Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Optimism and writing

Every once in a while, my husband and I decide to reclaim part of the storage area of our basement. It’s like exploring a fossil bed; remarkable and unexpected artifacts rise to the surface. When they do, they always make me think about where I’ve come from…and where I’m going.

Last time, I found precious treasure: small items belonging to my father. One of them was a framed copy of The Optimist Creed from the Optimist Club of Omaha. It describes the way he lived his life. Like us, he did creative work, but in electrical engineering. Like us, he was responsible for creating his own designs and his own business. And like us, he was successful (I’m practicing optimism!). I think his success was partly because of the words below...and it brought him the love and admiration of all who knew him.

As writers, our creative work can take a decade or more to reach a milestone, or completion, or success. It takes tremendous persistence and dedication. A supportive, cooperative community and constant encouragement are vitally important to us. Perhaps we could use The Optimist Creed, for the sake of ourselves and one another. So here it is, from Bob Wallin to you, with positive thoughts for your writing.

Promise yourself:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

--  Stormy

Friday, April 5, 2013

Charging For Your Services

Recently, quite a few writers have asked me how I charge clients for my various services.  This isn't meant to be an advertisement for what I do.  Instead it is a gathering of hints for your own use if you are asked to edit, ghostwrite, collaborate, etc.

I’ve done all three. And how I charge depends on many factors. When editing, some writers estimate by rough pages and their predicted time, thus one figure guaranteed (be sure you set clear limits on rewrites or extra edits if you do this). Also, as I do with most my clients, you can charge for any type of consulting and reworking and editing by the hour. Rewriting ditto (and this should be well defined in your contract).

I’ve coauthored in many forms and this is the rundown on several ways I’ve charged: when ghostwriting I’ve been paid a set charge for the book/script; I’ve charged hourly; I’ve charged a percentage of a book's revenues (I recommend against this unless your subject is HOT or your “author” is a household name); and I’m about to start a project which will be a combination of a lower hourly rate and a small percentage of the book’s proceeds – it will be a marketable book/subject/author, yet not a household name, so the hourly portion simply guarantees that I make enough to cover my time. I’ve co-written screenplays where the work was split roughly 50-50. With two authors, Janet Fogg and Christian Lyons, I put the time in with the understanding and contract that we split all costs and proceeds and that marketing decisions must be agreed upon by both (be sure to spell out who will do what). I’ve also co-written a short educational film script where I got paid a set amount, half up front, the rest when done.

Writers have asked me what is a “fair” charge.  That depends on your experience and how busy you stay. I raised my rates consistently over time as my experience and reputation grew. And when I had several writers wanting to hire me, meaning too much work to accept it all, I raised rates again. I’ve always offered a friend/family discount. I never undervalue myself; I'd rather hold out for a client that appreciates my work enough to pay me well. To reassure editing clients who've never used my services, I suggest they contract initially for 4 hours of my work so they can have a good sense of what I can do in that time. I’ve never had anyone stop at that point, but I feel it is fair to give them that option.

If you write the book with your name on it alongside your client's, that is a collaboration not ghostwriting; you are the “writer” and he is the “author.” If you truly ghostwrite the book, only her name is on it.  There will be many issues to deal with in your contract, like who owns copyright, who pays expenses, how the names will be listed, etc. You can read about those fine points and considerations in my blog post of Oct 10, 2012 at Chiseled in Rock:

- That's all for now from the Inkpot