October 2011 Archives

...a criticism means that there

...a criticism means that there is something that jars, something that is not quite right. And whether it seems right or not to you, it's not getting across to someone else. So you need to rethink it, even if you don't agree in the end.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Work-for-Hire also known as WFH

Recently, when planning a talk on work-for-hire, I asked some other writers about their experience. What they had to say was so good, I am sharing it here and in my next post, with permission.

Linda Carlblom said: "One of the things I love about work-for-hire is that once you've gotten that first writing assignment, you're in that publisher's stable of writers. When they have other needs, they contact you to see if you're interested in another job. It's like jobs just land in your lap! Since my first WFH job I've had 2 other assignments in the field I love (writing for children) that I didn't have to even look for. It's awesome!"

"Writing work-for-hire has stretched me so much," Stephenie Hovland said. "I took on projects that I never would have done on my own in some tight deadlines I wouldn't have thought possible (for me.) It's given me lots of confidence."

When someone asked a question about getting WFH jobs, here's what Stephenie said:

"Here are two strategies that may (or may not) work for you. One worked for me. One worked for a writer friend of mine. (I could not make her strategy work for me.)

"1. Choose a publishing company or two (or three) who publish what you want to write. Send them samples that would fit into their current offerings and a writing resume with clips (if you have them.) Let them know you are available to write for them. Send it to a specific editor, if possible. Send via email and paper (unless you know the email was well-received. ) Check in every 6-12 months, letting them know you are still available. Watch their site and tweets like a hawk. Try out for any calls for writers that are anywhere near what you write. If they will have their editors at any conferences, make a friendly connection. If you have any writer friends who already work for them, let the friend know you want to write for that company. The friend may have information that can help you or know about needs that aren't public.

"2. Use Guru.com and/or Elance. Start with broad topics, taking anything you can get, but only for a reasonable wage. Your goal is to get a good reputation, not to make money, but you don't want to work for people who don't value your time. The people who pay decently often give good, heartfelt reviews for writers who meet and exceed their expectations. Once you've accumulated some good reviews, you can start narrowing your focus. If all goes well, you will have a few clients who repeatedly invite you to bid. They want you to write for them. Using these sites is a good idea, because they handle the money and any disputes. Eventually, you may not need to search for jobs, because you'll have several clients who look for you."

"I would add only one other thing to Stephenie's answer," Linda said ". . . on how to get work-for-hire jobs. Stay well connected to other authors. I found out about the work-for-hire opportunity that landed me a four book contract through an author friend who had written for this company in the past. They sent out an email to all their previous authors saying they were looking for six authors to write a girls book series. My friend wrote for adults and wasn't interested in trying out for this, so she passed it along to me, knowing it was exactly what I'd love to write. I would never have known about it if she hadn't been kind enough to share her email from the publishing house with me. It pays to maintain friendships in the writing world! "

Mary Scarbrough agreed. "I have had wonderful referrals from other writing friends who do wfh (Thanks, Amy Houts and Cindy Kane in particular!) and have been able to refer writers to editors as well. I'm not sure exactly how much of my wfh is attributable one way or another to referrals, but it's been significant. One regular gig--a referral from Amy, in fact--is writing Sunday school curriculum. It has given me monthly income for the last 4 1/2 years."

Thank you, Linda, Mary and Stephenie for sharing!

Note: their names link to their websites/blogs, so you can learn more about them if you like.

More quotes from other authors on work-for-hire will be on my next post.

Very Very Good! - Crunch

Crunch (Katherine Tegan Books, 2010) by Leslie Connor is one of those books I'll be rereading again and again.

14-year-old Dewey and his 5 siblings, ranging in age from 5 to 18, are alone. Mom has gone with Dad on his long haul truck for their 20th anniversary. But what is supposed to be a short trip becomes something else when there's no fuel. Dewey and younger brother Vince were simply keeping the Mariss Bike Barn going, but now everyone is coming to get bikes repaired. The roads are empty, even the freeway. When will their parents be able to come home?

Don't miss out on this near future story that also has some mysteries going on!

You can read about the author and her other books on her site, where I learned her favorite treat is dark chocolate. Yumm!

Very Interesting - The Everafter

How could you resist an opening like this? "I'M DEAD. Not by-parents-told-me-to-be-home-by-twelve-and-it's-two-o'clock-now dead. Just dead. Literally. I think."

In The Everafter (Balzar & Bray, 2009) by Amy Huntley Madison doesn't know where she is or how she got to what she calls "It." She finds objects from her life and finds she can revisit the events where she lost that item. If she finds it in real life, the object is gone in "it," so what's the point? You'll have to read it to find out!

Visit Amy at her website where you can also watch a book trailer, and listen to an excerpt from the audio book.

I write when I'm inspired.

I write when I'm inspired. I see to it I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning.
Peter De Vries

A writer is the verbal

A writer is the verbal painter.
Peter Jacobi

Guest post by Jennifer Brown Banks:

Last year, when I landed a blog gig that boasted 100 bucks monthly for 300-word posts, I was tickled pink. Easy money I thought to myself.

Not only did this project seem exciting and effortless, scoring it, along with my other "regular" blogging clients, meant I could save time, effort, and angst from scouring weekly job boards and networking feverishly for potential leads.

But my joy was short lived. Not long after accepting this job, I realized that not all blogging gigs are created equally.

Blog listings are increasingly abundant on Craigslist, Freelance Writing Jobs, Blogging Pro, and Pro Blogger.net, to name a few. But what should you look for in "reading the fine print?" What makes for a profitable pursuit? Here are a few things you need to consider in assessing a blog job offer or ad:

5 Key issues to consider

1. The scope of your responsibility---This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust me, it isn't. In other words, will you be required to do research? Will you have to make your posts Search Engine Optimized? Provide your own topics? These are things to consider. $50 per post may seem like a lot initially, but if the subject matter requires extensive research, tech troubles, and red tape, you'll end up with very little earnings for your efforts.

2. The amount of expertise required---Some blog jobs call for you to know different content management systems to post your own work (i.e Wordpress, Scrives, Blogger); with others, the blog owner does the actual posting upon approval. Additionally, some projects require you to provide your own photos, to be versed in things like anchor texting and social media. Make sure to be compensated equitably for your skill sets and your time. Just like you would in corporate America.

3. The method of payment---Will it be based upon performance metrics, like per clicks? Readership levels? Readers' votes? Or perhaps per post? Per word? Be clear on the terms and how you'll collect your pay. If it's vague, steer clear.

4. What's the standing of the blog and its owner? Is it a highly ranked site? Popular within its niche? Many ad placements? These tell-tale signs will determine how successful it is and the likelihood of future pay. For instance, I blogged for one client for a couple of weeks who decided to "close shop" because things were not materializing the way he had expected. If I had done my homework, I might have known of his struggles to stay afloat and devoted my energies elsewhere. As they say, "time is money."

5. Interaction level with audience
---Creating blog posts can also carry with it the pleasant but time consuming task of
responding to readers and answering related questions. Will you be allowed to make a general statement of "thanks", to bypass commenting, or are you expected to address each one individually? Depending upon your time constraints and personal blogging style, this may or may not be a concern.

As with any job, the proper "fit" is important for longevity, success, and career satisfaction. So keep these tips in mind to make the most of your blogging experience, and to make the most money for your efforts.

Jennifer Brown Banks has blogged for many of the top, award-winning sites such as PROBLOGGER, Technorati, Daily Blog Tips, and Search Engine Journal. When she's not blogging, she's likely in hot pursuit of a good bargain sale.

Thanks, Jennifer, for generously sharing this information!

What separates a lot of

What separates a lot of writers from authors is the stamp on the envelope.
Pat Cummings

Real or not real? - The Strange Case of Origami Yoda


The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Amulet Books, 2010) by Tom Angleberger is one cute middle grade graphic novel.

6th grader Tommy is trying to figure out if the finger puppet is real or, as his friend Harvey says, just "a paperwad." But Dwight isn't smart enough to say all the things Origami Yoda says, is he? Tommy has each person write up their Origami Yoda experience and then both Harvey and he comment. Book ends with Tommy and his conclusions, oh, and directions to make your own Origami Yoda.

Read an interview with Tom about the book here. His website has a superfolder talk zone where you can see pictures of other characters made by fans.darthpaper.jpg

The next book, Darth Paper Strikes Back, has recently come out. Don't you love the title? I need to get my hands on that one.

Check out Tom's alter ego at Berger and Burger.

Sympathetic Character - Windblowne

In a world where building and flying kites is what almost everyone does, Oliver is a failure. He can't make kites or fly them. Every kite he touches is ruined. He's the laughingstock of his village. To make matters worse his parents haven't a clue what his life is like. Since the annual kite festival is coming up Oliver decides he must go to his crackpot Great Uncle Gilbert for help. But his father doesn't even know where the former champion lives.

Author Stephen Messer really made me care for Oliver in Windblowne (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2010). I love the world building in this middle grade fantasy. I love how Oliver has a map in his head of all the oaks, his persistence, how he talks to the kites, his care for others . . . but I better stop telling you what I love in this story or I'll give too much away!

yorik_cover.jpgI was delighted to meet Stephen at the recent SCBWI Carolina's conference, where I heard about his newest book: The Death of Yorik Mortwell At his website I discovered his third book. Colossus, is coming out from Random House in 2013.

One technique I've found really

One technique I've found really useful is to try and connect with my characters every day as often as I can. Some days I just don't get to the computer, but I still try to find at least 5 minutes to close my eyes and try to hear my characters speaking... This helps a lot. If I manage to connect a bit with it each day, it's much easier to start writing when I finally find a moment, even if it's only once a week.
Padma Venkatraman