Category Archives: On Writing

The Elusive CV – How to Get Credits on Your Writing Resume

When I wanted to get into writing professionally, it was instantly obvious that I had nothing to show to any potential publishers or clients.  Like most people who had found writing to be their passion, I had spent much of my life writing but had very little to show for it.  Nobody was going to care that my poetry had made it into a high school magazine back in the day or that I had filled quite a few notebooks with rhymes and short stories.

I read quite a few books on the subject, but I didn’t find a whole lot that helped.  I plunged in headfirst and did the best I could, and I managed to start building up a pretty decent CV.  There are still many more things I want to add to it, but considering that my freelancing business currently keeps me glued to my desk, I would say it’s doing the job.

Make a Portfolio:  Even if you don’t have any credits, you can still show off your writing skills.  Put together a portfolio that represents your best pieces in all genres you have worked in.  This gives a potential client or publisher an example of your abilities even if nobody else has given you a chance before.

Start Local:  Local businesses often need a little bit of help with brochure copy, web content, or blog material.  Call them up, ask for the office manager, and tell them what you can do.  It’s a great opportunity to get a little bit of experience under your belt, as well as a reference to throw on your resume.

Use Your Connections:  Do you know someone who runs their own business?  Have you noticed that your buddy’s website is consistently filled with typos?  Offer your services!  You can work out payments or maybe barter for their services, or even just do some work for free in exchange for using them on your resume.  (Please, please don’t ask your friend if you can use him as a reference without doing any work.  I know people lie on resumes all the time, but that doesn’t make it right.)

Freelancing Websites:  The first time I tried eLance (now Upwork), I was completely discouraged.  It seemed impossible to land jobs, and most of the listings I saw offered very little money.  I gave up and didn’t think about it for a few years.  When I came back, I had more motivation since I had quit my job and gone back to school.  I started out with several jobs that paid literally next to nothing ($5 or $10).  Don’t overlook these opportunities, because they show up on your job history on your profile.  They prove that someone gave you a shot and that you did well!  Soon enough, I was landing much bigger jobs and finding plenty of work.  Many people put down these websites, claiming that they are a complete ripoff for freelancers.  I have acquired several jobs that paid $1,000 and up, so I tend to disagree.

Start-Up Magazines:  If you’re looking for some publishing credits, start submitting to smaller, start-up literary magazines.  These are usually based online, require no reading fee, and have less competition for publication.  While they might not hold as much weight as some of the larger mags, they’re a great place to start.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone:  Just because you have never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t.  When I got my first offer for a ghostwriting gig, I was terrified.  I had never done anything like that before, and now I had committed to writing an entire book!  I dove in and did the best I could.  My client was very happy with the work, and ghostwriting is now the vast majority of my freelance work.  If someone offers you a job, go for it!

Take every opportunity you can to build up your resume.  It’s going to take some time and lots of calling and emailing and submitting, but it will happen.

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Filed under freelancing, On Writing, Work

A Fountain of Inspiration

When I was in middle school, I dreamed of writing an amazing fantasy novel.  It had everything:  teenagers on the verge of discovering something new, dragons, and even a secret society complete with hooded robes. But when I sat down in front of the computer to write it, I never even got through the first chapter.

Twenty years later, I finally know what the problem was.  I was typing it instead of writing it.

Don’t get me wrong.  Typing is the most efficient way of doing things.  As a freelance writer, I type anywhere from 5-10,000 words per day.  I could never do that by hand.

But the inspiration for all those keyboard clicks comes from writing by hand.  When I need a new plot or character details and I sit down with a notebook, I tap into something that is completely inaccessible when I’m on the computer.  I’ve read articles before about how the process of writing by hand works well because your brain has time to keep up with your fingers.  Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s some sort of magic voodoo that can only be cast by the spilling of ink.  I don’t know, but it works.

Of course, this all means that I am a total sucker for a good pen and a nice notebook.  Since I’m ridiculously cheap and living on an artist’s budget anyway, I settle for decent pens.  The truly nice ones are only the ones that are given to me for birthday or Christmas presents.  I like a pen that feels good in the hand and flows well, so that’s pretty much either ball point or gel.

All of that changed when I got my first iPen subscription box.  Each box includes a fountain pen (and a lot of other cool stuff, too).  While I was crazy excited to get this box, the fountain pen was the part I was seriously doubting.  Who writes with a fountain pen?  It can’t flow as nicely as a gel pen or a smoothly as a ball point, and the results are going to be impossible to read since I’m not a calligrapher.

I’m still not a calligrapher, but I was so wrong about the fountain pen.  The Wing Sung Demonstrator that came in my box doesn’t look like much, but it writes like a dream!  I had other typey-typey work I should have been doing, but instead I messed around with learning how to fill this pen so I could use it for some character creation.

The Demonstrator came with a very fine nib (that’s the pointy part where the ink comes out) and it is so amazing!  The ink flows freely and evenly, without any big splotches to make it look like some historical document.  The case of the pen is just plastic, but it’s molded nicely at the grip.  I had never filled a fountain pen before, so it took a few minutes and I got a little ink on my hands, but I’m in love.

 

*This post was in no way sponsored or endorsed by the iPenStore.

If you enjoyed yourself while you were here, make sure you come find me on Facebook or Twitter, or check out my books on Amazon!

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The iPen Subscription Box – March 2017

I finally decided it was time to jump on the subscription box train.  I love getting things in the mail, and I was jealous of the boxes my husband gets.

After looking around for a bit, I settled on the iPen subscription box.  There were a few unboxing videos on YouTube that made it look promising, so I went for it.

I waited like a little kid looking for a birthday card, and I was so excited when it finally came!  (So was Porkchop.)

Overall, I was pretty pleased.  I love to write by hand, and this box certainly caters to that!  The fountain pen is amazing, and the Rhodia notebook is incredibly soft.  I will use everything in this box, and some of it I already have.  (It came with a little packet of gummy bears, and those mysteriously vanished about five minutes later.)

March iPenStore Box: Wing Sung Fountain Pen by Hero, Rhodia notebook, Rosetta Notes Blotting Card, e+m Copper Pencil, Mobius + Ruppert Little Quattro Swing Pencil Sharpener, Schneider Haptify Viscoglide Pen plus refill, Lamy ink sample (not pictured)

If you are a writer, or if you just enjoy the art of writing by hand, I highly recommend this box!  It ships for $30 including shipping in the U.S. and $40 everywhere else.

 

*This post was in no way endorsed by the iPen Store.  If you enjoyed it, though, feel free to swing on over to my available books on Amazon or find me on Facebook.

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I’m not Just Pale, I’m a Ghostwriter

At one point, I never thought ghostwriting would be part of my freelancing repertoire.  My first ghosting gig was one of those oh-crap-I-need-a-job moments.  We all get there in the freelancing business every now and then.  I had never done this type of assignment before, but the client and I really hit it off.  It was time to fake it until I made it.  It was the biggest job I had ever taken on at that point, and it only led to more after that.

When I tell non-writers that I ghostwrite, they’re usually a little confused.  It’s not the kind of thing you hear every day, and people often want to know more.

If I was an actual ghost, would my desk be this clean?

What do people do with the stories you write for them?

I don’t know most of the time, and I honestly don’t care.  I’m only paid to write, not to worry about how it’s marketed or if it makes any money.  If the story does nothing but sit on their hard drive and rot, then that’s the client’s business.

I will say that I recently stumbled upon some of the stories I had written for someone else.  I was looking for books in the same genre (which I won’t mention in order to protect my client) and just happened to find it.  The stories were being well-marketed with excellent covers, and they had tons of five-star reviews.  There is no greater inspiration than a compliment, even if the reader doesn’t know who they’re complimenting.

But you don’t get any credit for it. 

This is one that my daughter brings up on a pretty consistent basis.  It does seem silly to put a lot of effort into a story just to have someone else slap their name on it.  But I do get credit for it in that I have credit with my client.  Most of them come back to me time and time again because they know I can give them what they want.

I’m obligated to do at least a little bit of haunting, right?

So why do you do it?

  1.  I get paid.  Let’s just be honest about that right up front.  Sure, there are lots of writers out there who want to say that getting paid means you’ve sold out.  I say it means you’re smart.  The money I make from ghostwriting means that I have the time and funds to put together my own stories.  I also get to do things like buy groceries, clothe my children, and feed my new fountain pen addiction.
  2. I enjoy it.  Who wouldn’t want to do a job that they enjoy?  Yes, I sometimes have a job that doesn’t thrill me or that isn’t the most fun, but I still get to sit at home in my pj’s with my dog next to me.  You don’t get that at a 9 to 5 job.
  3. It’s great practice.  Even though I write for others, I do write for myself as well.  The genres I have ghostwritten in include science fiction, mystery, western, and modern fiction.  The stories are anywhere from 10,000 to over 60,000 words.  Even if I’m not writing a piece that is necessarily up my alley, it hones my writing skills and expands my horizons.

Ghostwriting may have come to me as a surprise, but it’s also been a pleasant one.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please come find me on Facebook or check out my (non-ghostwritten) books on Amazon!

 

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My Laptop, My Friend – a Tribute

20160903_131501Goodbye HP Pavilion g6, also known as Excalibur III. You’ve been a good friend despite how heavy you are, how hot you get on my lap, and that wonky Windows 10 upgrade that made you turn off your trackpad for months and months until it suddenly began working again. Yes, we’ve been through some hard times, but there were plenty of good ones as well.

You put me through going back to college even though I felt like I was too old. We’ve written two books and launched a successful freelance career. I can’t even begin to estimate the thousands upon thousands of words that have come across your keyboard, and the only evidence is the fact that the N and the L are pretty much completely gone. But I knew where they were anyway.

I want you to know that your retirement will be a good one. You won’t be stuck on a shelf with the idea of someday going to an electronics recycling place or kept somewhere “just in case.” Instead, you’ll be going to my 10-year-old daughter. I know there’s still a lot of life left in you, but you’ll get to live it in the easy-paced world of 5th grade term papers and journal entries. The two of you can take care of each other. You’ll make her feel special and grown up, and she’ll let you know that you are still useful. Maybe someday you’ll help her write a book, too.

 

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Why is that Indie Book so Expensive?

Upon the release of my most recent book, I was once again forced to face the issue of price point.  If I charge too little, I won’t make anything.  If I charge too much, nobody will be interested in buying it.  With the numerous ebooks available for free, some folks don’t even want to pay $.99.

I get it.  I don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around.  And most people don’t see the same kind of value in an ebook that they see in a paperback.  After all, you can’t feel the weight of it in your hands, smell the ink on the paper, hear the flip of the pages, or have it signed by the author (at least, not in the same way).

What they don’t think about it that they are paying for so much more than the paper a book is printed on.  There are numerous hours put into creating the plot, writing, rewriting (usually more than once), several rounds of editing, formatting, and cover design.  Not all authors are capable of completing this entire process alone and must hire other professionals to help them.  This means that on top of all their blood, sweat, tears, and late nights beating their heads against the desks, they’ve also put a few hundred dollars into it.

Okay, so after all that is done and the book is available for$2.99 on Amazon, the author starts making almost $3 back for each copy, right?  Nope.  The author can choose from either a 35% or 70% royalty rate, so Amazon immediately gets some off the top.  Which royalty rate you choose depends on the price point of your book, where it’s available, and how big it is.  But the money drain doesn’t stop there.  There are also delivery fees and taxes, not to mention any advertisements, promotions, and giveaways that the author may have done to generate sales.

Let’s apply this to real life.  If I sell a book for $.99, I get $.35 minus a few cents in delivery costs depending on the size of the book.  I would make better money with a guitar case on the street, and I don’t know how to play.

Of course, there are some who say that if you write for the money then you will never be successful.  I those people are just ticked off that their books aren’t selling.  And I will readily admit that my freelance work is what pays the bills, not my books.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe authors should get some sort of acknowledgement for what they have done.  Writing isn’t an easy job, and it can be disheartening to have a quarter thrown at you for your months of hard labor.  Support the authors you love by buying their books, sharing their posts on Facebook or Twitter, and leaving honest reviews.

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Filed under Books, On Writing, Uncategorized

Insecure About Your Writing? I Don’t Doubt It.

I always like making new writing and blogging friends.  In a recent conversation with a new acquaintance, he asked me if you ever get over the “debilitating self-doubt” that comes with writing.

Nope.

I knew that was the answer, but I discovered just how true that was as I prepared to launch my latest book.

Although I’m an indie author, most of my writing happens on the freelance scene.  I have consistent work creating blogs and ghostwriting, and this means that I usually spend a lot more time doing the projects that make me a little cash than the ones that are simply for my own creative pleasure.  I do have quite a few stories waiting to be written, though, so I took the day off from my “regular” work to get my book finished up and ready for release.

By the time I release a book on the world, I’m absolutely sick of it.  I have read this current book so many times that I just can’t stand it any more, and that’s how I know I’m done.  There is nothing more that I can do to change it or make it better.  It is as complete as a book can be.

Even though I knew the book was done, that knowledge didn’t stop a shocking amount of fear and anxiety from creeping up on me as I created a Facebook event and sketched out my marketing ideas.  I thought at first that I was just frustrated; it’s difficult to know what the “right” thing is to do when it comes to promoting your work.  I had a couple of close friends that attempted to help me, but they just couldn’t.  I was an absolute mess.

Eventually, I calmed down and got over it.  I got past the mental block that my anxiety had caused and was able to think creatively again.  I’m good now.

But I want everyone out there who doubts their skill as a writer to understand that you aren’t alone.  Writing is a job that not only takes a lot of hard work but also a lot of bravery.  It’s impossible to write without putting a little bit of yourself into that book, and you’re opening it up for everyone to see it.

It’s tough, but you can do it.

 

Feel free to come drop a like on my Facebook page!

 

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