Monday, January 16, 2017

Independence

Over the last couple of weeks I've heard a lot about the closure of All Romance ebooks, which has evidently is going to cost a lot of writers overdue royalty payments. I don't know enough about the facts or circumstances to comment on what happened, but any time writers end up losing money they earned I sympathize. I hope everyone affected by this manages to recover and find new and more reliable venues for their work.

As a freelancer I had to part ways with a client who offered to pay me royalties instead of my contracted fee. I accept only flat fee work from my clients, one project at a time, payable on delivery. Until I get paid for the last finished project I don't do any new work, either, which keeps my risk minimal. This also makes my income reliable, and keeps both sides honest and happy. As much as I liked my former client, I am an independent contractor now. I have no desire to go back to hoping I get a royalty check and that the figures are authentic.

My line of work is not a gold mine; I don't make income ad infinitum with flat-fee, on-delivery, per-project contracts. I sign over all rights to the work to the client, so there are zero royalties. When the work is done, I'm paid in full, I'm finished, and I move on to the next project. These are some of the reasons that writing for hire is not for everyone. You have to go into the project knowing that once it's finished, it belongs to the client entirely. I'm fine with that (I prefer it to byline work, actually) but for some writers this can be very difficult.

How you profit off the success of writer for hire work is by repeat business. What makes money for your clients creates more new jobs for you. Once you have a list of regular clients who will pay you well to continue writing for them, your income stabilizes. That means you don't have to hunt for new clients or go for weeks or months with no money coming in. It doesn't happen overnight -- it took me two years to build my client list -- but if you're picky, and only work on projects that interest you with people who inspire and respect you, you can make a decent, reliable living.

There are other benefits, too. A freelance writer doesn't have to pay 15% to an agent to get work, or wait months on an editor in NY to make a contract offer, or wonder when royalties will be paid, or if they're even accurate. If you go flat-fee only, as I have, you don't have to deal with royalties at all. In time you can even forecast your income by advance bookings; mine presently stretch to the end of 2017. I'm not being smug about that, either -- I've worked very hard at making this gig work, but there's always plenty of competition out there. As a freelancer you have to keep giving your clients the best you can, or they will dump you for someone better.

Sometimes taking a different direction can change everything, too. All I ever really care about is the writing, and making a living from it. I have always written very fast, and once the work is done, I always want to move onto the next thing, too. That's why writing for hire was a perfect fit for me; I just didn't realize it until I left traditional publishing and went 100% freelance. So if you're starting out, or considering making a radical change as I did, first think about what you want, and what you're willing to do for it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Off to Write



I'm taking off today to work on a project for a client. See you on Monday.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Notebooking 2017

This year I'm trying a different approach to keeping track of my progress with personal and business projects. Instead of keeping a regular journal, a writing idea journal, a business journal, a quilt journal and a weight loss journal, I'm keeping notes on everything in this one notebook.

So far it's worked pretty well. It saves time, as I don't have to switch between journals to check on something else. I won't misplace the notebook because I carry it around with me all day whatever I'm doing. I can also schedule ahead with more confidence because everything is in one spot. I've never journaled like this, so it feels a little weird, but I figures I'd give it a couple months and see if it works better than my old system.

Right now I haven't planned any of my schedule except for work, my weight loss finish line, and a family visit in March, but I'd like to put some full-month pages or dated bullet lists in the notebook so I can look at the entire month in advance. 2017 already feels like I should be keeping things open and flexible, too, so I plan to save at least one day a week as an anything-goes spot. In between all the work, family and home stuff I'm also tinkering in the notebook on my secret project for 2017, which makes it a little more fun.

How are you dealing with 2017? Planning or no planning? Any tips on how to keep on track? Let us know in comments.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Sub Op

I spotted this interesting antho open call over at the Paying Market forum at AbsoluteWrite.com:

"Copper Pen Press is currently seeking submissions of high-quality fiction for Freakshow: Freakishly Fascinating Tales of Mystery and Suspense, a forthcoming short story anthology set within the world of a traveling circus, carnival or freak show. Writers can spin their yarns in the past, present, or future.

We are looking for dark, twisted and unusual mysteries with dark, twisted and unusual characters. We want that “holy shit!” factor.

No splatterpunk. No erotica. No fantasy.

No horror – that is, not yet. We will be launching our horror imprint soon. Mmmmwwwwwahahahahaha.

Payment: $50/story plus a contributor’s copy for non-exclusive rights.

Submission Guidelines

Submit only finished, non-published, original stories, between 2K and 7K words.

We do not accept snail-mail submissions. Your submission package must be e-mailed to submissions@copperpenpress.com. This e-mail address should be used for no other purpose. Include the title of the story and author name in the Subject box.

The manuscript should be attached, formatted as a .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word) on 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper, double spaced with one-inch margins. Use Times New Roman 12-point font.

Number all pages, beginning to end, in the header. The header should also include the author’s name and title of the story. Do not type this information on each page. Use the header function of your software.

Attach a second file with a short bio, your legal name, all pen names in use, your complete publishing history, and contact information including complete mailing address, e-mail, telephone and social media info.

We will not take phone calls or emails regarding the status of your manuscript. We will respond to your submission once it has been read, whether we are interested in publishing it or not.

Simultaneous submissions are permitted. If you have accepted a contract with another publisher, or wish to remove your manuscript from submission, you may contact us by email at editor@copperpenpress.com.

Submissions usually take 4 to 8 weeks for a response. We will not send critiques.

Deadline – October, 31, 2016"

Monday, January 02, 2017

Book of the Month & Year

My pick for December's book of the month is Someone to Love by Mary Balogh, the first novel in her new Westcott series. The author starts it off with a huge plot twist right in the beginning of the book, which sets the stage for some amazing storytelling.

When the Earl of Riverdale dies, he leaves behind a secret as well as a fabulous fortune. His widow learns that her husband provided financial support for Anna Snow, an orphan girl in Bath, whom everyone assumes is the earl's illegitimate daughter. Now a teacher at the orphanage, Anna is summoned to London by the earl's attorney. I won't spoil the surprise, but that's when things then go BOOM.

Anna also has more surprises in store after she meets the new earl's guardian, Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby. Avery seems like nothing more than a little, foppish kind of guy; not at all hero material. Wait for it, because he's one of the most interesting male protagonists Mary has written in a long time. You'll be cheering for him and Anna by the end of the novel.

I really enjoyed this romance, and I can't wait to jump on Someone to Hold, the next book in the series, which should be released in March.

It was very tough to pick the book of the year. I read 104 books for pleasure in 2016, and the majority of them were terrific. I discovered new-to-me authors I will be collecting, and rediscovered some old favorites that still delivered the magic.

I made my choice based on the one book that I thought about for the longest time, and recommended most often to others. It's the third novel in an indy published series that has from the beginning impressed me to no end. I think this installment delivers even more than I expected after the promise of the first book and the intrigue of the second. It's my #1 book for 2016 for so many other reasons, too. The story is very well-written, adventurous, and packs a wallop of a plot. The characters were already pretty fabulous, but now they're growing up and developing into people whom I want to read about for a very long time.

This book takes me back, too. Science fiction used to be wonderful when I was a kid; I buried myself in books by A.M. Lightner and Edmund Cooper and René Barjavel. Unlike most of the literary nihilistic techfests no one even wants to call science fiction these days, the SF of my teens offered journeys you actually wanted to take. The stories whisked you off to an incredible new future with problems you wanted to solve while you got to know amazing characters in fantastic settings.

I miss all that, and the hope that came from those books. They didn't spit on the future or the reader; they entertained and inspired us. They were the stories that helped us deal with the troubles in the present, and made us want to be better people when we grew up. If that makes me terminally uncool so be it.

For all these reasons LJ Cohen's Dreadnought and Shuttle is my book of the year for 2016. You can read my write up about it here.

Finally, for posterity, here's the list of all the books I read for pleasure in 2016:

January

The Everything Mediterranean Diet by Connie Diekman and Sam Sotiropoulos
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Face of Battle by John Keegan
Scarce Resources by Brendan Detzner
Live to See Tomorrow by Iris Johansen
An Unbreakable Bond by Robyn Donald (revisited read)
Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
Creative Quilting with Beads by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader
Silent Melody by Mary Balogh*

February

Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison
American Cooking: New England by Jonathan Norton Leonard
Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano
52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal
Essentials of English Grammar by L. Sue Baugh
Driven by Fire by Anne Stuart
Heartless by Mary Balogh
The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde
Sight Unseen by Iris Johansen
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
The Arrivals by Melissa Marr
The Private Patient by P.D. James
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson*

March

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
The Elementals by Francesca Block
Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder
Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio
Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends by Lewis Spence
How to Publish Your Own eBook by Nik Rawlinson
Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot*
Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano
Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Dante's Circle Box Set by Carrie Ann Ryan
Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix
The Gettysburg Campaign by Charles River Editors
Branded by Keary Taylor

April

Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick
100 Perfect Hair Days by Jenny Strebe
Bed Riddance by Ogden Nash
Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen (revisited read)
Grimoire for the Green Witch by Ann Moura
Letters to a Young Artist by Julia Cameron
Gladiatrix by Amy Zol
Only Beloved by Mary Balogh*
Troubleshooting! by John Lyons

May

Barron's 101 Watercolor Techniques
Troublemaker by Linda Howard
A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by Winston Graham*
The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook by Robyn Webb
Reckless by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

June

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki
Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
Fun with Fabric by Jane Foster
J'adore Montreal by Isabelle Lafleche
Black & White ~ Bright & Bold by Kim Schaefer
Sewing with Fabulous Vintage Fabrics by Arden Franklin
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Dreadnought and Shuttle by LJ Cohen*

July

The Body Reader by Anne Frasier
Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (revisited read)*
Redemption Road by John Hart
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
French Country by Barbara Buchholz and Lisa Skolnik
Modern Log Cabin Quilting by Susan Beal
One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins

August

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Slow-Cooker Quick Fixes by Southern Living
Imprudence by Gail Carriger
Wolf in Waiting by Rebecca Flanders (revisited read)*
Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz
Country French Kitchens by Carolina Fernandez

September

Frostline by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
The Big Four by Agatha Christie
Rex Harrison by Roy Moseley with Philip & Martin Masheter
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton
Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
On Thin Ice by Anne Stuart
Second Son by Lee Child*

October

All Shook Up by Susan Andersen
50 Ways to Wear Denim by Lauren Friedman*
Lady Fortune by Anne Stuart

November

Byzantium ~ The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich
Shadowlands and Songs of Light by Kevin Ott*
Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

December

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh*
South China in the Sixteenth Century by C.R. Boxer
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses
Ricochet by Sandra Brown
Free-Form Embroidery by Judith Baker Montano
Strip Happy ~ Quilting on a Roll by Suzanne McNeill
Bonk by Mary Roach

*My pick as book(s) of the month

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Wishing You



Image credit: CreAuthor

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best of PBW 2016

On the last day of every year my tradition is to sort through the archives to see how things went, what I accomplished (or didn't) and get some ideas on ways in which to improve things with PBW and my writing life.

A lot happened with me professionally in 2016. I successfully negotiated my first publishing contract without an agent, and my work will now be published in French, also a debut for me. I went on my first writing job interview in person since 1989 (which I think is also the last time I put on pantyhose.) I booked ghost writing projects with my clients that will keep me busy writing fiction until Fall of 2017, and probably beyond that. As for the interview, I got the job -- I'm now working as a staff copywriter for a design firm -- and I will be part of a very talented team creating a new quarterly print magazine.

Losing 30 lbs. took almost the entire year, but I did it with sensible, healthy changes to my diet and exercise routine. It was slow and tough, but I hope to keep at it so I can lose the last 20 lbs. I need to shed in order to be at a healthy weight. I also successfully pulled off my secret art project for 2016 with Valerean, my anonymous Tumblr blog, which provided a lovely, private creative outlet. Participating in Library Thing's Early Reviewers Program brought eight free ARCs to my doorstep, saving me $149.27 on my 2016 book budget.

Personally I think I failed as much as I succeeded this past year. I put off trying to figure out indy publishing in 2015, and I haven't gotten back to that (and with my clients and the new job, I probably won't have a lot of time this year to dabble in it.) I let the pinheads annoy me so much I had to unplug from the internet and retreat to the ivory tower for a couple months to cool down. After more than a decade of blogging daily, and writing free fiction for my readers weekly for the last couple years, I had to curtail my posting to twice a week and back-burner the latest free story. I didn't have time to participate in NaNoWriMo last month. I didn't support my writer pals as much as I would have liked to.

In the big-picture sense, 2016 wasn't all sunshine and roses for most of us. I'm not going to get into why (that would attract more pinheads) but I'm sorry that the dark and evil prevailed so often.

Since I've taken off so much time from the blog in 2016 I'm going to skip the usual best-of links list. I'm also not heading into 2017 with a theme or resolutions or a huge list of goals. We live in dangerous times, and it's easy to see the new wave of dark and evil looming on every horizon. I'm simply going to focus instead on my family and friends, the work, and being part of the light -- however I can.

How was 2016 for you? Any plans for 2017? Let us know in comments.