Part of a freelancer's box of goodies is a portfolio. The portfolio generally consists of client work, although it may also include pieces created for other purposes. My portfolio includes paid content published under the client's byline, paid content published under my byline, and unpaid content published under my byline.
Quite simply, if I'm not paid for the content, then it goes under my byline. Of course, sometimes that byline is my real name and sometime's is a pseudonym. Regardless, the name belongs to yours truly.
When it comes to editing projects, my name seldom receives mention. An editor works behind the scenes. Editors aren't responsible for the creation of the content, we're involved in the improvement of the content. That remains true even if we end up revising and/or rewriting substantial portions of that content. However, a mention in the acknowledgments always brings a smile, because who doesn't like a pat on the back?
Problems come into play when a prospective client requests that content be created especially for him for his project. Such prospective clients use the rationale that they need to see how the ghostwriter will treat his idea. The rule of thumb is to decline such requests--especially when they come from bid platform buyers. The very real risk is that the buyer has no intention of paying for any content, but he'll pick and choose and use that which he likes and still not hire anyone. It happens to many; it happened to me before I learned that lesson the hard way.
Still, sometimes a freelancer takes the risk. Occasionally, that risk pays off. It did so when I applied for a ghostwriting project to adapt a screenplay to a novel. The client intended to shop the finished manuscript to publishers. An occasional, quick search reveals that it hasn't been published yet, although the title and author name could have been changed which would end my search.
Because generating new content for a prospective client is such a risk--as well as a large investment of time, effort, and skill for little promise of reward--the portfolio of previous work serves two main purposes.
First, it shows a body of work that the prospective client can review for suitability. Does the writing meet the client's standard of excellence? Does it appeal to the buyer's taste? Does it show experience or knowledge of the buyer's topic or genre--or at least the capability of the ghostwriter to conduct research to speak with intelligence and authority on the buyer's topic?
Second, it shows a body of work that testifies to the depth and breadth of the ghostwriter's experience. This is a problem all newcomers to any market have: the Catch-22 of needing the job to get experience when the job requires prior experience. Someone, eventually, will have to take a chance on hiring that newcomer.
The prior experience conundrum affects freelancers. Clients want to hire experienced professionals for the low rates charged by novices. Because skill and experience should and usually do command professional rates, experienced professionals cannot compete on price: they must compete through quality.
The project samples in the portfolio should justify the freelancer's rates. It should show a niche expertise or versatility of experience. It should demonstrate evidence of work completed and the skill of which the vendor is capable. Client testimonials or recommendations also serve as evidence of the vendor's skill, but remember that vendors don't usually post negative reviews of their work. For a broader look at public opinion of the vendor's work--whether for a client or his own published content--look at reviews on public forums such as Amazon and Goodreads.
If you're looking to hire a ghostwriter, especially to write fiction, then take a look at the storytelling skills of that vendor. Read that writer's stories. If you like what you read, then that's the vendor for your project. If you like my writing and want something written, contact me.
The Diamond Gate
The duke then cemented other political and trade alliances with the blood of his other children: Crown Prince Eric, Prince Ascendant Jonathan, Princesses Rose, Pearl, Celeste, Grace, Lily, and Hope. The two youngest princes, Roderick and Simon, were yet too young to be married off as benefited Nuygenie.
The passage beneath was blocked and sealed with iron. The sisters did not discuss all they had lost. No one ever asked them if they had even wanted to be rescued.
This is the story after the faerie tale.
Available on Kindle Unlimited
“I am not entirely certain,” she replied soberly, thoughtfully. “You see, she loved him, loves him still.”
“The faerie prince who held her in his arms every night. He was exceedingly handsome, wealthy, and witty. He made her laugh and paid her compliments.”
“And you? Did you love your faerie prince?”
The question was rudely bold and he had no leave to pry. However, she forgave the intrusion and favored him with a pained look and an honest reply. “I did, but now I am not so sure.”
He glanced at his fiancée and back at his dance partner. “I do not have fine, sweet words.”
“We may be princesses, but that does not mean we expect a soldier to speak like a courtier,” she replied with a little grin more genuine than anything that had crossed her face the entire evening. “Above all, remember that a princess is still a woman. Treat Aurora like a thinking, feeling woman and she may look favorably upon you.”
Did such emotional creatures really think, he wondered. Aloud, he asked, “Do you really believe so? I’d not cause her anguish, but neither will I let her fancies destroy my future.”
The princess looked him bravely and boldly in the eyes and he was startled to notice they were the deep, dark green of forest moss. She had not missed the glint of determination and ambition in his eyes, nor did she fault him for it. “I do not believe she will ever love you, but she may begin to like you and with that you must be content.”
Rose’s stark pragmatism shocked him. Were not all young, pretty aristocratic ladies silly with romantic fancies such as sung by balladeers? Did they not spend their idle hours embroidering fine tapestries and finer love stories of heroism and handsome princes? And was he not the subject of one of those very ballads, one of those very heroes, if not so young and handsome?
“We’re not as frivolous as we may seem,” she commented quietly, correctly interpreting his silence. “And we understand that our privileges and comforts cost us.”
The music drew to a close, but he continued the conversation as they walked slowly back to the sisters.
“And what price will you pay?” he inquired.
Authors and freelancers live on hope, but Monday served up a heaping bowl of discouragement.
Blow #1: The book tour for Focus ended on June 30. I can't complain about the company's performance, because they did what they promised. Unfortunately, Amazon records only a single copy sold during June. One copy. One. With book sales being dismal, I know something has to change. I received some suggestions, but dislike them all. Maybe I'll just have to grit my teeth and do them anyway.
Blow #2: The trainer sent an update on Teddy, the pony I rescued from the kill pen. He's not nice. He beats on the other horses. The trainer tried giving him a lesson in manners via the "donkey solution," which is usually effective in teaching ill mannered horses to behave in the herd. Donkeys don't take any guff. The donkey solution failed. I authorized the trainer to have a veterinarian administer a blood test to see whether Teddy has more testosterone than a gelding should. If so, we're likely dealing with a bad situation called cryptorchidism, meaning that he has a retained testicle. Surgery to find and remove the offending testicle is expensive--and that's assuming the veterinarian can find it. In the meantime, the trainer has confined Teddy to a stall.
Blow #3: That hit this afternoon, quickly dashing hopes. I submitted a bid for an editing project. The prospective client responded with a request for an immediate interview. OK, I can do that. I got on Skype as instructed. Then the discrepancies began to pile up. While asking and answering questions via Skype chat, I called the company the interviewer supposedly represented. Boy, did I get an earful! The company does not need an editor, they are not hiring, and they're really mad about someone using their company as a front to deceive people. I appreciated their candor, but am disappointed by another possibility crushed.
It's difficult enough to make a living as a freelancer; that does not help.