Nathan Segal – Secrets of Profitable Freelance Writing

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is Secrets of Profitable Freelance Writing. It is designed for the person who would like to start a career, either part-time or full-time as a freelance writer. In the book, I reveal what I did to build a career, including all the resources I used, and techniques for working with editors, magazines and building long-term relationships.

As an example, I have one relationship that has spanned nine years, through several different magazines and assignments.

Tell us something about yourself.

Well, if we’re going to go all the way back, I was born in the frozen wastelands of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in 1959. My folks didn’t stay there long, though. Within a few years, we moved to the U.S., to California and my father tried to build a career there. He wasn’t all that successful and after being down south for a few years, we moved back to Canada, to Calgary, Alberta. That is where I did the bulk of my growing up. When I was 23, I left Calgary and moved to Vancouver, B.C.

At that time in my life, writing was the furthest thing from my mind. For most of my childhood, I lived and breathed airplanes. I built them, flew radio control models and ultimately, I obtained a Commercial Pilot’s license.

I’d hoped to build a career in that, but in the early 1980’s the economy crashed and I found myself without a career, so I had to reinvent myself. I went to university, but found that wasn’t to my liking and dropped out after a couple of years. After that, I bounced around for several years, not doing all that much until the mid 1980’s, when I became interested in special effects photography. One thing led to another and with my father’s help, I began working in the multi-image industry, creating special effects photography for computer controlled slide shows. This was a precursor to multimedia, as it’s known today.

Writing came later much later, in the late 1990’s when I was offered a job as a software instructor. I was given a manual, but it was completely inadequate for my course. I offered to rewrite it, did so and taught the course based on what I had written.

A year later, in 1998, I moved to Victoria, lost my job there and that’s where the writing saga begins. Now, all these years later, it is the glue that holds everything together in my career.

What inspired you to write this book?

It was the result of hanging out on forums. I encountered many people who wanted to write and the vast majority of them had no idea what to do. Worse, many of them were working for writing sites that offered a pittance for their work, which really ticked me off. Essentially, these writers were being taken advantage of. I also knew that many of these people would quickly burn out under the intense workload they were given and would probably quit writing entirely.

How did you choose the title?

The original title was The Fast Track to Profitable Freelance Writing. Oveall, I liked it, though I realized that changing the title and incorporating the word “Secrets” was a better idea, partly because my book reveals information that few freelance writers seem to know.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

Mostly how to create a title for Print on Demand (POD). I am familiar with PDF files and am comfortable in the Web space. The problem was not having much experience in the print world.

Fortunately I’m comfortable with software and technology, so it hasn’t been all that difficult, just time-consuming.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

First off, I never planned to be a freelance writer. At the time, I had just moved from one city to another to take a job as a software instructor at a local technical school.

Without getting into all the drama of what happened, things went off the rails almost immediately. I had a many problems with the students (most of whom weren’t qualified to be there) and the owner of the school and me didn’t see eye to eye. Within a matter of weeks I was fired.

So here I was in a new city, without a network and without a job. Worse, I couldn’t go back to where I’d come from, since I’d exhausted my options there as well.

I spent a couple of weeks where I had no idea what to do next. Fortunately, I had a cash reserve though my prospects were looking pretty bleak. That was when my cousin, who was working as a freelance writer, came to visit.

When he heard about my situation, he asked me: “Would you like to learn how to write?” He told me the fee, which was $500.00 and with no other options in sight, I accepted.

Do you have any writing rituals?

One in particular, which I discuss in my book, has to do with writing reluctance or avoidance. I offer several strategies. One of them is when serious avoidance sets in. Here’s what I recommend:

Put a timer on the table beside you and set it for five minutes. During that time, write about anything. Play with headlines. Spend some time on a fun project, etc.

When done, set the timer for another five minutes and begin the process all over again. Repeat as many times as necessary. Eventually, you will overcome the reluctance to work and will be able to get on with your day.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

The biggest thing I learned came from my publicist, who informed me that if I stayed in the online realm with an ebook, I would lose out on 90% of my potential market. That was huge!

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would do keyword research using Market Samurai from day one. I would also write the book with the idea that it would be for print and the Web, not just the Web.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Well, I do like mystery novels. Some of my favorite authors are Michael Connolly, John Sandford and Lee Child. I like these authors because of the quality of the writing and the character development. They create a lot of depth, which I really enjoy.

The other books I read involve what I refer to as hard-core spiritual practice, by such teachers as Stephan Bodian, Nisargadatta and Adyashanti. I like these teachers for their clarity, directness and no-nonsense approach. I consider myself fortunate to have found them.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Do your homework. Good, solid research is the foundation of a successful project. Don’t underestimate that and don’t take shortcuts. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

The person wants to earn money as a freelance writer, whether that be part-time, full-time or with a career in mind.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

You can find my book on You can also learn more about freelance writing on my blog, at: My ISBN is: 978-0-9784919-1-8.