Category Archives: Writer’s responsibility

12 Inspiring Idioms for Aspiring Freelancers

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Whether you are new to freelancing, or just thinking about it, these idioms will help:

 1. Rise and Shine! Working from home is the best of freelance perks, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep in every day. Set a daily work schedule and stick to it.

2. Know the Ropes. The best way to get and keep clients is to understand the publishing industry. Read and learn about the publishing process (the steps to get a book from contract to print). Stay current with trends and what your clients’ companies are publishing.

3. You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. Vet potential clients carefully, especially small or new publishers. Know exactly what is expected from you, the due date, how much you will be paid, and the payment terms. Always work with a contract.

When I began freelancing, I accepted an assignment from a promising, new company. The articles written about it were positive. But had I dug deeper, I would have discovered that this company was in serious financial trouble. Many employees had been let go, and the publisher was relying on freelancers to do the work. It went bankrupt, and I never received full payment for my invoice. A $5000 mistake on my part, and a reminder to you—do your homework.

dont-count-your-chickens4. Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew. As you add more clients to your list, there will be times when assignment offers overlap. It’s tempting to accept every offer, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. When faced with multiple offers, ask yourself: “How much of my best work can I deliver in the specified timeframe?” It’s better to turn down an assignment than to deliver less than your best or to miss a due date.

5. A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush. There will be times when you need to weigh a “maybe” against a “sure thing”. For example, a client has told you that they might have a project for you in a month or so. Another client has approached you with a definite project due within the same time frame. Will you wait for the “maybe” project, or will you accept the sure thing? Sometimes it’s a difficult choice.

I did some work for an educational publisher, writing questions for standardized tests. The work was fun, and it paid well; however, the lead times (the time to complete the work by deadline) were short and the work was sporadic. The client would let me know that they might have work for me in a month or two. Often, if the work materialized, I would already have taken on a “sure thing” assignment and couldn’t fit their tight deadlines into my schedule. I ended up losing that client, but still, I feel that I made the right choice. The income I received from the sure assignments was, likely, greater than if I had waited.

6. Get Down to Brass Tacks. Freelancing is a job, just as if you were sitting at a desk in the publisher’s workplace. You need a home office, or designated workspace, free from distractions and interruption. Sometimes, you might need to get out of the house and write someplace else. Think about places you might go to write.

Visit your local coffee houses, and you’ll find people wearing headphones and working on laptops. Noise blocking headphones, or even playing classical music through earphones, can help concentration and block noise. Bonus—coffee houses are great places to meet other freelancers.

eligiblemagazine-com_7. Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Deliver what you promise. Always submit your best work, in the best format, and on time.

8. It’s a Race Against Time. The publishing industry is deadline driven. Schedules are created to meet a specific print date. If that date is missed, it costs the publisher money. Another idiom: Time is Money. If you miss your deadlines, it is almost certain that you won’t get more assignments.

9. Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by work and deadlines. It’s important to remember that work comes first. It’s not like you can peek over the wall of your work cubbie and ask a co-worker for help. This is all on you! Plan for how you will handle freelance stress.

Prayer and meditating on God’s Word helps me during stressful work times. I also listen to quieting music. Pandora Radio is a great resource for finding soothing music to listen to while you work.

10. Go the Extra Mile. Do more than what is expected. Turn assignments in before the due date. Help your editor as much as possible by submitting a well-formatted manuscript (Spacing, paragraph indents, etc.).

11. Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth. Your clients don’t have to choose you for their assignments. When they do, it’s a gift and a testament to your good work! Be grateful, humble, and giving.

When a book I’ve worked on is published, I like to put a link to it on my Facebook business page. I always link to the publisher’s web site, and I thank them for inviting me to work on the project. This is one way to show appreciation.

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12. Be the Apple of Their Eye! Simply be the best you can be with a healthy dose of friendliness and humility.

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Filed under Freelance writing, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, work for hire, working with editors, Writer's responsibility

How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Editor Happy—Advice for First-Time Authors

[Friends: I’m taking a short break from the blog to work on a writing project. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this repost from 2014.] 

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Your manuscript has been accepted for publication.
Yay! You’ve been assigned an editor.
But, now what?

I’ve worked both as an editor at a publishing house and as a freelance writer, so I understand how the author/editor relationship works. Here are five great tips for forming a productive partnership with your editor.

1. Accept Constructive Criticisms. An editor’s job is to edit. You might think that your manuscript is perfect exactly as you wrote it. But your editor views it from a different perspective. Her aim is to make your book as marketable as possible, and she knows the market better than you do. She has edited perhaps hundreds of books and has a keen sense of how changes will make your writing even better. When you receive a marked-up manuscript, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer, it means that your editor is doing her job. You aren’t in this alone anymore. Now, you are part of a team.

2. Ask Questions. If there is something you don’t understand, ask. Publishing for first-time authors is a learning experience with unfamiliar language and procedures. Editors are expert multi-taskers, and yours is probably juggling many manuscripts in various stages. He can forget that you are new to the publishing world and that you might need guidance. So, don’t be shy about asking.

 

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3. Respect Deadlines. The publishing industry is deadline driven. Everything works toward getting your book to the printer on time. Printing is scheduled months in advance. If a print date is missed and presses stand idle, it costs the printer and the publisher and also plays with other print deadlines. One of your jobs is to help your editor stay on schedule. When she gives you a due date, you need to respect it.

 

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4. Be Professional. As soon as you sell your manuscript, you are not only an author but also a businessperson. As part of the editorial team you should keep good records. Save all communications (emails, texts, and notes from telephone conversations with your editor). Before making the editorial changes he suggests, refer again to those communications to refresh your memory. In my work with editors, I have found that sometimes we both forget a small, random detail that we discussed. Catching those items early can avoid another deadline-crunching edit.

5. Go The Extra Mile. I understand how busy editors are, so I try to help by doing a few extras like beating my deadlines by a week, or so, and giving my manuscript an extra read for mistakes in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. When I write nonfiction, I use a spreadsheet to keep track of references, important information, and questions. I give the spreadsheet to my editor with my completed manuscript. It can be as simples as this:

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Going that extra mile helps keep things running smoothly, and that makes my editor, and me, happy.

A good author/editor relationship is key to a successful book. Be sure to let your editors know how much you appreciate them. Thank them for their efforts.

[Cartoon credit: Richard Taylor, “The New Yorker”]

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Filed under Editing and proofreading, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility, Writing Tips