Make Money Writing Crossword Puzzles
You might not realise it, but the crossword is still one of the most popular parts of
many newspapers... with lots of people buying a copy for that reason alone. After the front
and back page, the sport and the TV sections it's high up on the list of "most read" pages.
So there is a healthy demand for people to write and sell crossword puzzles.
This could be a great sideline opportunity for you. Especially good if you're a dedicated
crossword puzzler. But you can try it even if you're not. You don't need to be especially good
Here are seven tips on how to write crosswords:
1. Start by thinking of a theme for your puzzle. For example something like history, or
geography, travel, film and TV or famous people etc. You don't necessarily have to reveal what
your theme is to your readers. But it will make it much easier to come up with words and clues.
2. Now write a long list of words which relate to your theme. At least 25 or 30 to start
with. Everything you can think of. This will be your "word bank", to draw words from for your
puzzle. (But you don't necessarily need to use them all.)
3. Include both long and short words... but don't have many words under four letters.
Try and choose words which include lots of "often used" letters... such as the vowels A, E,
I, O, U plus S, T, L, M, N... which will be easier to fit together. Avoid too many words that
use Z, Q and X for the same reason!
4. Now get some graph paper and a pencil. Pick five or six of the longer words from your
list and try and link them together in the centre of the page, starting with a horizontal.
Now try to fit in the smaller words around them. Build up your grid from there. Finish off
by filling in the spaces with a blank.
5. Once your grid is complete number every square that contains the first letter of a
word. Divide these into two lists, one of "Across" words and another of "Down" words.
6. Now the fun begins! The next stage is to create a clue for each word. Most crosswords
either have simple clues or cryptic clues - don't mix both types in the same crossword.
7. A thesaurus is a really handy way of finding clue ideas for crosswords. You can either
buy one or find one free online. Just look up whatever your clue is and get a list of words
which mean something similar and which could be the basis of your clue.
If you're into crossword puzzling you might know that you can actually get computer programs
to help you create and⁄or solve crossword puzzles. You can use these if you wish (although
the good ones tend to be quite expensive). Also, some buyers prefer crossword puzzles that
haven't been created by a computer - so always check first.
Now to selling crossword puzzles: Most magazines and lots of magazines have crossword
puzzles and might be interested in buying your puzzles. Write to them and ask. Start with smaller
publications... not with The Times and so on!
Larger newspapers and magazines tend to have regular, in-house crossword compilers. But
don't be put off approaching those who do... they still buy puzzles from freelancers sometimes.
And this could be your foot in the door to get a job as in-house compiler in future.
One more tip when compiling puzzles for newspapers: They tend to have a fixed grid size
which they're very reluctant to change. It's also sometimes the case that the grid pattern
is EXACTLY the same with every crossword, just rotated a different way or a mirror image and
so on. So be sure to check some back issues before you write specifically for that publication.
There are also some puzzle agencies which write crossword puzzles for selling on to the
publishing industry. Here's one you could take a look at:
Clarity Media. Their website also
has lots of useful info. about puzzling.
Another place to sell your crossword puzzles is puzzle book publishers. They often have
a need for hundreds or crosswords a year. Educational publishers also need crosswords for books
and study aids which are created for children or use in schools.
To read my latest ideas for making money from writing follow
Mark Hempshell's Writers' Blog
I look forward to seeing you there.