Over the last six months, I have written more than 600 articles for AssociatedContent.com — known to those who frequent the site as AC — and it has been an amazing experience. Not only are you paid for the work you submit, but you also become part of a supportive community of writers, experts and freelancers, many of whom are published through other venues but continue to write articles for AC. Many of these writers are self-employed freelancers, media professionals or non-fiction authors, but I want to explain why aspiring novelists — fiction writers — should write for AC.
Although there are many creative Content Producers who submit their prose and poetry to AC, it is mostly a site for non-fiction writers. Guides, tips, breaking news and op/ed articles flourish here, and every piece of content I’ve written for this site falls into one of those categories. You might think that an aspiring novelist whose gift is for painting pictures with words in order to tell a story might not find what they are seeking here, but you would be wrong.
I have always enjoyed writing fiction more than non-fiction, mostly because novels and short stories allow you to make up the plot as you go along. Fiction does require research but certainly not in the copious amounts required for non-fiction, and the art of bringing characters and places to life is something magical. But a writer is a writer, no matter how you slice it, and any writing experience is beneficial. Not only that, but most aspiring novelists do not have an opportunity to be published until their work is accepted, published and promoted by a publishing house.
With AC, an aspiring novelist can develop a taste for publication and can garner feedback from other writers. The grammar rules and flow to an AC article is really no different from a fiction piece except that it is true and is meant to help the reader with a particular problem or goal. When you submit articles to AC, you leap the giant hurdle of putting your work out there for all the world to see, which is one reason many wonderful writers never become published at all. Writing is an intensely personal form of expression, and seeing your own words in print can be intimidating.
An aspiring novelist will also have to deal with critics, who may or may not like the work they produce. Even the most famous of all fiction novelists — Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Michael Crichton — have been torn asunder by the biting words of a literary critic. Although you won’t necessarily find the literary equivilent of Ebert on Associated Content, each article you write will be scrutinized by other Content Producers as well as random readers, and sometimes their comments are negative. And even when a comment seems completely unfounded, negativity is something with which all writers must learn to cope.
Monetarily speaking, AC can also be a lifesaver for the aspiring author. The phrase “starving artist” wasn’t coined for no reason; many writers experience periods of destitution before hitting it big — if they ever reach that plateau. If you are like me and have quit your “day job” in order to become a writer, the payments in your PayPal account from AC can make realizing your dream a true possibility. Not only will you be paid for your work by AC, but you can easily garner more freelance work through your portfolio on the site. I’ve been contacted by no fewer than ten outside employers who wanted me to write articles, eBooks and other materials for them based on my articles written here.
Now we come to the actual writing. While I have seen some content published on AC that could benefit enormously from an experienced editor, I have also come across articles written by truly gifted individuals. Some of the names that come immediately to mind are Michelle L Devon, M. M. Lyons, theBarefoot, Emma S., Judith Blakely, Manda Spring, Christine Bude and Charlotte Kuchinsky. Their articles serve to brighten my day, and they often make me wonder why they haven’t published books while others of considerably lesser talent have.
Many of the great writers of our time have advised aspiring novelists to keep a journal. The point is that writers must write every day — or at least at every conceivable opportunity. Writing for AC allows you to practice your skills and garner feedback while earning a little bit of extra cash. That isn’t an opportunity found every day, which is why I think it is something which all aspiring novelists should take advantage of.
You may never write the Great American Novel, but if you write for AC, your work will have found a home in the world. The things that you have learned over the years, the experiences which have served to mold and shape you and the knowledge you can bestow upon the masses will have done their job. You can publish your work on your own website or submit it to one of the non-paying article sites, but AC provides you with much more than just publication.
Just because you haven’t been published in the print world yet doesn’t mean it can’t happen for you in the future, but in the meantime, consider publishing with AC. Let others critique your work and get a sense for what being a published author will feel like.