Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let the Buyer (or Freelance Employer) Beware! Part I

I don't even notice most jobs that I am not hired for, but on occasion, when I think I am the best applicant (yeah, I freely admit there are people better than or equal to me), I go back and check to see who won the job and try to figure out why so that I can adjust my strategy. 

Now, this has been an interesting couple of weeks. I have been approached twice to do someone else's school work and I have lost two jobs for questionable reasons.

It's those two jobs I want to talk about. In both cases, I have to question the ability of the freelancers to perform well. Both of them are amazingly good salespeople. They have very convincing front covers to their profiles. However, if you dig a little deeper, you find that all is not what it seems. 

Freelancer no. 1 has been around Guru for a long time. He has a very compelling picture and a well-written cover for his profile. A while back, when I first began freelancing, I checked out his writing. It was 100% filled with fluff. It didn't say anything. Based solely on his samples, I decided he must get paid per word because he was really boosting his work without much research. 

Well, I recently had cause to check him out again. This time, I used a deep web search to find all the websites that mentioned him because his new profile landing page was filled with accolades. He has (according to it) done remarkable things in Film, Radio, and Journalism. I was a little skeptical, after all I had seen his samples a few years ago and I was certainly not interested in reading them again. 

My deep web search turned up some more great pages about him - but these were on advertising websites. In other words, he probably wrote them himself. In one, it said that this freelancer was responsible for giving a singer his nickname. I am going to say "Sting," because I don't want to expose this freelancer directly. It also mentioned that he started a type of PBS in his hometown. Well, I did the research and "Sting" had been called "Sting" since he first formed the band. His band members began calling him it - not the press. In fact, it was used in the press 5 -10 years before this guy claimed to have given it to him. Oh, and the PBS station did not exist in any online forum. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What is the difference between developmental editing and line editing?

I recently saw a project posted for a developmental editor. Another freelancer posted a comment saying the employer actually wanted a line editor. The employer asked him what he meant.

A developmental editor basically does a rewrite of your work. They are on the edge of the spectrum between ghostwriters (who are usually presented with only vague ideas that are frequently not even written down) and line editors, who do a little bit more than just catching spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. You would send a rough draft of a novel (really rough draft) to a developmental editor and they would basically rewrite it for you to make your story work.

When I, personally, do developmental editing (content editing), I recommend the employer let me do it without tracking changes. Normally, I find a lot of errors on a page, which makes for a very red page that I return. However, the developmental edit would end up almost entirely red. Tracking changes is not helpful because if I move pieces of the work around and then go in to edit them, they will already be red and there is no way for the original author to discern what I have edited and what I have not.

A line editor also may make edits for flow, but not to the extend that a developmental editor does. The line editor also check for spelling, grammar, and formatting inconsistencies. It is important to have the work line edited by a second person after it was developmentally edited by someone. Ideally, you would then send it to a proofreader.

Most writers - especially newer ones with little reading experience and few hours logged in a writing classroom - need to have a developmental editor as well as a line editor.

In the case of the project, the project description (sans title and keywords) was a description of a line editor. However, once you opened the work (which the description told you to do), you knew it was a developmental edit as listed.

Having one or two run-on sentences in your first paragraph (that remains basically coherent) requires a line editor. Having entire pages of wandering thoughts without punctuation requires a developmental edit.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What makes employers tick?

I just lost a job on Guru, and I am really scratching my head over it. This particular job had a way overpriced budget - I bid $300 for the $500 - 1000 budget range. However, I really cannot see just taking people. At the same time, I think the job was worth $300, I had just finished one that was almost identical and was paid a similar amount.

The job was an "editing a technical manual" job. Now, my blogs are a mess. I try to do a quick edit/ read through when I am finished, but these are no where near as polished as the work I turn over. As I have said before, I am not getting paid to write these - it is more of a psychological release. However, the only way an employer could get to this blog from my bid, would be to click on my profile and then click on my website, then click on the tab for other websites and blogs, and then click on those. By that time, they would certainly have to be more than a little interested in me.

My bids, are well-edited. My profile is well-edited. And, this was an editing job. If you click on my profile, you will notice that each service I offer has a unique description (and picture for that matter). I also have a variety of skills. My annual income isn't looking so hot right now because I devoted four months at the beginning of the year to putting out my own books (these do not show up on Guru as projects unfortunately).

The freelancer who won had no feedback, had never done a single job on Guru before and had a cut and paste profile. What I mean by cut and paste is that every skill she offers has the exact same picture. All but one of the descriptions of the services she offers have the exact same description. And none of the descriptions match the service. For example, her grant writing service description talks not about all the grants she has written (although they do get an honorable mention) but it talks about everything she has written.

Did I mention this was an editing job she just won? Most distressing to me is that her primary cut and paste description was horribly edited. She began talking in first person, and then flipped to third person. She ran one sentence into the next without a single space between the two.

Anyway, I will be watching to see how much (or perhaps how little) she bid on this. You see, I don't consider this to be my professional world even though I link to it professionally. This is my recreation (which is why it gets cut when I have to crunch in some money). However, my professional profiles on Guru and LinkedIn are frequently reread for clarity, updated, and improved. Polished, if you don't mind calling them that. But this freelancer presented herself like a lazy slob. (Cut and paste is very lazy - easy - but lazy.) Although she go the job, I cannot condone her efforts. As an employer, I, personally, would have never hired her. Would you?

Okay, I am going to go sulk in a corner now and lick my wounds.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Formatting a Children's Book for CreateSpace? Or Layout and Formatting?

Someone recently hired me to format their children's book for CreateSpace. I can do this, but the person who hired me had no idea what she wanted. You see, she gave me a PDF that someone else laid out - and she wanted that exact layout.

I am writing this to let you know that if you want a children's book layout, you should not expect one freelancer to do it exactly the same way as another freelancer. She tried to argue that the way it was originally done was the only way to layout a children's book - well, I will send you to the children's section of your library to refute that.

Her original layout was not even all that great. For one, there were giant gaps of white space at the top of many pages. Generally, pictures should fill that, but I didn't dare change the size of her pictures - that would have made it different from the original design. So, I just balanced the pages to get rid of the excess white. That upset her.

In addition, the original formatting was inconsistent. Some of the text is centered, some is left aligned. Some of the text is one size, some of it is different.

Granted, she will sell thousands. You see, the best way to become a writer is to write a book about a cause. This gives you many ins into the business especially if you are willing to donate "a portion of the proceeds" to that cause. If you do this, you can advertise on most websites that support that cause. You can send your books to the cause to be distributed. And you can offer discounts to people wanting to use your books for promoting that cause.

You don't even need to write a good book because it is just like when your child brings home a catalog from school. You buy stuff out of the catalog even though it is overpriced junk simply because you know that you are going to be somehow supporting your child. I, unfortunately, am not commercially minded like that. I like to write "art for arts sake" books and will probably never make it big. However, I am happy with what I write even if I am only appreciated by a few.