 Stephanie September 10, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    It’s on my mind almost every day lately. What should I specialize in? What is my niche? How can I possibly choose just one thing? My specialty might be career advice or educational trends or motherhood or even writing…

    I obviously need some help narrowing in on my focus. Perhaps that’s why Enger’s book sounds so intriguing.

  28. 28 Shonna September 10, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    UGh, this question stresses me out!!! It’s like I’m graduating high school all over again and have to tell people what I want to be when I grow up.

    I’ve been published in the teen nonfiction market, but my heart’s goal is to write children’s novels–the kind I fell in love with as a kid. Now, within children’s writing…still don’t have the niche figured out yet. I’m hoping that over time some things will stand out to me. For all us generalists out there, I think that’s how it’s supposed to work–the more you write, the more your personal themes and issues stand out. I hope.

  29. 29 Lea September 10, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    These days, I write about so many different things that I can’t claim a specialty. I think whatever is happening in my life at the moment is what naturally interests me and ends up in my writing. Right now my areas of expertise lies in motherhood, fitness and cooking, but there are other things I’d love to write and learn more about, including “extreme” sports, organic gardening and art.

    If I ever find a niche that suits me best, then great, but for now I’ll keep plucking my ideas from the over-stuffed “random thoughts” folder in my brain!

  30. 30 Laura September 10, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    I have not yet had any luck deciding on my specialty. I did the exercise from Writer Mama, and thought I had found my specialty, being a Frugal but green conscious mother. However, I found that I didn’t know much about this area.

    What do I want to be my specialty? I honestly have never considered looking for something to be my niche. I know I am facinated with how the daily life of a mother has changed throughout the years. I have considered researching and writing a series of books to show how a mother’s every day life, the care taking of a family, has changed throughout the last century. Perhaps this will become my specialty. You have me thinking on this.

  31. 31 Laural Ringler September 10, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Kelly’s Six-Figure Freelancing is on my return-to-the-library pile, so it’s time to wade into this giveaway for her book on specializing.

    Tonight I’m finishing an article on a comic book convention, which is NOT in my area of expertise, but I was flattered the publication asked me to write it, so I said yes. I need to say no to those offers and make space for what I really want to write about: outdoor adventures and traveling, both with kids and without. I mean the kind of adventures you have while bicycling, backpacking, climbing, or kayaking for days or weeks – for me, that’s great fun and great fun to write about.

  32. 32 Karen September 10, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Since taking your WPSS class last winter, I’ve tinkered with several genres, and found that my first love is still what I wish my specialty to be. Science and the outdoors. Without a big “duh” poster attached to my back, I’ve slowly realized that my writing is better and my passion peeks through and sometimes shines when I write about what matters to me. I believe if I buckle down and stick to what I love to write about, I’ll eventually bump into the sucess I’m trying to create.

  33. 33 Tammy E September 10, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    My personal mantra has always been; “I know so little about so much!” Sort of the jack of all trades train of thought, but I don’t think I even qualify as a ‘jack’.

    There are so many things I’m interested in; much like many of the other writer mamas answering these questions. Perhaps that is why we all want to write? Being a writer gives you permission to study any topic any time.

    I would love to write a column – humour perhaps, children’s books, essays, fiction and poetry. But, then again, at some point I would like to see a dollar or two from my efforts, so I do need to cull my list of interests so I can manage the range of possible markets. Some of my interests are dance, yoga and alternative fitness methods; parenting; education; book reviews and a few months ago I would’ve included gardening. However, as of this summer, I have come to grips with the fact that not only am I missing a green thumb, but I must be completely missing any type of opposing thumb. It can be the only explanation really, as it has apparently impacted my weed pulling ability, or watering ability for that matter, and Darwinism reigns supreme in my yard.

    Let me know when they invent a clap on/clap off weed wacker and sprinkler system. Or maybe that’s my specialty? Writing about useful products for the home owner’s association compliance impaired?

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