Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's About the History

If you've ever wondered who writes those history books the kids bring home from school, I've got one of those people here today! Daniel Casciato talks about his history book aimed at middle schoolers, "Expansion and Reform Presidents of the United States." Daniel tells us how he balances his freelance writing with authoring books and gives his perspective on male and female writers.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m a full-time freelance writer living in Pittsburgh with my wife Amanda. I’ve been writing since 1994 on a part-time basis, working mainly evenings and weekends. Because my work load began to increase, I was finally able to resign from my full-time job on my birthday last August. I write for a number of trade magazines in the United States and Canada. I also write copy for Web sites and other marketing collateral for various business clients. Most of the business writing I do comes from referrals from local ad agencies and my current clients.

Tell us about your book, "Expansion and Reform Presidents of the United States." The years from 1801 to 1860 were a period of expansion and reform in the United States. Throughout this era, the country would expand its territory either by buying land (like the Louisiana Purchase) or acquiring it through war (Texas, California and New Mexico). This book, geared to middle school students, covers the presidents in the Expansion and Reform era, from John Quincy Adams to James Buchanan, who guided our country during this time.

How did you find a gig writing a book directed at history for middle school students?
An editor of mine told me about it. I’ve worked with him on several other projects over the years and he’s always informed me of other opportunities.

How long did it take you to research/how did you go about doing this?
It didn’t take too long because it’s a short book--48 pages. I started the research at the end of last January and it took me three weeks, about 15 hours per week, including weekends. I spent a great deal of time at the library, reading various biographies of these presidents. I spoke to some historians, and also gathered information from some Web sites, like Whitehouse.gov which included biographical sketches and portraits of all the presidents.

How long did writing and editing take?
It took me about two weeks to write and edit it. I was still working full-time at the time, so I did most of the writing in the mornings before I went to work, evenings and weekends.

Was it something you would do again?
Yes, I actually put in a bid to work on another similar project for high school students and I’m waiting to hear back.

How did book writing mix into your overall writing business plan?
My goal is to work on at least one book per year – not necessarily finish it in that year, but at least be working on at least one new book every year. I feel as though I have a good balance of writing articles for trade and consumer publications, writing copy for clients, and working on a book.

Tell us about your freelance writing, you seem very diverse, do you have an expertise and how important do you feel this is to a writing career?
I’m attracted to a wide variety of projects, therefore I have developed a more generalist skill set than that of a specialist. However, in recent years, I have done significant work in emergency medical services, commercial real estate and residential construction, corporate law, and aging-related issues.

When you were doing your book, how did you balance your day between research/writing the book and taking on immediate paying clients?
Sticking to a structured schedule allowed me to stay on task with the book while cultivating relationships with potential and current clients. If I needed to put in extra hours, I did so. I typically work 50 hours per week, but if I need to work on a project or an article that will take me more time, I’ll work extra hours in the evening, or even work a full day on the weekends, just to make sure the work gets done.

Sometimes when women say they're a freelance writer, we get that glazed look that says, "Oh, I get it, you sit around eating bon-bons all day." Do you feel, that as a man, there's more respect for you when you tell people what you do?
In my experience, I have found that people respect good writers whether you are a male or female. What matters is the writing and meeting the needs and expectations of your clients or editors.

What's next for you and where can people find your book? Where can people learn more about you?
People can find my book on Amazon.com. Just type in my name and it’ll come up in the search results. By writing part-time last year, I equaled the salary I made at my full-time job. This year, my goal is to double that. I’m also working on a television script with my best friend, another freelance writer and an aspiring actor. For more information about me, you can visit my Web site at http://www.danielcasciato.com/.


Blogger Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Kerri,

Great interview!

Daniel should be my guest sometime on Book Bites for Kids, LIVE every weekday afternoon on blogtalkradio.com.

Suzanne Lieurance
Founder, Director
The National Writing for Children Center

9:40 AM CDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

If you really did find a working formula that made you, say $1,000 a week online on average and it kept producing income no matter what, would you want to sell that idea to a bunch of noobs for $47 a pop and expect to retire on the proceeds? No way, man! It does not compute. It does not add up. And it does not make any sense to do that. I certainly don’t go shouting from the rooftops how I make my money online. Hell, I don’t want the competition taking a slice of my pie and neither would anyone who really does make good cash online.


7:17 AM CST  

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