Freelancer tip: Avoid clients who pay… later.

Payment can be a tough subject for many of us who are freelancers.  Yet, it’s important!  After all, why are we working?  Sure, we truly enjoy our craft, whether it be writing, visual art, graphic design, crafts, or whatever the case may be.  But we don’t do it purely for love.  We do it because we need something to pay the bills and put food on the table.

That’s why today’s post is dedicated to that most uplifting of prose, “pay to the order of.”  We’ll talk about pay, getting paid, and things to do to make sure you get paid!  If anyone has questions, feel free to ask and I’ll probably add it on as another question.

Tips for Freelancers:

Set clear expectations.

Have a place on your website that explains when you expect to be paid, how much, and when.  Then you will have a leg to stand on when someone starts to argue.  For an example, check out my commissions page:  http://rohvannynshaw.com/commissions/

Have a contract.

This helps both client and creator understand the terms of the deal, and protects both if something goes wrong.  When is pay expected?  When is the work supposed to be complete?  What is the scope of the work, and how many rounds of editing are allowed before the client needs to pay more?  This prevents clients from adding extra things or deciding to pay… later.  Keep all copies and send the contract in a PDF if you have to email it, that way nothing can be changed.

Price fairly.

This means not pricing too high, but it also means not pricing too low.  Do research in your field, and see what other people doing similar work get paid.  If you price too high, you may not get customers.  If you price too low, you devalue other people’s work and you also may drive customers off.  After all, no one likes to buy at a fire sale.

Keep all records.

I said it above, but it bears repeating.  Don’t just keep the contract.  Also keep all emails (preferably archived in PDF format) related to the project, all materials provided to you, and any other correspondence.  Keep it in a separate folder and if possible archive it on a thumb drive, just so you have it ready to hand in case you need it.  This way, if someone takes legal action against you, or you need to do the same, you’ll have everything and won’t have to go hunting around.

Don’t discount.

Family and friends are famous for asking for “buddy discounts.”  The trouble with this is, they often start offering that same discount to their own friends.  Pretty soon every available client seems to think they should get the family rate.  I didn’t think this would happened to me and it did – so it can happen to anyone.  It can happen to you.  So price fairly and then if they give you static, calmly explain that this is the going rate for professional work.

Don’t “do it for the clicks.”

Doing work for exposure only goes so far.  I write for free on this blog and I feature artists and authors for free.  However, I never do art, editing, or manuscripts for free.  You can’t eat clicks, you can’t pay bills with exposure.  Not only that, but every time someone does something for free it drives down the value of what other freelancers do!

Fire clients if you have to.

It can be scary to fire a client.  You may think “I’ll never find another,” or “how am I supposed to work if I fire my clients?”  So I’m not saying to fire every client, or to do it quickly and easily.  However, some people are just not worth your valuable time or stress level.  If you have a client who keeps trying to get you to lower your rates after you’ve agreed on a price, or if they treat you badly, or if they make it impossible to do a good job, fire them.  Do it simply, do it calmly, and you don’t have to explain why.

Set limits on how much you will do for a certain fee.

If you write, put a clause in your contract saying “includes three rounds of editing.”  You can do something similar for art.  If you build websites, find out up front  how many pages you’ll be designing.  Think similarly for any other project.  Otherwise, you may have a client who creates a seemingly endless project for one low starter fee.

Don’t undersell the competition by too great a margin.

If everyone is designing book covers for $200-$500, don’t say “hey, I’ll do just as good a job for ten bucks!”  You’ll see this all over DeviantArt.  People will do amazing work for five or ten dollars, or even for free.  Now, the artists are just thinking about having fun and not considering the effects of what they are doing.  However, you have a choice.  For every freelancer who offers services at rock bottom prices, other freelancers can’t put food on the table because people are using the ultra-cheap options offered by the irresponsible freelancers.  Sites like Fiverr.com, by offering extremely low prices, are ultimately harming the industry.  Don’t be part of that trend.  Remind your clients and potential clients that they get what they pay for, and can rely on  you to provide professional, responsible service at a fair price.

Be responsive to questions.

When someone asks a question about you or your business, be friendly, informative, and respond quickly.  This is especially true if they contact you via your contact link on your website.  One of the great things about hiring a freelancer is being able to communicate openly with them, so help people see that advantage by being there.

Be punctual and professional.

Similarly, if there is a time expectation set, meet or exceed that expectation.  Use good business style in all your communications.  Be unfailingly polite and cheerful.  Explain things clearly and answer all questions.  If there is a misunderstanding, be as clear as you can and try to help your client understand.  Sometimes misunderstandings can be as simple as a different use of language, and easily solved with a few questions.

Being a freelancer can be a lot of fun and a very rewarding career.  Following these tips will help it be even better!

via Daily Prompt: Later\

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/later/

Avoiding Purple Prose

 

Many readers shut the book or turn off their eReader when they see too much prose that’s purple!  It’s really best to avoid it.  First, though, what’s purple prose?

Wikipedia has to say this about it:

In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself.[1] Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.

Wikipedia further gives this amusing example:

“On occasion, one finds oneself immersed in the literary throes of a piece of prose where there is very little in the way of advancement of the plot or development of the characters, but the pages are still filled with words. Since the esteemed author has allowed their writing to take a turn for the dry and dull, they gallantly attempt to overcompensate for the lack of stimulation by indulging in elaborate turns of phrase.”[8]                 – Liz Bureman

The best way I’ve found to avoid this literary pitfall is this: write simply.  If you use good, vivid words, it will help you avoid using excess words to make your point.

It’s really worthwhile to go through a manuscript and look for places where you could have said something more simply, clearly, and effectively.  While it’s impossible avoid adjectives, trimming excessive ones can help your work.  Always strive to make one paragraph flow naturally into another, without anything to jolt your reader out of the story you are telling.

When using metaphor, simple is usually best.  Make sure your metaphors aren’t cliched.  A cliche not only kicks the reader out of the story, but it often makes them stop thinking about what you have said.  A great metaphor engages the senses simply, but in a way that makes the reader share the experience you are presenting.

To further avoid prose of a purplish color, break up your sentences.  Also, make sure your words are active, not passive.  Sometimes it helps you read your work aloud.  This lets us hear how the story is flowing, and find the faults more easily.  Many times I’ve read a finished story out loud, only to make half a dozen corrections as I go along.

As I have simplified my writing and gotten away from purple prose, I’ve seen it improve tremendously.  If you’re like me, you can too.

via Daily Prompt: Purple

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/purple/

Ruminations about Feedback

As any successful author knows, feedback is the key to quality.

I’ll be perfectly honest here. I struggle to take feedback well. Criticism, even constructive criticism, makes me cringe. I have always had a very thin skin. I’m easily hurt, and my reactions have cheated me out of some very valuable lessons. When I hear something I don’t like, and I feel hurt because of it, I put up a mental wall. Information starts bouncing off as I close my mental doors. I’m not interested in input. Instead, I’m focusing on how much I feel hurt and how I can make it stop.

This has been disastrous for me. I’ve said really nasty things to people because I’ve been so desperate to stop them from hurting me, even when they weren’t really doing that.  It’s never ended well. Then, instead of only one of us feeling hurt, then both of us feel hurt, and the relationship is seriously damaged, all because I hadn’t made the little adjustment needed.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Nobody has to feel hurt. Here’s how I’ve gotten around this over-sensitivity, so that I’ve been able to accept the valuable information that feedback gives. My trick is to shift my focus. Instead of thinking “This person is trying to tear me down,” I think “This person and I are trying to improve this book together.”

In short, I depersonalize. I take the information as important information that I can use to make things better. I give up the idea that my work is perfect in every way from the very start, no one’s work ever is. Editing is a good, normal part of the writing process. I knew a person who refused to change a single line of his work. His writing was terrible! To this day he hasn’t sold a single copy. Don’t be like him.

Feedback is valuable. Embrace it. Whether you take the advice or not, think about it, really consider it. It can be frustrating to edit your book over and over, but it doesn’t have to hurt emotionally. This simple mental shift takes practice to master, but you will have plenty of chances to do so. In the end, you’ll have a book to be proud of.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Ruminate

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ruminate/

Vivid Descriptions Draw a Reader In

During my role playing session last night, an interesting topic came up.  We started talking about different ways to make vivid descriptions.  Anyone who has done tabletop role playing knows that if the person running the game can’t describe things well, it creates a boring game.  The same is true for novels, essays, really anything that is written.  It’s even true, in slightly different way, for paintings and drawings.

Accurate Descriptions

The key to vividness is accuracy.  Have the scene firmly in mind, thinking of all the details about it, and then describe the scene while trying to engage the audience’s senses.  Think about what it would look like, sound like, feel like.  Then think about first impressions.  You might get something like this:

“She stood on a sandy, lemon colored plain, vainly blinking to clear the fine, flourlike dust that lifted in swirls and puffs every time she made a move.  As she wrapped her scarf firmly about her nose and mouth, she looked around at the looming, knifelike mountains.  Even from this distance, they looked like black obsidian, carved and tortured by time.  Her mouth tasted like dust and she shivered in the thin wind.”

The audience knows what flour is like, they’ve all had dust in their mouth, they may know what obsidian looks like and even if they don’t, they know what black looks like.  They have a higher chance of connecting with the character with this paragraph than if you said

“She was standing on a yellow plain.  She had dust in her eyes and it made her blink.  She wrapped her scarf around her face and looked at the mountains, which were dark and brooding.  It was cold.”

Active vs. Passive voice

The above paragraphs also demonstrate the difference between active and passive voice.  I’m really not the queen of active voice, yet I know that when I use it in my writing, things come alive.  Everything becomes more vivid.

Avoid Cliche

When you use a cliche, your reader stops thinking.  You want your reader to stay engaged with what you have to say.  So try to avoid cliches whenever possible.  Cliches also lead to inaccuracy.  The conversation I mentioned at the beginning of this article started about a cliche.  In describing a planet, I had said it was a “blue green marble hanging before you in space, a golden yellow sun shining beyond.”

My player had an epiphany and realized that not only is that a cliche, but it’s also inaccurate!  If both planet and sun are in front of you, you’d be viewing the dark side of the planet, with at best a crescent of light side showing.  So I came up with this description.

“Ahead of your ship, you see a razor thin blue green crescent, flecked with white, cradling a glowing black opal, the golden primary shining beyond.”

Much better, more evocative, and no cliche to be found.

Conclusion

In general, it’s best to engage your reader’s senses and keep them interested in your story. Avoiding over-used phrases will help a lot.  Put yourself in the story, see, hear and feel what’s around you in your imagination, and your readers will be able to do the same.  Good description can make your writing truly come alive!

Bonus: how to be vivid – for artists

Many of these tips can be used when you are painting or drawing, too.  Contrast is important if you are trying to make a strong visual impression.  Pay attention to where the light falls, where the shadows lie, and how deep they are.  Careful observation will help you here.  Even if you make art from your imagination, observing real world things can make your art great.  Faithful depiction of the details can make the same difference that good description does in a story.  All my favorite artists pay attention to contrast and also small details.  Sure, that swordsman has a belt, but are there signs of wear on it?  Are his boots new, or are they a bit slouched, scuffed, and dusty?  You get the idea.

 

via Daily Prompt: Vivid

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/vivid/

Doubting the quality of your book blurb?

If so, you’re not alone.  Many authors hate writing blurbs. However, a good blurb will give your book its best chances for a sale.

Even with the best cover, a bad blurb will send potential readers running away screaming, never to return. On the other hand, a good one lets the reader know why they should be interested in the book and piques their curiosity without giving too much away.

It’s worth the time spent learning how to write a good one.  A blurb is great to have for many reasons. You use it for your book page, for your ads, and you can use it on any handbills/bookmarks/etc, in full or in part. You can use it author interviews, query letters, back cover matter, ads in the back of your books, you name it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve copied and pasted mine, or parts of mine, for various purposes.

We all know what looks bad.  It’s easy to conjure visions of terrible book blurbs. Bad ones are filled with misused or misspelled words, poor grammar, poor punctuation, run on sentences, choppy sentences, and more.  You can do better!

So, what makes a good blurb, anyway?

It should quickly summarize your book and introduce the plot. There should be no repeated information. An interesting sentence at the beginning, to use as a “hook,” is great too.

Something like

“The World will end on a Saturday.”

“Winged horses may be common, but not if they can talk.”

“Everything seemed normal until I noticed the dragon under my bed.”

“The contagion is coming.”

If you can hook your reader and make them wonder, that’s a good step. Your cover and your blurb work together to draw your readers in. It can take ten or twelve rewrites until you’ve written a good one. The best way to learn is to practice, while reading as many other blurbs as you can. Notice what works. Notice what doesn’t. Notice how others in your genre are writing them.

Here are some basic tips for creating a good one.

Identify the main character by name.
Tell a bit about where they are.
Mention their primary goal in the plot.
What challenges do they have to overcome?
What are they doing to overcome them?
What is at stake?
Keep your blurb short. 3-6 sentences works well.

Here is an example of a blurb I wrote, with the help of some fine folks at a Goodreads writer’s group. It’s not a perfect example, but essentially follows these rules, including the one for length.

Before the fateful phone call, Daphne’s greatest worries were limited to making rent, making art, and what to feed her finicky Siamese. During an otherwise unremarkable shift, a particularly hateful voice coming through her phone line unleashes shadowy horrors that threaten her sanity, her workplace, and eventually her entire city. Daphne and two unlikely companions, a tattooed metalhead and a ditzy nurse, must find a way to free themselves from the curse or face a world of endless fear, blinding fog and deadly phantoms!

Bios

If you mention bios, many authors will groan.

A good bio is much easier to write if you approach it like a blurb. Cover the essentials, pique readers’ curiosity, and communicate who you are and why people will find your work interesting.

Basics for bios:

Your name
Brief history of accomplishments.
Brief discussion of your interests.
A line or two about latest work, if appropriate.
Keep it short, just like in the blurb.

Rohvannyn Shaw has been an avid reader for her entire life. Raised by two writers, a love of literacy permeated her childhood. With this background, it was inevitable that she would eventually turn her hand to the family trade. She has written several novels and edited both fiction and non fiction books. Apart from paying the bills by working in a call center, she is also an artist and illustrator, and happily soaks up the Arizona heat with her partner. She is currently owned by a fluffy calico who graciously allows her to maintain her Mindflight blog.

Now, get out there and do better than that!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/doubt/

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

Via Memoir notes: tips for self published authors

Originally posted on Adidas Wilson: Self-published authors are sometimes ill-prepared or don’t know what to expect when they approach booksellers about selling their titles, signing events, policy, etc. To be successful in pitching their books to booksellers, self-published authors should have a sense of the resources available to booksellers, what is appealing to them, and…

via Eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know — Memoir Notes

It’s a beautiful day to squat in the backyard…

…the sun is shining, the hummingbirds are visiting the feeder, and the temperature is warm and lovely.

In between trips to my backyard, it’s time to plan the next steps for my blog, my editing business, and the spring garden.  I’ve done a little spring cleaning around Mindflight, reworking the banner and updating the pages.  I hope you enjoy them!

New updates include a page just for authors, editing and proofreading services, and a new book all about self publishing!  It’s available as we speak for only 99 cents.  Mindflight is here to support creativity.  I love my fellow authors, artists and creators, and I want to help them by offering resources.  This book does all that.  Feel free to check it out, or check out the new author page!

Happy Spring!

self-publishing-cover-900

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/squat/