Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Entrepreneur Encounters: C Hope Clark

Today, I'm excited to introduce you to someone who probably doesn't need an introduction to writers. C. Hope Clark was one of the first professional writers I began to follow, and her newsletters and programs have helped hundreds of thousands of writers in their own journey. Today, I welcome Hope to our entrepreneur column.

Hope, what type of businesses do you own?  

I'm a writer, but you might divide my business into the freelance side and the novelist side. I'm owner of FundsforWriters, a website selected by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 17 years. The newsletter for the site goes out weekly to 35,000 readers who are also writers, providing calls for submissions to grants, contests, markets, jobs, agents, and publishers. I also freelance via magazines features, podcasts, and speaking engagements.

My other side of the business is author of eight novels and two nonfiction books. Since I tend to be perfectly balanced between my left brain and right brain lobes, I equally enjoy the freelance side and the novel side, the business and the creative.

How did you get started in this business?

By loving to write. While still working my nine-to-five job, where I was quickly identified as the person to pen material to Washington, congressmen, dignitaries and often the press, someone suggested I write for myself since it seemed to be effective.

I started writing a novel. A novel based upon a bribe offered to me from a client. My federal agency gave loans and grants, and a client offered me $10,000 to obtain him a piece of real estate in our inventory. The ordeal was not fun, and quite stressful. I ultimately married the federal agent involved. Why not tell the story?

But I could not sell the story, so I turned to freelancing because I had learned to love writing so much. The result was FundsforWriters.com, and freelancing, and based upon that income, I left federal service to write.

After much editing and studying the voice of mystery writing, as well as several years of work, I landed an agent, then a publisher, and suddenly I was balancing being a novelist and an entrepreneur. One novel led to another.

The publisher proved happy, and now I'm about to release my eighth mystery with a ninth under contract. It took three years to go full-time with FundsforWriters, and over ten years to publish the first novel, but I think we figured our what to do now. LOL - I'm loving life, and the readers who follow me are great folks and keep telling me they'd love more of my work.

What's your biggest challenge as a small business owner?

Keeping up with change. We can never settle for where we are, or think we've ultimately reached success, because these days change is almost daily. We are a technical world, and the tools, venues, markets, and customers are all technically connected. These days the options for success for almost all entrepreneurial adventures are countless because of all this change giving us so much to strive for and dream to achieve.

However, we have to find a careful balance between being overloaded by change and sifting out the few opportunities that will make us great. Small business owners are powerful, but there's a lot of noise out there, and competition, and crossroads to make us lose focus on why we got into the business to start with. We have to have strong vision and benchmarks to stay on task.

Share a story with us about a specific moment in your business that changed you, or made a difference somehow in what you do.

Before FundsforWriters, I simply freelanced for anyone who'd have me. But with my
federal experience, I understood grants. A journalist read one of my pieces, impressed, and asked for assistance. She was homebound and needed financial assistance for grants, freelance opportunity, etc. In exchange, she would teach me how to create a newsletter. She advised I needed to publish one about what I had learned for myself: grants, fellowships, freelance markets, etc. I balked, not wanting to do anything nearly related to my federal job, but she coaxed me to do it. That was how FundsforWriters was born. It was then I realized the importance of branding, and putting one's name out there even before the novel ... to become known as a writer.

After a few months, I realized the intelligence of her suggestion, and I created a brand that has served me well for 20 years. I sent her a heartfelt thank-you letter only to have it returned. She'd died from the cancer I never knew she had. I saw that as a sign to continue with FFW, and I've never looked back.

As to the other side of my house, I had another memorable moment. Asked by a bookstore to pick up an author from the airport, and bring her to her book signing, I took advantage of the opportunity to take her to dinner. She asked me what I wrote. At that time I was 100 percent FundsforWriters. She asked me what I REALLY wrote that was special for me. I mentioned the mystery sitting on the shelf complete but rejected too many times to take seriously. She told me to get it back out and rewrite it, because years from now I'd regret it. I did, threw it away, and wrote it from scratch. It ultimately became Lowcountry Bribe, my first mystery. We have to learn to listen to those little voices of opportunity that cross our paths.

Find C. Hope Clark on the Web:

Funds for Writers (sign up for her newsletters!)
C. Hope Clark
Hope's Amazon Author Page


Hope is on a blog tour for the next couple of weeks. Check out her other interviews at all the sites on this video!

About the Entrepreneur:

C. Hope Clark writes fiction and nonfiction, but when asked which is her favorite, she can only say she just loves putting words together. She is author of eight mysteries to include her current release Newberry Sin. She sets her mysteries in real settings, loving the challenge of marrying reality with make-believe. Her award-winning FundsforWriters continues to attract readers, and her expertise has her writing for Writer's Digest, The Writer, Nonfiction Writers Association, and appearing at writing conferences nationwide. She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina, the state that serves as the setting in each of her mysteries, alongside her federal agent husband.

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Some bold, some gentle.
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Hope Clark said...

Oh, Tracy, what a great job you did on the post! Thanks so much for having me!

Tracy Ruckman said...

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Hope. Congratulations on your release!