Monday, February 24, 2014

Keeping Good Records

So, when you are freelancing, it is very important for you to keep all your records: in addition to simple financial records, you should also record and save all correspondence whether through email or project message boards such as those found on freelancer websites. You should keep copies of all the drafts and revisions you submit. With technology what it is, making a copy of these documents and putting them on a CD so you can file them with the year should be easy. I never enter into an agreement that requires me to destroy all my work after submitting it. I want evidence if something goes sour.

I posted this because I recently was hired to write the terms of service for a new website. I generally stay away from website content, but I thought it would be a quick easy job. After all, most terms of service that are hired out to freelancers are just rewrites of existing website TOS. I ran the TOS on one website through a plagiarism checker and discovered that 70% had been pulled off of one website or another.

Now this person gave me two websites as examples of what her website would be like and told me to refer to the terms of service for them. Then I asked a list of detailed questions about her specific business, which she answered. However, she frequently responded by saying "put a placeholder in for it because I'm not sure yet."

Now, when a website is being developed, it frequently goes through many changes. I could accept that she may change her mind about offering certain services, and I left it open for her to do so. I sent her a terms of service with several areas highlighted and a note saying she could remove the highlighted areas now and then add it back in later if they decided to offer those things.

Then, she got "busy". The contract she agreed to said she had 5 business days to return the content to me for a rewrite. However, she kept asking for more time. I was fine with this. I am pretty easy going (hard to believe I know), but today (several weeks later)- out of the blue she sent me a list of things to do.

Okay, so I would have made the corrections and sent them back without comment, but of course something went wrong. Instead of a list telling me what she would like me to change, she sent me a list and also accused me of not listening to her directions and not following them. She asked for things on her list that she had never mentioned and then got angry with me because she said she told me to take all those placeholders out. I literally felt like I was living out a scene from "The Devil Wears Prada."

I went back and checked all our correspondence, and she had not mentioned any of it. When I sent her the list of questions she answered showing I did just as she said, she told me she knew she gave me other directions and to stop wasting her time arguing because she was very busy. She concluded by telling me to get the job done. Excuse me! I am not a slave! (Well, maybe I am, but I certainly am a slave who can pick and choose her masters.)

What is truly incomprehensible to me is that I was fully expecting to make adjustments for her. I completely understand if the nature of the website has become less fuzzy over the last two weeks. I designed the terms of service to be easy to adjust. So why in the world would she accuse me of not listening to her instructions?

The terms of service I wrote were fifteen pages long. When the rude accusing language was removed from her list, the only changes she wanted me to make were to add one sentence to the beginning, one sentence to the payment terms, delete all the highlighted material except one section (which makes no sense with the rest of the highlighted areas deleted but hey whatever she wants), and add her customer service number (which she had not told me before), and then put website's address into it. These changes took me less than a half hour. It seems if I had not listened and done such a poor job, it should have been a lot harder than that to fix.

Normally, I do two rewrites if necessary, but I sent her these changes and told her that I was done working for her since she did not find my work acceptable.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Don't Be Rude

Yes, I know, coming from me who is blunt to those who hire me to edit, telling people not to be rude can seem like the pot calling the kettle black. However, I may be abrupt in my comments about your manuscript, but I do it in a loving way because I want to improve your writing. The same way I yell at my children at the top of my lungs as if they just broke and antique or brought a dead animal into my house only to give them a hug.

However, there is no reason to be rude to a beta reader just because he or she does not want to read your book. The rude person who prompted me to write this post implied that a beta reader was like someone who was unemployed looking for a job and that his/her book was basically a gift to the beta reader.

Now, some books are very wonderful to read. However, any book in its beginning stages is kind of like a newborn baby before it has been cleaned off - only a mother (or the books author) would find it attractive enough to take into her (or his) bosom.

When I have finished working on a book, the book is inevitable better than before I start it, but I am getting paid. I can afford to put two or three weeks into helping you smooth out the wrinkles. However, a beta reader is doing it for free (dare I say "fun" in an S&M sort of way) and trying to find the gem under the dirt (frequently, they do not get it after it has been polished by a professional editor).

I would like to think that my manuscripts are a little nicer when they go to a beta reader since I do work in the profession. I am not bragging, I actually have had beta readers tell me they just needed a little more tweaking and were in good shape. However, I would not insult my beta readers into reading a manuscript for me. I am trying to send Radiography and Chemotherapy to a beta reader as well as The Lost Histories Book One. Both of these books have only been through one of my rough edits and I usually like to do a minimum of three before sending them off to anyone. I would in no way complain if a beta reader flat out refused to read these because of it. I am hoping, though. (Or maybe I should say groveling.)

Anyway, there are many beta readers out there. Find one that reads what you are writing and do not ask him or her to read something that is outside their genre. If a beta reader turns you down for any reason, even after you send your manuscript - thank them and be nice. They are volunteers, you know.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bye-Bye Metacrawler

Research is one of the most important things an author can do. I hate reading books that have inaccuracies. Although authors have to bend the truth for the sake of the story, and author should have a reason for doing it that is something other than ignorance.

I have used Metacrawler as my favorite search engine for more than 15 years. It searched all the search engines and usually had great results. I always scorned other search engines because they never turned out the results accurately.

Then at the end of last year, Metacrawler began searching Blekko in addition to the standards: Google, Yahoo, etc. Whenever my results appeared, frequently the exact phrase would appear in results found on Blekko. If I typed in 19th century table manners, I would find that Blekko had 19th century table manners available for sale on e-bay. Yeah, thanks. Occasionally, I would click a link that I thought was taking me to a Wikipedia page only to find it was actually a link to a Blekko page with a bunch of advertising and the Wikipedia page displayed in the center.

I tried to notify Metacrawler of Blekko's uselessness as a search engine to no avail. Then in December the Metacrawler website announced it was turning into Zoo. I was not impressed with the new name, so I continued using the old website. However, sadly, at the end of January Metacrawler was permanently retired.

At first, I switched to Zoo - my favorites bar link to Metacrawler automatically redirected me there. Unfortunately, Zoo displayed very useless results. So, I erased my links and now I am using Google. Yuck. I do not feel Google is the best search engine, but until I find another mega search engine, I am stuck. At least it is better than Zoo... or Blekko.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Google AdWords

I don't usually do marketing or even SEO, but occasionally... I get inspired. So I bid on a job for ten to twenty Google AdWords. The company produces a high-end sound system that has a lower cost than most. You can check it out here: or here: to get an idea of what they do. Something about the way the project was written just inspired me. I didn't think I would get the job because I don't have any adwords samples, but I made one up specifically for their company and put it in my bid.

If you are good at slogans and sales media, that is definitely the way to promote your freelancing skills. Marketing is another great way to make money freelancing because so much of it is needed these days.

Google Adwords are a little tricky though. Usually Google Adwords are 3 lines and a website address. The first line is usually your keywords and your product name and is 25 characters, i.e. "SoulNote Sound System," or "SoulNote Hi-fi Equipment." Then there are usually two lines of 35 characters each - your slogan and your call to buy something (Try this/ get this/ check us out/ etc.). This is the formula you have to stick with, so it can be quite challenging.

In order to do this job, I had to not only look at the AdWords website, but I also looked at a blog that dissected good and bad Adwords. If you don't use your limited Adwords well, you can end up paying more for "bad clicks." So writing Adwords required a little bit of research, but once you learn how to do it, it is a good skill to market.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Guru Profiles

Well, our new profiles on Guru have gone live, and I think they look nice:

The problem is that Guru went to a lot of expense to let us do this, so they are raising their annual prices. I can't complain too much because the commissions are on a more graded scale. However, I do not know what is going to happen with mine right now. I pay an annual membership in December, so I just paid mine (at old rates). I am a little up in the air about what is going to happen. Will I have to pay more ASAP? or can I wait until December? Someday soon I suppose I am going to have to find out...

Now most people are upset because they will be getting less bids (50) per month. But the bids will accumulate, so that doesn't bother me. I think the most bids I ever went through (because I was really trying) was 80 in one month. I bid on everything that month and then I got swamped with work (see two posts ago). If your profile reflects the work you do and if you know where your niche is, you should be able to pick the jobs you know you are best suited to do.

The only way this would be a problem is if you have a freelancing business where you are the boss of a team of writers. You would then be able to accept more jobs. But I am just me (although I have thought about hiring other writers). So fifty is fine. Especially with the awesome new profiles.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I got my first blog interview here: I've talked about the importance of social networking before for authors of any kind. This was a big step for me. I enjoyed the whole process. The questions were very thought provoking and interesting. This particular blogger is always interviewing new authors, so if you like to read, it is a good blog to visit.
Interviews are important for anyone who wants to write. It opens you up to new audiences and allows you to share a little of yourself with others.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Finishing up projects

The hardest part about freelancing is managing your projects. Finished projects mean paychecks, so ideally you want to finish projects as quickly as possible. But sometimes that doesn't always work. I have received many editing projects that were going to be "quick edits" based on what the project said, but I have a hard time doing a "quick edit" when the writing needs a little more than that. My goal in the long run is to teach the author how to write better so the next book will require less editing work.
I also work on most of my projects collaboratively. That means, I don't just run through and do and edit and it's done. Every time I edit I do a three step process (sometimes four). As the manuscript gets redder from the tracked changes, it begins to get difficult to edit things. Sometimes you put in more typos because you accidentally deleted a space or you left an extra space in the work. So, when it gets too red, I have to send it to the author and have them fix it and then return it to me. Then I start over again. Most authors are quick about this, but a few take some time or they send it back to me without accepting or rejecting any of the changes and in the e-mail give me a list of the things they rejected. This means I have to go through and find the things that need to be rejected in order to start again with a clean slate. Everything slows the process down.
 At the same time, I cannot work on one project without thinking about the next one. It can take up to three days to set up a project on Guru. I get hired; I accept; I send them a contract; they accept; I set up SafePay; they fund SafePay. Then, some people hire me before their project is ready to work on. Occasionally, I will bid on a project and not hear from the person for several months! I don't like to say "no" but sometimes it makes time management very tricky.
Another problem I run into is writing itself. I need inspiration to write. I can't just plunk things out. I have to think about it. Even with my editing, I will look at a clunky sentence and sometimes have to step away from the computer just to think about how to reword it. Other times, I "see" exactly what needs to be done and flow through it. I never know if I am going to get a flowing project or a breaking project until I dig in.