Being a freelance writer comes with it a set of perks. You can work from home, meaning you don’t have to spend any money on gas. You can work in your pajamas, so you don’t have to get dressed up in uncomfortable clothes. There are all sorts of benefits to working for yourself.
But what about the drawbacks? The stress of keeping a client and, in turn, bread on the table? If you work it right, you can keep clients coming back for as long as they have the budget to do so. The key is to run your freelance business like exactly what it is: a company. Here are five tips for keeping your business, and head, above water.
- Turn Down What You Cannot Take On
Never take more work than you can handle, no matter how tempting it may be. Yes, you may need to make an extra $50 to pay the electric bill this month. Perhaps a new client is offering you double what an old, stead client is. None of that matters if you can’t deliver what you promise. Be a write your clients can rely on. If you cannot accept more work, be honest with your requestor and tell them when you can get to work for them.
- Always Meet Deadlines
Emergencies happen and are understandable. However, consistently turning in work late is no different than punching a time clock five minutes past the start of your shift every day. Never fail to meet your deadlines. If an emergency does occur, be honest with your client. Most people are understanding once. Some are even understanding twice. You will rarely find someone who is willing to accept your excuses a third time.
- Charge What You Are Worth
There are people out there who pay poorly for freelance work. There are others who pay fantastically. Do a bit of research and charge your customers accordingly. You should always charge what you are worth. Never try to gouge your clients for money simply because you believe you can. If you decide you are going to charge 10 cents per word, you better be able to explain why.
- Be Consistent
Ask any freelance writer and they will tell you that they have had a day when the words didn’t flow. They made typo after type and constructed entire articles out of run-on sentences. If you find this happening to you, walk away, take a break, and return to your writing later. Your clients deserve your commitment to consistently accurate writing. If you want to experiment with your writing style or voice, discuss it with your client. Not all are open to having fun or witty articles on their site.
Stay in communication with your clients. If you fall ill, you are cutting back on your output, or even if you are thinking of taking a vacation, alert your clients. Advanced warning will give your clients time to find another writer. If you really want to impress them, suggest a writer that you know so they don’t have to spend time and energy hunting one down.
Do not rest on your laurels once you have found and began to write for clients. Clients who enjoy working with you will stick around. Clients who stick around put money in your pocket. It only makes sense that you would want to keep your customers coming back for more.
The screenwriting guide Syd Field was a screenwriter and producer, script consultant for major studios, author, and teacher. He was generous in sharing what he knew about scriptwriting; for many aspiring screenwriters, he has been their first guide to the art of crafting a screenplay.
An Experienced Guide
Syd Field passed away in 2013, so he won’t be personally engaging with aspiring screenwriters anymore. But his books and the rest of his legacy will continue to guide them. Syd Field was mentored by Jean Renoir, so he himself experienced the value of a knowledgeable guide to the art of screenwriting.
Explaining the Three-Act Structure
Field was best known for explaining the three-act structure of films, starting with his book, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting,” first published in 1979 and described as the “manual/bible of scriptwriting technique.”
His first book made such an impact because he was the first to describe the three-act structure common to most screenplays.
According to Field, the first act, about one quarter of the movie, sets up the conflict that moves the protagonist into the second act, generally half the movie’s time, where he/she tries to achieve a goal. In the final quarter of the movie, the third act contains the final struggle wherein the protagonist either achieves the goal or fails.
Best Reference Source
Even though Syd Field wrote other best-selling books, his first is still regarded as the screenwriting “bible” that sets the standard for teaching the art of successful screenwriting. The classic book contains guidelines that help screenwriters refine their craft, irrespective of whether they are beginners or practiced writers. It also contains insights, information about collaboration and marketing, and other helpful information.
From the original concept and creating the characters from the first scene to the end, readers will be better off after they have become disciples of Syd Field. Many screenwriters have relied on his follow-ups and new material as the reference sources to improve their work and learn about the industry.
A Teacher at USC
Despite his busy career, Syd Field made time to personally connect with film students as a lecturer at USC’s Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Jean Renoir’s student didn’t forget the gratitude he felt towards the person who as a teacher (he once said in an interview) changed his life.
For aspiring screenwriters, Syd Field is a good place to start learning how to become successful. His guidance comes from an expert who succeeded in everything he did related to his profession and the art of screenwriting and film making.
Completing a book typically requires a lot of rewrites, so what is the value of the first draft? The first draft can be the most important draft, depending on the final product. The National Novel Writing Month, after all, was started to get people to write at least 50,000 words.
Since 2006, more than 470 books have been written during this month that were later published with traditional publishers, and more than 100 books were self-published. Some books written in this period have reached the New York Times Best Seller List.
How the First Draft Benefits the Completed Product
The Writer Writes It Down
This is the first step of every effort. In the writing of the draft, the creative process unleashes the characters that will live in the story and may even develop a life of their own that was unplanned at the start.
The Draft Enlightens the Writer about What Works
It is where the writer tells the story but after completion may find it is imbalanced in some way. Imbalance can reveal, for instance, that some of the characters do not belong in the story, or that the story is missing a character, or a character needs to become more dominant.
In the writing, the writer may decide to change the intended story line or the point of view, and add more or less background information. To keep the writing going and creative juices flowing, it is better to make notes about changes and keep moving forward to tell more of the story.
In the First Draft, the Writer Decides the Book’s Genre
The writer may decide the story is one genre, but in writing this draft may decide to change it. It is an explorative venture that enriches the process of refining the final product.
After the First Draft
In completing the first draft the writer becomes an author, even if not a published one. An important milestone is passed en route to the final product. A completed first draft means it is not a false start, even though this draft is still an imperfect product.
The potential to be a writer has been realized; the story has been told. Next, the first draft needs to be refined through the editing process and however many rewrites and content discarding that involves.
After completing the draft, the writer should take time off before coming back to edit to make this process more effective. Yes, some writers edit during the first draft, but for other writers editing dampens the creative process.
A business plan is a written description of a company’s present and future. It lays out what the business is, what its chief executive plans to do and how he/she plans to accomplish it. The strategic document presents a roadmap for success. It projects three to five years ahead and outlines the intended path for revenue growth in that period.
The business plan reveals the current position and capacity of the business, and then how it plans to expand its revenue base, capacity, and associated factors between the present and the projected future.
How to Make the Business Stand Out in the Business Plan
What makes the business unique? Presenting this effectively will help you differentiate your business from its competitors and show that you understand the value of the business to the market or markets it is targeting.
Essential Elements of the Business Plan
The Executive Summary
Readers see the executive summary first, and it summarizes the business plan. In one or two pages, you emphasize the positive and play down the negative (when pitching to investors nor creditors). It can include vision and goals.
It should include a brief presentation of the main elements of your business plan:
Description of the Business
The business description provides information about the business, what differentiates it from others, and the market or markets the business serves or intends to serve.
Every business is structured differently. Discover the optimal organizational structure for the type of business and compare how yours stacks up against that model. Discuss the pros and cons.
Services or Products
What does the business offer? How does it benefit its current and potential customers? What is the product lifecycle of the products, if any? These are some of the important elements to include in this section.
Here research about the business industry, markets, and competitors is presented. Thorough research is needed to show you understand the market and the value of the company’s services or products.
Marketing and Sales
How does the business plan to market itself? What is the sales strategy? How many sales people does it have and what are their specialties and experience? These are some of the elements you need to include in this section.
If the business is seeking funding, include the necessary information investors want.
If funding is needed, providing financial projections to back up the funding request is essential. Find out what information you need to include in the financial projections for the business.
An appendix is not an essential part of a business plan, but it is a useful section for including specific backup documents, such as resumes.
The business plan functions as a roadmap for the business and as a pitch for funding from investors. The amount of information you include in each section will depend on its intended readers.
The Establishment of the London Police Inspired the Creation of Detectives in British and American Crime Fiction
Until 1829, crime prevention in London was the responsibility of a cadre of men working for magistrates’ courts, parishes, or local divisions. In response to increasing crime and unrest, a parliamentary committee in 1812 recommended putting a unified force throughout the capital, although the Metropolitan Police wasn’t formed until 1829.
Before the Metropolitan Police came the Bow Street Runners, who served the magistrate at Bow Street, Henry Fielding and then his half-brother, John. The Runners pioneered systemic crime investigations through information-gathering. The Runners also had horseback and pedestrian patrols.
By the 1820s, their reputation suffered because of association with unsavory people to retrieve stolen property. They were disbanded 10 years after the police force was established in 1829.
The new force wore blue uniforms to distinguish themselves from the red uniform of the army. Initially its role was crime prevention, until a long delay in finding a murderer led to the creation of a department of crime-solving detectives. Scotland Yard became shorthand for detectives, but it was actually the address of the police force headquarters.
Charles Dickens and the Bleak House Detective
Charles Dickens created the detective character Mr. Bucket in his novel, “Bleak House.” He was modeled after a real person. The character was a hit with readers, so more stories with detectives emerged from other writers.
Other Writers Follow
Wilkie Collins’ “The Moonstone” was published in 1868, preceded in 1862 by “Ruth the Betrayer” with the female detective Ruth Trail working in a Secret Intelligence Office established by a former police officer.
Another female detective appeared later in “Revelations of a Female Detective” by Andrew Forrester. In “The Boy Detective,” Ernest Keen emerged in the penny-dreadfuls.
In 1840s, the First Detectives in America Emerged in Boston
Boston detectives were modeled on what had been introduced in London, but the Boston police department was established later, in 1854.
Poe Inaugurated Crime Fiction in 1843
In America, the first crime fiction was “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1841. In 1855, Emile Gaboriau’s crime novel, “L’Affair Lerouge” was published and became very popular. The first American-based story, “The Leavenworth Case” by Anna Katherine Green was published in 1878. Her book was preceded by the translated French book, “The Widow Lerouge” in 1878.
A deluge of detective fiction followed the 1887 story by A. Conan Doyle, “A Study in Scarlet,” published in The Strand, a popular magazine. Since then police detective fiction has become a global phenomenon.
New English Translations of Frederic Dard’s Books Are Introducing the French Noir Master to a New Audience
Until 2016, despite writing more than 300 novels and selling more than 200 million books in France, Frédéric Dard’s books were not available in English translations. This is unlike the speedy translation of young French author Leila Slimani’s novels.
In 2016, the Vertigo crime imprint of Pushkin Press published “Bird in a Cage” and followed it with ”The Wicked Go to Hell,” and “Crush.” These are the first major publications of Dard’s psychological thrillers in the “novels of the night” or noir category.
Why Dard May Have Been Ignored Before
The books’ editor, Daniel Seton, said in an article in The Guardian that publishers may have thought Dard’s invented slang was untranslatable. But his noir novels are beautifully written and do not use that slang heavily.
As a fan, Seton is very happy to bring Dard to an English-speaking audience. He also thinks publication comes at an appropriate time because the market is publishing more psychological thrillers.
A Penchant for Pseudonyms and Style Similar to Georges Simenon
Seton describes Dard’s style as being similar to that of Georges Simenon. Unlike Simenon, many of Dard’s books were written under 17 aliases, including the name of San Antonio, his Parisian secret police superintendent character. No one knows why he wrote under pseudonyms or how many there were. Only 17 are confirmed, so far.
Although Simenon preferred a third-person narrator, Dard preferred tales seen through the eyes of the protagonist or the villain. Both preferred gritty, unremarkable settings. David Bellos, a Princeton professor of French and another Dard fan, translated “Bird in a Cage.” Bellos told Boyd Tonkin in an article published by The Economist’s 1843 magazine that Dard and Simenon use language with “extraordinary efficiency.” The reader reads their fast-paced novels quickly.
Imperfect Protagonists and Cinematic Plots
Dard’s protagonists tend to be flawed characters; the prolific writer who also composed screenplays and scripts wrote plots that would be easy to use in films. If the Dard books sell well, the San Antonio character alone can provide aficionados with plenty of material as there are 173 books about his adventures.
Born near Lyon, Dard preferred writing in the settings of nondescript semi-industrial small towns. The industrial landscape is more native to his Belgian- born mentor, who was born in the city of Liege. The San Antonio novels offer filmmakers plenty of material.
Writers who want to try their hand at noir crime fiction should check out why Dard has devoted fans. Reading is an essential part of the making of a writer, so aspiring authors should take advantage of a revealing glimpse of a master.
For middle class working mothers, hiring a baby sitter is a necessity. Unfortunately, this requirement sometimes leads to tragedy. On March 1, 2018, the Krim trial began—the case that inspired French writer Leila Slimani’s crime novel “Lullaby.”
The international best-selling novel has already been translated into 18 languages and will be translated into 17 more. Its U.S. title is “The Perfect Nanny,” and it was originally published in France under the title “Chanson Douce.”
The Krim Case and “Lullaby”
In the terrible, real-life story (the Krim case) that inspired the book, a deranged nanny stabbed two young children in 2012. The nanny in the Krim case is a migrant from the Dominican Republic. In Slimani’s book, the nanny is local and one of her employers is an immigrant.
The Krims’ former nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, was mentally ill but had not been treated. The psychiatrist testifying in the case said Ortega didn’t tell the doctor, who had treated her in the past for depression and anxiety, about the voices she heard in her head because she didn’t want people to think she was crazy.
The nanny in Slimani’s book had a damaged past, had found refuge in her employers’ home-life, and feared having to leave after the children grew up. Like Ortega, she first slit the two children’s throats in the bathtub and then slit her own throat in an attempted suicide.
The children’s mother’s first name in the novel is Myriam. The fictional nanny’s name is Louise after another murderous nanny, Louise Woodward, the British nanny convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the U.S. in 1997.
While the former Krim nanny’s trial will reveal whether derangement was the cause for the murder, Slimani’s book explores the motivations of the murderer. The novel is a psychological examination of the killer and other germane issues.
Raising Other Issues
Lelia Slimani raises many important questions in her novel. Can parents trust a nanny? Can parents ever really know their nanny? Should a mother turn her children over to a stranger in favor of a career? The characters’ social, class, and ethnic differences in “Lullaby” touch on many current societal issues.
The contradictions of motherhood, including its demands and sometimes suffocating feelings, are also raised in the book. As a young mother who employs a nanny and was brought up by a nanny herself, the author has an intimate association with the context of employing child caretakers.
The swift popularity of Lelia Slimani’s “Lullaby” indicates that it has touched a nerve with many people in multiple countries. In France and the U.S., movie versions will introduce even more people to the details of Slimani’s book and the Krim case.
The visionary science fiction and fantasy writer, poet, and translator Ursula Le Guin passed away on January 22, 2018. Her extensive fan base among readers and writers, which continues to grow, has reason to mourn being denied the continued gifts of her creative imagination and perceptive intelligence.
An Innovator Who Moved Readers
Le Guin was a trendsetting female author who entered the mostly male-dominated genres of science fiction and fantasy. She added a new range and depth to the formerly masculine-oriented worlds of these genres. In the process, she broadened the appeal and the audience of science fiction and fantasy by discussing human and societal issues through her characters and their worlds.
Unsurprisingly, her work has been translated into 40 languages. An Indian fan, Arnab Chakraborty, expressed eloquently why she will be missed and how reading Ursula K Le Guin changed Chakraborty’s expectations of science-fiction (and dragons).
Chakraborty said as a young reader, “There was a lilt and rhythm to her words, a cadence to her sentences that made you choke with emotions you didn’t even know you had at 10.” This praise explains what writer Neil Gaiman meant when he said Le Guin’s words were “written on his soul.”
A Prolific Writer of Depth and Imagination
Le Guin wrote poetry books, children’s literature, science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels. She also delved into the nonfiction and realistic fiction genres. Among her English translations was the “Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching,” her own rendition of this ancient classic that appears to have influenced her work. She also translated four other books.
A common feature of her work is the inclusion of thought-provoking themes that grab readers’ attention, make them think, and leave a memorable impression with them. Her characters combatted dragons and other enemies without resorting to macho methods. She introduced readers to a distinctive style which encouraged readers to question stereotypes and boosted the critical thinking capacities of readers of all ages.
The Prosaic Reason for Becoming a Science Fiction Writer
In an interview in 1989 she revealed that she began writing science fiction because it was a genre in which she knew she could sell. She is best known for her “Earthsea” and “The Left Hand of Darkness” series.
Le Guin’s fiction challenged readers of all ages to consider the moral issues her protagonists dealt with. This started with her young adult novel, “The Wizard of Earthsea,” where Ged the wizard has to fight his own creation, learn the hard way that one can create something bad, and take responsibility for that by ending its destructive capacity. Read Le Guin to experience writing with depth and beauty.
In crime fiction, location is as important as the plot to make the characters and setting more real for readers. It is rooted in a particular place and time. Most often, crime novels are set in cities; some cities inspire more crime writers than others because of their grit. Belt Publishing’s City Anthologies reveal the grit in each city subject.
The Cities in the Anthology Series
These anthologies cover cities that tend to be less written about and so are venues for creating a writer’s distinctive brand setting. So far, the City Anthologies’ subjects are Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown in Ohio; Detroit and Flint in Michigan; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo, New York.
The City Anthologies
The Akron Anthology
This anthology contains 22 contributed essays. Like every volume in this series, the contents include the individual viewpoints of the diverse people who have lived in the city.
The Cincinnati Anthology
This book contains the viewpoints of natives from the many walks of life in the Queen City. Like others in the series, this one helps residents and outsiders get to know the different aspects of the city from the personal viewpoints of local contributors.
Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology
2nd edition ISBN: 978-0985944162
This is the book that started it all. Read to see why it inspired a growing collection of city anthologies.
Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology
Youngstown has one of the grittiest environments in a state full of gritty Rust Belt cities. Here, locals share the moments that define their city and their experiences with it.
A Detroit Anthology
This book was a Michigan Notable Book of 2015. According to an Ebony Magazine review, it contains an “ethnic array of voices that truly shows the facets of Detroit life.”
Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology
Flint’s water crisis made national headlines. In this collection readers learn more about the city. Like all cities, Flint is imperfect but has devoted residents. The title of the collection reveals the general gist of what is reflected in the contents.
The Pittsburgh Anthology
This anthology has almost 40 contributing participants. The Pittsburgh collection’s diverse contributions reveal the contradictions in this picturesque city that has had many ups and downs.
Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology
This anthology covers decades of history, events, and experiences with the contributions of 65 people. According to the Buffalo News review of its contents, it is an essential book about the city.
Writers looking for the right setting for their gripping crime fiction can begin with the cities covered in the City Anthologies. They will get a feel for any or all of the cities, through the eyes of those who know their cities intimately in their own way.
Crime fiction usually involves solving a mystery or why it occurred (such as “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky and “Chanson Douce” by Leila Slimani). Crime fiction captivates readers by engaging their curiosity and desire to solve puzzles, and providing escapist entertainment that offers a break from their mundane lives or touches an inner fear they have harbored (for example, untrustworthy mates, killer nannies, and death by medicine).
From Poe to a Niche All its Own
Since the 1841 publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” crime fiction has blossomed to become a genre with an ever-expanding community of writers. A US phenomenon before it crossed the Atlantic, crime fiction was a recognized genre by the 20th century.
The Sub-Genres of Crime Fiction
The genre has evolved over the years to include several sub-genres. The most popular sub-genres are:
The Cozy Mystery—In this sub-genre the detective is usually not a professional, the violence is not graphically described and usually not visible, and the story often has a small-town or rural setting. The sleuth is typically an intuitive and intelligent woman whose professional connections may aid her deductive skills. In this genre the focus is on character development and plot. Think Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple character.
General Suspense—This usually involves an ordinary person whose need to solve a problem sometimes involves finding a way to exonerate themselves. Think Gillian Flynn, Lee Child, and Dennis Lehane.
Private Detective Stories—In this sub-genre, the detective often works in a notable city, and there is explicit violence. Think Mike Hammer, the detective imagined by Mickey Spillane. Modern examples include Sue Grafton’s character Kinsey Milhone, Lawrence Block’s character Matt Scudder, and Janet Evanovich’s character Stephanie Plum.
Police Stories—Think James Patterson’s character Alex Cross, Ian Rankin’s character Rebus, and Michael Connelly’s character Harry Bosch. The protagonists’ stories include professional and personal issues, not just the actual crime that sets the stage.
Legal Thrillers—Think Scott Turow’s and John Grisham’s stories. The writers are often trained lawyers with a talent for creative writing. For example, Turow not only once taught creative writing at Stanford but is also a Harvard Law School graduate.
The Medical Thriller— These are usually set in a hospital, and the story involves medicine or its effect on an actual character. Think Michael Crichton, Robin Cooke, and Tess Gerritsen.
The Forensic Thriller—Such stories usually have a protagonist who is a pathologist or a scientist. Think Patricia Cornwell, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs.
The Military Thriller—In this sub-genre the protagonist typically is in government service or a former serviceman. Think Tom Clancy.
Writers who want a career should try crime fiction. To write proper crime fiction, read crime fiction. Joining a writing group or an association, signing up for one or more workshops, and taking classes will also boost writing skills.