How I Broke Into the World of International Freelance Writing
Around five years ago, in 2001, after a video business with friends went bust, I was trying to come up with other ideas to generate income. I had decided to look in the field of my truest passion, writing. But how? I tried scriptwriting for TV but wasn't lucky enough to be given the opportunity. So I was looking into other types of writing for inspiration. Finally, I realized that the answer to my problem was just under my nose, just waiting to be discovered.
At that time, I was always on the Internet, and I got to know these freelance writing sites, the owners of which were mostly American freelance writers. One of these writing sites was Writersweekly.com, owned by Angela Adair-Hoy. I was immediately impressed by this site because Angela fought for the rights of all writers. Moreover, there were free markets in e-book form which can be downloaded from her site. (If you're still a newbie to freelance writing terms, a market is a venue, usually a print or online publication, where you can submit your work and get paid). At any rate, something I read in the newspapers, turned the light bulb on in relation to one of these market e-books.
The American Jeanette Lee, one of the famous female pool or billiard players in the world was coming to the Philippines and was scheduled to play with the Philippines' very own Efren 'Bata' Reyes in an exhibition match. I was immediately reminded of a market listing in one of Angela Adair-Hoy's e-book. It was Billards Digest. By this time, I already had an idea of how to query or pitch to publication editors, and was trying to learn the intricacies of querying from Writersweekly.com and other similar sites, I immediately sent the query on October 25, 2001 to Billiards Digest using the e-mail contact in the Billiards Digest market listing. After three days, there was no reply so I sent the same query to Pool & Billiard Magazine. I had by this time, scoured the Internet for the top billiard magazines and Pool & Billiard was the other premier publication. I can't remember now, how exactly I found their contact info but most probably I Googled for similar pool and billiard publications on the Internet and found the contact details of their editorial staff on their website. I then sent a query or article pitch to their Managing Editor Shari Jean Stauch. Here is the query as I sent it in 2002:
On November 3, "The Magician" Efren Reyes will face "The Black Widow" Jeanette Lee in a race-to-13 one-on-one duel in the LG Flatron Billiard Challenge here in Metro Manila, Philippines.
This will be an historic event here in the Philippines mainly for two reasons. First, in a time when women are fast catching up with the men in the male-dominated world of billiards in terms of skill (most recent example: Allison Fisher's win over former U.S. Open Champion Tommy Kennedy), the event will be a valid and reliable gauge as to how far the women billiard players have progressed in their quest to equal their male counterparts.
Second, in a country where men vastly outnumber the women in the numerous pool halls, it will be interesting to note the reaction of my countrymen in seeing one of the top women players in billiards compete against a male opponent, not to mention that that opponent is a legend--and the most idolized player--here in the Philippines, if not the world.
May I ask you therefore, to let me cover the said face-off and report on the match and all its aspects--fan comments and reactions, interviews perhaps with the players themselves if possible, if you still do not have someone to cover the event.
I am a freelance writer here in the Philippines and have had my fiction, poetry, film reviews and features published in various national magazines and newspapers. I am a big sports enthusiast, avidly following the games of basketball, boxing and tennis, to mention just a few. I play table tennis, chess, and, of course, billiards.
If you do not have a Philippine correspondent or reporter, I can take on the job. It will be enlightening for your readers to know why billiards is such a famous sport here in the Philippines, and why it has produced a lot of champions in the said sport.
Thank you for your time and good day!
Medardo "Dino" Manrique, Jr.
A day later, on October 31, Shari responded -- she said yes, they would love for me to cover the said event! Here is Shari's reply:
We would love to have you cover this for us. We would be looking for a couple of photos, along with roughly 750 words covering the event. I would run between a page and two pages, depending on space restrictions. Perhaps even three pages -- I'm interested in your angle as to why the Philippines have produced so many quality players -- could run as a sidebar? We pay $150 per page published, along with $35 per photo.
Let me know!
Needless to say, I was so excited when I read her e-mail. The feeling was similar to being published for the very first time. I would be earning dollars, while at the same time, I would also get to see these pool greats!
The problem now was how to get a free ticket to the event. I called the sports editors of the major dailies, The Philippine Star and Philippine Daily Inquirer, to ask for their help, but they said that the press coverage of the event was limited. I even called Ronnie Nathanielsz, the Chief Operating Officer of the TV station which was covering the event. But Mr. Nathanielsz said they could not give out any more press passes. But I was undeterred. The day of the event, I borrowed money from my parents to buy a cassette recorder, and then with my girlfriend, Marie, as my assistant (and inspiration, of course) in tow, went early in the morning to Casino Filipino where the exhibition match would take place in the afternoon. Once at the venue, trying to sneak my way in was far from an easy task still, but to cut the long story short, I was able to talk to the PR person of LG Philippines, the main sponsor, and got a ringside ticket. I didn't have to take photos myself because LG was happy to provide them after the tournament. After the match, I interviewed Jeanette Lee, Efren 'Bata' Reyes, and other people involved in the tournament, including the organizers, and even Mr. Nathanielsz himself who would later let me use their facilities so I can review the tapes of the exhibition match. I then wrote the two articles and earned $450 for the work I did, and had a heck of a great time to boot!
So what does this anecdote prove? That when it comes to writing, or anything that you do, for that matter, inspiration followed up with persistence really pays, figuratively and literally. And that it is a great time to be a writer! With Internet and e-mail, one gets to have the chance to get published in venues which were inaccessible before, like publications in the U.S., or other countries for that matter. This means more income for the writer. In particular terms, this means more dollars!
In this site, one of the things I will share with you is how to be a dollar-earner freelance writing from the comforts of your home (mostly). I'll also share with you how to market yourself as a writer, how to look for ideas, how to write query letters or letters of proposal, and all the other businesses related to being a writer. I do not promise to have all the answers since even now, I'm still learning myself, but I will try to share with you everything I know and am about to learn. My hope is that if I can make a positive contribution, however small, in your life as a writer, whatever kind of a writer you are, then I would have already done my job and the job this site had set out to achieve.
Dino Manrique is the owner/publisher of FilipinoWriter.com. You may reach him at filipinowriter (at) gmail (dot) com.