Four Top Tips on Working with Editors

Although I am primarily a freelance writer, I do sometimes work as an editor as well. Among other things, I have edited newsletters, articles, short stories, books, training courses and promotional materials.

This has given me some valuable insights into what editors do and don’t want from writers, so today I thought I would share a few of them.

1. Be Reliable

This is one of the most important qualities any editor needs in a writer. He (or she) wants to be confident that you will deliver your article (or whatever) by the agreed deadline. If the deadline arrives and your article doesn’t, it can create all sorts of problems for the editor.

If you can see you’re going to have problems meeting a deadline, therefore, DON’T just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Tell the editor. Given sufficient notice they may be able to make alternative arrangements, e.g. bringing another article forward and postponing yours till next month. But if you don’t tell them in advance, it may be too late for this. Don’t then expect them to offer you any work in future.

2. Be Available

Editors sometimes need to contact authors at short notice, e.g. to check a fact or request a partial rewrite. You don’t have to be always just a phone call away (though that won’t hurt), but it should be possible for an editor to contact you by some means and get a reply within 24 hours. Always aim to have your mobile with you, therefore, and check this and your email regularly, preferably at least twice a day.

And if you’re going away on holiday for more than a day or two, it’s a courtesy to let the editor know, especially if you have just sent them some work!

3. Don’t Argue!

OK, this one is a bit controversial. If you disagree with an editor’s decision, you can say so. But don’t push it. At the end of the day, it’s the editor’s neck on the block, not yours, if he publishes your article and it goes down like a lead balloon with his readers.

Here’s an example from my own experience. In my capacity as a newsletter editor I was pitched an idea by a semi-regular contributor. Normally I liked his ideas, but for various reasons I couldn’t use this one, so I turned it down with a polite explanation. I then received a long, aggrieved email telling me quite forcibly that I was wrong and he was right, concluding with words to the effect, “I think I know our readership by now.” As you might guess, I didn’t commission many more articles from him after that…

4. Be Friendly but Professional

It’s good to build good relationships with editors. Over a period of time you will inevitably get to know one another quite well, and genuine friendships often result.

However, remember that the editor is also your client and – in effect – your employer, so it’s important to remain professional in all your dealings with them. Don’t assume that because ‘John’ or ‘Mary’ is your buddy, they won’t mind if you palm them off with inferior work or take other liberties with them.

Another example here (all names changed to protect those concerned). A few years ago one of my regular clients, a guy I’ll call Phil, was looking for an additional freelance writer. I recommended a woman named Clare to him, whom I’d worked with on a couple of projects.

All seemed to go well at first, and then I heard that he had dropped Clare quite suddenly. As I knew Phil pretty well, I asked him what had happened. He was a bit reticent at first, but then he told me, “We’re a family company, Nick, and we choose the people we work with very carefully.”

A little more probing finally revealed that he had been on the phone to Clare one day, and she casually dropped the F-word into their conversation two or three times. Phil hadn’t said anything to her at the time, but I guess he was a bit shocked by this. Anyway, he decided that he couldn’t work with her any more.

I must admit, I don’t know why Clare did this. Maybe she wanted to show she was “one of the lads”, or maybe she’d just been watching too many Hollywood movies. In any event, it was exactly the wrong tack to take with Phil, who abhors bad language in any form. And so it cost Clare the opportunity of a continuing source of well-paid work.

That’s perhaps an extreme example, but it does illustrate an important point. A good, friendly relationship between author and editor can be very rewarding for both parties, but you should never let it become an excuse for behaving unprofessionally.

So those are some of my top tips for working with editors. Do you have any more, or any comments on the ones above? Please do post them below!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
SEven Top Tips for Hiring a Freelance Writer

Seven Top Tips for Hiring a Freelance Writer

I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for over 25 years (I’m semi-retired now). During that time I’ve had a lot of would-be clients approach me about working for them. To some I’ve said yes, others no. Often, my decision is strongly influenced by the way they approach me.

So I thought in this post I would set out a few tips for anyone who wants to hire a freelance writer. If you’re a writer yourself, maybe you’ll identify with some of these points. If you’re looking to hire a freelance writer, I hope my advice will make the process a little less stressful for all concerned!

1. First Find Your Writer

One of the best ways to find a freelance writer is by personal recommendation. So if you happen know anyone who hires freelance writers, find out whom they use and ask for their contact details. This will give you a good starting point in your search at least.

Otherwise, you will need to start looking around. You could simply enter “freelance writer” in Google and see who turns up (not forgetting to check the ‘sponsored listings’ as well). You can also narrow down your search by area or by specialism.

In addition, there are lots of resource sites you can use to find a writer – the WritersNet Writers & Authors Directory is one example.

You can also post details of the job you have in mind on websites such as Guru and Upwork and invite authors to bid for them. This does have some drawbacks, though. Apart from being time-consuming, the information available on those bidding for work is often minimal. You will still need to check very carefully whether any candidates have the skills and knowledge you require.

2. Give Them Enough Information

Once you’ve found a potential writer and checked them out, you’ll want to contact them to see if they are interested in taking on your assignment. It’s important to include enough information in your query for the writer to tell if the job would suit their skills and experience.

Personally, the type of enquiry I least enjoy receiving is along the lines, ‘I have a writing job for you. Phone me to discuss.’ That means I am expected to call this individual at my expense – possibly at international rates – with no clue what he or she wants me to do, and the need to make an on-the-spot decision whether I am interested or not.

While I don’t require a detailed brief with the initial enquiry, I much prefer a paragraph or two of explanation so that I can get some idea what the job will entail: length, subject matter, deadline, and so on. If there is a set budget, it is helpful to know this also. Otherwise, especially if I am busy, I am quite inclined to say, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. Experience has taught me that vague enquiries seldom lead to worthwhile assignments.

3. Don’t Assume You’re Doing Them a Favour

Professional writers are busy people, and they can’t take on every job that is offered to them. That applies especially with jobs that are offered out of the blue. You need to make some effort in your approach to demonstrate that you are a genuine prospective client and not, as they say, a tyre-kicker. As mentioned above, it helps a lot if you provide enough information in your initial approach to show the writer that you are business-like and professional, and have devoted some serious thought to what you want the writer to do.

4. Don’t Expect Them to Work for Free

If you just want a quote or expression of interest, that’s fine. But if you want your writer to produce sample articles, outlines, or whatever so that you can assess their suitability for the job, you should offer them a reasonable fee for this.

5. Don’t Assume Any Writer Will Do

Writing covers a huge spectrum of activities, and all writers specialize to some extent. This is another reason you should tell your prospective writer what the job will involve in your initial approach. Even if it’s not a type of writing he (or she) does, he may know someone who specializes in that field and be able to refer you.

6. Be Honest and Up Front

Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but it’s important not to get off on the wrong foot with your writer.

Here’s an example from my own experience. I was asked by a potential client to help him write a book, and as a first step to produce an outline. This involved researching the topic concerned, and turned out to involve a bit more work than I anticipated. However, I agreed to do it, as I assumed that as long as the client was happy with my outline, I would get this well-paying assignment.

Then I found out, quite by chance, that a colleague had been approached by the same person and asked to do exactly the same thing. In fact, the client had approached at least two other writers as well, and we were effectively competing against one another. I felt I had been misled, and told the client I was no longer interested in working for him.

Of course, there is no objection to a potential client getting several quotes if he wants to, but where preliminary work is going to be involved for the unsuccessful writers as well, I believe the client should make this clear to all concerned. See also my comments above about not expecting writers to work for free.

7. Give Them All the Essential Info

If you don’t tell your writer all the important facts, don’t be surprised if they produce something unsuitable for you.

Here’s another example from my experience. A few years ago I was approached by someone wanting me to write a short story for him, to give to his fiancee on their wedding day. He told me he wanted a medieval-style fairy tale, with himself as the hero and his fiancee as his princess.

I took the job (at below my usual rates, but I actually found the project quite touching and romantic) and produced a story where the hero went to Hispaniola with the king’s forces and slayed a mechanical dragon that had been terrorizing the locals. He then came back as a hero to claim his bride.

My client wasn’t impressed. He told me his fiancee’s ex had been in the army, so could I come up with a story that had no military connections? Everything I’d written had to be scrapped. I told the client that if he still wanted me to do this job, he would have to come up with an outline plot himself. I would then flesh it out for him, but I couldn’t go on writing stories then having them rejected for reasons I had hitherto heard nothing about. I never heard from him again.

In the last example, I do actually have some sympathy for the young man concerned, as he obviously had no experience working with freelance writers, and he did have the best of intentions. However, it turned out to be a waste of a week’s work for me, purely because I wasn’t given all the essential details.

To sum up, then, if you want to hire a professional writer, it’s important to present a business-like image. Show the writer that you value their skills and understand that they may not want, or be able, to take the job on. Give them all the facts they require to assess your proposed project in an open and honest way. If you want them to produce a sample of work for you, offer them a fee. And once you’ve hired them, give them all the information they need to be able to do a good job for you.

Do all of these things, and you will be well on your way to becoming the ideal client for a freelance writer. And, more importantly, there is every chance you will find a suitably skilled individual for your project, and get the best possible results from them.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
Why Now is the Season to Start Promoting More Vigorously on Amazon

Why Now is the Season to Start Promoting More Vigorously on Amazon

The festive season is fast approaching, so I thought it was time to publish my usual reminder about promoting your Amazon Associate (affiliate) links extra vigorously.

If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you have one or more books/ebooks on Amazon. There are various reasons why promoting them as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated through your link will attract commission from Amazon. Assuming you’re earning royalties on sales as well, in effect that means you’ll be getting paid twice over for every sale.

But there’s another particular reason to promote extra hard via Amazon at this time of year, and that’s because you will receive commission from Amazon for ALL purchases made by a customer who visits the store via your link.

And in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas and Hanukkah, many people will be buying multiple items as gifts. If they do some or all of their gift shopping via your link, you will earn multiple commissions.

Admittedly, Amazon doesn’t pay a fortune to Associates. Commission starts at just 5 percent, rising to the dizzy heights of 15 percent for some products. By way of comparison, affiliate commissions paid on downloadable products are often over 40 percent, and in some cases up to 100. See my recent post about the WCCL/Kaleidoscope Global affiliate program, for example.

Even so, if someone spends a lot of money on a visit (and it happens at this time of year) the returns to you as the referrer can be substantial. Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) regularly lists surprising products people have bought from Amazon on visits via his links. Here’s one eye-opening list he posted a while ago.

If you’re not an Amazon Associate already, you can easily join by scrolling down to the foot of the Amazon homepage, clicking on Associates Program, and following the instructions to sign up. Note that you will need to join each national store’s Associates program separately to promote there.

Once you’re in, Amazon have a huge range of banners and widgets you can use on your blog or website. They include, of course, simple image ads such as the one below for my latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com…

You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here’s an example of an Amazon UK deals widget that is automatically updated.

Of course, it’s possible that all you want is a simple text link. You can get this via the grey Amazon Associates Site Stripe that appears at the top of the screen when you are logged in. The Site Stripe will give you affiliate links for whatever Amazon page you happen to be on. As an example, here is my text link for the All-New Fire-TV with Alexa Voice Remote on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2hzPz5N

You can also access image and text-and-image links via the Site Stripe, and social media (Facebook and Twitter) posting links as well.

And finally, there is a new, free Amazon plugin that self-hosted WordPress blog owners can use to quickly insert formatted links and images into their posts. More information can be found by clicking here.

One slight drawback of the methods above is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won’t automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience, you might therefore like to consider using the Geniuslink or Booklinker services.

Both of these are run by the GeoRiot organization. They create a single link that detects where visitors are and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link if you have entered one for the store concerned.

I wrote about Geniuslink in this recent post, and Booklinker in this one. Geniuslink has more bells and whistles than Booklinker. There is a monthly fee starting at $9, although you can try it free of charge for 14 days. Booklinker is a more stripped-down service, but it is free however many clicks your links attract.

Here is a sample link created with Booklinker for my Kindle e-book on plotting: http://mybook.to/ThreeGreat. Click on this and it should take you straight to the appropriate page of your own national Amazon store. Try it and see 🙂

Good luck on Amazon, and I hope you sell lots of book, e-books and more expensive items as the festive season approaches!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media: