Tag: freelance

10 tips for building a freelance business website

If you don’t yet have an online presence, in the form of even a simple website, then it’s time to consider setting one up. It needn’t be anything complicated, but potential clients are increasingly looking to the web to find editors and proofreaders, even if it’s just to confirm that you look like a real person they can trust!

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Why professional ghostwriters don’t work for peanuts [winning blog idea February]

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. February’s winner was Emma Murray, who wrote for us about why it’s worth investing in a good ghostwriter. Emma is a bestselling author and ghostwriter, specialising in business, psychology and higher education. She also ghosts books, blogs, articles, case studies, and book proposals. Consider this scenario. You are an expert in your field; you have over a decade’s experience and a great reputation. A professional person contacts you and offers you £5,000 for six months’ work on a large and complex project. This works out at less than £7 an hour – lower than the national minimum wage. Do you accept the project or walk away? For most of you, this would be a no-brainer – why would anyone with your skills and experience accept such a low fee for an enormous amount of work? Yet, this scenario is more common than you may think. More and more often, professional ghostwriters are being offered astonishingly low fees for book projects. This is because there are ghostwriters who will work for this sort of fee.

Ghostwriters who DO work for peanuts

The sad truth is that there are ghostwriters who will work for peanuts. These are ghostwriters who are just starting out and need to build their portfolios, or students who want to make an extra bit of cash on the side. There are also ghostwriters who will work for very little or sometimes nothing at all just for the cachet of working on a celebrity book. The problem is that ghostwriters who accept low fees set a false industry standard for the rest of the ghostwriting community. Besides, when novice ghostwriters mess up, it also taints the reputation of professional ghostwriters.

Why it pays to invest in a professional ghostwriter

Professional people know that quality comes at a price. If I quoted my clients £5,000 for six months’ work, they’d seriously question my writing abilities (and quite frankly, my sanity). Besides, my clients know that paying for quality reaps rewards. Here’s why:
  • A book is the new business card: it showcases your expertise and promotes you and your business.
  • It enhances your reputation as a leading authority on a specific topic.
  • It opens the door to more speaking engagements (Think TED/TEDx).
  • It gives you something tangible to give to colleagues and hand out at conferences.
  • There is a certain cachet to being an author. It helps you to stand out from the crowd. Your book makes you memorable.
  • A successful book will earn you royalties which will help to cover your ghostwriting fees, and potentially act as another income stream.
What you are paying for Professional ghostwriters charge more than novices as they have more knowledge and experience, as well as excellent reputations. Here’s what you get when you invest in a professional ghostwriter:
  • Professional ghostwriters have more than one string to their bows.
Ghostwriters often come from different backgrounds, including journalism, marketing, PR, and publishing. Not only can they write but are well-connected and able to offer you advice and guidance that goes beyond the act of just writing your manuscript.
  • Professional ghostwriters are also authors
Most professional ghostwriters are authors in their own right which puts them in an excellent position to advise you on the publishing process.
  • Professional ghostwriters are full-time writers
Professional ghostwriters do not ghostwrite ‘on the side’. This means that they are totally committed to working with you and your book until it reaches completion.
  • Professional ghostwriters have an excellent work ethic
Professional ghostwriters are reliable, efficient, totally committed to deadlines, very discreet and extremely loyal to their clients. So this is why professional people pay more for professional ghostwriters. It’s simply not worth your time or money to do otherwise. Besides, as oil-well firefighter Red Adair used to say, ‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.’ 

7 steps for pricing your editorial work

Pricing editorial work comes up time and again in discussion between editors. Here’s an overview of the basic process of quoting for work, which can be applied across a range of situations. The same principles can also be used to work out if a fixed fee offered by a client is fair.

1) Assess the information provided about the work

The client should provide you with the project parameters, including extent or word count, schedule, level of editing required, and so on. They might suggest a price, or they might ask you to quote.

2) Ask for more information if you need it

You can’t accurately price work without adequate information and a sample of the text. If the client will not provide the information you need to price the work, proceed with caution!

3) Work out what your work is worth

To work out a price for the work, you can take the hourly rate you need/want to earn, multiply it by the length of time you estimate the job will take, and add on contingency to arrive at a total fee. Alternatively you can quote what you think the work is worth to the client. Other factors can influence the figure, such as the particular market, or the time frame allowed for the work.

4) Use data from previous projects/colleagues to help you

To enable you to estimate how long a job will take, it is essential to keep records of work you do. If you are asked to quote for work unlike anything you have done, you can ask colleagues for advice – for example, in the SfEP forums.

5) Prepare a quote, making clear what it covers

When you provide a price, you should also indicate what this price includes. For many publishers, this will be fairly straightforward, as they are likely to be commissioning you for a commonly understood part of the process such as copy-editing or proofreading. For a non-publisher, you will need to ensure they know precisely what they are getting for their money, and importantly what is not included.

6) Prepare to negotiate

If your client suggests a price, don’t be afraid to ask for more if you think the work warrants it; equally, if you suggest a price, be prepared for the client trying to negotiate down.

7) Agree terms with the client, and start work

Make sure you have the agreed price and the scope of work in writing before you start work. If anything changes that might affect the price, raise this with your client as soon as possible. Liz Jones has been an editor since 1998, and full-time freelance since 2008; she is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP. She specialises in trade non-fiction, fiction and educational publishing, but also works with a range of business clients and individuals. Liz’s post was originally published on the SfEP blog. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) is a professional organisation based in the UK for editors and proofreaders – the people who make text accurate and clear. Formed in November 1988, the SfEP has more than 2,000 members who provide editorial services to publishers and a wide range of other organisations and individuals. The SfEP promotes high editorial standards and works to uphold the professional status of editors and proofreaders. Its Directory of Editorial Services provides contact information for experienced SfEP members, including details of the skills, subjects and services they offer.

The making of a unicorn (aka the ideal freelancer)

On Wednesday 15th February, Kathryn Munt, Astrid deRidder and Anna Faherty were in turns helpful, humorous and honest in their observations on outsourcing and freelancing. Astrid used the term ‘unicorn’ to describe the ideal freelancer: reliable, on time, within budget, problem solving, going beyond the brief. Each of us smiled as we realised that we were unicorns ourselves – rare, magical and pure, with tears that can heal the sorrows of a publisher’s heart (my interpretation). And I wondered (Carrie Bradshaw voice-over) – What could publishers do to create more unicorns?

Better communications – even if we share a language and culture

Kathryn described working with Indian companies providing outsourcing teams, where poor communications can cause budget and quality issues. She stressed that training in communications was provided. I’ve been asked to be concise and clear when sending debug requests to Indian outsourcers, but does anyone apply these ‘rules’ to communications between publishers, editorial staff and freelancers? Anna mentioned the often tortuous approach to writing a brief, when all a freelancer needs is something clear and unambiguous. Many is the time that I’ve had to query a brief, and many the time I’ve had to follow up on the response to ask, ‘Sorry, but was that a yes or a no?’ We’re all under pressure, we dash off emails without thinking – but we shouldn’t. We should take a leaf out of the cross-cultural book and aim to be crystal clear (and courteous) in all communications. Perhaps we would all benefit from some training? Anna also spoke about keeping freelancers in the loop; for me this is all about timing. It’s obvious that freelancers need to know when there are changes to a project. But they need to know as soon as you know, not whenever you remember to tell them. Inclusion is not just practical; it makes freelancers feel good. Many enjoy being perceived as ‘experts’, and an expert who is excluded feels less inclined to go the extra mile when needed. I read that unicorns can speak to all other creatures, but I believe the happiest are those that receive communications reflecting their status.

Don’t treat me as a member of staff …

Anna made a valid point: freelancers are paid for their time, but they are not paid to be available all the time. They cannot be expected to be at their desks every day from 9 to 5 unless this is agreed (and paid for).

… but do treat me as a team member

Do you praise your in-house staff after a job well done? Give a freelancer some positive feedback. Do you critique the work of your in-house staff? Take time occasionally to help a good freelancer to improve. Do you recommend your staff’s work to colleagues? Share your unicorns. Do you tell your in-house staff that you don’t know when they will be paid, or that they won’t be paid this month because of a new payment system? I didn’t think so. Lyn Strutt is a freelance content editor, copyeditor and proofreader of print and digital ELT materials, specialising in adult and business English and ESP. Before moving into publishing in 2003, she taught for over 12 years in the UK, Finland, Germany and Hong Kong. She is an Advanced Professional member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and holds a Licentiateship of the City and Guilds of London Institute in Editorial Skills. She promises she will get a website soon.

The importance of networking for freelance editors

… or any freelancers really. Those of us who work from home and don’t get out much. You know who you are. At this time of year when it’s cold and wet here in the UK, it’s tempting to bundle ourselves up in blankets, scarves and fingerless mitts, and get down to work without giving the outside world a thought until it’s time to do the school run / buy more coffee / go to bed. And that’s fine a lot of the time. But if you do that for weeks at a time, and possibly longer, things might start to pass you by and you can start to miss out on events, industry developments, and opportunities to take part in a bit of CPD. Which is why, as a work-from-home, self-employed freelance editor and project manager, I’m a huge advocate of a bit of networking every now and then. This will give you the opportunity to get dressed in clothes other than your comfy trousers and meet others with the aim of developing contacts, both professional and social, promoting yourself and possibly your business, and exchanging information. Don’t stop reading! I’m not just talking about the type of networking meeting where you go and collect a pile of business cards from people trying to flog you services you’ll never need. I know that because I’ve been to a few of those meetings and never need to go to another one. There are other ways to do it, so read on.

1) Start small

Contact another freelancer in your local area and invite them round to your place for coffee, or meet in a café. A good opportunity for a social chat as well as finding out what each other is working on, and a chance to ask for tips or help.

2) Make it slightly bigger, but keep it informal

Invite a couple of freelance contacts for lunch, and suggest that they each bring along another freelancer. Expand your network, share knowledge, and maybe hear some industry gossip.

3) Join a networking group, but make sure it’s right for you

I live in a rural part of Wiltshire, but there are at several networking groups within easy reach. I’m a member of two of them, and one in particular really suits me. It’s held in a local café once a month, its members are mostly self-employed people who work from home, and although they all work in different fields, the group is friendly and welcoming, and a valuable source of contacts and information. There’s no cost for attending meetings other than what you eat and drink in the café, and I always go away with something to think about or follow up on. Can’t find a group you’re comfortable with? Set one up yourself. It could be the only way you get a work Christmas lunch this year!

4) Try netwalking

If the weather’s good, gather a few people together, plan a route (maybe with a café at the end), and prepare some business-related questions/points for discussion as you walk. A third of the way round the route, encourage people to walk with someone new and discuss another question, and then change again for the last part of the route. Over coffee at the end, share anything interesting you’ve learnt.

5) Join a publishing industry group and go to one of their meetings

This is where you’ll pick up more targeted tips and make new contacts for work opportunities. Essential. Try BookMachine, Byte The Book, your local SfEP group or the Society of Young Publishers.

6) Join a group related to the area you publish in

For me that’s ELT (English Language Teaching) and I’m a member of IATEFL and a couple of specialist groups within that. Going to their events, whether small and local, or on a larger scale like an annual conference, gives me a chance to find out about the latest methodologies and technical developments in the classroom, see what all the publishers are putting out, as well as meeting in-house contacts and reminding them that I’m here if they’re looking to resource new projects. Once you’re there, follow Justine Solomon’s tips from the recent SYP conference. Of course, there are time and cost implications for all of the above, but I think these should be seen as an investment. If you’re at an event and meet someone who is looking for a new editor or project manager, the cost of a few hours away from your desk and a train ticket will be repaid many times over. Likewise, if you’re looking for an accountant and you hear of a good one through your network, they might save you £££s in the long run. Or the new invoicing app you hear about over coffee that turns your monthly invoicing nightmare into a quick and easy hour. And think how good you’d feel if you managed to introduce a couple of your contacts to each other and they could form a new working relationship. Very satisfying. If none of those ideas grab you, you can of course continue to network online via Facebook and LinkedIn, but I honestly think that getting out and having some face-to-face contact with others is important – as an excuse to change out of your comfy working trousers if nothing else. Karen White is a freelance ELT project manager, editor, and trainer. Realising that networking opportunities for ELT freelancers were limited, she organised an Awayday in 2015 with another freelancer. The third ELT Freelancers’ Awayday will be held in January 2017 and will be a chance to network, discuss the issues of the day, and have a good lunch. Full details are here if you’re interested in taking part.
freelance author

5 top tips for surviving as a freelance author

This is a guest post from Cath Senker, who has 25 years’ experience in publishing and has written more than 130 books for children of all ages. She specialises in history, global and social issues, world religions, human geography and environmental topics. Cath also undertakes all kinds of editorial work for publishers and academic institutions and teaches writing skills and English.

Quick quiz

Are you a freelance writer? How much did you make from your writing last year? A Under £11,000 B About £11,000 C Over £11,000 If you answered A or B, you’re one of the majority of authors! Professional writers in the UK typically earn just £11,000 a year (ALCS, 2015). So how can you survive as a freelance author nowadays?

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Sara Donaldson - Freelancers

Top 5 tips for Freelancing in 2015

This is Sara Donaldson’ s second guest blog post. Sara is a freelance editor with an eye for a mystery. When not editing a range of projects (mostly non-fiction) she can be found with her Sherlock hat on as a professional genealogist. You can find her on Twitter @psychodwarf In case you missed it, it’s the New Year. On the horizon are a few months of crossing out the date when you write 2014, wondering where the last year went and a barrage of people telling you how to de-tox, de-clutter and deliver your business.

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5 Questions for Stacy Abrams [INTERVIEW]

In the run up to BookMachine New York, we’re running a set of interviews with publishing professionals connected to the City, with an interesting story to tell.     Stacy Abrams is Editorial Director of Entangle and Bliss. She started in the publishing industry in 2002, most recently leaving a seven-year stint at Bloomsbury Publishing’s children’s division to join the Entangled team. In addition to editing, she has been a freelance copy editor for several major New York publishing houses.

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5 Questions for John Bond [INTERVIEW]

John Bond John Bond has spent over twenty years in UK trade publishing, encompassing roles such as Marketing Director at Penguin and Group Sales and Marketing Director at HarperCollins. In April this year, he co-founded whitefox, a service designed to ‘cut through the clutter, using the right talent for the right project in the right way.’

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