Sunday, February 07, 2010

 

Talk to Your Readers

With freelance we tend to find ourselves writing informational pieces quite regularly. It can be a piece on how to repair something (DIY), or maybe in the creation of a craft item.

I was reading some information about a craft project that I wanted to try and I actually got bored with the way the article was written. To be honest, it was rather dry and I felt like the writer was telling me what to do. Hello, that's not nice!

Then I remembered one of my favorite authors and how she always talks to you and helps literally kick you in the butt, Natalie Goldberg. If you've read her books you know exactly what I am talking about. Just like standing in one of her mini-writing workshops, she talks to you with her writing.

Recently, I gave her techniques a try while doing a how-to piece on making a memory quilt. I must admit, it was at least a start and I am finding that more people have been interested in reading it. It has actually led to some readers asking additional questions and for ideas. This has helped me then construct my answers for each of them as if I'm sitting across the table from them having a conversation and enjoying the project that we are working on.

It's difficult to do considering that you don't have the person right there in front of you. But, I have found that if you sit there and think about your friends and how you would try to help explain to them how to do something or by visualizing and wanting to show them, it can help you to write a better piece.

Yes, like all of us, I am still learning the technique and still have a ton of kinks to work out. But, by talking to our readers, it gives them a sense that you care and want to help. As our society has changed a great deal in the last 15 years with the onset of this wonderful internet, many of us are now home-bodies and social butterflies of a different nature. We don't leave our homes like we did to socialize. Many of us only socialize through the internet. With this in mind, we need to find ways to humanize what we are writing, to make our readers feel that they matter and are in many aspects a part of our lives as well.

If you are interested in finding out how to write and speak to your readers, check out some of Natalie Goldberg's work. Her most recent release is Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir; or check out one of her older books called Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Each of these will help give you an idea of how to speak to or with your readers rather than at them or telling them.

Happy Writing!

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

 

Learn to Write for Children: Tips from Margo L. Dill

I've never tried writing for children's publications but I've always been intrigued by the idea. It must be so rewarding to reach out and entertain a child through your writing. I still remember all the articles and stories I read in magazines, such as Cricket, as a child. Maybe it's because I was so young that the stories stuck with me, or the fact that I was reading something I wanted to read for the first time.

So to gain a bit of insight into this market, I caught up with Margo L. Dill and asked her a few questions on the subject. Margo teaches the e-course Writing for Children. The course begins next Wednesday, January 13th. If this is a market you've been thinking about writing for, I urge you to visit the classroom page and sign up today.

Welcome, Margo! Like I mentioned above, I'm new to children's writing. So tell me, what are the different types of manuscripts children's magazines accept?

Margo: Children's magazines accept short stories, poems, and articles. They also accept fillers, which are pieces like recipes, puzzles, quizzes, and arts and crafts.

That's a wide variety, and it sounds like a lot of fun. If a writer wanted to craft a short story for a children's magazine, what things should she keep in mind to better target her market?

Margo: I teach about the characteristics of a children's short story during the fiction lessons because writing a short story for children is very different than writing for adults. The age of the main character is very important and should be the same age or older than the target age range. For example, if you are writing a short story for readers between 8 and 12 years old, the main character should be 11 or 12. As a rule, children don't like to read about kids younger than them or adults as main characters. The other big mistake I see made in many children's stories, and we cover this in the class, is that the child protagonist does not solve his own problem. An adult swoops in and saves the day. Children want to read about other children solving their own problems.

I never thought about it, but that makes complete sense. I think it's a good lesson too for children to learn how to solve their own problems. In your class curriculum you recommend sending a cover letter with a short story submission. Are cover letters important? Shouldn't the story stand on its own?

Margo: Writing for children is a business. If you want a magazine editor to take you seriously, then you need to learn the business. On cold submissions, magazine editors expect to see a cover letter with your submission--this includes e-mail and snail mail submissions. The cover letter should be short and simple, just like you were sending a cover letter with a job application. The job application speaks for itself, but the cover letter highlights some important points. Same is true for a short story cover letter. It should briefly explain the story, tell the word count, why the story fits in the magazine, and a few of your credentials. That's it!

Great advice, and it sounds simple enough. Let's talk nonfiction articles. You mention that it's easier to break into the children's magazine market with nonfiction. That's also true with the adult magazine market. In your opinion, how do these markets differ?

Margo: The biggest difference is that there are fewer nonfiction children's magazines than there are adult magazines, so the competition is fierce. Therefore, you have to know how to research your market and your topic to give yourself an advantage over other freelance writers. You also must write a killer query letter, which we work on in the online class. Many children's magazines have theme lists; so before you send your query, it is important to see if your idea will fit in any of the themes. Some magazines will invite queries that do not fit in any themes for possible future consideration. Writing for children is similar to writing for adults, and it should be taken just as seriously.

I bet your students love the query letter part of the class! And you seem to have had a lot of success with queries. You've had articles, short stories, poetry, activities, and recipes published in various children's publications. Quite an impressive list too, I might add! I'm sure writers who are interested in your class would love to break into these publications. But what if they don't have any clips? Is it just as important to have clips in the children's market as it is in the adult market?

Margo: Thanks, Ang. I thought the different types of manuscripts I've had published showed I was a bit scattered, but I appreciate the compliment. (Laughs) Clips are not as important in children's magazines. If you are writing strictly fiction or poetry (which I don't recommend to ONLY write these), then you don't need clips. Editors want to see the entire manuscript before they make a decision. As for fillers, you also need to send the entire manuscript unless the guidelines say otherwise. Every once and a while, a magazine editor will ask for a query for a quiz idea, instead of seeing the whole quiz first. For nonfiction articles, clips can help you get published; but in general, children's magazine editors will accept a query idea on speculation. This means if you don't have a lot of clips, you will write the article because they like your idea, but they may or may not purchase it until after they read the complete article.

That's great to know! I'm sure some of us are breathing a sigh of relief on the clip thing. So what do you ultimately hope students will learn from taking your course?

Margo: Children's writing for magazines and websites is just as tough (or maybe tougher because there are less markets) than writing for adults. It is so important to have markets in mind before you write a story, article, or poem if you want to publish your work. Creativity is important, but published writers must use their creativity to craft a publishable manuscript, or it is a waste of time. I will show my students how and where to search for markets, how to target markets, how to craft a short story and submit it, and how to write a great query for an article. I also want them to see how fillers can be quite lucrative and motivating! When I taught this class in the fall, one of my students got an acceptance for a filler from a website during the class and became an educational writer for BrightHub.com.

Thank you, Margo, for sharing some great tips with us today!

Readers, if you're interested in breaking into children's writing, remember, Margo's class Writing for Children: Everything You Need to Know About Short Stories, Articles, and Fillers starts next Wednesday, January 13, 2010. It runs for 7 weeks. Visit the classroom page to view what you'll be learning week by week. Enroll today to reserve your spot. Happy writing!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 

Navigating the black hole of writing job applications

I love writing. Really I do. Which is why I have chosen to write for a living.
As many freelance writers do, I don't put all my clients into one egg basket. Among my clients I count newspapers, electronic media, book packagers, TV producers and custom publishers. When I don't query well or when I feel I'm spending too much time researching, then it is my fault. The guilt can pile on. But I generally feel okay if I've done my best.
However, sometimes a job catches my eye and I apply for it. In ordinary times, I hopefully assume, all the applicants would be contacted. However, in these extraordinary times of MediaBistro and CraigsList postings, e-mail boxes at hiring companies are overflowing. So I am thrilled when I have applied for a writing job and have been told I've reached the first cut of writers. Contacted by the company, I know that the pool of applicants has grown a bit smaller. But that's when things get a little fuzzy.
Then, it seems, I fall into the black hole of job applicants. It's a lonely hole--not because one is actually alone, but because you don't know who your fellow travelers are. To make the journey even more awkward, you don't want to be a very squeaky wheel. In this world of social media, you become a social media pariah if you tweet your unveiled frustrations.
I know the saying is that squeaky wheels get the grease, but what if the person you squeak to uses a delete button on a whim.
"Ugh, a second e-mail from this job applicant, we'll take care of that!"
What if you remain stuck in the black hole even after a stellar interview where you "connected" and yet the potential employer never contacts you again?
"We'll let you know on Monday."
In fact, the employer refuses to respond to direct e-mails but continues to write pithy tweets while you scan for any mention of a job hiring. Do you un-follow them?
Herein lies my dilemma, I love writing for the versatility and the sheer energy I can expend on my assignments. But it is the business of freelancing that gives me a woozy feeling. One that makes me wish that I'd never applied for the job because then I wouldn't be watching my mailbox like a shunned lover. I enjoy the relationships I've built with my editors and, yes, some of them stem from blindly sending a letter of introduction. But sometimes, like today, I want to know who my fellow travelers are so I can commiserate with them and, maybe together, we can become a squeaky wheel that tells employers to give us some love...or at least some writing jobs.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at www.CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and www.TheWriteElizabeth.com, delving into creativity in everyday places. She will try not to check her e-mail and Twitter every minute today...well, maybe just every other minute. Just in case.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

 

Now, what was it that I was typing?

The calm summer months. From my youth, I recall the lilac blooms that heralded the oncoming weeks spent free and away from school. I still enjoy those calming images...and then I turn around and realize, I'm not the one who is supposed to be enjoying these months, my kids are.
But often these days, I find myself chained to my desk, trying to fit in my freelance writing business in the midst of my own kids camp, complete with 8-, 5- and 2-year old children running circles around me.
While I love being a mom, I dislike the constant battle to find the elusive, amoeba-like balance for a family. Balance such as slowing my marketing as we neared the end of the school year. Or the balance that precludes any of my fiction writing while I winnow down the paying assignments.
I left my job to stay home, take care of the kids and write. And while balance can be tricky (which is why I'm awake at 4 a.m. on days when the kids' swim meets will run into the night), I also tend to be more lax and willing to put movies on that will entertain, nonchalantly checking the running time.
"Great, an hour and 15 minutes? I can get at least get started!"
Sometimes it works well, sometimes I find myself drifting through the Internet when I last remember writing a blog post. Asleep at the keyboard, again!
I'm fortunate that I am able to work through how to start a draft while I make lunch or that I have some good friends who take pity on me, helping me to arrange a play date for one or two of my kids. Or that I can often mine daily struggles and write something about them.
However, there are days when I wish I could slow down and just enjoy my life as a mom, not only my life as a freelance writing mom. Or just maybe enjoy my life as a freelance writing mom who gets to hit the snooze button more often than not.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer who enjoys the bubbly joys of life and parenting. She also blogs at CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and TheWriteElizabeth.com, where she contemplates finding creativity in everyday places. She's going back to bed now...hopefully.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

 

Fickle editorial love?

I love writing and I love my editors. Well, on most days. Sometimes, I guess, I feel a little fickle and want to reconsider the high school job counseling which said I should become a funeral director or a beekeeper. Now, I have nothing but respect for funeral directors or beekeepers, but chose not to follow those particular areas of work. (Although I often wonder…what is it about both of those that would have suited me?)

It’s not often that my thoughts turn to those careers, until I’ve had a particularly bad day with an editor. I’ve had two recent events—interspersed with an awesome experience. Nonetheless, the bad experiences gave me pause.

One editor requested such a serious re-write that I verged on crying out “But this reeks of being a new assignment!” While I swallowed my pride, re-wrote the piece and thought of career changes, I slowly came to realize that the editor had forced me to improve the piece. Just as a teacher wants you to reach into your skill set, this editor was challenging me to better my game. Begrudgingly, I appreciated the editor’s request and will probably cherish the clip for that experience.

I have a couple clips like that. Sometimes, for me, it is hard to discern if the published piece is very good or if I pull it out as one of my clips for sentimental reasons.

In the second instance, an editor alerted me to a published article similar to a piece I had turned in days before this other story appeared. In the e-mail, I was asked if I wanted to massage my piece, based on what the other writer had written. The published piece was a different take on the same thing. While I respect the direction the other writer took, it was not the way I interpreted my assignment. I responded to the editor that I trusted the editorial direction given and would make any changes upon request.

So, while I wait for this editor’s response, why do I feel the urge to search the classifieds for jobs in the funeral industry?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach. She writes about motherhood at Coastal Carolina Moms and creativity at TheWriteElizabeth. Find her on Twitter @Eliz_Humphrey to follow the saga: will she start applying for funeral jobs? Will she dive into beekeeping? Or will her editor *pay* for a massage instead of asking her to massage the article?

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

 

Last Chance to Enroll in 3 Classes!

We have two classes starting June 1st, and one starting June 2nd:

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GET PAID TO WRITE: BECOME A FREELANCE WRITER! YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO FREELANCE WRITING BASICS, by Nicole LaMarco

START DATE: Monday, June 1, 2009

DURATION: 10 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class is for beginning freelance writers or for those who are interested in becoming freelance writers. It includes all of the basics of freelance writing: overviews of the different fields in freelance writing, what is needed to begin, how to store ideas, where to get ideas, how much you should make, where to find clients, and how to get clients.

In this class, I am your writing mentor through every lesson and every assignment. Make some extra money with your writing or create your own full-time freelance career! Learn from my personal stories, information, resources, goals, activities, lessons, and assignments. This class will provide the you with the structure and guidance you need to Get Paid to Write. A certification will be given to those who pass the entire class.

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CREATING A CHARACTER SKETCH
by Janie Sullivan

START DATE: Monday, June 1, 2009

DURATION: 3 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Developing a character sketch for each character in the story is essential to the success of the story. The writer needs to know who the characters are, what they are thinking, and why they do the things they do in order to make them believable to the reader. This course will teach writers how to develop their characters so their readers will identify with them—whether or not they like them.

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SHORT FICTION WRITING
by Gila Green

START DATE: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DURATION: 8 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Through writing exercises and classmate and instructor feedback we will delve into the fundamentals of short fiction with a view to publishable work. We will explore a variety of craft elements including: character, plot, point of view, description, dialogue, setting, pacing, voice and theme.

Course objectives:

  1. To complete at least one work that is publishable.
  2. To encourage you to read published short fiction including, short stories, personal essays and flash fiction (Fiction under 800 words).
  3. To increase your confidence and skills as a writer.
  4. To develop a foundation for the skills of crafting, editing, and revising.
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Visit the Classes Page for full details:
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

 

A Recent Re-Focus

This past week, I realized that my writing was all over the place; I was not using my time to the best of my ability; AND I was just not happy with my results. Am I ever going to finish this YA novel I've been working on for the past four years? Am I ever going to send out all those picture book manuscripts I have? Exactly what do I want to do with my writing career?

So, after a bit of introspection, I realized that I need to reassess my goals and to figure out a new game plan. I have a bit of writer burn-out, and this can be dangerous. Here are some questions I asked myself to discover where I want to go with my writing career. I thought I would share them with you in case you are feeling the same way.
  1. What is my ultimate writing goal? To be a book author? Freelance magazine writer? Support my family on my income? Enjoy a writing life?
  2. How much money do I need to make right now to help my family?
  3. Do I have enough regular writing jobs to make this amount of money?
  4. How can I best spend my writing time each day to reach the answer to question number one?

After answering these questions, I realized that

  1. My ultimate goal is to be a children's book author. I want to have several children's books published and do workshops at schools for children. This will incorporate my love of education with my love of writing.
  2. I won't disclose this amount, however, what I realized is that I can sub only part time instead of full time. This, of course, gives me more writing time. So, I need to write to make up the difference.
  3. Yes, I do. I am spending so much time on the freelance job boards and querying magazines that I am not focusing on my four regular gigs each month as well as a couple repeats that I have every couple months. This doesn't mean I won't check out the job boards once a week or read my Premium-Green issue from cover to cover, but I don't need to be on the freelance sites every day for every job.
  4. I need to stop querying so many national magazines and focus on my children's book work and my regular freelance work. I need to stay focused

I did all this soul-searching on a walk, which is really helpful (and good for you, too!). I've felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders ever since. Even if I had 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week to write, I could not have finished all the projects that I was trying to do before I became re-focused. And I don't want to spend that much time writing. I love writing, but I also love my family, reading, a few TV shows, walking, and scrapbooking.

Frankly, I've discovered there has to be balance and focus. I hope in a month or two if you ask me how it's going, I can still say how focused I am. We all concentrate on goals at the beginning of the year; but then after a few months, they often fall by the wayside, or we realize they were unrealistic. It's okay to take some time and reassess. It might be the best thing you ever did for your career!

Happy re-focusing!
Margo Dill

http://www.margodill.com/

http://margodill.com/blog/ (Read These Books and Use Them)

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Monday, April 20, 2009

 

Explaining publishing to an alien, or just a family member

Lately, while trying to describe my writing projects to friends and family, I've realized how publishing and writing has it's own different language, but I never thought of how much of a different culture it might be, as well. I take it for granted that "books," "magazines," "agents," and "publishers" are general terms over which we can all find a common ground.
Sure, I blog for part of my living. I understand that the business aspect can seem quite alien. Mention Twitter and there is the patronizing chuckle and, "So, you are on Twitter?"
However, I find it strange that members of my family, who are well versed in Facebook and Goggle, seem intimidated by finding my words on the screen. Countless times I've been told, after e-mailing a link regarding posts on my open blog, "I would have read that, but I couldn't possibly figure out how to get in." And yet they can conduct online research about an obscure vacation destination and post photos from their time there on Flickr.
I've been working on a book for a collaboration, which is pretty straight-forward
. I mean, I've written the book proposal and submitted it, so I was able to explain the subject for 20+ pages. (Okay, well the jury may still be out on that statement!) It is the traditional publishing route: proposal, agent, publisher.
But then I realize that for many, who write a resume to apply for a job, the business process of writing IS from a different planet. Think about it: you want someone to pay you for your time, effort and energy for the job to write a book. But instead of just presenting your credentials and passing through the gate, you need to, in the case of fiction, finish your work or, in the case of nonfiction, have done a lot of research and market research. Often while holding down the daily job that does accept a resume and allows you in.
I'm glad that I love to write and, I guess, I don't mind that my family and friends can't seem to find my blogs or Tweets. (Perhaps the Internet is as open as you want it to be?)
But I think I'll take my mother's suggestion and keep my resume polished. Just in case my latest job application of collaborating on a book doesn't pan out.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for
CoastalCarolinaMoms. She has her own blog, TheWriteElizabeth, where she contemplates how to fill her day with joy and wonder, bypassing all (or most!) negativity and angst...particularly about the business aspect of writing.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

 

When did I become such a mercenary?

I'm a writer. I'm a blogger. Yep. We established that a few posts back. But here's my dilemma.... Am I a writer because I get paid to write? Or because writing is my creative outlet? Or both? Or neither?
If I write an article for a magazine or newspaper and I am paid that feeds the belief that I am a writer. If I blog and I'm not paid--in the same manner as a print article--does that feed the same belief that I'm a writer/blogger?
The reason I ask is that frequently, as a writer, I've been asked by friends about their becoming a writer. I recommend a few books, wish them luck and, if they find their skin is thick enough, we enjoy future discussions about this editor or that one. It's part of the networking of writers. But go to a writers' conference and, friendly and fun as it may be, we're all in line to pitch the same editor, competing with one another. Just as my mentoring writer friends did with me, when my friends want to understand how the business works and I'm happy to encourage them, suggest some books and then let them go find their way.
Blogging seems to work in the reverse. At blogging conferences, it seems, there is a joi d'vivre and everyone is happy to see and meet everyone else. There isn't the same competition. My blog is mine, yours is yours. We reach different audiences and I don't have to convince an editor to buy my ideas or words.
More and more I'm being approached to talk to friends and acquaintances who want to start their own blog. But blogging has a technical and business element that is missing from writing for magazines. The talks are more in depth, balancing technology, terminology and the business of writing. Is it wrong to want to monetize these talks? Do you have this dilemma? I hope this analogy works, but could it be the difference between the casual cocktail party conversation talking about your health with a doctor and making an appointment to actually talk to a doctor?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer and can hardly wait to stop thinking money and starting thinking creativity...or at least gardening. Check it out at TheWriteElizabeth. In between answering comments, she'll be playing in the dirt...flower and vegetable seeds at the ready.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

 

Pockets of daily writing time

Recently I spoke with someone who seemed amazed that I can write as much as I do and be the mother of three. Some of the amazement, I think, comes from people who don't feel comfortable writing wondering how those of us who do feel comfortable can spend our time writing. Certainly I can look at people in other careers and wonder how they do what they do for hours at a time.

There are weeks I don't feel nearly as productive as others, including this past week which was consumed by pitches, queries, marketing activities...and caring for my family. But today, when I had time between picking up the kids and scheduled interviews, I realized how different my writing schedule may seem from other writers. Some carve out large chunks of time and my writing professors always seemed to recommend big blocks of time to write.

But for me, I find that often I am firing forth during pockets of time when my kids are occupied with naps or homework. When I do have stretches of time, I tend to flit about on different projects within those chunks of time. Oddly, this works for me. Even when working on an article, I'm able to pull away and return without losing too much of the thread. (Or so I like to think!)

What is your writing work habit? Is it developed from a necessity or is it the way you have always done things?

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Monday, March 09, 2009

 

Fueling the creative fire

As I get geared up for offering a few local, free seminars on reconnecting with creativity, I've been diving into a lot of books on writing and, of course, books about creativity. I've been focused on lessons of creativity for the attendees. Of course, one of the elements of creativity I keep running into is the fact that reaching into creativity is often not a linear path.

I spend a lot of time writing and I know how hard I may work on a piece and how much time I may spend editing it. Spinning a creative phrase or teasing up an image. I take pride in what I write and try to fine tune it as much as possible. (Although, admittedly, I don't always catch every mistake much as I would like to!) But frequently, I wish my craft would take a back seat and let my creativity take over. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time over working and over thinking a few queries and essays and not hitting my stride on figuring out the angles to a few pitches. My creativity seemed tapped out, even though words still arrive on the page.

So, after a couple weeks of endless deadlines, frigid days, and children getting sick, I spent last week reconnecting with friends and letting e-mails pile up, instead of sitting in front of a computer. In doing so, I realized how talking with people can add fuel to my creativity. The exchange of ideas can reach inside and re-stoke the flames of creativity.

Laughing and spending time with people has not only helped re-energize me for the upcoming week and its projects, but it has given me insight into a few queries I've been working on.

Such an enjoyable week made me glad that creativity is not linear--and that sometimes we need to walk away from our creative selves to find them again.

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Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer spending more time each day seeking creativity in every aspect of her day. Even if that happens to be creative sleeping and dreaming.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

 

What does it take to enjoy ALL your writing?

For the past couple days, I haven't been enjoying my writing and I blame my lack of time for my creative work.

I seem to just churn out assignment after assignment while the querying machine is working overtime and I'm giving my Web site a badly needed overhaul. Meanwhile, my creative projects remain buried, my journal is gathering dust and I feel exhausted. But I convince myself it is okay, because I'm able to bill for my time. I'll catch up on these other projects later.

In this economy, it seems foolhardy not to keep up the marketing and the queries to stay in front of every editor possible. But during the time when I love being paid to write, I forget to spend time on the writing that gives me joy. I scurry about, working to prove that I should be hired and that I am worthy of the next assignment.

Just like making time to exercise or spend time with friends or family, creative projects (in my case creative writing) help to give me the fuel for other projects. Instead of excluding these projects as a waste of time because of the bottom line, they need to be embraced during the week and nurtured.

Obviously, we have responsibilities to handle throughout our week, but creativity and fueling our own passions will keep us healthier and happier in the long run.

Are there times when you aren't enjoying your writing? What is it that you blame? How do you get around it? What are some of the things that inspire you to write?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer, columnist and blogs for wilmaville. She will be writing in her journal later today. She promises. Really. At least after she finishes this one article....

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

 

Been Stiffed? Steps to Getting Paid

There's been a lot of talk lately about slow paying or *gasp* non-paying markets and what a writer should do when this happens. It's a dilemma that practically every business faces. And as a freelance writer, you're certainly a "business." If this has happened to you, here are a few tips on collecting payment.

** This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Premium-Green, More Than Your Magic 8-Ball (Sept '08)

Steps to get paid

Step 1: If you have sent an invoice and the client hasn’t paid you within the time frame, send him a notice with a late fee. Include another deadline of 15 days for payment and let him know that he will be charged another late fee if payment isn’t remitted on time. You may also want to remind him that copyright does not transfer to him until the work has been paid for in full. Make sure you include all your contact information: your phone number, mailing address, and email address.

Step 2: If the client hasn’t made any effort to contact you within 15 days, give him a call. Be polite, professional, and firm. Most people want to pay their bills. If he asks to set up a payment plan, make sure you are prepared for this or he may walk all over you. If he wants to break it up into 2 or 3 payments, make sure you calculate your late fee into each payment. Whatever you do, don’t let him talk you into paying $10 a month, or something ridiculous like that. It could take him a year to pay you!

If you are unable to get a hold of your client by phone, send a certified letter with return receipt requested. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but it’s good to be prepared. It lets him know that you mean business. Unfortunately, if you did not have him sign a contract before the work was completed, you won’t win in small claims court.

Step 3: If the previous efforts have been fruitless, it’s safe to say that the bridge is officially burned. But don’t worry; there are still a few things you can do.

If you’re a member of a National Writer’s Union or another organization for writers, it’s time to make a phone call. Your union representative can help mediate disputes with clients. You may also want to report his business to the Better Business Bureau.

Another option to consider is hiring a collection agency. If you choose to go this route, there are a few things to look for:

  • Look for an agency that works with small or home-based businesses.
  • Make sure the agency is licensed in the state your debtor is located.
  • Verify that the collection agency employs skip tracing. Skip tracing allows the agency access to various databases to locate the debtor in case he’s moved with no forwarding address (skipped town).
  • Make sure the collection agency has Errors and Omissions insurance. This insurance protects your business and the collection agency in case the debtor decides to sue.
  • Compare costs. Collection agencies earn income based on either a set fee or on a contingency basis. The contingency is based on a percentage of the debts collected. Before choosing whether to agree to a set fee or contingency, find out the collection agency’s success ratio and contingency fee percentage.

Step 4: If none of the above has worked, it’s time to cut your losses and move on. Yeah, it sucks, but without having drawn up a contract in the beginning, there is not much you can do. You’ve just learned a valuable lesson...the hard way.

The best way to protect yourself is to have a contract in place and signed by both parties before you do any work.

Now I want to know: have you ever been stiffed? Do you use contracts?

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

 

Question: What bothers you when reading submissions?

Recently, Evelyn Marentette, a WOW! Spring '07 flash fiction winner, interviewed Annette and I for Pam Casto's newsletter Flash Fiction Flash. She asked some great questions about our submission process, our contest, etc. Here are two from the interview freelancers would interested in.

(Photo credit: Flickr Mr. Wright)

Q: What do you consistently see that bothers you most when reading submissions?

A: Biggest irritation: when writers query without having read our publication. WOW! is very obviously a women's writing website; yet, we still receive submissions about beauty and fashion. Be aware of the types of features we publish. Don't submit personal essays when you see we publish how-to articles and author interviews. That also means checking the word count. WOW! articles are content rich and more like print magazines when it comes to length. The standard 500-600 word online article is about 1500 words too short for us.

Also, check the editor's desk section for whom to address in your query. We've actually received submissions addressed to "Dear Sir." Run spell check and grammar check. Read your email query aloud. Do whatever you need to do to make sure your query is clean-correct spelling, solid grammar, and proper punctuation. If a writer doesn't take the time and effort to make sure her query is immaculate, we know she'll be just as careless with her submission.

We often receive emails from writers who say they would like to write for WOW!, but have no idea what they have to offer. What is your expertise? Figure it out so you can bring something to the table. We are always looking for fresh voices, but you have to be able to provide content that has value to our readers.

Q: After a day spent delving into the slushpile, can you tell us what compels you to accept one piece of writing over another?

A: At WOW!, there really isn't a "slush pile." All queries and submissions are given equal attention and considered on their own merit. The query evaluation process includes questions that have to be answered. Is it a topic that would be of interest to our readers? Does the freelancer have the expertise to write the article she is proposing? Has she fully fleshed-out her idea? Has she listed sources, or prospective sources for quotes? Does she have a strong voice? Has she come up with a unique title? We may not use the title for the published article, but if it's memorable--like "How to Hog-tie an Agent,"--it keeps the query on our minds, rather than getting lost in the mix with all the queries titled: "How to Get an Agent."

Queries should include clips or some sort of writing sample; at the very least, a link to a blog post written like a how-to article. If you are serious about freelancing, you should have a blog that showcases your writing ability.

For submissions, show us that you know how to structure an article for the web: subheadings, short paragraphs, bullet lists, sidebars, a content-rich article with no excessive wordiness.

Don't send out anything less than your best work. If you expect to get paid, make sure what you write is worth the money.

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In a nutshell, WOW! is a fun site, but we're very picky about our content. We know that writers rely on us for expert advice, so we only accept articles with true take-away value. Every article is gone over with a fine-toothed editing comb. Another tip: we use The Chicago Manual of Style for all of our articles. If you're querying us, please be familiar with the guide. It's the publishing bible.

Today is my day for going over past queries and subs in preparation for "pitch-fest" in the PG group tomorrow where I will be fielding queries and answering questions about content on the boards. It's my first time doing something like this and it should be fun! If you're a member of PG, be sure to stop by from 12 PM - 2 PM (Pacific time). :)

To view our submission guidelines, visit our Contact Page and scroll down to the subheading "Submissions." Currently, we are looking for articles to fit our upcoming themes: children's writing, and romance writing.

Now I want to know: are you a freelancer? How has the market been for you lately? Any tips you want to share?

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Monday, October 27, 2008

 

Collection Tips

by LuAnn Schindler

A freelance writer assumes multiple roles. Not only do you determine editorial content (you ARE the writer and editor), but you also are responsible for researching topics, finding a home for your work, marketing your stories AND yourself, and devising an accounting system that works.

Within that last role, not only are you responsible for sending invoices and paying the bills, but at some point, you will have to be the collections enforcer. Establish a system for accounts receivable and share it with potential clients before you find yourself chasing the money trail of slow paying clients.

Here are some tips that will make collecting payment an easy endeavor:
  • Get it in writing. A contract needs to spell out the terms of payment, including if you need to send an invoice, when the invoice should be sent, and how much you will earn. Also ask if the invoice should be sent via mail, email, or fax. If you write for a foreign market, ask the publisher to include how the payment will be sent (company check, international money order, PayPal). You might also want to include language about the exchange rate so there aren't any surprises when you receive your payment.
  • Ask for payment in advance. This is especially applicable for copywriters. Explain you require a retainer before you begin work on a project. Some magazines might balk at paying for an article sight unseen, especially if you are new to the magazine. But, if you have established yourself with the publication, they may consider the advance.
  • Submit contracted articles on time. You are a professional, and you need to meet the deadline agreed upon.
  • Invoice on time. Submit invoices per the contract language. This should assure that the check will be in the mail. If you invoice past the deadline, payments will naturally be delayed; writers should not expect a company to adjust its accounting system because the writer did not meet this deadline.
  • Follow up on a late payment. Most publications work on a Net 30 system. If payment is not received within the specified time, call the publisher and work out a time frame when you can expect to receive payment. Be polite! It is possible the missed payment is a simple oversight. If you do not receive a response (or check) within an agreed period of time, work through the accounting chain of command to receive payment.

The writer-as-collection-agent isn't always a fun aspect of your creative mindset, but it is a necessary role that needs to be filled, especially if you want to receive payment.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

 

The Organized Writer's Six Rules

by Julie Hood, OrganizedWriter.com

Are you trying to get organized so you have more time to write? Here are six rules guaranteed to make you more productive and more organized when you add them to your life.

1. Work with Yourself, Not Against Yourself

When you're trying to become more organized, it's tempting to try and fit into the existing organizing system of an "expert." They seem organized and they promise that if you try it, you'll be organized, too.

What's more effective is to understand your personality and what works for you. There are MANY solutions and you may have to experiment to find the system that best fits the way you work--your mind, your body and the way you think. And this might be a combination of ideas from many different experts.

Give something new a fair trial, but if after a month or so it feels awkward or counterintuitive, let it go and find something else!

2. Focus and Pay Attention

If you find that you always seem to be busy but that you never have anything to show for it, this could be the most important tip for you.

When possible, do one thing at a time. Don't let your mind or hands wander to another task. Picture the finished project in your mind, and focus only on that. Get in the "zone" � you're able to be so much more effective when you're giving your whole mind, thought and attention.

When we split our attention between different tasks ("multi-tasking"), most likely none of them will get done right, if at all. As well, you can find yourself in a perpetual state of having many "open projects" started but not completed. Each project moves forward just an inch at a time.

If you choose ONE, you can move it forward to completion much faster. To choose one, you need to estimate which project will give you the best results when it's finished. It sometimes takes an outside perspective and feedback to help you make that choice, and a coach is a great tool for this.

Putting aside other projects clears the clutter from your mind, attention, desk, workload and focus.

3. Invest Your Time

Just like we invest our money, we have to invest our time in the best way. Setting up your new organizing systems can be considered an investment.

Applying this tip can have the greatest impact on your level of organization. By investing your time at the beginning of a project to examine how you can complete it most efficiently, you can save yourself a lot of frustration later. Saving just 20 minutes each day gives you an extra 120 hours each year.

For example, set-up a mailing station with all of the supplies you'll need to ship out book orders. You can also set-up a schedule of weekly errands such as the bank and the post office. If you know you'll be heading out to the post office on Wednesday, then when an order comes in on Friday you don't need to stop what you're doing and prepare that order immediately. You know you have a different time set aside for shipping.

4. Make a Habit of It

Once you have these plans in place, work at making them a habit. You can create a new habit (or lose a bad one!) in 21 days. For only three weeks of effort, you can create a lifetime of good working habits.

As you are creating a habit, you'll need some kind of trigger to remind you to do it � alarms on your computer (i.e. Outlook or PDA), a "to do" list or a written schedule for the day with time blocked out for your specific tasks.

Start small with one new habit at a time, and then see if you can add more (pull back if it gets to be too much).

5. Use the Right Tools

Make sure you have the right tools handy when you need them.

From the low-tech (I only use retractable pens � the kind that "click" on and off � because there's no caps to lose!) to the high-tech, there are many ready-made solutions out there to keep you organized. As we mentioned in Rule #1, it's important to find tools that work FOR YOU.

Another example � did you know that if you use PayPal as your shopping cart, they're automatically tied in with the US Post Office and you can print your shipping labels right from the PayPal site? This has been a huge time-saver for me when shipping my Organized Writer CDs.

6. Work Forward

Organize for your work ahead; don't organize what's already finished. We're often tempted to organize our old bills, receipts and invoices. Sometimes we're afraid or hesitant to move forward until we've finished old stuff.

It's much more important to set-up the system and files for what�s coming at you next. Look at what has been creating the biggest stress in your life and start by improving that area going forward. Then, when you have more of your future work under control, you can deal with the old paperwork (the old bills, receipts and invoices).

As you work on bringing these six rules into your life, you�ll be amazed at how much more time and energy you have to pursue your writing and remember the number one rule � only use what works for YOU!

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Ever wonder how much you could write if you were just more organized? Find out when you subscribe to the newsletter at Organized Writer. Julie Hood is the author of the ebook, The Organized Writer: 30 Days to More Time, More Money and Less Frustration.

Article Source: http://www.directorys.uniquearticles.info


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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

 

Mistake Noted

Not too long ago in my zest and zeal to send out query letters, I began coming up with ideas for queries that related to life as I was living it. And how was I living, you may ask? During this rampant, query-writing fest I had a two-and-a-half year old running around and a two-month old nursing every 3 hours. Life was crazy, and maybe I can blame the query faux pas I committed on sleep deprivation and hormone fluctuations.

I came up with what I thought was the greatest idea for a story: how to breastfeed in public. My own mom didn’t give me many tips except “Just put a blanket over your shoulder,” and the lactation nurses weren’t much more helpful (they told me to just wear big shirts). I figured if I was having a hard time other moms were probably having a hard time, too, and would appreciate a how-to article that showed them the ropes.

I had my sources lined up, a body of research and I knew which magazine I was going to pitch the story to: American Baby Magazine. I looked through old issues to make sure that they hadn’t covered my exact topic but found that they did lots of articles about feeding new babies.

I wrote the query, thinking that I had the golden ticket for making it in the glossies with this pitch. With trepidation, I mailed off my query and began to wait. The odd thing was I didn’t have to wait very long.

I received back a letter a week later that said thanks but no thanks. Instead of being devastated, truthfully I was a little relieved. After all of my research on different tips and tricks for breastfeeding in public, I had exhausted my brain on the topic and it was no longer very interesting to me. I was glad was not to be required by an editor to make that story happen.

My relief aside, I did want to understand why the story was rejected. I don’t know for sure but some clarity came a few weeks later when I was telling a friend about that particular query. I told her it was about breastfeeding in public and she looked at me almost startled.

“Omigosh, Sue,” she said, “that is such a controversial topic. Ask three women about it and you’d get four opinions back. If I was an editor I wouldn’t want to touch that topic with a ten-foot pole.”

I sat there a little more than stricken by my friend’s bluntness, but I thought she was right. In all my research, in all my consideration of whether or not women would want to hear about my topic, I had not taken into account that the subject of breastfeeding in public was too taboo for that particular magazine. Now, if I had pitched it to, say an OB nurse quarterly, or a publication of the La Leche League, perhaps I would have gotten a different response. Since I chose to pitch it to a national magazine that needs to carefully take into account the sensibilities and opinions of a wide audience, I’m not surprised that this one was quickly overlooked.

Of course, I don’t know for sure why this query was rejected by that magazine; there could have been many other reasons besides the topic being controversial. Through the experience, though, I learned to take into consideration a different aspect of what a publication may look for or avoid in an article.

-Susan L. Eberling

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

 

Freelance Writing Job Opportunity from eHow


eHow is Looking for Writers of All Levels to Contribute to Their Growing Library of How-To Articles!

Would you like access to over 17 million people a month? Write for eHow and put your work in front of this highly engaged audience while also earning money for your articles.

Become an eHow Writer Today!

Joining our writer community is fast and simple. Once you register and opt in to our Writer Compensation Program, you can immediately start uploading articles and making money.

As part of our Writer Compensation Program, eHow Writers make money on the articles they submit. Payments are generally based on the traffic the article receives and the quality and uniqueness of the content. We also encourage our writers to promote their articles on their own websites and blogs.

Why Write for eHow?

Our easy to follow article template helps you quickly format and upload your articles. You choose the title and write the body of the article by filling in detailed step-by-step instructions. Add any tips or images readers will need to complete your How-To. Then pick a category, and you're ready to submit.

eHow Writers enjoy these benefits and more!
- Publish articles on topics of your choice
- Receive payments through your PayPal account every month
- Participate in contests and promotions that allow you to earn more money
- Learn from and interact with the eHow community through comments and ratings
- Drive more traffic to your articles and improve your rankings with the help of our Writer's Academy
- Take advantage of our member profile area where you can manage your articles, see pageviews and ratings, promote your other sites and more

How to Get Started

1. Visit eHow.com and create a user account.
2. Remember to opt in to our Writer Compensation Program by filling in your payment details here.
3. Pick a topic and start writing!

WOW! Women On Writing Columnist, Margo Dill, writes for eHow:
"I plan to continue to write for eHow and Demand Studios for an indefinite amount of time because it has been a rewarding and valuable experience. eHow's template and easy-to-use format makes it simple to write articles for the whole world to read." ~ Margo L. Dill

Give it a shot, it's FREE to sign-up!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

 

Interview with Allie Comeau, Runner-Up in 2008 Winter Flash Fiction Contest

2008 Flash Fiction Winter Contest Runner-Up, Allie Comeau, is a freelance writer living in Fort Collins, CO with her wonderful husband and two extremely energetic dogs. Allie studied Creative Writing at the University of Arizona and feels truly blessed to be able to make a living doing what she loves. Allie writes an active lifestyle blog for Sierra Trading Post and has been published in print magazines and online. She enjoys writing of all kinds – both fiction and nonfiction. Right now, she’s working on several projects and hopes to finish her first novel very soon.

If you haven't read Allie's winning short story yet, "Staring at Soles," please do so at http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/downloads/printable/20-FE1-Winter08Contest-AllieComeau.html . Read on to see where Allie gets her ideas and inspiration for her writing!

WOW!: Allie, congratulations on your story, "Staring at Soles", winning runner-up in the Flash Fiction contest. Your story is full of emotion. Was it hard to fit all that emotion into a story with limited words?

Allie: Thank you! When I wrote this story, it just poured out so quickly I didn’t really have time to think about it. It’s just an emotional subject. The moment when a woman decides to leave her husband – I can only imagine it would be one of the most emotional moments in her life. I just tried to convey that. My copywriting experience definitely came in handy here – I’ve learned to write tightly and leave out unnecessary words.

WOW!: That is very important in writing flash fiction or any kind of fiction, really--leaving out unnecessary words! You also were able to add quite a bit of back story into this flash fiction piece since it is important the reader knows that Laura has been through this before. How difficult was working in the back story?

Allie: I knew I wanted this story to be about a woman deciding to leave a man, but I wasn’t sure why she was going to leave him until I started writing it. The back story just came to me and it was easily told in her thoughts and her realization that the situation was never going to change. It had happened before, it’s happening now, and it would happen again. It just worked.

WOW!: It seems like several authors work the same way as you. They know where they are going with the story but not quite sure how they are getting there. It is AMAZING and worked well for you when an author watches the story unfold before her eyes. Was it easy for you to come up with your title? How do you usually choose titles for your work?

Allie: Actually, I used to be petrified of titles. They’re so important – if the title is bad, readers might never get to the first page. But now I look at them as opportunities to intrigue the reader. Someone told me the best way to title your work is to find a statement, image, or description that really stands out within the story and steal it. If there isn’t one, then you need to worry about more than the title.

WOW!: Great advice. Thanks for sharing that tip with us. What themes do you like to explore in your fiction? Do the themes in "Staring at Soles" exemplify what you typically write about?

Allie: Ah, that’s my problem. I like to explore everything. Lately, however, I’ve become fascinated with specific moments in time – life-changing moments when someone makes a decision that radically alters the course of his or her life. What are the motivating factors behind the decision? What was the impetus? I just think it’s so interesting.

WOW!: And that theme probably supplies a lifetime of writing ideas. We'll look forward to reading more of your work, exploring the life-changing moment theme. In your bio, you stated you enjoy writing fiction and nonfiction. What other fiction pieces have you written? What types of nonfiction pieces have you written?

Allie: I enjoy writing nonfiction pieces about things I’m interested in, like health & fitness, the environment (I’m a total tree hugger), animals and travel. But writing nonfiction about things I’m unfamiliar with is fun, too. It can be extremely educational. My dream job would be to write for National Geographic – that would be it for me. As for fiction, it’s all over the map. I’m working on a little collection right now about those moments in time I mentioned above.

WOW!: What a great way to look at writing nonfiction. It does give us a chance to learn about something new or explore a topic more in depth. Have you had luck publishing or winning awards with fiction and nonfiction work?

Allie: I don’t know if there’s much luck involved in publishing – more like plain old perseverance. I sent out query after query for a year before I landed my first article. It’s tough to get assignments without clips. But it’s finally starting to happen. I have an article slated for the August issue of Delicious Living Magazine, a national health magazine that sells in Whole Foods, and I publish regularly now in a Northern Colorado magazine called Style. I’ve also been published in the local community paper and various websites online. This is my first published fiction piece, though, so I’m pretty excited about it.

WOW!: Congratulations on your perseverance and success! That is very exciting, and we are glad that WOW! could publish your first fiction piece. Your bio also states that you write a blog. Please tell us about it.

Allie: I write an active lifestyle blog for an outdoor gear retailer. I publish seven days a week and cover all the things I enjoy writing about – health & fitness tips, green tips, outdoor news, adventure travel, etc. It’s so fun that sometimes I forget it’s a job. I really enjoy it.

WOW!: What a great writing job. We will definitely need to check that out. You write full time for your career, according to your bio. What is your daily routine like? What types of writing help pay the bills?

Allie: I love the freedom that comes with freelancing. I work more than ever, but it’s on my own terms and that, to me, is well worth it. I start the day off researching and writing that day’s blog post, networking a bit online, and then I use the rest of the afternoon for other projects, assignments, querying, creative writing, and marketing my writing business. People are surprised that I can stay so focused working from home. It’s not difficult in the least because I love what I’m doing and want to be successful. As for the bills, copywriting and blogging are taking care of those for the time being.

WOW!: Thank you for sharing with us your typical writing day. Many freelancers wonder how other writers organize their day and stay focused. These tips are great! You are also working on a novel. Can you tell us a little about it?

Allie: I would like to, but the same person who taught me how to title also told me that you should never talk about an unfinished work before it’s time. If you let the cat out of the bag too early, it may never come back. Plus, I don’t really know what’s going to happen yet myself. I’ll keep you posted, though!

WOW!: Thanks for keeping us posted, and for letting us in on the advice that a mentor gave you. We can all learn so much from each other. What advice do you have for other writers who would like to enter a WOW! writing contest?


Allie: Rewrite and rewrite until you’re happy with each and every word. With only 500 words, each one has to count. Other than that, just go for it and don’t be afraid to put your writing out there. Oh, and good luck!

WOW!: Thank you, Allie, it has been fun and interesting getting to know you. If you want to read more about Allie, check out her blog at http://blog.sierratradingpost.com or her website at www.alliecomeau.com . You can also email her at alliecomeau@gmail.com .

Happy Writing to everyone!
Margo Dill
http://www.margodill.com/

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

 

The Birth of the Digital Newsstand

Did you know that digital magazines are booming? It’s a market that has been out for less than five years, but it’s just now beginning to take off, and I can understand why. Have you ever wanted to read a magazine right now, at the very moment you think about it, but you can’t get to the bookstore, newsstand, or market? I know I have. Well, now you can go to a virtual newsstand and purchase that publication to view immediately. Not only can you read your favorite magazine right away, you can also interact with the content. Some magazines even go a step further--adding video and audio to the mix. I know nothing beats sitting down with a magazine and leafing through the glossy goodness, but it’s great to have that option available at your fingertips.

One of those sites is http://www.zinio.com, which calls itself "The World’s First 24/7 Global Newsstand" and has over 850 titles from 20 countries to choose from. Readers can purchase single issues or subscriptions, and read the magazines anytime, from any location, and in any language. Here’s a screenshot:


What does this mean to freelance writers?
In my opinion, I don’t think it will affect us at all. In fact, it may help. Statistics from "Digital Magazine Study" show that readers are more likely to visit advertiser’s sites on a digital version as opposed to print. That means that publishers can track the effectiveness of ads in real time--and we all know that a magazine with a lot of ads has more money to spend on freelance writers. In addition, writers may also receive extra payment for publishing the same piece online. Bonus!

What does this mean to publishers? By going digital, publishers lessen print and circulation costs, gain real time statistics, interactivity, and strengthen their brand. They also have the ability to tap into markets that may have been out of their reach before, such as international. On the production side, it’s not that much different than putting out a print magazine. There are companies that will take the print files that are done in programs such as InDesign, and convert them to a web friendly version, complete with analytics, rich media, and social capability. Sites such as:

www.nxtbookmedia.com
www.olivesoftware.com
www.texterity.com
www.imirus.com
www.editionduo.com
www.advancedpublishing.com
www.pressmart.net

But are readers willing to make the total switch? I still enjoy curling up with a good book or magazine, but like the idea of being able to view something immediately if I’m researching information. What do you think?

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

Freelance Writers' Contract

The current issue of ASJA Monthly (the publication of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc.) contains the official new Freelance Writers' Contract for its members. It turns out, obviously, that it's a pretend contract ASJA President Russell Wild crafted as a discussion piece. Take a look:

1. The description of the article is as follows:

Name of article: ______________ Length ____________ Due date _________

2. Author will retain full ownership of copyright in the Article. In consideration of the sum of [minimum of $3.00/word], Author grants to [insert name of publication], first North American Serial Rights only. Any other usage in any other medium now known or developed in the future, will be subject to substantial additional payment, to be negotiated.

3. All edits or revisions of the article must be approved by the Author.

4. It is agreed that Publication’s rights shall be exclusive for only 30 days after first publication.

5. Author shall be paid in full within one week of submission of article. Late payments will incur interest charges of 5 percent per week.

6. If article is not published within 60 days of submission, all rights accruing to Publication under this contract shall be null and void, and all rights shall immediately revert to Author.

7. Publication agrees to name Author as an additional insured under all insurance policies carried by Publication, and further, Publication agrees to fully defend and indemnify Author for any and all claims that may be brought against the Author or Publication by any wackjob for any reason whatsoever. All legal fees shall be borne by Publication and no claim for contribution by Author shall be made by Publication.

8. Any dispute over this contract shall be adjudicated in the hometown of the Author, or may possibly be subject to arbitration by a panel of freelance writers handpicked by the Author.

Wild calls his contract version "a pipedream," although he advocates serious negotiation with publishers to get the best terms possible.

"Remember that everything within a contract is fair grounds for negotiation," author Jenna Glatzer says in a past Writer's Digest article. "Your goal should be to sell the fewest rights for the highest fee, payable quickly after submission. You can also strike better deals for the inclusion of a bio-note or advertisement for your business, extra payment for extra services (like photos and sidebars), and a high kill fee if such terms are necessary."

There is often room for bargaining with the editor, so give it a shot. It can't hurt to ask and you may get more of what you deserve.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

 

Writers Write, Right?

I’m certain you have heard this sentiment expressed again and again but it does, indeed, make sense. How can one call herself a writer if she isn’t putting pen to paper or tap-tap-tappity-tapping on the keys of her MacBook? Well, not too long ago I had to evaluate this exact notion for myself.

I’ve been calling myself on and off for nearly 20 years. I was, of course, most prolific in my early teens when every new heartache or adult reprimand manifested itself into a truly awful poem that dripped of undying teen angst. How I wish I were that way again. No, not emo and angsty, but rather, still turning to the page to express thoughts no matter how whimsical they may be.

As many of you know, we are now in the thick of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I thought this would be a brilliant way for me to get into the habit of writing everyday. After all, writers write, right? We are on day 8 of said NaNo and I officially have 794 words dedicated to my novel. That’s nearly a whopping 100 words a day and only slightly shy of the 1,667 words needed daily to arrive at the coveted 50,000 words come midnight of November 30.

At first I felt like a failure for not banging away at my keyboard and producing the words that No Plot, No Problem! encouraged me to crank out. I, once again, felt I was not a real writer. I was ready to throw away my latest copy of Writer’s Market and cancel my subscription to Paste magazine. (The latter really has nothing to do with writing, but rather something I enjoy and in my dramatic fit I felt I needed to practice self-deprivation for being bad.)

But then I had a better way to look at this. (Never mind the fact I’m not sure what I would do without the free music sampler that comes with each edition of Paste.) The fact is that although I’m not reaching the NaNo goal, I AM writing. No need to tell myself that I’m not the next Octavia Butler or Louise Rennison, I’m me and I’m writing. No need to count the words, it’s the writing that matters.

Debbie

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

 

Writing for the Web

According to a recent research from Poynter's EyeTrack, online readers favor text to video and audio. This surprised me because of the popularity of websites like You Tube. But good content is what readers are really looking for, and that's great news for writers!

Chris Nodder, a web-writing expert for the Nielsen Norman Group, has a few helpful pointers. Because there's a difference between reading on print and online, Chris recommends the use of a lot of white space and grouping content.

Suggestions for Web Writers:

  • Use the inverted pyramid. Start with the conclusion.
  • Write abstracts or summaries for longer content.
  • Tell readers what questions they can expect an article to answer.
  • Make small chunks of content with one or two ideas in each chunk.
  • Group content that is similar.
  • Write unique titles, headings and subheadings.
  • Make lists, not paragraphs. Bulleted lists and white space can break up text.
The reason it works: You're looking at a low-resolution screen, and not a 300 dpi printed page. Also, when readers are looking for an answer to a question, they will scan a page for relevant information.

Makes sense to me!

That's why Q & A's are so popular. You can easily scan the questions and pick out one that's interesting to you. That's why we put all our questions in bold.


EXAMPLE:

This is something freelancers need to consider when writing for the web. For instance, in our last issue, copywriter Debbie Feldstein queried us on her article: How 2 Use Gender-Specific Skills to Write Better and Sell More

WHY WE LIKED IT:

Her article attracted us right away because of her use of bold to highlight points, her lists, headers for topics, catchy titles, and indented short paragraphs with underlines. Plus, her content is terrific!

We hope freelancers keep these ideas in mind when submitting articles to online publications. Simply formatting things a little differently can help you organize your ideas, and sell your work!

For thought-provoking fun: View this fascinating 5 minute video on Digital Text!

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