Posts Tagged ‘ewriter’

How’s Your Writing Year Shaping Up?

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Mine is coming along with a couple of pressing projects done and dusted. I have just received confirmation the two Become A Published Author Course anthologies, ‘The Rorschach Seventh’ and ‘The Rorschach Revelation’ ahve left the printer and are on their way to me. We will launch on the weekend of 6-7 April and it should be a lot of fun. I also completed the work for a course of study at diploma level and while in hot debate about one module and the three assignment’s therein being winners or losers, it is good to finish that off; a year’s work finished on time.

I have several ongoing writing projects including a ghostwriting job for an eBook, some academic essays and a rewrite of one of my community college courses. There are some other jobs in the wind but until the money is paid into escrow or a deposit made to my account, they are all just maybe’s. Nevertheless, this is all keeping me busy and I haven’t even thought of the upcoming updates for my StreetWise Philippines titles, the filipino language course promotions or any of the other stuff!

We are five weeks away from the ‘Big Trip’, taking the family to Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. I still haven’t written up my business trip there last November! One of the culprits is the fact the 40% of income from tutoring and lecturing is already up to over 50% and going for 60%. Well, you take it where you can get it when you are freelance. I must say I do look forward to the school holidays which let me catch up with the writing stuff. So, how is your writing year coming along?

Silver Linings

Friday, December 16th, 2011

As the academic year ends I am faced with a hiatus of some six weeks before the students I tutor return to school and nearly eleven weeks before I can expect any income from the next round of tutoring. My community college courses won’t start until early February and it will be one to two months before they bear any fruit, depending which courses run. Providing people sign up for them and they actually eventuate. Book sales are a bit of a mixed metaphor. Any Amazon Kindle income takes 40 days to clear the cheque and costs $15 for the service. I expect 30%US taxes will be withheld from the totals soon, too, making it even less lucrative. My other distributors haven’t gotten around to paying anything on sales to date and my Escape Artist pals in Panama are very hard to pin down for payments. They pay but it takes dozens of emails to make it happen. My WriteRighteam earnings come in sporadically and I am owed several hundred dollars from them and of course Adsense is a ‘who knows how much this month’ affair.

These are the very real issues a freelance writer/publisher/lecturer/tutor puts up with for the love of his craft and the ability to write for a living. Christmas is upon us and for many it is a time of not so good cheer as so much pressure seems to be brought to bear to have a good time, to eat and drink to excess and to buy presents galore. On top of that the unneeded extras such as Christmas crackers that are a waste of time and space on the table; I mean, who wears the silly paper hats anyway? Or keeps the rubbish plastic thing inside with the lame joke and what have you. I am so over that as my 13 year old daughter would colloquialise.

Six weeks of five kids at home means they will need airing from time to time and that costs money. You can only walk to the local park so often before even the dog says ’nuff! Going anywhere costs money, either for fuel and parking or train fares and often it is cheaper to drive and pay for parking than pay for seven train tickets. You have to be switched on and only travel on the Sunday Funday discount fare, pick free but fun destinations and take your own food and drink. It requires more thought, more planning and more preparation, in all, more effort and that is something we have been weaned off of in this day and age. Which is all thanks to those who make their money flogging all the effort saving stuff that costs so much. Sadly, too many have bought into the belief you need to spend ‘that much’, it is what things cost today and so on. You need to spend money otherwise you are depriving your kids.

Rubbish! Your kids want your time and your attention far more than a ride on a $2 roundabout or a new plastic made in China toy to add to the hundreds they already have littering their bedroom floor. Not so long ago people knew they were not rich and even not really middle class and they had values and standards and did the best they could with what they had and they had a fun time doing it. It wasn’t always easy but they survived and times got better but then we all fell for the advertising con, that we deserved to live the middle class lifestyle even if we had to go into debt to do it. In fact, we were failures if we didn’t have tons of credit.

We live credit card free and our only debt is out mortgage, the rest are expenses we can cut out as and when we need to. We are working class and proud of that, even though I have a Masters degree, we have a mortgage, private health insurance, own two old cars and a block of land in the country. We just don’t see the need to pretend we are what we aren’t, nor do we feel any shame in not being huge ‘successes’ with the big house, new cars and all the stress and worry of losing one or both incomes. My wife gets to stay home with the kids while they are young and once they are in school, she will work and her income will be a bonus we never had before, so we don’t plan to spend more like most but rather save it and make better use of the windfall.

Orwell wrote of the biggest fear of the middle class being that they would fall into the working class below them, but the reality was that they had nothing to lose ‘but their aitches’. In other words, the stress of trying to maintain a lifestyle because of peer pressure when the income didn’t allow it was phenomenal. The working class, on the other hand, were already down there and had nothing to lose, nowhere to go but up and thus none of the stress. Of course they had their own worries but in modern, 21st century Australia, we will neither starve nor want for medical care and we are very grateful for this. The worst that could happen is having to go to the Church Free Dinner Night on Wednesdays. That is a very well patronised charity project in my neighbourhood and lots of poor in our community avail of this generous and very Christian act. I know because when I drive past, the car park is always packed! How poor are we really if we can drive to the soup kitchens?

 

 

Diploma In eWriting

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

While my other site, ‘The eWriter Project‘ is cleared of hackers and robots, I will post this here for now. I was involved in a thread on LinkedIn Group ‘The Freelance Writer’s Connection’ that devolved into discussing the need for a degree to get some online writing jobs. I am going to develop a qualification for eWriters because there isn’t one I can find so far, to date. Not only that, many experienced and talented writers, without degrees (as I was until 2009) or the wherewithal to get one are missing out on writing work because of this lack of a piece of paper. as highly as I rate my MA(Writing) as an achievement and know it has improved my writing considerably, I was still pretty good before that and made a living from my words nevertheless.

This will be another part of my ongoing mission in life, The eWriter Project. I think I can contribute to writing and writers by helping them use this amazing gift we have, the Internet, to improve their lives and add value to the lives of those who read what they write. I hold the alphabet, language (particularly my own, English language, a true world language) and the ability to communicate in so many ways in the esteem of gifts from the Gods, or God if that is your deity. Knowledge not shared, not put to some practical use, even if this turns out not to be a success, is wasted. I haven’t any time to waste. I will never forget I died in 2009 and came back from the brink and as Louis L’Amour said, we might not know the hour of our going, but we can do something about the way in which we go. And the way we live before that hour.

Finders And Grinders

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Back in the olden days, when electric typewriters had golf balls or daisy wheels and the Wang girl was the only person in the office who knew exactly what a word processor was… we had to work a little harder for our clients. By that, I mean finding them, not actually working for them. That hasn’t changed and if anything, might even be a little more involved as the market is currently flooded with laid off American professionals whose only flaw is their spelling (that’s a little Aussie humour, so smile Yanks, your colleagues in the English writing world feel your pain and our time is yet to come, no doubt).

We have gone global in a big way thanks to the Internet and while it has created many new opportunities, it has slammed a fair few doors well and truly shut also. Print media is feeling the pain and so too the thousands of journalists laid off as news media corporations seek new revenue streams other than print media advertising. All of these educated, experienced and talented professionals now have to compete with the barely literate looking for ‘content’ for their junk web sites. These ‘clients’ jumped on the SEO bandwagon that believed lots of ‘content’ with tons of keywords and backlinks would rank their web sites higher than everyone else, many even used software to ‘spin’ dozens of versions of an original piece to spread the love even wider.

This worked for a while but this year Google sent the Panda after them and slapped the sass out of the SEO world. Now quality content seems to be back on the top of the agenda. The damage, however, has been done. Many writers with English as a second language (L2) were able to fill their rice bowls by writing tons of rubbish for a buck a ton. Writers from India, Pakistan and the Philippines in the main were able to get the work on offer and produce a product acceptable to the clients who were able to beat down the price simply because it is a lot cheaper to live in the third world than the first or the new. Fair enough. But now the online writing employment sources such as Elance and Odesk are flooded with writers willing to write for the cost of a chapatti and the thrill of eating for another day. I don’t blame them. If I were one in a billion competing for space, food, air and everything else I would do whatever I had to do to survive and feed my family. So I am not bashing the L2 writer, or even their clients who expect everyone to write for such low reward. Blame is a waste of emotion and energy let alone time and my time is worth more than the $2-5 an hour they seem to think it is.

So back to the thrust of this post. In the old days, I had a boss called Henry. Henry was a likeable rogue and above all else, a survivor. He once told me (in fact he said it many times) that there are two kinds of people in business. Finders and Grinders. Finders find the work and the Grinders grind it out. Finders make more money than Grinders and they never get dirty but it isn’t as easy as just doing the work. If it were there would be more Finders than Grinders and that is not the case, never was, never will be. He spoke the truth.

If you can find the work, you can find the Grinders to do it. Better to take a share of ten jobs than to grind your way through just one in the same amount of time. To get to that position though you need to be able to find enough work for you to grind and keep your nose above water. So on your way to becoming the Finder of the century in your chosen profession, how do you actually find work? Once again, we go back to the olden days. Back when only cars had mobile phones and whenever we were not in our car we had pagers or beepers.In those days not every telephone in the office had numbers to punch, sometimes you got stuck with the old dial phone and that could wear a finger down if you had more than just a few calls to make. That’s why pencils had those little rubber things you could stick on the end and use to dial the number… oh the good old days!

In those days of yore I had two techniques for finding work. The first required a telephone directory, the Yellow Pages. I would choose a category and then ring everyone, one after the other, and make my pitch. I used a script to begin with to keep things consistent and to keep me on track. The objective was not to get work but to get an appointment. Today, with the Yellow Pages online and the speed and ease of email, too many people use that method but try and rush for the jugular. As everything has sped up many tend to think you have to Find at the same speed when the reality is a lot of clients need to be wooed, courted and given time to get their head around the idea of a cold call having value for them.

In those days people got so many cold calls just getting through to the decision maker was an art in itself. Today they get tons of SPAM and the problem remains, albeit slightly adjusted for the 21st Century. The other method that worked a treat and got me out of the office was to pick an area, either an office tower in the CBD or an industrial area and then work it. You would approach the receptionist and let her know you were looking for clients and ask who would be the person to speak to who could make a buying decision and would they be so kind as to give you their name and number and you would be happy to call back and make an appointment. If you got that far you would then say that since you were here would there be any chance So and So is available for a moment so you could pass on your card and let them put a face to the voice that will be calling them officially in a day or two? I had several variations on this to make it interesting for me and to cover any twists in the plot that might happen while you were in motion.

The bottom line is that it worked. It was slow, laborious and labour intensive, or if I were an American, labor intensive, but effective. Above all else it gave me a chance to see the client’s premises and make first contact with the gate keeper. I always treat everyone with respect but especially those who have some influence in whether I eat or not. I made it my business to be nice without being patronising and to learn their preferred name, use it and involve them in my business. Funny how people move around in any business or industry and over the years I would run into the same gate keepers and the same decision makers from time to time though working for new firms. Now and then I would change industry and revisit them with new services or products and it was an easy start.

You can apply these ideas to your freelance writing business. You don’t have to write for the world, or someone on the other side of it, just because you can. Why not reach out to the local business community and see how you can add value to them. Put your face in front of theirs and give them what nobody else can, especially not over the internet; your personal attention. People buy based on emotion and relationships and the internet has alienated us from our clients in a big way. It might seem more efficient but in the long run it is not conducive to building a relationship that will last. It is easier to drop a faceless contractor you have never met in person than one you have and when the crunch comes, you need every advantage you can lever to stay in business. Remember two things:

1. There are Finders and there are Grinders and if you can’t Find for yourself let alone others, you can’t Grind.

2. This is it, your life. It is not a dry run or dress rehearsal, this is the real deal and you only get the one crack at it.

Online Writing Online

Monday, September 26th, 2011

My distance education version of ‘Eat Your Words – How To Make A Living As An On line Writer’ has its first enrollee. The course will commence with Term 4 on the 10th October which will give me time next week to finalise the lectures and other materials for that course and get it rolling. I am keen to get the course up and running as it is only once you have run it at least once that you learn where the holes are and  what needs fixing. I hope to give the student as good an experience and course on line as they would receive were they to attend the face to face version .

Distance learning, eLearning or whatever you wish to call it is here to stay and it is the way of the future. I was considering moving to a small country village like Collie or Culcairn the other day and took comfort in the fact that, so long as I can get online from wherever I might be, I can make a living and help other eWriters, too.

Places That Pay You To Write

Friday, August 12th, 2011

On my other website, the eWriter Project, I have a page with a list of 28 places where you can find paying work as an online writer. I have also linked a blog post there to a list of 40+ writing sites that also pay and none of these include places where you have to bid for the job or just leave articles there and hope someone comes along and buys them. That list has been vetted and checked by the writer who compiled it, Julie Scott and she asks just $2 for her hard work. I have bought two copies of the list so far and sent one to a friend who has recently found himself, like too many American writers, out of full time work.

I could have sent him a copy of my copy but that, to my mind, would be unfair and cheating Julie of her fair reward. $2 is not much but it will add up as more and more of us get the list and use it to make a lot more than two bucks. I also see it as a way of acknowledging her initiative in compiling the list. Well done Julie. She could have asked $9.99 but at $2 I think it is a fair reward for the work and a price even someone who is unemployed and broke should be able to hunt up.

For those too hard up to even scrape two bucks together, check out the list of 28 sites on my other blog, some of which are on Julie’s list. Good luck.

Millions Of Sales Are Possible

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

John Locke recently sold 1.1 million copies of his books via Amazon.com. He is the first self published author to join the  Million Seller Club at Amazon. The other 8 members are all backed by mainstream publishing houses. Congratulations John.  John sells his eBooks via Kindle for just $0.99, of which he makes just $0.35. But 35% of 1.1 million is over $350,000. I would love to have to pay the income tax on a third of a million bucks. Made in just five months! John wrote a book about how he did this and has it for sale for $4.99. I bought a copy. Wouldn’t you?

I must say he was already a wealthy man when he started writing and he spends a couple of thousand dollars per title using a company called Telemachus Publishing to professionally edit, format and publish the books. His cover art is terrific, but you would expect it to be. Still, there is no reason cheap skates with no capital like yours truly can’t replicate much of what he does and get some similar results.

I won’t steal the guy’s thunder or give the game away. Buy the book like I had to. It really isn’t rocket science but it does prove that the method he used, and anyone can copy, does work. Put your prejudices aside and just follow the model like I am and let’s see where it leads. The penny finally dropped if nothing else. I knew all along I have to spend as much time and effort selling the books as writing and publishing them. OK. Now I will do that. I have rearranged my schedule to write of a morning when I am fresh and to market after 10pm when I usually sit at the writing machine for three or fours hours and just mess about and achieve very little. That leaves time inbetween to tutor and lecture (paying jobs, yee hah!) and also exercise. I started this yesterday and while early days, it feels right.

So, if nothing else, my $4.99 investment in the book and maybe an hour or so of my time reading it will be beneficial in ways other than a sudden, penny dropping epiphany leading to riches and happy ever afters. OK. The lesson has been learned. You have to work hard to sell the writing. That is why publishing houses have a large staff of sales, marketing, proofing, art department and editorial people working for the lucky few writers they deign to take on.

OI know it is a business, for centuries it was a processed paper selling business,now it includes downloads. But now we little guys can give the big fellas a run for their money. There is no excuse for not producing a quality eBook, edited, proofed, spell checked and formatted properly. One that doesn’t detract from the content by upsetting the reader with typos, gaps and orphaned words galore.

Rip Offs, Rip Offs Everywhere

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The more I investigate this topic, the more I find there is an industry out there preying on writers. Many Essay Writing sites are just scammers taking money and delivering plagiarized ‘copy and paste’ collations, often late and after demanding more money. While I have zero sympathy for those with more money than brains and organizational capabilities, these students are getting ripped off. Some pay hundreds of dollars for their essays and term papers and end up getting busted for plagiarizing, which is fair enough.

A legitimate custom essay writing company in the UK says it is not cheating if the student uses the custom written essay as a guide. Kind of like just another form of research notes, a guide to how their own essay could be written. If the student did that and didn’t hand the essay in as their own work then fair enough but we know most students will just hand it in and whine for a refund if they get a poor mark or caught out. There are links on that UK website to newspaper reports on this burgeoning industry that say many students will get access to such a service as a Christmas gift, so keen are many middle class parents for their children to do well at college. Pity they didn’t teach them some character traits like discipline, hard work and pride in one’s own achievements. But then this is so reflective of our 21st Century society it is pointless to expect things to change. The positive side, surely, is that it gives eWriters more opportunities to earn their living writing online. Well it does if they get paid for their work.

There are several essay writing providers claiming to be based in the UK or USA that are actually in the Ukraine or Hong Kong, with new ones springing up in Africa, both in Kenya and the infamous home of scammers, Nigeria. Some, like 4writers.net has a ruinous reputation of ripping writers off and must be avoided at all costs. I think most who fall for these scammers are ESL writers for whom English is a second language and they writer cheap. How some can write for three or even six months and swallow the lies given to them as to why no pay only means they are desperate for the work. But what good is a lot of work if they never pay?

Reading Widely Made Simple

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

The great thing about the Internet is that it is so easy to read widely. The rhizomatic nature of the world wide web lead early on to the term ‘surf the net’. You surf in and out of web sites and blogs with the click of a mouse, going from cool to boring and back to fascinating in seconds.

In fact there are surveys out there saying you have between 15 and 45 seconds to capture the imagination of the viewer that just surfed in or else they will surf on out again. When you find a site that grabs your attention it is scary how much time you can spend there and never realise it. One such site I found after Googling ‘ewriter’  is The e-Writer’s Place.

The owners are obviously trying to make a living from their site and there is nothing wrong with that. They have it jam packed with free info to give value and I find the ads interesting also.One of the articles (on how Editors are not the enemy) led me to another resource loaded site, Writers Crossing . Com. This one is a little different and looks at work for writers and places to obtain it.

As I followed the various links I was sent to that rip off ‘Real Writing Jobs’ web site I reported about recently. This, if anything, reminds us all to be careful and never forget the admonition to ‘Caveat Emptor’, buyer beware. Just because you find it on an otherwise reputable and informative site, or through a series of hyperlinks to a site you trust, there is no excuse for switching off the scam detectors. The Internet makes reading widely simple, but that doesn’t guarantee everything you read will be totally legitimate and above aboard.

Best thing is to judge for yourself. Surf on over there  by clicking on the hyper link above and as you do, take a moment to savour the speed of light travelling you are undergoing from one spot to another in cyber space. You really have to love this Internet, it has changed all of our lives. It is what makes a writer an eWriter after all.

From E To Z

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Amanda Hocking, the 26 year old eWriter who sells 100,000 copies of her teen vampire romance eBooks as downloads on Amazon and Barnes& Noble every month has snagged a $2million deal with Macmillan. The major New York publishing house beat several other major  publishers to the deal and Hocking is of course, rapt. She says she can now write full time rather than have to spend many hours a week formatting, designing covers, managing sales, returns, enquiries and all the other things that come with selling your writing. She has gone from being an eWriter to a Z Writer (end of the alphabet, nowhere to go from here but back to ‘N’ for Nobel Prize!)… it doesn’t get much better than that, Amanda.

I bought Amanda’s ‘My Blood Approves’ and found it to be well written. Not my genre but the book itself has all the right elements and that is important. While the technology of the web and eBooks makes it simple enough that anyone can figure out how to do it, selling your books as well as writing then yourself isn’t easy. It takes a lot of effort and dedication. It is a full time job until eventually the writing becomes the relaxing, leisure component!

The good news is, everybody can do it. You write a good story in a genre that is selling and then you put the effort in to get your book in front of your market. Easy! Easier to say than achieve but if you don’t try then it will never happen, no matter how brilliant your prose maybe.