Freelancing for Newbies

Ah, the freewheeling life of a freelancer. It’s been just a few months freelancing and I’ve already learned some valuable lessons. To save future freelancers, I’ve written a list (a listed article is sometimes called a ‘listicle’) of the top five things NOT to do when starting out as a freelancer.

1.) Do not give away your time or talent.

It may seem tempting to give new customers a “deal” because you feel so grateful for the customer giving a job to a newbie, but nothing makes you seem more like a newbie than giving your talent away. It wreaks of desperation and in general, customers will take advantage. Once you set that precedent of being a push over, they will expect it in the future. Stand firm on your rate (assuming it’s  reasonable) and how much time you need to finish the project.

2.) Edit and then edit again.

Never ever turn in a project that has not been read through twice after finishing and read out loud at least once. Why? Editing your own work is hard because you know what you meant to write so your brain makes you see nothing but perfection most of the time. However, give it an out loud read and you’ll see more mistakes and hear more awkward wording. If you have another freelancer friend, trade editing work. Fresh eyes can help a lot.

3.) Outline articles before submitting a query letter

Frequently, I will send the basic query letter and get a response of “we’d like to know more. Please send more information on sources and content.” Basically, they want an outline of what your article will include. I suggest doing the outline before sending the query. This is because if a magazine or website shows interest, you want to send the outline immediately before they have time to forget about you. If you get an email from the magazine and they then have to wait on you, they may lose interest. In freelancing, you have to be fast!

4.) Make sure you actually have time to take on the project

As a freelancer, we tend to take on a lot of work at once (from time to time, anyway) because if the work in coming in, we usually can’t afford to turn down work. However, if you are overloaded with research heavy work or a lot of little projects, don’t continue to add to your workload. Yes, you will be losing some money but losing your reputation as a competent, responsible and talented freelance writer is a bigger loss.

5.) Treat this as a business from the very beginning

I know, from experience, that it is very tempting to stay in bed an extra hour in the morning. It might seem like a good idea to go for a long lunch followed by shopping. I get that you feel like you have a lot of time now that you aren’t leaving the house to work a traditional 9-5 but from the get go, you need to treat this like a business. Get up, get dressed (you feel more productive if you change out of pajamas- even changing into clean sweats and a t-shirt will make you feel more prepared to get down to business) and plan your day. Breakfast, check emails and get to work.Working as a freelancer has a ton of perks: work from home, no traffic, you are your own boss but you have to take it seriously

Working as a freelancer has a ton of perks: work from home, no traffic, you are your own boss but you have to take it seriously. Keep working at it and remember that this is your job. Treat it like one!

Feel free to comment below and share with fellow freelancers, please!

The *blank* # Lies of Ellie Carlton

This is part of the title of the next book I am working on.  The blank and # are not part of the title.  I am still plotting and therefore don’t have the number of lies she has told so until I finish, I don’t have the number of lies.

 

Ok, now that that is out of the way, the details.

 

Ellie Carlton is a Martha Stewart meets Emily Post type that lives in Beverly Hills and is married to a Hollywood Producer and has a growing business in Etiquette.  Yes, the art form of etiquette from a Hollywood/Beverly Hills socialite is a big seller, of books, that is.  Ellie writes books on etiquette and grows her brand to include a radio show and hopefully one day, a talk show.

 

The public is obsessed with Ellie ‘Etiquette’ is sophisticated, elegant, friendly and kind.  She is the kind of woman that is written about in Lady’s Home Journal and Time.  Ellie is a role model for young women and older women alike.

 

But Ellie is nothing like she pretends to be and soon everyone will know the truth.

 

Lie #1

My name is Ellie Carlton.

Things I Learned AFTER I Published My First Book

Things I Learned AFTER I Published My First Book

 

1.)  If you are going to send people chapters to read- send it FAR in advanced to the publishing date.  They will give feed back.  They will give it to you as soon as they have time to read it.  Even if that is 12 hours before you publish.  It will make you sick to your stomach.

2.)  Tell people the deadline for feedback.  “This is when I need feedback by, if you cannot get it to me by that date, forever hold your peace.”

3.)  Hire a good editor.  Get recommendations from other authors.  Do not use someone that you found randomly.  If the person is a friend, still ask for a sample edit.  Its business, not friendship.

4.)  Take the week off of work.  If you have a 9-5, take the entire week of publication off.  I took the day of publication off and felt incredibly overwhelmed when emails and FB messages were coming in with questions and comments and trying to carry on with my job and everyday life.

5.)  Start promoting months before!  I started a few weeks before and have found that this is not enough.  I needed to get people excited about my character and a few weeks were not enough time to do that.

6.)  People say “Oh you have a book?  I will totally buy it.”  That does not mean today, tomorrow or even ever.  They are trying to be supportive but your book is not a top priority, nor should it be.

7.)  People are going to trash your book.  If it’s good, if it’s bad, someone is not going to like it.  Don’t take it personally.  I didn’t like Old Yeller and that is a classic.

8.)  Cover Art is the most important part of your book along with the title.  People will not pick up a book with a boring title and boring cover.  Hire professionals to do the work (or have great friends that will do it for free like me!) but make sure they know what they are doing.

9.)  Appreciate your customers!  They believed enough in the title, cover and description to BUY your work!  Send thank yous and if you don’t know who they are just post thanks to Twitter for your recent sale.

10.)                 And lastly, don’t give up.  The first book is not for sales or landing an agent.  The first book is for exposure.  This is hard to take.  You may have spent years working on this piece just to have low sales and little positive recognition but is that why you write?  That’s not why I write.  I write because I love it.  Its fun and I feel good when I do it.

 

I hope this helped any other aspiring authors.  I wish I had known all this before self-publishing.  It would have made my expectations a little more realistic.

 

Good Luck!

5 Things About Shapeless Descent

5.) The original title was Daddy Issues

4.) The following characters are loosely based on real people: Lidy, Daisy, Sydney and Rick.

3.) Parts of the story are based on real events.

2.) I did research at several strip clubs.

1.) This book has taken four years on and off to finish the support and love of many to publish.

About Shapeless Descent

Falling, falling!  Lidy Stratton is falling into a world of disaster when her biological father dies and leaves the stripper his private investigation agency.  Now Lidy must find her way out of the darkness that is enveloping her life while she helps a young woman, Sydney Carter, get out of the mental institution her ex-boyfriend got her committed to.

 

Will Lidy find a way out for herself and Sydney before they both end up in a shapeless descent?

The Job

You hear cops say, ‘I am the job,’ or ‘my life is the job.’  But I have read that you can’t be ‘the job’ all the time or you’ll go crazy.

I set lofty goals for myself.  Each week I write (in ink!) the goals for the week on my calendar.  For example, this week on my calendar I have the following writing:

Plot 3 chapters a day Monday-Friday for The Lies of Ellie Carlton

Outline 5 chapters a day M-F for Sibling Revenge

Edit 50 pages a day M-F for Shapeless Descent

Edit episode 1 of web series

Finish Executive Summary (for a business my husband and I are starting)

Plan next Girl Scout meeting

Tweet four times a day

Write next blog

It is all too much!  Each day I dread looking at my to do list.  My stomach filled with anxiety as I start my first project, knowing that there is no way I can finish all of this and not go nuts.  However, if I find myself not focusing 100% on these things, I feel guilt.  I can’t help it.  I have this theory: I chose this.  I decided I would be 32 yrs. old, unpublished and working in health care and yes sometimes struggling to pay bills.  I continue to choose this life when I don’t focus and accomplish all I can in a 24-hour period of time.  But then there are times that my daughter asks me to play cards or go for a walk and I can’t turn her down but the whole time we are spending time together I am secretly thinking ‘am I a failure as a parent because I am not earning more so she has more opportunities?  More experiences?’

Here I am, working on this platform that everyone says we writers (especially unpublished ones) need instead of editing other projects and not spending time with my daughter and stressing that I am never going to finish editing my book in time for my March 1st deadline!  ARGGGGGGG!

My question is, how do I do it all?  How do I finish all these things, have time for my child, my husband, the gym, friends, work when there are only 24 hours in a day and 8 of them I am stuck at work?

The answer: get over it.

Yes, wise words.  Simple and true.  Get over it.  No one is the perfect wife, parent, writer, etc.  Sometimes I need to choose my girl over my blog.  And sometimes I need to choose running over editing.

Parting words to ponder:

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

-Stephan King’s The Shining

Don’t be Jack.

Golden Opportunities

I was reading a book about being a better you.  Self-improvement is a goal of mine (couldn’t hurt to become a BETTER me, right?).

I was reading and all the things were common sense or cliché: money doesn’t buy happiness (but it does buy my husband that big screen TV that he has been obsessing about) older people are happier (because they get the social security I’ll never get and don’t have to work), blah, blah, blah.

Boredom was setting in until I read, “are you taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you?”  It made me think of my friend, we will call her M.  M is fabulous.  She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.  A poet, performer, speaker, and author, she should be here in la la land with me making movies and doing readings and book signings.  But she isn’t.  I sat there and thought how it was really too bad she didn’t market herself more.  It was too bad she didn’t really push herself to do more social media marketing of her brand.

Then I read the question again.  “Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you?”  Oh.  This was about me, not M.

Redness flooded my cheeks and I knew the answer.  No, I do not take advantage of all the opportunities offered to me.  I am too scared or embarrassed to say to the person next to me, ‘hey, I’m a writer too, how did you get published?’  Or ‘how are you getting your short produced?’  Instead I sit quietly and let these golden opportunities pass me by.

Since moving here in June, I have worked on four movie projects, two features, one second unit feature and one short.  I did not network on a single one of them.  Its not in my nature, it doesn’t come easily to me.  But shit, it shouldn’t come easily!  If it did everyone would do it!

So now I have two new goals

1.)  be less judgey

2.)  be more proactive and push for what I want instead of waiting for my future to fall into my lap.

Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you?