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Can a writer make money on-line? The answer is a definite maybe. It primarily depends on how you use the Web. In this article I'll discuss some of the ways to use the Web to make money.

There are many ways writers can use the Web to make money: jobs for writers, promotion and marketing of your books and articles, online publication either on your own Web site or an electronic magazine (Zine).

Employment

There are numerous "job sites" on the Web. Some, such as the Monster Board (www.monsterboard.com), can be extremely large with over 50,000 job listed.

Another popular site is America's Job Bank (www.ajb.dni.us). This is a service of the United States Department of Labor and the state employment agencies, and is funded by federal unemployment insurance fees. It is free for both employers and job hopefuls -- a true rarity online -- and the database is impressive, especially for low- to mid-level salaried jobs. The day I checked the site it listed 33 writing jobs in Massachusetts.

Another site that I recommend to freelance writers is Freelance Online (www.freelanceonline.com). This is a quick way to get your resume in front of many employers and find all sorts of freelance assignments. Be sure to checkout their directory at www.freelanceonline.com/newdirectory/directory.phtml

Promotion & Marketing

Like it or not, promotion and marketing is a writer's responsibility, not that of the publishing houses. Here is a four-step Internet marketing plan that can get you started.

Step One: Get a Web page. You can pay someone to design it or you can create it yourself. If you have one of the newer versions of Microsoft's Word or Publisher, you can quickly create a simple web site. On your Web page, describe yourself and your work. Provide excerpts and a photograph of yourself. Keep it simple and short. If it's too long or the graphics are too large, no one will have the patience to download it. You will also need a place to host your Web page (put it on the Internet).

Step Two: Become a marketing partner of Amazon.com (www.amazon.com). As a marketing partner, you link your Web page directly to Amazon.com, so if a reader visits your Web site and wants to buy your book, you can have them click directly to Amazon.com and order it. It's convenient for the reader, and you don't have to worry about fulfilling orders or dealing with credit cards, and you can get up to fifteen percent of the purchase price!

Step Three: List your site with Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Magellan, Lycos, Excite, and every other major search engine. Get your site listed on the major "lists of links" described earlier, and get a listing on your publisher's Web site.

Step Four: Check out appropriate Internet mailing lists and newsgroups and post a brief, courteous, and appropriate message about your book.

If all this seems overwhelming, you can ask you publisher for referrals to firms which can perform these tasks for you. Fees for this type of service vary greatly, so shop around.

Online Publication

My best advice for putting your publication online is "Don't do it." Writers work hard and most don't have the luxury of giving their work away for free. But if you feel inclined to do so, here is a site that will publish your work. Note that you can also put your work on your own Web site.

The Authorworks Fiction Database (oeonline.com/cybernews/author.html) contains synopses of published and non-published works in such areas as fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

If you would like to try your hand at (print) publishing your book yourself, check out the Desktop Publishing Journal Web site at www.dtpjournal.com. This site complements their print publication and is well designed as you might expect.

Bookmarks

To close this series of articles, I thought you might be interested in the "short list" of Web sites that I used most often to research these articles and some of the sites which I think are worthy of special mention.

Site Name Site Address Comments
Inkspot www.inkspot.com Great jumping off point to everything about writing
Alta Vista www.altavista.com Best Web search engine
Yahoo! www.yahoo.com Best listing of Web sites by category
Children's Writing Resource Center www.write4kids.com If you write for kids, you should see this site
Dramatic Writing www.teleport.com/~bjscript For screen and playwriting this is a good starting point
ClueLass www.cluelass.com Best site for mystery writers
Romance Links romancefiction.about.com Romance writers should start here first
Horsburgh.com www.horsburgh.com Blatant plug for our Web site!

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