Thursday, August 29, 2013

Time Flies

Some people say that time flies when you are having fun. Perhaps it does, but time also flies when you are working with people from around the world. For example, yesterday, one of my clients from France asked me for a translation. I did not get the message until 5:00pm my time, which unfortunately was 10:00 his, so I had to leave him a message.

Now my British clients usually are up and ready at about 4:00AM, but the French are usually a little behind this. Unfortunately, but the time I got on and received his message, it was already the afternoon. Sigh. I wanted to have this done today, but today was already done for him.

Some freelancers do not like the confusion of working around the world. Or the difficulty of trying to figure out when you can call them without interrupting your sleep. I like the challenge -after all, who needs sleep anyway?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The hardest part of self-publishing is marketing. I am working on a book now that will probably not be accepted by a publisher. However, I am committed to helping my employer self-publish, even if that means spending hours on the phone with him helping to walk him through it. He actually has two books he wants to publish, so I will probably need to do it twice.

However, the biggest problem with self-publishing is marketing. On Guru, you can hire marketers. When Sal comes out, I may do that. However, this man probably will not have money for a massive marketing scheme. Still, I want to help. I feel he has a unique voice.

This experience has definitely made me consider my options for starting a publishing company. There are plenty of publishing companies that are online and I tend to roll my eyes at them. It is easy as all get out to publish online if you have the patience to deal with formatting revisions. You also should have a professional editor glance at it before doing it. Oh, and it is nice to have a platform to advertise it on.

So if you do not have a platform and cannot hire a marketer, what do you do? Well, you can buy several copies yourself and distribute it to your friends, family, and local libraries. You can also approach local bookstores about carrying your book.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Most authors self-publish as a way to break into being a published author. Well, I am a published author. I began by having several things published in my local paper, then I moved on to having two stories published in an Indiana University publication while I was attending there. Then I began working on Guru and I had HIV and AIDS: the Essential Guide published under my name in the UK.(I believe it is on Kindle in the US.) And in October I will have Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy: An Essential Guide published under the same imprint (Need2Know books).

However, I have so many things that I have written and received rejection letters for, that I felt I might as well publish them myself. After all, they are only collecting dust (okay they are digital so they are really just becoming outdated file formats). So, I just finished publishing A Cheaper by the Dozen Study Guide. The paper version will be reproducible (it is still under review but should be live by Monday since it has already been proofed). And then there is the guide and answer key in digital format that are sold separately (for 99 cents each) and can allow the guide to be taken anywhere in an easy format.

So far, no one has bought them, but at least I feel better since they are now collecting dust on Amazon's shelves. I am not expecting it to be a best seller. However, I am having a children's book illustrated and I am hoping that it will make it into the top 100,000 sales on Amazon. Perhaps I am too optimistic...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The guy who has a book...

Whenever someone finds out I freelance write, they always have a book they have been working on. I know that everyone in any sort of business runs into this problem, but I find it very interesting how frequently people are writing books.

I guess I should not be surprised. It is very easy to begin a book. It is very hard to complete it. However, when you are working on someone else's book, you tend to be more inclined to finish the project so you can have instant gratification of getting paid. When you complete your own book you often then have to go through the heart rending difficulty of not finding a publisher (and mounds of rejection letters from publishers and agents alike) or you self-publish and do not make past 1,000,000,000 in sales rank on Amazon. Yeah, writing for yourself is tough and it goes beyond thick skin - it is more like turtle shell plated skin.

Although I like to be practical, this is my income. So, when people say, "I have this book I would like you to look at" I usually try to take a look at it and give them an estimate on what it would take for me to complete it. I also try to encourage them to self-publish.

Although it is difficult not seeing your book rise to number 1 in sales rank on Amazon, it is better than getting a rejection letter in my opinion.

Granted, when my HIV and AIDS: The Essential Guide made it to 100,000 twice, that was good enough for me - Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy: The Essential Guide will be coming out next.

Learning Song

Occasionally a job falls into my lap that is extremely enjoyable. This week, a science teacher hired me to write a song to Rihanna's "Umbrella" about cell theory and the parts of a cell. With his permission, I have decided to share some of it with you today:

Uh huh, uh huh (Yeah Cell Theory)
Uh huh, uh huh (Structure of life)
Uh huh, uh huh (Helps you…Function)
Uh huh, uh huh

Everything alive
Big or small, short, tall or in between
From each of the kingdoms: five
Is made up of cells, which come from cells.
In 1665,
Robert Hooke took a look, through his 
Microscope not his telescope. saw cork up close and personal,
Said in his head, “I thought this was dead but instead
It looks like living cells!”
You got a lot to gain
From the cellular membrane;
Protects your cell like skin;
Watches what goes out and in.
Cytoplasm fills it up;
Holds organelles in a
Colorless watery gel.
Lets talk about the cell.
When we begin, we begin together
Pass through the cellular membrane cover
In a vacuole through cytoplasm
Past the mitochondria and ribosomes.
The endoplasmic reticulum
Speeds the proteins to their destination.
The nuclear membrane keeps the rest
Of the cell from the nucleus
(Cella cella ai ai ai),
Inside each of my cells
(Cella cella ai ai ai),
Inside each of my cells 
(Cella cella ai ai ai),
Inside each of my cells
(Cella cella ai ai ai ai ai ai).

Sometimes my job is good (and fun).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Am I starving or just foolish?

So I am bemoaning my state of poorness. I have over $1000 in invoices out right now and the people have not paid me. So I am starving. One of these invoices is scary to me. You see, I did not use safe pay and it is the first time working with the person. Oh, and instead of the $25 which is what I would normally risk, he owes me around $470. Um... and I invoiced him around two weeks ago. So, I am biting my nails on that one.

Why did I do it? Because it was a large job and paid per word. It is difficult to set up SafePay on a per word basis. You do not know how many you will have until the job is finished. I have usually required some sort of downpayment into SafePay, but the person want the immense job done in two weeks, so I did not want to waste time and money waiting for him to make the deposit. I would have never been able to complete it.

Everyone else either has worked with me before, so I am pretty sure they will pay, or has the funds in SafePay. But still, it is a lot of money. My bank account right now is $0 (at least I hope it is $0 and not negative.) I have gone four weeks without receiving a payout of more that $25 here or there. So I am starving.

This is one of the biggest dangers of freelancing, and it is pretty much resolved with SafePay. After all, if they have already paid, why don't they release it? But my income is not steady at all. Which is bad, because my income feeds us. Sigh.

Anyway - this is why I have been grumping about money lately. Four weeks without real pay is a long time...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The starving artist

People who are single can easily be starving artists. Before we were dating, my husband and his friend came over to my house to pick me up. While I was in the bathroom (because I was taught you always go to the bathroom before you leave), they both (who apparently had never been taught the manners of visiting someone's house) looked through my freezer. At which point my husband joked, upon my exit from the commode, that they could not give the $1 Kroger's pizzas away to employees for free when he worked there.

However, I was single. It is very easy to be single and live off power bars and $1 pizzas topped with frozen spinach. Not so much once you get married to the gourmet that I did (I say this in jest, if you give him 1/2 pound of grilled beef, some potatoes and canned corn, he is happy). Now that I have children, one of whom shuns peanut butter and bemoans the fact he is not deathly allergic to it so he would no longer need to smell it in the air or on our breath, and others who complain because I forget to tell them in the drive through that this sandwich gets no lettuce, this one no pickles, and this one no tartar sauce, now I have found living on the shoestring required of an artist (or in this case author) is not acceptable.

Thus, I have also decided that selling my own work may cost me money in the beginning - for pictures in the case of all the children's books I have written over the years, for editing in the case of the book I co-wrote with my husband, and for help getting past writers block in the case of most of my other works - but it will in fact bring in more money that is steadier if I can build a platform.

I have also decided that in order to keep the delicate balance of money coming in now - i.e. freelancing money - with money that will sustain me in the future - i.e. money I will make as a small time author once I have self-published - I will begin to limit my posts to once or twice a week. Although I feel I was faithful to the every other day posting that I initially set up for quite a while, it has been very difficult to sustain that. This has created two to three week gaps sometimes, that is not fair for people who are actually interested in finding out what it is like to be a freelance author or any sort of writer at all.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Building your platform and self-promotion

I enjoy freelancing, I really do. But as I have previously posted, it makes it difficult to do my own stuff and it of course pays much less. However, if you want to make it as an author you must build a platform. Sadly, the days of giant publishing companies looking over your book an sending you a wonderful acceptance letter are pretty much gone. Now, you have to promote yourself before a publishing company (and sometimes even agents) will look at you.

At first, I resisted the urge to self publish. But as I work for others and see job posts for people who have set up their own online "publishing companies" I began to crack. Like any author, I have a voice. I do not see why it must be silenced because I have not promoted myself. Based on some of the books I have gotten from the library that were recently published, I tend to cringe. Surely, I write better than that - why do I have an entire folder of rejection letters?

One person recently posted a job for be exclusively and asked if I would write their book. When I agreed, they then asked if I would find a publisher for it. I am not an agent. I have only a few minor contacts in the publishing industry and these are feeble acquaintances more than anything else. I think it a true honor to have any contacts at all, don't get me wrong. But my influence had not been able to get any of my books published so I do not think it will work for others, either. This is why I also do not write queries. None of mine have succeeded.

Now, I have become an employer as well as freelancer. The irony being that I do not farm out other work that people have assigned me (for the most part). Instead, I have hired an illustrator to get my children's book published (there will be a promotion on here for this as soon as he is done). I have also hired someone to complete an existentialist adult novelette for kindle, and an romance I will be sending to Harlequin. Well, the romance will not be completed exactly, just a boost of 15,000 words to help me over my writers block. But whenever I make a push to get these done myself, it seems I do not make enough money from freelancing to support my families affinity for eating three times a day.