Tag Archives: money

Know When to Say No – Seeing a Bad Writing Job Coming


Every writer works for money. If you know a writer who doesn’t have an outside job and is working at writing as a business and they say that they aren’t working for the money…call BS. We all need to eat right? I admit it; I am in it to some degree for the cash flow. I have bills, and kids and bills and did I mention the kids? Living in today’s world requires that you have a certain cash flow; if you are making that cash flow with your writing well all the better then.

So how does one make money with their writing? The answer is as complicated as there are jobs out there for writers to do. I ghost write books and articles, I blog, I write ad copy, I do resumes, I write letters (both personal and business) and all while working on my own books which tend to sell pretty well. This is just a small list; it goes on and on. When you are a writer you have to take the work where you can get it until you start selling those blockbuster novels. Often times the work is there but it is small and it takes a lot of those little jobs to equal a paycheck from….say…7-11. The small jobs aren’t so bad until you discover that many of them end up being non-paying gigs. And to make matters worse, even some of the big writing jobs can turn out to be nothing but a solid waste of time.

Case in point…yesterday I received an e-mail from a potential client. I have ads up on job sites as well as my regular website and this blog offering my writing services. Now and again I get a bite on those sites and yesterday the potential client had been to my entire platform. They appeared to like what they saw in my work and were now offering me a 6 month writing job. At first I was thinking, “whoo hoo” but then I came back down to reality and started researching the client. What I discovered was that this writing job was not for me at all. Sure the money would have been good but the client was an intimacy coach who was requiring that the person hired be “comfortable” with fantasy. Turns out the job was ghosting a platform for a new writer but also someone who could (and would) “service” her other needs too. I’m getting married in 2 weeks and I don’t think I would have gotten this job by the spouse. I declined the job.

My point in sharing this is that there will be all kinds of writing jobs that come along but you have to be able to determine if they are the right job for you or if the person is honest enough to pay you in the end. Even more importantly you have to be able to turn down a job when your instincts tell you not to take it. Sure I could have used the money on that last one but I also want to go through with the wedding so…there was my decision. I still get taken from time to time and it is frustrating but over the years I have learned to weed out the bad ones. I do some online research and I ask a lot of questions before taking a job…I have to, my time is valuable and so is yours so take the time to really consider those jobs you take and listen to your inner writer…you will know when it’s good and when it’s not.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on May 30, 2023 in Business of Writing, Writing


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Ghost Writing 101- Tips to Keep You from Becoming a Moneyless Zombie

I have been ghost writing for a long time. I enjoy it to some degree, telling other people’s stories but I have to admit, there have been times when it’s bitten me on the keyster. Early on, before I knew better, I didn’t work with contracts and I would find myself in for more work for less pay. (or no pay at all) Or I would find myself 6 months in and the client suddenly deciding they have changed their mind and walking way. (or deciding after watching me for 6 months that they can just do it themselves…I love that one) Needless to say I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. If you aren’t careful and you do it incorrectly, you could find yourself a moneyless zombie – tripping through the motions, broken because your self-worth is gone with the phrase, “I’m not paying you” – instead of the lucrative ghost writer you should be.

Whether you ghost novels or articles, there are some things to keep in mind if you are to make a living at it. I find it interesting that currently there are a lot of internet companies cropping up that claim they can keep you knee deep in ghosting jobs and for actual pay. Be careful of these folks…a lot of the time they end up with part of the money that you worked for and that’s not always okay. I mean if you are doing the work, why should others get the cash?

I’ve decided to share some of what I have learned over the years when it comes to ghost writing because I see so many of these services. Maybe, I can save you some grief…or at least save the lives of those scam artists out there that you will trip across. (And trust me; there will be times when you will want to kill some of them)

Use a Contract – This is rule number one. How do I know that? Because I have been burned like an effigy of Roman Polanski at a Back to School night. (I’m wondering how many of you got that now) Even well-meaning clients often get screwy when money is involved. Working without a contract is literally standing on the highway in your underwear, you are asking to get hit and it won’t be pretty when it happens. Set up a basic contract and then ask other writers about their experience. It is a learn-as-you-go process but learn you must.

Allow yourself time – We writers have a sense of urgency about darn near everything. Because of this sense of urgency we tend to promise things before its possible…I know…I do it all the time. (1200 word article that I have to research by noon? Sure……) When you are ghosting you have to allow time for research, interviews and then the actual writing followed by edits….you are going to spend some time so give it to yourself in the contract.

Outline the WHOLE process – One mistake I made early on was not outlining the process from start to finish. I worked with a client once who was so able to take advantage of me, I lost my shorts. There is an interview process, the outline, the first draft, the second draft and the final edits and the final draft. These are all very time consuming, make sure you lay it all out or your client will think you are conning them when you say, “no this is only the draft copy”. I know, I’ve been there and it was a $2000 mistake thank you very much.

Define the terms – I can’t stress this one enough. Most of your clients will be non-writers so they will not understand the basic of terms. Define for them (IN THE CONTRACT) what a first draft is and includes, what the edits are, what the final draft is…if you don’t they will look at you half way through and question what you are doing. Remember money is involved and money makes people stupid. (Seriously)

Put any addendums to the contract in writing – AND you both sign them. No matter how much we love this thing we do, it is a business at the point where we are doing it for other people. You have to treat it like a business because, (have I mentioned) money is involved. The only way to legally hold the client to the terms is to have them spelled out. If half way through the project you redefine what the project is, put it in writing. If the client offers you more money, put it in writing. If a box of Twinkies a week becomes part of the deal, put it in writing. PROTECT yourself….

Ghost writing can be a lot of fun and it can be lucrative, but it can also be a mine field. You have to protect your own interest no matter how creepy it feels. (and I do think that the business part can feel creepy at times) If you don’t think that you can take care of the business side, get someone else, who you trust, to do it for you. There is money to be made ghosting but unless you want that money to be of the ghostly nature too, dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s.  In the spirit (ha ha) of the month of October (my fav by the way) there is nothing scarier than working your behind off and not having a ghost of a chance of getting paid….(hee hee) Get out those contracts and protect yourself, your money and ultimately your sense of self.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on October 2, 2022 in Business of Writing


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The Buck Stops Here…No There…Wait…Over There….No…Hang On Darn It…That’s my Money

Writers write and we hate to ask for money. No…come on now…stop shaking your head…you know it’s true. We are, by nature, wimps when it comes to asking to get paid. We’ll give you a quote (usually way under bid), we’ll do the work, but when it comes to asking for the money…I’ll meet you in the Top Ramen isle.

I am horrible at asking clients for money. I don’t have a problem doing the work but when it comes to putting a price on it, forget about it…I suck. I’m not sure if we writers do this because we are embarrassed to ask for money for our work or if we are ultimately afraid of rejection more than starving, but we all do it. I know plenty of writers who could have written their own ticket during the sale of a book only to have walked away with so little that it hardly paid for the cab fare to get to the publishing house and back home. It is frustrating.

We do the work but there are a number of reasons we don’t actually expect the money that a story is worth. I have several reasons:

I don’t like asking for money – For me the money part is the prostitution part of the business. I feel kinda dirty asking.

I am afraid of rejection – I am always afraid that I will set a price and the client will scoff at me and then laugh with his fellow employees after I leave. Kind of a “what-the-hell-was-he-thinking kind of a thing.

I am never sure how much to ask – Setting a price on a piece of work is tough. In my mind, it’s priceless so how am I going to set a price less than a gazillion dollars?

I am afraid I won’t get the job – I tend to underbid in fear that another writer will come along and grab the assignment out from under me. I will often bid a project and actually call back to lower the price. (I know….I’m an idiot right?)

Whatever your reason for having a hard time with the money aspect, I get it. I understand what the problem is and so do a lot of other writers even though they won’t admit it. We all want that grand payday but we also all have to eat. It’s what makes us grab the measly $25 bucks for the 500 word article and run like hell….fear sucks. The thing we, as writers, have to do is get over the fear and set a price that will allow is to at least buy tacos instead of tuna and cheap mayo. If we start stating our worth within our prices the money will flow to us instead of away from us. Clients will catch on eventually and you can move on up to steak….trust me.




© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on June 27, 2022 in Business of Writing


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Make Business Not Whoopee - How to Keep the Writing Business from Getting Personal

Perhaps I am not the best person right now to dole out advice on this subject because I have recently come through a scrap in regards to the business of writing. But then, perhaps I am the best person to dole out advice on this subject because I have recently come through a scrap in regards to the business of writing.

The business of writing is really tough. Your writing is personal. It is a part of who you are and what you pour onto the page whether it is an article, a novel, a ghost writing project or greeting card lines, it is your blood in its purest form. This is why it is so hard to go about the business aspect; it’s personal from the start. I have a hard time not giving more than I should. I use contracts with large projects but soon after beginning I find myself giving more than I promised and before I know it, I’m in trouble because the client is either expecting more or demanding more. The other thing that makes it that much harder is, because it is personal for me, I get my feelings hurt when a client starts going all “I’m in charge-y” and starts to get mean-spirited about it. In the end, I am on an emotional train I can’t get off of and Denzel Washington is nowhere in sight. (reference to the movie “Unstoppable” for those of you who need to get out more) So how do you write as a business and not get on that train? Here is what I have learned:

Make sure your contract is clear- Remember that your clients don’t really understand the writing process. Although it is frustrating to have to spell everything out, do it, trust me…you will thank me for that one day.

Define the terms – Make sure you define what a first draft is, what a polished draft is and what the finished product is. If you don’t, you are leaving it up to interpretation and that can get to be a very, very bad thing.

Give yourself time – I know that a project should take 6 months but make sure that you tack on some extra time for life to get in the way. Your client isn’t going to understand sick kids, the flu or any other challenges life throws your way.

Make the confidentiality clause go both ways – If you don’t cover yourself you are left open to allow the client to talk about your process. Make sure that the concept goes both ways and then enforce it.

No matter how much you want to, don’t change your process – I recently thought I was putting a client at ease by sharing draft chapters instead of the final draft, it was a mistake. There were all kinds of misunderstandings before it was over. Follow your process and remember that it is business.

Charge what you should – This is the hardest part of the process for me. I never want to feel like I am cheating someone so I end up grossly underbidding a project and screwing myself. Your work and your time are worth the money so set your price in a place that allows you to keep your dignity throughout the process. You have a specialized skill. If a client balks at the price, you don’t need to be working for them.

These are just a few of the things I have learned over the years. There is no room in the business of writing to make it personal. I do realize that, on some level, it will be personal anyways – we can’t help it – but this needs to be something you keep to yourself. Just like with anything else in life, if a client sees that it is personal for you they will take advantage and before you know it you are on that train again screaming for Denzel only to discover that he’s not coming. Protect yourself, your writing, and in the end, your heart, by making sure that business is business.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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