Getting Paid What You Are Worth

Getting paid for writing is a double edged sword. I had a friend once give me a sign for my office wall, it read:
“Writing is like prostitution, first you do it for the love of it, and then you do it for the money”
Truer words have never been uttered. Once you have written something and gotten paid for it you have literally fallen down a rabbit hold you never even knew existed. You might be asking…but it’s work…why shouldn’t I get paid for it? The answer is, you should but not everyone sees it that way.

I am not only a writer by trade, I am also a writer by nature. What does that mean? Well it means that I can sit down with a 2000 word writing assignment and finish it in about 30 minutes. Writing that tends to take the average person four days to do will take me 3 hours. Writing, after all, is what I do. It comes naturally and, most times, easily. This is where the getting paid for it part gets muddy.
First off it is always tough to take money for something that comes so naturally and that you love doing because often times it doesn’t feel like work. You have to be willing to justify your work even though it didn’t take you very long to do it. The bottom line is that what you do is specialized…not everyone can do it and so it is a skill set that is in demand. In demand equates to money. You wouldn’t go to a great mechanic, have them fix your car and when they are done in two hours tell them that you don’t think they should charge that much because it didn’t take them that long…yet people do that to us all the time. It is frustrating.

What the non-writer doesn’t get is that just because you are good and it doesn’t take you long shouldn’t mean that they pay you less…in fact, they should pay you more because you are that good. Then there is the hidden factor, like in the comic above…it took years for me to get to the skill level I am at. I paid my dues and I worked hard to become the best I can be…when you are paying for a good writer you are paying for all those years of experience too.

It is still, after 30 some-odd years, hard for me to ask for payment. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and when I get screwed it hurts. Writing, after all is very personal and when a person tries to talk their way out of paying for the work it hits us in a very personal spot. I personally do a lot of extra research on most of my jobs and I hone a piece that I am doing until it is as close to perfect as I can get it. Sometimes I am up all night working so that the client gets what they deserve. I almost always under bid jobs or charge less than I should because nothing about charging for what I love doing ever feels “right”.

Here’s the thing though…it has to be done. You have to charge for the work and you have to insist on getting what you are worth. I had a client recently bail on me because he felt like he should pay less for a job because it “didn’t take me that long”…he ended up with the start of a book, the outline, the timeline and the basis all completed and he walked out on paying for it. I took a $1500 hit on that job. That client will now take my work and either hire a cheaper writer or he will try and complete the project his self (A lot of the heavy lifting completed) and I just have to wait for the karma bus to run him over. It hurt and it was wrong but what made it worse was that I had given him a great deal in the beginning so that’s twice the damage. Now I have to let it go and trust the next client not to follow suit which isn’t always easy.

So folks charge for the work and don’t feel bad about it. You deserve to get paid just like any other professional and demand that your clients respect that. What you do is a talent that not everyone has…

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Writing


The Frustrations of a Writer #1

This is going to be a new series of blogs over the next few months. One of the questions that I get asked a lot is, “what frustrates you most about being a writer”? I have a list….and first on that list is non-writers who don’t get what goes into actual writing.
I write novels but I also write for clients as well as many full-time writers do. (Gotta pay the bills while writing those books) While working on ghosting projects over the years I discovered quickly that non-writers simply do not understand the act of writing a book. Some of my clients think that I can magically produce a book after sitting down with them and interviewing them. Here is the thing…there has to be actual “WRITING” involved at some point.

My process looks like this when it comes to ghosting….I interview the subject over a series of months, collecting all the information possible regarding the project. If it is a biography then this happens a lot since the story is personal. I also collect whatever notes the clients has as well. Sometimes further research enhances the story such as researching the past of other characters of the book. While most ghosting authors will only use the limited information that a client provides them, I choose to do more research…I want the book to be good and as complete as possible.

After doing those initial interviews the writing process begins. I take the information collected, my own research and I begin to build the book. This part of the process is tough and often I put in many more hours than I have charged for. I am up all hours of the night for months building each chapter being careful to ensure that I capture the clients’ needs and desires within the book. I write, I re-write and then I edit. I send each chapter to the client for them to read and edit as well, adding stuff they may have just thought of…then I re-edit and write again. I do this one chapter at a time so the client is not overwhelmed and we can stay on task.

Finally we have a final copy at which time most ghost writers hand you the manuscript and say, good luck…but not me. I offer to help with the publishing process often formatting and helping with submissions and such. I have even helped some clients with public relations. This is a long process if you are doing it correctly. There are tons of ghost writers out there who will charge you $10,000 produce a manuscript and send you on your way but, I think that is kind of cruel. I believe that your story deserves attention and the time it takes to make it the best it can be.

So here’s the rub…some clients actually think that in order to produce a book I need to meet with them each week to go over the story for months, even years. They never consider that the book has to be put together and that takes me…at my desk…writing. While I really enjoy meeting with clients, at some point that ends and the book begins.

Several years ago I got taken by a client who used my desire to do a good job against me. The client, we’ll call her Valerie, hired me to write a series of short stories. The project began as a 6 month project and ended up taking a year because Valerie wouldn’t allow me to write it. We kept meeting each week and she kept talking about the same parts of the story over and over. I didn’t have a problem extending the contract until she chose to stop making payments until she got what she deemed was “enough” work. Being a person who chooses to believe in the best of people I continued to work on the project despite the lack of payments and, in the end, I delivered a completed manuscript and she chose not to pay me the balance; instead she published the book on her own and I haven’t heard from her since. I had no recourse because I had already given her the manuscript. I lost over $2500 on that project in terms of the contract, $4500 in terms of allowing her to talk me down on the cost of the project in the first place but in terms of time and actual work I probably lost hundreds of thousands. Personally, I lost a little faith in people over all and my feelings were hurt.

I work hard on the projects I take on and while I understand that each project is gamble for both the client and the writer….I like to think that people are basically good and that when it comes down to it they realize that I am honest and do the best work possible. But in terms of writers’ frustrations…this one is on the top of the list. I am, after all, a writer…I want to write.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Writing


It’s RESEARCH Damn It!

There is a really cool little program that can help you, as a writer, control yourself. Seriously. As depicted in the art above most of us do spend a lot of time surfing the net when we really should be writing. I do it. I’ll check my email, check Facebook, check my author’s page…it goes on and on… Let’s admit it, the internet makes procrastination a lot more fun.

So what can we do to stop the madness? There are more than a few little programs out there that will help with this problem. The way that they work is by “blocking” you. Yep, there are programs out there that work like a girl’s best friend at a bar when you are trying to pick her friend up…it’s an internet blocker. (See what I did there…)

I have tried out a few of these programs. Write or Die is kind of fun but it allows you to jump back on when you want to. It had fun little graphics but the point is to keep you from going onto the internet and, to be honest, if I can just push a button and I’m back on, I’ll do it. So while Write or Die is a good concept it falls short of doing its job.

The program that has impressed me most is, oddly, called Webtrate – Stop Procrasinating, which it actually doesn’t allow…sort of…let me explain. Webtrate blocks you from the internet essentially jailing you into writing. (Not freedom but sort of freedom because now you are free to write. (Make sense?) The thing that is cool about this program is that once you engage it you actually have to turn off your computer and turn it back on in order to get back onto the internet. Sure that can be done pretty easily but it is just enough of a pain to make you consider just writing instead.

Webtrate is downloadable for both the MAC and the PC which is also cool. You can get it here and it’s practically free! ($5, We writers like cheap) So if you are like me and are just too damn curious not to surf the web, give this program a try. It’s worth the $5.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 13, 2015 in Writing


But You Promised…………

I made a promise to myself a few days ago….and then I promptly broke it. I promised that I would sit down at least once a day and write. I do write every day but that is on other people’s stuff, not my own. My promise was to work on my own novels but, as I have been prone to do lately, I shoved my stuff aside because I had “other” work to do. I broke my promise.

Now many of you might be saying, why so down on yourself…at least you are writing…but that isn’t really the point. Sure I am writing but I am not doing the writing that makes me happy. I am not telling the stories that I have bottled up inside and that give me nightmares if ignored long enough. As a writer, it is the personal stuff that matters, otherwise it really does just become a job.
I have published novels and I am working on new stuff but let’s be honest, if I don’t get off my ass there will be no more published novels, only the glory of finishing someone else’s work. I do love ghosting but I also need to be creative; we all do.

So today I want you to do what I should have done….keep the promise. I will try and keep mine as well but in the end the only person who can police me is me. Make a commitment to yourself to keep on being creative and to take the time to do you. There is no shame in writing for other people but there is tons of shame in not stepping up to the plate and keeping your promises to your own muse.
Keep the promise and write…every day.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Writing


Don’t Do That – Do I Really Have to Sacrifice the Neighbors Cat?

You Want to DO What?????

You Want to DO What?????

Inspiration…it’s elusive, maddening…the source of many a writer’s desire to dip into the dark arts in order to obtain just a tiny bit of it. Those of us who are writers live with the daily possibility that “today” inspiration may not come and it’s scary. My non-writing friends don’t have to live with this fear…they simply don’t care because they are blissfully unaware of how incredibly important inspiration is; some days I wish I was one of them…those who don’t know what they don’t know….

Over the years there have been many a writer offering advice as to how to tame this beast. I have been told to burn candles, pray, meditate, sit in a dark room until it hits, spin three times and then hunt down a small rodent to sacrifice to the writing gods…I have heard it all. That last one was actually advice from a writer from South Africa whom I met at a conference…I think he actually thought it would work and when I joked about using the neighbor’s cat instead he actually looked kind of excited…creepy… While all of these are interesting ideas I wouldn’t put much stock in them.

So how does one romance inspiration into their life? The truth is simple, you have to be open to it. Now you may be screaming at the screen…”BUT I AM!” I get that you “think” you are but in truth, chances are, you really aren’t. Being open to inspiration means taking the steps to allow it in. You have to turn off the television, shut your office door, and get some alone time with you and your muse. We live in a world of constant stimulation and that gets in the way of listening to that small, still voice inside…the one where the stories are from.

Stop trying to voodoo the inspiration in…use common sense. You will never feel inspired if your mind is busy in 100 different directions. Be still…listen…the inspiration is there but if you can’t be quiet enough to hear it….let’s face it…the neighbors only have so many cats.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Writing


Stop it! How to Multitask Yourself Out of a Writing Job

Thursdays are an important day of the week. Why? Because many of us look at Thursday as a “in the way” day. It’s just past Wednesday which is our half way point, something to be happy about, and just before Friday, our end of the week – whoo hoo it’s the weekend day. Thursday just sort of sits there…mocking us. So I decided to make Thursday good for something. We are going to call it our “stop it” day. On Thursdays we, as writers, will look at some things that we, as writers, should stop doing. Today we kick this off with NOT multitasking.

We live in a world that runs at 100 mph every day, all day. If you aren’t’ careful your writing will get lost in the fast lane. I personally have to schedule every little thing during the week because if I don’t I will lose my writing time first. Between taking the kids to school, running errands and dealing with all of the things that working from home entails there are some days when I wish I had an outside job. (Trust me, I got more done then) When multitasking first because “a thing” I gave it a try and realized very quickly that doing multiple things at once often meant not completing anything at all.

As a writer we need to be all in when we are writing. There simply is no way to write a story where you have to create a whole world while taking phone calls, doing the dishes, babysitting the grandkids and planning dinner…there are wayyyyyyy to many things involved in doing all those things at once. When I was a kid (back in the wagon wheel days as my kids would say) there was this little poem going around about being in love, it was called “All Because You Kissed Me Goodnight”. It went like this:

I climbed the door
And opened the stairs
I said my pajamas
And put on my prayers
Then turned off my bed
And crawled into the light
All because you kissed me good-night

Next morning, I woke
And scrambled my shoes
Polished my eggs and
Toasted the news
I couldn’t tell my left from right
All cause you kissed me good-night.

This isn’t the whole poem and there appears to be no name on it to allow for credit but it is very indicative of how I often feel after a bout of multitasking. The act of doing so confuses my brain and before I know it I am scrambling my shoes. I literally have to write and do nothing else or I fail at it all.

Yes I know that the world is pushing up all to get more things done faster and there is a lot of pressure to “get it done” but you have to ask yourself…do I want to get it done fast, or do I want to get it done right? Here’s the funny thing for me…I remember making it through the first 50 years of my life without a sense of urgency all the time. I have no idea when exactly we decided, as a society, that we all had to be in such a hurry all the time; we don’t. As my grandmother used to say, eventually it will all get done, maybe not to everyone else’s liking and time table but, it will get done.

Folks, if you are multitasking…stop it! Focus on the work, finish the section you are on and then move on to the next thing. Trying to do it all at once will not make you successful…it will only make you tired.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Writing


Write it Down….or Risk the Forgotten Novel

What is the “forgotten novel”? I’ve written it a million times over the years but it will never see the light of day. It will never be the showcase of my work and it will never win awards…why? Because it will never get truly written because I simply forgot to write it down.
I found this saying while perusing the internet and decided that truer words have never been spoken in terms of us writers. I’ll don’t need to write it down really is one of the biggest lies I tell myself. Over the years well-meaning mentors have told me time and time again, carry a notebook, write down the inspiration as it hits…do I do that…nope. And you know what???? I tell other young writers that same advice.

Honestly the world is too busy a place for us to rely on “remembering” anymore. Senility is no longer an old age condition, it is a condition that is the product of too much technology and too much busy-ness. I am often luck if I remember to pick up the kids from school and the eggs from the grocery store and not the other way around…remember a moment of inspiration? Yeah…okay…

I have begun carrying a notebook, which has been tough for me because I am not a “bag person”. I hate the concept of having to carry a bag to put my stuff in. If I can’t stuff it into my pockets I don’t need it, right? Wrong. As a writer we really do need to be constantly prepared because inspiration is a cheeky little bugger and it comes when it feels like it. While it would be great to put it on a schedule…”I plan to be inspired between 2:15 and 4:30 p.m.” it ain’t gonna happen. We need to have that notebook or recorder on hand because when the inspiration hits and you miss it…trust me, it sucks. I can’t tell you how many times I have written the greatest-novel-EVER but because I didn’t write anything down and I told myself I would remember…I lost it completely.

So carry that notebook, put a pad and paper next to the bed, hell use your electronics to take notes – I don’t care – but take them. You don’t want to look back on your career and see all those unwritten, forgotten novels ghosting around. Wouldn’t it be better to take a moment, write it down and then someday tell an incredible story on a talk show about how inspiration hit you on the 405 and bam! The greatest novel ever?

© The Writer’s Advice, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Writing

%d bloggers like this: