Freelance Writing Tip #27: Interview Your Employer

Working with a publisher? Got offered a job? Great! Before you agree to take the job, I highly recommend that before you sign anything or negotiate terms you ask your employer a few questions. Don’t be afraid to find out a little bit more about their business, sometimes you may decide that you don’t want to take a job based on what kind of business you’re working for–especially since companies come and go.

It’s important to ask questions to know who you’re dealing with and whether or not the business is on the up-and-up. Most editors won’t mind sharing a little insight, as long as you are polite and stay focused, asking questions relevant to the job.

Depending upon your deadline and needs, examples of questions might be:

* When can you expect payment?
* Will you have to provide tax information?
* How many rounds of edits will the assignment require?
* How long have you been in business?
* Will you receive an author’s copy of your work? If so, how many?
* How long after you submit your assignment will the work be published?
* Will they provide a reference?
* What other titles or publications do they produce?
* Are they owned by a parent company?
* What rights are you retaining, giving up by working on this project?

If you search well enough, you might be able to find invaluable information online. Sometimes freelance authors will step up and be vocal about non-paying companies or services; while it’s good not to get too heavily involved in forum discussions of that type, it can’t hurt to read information from someone else’s posts.

In those rare cases where you do get offered a full-time position please slow down and ask about their benefits program–you don’t want to get stuck having to pay more for health insurance than you take home every day.

Above all, go with your gut instinct. If you feel a company is being honest and professional with you, they probably are. If you’re not comfortable working without a contract or written agreement and an employer won’t sign? Then that company is probably to risky for you to work with.

Remember, being offered a job is a wonderful thing, but you have to be smart about it as well. If you’re not, you may end up putting in more effort than what it’s worth.

Freelance Writing Tip #26: Write like a Ghost

Frustrated you can’t find any assignments? Consider ghostwriting as an alternate source of income. You won’t get credit for what you write (unless you work that out beforehand), but you may be able to use the author as a reference. In these cases, payment is almost guaranteed because both your reputation as an author and their reputation are on the line.

When you negotiate terms for ghostwriting, there might be a difference between “edited” content and “new” content, not to mention comments about copyright or licensing. So when you ghostwrite, make sure you’re not giving away your best ideas because you will never, ever be able to claim credit for them.

Payment and terms vary widely, and are all over the spectrum from charging by word, page, or hour. Ghost Writers Central has some interesting terms to charge by the minute.

I strongly caution you to do a lot of research before you sign your words away; contracts can be a tricky business and deadlines for ghostwriters are strict–you cannot under any circumstances blow a ghostwriting deadline because you’ll take down both you and the person you’re working for. In this case, the captain will go down with the ship.

For more information about ghostwriting, Sharon Hurley Hall talks about ghostwriting in this article from her work-at-home blog; and Amanda Hurley also gives some great tips through Ezine Articles.

Freelance Writing Tip #25: Don’t Rely on Future Payments

The fastest way to get burned freelance writing is to spend upcoming payments or rely on them to bail you out of a tough spot. Just like you have to meet your deadlines; publishers should meet theirs. Unfortunately, since every business is structured differently, not every company pays when you expect them to. Some authors who work on multiple assignments might get paid in one lump sum months from when their first assignment was submitted; others might not pay until 60 days after publication, even if that publication is delayed.

The bottom line here is: don’t spend what you don’t have and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches as you grow your freelancing business.

Fun with Writing: Word Etymology

One of the things that I love to do with my horror fiction is play on old meanings of words with unique spellings, or try to hint about a character’s true nature by describing them carefully. Here’s where word etymology comes in.

Take the word “demon” for example. In this word etymology dictionary, for example, the definition of the word “demon” is derived from the spelling “daemon” or “spirit.” In this Westegg Etymology Dictionary, “demon” is derived from the greek word “daimon” which means “a non-human power somewhere between people and gods, without any negative connotations.” So, if I’m using the true definition of the word “demon” I might use the initial spelling or simply learn more about occult history through word etymology to look beyond 17 century superstitions which have carried through to the present.

Another reason why I love word etymology is because you can find some interesting, existing words to describe ordinary things. World Wide Words has a fantastic reference section for phrases and what they call “weird” words. So go put on your galligaskins with a jocund smile on your face, drink your smouch whilom I suggest you play chuck-farthing and forget this bafflegab.

Announcement: Change to Blog Design

As you’ve probably already guessed, my primary goal for this blog is to bring content that is not only applicable to aspiring freelance writers, but relevant. There are some amazing freelance writing blogs out there (watch for a blog carnival to celebrate these other places), but what I don’t want is to have a blog that appears spammish.

Hence, the new blog design makes it a touch more personal yet has the same type of content.

For those of you tech savvy bloggers, I added a few feed buttons on the navbar.

Happy Writing. More exciting updates coming to you soon.

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