Avoiding another exploitive client
Part of freelancing is endless rounds of applying for work and submitting proposals. Many companies figure they can get the best of all worlds by hiring professionals in niche professions who are great writers and will work for peanuts. The screenshot at right is captured from one such online application.
As you see, the prospective client wants a real pro in the medical field: a medical doctor, registered dietician, nutritionist, etc. Of course, not all subject matter experts are skilled writers, which the client wants, too. As a matter of fact, not all skilled writers write everything well. For instance, I've written email and website copy, but it's not what I'd consider my forte. I prefer blog posts and articles.
The requirement for a prospective freelance writer to upload (or link to) a writign sample (or three) comes with the territory. If you won't write for an unpaid trial (something I generally advise writers not to do), then the writer must have a portfolio of writing samples that demonstrates the writer's skill. I prefer to link to my portfolio or to specific work rather than upload a PDF.
Then, of course, we come to the kicker: the rate of pay. Compensation for writers runs the gamut of insulting to generous. This particular opportunity trends toward insult. As I have before, I'll break it down for you.
For a 1,000-word article, the average writer can expect to spend three hours and 20 minutes drafting, self-editing, revising, and polishing the article. That doesn't include any time spent on research. For $20, the writer earns $6.06 per hour or $0.02 per word, which is low for fiction, never mind nonfiction that requires research. Add the value of profesional subject matter expertise on top of that and you go from insulting to truly offensive.
To earn $1,000 (or more) per week, the writer would have to produce 50 articles weekly (each 1,000 words minimum). That's insane. Unreasonable. Ridiculous. Insert your preferred adjective here.
Needless to say, I did not complete the application.
I continue to fight the good fight. In a Facebook group set up to bring clients and freelance writers together, I responded to a post soliciting freelance writers. The gig requirements were such that no writer could possibly accomplish the desired output without using artificial intelligence to generate the content which would be lackluster at best. I pointed that out, and the original poster asked if I had a problem with that. Obviously, I replied, and just as obviously the prospective client considered writers and their work of little to no value.
This is one reason I consistently advise authors who self-publish their books to hire professional editors. If writers, especially self-published writers, wish to be taken seriously, then they must take their work seriously and product the best quality possible. This mean investing in their work. This mean using professional editors.
I put my money where my mouth is. Even though I freelance as a professional editor, I hire a professional editor to edit my manuscripts. As a writer, I am too close to the story to see the flaws. I can't see the forest for the trees. The same goes for every author. The author knows what's supposed to be there and doesn't see what's not.
Don't sell yourself or your content short. If you want to hire a professional writer, then be prepared to pay that writer a professional's wage. If you want to produce professional quality content, then hire an editor and be prepared to pay that professional a commensurate wage.
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but producing great quality content takes a team.
Every word counts.
#henhousepublishing #hollybargobooks #qualitymatters #freelancewriting #editing
Gearing up for more events
This has been a busy year with regard to book promotion. I've attended more events than ever. As always, some of them net better results than others. In summary:
I've got several more events coming up yet this year:
This year's strong participation is showing me the venues that result in the best return on investment, a metric I will be taking into account when registering for future events. I hope to see you at one or more of these events!
Boosting book sales
A common question asked by those who want to be authors concerns how much their potential books will earn. No one can estimate (or "guesstimate") that.
Publishing is a business. That's why so few (less than 2%) of unsolicited manuscripts are accepted by literary agents and traditional publishers. They will only invest their time and effort into those books they believe they can sell in quantitities sufficient to generate a profit. This helps to explain why ideas are worthless and execution matters.
Traditional publishing companies no longer underwrite book marketing like they used to. In a deeply competitive market, they throw their limited marketing budgets where that money will have the greatest return on investment, which means they are more likely to fund their bestselling authors whose work will almost certainly generate profits than they will fund a new author who doesn't have a ready-made platform or audience itching to buy their book. Publishers prefer investing in a sure thing, because they're running a business.
It's a harsh lesson to learn. This is not Field of Dreams, because if you build it (i.e., publish it), it doesn't necessarily follow that they will come (i.e., readers will buy your book).
Writers who believe they have good stories that deserve to be seen by the reading public have the option to self-publish. An author with a robust social media following likely has a better chance than one who doesn't to experience the joys of commercial success.
The advice to avoid vanity presses--never pay a publisher—has somehow become confused to mean that publishing a book should cost nothing. That's far from the truth. Self-publishing means that author assumes and undertakes on his or her own behalf all the responsibilities of a traditional publisher. Those responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the work that goes into producing a quality product. A quality product meets industry standards for professionalism.
Traditional publishers employ teams of professionals for editing, cover design, book formatting, and marketing. Writing a book may be a solitary endeavor, but producing a good one involves a team. Most writers are not skilled or professionally competent at all the work that goes into producing a quality book: writing, editing, cover design, page formatting. Sure, an author can learn all those skills, but mastery to the level of professional competence takes a lot of time and practice.
The best option for authors who don't want to spend years learning those skills and do want to produce quality books is to hire professionals who do have those skills. That, of course, costs money, sometimes lots of money. Professionals don't work for free.
This means the self-published book enters the world with a financial deficit. If an e-book is priced at $1.00 and the publishing platform pays a 35% royalty, then a book which may have cost thousands of dollars to produce may have to sell tens of thousands of copies to break even.
Quality enhances a book's chances for commercial success. The reading public expects and deserves books that meet or exceed industry standards for quality and professionalism. Quality itself cannot guarantee commercial success, so savvy authors turn to marketing.
Marketing further enhances a book's chances for commercial success. Marketing may entail rewriting cover descriptions (back cover blurb), advertisements on social media platforms, book tours, blog hops, and more. All require an investment in time and many require a financial investment, too. Marketing works best when the author has a carefully developed and actionable strategic marketing plan and executes it. Marketing builds brand awareness, brand name recognition, and product awareness and recognition. It doesn't necessarily create demand, but it manipulates demand and stimulates interest. When marketing converts viewers into purchasers, it works as the author desires.
Marketing is a task occupying whole departments of people in many companies. The solitary author must choose which marketing activities he or she will do and try not to let the work of marketing turn into a full-time occupation, because the author will likely feel the obligation to write another book. Or the author may decide to hire a marketing team to assist. Once again, that costs money.
By the way, marketing is no guarantee of commercial success either.
Combined, top-notch quality and strategic marketing offer any author his or her best chance for commercial success and profit. Just be aware there's no guarantee.
Hen House Publishing assists authors in improving the quality of the books they wish to publish. Our services include ghostwriting, editing, proofreading, and book formatting.
#henhousepublishing #publishing #qualitymatters #authoradvice