Every so often I post about unreasonable expectations held by potential clients who want to hire professional writers and editors for paltry wages. Their requirements differ, some more interested in quantity than quality; however, none offer what could even remotely be considered a professional wage commensurate with the professional service they demand.
You'll notice a theme here: the word professional.
Here's one I just found: "I would love a romance book 50,000 words, $48 budget, Deadline 5 Days. Only apply if you can complete this within the time and budget and kindly don't waste my time if you have a problem with the budget and deadline."
The buyer then provides a plot summary that I'm not going to comment on and ends with this: "If you can complete this properly I have 200 more stories to write and have to submit them by this year and I am not a story writer so I need someone's help to complete this. The budget will be double if your writing will be accepted by my boss."
As I've done before, let's break down the project to get a good understanding of what this will entail:
Now, assuming the writer does an incredible job and gets the contract to produce 200 more books at one per week, that's nearly four years of steady work at $38.40 per 40-hour week producing 1,250 words per hour eight hours every weekday. That works out to a 4-year salary of $7,680.
I enjoy long-term clients and projects as much as anyone, but this is insane and entirely unreasonable.
I bring this issue up, because it's not just outrageous bid requests like that which have me shaking my head in disgust. Many authors, especially new authors, fail to understand that professional services deserve and command professional fees. On Facebook, one author complained that she paid her editor $1,000 to edit her novel and the published book received criticism regarding errors.
There's a whole host of misunderstanding going into that, not the least of which are a mismatch between her expectations and the service received and the cost of editing. Sure, $1,000 is a tidy chunk of money, especially when you're thinking of plonking it down on a hope and prayer. However, your conviction that your story will be the next breakout despite a limited budget, bestselling novel doesn't justify stiffing a professional editor of fair compensation.
Most editors base their fees on two basic factors: the length (word count) of the manuscript and the depth of editing required. Longer length and deeper editing both require more of the editor's time. That's one reason why editors appreciate authors who do their very best to make their manuscripts as good as they can before submitting them for editing.
If you really want to get a good feel for what you should be paying when you hire a ghostwriter or editor, check out the rate guideline published by the Editorial Freelancers Association. Then start saving up, because professional service doesn't come cheaply, nor should you expect it to.
This has nothing to do with baseball or softball.
Major media companies don't assign articles and such to freelance writers: they expect writers to suggest topics for articles. These suggestions are called pitches.
I generally avoid them, because I don't usually know the publication or the business niche or the industry/field of interest well enough to suggest something original. That's one of the downsides of being a generalist rather than a specialist in content writing.
However, I am gradually learning to do this, because that's where the bigger recognition comes from and that's where the money is. Anyone on the internet can promise "exposure," and many sites do use exposure as a reason to offer paltry wages for content or even demand free contributions of content. However, many sites don't have the dedicated readership that justifies free or nearly free contributions of content. Writers have bills to pay, too. We also like to eat.
My first big-name coup was an article published by Newsweek just a few weeks after my son died in January. It was a cathartic exercise, a heart-wrenching article of grief and anger. Some readers were moved sufficiently to contact me privately, all but one of them offering their condolences. That one bitter reader's cruel commentary didn't deserve to be read.
My second big-name coup will soon be published by Hearst Communications. It's a lighter topic, a practical topic, not at all controversial. It's about litter box filler.
You see, I'm a cat litter connoisseur, having had cats for over 30 years and currently living with seven cats. Yes, seven cats. Yes, I am the crazy cat lady and, no, I don't care who calls me that. What's even more impressive is that all seven cats share one--just one--litter box. That heavy use makes me an expert on which cat litter performs well and is both readily available and affordable.
Here's the link: https://www.seattlepi.com/shopping/article/best-litter-for-multiple-cats-16087101.php.
The two articles haven't led to publishers seeking me out and begging me to write for them. (Hey, it could happen ... some day.) But I count them as small successes, gaining me valuable practice and credibility that can be used to pitch other publishers and perhaps command higher fees.
In the meantime, I'll continue what I've been doing. I'll spend more time with Teddy (the pony), the dogs (Selina and Moose), and the cats. We have chickens again, too.
Book marketing is an arcane, occult, complicated endeavor the defies my understanding. I "get" some parts of it: blogging, tweets, blog swaps, book/author events, etc. I do some of it. I need help with all of it. Therefore, I'm in the market to hire a new book marketer.
First, let's get this out of the way: I like the publicist I worked with for 4-1/2 years and have no complaints about her service. She did everything she promised and more. I understand that no publicist or marketing expert can guarantee sales. She did grow my Twitter following from nonexistent to a few thousand. She did grow my Facebook outreach. Her efforts increased visits to my website. She helped with placement on blogs and other author-shared promotional services. Between COVID-19 and dismal book sales, I discontinued her service; however, I have and continue to refer her to other authors whom she might benefit.
So, what am I looking for? Here's a quick list:
I'll continue to supplement the marketer's work as I've always done. I'll seek out podcast interviews and schedule them. I'll seek out in-person author/book events, register, and participate in them. I'll seek out blog tours that work with my genre. I'll continue posting in this blog.
If you're a book marketer or know of one who can help with the above tasks, please contact me at email@example.com.