Monday, October 31, 2011
Just in Time for Halloween: How to Become a Ghost
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Do a Great Job--and Make Sure Everyone Knows about It
Author, ghostwriter, freelance journalist, and speaker
Check out my contemporary women’s fiction (both set in Chicago!) at:
Did you Get the Vibe? https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61100
White Bikini Panties http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61105
I tweak it occasionally, depending on what aspects of my business I want to highlight, but I always include my blog in it, and whatever book(s) I'm focusing on selling.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Don't Forget--My Writer's Digest Webinar is TOMORROW!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Why Not be the One in Four? What Freelancers are Making Today
- 30 percent of freelancers make less than $20,000/year;
- 22 percent of freelancers make between $20,000 and $39,999/year;
- 20 percent of freelancers make between $40,000 and $59,999/year;
- 12 percent of freelancers make between $60,000 and $79,999/year;
- 8 percent of freelancers make between $80,000 and $99,999/year; and
- 8 percent of freelancers make more than $100,000/year.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
For Chicago-area Freelancers: ASJA-Sponsored Event Fri, Nov 11
A special announcement for Chicago-area writers about an upcoming program:
Surviving—and Thriving in—Today’s Freelance Market: ASJA Board Members Share Strategies that Work
The freelance market can be challenging to negotiate today, but it also offers new opportunities to both new and seasoned writers. This special event features members of the board of directors of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Whether you’re interested in writing books or freelancing for a variety of print and online markets, you’ll benefit from decades of experience from these seasoned, successful writers.
Location: Silversmith Hotel, 10 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL
Date: Friday, November 11, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Price:$10, payable in cash or check at the door
This event will include two concurrent panels, one on book publishing and one ongeneral freelancing and is open to both ASJA members and non-members. ASJA board members speaking include:
On the Successful Book Publishing Today panel (moderated by me!):
- Caitlin Kelly, author of Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail (Portfolio, 2011) and Blown Away: American Women and Guns (Pocket Books, 2004).
- Russell Wild, author of more than a dozen books, including, most recently, Exchange-Traded Funds for Dummies, Bond Investing for Dummies, Index Investing for Dummies, and One Year to An Organized Financial Life.
- Janine Latus, is the author of the international bestseller If I Am Missing or Dead: a sister’s story of love, murder and liberation, which has been translated into six languages.
On the Successful Freelancing Today panel (moderated by ASJA president Salley Shannon):
- Minda Zetlin, author/coauthor of five books and regular contributor to Inc. magazine and the Inc. website, as well as many other online and print publications.
- Gina Roberts-Grey, who has written scores of health and consumer issues articles for women's print and online markets including Glamour, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman's Day, Redbook, Self, Essence, MSN.com, InsuranceQuotes.com, iVillage and others, as well as numerous celebrity profiles.
- Randy Dotinga, who writes stories, blog posts and book reviews for The Christian Science Monitor and a daily email newsletter for Voice of San Diego (a leading non-profit investigative news organization). He also regularly writes for MSNBC.com, HealthDay News Service, Health Behavior News Service and other outlets.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Who, You? Five Ways to Develop your Voice (and Make you Stand out)
One of the biggest challenges of ghostwriting is the challenge of capturing your client's voice. When you ghost, what you write should sound like your client, not you. So you may be surprised to learn that I do believe in having a unique voice as a writer, regardless of the type of work you do.
But how do you develop a unique voice? How can you make your voice stronger? And what is voice, anyway? I'm frequently asked about voice, especially by newer writers who want their work to stand out from the crowd—and there's nothing wrong with that. But voice isn't something that can be forced. It develops over time, gradually announcing itself in your choice of phrase, your rhythm, your style.
Every writer has a voice. If you're still trying to identify yours, or make it more compelling, try these five techniques:
Write for a variety of markets. When you write for different markets, you must be able to analyze the magazine's voice and perspective—and duplicate it, or at least conform your work to it. Articles I've written for a magazine aimed at 20-something women sound quite different than those I write for markets aimed at an older audience, or for men, for that matter. Writing for different audiences is one of the easiest ways to play with different voices and see which feel most natural and comfortable to you.
Write for yourself. Of course, if you're always worried about pleasing your editor, your own voice may slip through the cracks. That's why I recommend personal writing, whether it's blogging, writing letters, or keeping a journal. When you write for yourself, you may find your voice begins to assert itself. Make a habit of this kind of "selfish" writing—it will improve your craft and help you develop a unique style.
Compare before and after. After a story is edited, compare your original version to the version your editor produced. How did the story change? Did it affect your voice? Are you happy with the edit? Why or why not? Even small changes to a piece can have a dramatic impact, and becoming aware of those changes (especially when introduced by another writer) can help your own writing in the future.
Read widely. Don’t limit yourself to one genre, one subject matter, or one author. I read everything from popular nonfiction to novels to The Star (hey, I've got to keep up on my celeb gossip.) The broader your base of reading, the deeper your "language well" will be, and you'll notice a difference in your writing.
Be yourself. At the same time, don't strive to be the next Hemingway or Atwood or Clancy or Morrison. Imitation may be a form of flattery, but it won't help your writing. Instead of trying to be like someone else, focus on your perspective—that's something that no else can duplicate. I don't read fiction when I'm working on a new novel because I don’t want to be influenced (even unconsciously) by another author. I want the voice in my book to be authentic. I want it to be mine.
Whether you ghostwrite or freelance for different markets, you’ve got to be able to capture the voice that your client or editing is looking for. Just don’t forget that you have your own, too—and strive to develop a strong one. It will make you more marketable, and more memorable, as a self-employed writer.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Upcoming Webinar: Make Money NOW Writing Freelance Articles
- How to analyze a potential market.
- How to make your query stand out from the competition.
- How to locate and interview sources for articles.
- How to reslant article ideas and make more money in less time.
- How to get your first assignment when you have no clips.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Above Average: Straight Talk about POD Sales
- 159 print copies through CreateSpace (including expanded distribution);
- 50 e-books;
- 50 copies through a special sale; and
- 36 copies as "hand-sales," or copies I sell at speaking gigs, writers' conferences, or directly to readers who want a signed copy, etc. (If you do--or want to buy a copy as a gift for a writer, shoot me an email at kelly at becomebodywise dot com.)
For each Kindle edition sold in the US, UK, or Canada, I make 70% of the cover price, which is $9.99--that's a royalty of $6.95.
For a Kindle edition sold outside of those three countries, I made 35% of the Kindle price of $9.99, or $3.49.
For hand-sales, I purchase copies of the book directly from CreateSpace for $3.65 each, plus shipping. At a cover price of $14.95, I net about $11.30/book, less if I mail copies to purchasers myself.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Criticism Can be a Good Thing: A Four-Step Process to Make it Work for You
When you freelance, you take a critical step from writing for yourself and writing for others—editors, clients, and readers. That means you can sell and get paid (hopefully well!) for your work, but it also means that you’re subject to criticism. The way you respond to it can impact your success as a freelancer.
How you respond to criticism depends on a on a variety of factors, including who’s making the comment, your relationship with that person, what’s said or communicated, and how it’s communicated.
In a perfect world, every article, blog post, book, and book proposal I write would be accepted "as is," and I’d never have to rewrite anything, ever. But that’s not the case, nor will it be for you.
1. Consider the source. If the criticism is from a client or editor, I pay attention. If it’s from someone like the person who just posted a nasty (and untrue) review about Goodbye, Byline, I try to let it go. (Obviously I'm not always successful as my ire resulted in this blog post.)
No writer enjoys being criticized, but instead of ignoring it or getting angry, turn it into a positive thing for your writing. Consider whether it’s legit, and if it is, let it spur you to take your work up a notch. And if you know it isn't legit. let it slide...and move on.
Readers, do you agree with this four-step analysis? How do you react to criticism? Do you find it a helpful tool for stronger writing?
***The book cover at the top of this post is the one for my new book, Writer for Hire, which will be released in April, 2012 but you can preorder it on Amazon already.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
What Every Writer Should Know about Copyright
Here’s the least you must know about copyright:
1. When you write an article, book proposal, or book on your own, you automatically own the copyright to it.
2. You retain copyright, or ownership, of the work unless and until you sell, transfer, or grant the copyright to someone else.
That’s it! But let’s talk about what copyright actually is. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “copyright” is a form of protection provided by U.S. law to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual rights. Copyright means that the author of the work has the exclusive right to do what he wishes with his work and to authorize others to do the same.
So as the copyright owner, you (and only you) can do whatever you want with the work you’ve created—until and unless you sell, transfer, or assign those rights to someone else, like a publisher. That’s copyright law in a nutshell.
New writers often think they have to register their work with the Library of Congress to create copyright. That’s not true. Copyright protection is created concurrently with the work—as you get the words down on the page (what the law refers to as “in fixed form”), it’s automatically copyrighted. But it’s got to be “in fixed form.” An idea is not is fixed form, and so isn’t protected by copyright law.
Of course there is an exception to every rule. With copyright, the exception is when you are an employee, creating work for an employer. Then, the company you work for owns the copyright to anything you create at work under what’s called the “work-for-hire” doctrine. In that case, your employer, not you, automatically owns the writing you do at work. (Some freelance contracts also have work-for-hire provisions; legally speaking, though, a work-for-hire can only exist between an employer and an employee, not a freelancer and a client.)
Making Sense of Copyright Notice
Copyright notice simply lets everyday people (i.e. those who know nothing about publishing law) that this work is someone’s property. If there’s no copyright notice on a piece of writing and someone copies or uses it for their own purposes (assuming in good faith that it’s okay to do so—what the courts call an “innocent infringer”), that person may not be liable for damages. That’s why notice is required—to let would-be innocent infringers know that they can’t use your work.
The notice required is the copyright symbol ©, followed by the date the work was first published, and the author’s name—for example, © 2011, Kelly James-Enger. That’s why books have a copyright page—to help protect the work from no-longer-innocent infringers. Just keep in mind that if you’re sending work out to anyone in the publishing biz—agents, editors, or publishers—you needn’t stick a copyright notice on your work. They know it’s copyrighted—and it looks amateurish.
For More Effective Protection...
The copyright statute provides that if you prevail, you can get attorneys’ fees (which can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars) and statutory damages—in other words, monetary damages set out by law. (Contrast this to having to prove your damages in court, which is much more difficult.) If you’ve registered your copyright, you can introduce that fact at trial to prove you’re the legal copyright owner. That’s big. If you don’t register your work within three months after it’s published, you may still have a cause of action for infringement, but you’re limited to injunctive relief and/or actual damages—that is, the amount of money you have lost because of the violator’s actions, which may be impossible to conclusively prove.
$35 to register work online;
$50 to register work via paper registration; and
$65 to register a group of articles or other work for periodicals or database updates.