Freelancers and Authors: Different Goals, Same Website Needs

I was lucky enough to be featured again on the Freelancers Union blog (run by the brilliant Lindsay Van Thoen, who independent workers of all stripes really should be listening to)!

As a self-employed/independent editor, freelancing is a topic very close to my heart, and I’m incredibly honored to have been selected for their recent blog post, “4 Client-Attracting Freelance Websites and Why They Work.” But it occurred to me that freelancers aren’t the only people who can benefit from thinking like a freelancer.

When it comes to authors and other creatives, the same principles are at play: effectively communicating who you are and what you offer, and setting the tone for what people can expect from you so the right people stick around.

Whether your work comes from a commission or your own self-directed concept, nothing is more important on a website than effective communication—because no matter how much traffic you’re able to pull in, if visitors don’t know what to expect and can’t figure it out quickly, they have no reason to stay there.

Is your website effectively communicating with readers, or is it time to refocus your aim?

Science Fiction Style Sheet: Bringing Order to Chaos

Image credit: NASA/Weiss

Image credit: NASA/Weiss

As a science fiction reader, I encounter certain words and concepts on a more than regular basis. As a writer, I’ve used a few myself. But as an editor, I’ve been thinking recently about the many different ways words might logically be spelled.

Sci-fi authors have it rough: there are a lot of space-ish terms that tend to be compound words, any of which could be either run together or separated with a space or hyphen. (Is it space time? spacetime? space-time? Micro gravity? microgravity? micro-gravity?)

But that’s not all: you also have to keep track of the terms you invented yourself. If my alien empire is made up of a population of Kobolliams on one page and Kolboliams on the next (don’t ask), you’re going to wonder what the frack is going on, right?

What you need, my friend, is a style sheet.

A style sheet is the master list of every editorial decision you (and your editor) make about your book: correct spellings, yes, but also the treatment of different types of numbers, elements like footnotes or section headers, punctuation—anything that may conceivably need to be checked against for consistency with the rest of the manuscript.

To jump-start your style sheet, I’ve put together a list of terms you may have used in your science fiction manuscript that you can easily rein in. The spellings below are from Merriam-Webster’s, and you’ll probably notice there are far less hyphens in the list than you might expect.

  • airtight
  • algorithm (not algorhythm)
  • armband
  • bioengineer
  • bodysuit
  • bull’s-eye (not bullseye or bulls-eye)
  • crewmate
  • crew member
  • earpiece
  • eyepiece
  • g-force (not gee force or G force)
  • ice caps
  • jumpsuit
  • life-form
  • microgravity
  • microtechnology
  • mother lode (not load—really!)
  • mother ship
  • mouthpiece
  • nanotechnology
  • nanobots
  • parsec (which is a unit of distance, by the way, not time)
  • side effect
  • spacecraft
  • spaceports
  • spaceship
  • space suit
  • space-time
  • stargazing
  • subatomic
  • subsonic
  • subspace
  • sunspot
  • takeoff (noun)
  • take off (verb)
  • time lag
  • visor (or vizor, but come on)
  • wristband
  • x-ray (verb: I’ll x-ray your elbow; sometimes capitalized)
  • X-ray (noun: This elbow X-ray is crazy)

If you’re using some of these terms, it may be worth sweeping your manuscript for them. Enter a few variations in your Search tool to ensure sure you’re spelling the word the same way each time you use it. Lose whatever terms you aren’t using, but definitely add your own to the list, noting your preferred spellings for names, places, and new words.

I am not trying to assimilate you. If you want to spell something in a different way, go for it: language is constantly evolving, and there’s every reason to think it will have continued to do so right through your futuristic sci-fi novel.  But the key here, as with anything, is learning the rules so you can break them mindfully. Because spelling the same word three different ways in a single book is just silly.

 

What science fiction terms have you been wondering about?

What I Love about Being an Entrepreneur: Featured on MyCorporation

I’m excited to share that I’ve been featured (along with 74 other entrepreneurs and business owners) on today’s blog post by MyCorporation!

The article is called “Experts Weigh In: What I Love about Being an Entrepreneur,” and here’s a brief introduction:

Today is part one of our two-part series polling our network of small business owners on what they love about their business. We’ve got 75 entrepreneurs in the house, discussing all the different hats they wear, the creative energy that comes with the role, and how every day is a new adventure.

Read the rest at http://blog.mycorporation.com/2014/02/experts-weigh-love-entrepreneur, but be warned: if you were on the fence before, these entrepreneurs might just convince you to take the plunge!

Starving Artist vs. Authorpreneur: Three Elements of Publishing That Make the Difference

Will you choose to be a starving artist—or will you follow a different path?

Will you choose to be a starving artist—or will you follow a different path?

There’s a nasty rumor out there among indie authors and the wider artistic community in general, and it goes a little something like this: The only genuine artist is a starving artist.

This insidious thought serves to lower living conditions among creatives by conditioning otherwise intelligent, talented people to accept it (or even to strive for it), and it takes hold by latching onto an otherwise noble concept: artistic integrity.

We all have our own version of artistic integrity, and every individual has to answer for themselves: is trading art for money—building a life around doing what you love—inherently inauthentic?

Is it wrong to make a living creating something you love?

The Author-Entrepreneur doesn’t think so, even if the Starving Artist insists on it. But if you choose to thrive in independent publishing, you have to make the right choices on behalf of your book—because in the self-publishing game, there’s no one to do it for you.

Here are three elements smart Authorpreneurs proudly take into their own hands.

1. Figure out your audience.

The Starving Artist writes a book for herself. She writes only what she wants to write, refusing to think about how that book might connect to a reader. It’s all for her.

The Authorpreneur writes the same book, for the same reasons—but before she does, she identifies her target audience. This brings the manuscript into tighter focus from the beginning, resulting in a stronger book that is just as personal but infinitely more commercially viable.

2. Take pride in your work.

The Starving Artist is so excited to publish a book and so desperate to get her words out there that she grabs a stock photo to slap on her cover, runs the manuscript through a spell-checker, and publishes it to the Kindle store the very afternoon she finishes the first draft.

She knows she should hire a professional editor and cover designer, but she's intimidated because she doesn't know how to find an editor or designer, so she just skips it, sure that her story will transcend any issues with grammar, readability, or logic.

The Authorpreneur understands that her work isn’t over just because she has a first draft. She hires a professional cover designer: she knows that very few readers will take a chance on a book with a sloppy cover. She has her book professionally formatted; she understands that even fewer readers will stick around when they see her interior is also in shambles.

3. Don’t let anyone stop you.

The Starving Artist wakes up in the morning and sends her manuscript from publisher to publisher, desperately hoping someone will give her permission to share her thoughts with the world. She needs someone else to carry the responsibility of pushing the book through production, marketing effectively, and connecting with readers on her behalf, and she feels the acceptance of a traditional publishing house validates her book.

The Authorpreneur doesn’t wait for permission to publish. She takes her publishing destiny into her own hands, familiarizing herself with industry standards, learning what she wants to learn that can help bring her book to the next level and hiring out the rest. She treats her writing like a business, understanding and leveraging her value against the needs of the market, and to her, that gives her book validation.

Which will you be: a Starving Artist, or an Authorpreneur?

The Indie Author’s Guide to Book Editing: Cover Reveal!

Cover5.jpg

Now, I’m not saying Jenni Wheeler of Hillcrest Media Group is the best cover designer ever, but . . . wait, no, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

But hey, don’t take my word for it; check out this incredible brand-spankin’-new cover design for The Indie Author’s Guide to Book Editing and see for yourself!

Thank you, Jenni, for making me look amazing. Because this is just about the most glorious thing I have ever seen. <3

It’s all happening . . .