Monday, September 17, 2012

Review of Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer”

Many people are tempted by the lure of “easy money” to become freelance writers. There is no such thing as “easy money,” at least not where freelance writing is concerned and the “Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer” attempts to prepare the wannabe writer for the triumphs and travails they can expect during the first year of a freelance writing career.

Author Christine Rice is upfront and personal about her own experiences but not in a gossipy kind of way. From her own experiences, she has gleaned a wealth of knowledge that she shares with readers in a straight-forward, informative way. If you or someone you know is considering a career in freelance writing, this is the guide book you need.

Because the business of freelance writing is so vast, Rice does a good job of touching on all the important aspects of the career. How to build a portfolio, how to market your writing and places to publish your writing are just a few of the topics she covers in sufficient detail. Are you thinking about blogging? She discusses not only blogging but ways to earn additional income by monetizing your blog. 

As any seasoned freelance writer knows, there is more to the business of writing then just laying down words on the screen (or paper). Finding writing jobs and clients is as much a part of the process as the actual writing is. Once you begin to earn a little money, it becomes necessary to track income and expenses for tax purposes. You will need to manage collecting your fees from clients, too. All of this is covered in “Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer” in enough detail to give the novice a feel for what lies ahead.

If the quick road to riches is what you are after, you won’t find it here. What you will find is sound advice, realistic expectations and practical procedures for achieving the heights of your own ambition with freelance writing. Anyone with a love of the written word can shape a career in freelance writing from the guidepost in this how-to manual.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author at no charge. I received no compensation of any kind for this review. This review expresses my own opinion of the material covered in the book.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Missing Self-Imposed Goals – A Clue from Your Subconscious?

August has drawn to a close and I did not finish the rough draft of my novel but I am undaunted. My characters are yelling loudly at me even now as I type this to come finish their story and I shall heed their call in a precious few minutes. 

I am a goal-oriented person and I guess to some degree, I always have been. I can look back over the chapters of my life and see the things that I thought were important, that I was working toward. By and large, working towards those goals has made me a better, stronger person even when I didn’t achieve what I set out to do.

I know so many people who bully themselves for not achieving goals and at times, I fall prey to this as well. It’s easy to see it as failure. When faced with failure, human beings often need to lay blame and quite often there is nowhere to lay it but on ourselves.  ‘If only I’d made more time,’ or I could have worked harder’ are common refrains I hear in my own head. But with age comes wisdom. 

Sometimes we do not achieve the goals we set out for ourselves because they are, well, not quite right for us. For example, at 16, I thought I wanted to be an actress and a singer. I studied a little, took voice and dance lessons, acted in community theater, belonged to the chorus in high school, etc. By the time I was 18, I realized I didn’t really have the drive to make it in that industry. I didn’t enjoy being away from friends and family – yes, I’d even gone to California briefly to pursue my dream. I came home, humbled and ready to find a new dream.

I have gone through many dreams in my life and I have learned that missing a goal or deadline that I set for myself is not the end of the world. I am not giving myself or anyone else permission to blow off goals. I think if you set one, you should work as hard as you can toward achieving it. But if you don’t make it, stop and consider why. Perhaps the goal wasn’t right for you at this point in our life.

As for finishing my rough draft by the end of August, I know why I didn’t. The plot line for the final chapters was skewed and didn’t bring out the ending I (or my characters) wanted. I could have pressed forward and I tried several times but it didn’t feel right. Holding back and letting things gel for a bit gave me the chance to rethink where the story needed to go and now, I believe, I have a powerful finale.

I’d love to stay and chat more but Maddie and Jack are quire insistent that I come write the rest of their story. Perhaps September will be my month to finish. I certainly hope so because other characters are beginning to clamor more loudly, too.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On the Subject of Negative Reviews

As a freelance writer, I am constantly putting myself “out there.” I am wide open to criticism each and every time I publish an article or blog post. It’s part of the job, something I’ve learned to deal with. 

The first few times I spied a negative comment on an article, I was taken aback. What?! They didn’t completely agree with? They don’t see my point of view? How could they say that?
Fortunately my better angels kept me from reacting long enough to give the matter some serious consideration. If you can’t take the heat, you should get out of the kitchen. In the world of article writing, comments are a good thing – even negative ones. They stir discussion and that means more people are reading your work.

What about negative reviews on a book though? A book, after all is an author’s baby, precious and dear to him. Can I react to those negative reviews the same way I do to comments on articles? Recently, I had the chance to find out. 

My first eBook, “Destiny Steps In,” a collection of short stories I described as having a dark twist published in June. I did some heavy promoting, gleaning a handful of positive reviews and a few sales. When the hubbub died down, I stopped logging in daily to check for new reviews and sales, preferring to get on with writing and letting destiny step in and it did.
Don't let the anguish get you
Earlier this week, I checked in to see how the book was faring and discovered a negative review! The book had been getting such praise that I was stunned by it at first. I read it. Then I read it again. Then I shared it with some friends who assured me the writer of said review was a Cretan from a distant galaxy and therefore incapable of comprehending the intricacies of my book.

I stewed on the review all day. Each time I read it, though, I grew calmer. As I write this blog post, I am actually smiling. That negative review was just what I needed in so many ways.
  1.  I recognized immediately that everyone has the right to their opinion and to express it. This reviewer did so rather eloquently. 
  2.  The review was rather professionally done. It contained no personal attacks but simply stated the reasons why the book wasn’t his or her cup of tea. 
  3.  A negative review lends credibility to the review process. A book with only glowing reviews, particularly in its debut days, looks a bit suspicious, to me anyway. Friends and family often rally around a new author to lend their support and you can never be too sure if the positive reviews are legitimate. 
  4. Taking #3 into account, this means that someone other than friends and family read my book! Good news no matter how you look at it. 
  5.  The reviewer challenged my twists as being predictable in every story. This is definitely something I will give further consideration to as I proceed with my writing. It may or may not shape how I write but it is a point worth considering.
So from where I am standing, a negative review or at least this negative review doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I’ve chosen to take the good from it I can and move on. The option is quit writing and the voices in my head won’t stand for that.

Friday, July 20, 2012

About Book Reviews

As a writer, I am always interested in feedback on my work. Naturally, I want to hear glorious reaves about my prose but a well-made point about a character flaw or plot inconsistency is really appreciated, too –as long as it’s done tastefully!

Reviews can let a writer, like me, know what readers do and don’t like about their work. It can spur us on with a current writing project or make us change direction. The problem is we don’t get very many.

Think about all the products you buy in a week, a month, a year even. How often do you run to your computer and sit down to write a glowing review of the new dish soap you tried, the handy new kitchen tool you bought or the last boo you read? As a rule, the average person doesn’t have time to write reviews on everything he buys. If he did, he’s have no time to wash the dishes, putter in the kitchen or read that book.

Conversely, when we go to buy something these days, we very often turn to websites seeking review information on the item we want to buy. This seems prudent when reviewing new cars or refrigerators, doesn’t it? More and more though, we as consumers look for reviews on movies, CD’s and books before we plunk down our hard earned cash. In some parts of the country anew paperback book costs as much as some people make in wages for an hour, so why wouldn’t they be judicious about how they spend their money?

It’s true that there are thousands of book-reviewing websites in cyberspace where an author can try to have his book reviewed. The trouble is many of those sites come with strings attached. Some charge for reviews. Many are dedicated to one genre or another. Some only work with established authors. Some require that you already have reviews on book at other sites before they will even discuss doing a review on their site. And even if they do feature a book, what guarantee does the author have that his audience will see it? Virtually none because the competition is so steep.

So what is an author to do?

Places like Amazon and GoodReads allow readers to have profiles (you can supply just basic information to set one up) where they can leave reviews for books they’ve read. You can rate books on a scale of 1 to 5 stars and leave comments on Amazon while GoodReads allows you to leave comments and tell your friends about the books you’ve read.

The process takes only a few moments to set up and leaving a review can be as easy as just clicking the number of stars you think a book is worth or leaving a detailed review. It’s really up to you, the reader. I can tell you that we authors read every one – at least this one does. It is your way to communicate with the writer as well as the rest of the book-buying public.

Next time you read a book you absolutely love – or hate – will you leave a review?

Monday, July 16, 2012

E-Readers – Are They the Wave of the Future?

A recent discussion on this topic got me thinking about the advances in technology that have occurred in my life time. I was born in the early 60s – a child during the Civil Rights Movements, the Viet Nam War and the age of hippies and free love. So many things have changed in the world since that time that we now embrace.

I remember listening to the top 40 on my AM Transistor radio. I got to listen to it with an earphone, with a little white cord that plugged into the radio and then snuggled up inside my ear. The quality can’t compare with what we have to today but at the time, it was the best thing available to the masses. Later came Sony Walkmans that improved the sound quality and everyone had to have one. Boom boxes were those who wanted to share their music with everyone – whether everyone wanted them to or not!

The medium music has been delivered on has changed too. From the LPs and 45s made of vinyl that I listened to as a teenager (and still own), we passed through the 8-tracjk and cassette tape phase. I spent countless hours listening to the new and improved FM radio, trying to record my favorite songs without the DJ talking over the beginnings or endings. Tapes gave way to the CD and that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Today people download their music. They listen on their computers and iPods or other MP3 devices. While CDs are still available, it looks like before long, all music will be digital and we will no longer buy music on disc or tape, but in cyberspace. At least it won’t get scratched and quit playing!

Even movies have changed dramatically. As a child, I waited anxiously for the seasons to pass so I could watch my favorite shows or movies when they came back on television. You could only watch Frosty the Snowman one night a year – at Christmas time when it aired on network TV. If you missed it, you waited until the next year. Now you can watch it anytime on DVD or Blu Ray. You can even watch it on your computer on sites like YouTube and Hulu.

We have by and large embraced this advance in technology and most people own many of the devices that allow us to indulge in our entertainment media today. Oh sure, a few folks came along kicking and screaming but for the most part, we enjoy our new toys and the improved quality the give us.

So why is it that with books, there seems to be such a divide between the e-reader camp and those who cling to the world of printed books? Books are the last hold out in the technological march into the future and many would argue that the days of printed books are numbered.

If you visit my home, you will see literally thousands of books. They have homes in almost every room in the house. They are a huge part of my family’s life. In recent years I have dreamed of seeing my name on the spine of one or two books sitting on the shelf in my office. With today’s self-publishing options, that is certainly a possibility. Still, one cannot ignore history and the trend is moving decidedly toward a digital world when it comes to everything else so why not books? 

I still enjoy reading an actual book, holding it in my hands as I get lost in the world the writer created for me. I am a writer of eBooks and I am waiting for Santa to bring me an eReader for Christmas. There are generations coming up behind me who will read their books on Kindles and Nooks. In years to come, they will laugh at our attachment to paperbacks and hardcover books that took up ridiculous amounts of room in our homes and libraries. 

How do you feel about eBooks? Are you a die hard for the paperbacks? Do love your eReader? Are you on the fence waiting to see where technology takes us?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday the 13th Free eBooks

As an Indie publisher, I know the importance of letting readers know when there is a great deal going on with a book. I am participating in A “Free on Kindle” promotion with some other writers over the next couple of days. Each of these writers has crafted a fabulous book for you and during the dates listed below, you can get your copy for free. Aren’t authors the best?!

What better way to enjoy Friday the 13th than with a great free book for your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? You can download Kindle for the PC free from Amazon.  

Naturally all the authors hope you really enjoy the book. If you do there are a couple of ways you can let them know. First, leave a wick short review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just a “loved the book!” or “Great read” will suffice. Don’t want to do that? Rate the book by leaving a few stars that lets them know how you felt about their free book.

The second way to let them know you enjoyed the book is to check out their other offerings. Some are as low as .99 cents. It’s a great way to let good authors know you enjoy their work so they can keep turning out more for you.

Check out these eBooks for Kindle free starting Friday, July 13th! And feel free to leave a comment here letting me know what you got and how you liked it.

Mine by the way is “Destiny Steps In” – check it out!

Restraint by Erica Chilson (July 13-15)
Anticipation by Sarina Asheford (July 13-14)
911 I Need Help by Felicity Freedom (July 13-15)
Dark and Twisted
Destiny Steps In by Theresa Leschmann (July 13-14)
Creepy Bits by Tammy Lee Morris (July 13)
Spaztastic Zombies by Tammy Lee Morris (July 14)
Devil's Playground by Mercy Mayer (July 13-14)
Collection of Dark Stories by Amy Browne (July 14-15)
Content to eBooks by Amy Browne (July 14-15)
I Love You, I Hate You A Bipolar Marriage by Alice Madison Young