I think I've figured out the pre-order thing. The second in my "Russian Love" series, titled Russian Gold, is available for pre-order and will officially go live on October 31, as promised. This short novel (around 53,000 words) is priced at $1.99 for the Kindle version.
I almost didn't make that self-imposed deadline.
I've been busy, folks, really busy. Then my supervisor for the part-time quality assurance (QA) job I hold took a well-deserved, 2-week vacation. So pretty much everything "QA" fell on my shoulders. I muddled through with the help of co-workers who graciously endured my uncertainty, but let's just say that my supervisor is forthwith and hereby banned forever from going on another vacation.
During this time, a client in Miami contacted me with a last-minute editing job. It's always last-minute for this client. So, I accommodated the additional work and put in some very long long hours. Without getting into details, let's just say that 1) I can edit in Adobe Acrobat, and 2) I loathe editing in Adobe Acrobat.
Needless to say, the combination of paying gigs and chasing down more work pretty much eliminated any time to devote to my own projects. But I scrounged out some time this past week and finally--finally!--finished revising and formatting the book.
I very much hope that those people who liked Russian Lullaby (Vitaly and Giancarla's story) will also like Russian Gold (Pyotr and Cecily's story) and even tell their friends about it. I really hope this book does as well as the first book. I will be ecstatic if it does better.
Like all my books, Russian Gold is available only on Amazon. It is only available as a digital download, simply because the cost of purchasing a printed version is prohibitive.
For those who care, the third book in the series will be Russian Dawn and focus on Latasha and Iosif. After that book is released--March 31, 2017, is the goal--I'll combine all three volumes into a "boxed set" which will be made available in print. At least, that's the plan.
As for now, I've got to get cracking on a fantasy romance. I'm 75,000 words into it and there's a good bit left to go if I'm going to get it out the door by December 31.
I came across an RFP for an intriguing project: write the story behind a role playing game (RPG). It's science fiction, which is definitely doable. The prospective client liked my proposal. However, the description of the project was vague--so vague as to be useless. I asked for more information. He sent me a link and clicked the "hire" button. I read the content and...wow...I have no idea what he wants.
Does he want a straight story developed from the plot outline? Does he want multiple story lines that will follow certain decisions made by certain characters at certain times within the game? Does he he want mainly dialog with a wee bit of description (like a screenplay)? So I responded with my questions and noted that the fee quoted for 1,000 words was inadequate for the job. Depending upon his answers, the project could run into tens of thousands of words.
I may have to withdraw from this project and make a note never again to bid on an RPG background project.
I was invited to bid on a handful of romance book projects over the past couple of weeks and turned them down. Not because I wouldn't want to write them, but because I won't accept slave wages. Same old story there, so I won't go into details.
On another topic, I'm so far behind on editing and revising Russian Gold that it's not funny. Simply put, my schedule has been packed and I've had no time to spare for my own work unless I give up little things like sleep. Anyway, I'll do my best to make that October 31st release date.
Next week, I'll once again be chasing gigs with the usual persistence. So, yeah, here's my plug. I'm begging for work in this feast-or-famine career.
I swore I wouldn't go down that road again.
Back in April, I was hired by a financial consulting firm to edit brochures, then a proposal, and then to contribute content to a high profile strategic plan which was finished and submitted in early May. I still haven't been paid. I sent messages to all three partners, followed by printed letters. Since the two remaining partners are overseas, my options are pretty limited.
In June, the firm's partner who hired me stated that he'd left the firm and would attempt to pay outstanding subcontractor invoices from his own pocket. To date, I've received about a third of what I'm owed. But, I forgave him because he appeared to be making an honest effort to live up to the obligations incurred by his former firm.
In August, he hired me to do a bit of editing for another company. A small project. I reluctantly agreed and he paid promptly for the work. He ordered a second small project, for which service was promptly compensated. I allowed myself to be lulled into a sense of confidence.
Three projects later in quick succession, he has asked me to perform another rush job with editing. I called a stop. As much as I dislike turning down what should be a very good project, I replied that I could not accept any further work until payment for the other projects had been received.
Yes, I threw up that roadblock and stopped traffic, because I'm not going all the way down that road again. As repeated ad nauseum, I'm a freelancer, not a volunteer. I write for other people and edit their content for money, not for glory or praise.
I don't think I'm being unreasonable. You ask me to do the work. I tell you how much it will cost. You accept the terms. I do the work and turn it in. You pay me. It's supposed to be that simple. I've got to stop relying upon the basic honesty and integrity of my clients.
I'm learning as I go and one of the harsh lessons is that I've got to insist on a signed contract with every freelance client not acquired through a platform. Unfortunately, not even a contract is guarantee against nonpayment. I've had another client--with a contract--stiff me, too. I wish I could afford an attorney.
On the positive side, I sold an article to The Underemployed Life, "Underemployment: A Middle-Aged Perspective." It's gratifying to know that someone appreciates my writing enough to pay for it, even if the pay isn't by any means extravagant.
In the process of ghostwriting this week's blog article for a client on the topic of how to discourage and alienate potential hires, it came to me that a lot of buyers do that when soliciting freelancers. I've ranted ad nauseum about the ridiculously low compensation many buyers think is adequate for the work they want done, so I won't go on another tirade this time. But when you're seeking to hire a freelancer, it makes sense to present your project as something that a contractor would want to accept into his or her workload.
A request for proposals (RFP) is basically a job description. I can understand if someone who's hiring a writer or editor has a few typos or an occasional grammatical error, but a solicitation so littered with errors as to be practically illegible discourages all but the hungriest and most desperate contractors from responding.
The RFP should specifically describe the expectations for both the client and the contractor. For instance, if you're hiring multiple writers to produce installments in a serial, then the project budget the concerns the writers isn't the total amount you intend to spend on the entire project, but what you intend to pay the writer upon delivery of that installment. In other words, don't mislead the contractor: it's dishonest and just plain rude.
Make sure your expectations are in line with the level of effort you demand, the deadline you want, and the fee you're willing to pay. Before offering a nominal fee for work that's "easy," think about why you're hiring someone else to do it. Is it because you haven't the time? If so, then what's your time worth? Is it because you lack the skills to produce a professional result? If so, then the project isn't "easy." What would you charge if you were a professional bidding on that project? In other words, don't insult the contractor at the outset by devaluing his or her skills and competence.
If you truly don't know what a job entails, as demonstrated within many buyer RFPs, then let the bidders be your guide. State honestly that the posted budget, if one is necessary to be posted on the platform you're using, is a placeholder only. We freelance contractors know we're competing with a vast crowd and most will propose what they feel the project is worth to them. Bids in the middle will probably be your most accurate price guide. Before hiring a contractor, be sure you understand the service(s) you're buying. If a writer or editor cannot specify what he or she will do for you, then seek another contractor.
If you like to haggle, feel free to attempt to do so. Some vendors will bargain with you, some won't. If you've found the practically perfect contractor who refuses to haggle, then you risk losing that contractor if you insist on haggling down the price. It's been my experience that most contractors will bid their best rate for your project in the first go-around, leaving themselves without room to bargain. Really, it's not fair to ask them to take a loss.
Pay attention to those bids that don't fall within your parameters for budget, delivery, and service. You requirements may be completely unrealistic. If what you're demanding will take eight hours of work every day for a month, then expect to pay accordingly for monopolizing the contractor's professional availability during that month. Or a contractor may bid on your project, but state that delivery will take longer than you anticipated. Appreciate his or her honesty. It's better to know up front that the work will take longer than you thought than to stress out over late delivery.
By starting off with an attitude of respect and courtesy, contractors will fall over themselves bidding for your business. They'll exert themselves to satisfy the project requirements and then some in order to keep a gracious and appreciative client.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.