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Increase Your Writing Income - Part One:
Take Advantage of International Currency
by Lee Masterson

Secrets of a Successful Freelancer


(all exchange rates noted below were determined on 18th January 2004, and are subject to change - constantly!)

All freelance writers - non-fiction and fiction alike - seek ways to increase their writing income. Many simply write more, some aim at higher-paying markets and others aim at selling and re-selling to international audiences.

As a freelance writer living in Australia, I learned very quickly that the International Currency Exchange Rates have the power to potentially increase my writing income - or drastically reduce it!

The trick is to know in advance how each international payment will translate once it hits your bank account.

Some Benefits
Writing for an international audience has always had plenty of benefits. Here are just a few:

- You have the benefit of being able to add that accolade to your bio or to a query letter.
- You might have an opportunity to sell reprint rights for an existing piece of work to an overseas publication.
- You reach a much wider audience
- And you have the opportunity to use the exchange rates to potentially increase your income.

Some Draw Backs
Of course, selling work to an international editor can also have its drawbacks.

- Your work might not have an 'international' appeal.
- Your exchange fees on foreign cheques can sometimes be high
- Payments made via snail-mail can often take weeks to arrive
- Some banks may take between 20 and 40 days to clear an international cheque.

Fiction or Non-Fiction?
People often associate the term 'Freelance Writer' with non-fiction writers, but freelancers can write and sell fiction, too. In fact, it is sometimes easier to re-sell a fiction short-story to an international market than a non-fiction article. This is because fiction can have a much broader, international appeal, while a non-fiction article may seem more pertinent to a local audience.

No matter what you write, it should still be possible to research into potential international markets for your work.

How Can Earning International Currency Help?
Find out the difference between the value of your own local dollar and then compare it to your intended target market's local dollar value. In many cases, the value of the dollar in the foreign country you are aiming at might be a little lower than your local currency, but the value to your personal income might be worth far more in terms of landing a subsequent sale for a piece of work that has already been bought locally.  

Example: Only a few years ago, the Australian Dollar was worth approximately .49 cents in the American dollar. This meant that if a US magazine bought an article for $100, the exchange rate would convert it into $204.08 AU that went into my bank account. Obviously, it made a lot of sense for me to sell as much work as possible to American audiences at that time. Since then, the Australian dollar is up to around .78 cents US, which means I would actually have to work harder to see the same kind of return for my money.

However, with just a little research, I found out that the Australian Dollar is currently sitting at around .4255 of the British Pound Sterling. Guess where a lot of my queries are being sent now...

How to Work it Out
For your convenience, the friendly people at xe.com have supplied a Currency Converter program (at the bottom of this page).

Obviously it will help to begin by only checking out the exchange rates for those countries in which you speak the language. For the vast majority of readers of this publication, that's going to be English.

Once you have a basic idea of how your international payment will look in the local currency, it's time to research those international markets!

Before submitting any of your work anywhere, try to determine the possibility of selling the exclusive rights for the highest possible amount first. Also try to be sure that each piece has a secondary market in mind, for reprint and even foreign sale purposes.

Let's say for the purpose of this example that I have a Sci-Fi short story to sell. An Australian magazine might pay me $100 AU for the rights. Upon further research, I might learn that the same Aussie market might accept reprint rights - so I'd be potentially better off selling it to a different market first. Let's say I find an American market for the story. If the US market pays a hypothetical $50 US - then I would receive $64.87 AU (less any bank costs). I am then free to re-submit the exact same piece to the Australian market as a reprint, receiving another $100 AU for doing nothing more than sending it out again.

Find Those International Markets
The advent of the Internet is a god-send for freelance writers worldwide. Many publications display their submission guidelines online, and some even accept online submissions. There are also plenty of Market Guides available in libraries and bookstores. I would also suggest subscribing to an high-quality ezine, like Absolute Markets (http://www.absolutemarkets.com/premium.htm)

We won't go into finding and researching markets here - that's another article.

Foreign Transaction Fees
This part of the Foreign Currency Exchange is not fun. All banks charge exchange fees. Some are more exorbitant than others, but most are amenable to some negotiation - especially if you plan to deposit on a regular basis.

I asked the managers of several local branches to put in writing their fee-schedules for depositing and exchanging foreign funds. Then, when I had a few to compare, I went back to those same branches with some ammunition. Most were willing to negotiate lower fees and charges.

Don't be afraid to negotiate with banks; they need your business to stay in business.

Taxation Laws
Always speak to an accountant before altering your income to include foreign income. Never take a chance and never rely on hear-say of other writers. The tax laws in each country are complex and involved. Leave nothing to chance - check, then double-check what kind of impact a foreign income could have on your taxes.

Once you are aware of the impact foreign exchange transactions can have on your income, it's time to research some potential international markets - and send those queries out the door!

xe.com  Universal Currency Converter
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Universal Currency Converter under license from xe.com. Terms of Use

Copyright Lee Masterson. All Rights Reserved.


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