The Never-Ending Client

Occasionally, as a freelancer you will encounter a client that stick to you like lint to felt and may be frustrated by what to do. I recently had a client who hired me to do a small job which I turned out for him in a couple of days and which he said he really liked. However, rather than paying the balance due, he kept coming back with little niggly things. Could I change the emphasis on this? Could I shorten it to accommodate more formatting tags. Each time, I did as he asked but he kept coming back. Again with little things.

But little things add up

The problem wasn’t the requests so much as the client’s apparent refusal to accept that the work was done. He felt he could freely change his mind and I would willingly continue to make changes ad infinitum.

Coming from (originally) the hospitality industry, the concept that the customer is always right has been ingrained in my mind. So my tendency is to bend over backwards to accommodate my clients and make them happy.

However, there comes a time when you must put your foot down and gently tell your client you fulfilled your end of the bargain. It’s unfair for the client to keep adding things to a job that strictly speaking weren’t part of the agreement.

What to do

If you have such a problem with a client the following may help you:

1. Before you take on a job you must define the parameters of the work. A contract should do this for you.
2. Resist the urge to keep working until the client is happy. Of course you want your client to be satisfied with your work and you should always strive for that. But some people will take advantage of your good nature and have you working forever on a project because they changed their mind mid-stream.
3. Gently get the client to accept responsibility for changing their mind. In the kindest yet firm language you can muster you need to remind the client what the agreement was and the parameters of the work established before you began. And show them that you fulfilled your end of the agreement.
4. Worst case scenario, refund their money. No freelancer likes to do this, especially if the work is already done and has been given to the client. However, it may be better to give a full or partial refund rather than have a noisy, complaining client out there in cyberspace trashing your rep.

One of the pitfalls for freelancers, especially when first starting out is that they are so happy to get a job that they often don’t take the time to specify the parameters of the work and find themselves in this situation. However, if a job that should take four hours ends up taking twelve hours then you can easily end up making less than minimum wage.

In my case whenever I run into a snag like this I review my policy and terms and refine them to include the snag so that they don’t reoccur. Freelancing like any business is a matter of trial and error and refinement.

In the meantime, here is a decent sample of a contract you may want to use as a template for freelance writing gigs.

How about you? Have you ever had a never-ending client? What happened? How did you handle it? Did you change the way you operated your business because of it? Feel free to share your tips in the comments.

WC

#Ten Things Not to Say to a Writer Lights up Twitter and other fun stuff

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#Ten Things Not to Say to a Writer. Hilarious.

Another wake-up call from Amazon as they serve author interests better than publishers have. by Mike Shatzkin Discusses what Amazon, yet again, is doing for authors – and it’s a good thing.

A Publishing Contract Should not be Forever. The Author’s Guild suggest a publishing contract with traditional publishers should not be forever. I think he’s got a point.

Living in the White Space by Liz Michalski. Liz suggests there may be more to life than writing, editing and submitting. She may have a point.

Does your site make the grade? Check out this cool free little tool, the website grader.

Meanwhile…I’m working my butt off to have an August release of my mystery series. Wish me luck. :D

Have a great rest of the week everybody.

WC

Creative work and theft – yes, Virginia, it happens

create bigger and better things - don't let the bad guys win

create bigger and better things – don’t let the bad guys win

A friend of mine who is an artist has a problem. She wants to get her art out there in the world but is deathly afraid of having it stolen. This is not new problem to me – I’ve had similar discussions with other friends and fellow artists in the past about this.

In fact, I’d venture to say that every one of us who create creative product, whether writing, painting, photography, music, etc., has at least, on one occasion, been stolen from.

The Internet, unfortunately, can make that theft even easier. Because everybody has access to everything – or so it seems. And there is a mindset that has been created by marketers, that makes consumers feel that everything should be free. From college tuition to movies, to artwork, to books and so on.

It’s happened to me

I’ve had stuff stolen. A few years back I discovered that a woman who had a ‘escort’ blog, had literally copy and pasted hundreds of my blogs posts to her blog. No attribution. No email asking for my permission. Nothing. I discovered it quite by accident. When I confronted the woman she said I should be flattered that she took my content and used it because that meant it was good. Fortunately, between some very loyal readers and the folks at WordPress, the content was taken down and in fact, she deleted her blog.

Then of course all of us who have blogged for any period of time have followed those links on our stats pages that show a link to your content on some smarmy link site – that culls the Internet for content that will get people to their sites so they’ll click on their advertising.

And if you’re a writer, at least once, you’ve written an article on spec, as part of an application process for a writing job (probably listed on Craigslist). Of course, you never hear back from them because they got what wanted – a free article on the topic of their choice.

So…you know, it happens.

What you can do about it

The fact is that there will always be thieves and people who believe they are simply entitled to whatever it is they want. There are things of course that you can do to protect yourself:

While nothing is absolute and you probably cannot prevent someone who is hellbent from stealing from you – you can take precautions and protect your work in the way that is most appropriate and best for you.

Share anyway

Yes, it is true people may steal from you. They may copy your work. They may put their name on your work. You may have to take them to court. And of course nobody wants that to happen to them. But it’s still not a good enough reason not to share your work with the world. Creatives create for the world – not for themselves and if you let fear guide you there will be little joy to be had in your work. So, do what you can. Accept the fact that it might not be enough and move on. Put your energy into creating bigger and better things. And don’t let the bad guys win and ruin your day. Besides, the world at large is usually pretty good at spotting cheats and fakers, right?

How about you? Do you worry someone will steal your work? Do you hesitate to put your creative product out there because of possible theft or copyright infringement? Has anyone stolen your creative product? What happened? Feel free to share your tale in the comments.

WC

Chuck Wendig Wants to Know Why I Write

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(Rather than his typical fiction challenge, Chuck has asked us to write an essay on why we write)

Why do I write?

I don’t think anyone truly knows why they write. They may know the catalyst – the event that started them on the path to writing. Or perhaps the teacher, parent or friend who inspired and encouraged them. But the honest to God why?

Whenever that question has been posed to me my answer is simple: “Because I must.” Why must I? Got me. Is it to relieve the pressure of all the voices, characters and ideas in my head? Is it just the simple joy of words and finding ways of putting them together in just the right way? Or is it that I simply can’t keep my mouth shut – can I just not say what’s rumbling around up there between my ears? Could be. Or perhaps it’s genetic. Scientists keep finding that many things people do are actually genetic – so perhaps writing is something that my DNA code is predisposed toward and I am simply compelled to write through no self determined thought of my own.

Why I love to write

It would be easier to tell you why I love to write. I love to venture into my own mind where the only boundaries are the ones that I enforce. Where the rules are mine and no one else’s. Where I can create any kind of alter ego and adventure I want without risk of bodily harm. Because words create a kind of music in my head, a tune I can’t stop humming and truth be told I don’t want to stop humming. Because it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like me, who I am, who I really am. Because everything is a story of sorts and I find stories infinitely interesting and intriguing and challenging. And too because I like to please people. I like to make them laugh. I like to make them think and feel and experience things that they wouldn’t otherwise feel in the real world. And stories are the things that connect us all.

So…why do I write? For no reason and for every reason.

What about you? Do you write? Do you know why? What does writing do for you? What do you want your writing to do for others? Entertain, intrigue, interest, think, something else? Feel free to give your reasons in the comments.

WC

ISBNs – One of the Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing

nuts and bolts

If you’re an indie author and plan to self-publish your book, there are a lot of nuts and bolts details that goes along with that. One of the first details you will need to see to is getting an ISBN. An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. An ISBN’s purpose is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition.

Explanation from Bowker:

“The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributor.”

So clearly if you want your book to listed in library and distribution catalogs you will want and ISBN. You may opt to accept a free ISBN from Amazon for example, however, ISBNs are not transferrable and Amazon will be listed as your publisher if you accept their offer. Personally, I like to just ‘get my own’ if you know what I mean.

It wasn’t really a daunting process

I don’t know why but I was really nervous about buying the ISBNs – and sent queries to Bowker because I just couldn’t get my wits wrapped around. Although, the fact that I was about to drop $300 probably influenced my emotions somewhat. However, once I followed through I found the process to be really pretty easy and not stressful at all.

Steps to take in obtaining and registering and ISBN

To purchase your ISBN(s) go to: https://www.myidentifiers.com/Get-your-isbn-now. You can purchase one ISBN for $125 but you can get 10 for $299. If you are planning to write more than one book or have different editions such as eBook and Print you will need a different ISBN for each – so it makes more sense to buy the 10-pack in the long run.

The site accepts the usual credit cards but does not accept PayPal.

You will also have to set up a free account with my identifyers so that you can follow through on the assignment process of ISBNs to your book(s). The ISBNs are not just emailed to you in a zip file (yes, this is what I envisioned).

After you have purchased your ISBNs you will receive a confirmation email from Bowker, with live links back to the site to manage your ISBNs. Which though it may seem daunting is a very simple process:

1. Go to: https://www.myidentifiers.com/
2. Log in to your account
3. Under the “My Account” tab, click on “Manage ISBNs”
4. There you will see a table with all your ISBNs listed.
5. In the left column click on “Assign Title”
6. You will be taken to a page with fields in it to fill in – in all there are four pages .(Title & Cover, Contributors, Format and Size, Sales and Pricing) and you simply fill in the information requested. Note: you are only required to fill in those fields that have a red asterisk.
7. Part of the process requires you upload a copy of your manuscript in PDF format. If you don’t own Adobe software, you can convert your document to PDF at: http://smallpdf.com/word-to-pdf It’s free, very quick and simple.
8. You will also be asked to upload your cover image which should be a JPEG
9. Once you have completed all the pages and filled in the necessary fields, you hit the submit button and viola your book now has an ISBN – which can gleefully enter on the copyright page of your manuscript.

I realize this is not a sexy or scintillating topic but I hope it is helpful to anyone planning to self-publish.

How about you? Any good self-publishing tips you’d like to share? Were you as daunted and weirded out as me when you got your ISBNs or did you handle it like a pro? Feel free to share your wisdom in the comments.

Writer Chick

Welcome to Self-Publishing (You’re a real writer now, eh?)

tornado of books

Well, the good news is that I just finished the the third book in the series I’ve been writing for the last eighteen months. Yay (small pom-poms, please). And much as I would like to revel in that accomplishment there is so much more work to be done that it makes me want to run screaming to my bed so I can burrow under the covers.

Some might say that the work has just begun. And they’d be right..

The writing, beta reading and feedback, rewriting, editing, and proofing and polishing is a lot of work and sure I’m proud of myself for getting that far but beyond that is my checklist. I thought I’d share it with you, for any of you indie authors, soon to be self-publishers or aspiring to same. It might help…or not:

CHECKLIST ON SERIES:

1. Write: copyright pages, dedication pages, disclaimer pages, acknowledgment pages and new bio, add to final mss
2. Purchase ISBNs from Bowker
3. Read formatter contract, print, sign and send in with payment and manuscripts per their specs
4. Write product descriptions for books
5. Put together mailing list for email marketing
6. Open email marketing account
7. Create mailer for book announcement(s)
8. Decide if you will release all at once or at intervals
9. Read all the marketing and book promotion material you’ve been saving for the last 1 ½ years
10. Sketch out mkg strat for books (implement)
11. Write a series of ‘guest posts’
12. Apply for copyrights for all books (online)
13. Get new author photos done
14. Re-do page for series on blog
15. Update Author Central page – new photo, new bio, new everything
16. Find every place possible to promote books (write list/put on spreadsheet)
17. Determine best strategy for getting reviews
18. Determine best distribution
19. Key word research on Amazon
20. Publish by end of August
21. rock and roll

Now this list is by no mean complete but it does cover the basics. And drives home the fact that I’m not just an author anymore, I’m a publisher. And unfortunately, I’m the only employee.

So, if you don’t see me around, or I fail to comment on your blog, or tweet you back or have a little FB time with you – don’t take it personally, I’m just trying to get a lot done in a very short time.

I do intend to write a few how-to posts on some of these steps – as I learn them or navigate the process. Hopefully, that will help some of you at a some future date. So stay tuned.

How about you? Are you self publishing? Where are you in the process? Any tips you’d like to share? Feel free to yak it up in the comments.

Writer Chick

What you never knew about Nancy Drew and other juicy reads this week

nancy drew

The Original Ghostwriter Behind Nancy Drew Was One of The Most Interesting YA Writers of All Time from Slate. Did you know that the Nancy Drew books were written by ghostwriters? Not one, but several? Fascinating article by the very first ghost writer of the Nancy Drew books.

In Our CyberVillage: So Much Anger by Porter Anderson. Really insightful article about the mob mentality and vehemance with which one can find themselves under attack in the cyber world. And also touches on IRL (in real life) issues.

How to win a twitter pitch by Bill Ferris. Who says, “You too can launch your publishing career by tweeting.”

How to Use Song Lyrics in Your Book by Kathryn Goldman. Entertainment attorney Goldman gives you the lowdown on how and if you can use song lyrics in your novel. And there’s a cool infographic too.

Why Jamie McGuire Returned to Self Publishing. Indie author Jamie McGuire hit it big with her self-pubbed books, landed a publisher, and is returning to indieville. Interesting read.

Have a great week everybody.

Writer Chick

The Grumble List

I don’t know about you but I have a few pet peeves. They’re really small unimportant things that I shouldn’t let bother me – but no matter what, this stuff sets my teeth on edge. Some are universal and some may just be me. But since I’m in the mood to grumble, here they are:

Men proclaiming to be feminists. Now, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, I understand it’s an attempt at compassion or empathy. Still, sorry fellas, if you’re not a woman, you’re not a feminist. I mean, when was the last time you spent a job interview having some guy stare at your chest? Or called you honey or baby at work? Don’t even get me started on mechanics, auto salesman, salaries and everything else.

Auto dialers, auto responders, auto messages, auto tweets. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as having somebody from a phone center auto dial you and not notice when you’ve answered the phone. Although sometimes the conversations you overhear while the jackhammer doesn’t know you’re listening can be great material for characters. Ditto on auto responders, messages, tweets – anything that just comes automatically and has little similarity to a human being.

Pets and children out of control. In a park or a Chuck E. Cheese you definitely expect kids to be running around like wild unrestrained creatures but not in a restaurant, or a grocery store. I understand that kids are hard to handle and parents are often overworked, stressed out and so forth. But when I see a kid climbing the grocery shelves while his mother is talking to her BFF on her cell phone I want to call Child Services. Same with dogs running loose. Sure, in the dog park, not a problem, in your yard, also not a problem. But when I’m walking my little mutt on a city street and an unknown Doberman bounds toward us without an apparent owner in sight, I’m not amused. Especially when the owner (who eventually appears) laughs and says he’s harmless.

Cashiers who hand you your change and receipt all in one stack, without counting it back to you. What are you supposed to do with a receipt, bills and change all dumped into your hand? You know the person behind you wants you to move so you can’t stand there and separate it, especially since his shopping cart is butting up against your butt. And I’m glad that the cashier has counted my change back to him/herself because if it’s good enough for him/her, heck it’s good enough for me.

People who expect you to be their audience. I know a few people who a seriously lacking in conversational skills. Their idea of a conversation is for you to stand there while they espouse their opinion on something, a topic you aren’t even interested in, and essentially tell them how brilliant they are. If you dare to interrupt them with an opinion of your own on the topic, you usually get a wagging finger and a blunt, “I’m not finished yet.” Sorry, I’ve got news for you buddy, I’m totally finished.

What about you? What sets your teeth on edge and drives you up the wall? Have you found a way to not let it bother you? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments.

Writer Chick

Self-e for Indie Authors and Other Discover-abilities this Week

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I’m sensing a theme this week and it all has to do with being discovered, getting discovered, making yourself discover-licious. Anyway…

How to Get Visible in Libraries. By Porter Anderson (guesting on Anne R. Allen’s blog) Explains SELFe. A program that may help indie authors get the attention of librarians and by doing so, conquer at least in part the discoverability factor.

Meeting Readers Where They Are from Writer Unboxed. Another interesting post that discusses the discoverability factor, which is ever present on the minds of indie authors.

DIY Point of Sales Programs for Indie Authors. Want to sell your books directly from your own site? This article from Publisher’s Weekly might set you in the right direction.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link to the first chaper of Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman.

Top 10 Tomato Solutions. Just for fun. If you’re a gardener like me, this quick little article may help you improve your tomato crop – or at least give you a clue what may be wrong.

Have a great week everybody.

WC

Quick and Easy Summer Dessert Recipes

Summer has hit my town with a vengeance and I’m always in the market for something cool and tasty on a summer day. Following are a couple of easy desserts you can make when you’re in the mood for something sweet, light and cold:

Quick Blueberry Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen blue erries
¼ cup Splenda granular (or sugar)
½ cup milk or ½ cup cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Pulse frozen berries in a food processor until chopped fine. Add sugar or Splenda while the fruits are processing. Add milk or cream and vanilla (toward the end). Process until mixture is of ice cream consistency. Serve immediately.

You can use other fruit, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blackberries and so on. Be creative.

Blueberry Fruit Ice

Ingredients:

16 ounces frozen whole unsweetened blueberries
1 orange, juice and zest of
1 lemon, juice and zest of
1 cup Splenda granular (or sugar)

Thaw the blueberries slightly by letting them sit in a bowl at room temp for about 20 minutes.

Remove wide strips of zest from the orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler or zester. Combine the Splenda with ½ cup water in a small saucepan and add the citrus zests and juices. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool a bit, (for faster cooling, put the pan in a bowl of ice, it should cool off in about five minutes) and then strain the mixture, discarding the peels.

Put the semi-thawed blueberries in the food processor and pulse for a few seconds, then add ½ cup of the citrus syrup, and pulse until a nearly smooth. Add more syrup as needed to get the consistency you like. Then transfer the puree to a bowl or individual serving cups and freeze 2-3 hours, until firm. To serve, let stand at room temperature 15-20 minutes to soften slightly, scrape across the fruit ice with a large spoon, and place into serving dishes.

Again, you can change up the fruit and if you have Popsicle molds this might be a real hit on a stick.

Enjoy!

Writer Chick