Thursday, May 28, 2009

“In these economic times,” freelancers are booming...

I read an article yesterday that noted how often the phrase “especially in these economic times” is being used in the media. As an unstoppable optimist, I’d like to turn news of our current economic downturn into an upswing for all freelance writers out there. Here are some positive things that have happened this past year:

1. I’ve found that while more companies have laid off full-time employees in their marketing departments, they still have work that needs to get done. Hence, freelancers save the day. Freelancers are a bargain because companies don’t have to pay health benefits, paid days off or sick time—something that costs employers an average of 20-35% of a full-timer’s comp package. And we don’t stand around the water cooler, idling.

2. I’ve found that once I’m “in the door” with a client company, I can parlay project work into a long-term relationship. Even after the Great Recession passes, I believe companies will still be looking to run lean and mean. Again, freelancers save to day (and the budget). Just remember to do kick-a** work.

3. Building on point #2, I’ve also been able to parlay project-basis assignments into larger scale ones. For instance, a client that hired me to rewrite their web content now has me overseeing all their company marketing/branding/PR efforts.

4. It has been incredible how much my current clients have been referring me to other potential clients. I humbly take this as a sign not just that I’m adding value but that, as a freelancer (who is nonexclusive), taking on projects with other companies is not viewed as being disloyal. And I love the feeling that no one company “owns” my time. Don’t be shy: tell your clients that you’re looking for referrals.

4. Many folks who are in between jobs or careers are taking time to delve into drafting “the book they’ve always wanted to write.” My time spent with potential authors has gone up, not down this past year. I’m just happy to see that those in transition are using their time wisely . . . and productively. A handful of clients have even gotten books onto Kindle in as little as three months.

Please feel free to share your “positive” stories of freelancing in our current economy . . . and write on!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amazon Launches Publishing Program

Online Bookseller Starts AmazonEncore

By Rachel Deahl -- Publishers Weekly, 5/14/2009 7:50:00 AM

In its most significant foray into publishing, Amazon has acquired world English rights to a self-published novel by a midwestern teenager called Legacy. The acquisition is the first for the e-tailer's newly launched publishing banner, AmazonEncore. Amazon is re-releasing the fantasy title, in hardcover, in August. The book, by Cayla Kluver, is part of a planned a trilogy--it was published under the banner Forsooth Books, founded by Kluver and her mother--and, according to Amazon, is the first in a currently unknown number of titles from AmazonEncore.

Jeff Belle, v-p of books at Amazon, said the new publishing program, while focused on self-published books with promise, could also target out-of-print titles from major houses. Belle was vague about both the criteria used in the selection of Legacy and the terms of the deal with Kluver. (Kluver does have an agent, but Belle would not disclose any details about the nature of the deal Amazon struck with her.)

In terms of the criteria used to select Kulver's title, and future AmazonEncore titles, Belle said the company is relying on a combination of sales data and customer feedback. When asked what feedback was used, in addition to the customer reviews on the site, Belle said "customers have many ways of interacting with us" and would not elaborate. And, when asked about the validity of the customer reviews, which in the past had come under question with certain customers (or authors) submitting multiple reviews, Belle said "certain controls are built into the process for customer reviews." (Kluver currently has 15 customer reviews for Legacy, 12 of which are five-star reviews.)

Belle said that Legacy was one title on a lengthy list of potential AmazonEncore books, although he declined to say how many books Amazon may release annually, noting the list will be decided by "how many great books we can identify." As for the editorial process used by AmazonEncore, Belle said a "team of editors" read a number of manuscripts on the list and their literary judgement were taken into consideration along with "what they think the incremental sales opportunity might be."

In addition to the hardcover, Amazon will release Legacy as an audiobook (through Audible) and as an e-book (as a Kindle edition). Belle said the company will make a decision about a first printing--the company's using an offset printer for the title--based on pre-order information and other data. And, moving forward, print runs will be made on a title-by-title basis.

Amazon will also work with wholesalers to get the title into bookstores.
When asked if he thought publishers might be leery of the industry's most dominant online retailer moving into what looks like traditional publishing, Belle said he doesn't see why AmazonEncore would make anyone fearful. "I wouldn't say this is a new model; there are other examples in the marketplace of retailers who've done similar things," he said. He then added that a number of publishers he spoke to about the program gave positive feedback, noting that "publishers want to see how we could work together on this model," returning to the example of AmazonEncore bringing back into print a publisher's oop title.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2 Upcoming Events

The spring weather here in Pittsburgh is so lovely . . . lush and green, flowerbuds and butterflies, warmer breezes. Step out and meet other writers and creative professionals in the 'Burgh at these 2 upcoming events:

The Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime
Monday, June 1, 7 to 9 p.m.
Mystery Lover’s Bookshop, Oakmont, PA
Join in my discussion and Q&A of “The Conscious Writer: How to be Prolific in Your Art, Your Heart and in Your Life”. Sisters in Crime is an international organization of writers, readers, booksellers, agents, editor, reviewers and teachers interested in promoting the work of women mystery writers.

Women’s Power Lunch Spring Mixer
Wednesday, May 27, 7 to 8 p.m.
Morton’s Steakhouse, 625 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (map)
Join me for upscale networking at one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants, with wine and appetizers to die for. The Women’s Power Lunch organization has a special magic. Its mission is “empowering women through networking”.