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                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 11:21           12,879 subscribers         November 3, 2011
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: The E-Book Revolution: Different Music, Same
Song, by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER, Tide or Tie, by Dawn Copeman
FEATURE: Task-Based Logs - The Most Useful Method of Record
Keeping, By Laurie Lewis
COLUMN: Free Stuff for Writers: Just 50,000 Words, by Aline Lechaye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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The E-Book Revolution: Different Music, Same Song...
These days, it seems as if every writer's magazine, newsletter,
blog and whatever is talking about "e-books."  The age of the
e-book is upon us, we are told.  E-books are the hot new thing. 
E-books are going to change EVERYTHING.  

And there is no doubt that the world of the e-book itself has
changed.  Finally, thanks primarily to Kindle, there is a hand-held
reader that book-lovers can embrace.  Yes, I know there are other
hand-helds out there, but there's no question that Kindle both
started the pack and is leading the pack, with the highest market
share of any e-reader and the highest volume of e-book sales.

What the Kindle has done, at long last, is make electronic texts
"readable" for the average individual.  When the "day of the
e-book" was proclaimed over a decade ago, the problem was that you
had to read them on your computer.  Since the vast majority of
"book lovers" like to curl up in a comfy chair, or sit on the deck,
or read on the beach, or lie in a hammock, being chained to a
computer screen to read the latest Clive Cussler just didn't cut

Now, with today's hand-helds, you can read in the hammock or on the
beach or on a plane or up in a treehouse.  And suddenly, hundreds
of thousands of readers are buying e-books.  I've already noticed
that my DogEar Publishing POD title sells more electronic copies
than print copies, and Amazon announced in May that they were
selling more e-books than print.  (I suspect these figures apply
only to the sales of NEW books and not to the millions of used
books sold in Amazon's "marketplace.")

So far, so good.  That's the "new music" that we're hearing. 
There's a new way to read e-books that people actually LIKE
(including me), so people are buying and reading e-books. 
Unfortunately, that has led many pundits and self-proclaimed
experts to jump, once again, on the "bright and shining future for
all writers" bandwagon.  

At last, we're told, the future of publishing is in the hands of
WRITERS.  Or, at least, it WILL be in the hands of writers.  Soon. 
Any day now.  The day of the dinosaur publishing company, cranking
out its antique "print" books, and turning away worthy writers by
the score, is over.  I've already read several articles that
declare that, in another ten years (or less), print publishing will
be a thing of the past.  The age of the "independent publisher" --
the author/publisher -- is upon us.  All you need to do is polish
up your opus, get it formatted for Kindle, load it up on Amazon,
and voila!  Fame and fortune will be yours.

I hate to rain on these pundits' parades, but... we've heard it
before.  And it simply isn't true.  It wasn't true ten years ago
and it isn't true today, for the same reasons.  Just because a
platform EXISTS doesn't mean it's going to "change the world" for
independent writers, or wipe out those mean, nasty, greedy
"corporate" publishers.  

Yes, readers are embracing e-books, and buying them by the
thousands.  But what, exactly, are readers buying?  Well... They're
buying Clive Cussler, and Mary Higgins Clark, and Stephen King, and
any of a thousand other authors, bestselling and mid-selling and
barely-a-trickle selling, who are published BY MAJOR PUBLISHERS. 
Readers are buying the SAME books they bought in print, written by
the same authors, published by the same publishers.  Only the
format has changed.  And who's producing (and profiting from) the
vast majority of e-books being sold today?  Big publishers.  Folks,
the dinosaurs aren't going anywhere.  They may change their skins,
but they're definitely not dying off just so that us little
indie-mammals can have a chance to take over the earth.  

It is certainly true that the new advances in electronic publishing
offer new opportunities to writers.  It is true that it is now
easier than ever before to get an e-book "published" and up for
sale on Amazon and elsewhere.  But NOTHING ELSE HAS CHANGED.  If
you don't have a good book, it's not going to sell.  If you can't
effectively promote and market your book, it's not going to sell. 
And if, as happened with the first wave of e-books, the market
becomes flooded with bad self-published offerings, potential
readers are going to learn to shy away from ALL "indie" offerings,
because it will become too hard to sort out the wheat from the
chaff.  When that happens, only the corporate dinosaurs win.

Don't get me wrong.  I think the "e-book revolution" is a great
thing.  I am delighted that more readers are finding me on Kindle
-- because that means I have more readers!  (I'm not so delighted
that I make about half as much money from those sales...) I'm
definitely planning to get more of my work out there on Kindle.  

But don't mistake a new format for the "miracle cure" that will get
your languishing book "published" at last.  Don't imagine that if
you post it, they will come.  Nothing's going to make a BAD
self-published book a success, and only one thing will make a GOOD
self-published book successful: Lots and lots of hard work.

-- Moira Allen, Editor

Want some tips on how to get started as a freelance magazine
writer?  Join Moira Allen in a live "Open House" Webinar at The
Writer's Den on Thursday, November 3, at 12 P.M. PST (3 P.M. EST). 
Find out what skills and experience you need to break into the
freelance writing market, and have a chance at winning a free copy
of Moira's book, "Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer." 
This is a free event open to all writers (not just members of The
Writer's Den).  If you're not a member, go to 
http://eepurl.com/d2Mpv to log in, in advance; you can also post a
question to be answered during the webinar. You can listen to the
broadcast live on your computer, and type questions in chat.  The
password is "marketing."  If you've never participated in a
Writer's Den webinar before, the host recommends logging in about
10 minutes early so that you can be sure you have access - if you
have any difficulties you can contact Carol Tice by e-mail
(carol@caroltice.com, subject: Having Trouble Getting Onto the Open
House Call) to get hooked up. (You can also listen to the broadcast
by phone at 1-408-600-3600, access code 662 206 837; keep in mind
that it's a toll call and you won't be able to ask questions.)


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The Inquiring Writer:  Tide or Tie? 
By Dawn Copeman

Last month we had an intriguing question from Terrie Todd who
wanted to know: "When I say I'll have a snack to "tide" me over
until dinner... should it be "tie" me over? "Tied?" Or something
else? And if it's "tide," then what is the past-tense? Tided? That
doesn't sound right. I honestly cannot find this in the dictionary,
and online opinions vary."
This question certainly had you all hitting the dictionaries!  And
guess what?  Terrie was right, opinion is divided.

One person, Sharon Manning, thought that the correct form should be
tie. She wrote:  "I think by looking at the dictionary and the
thesaurus, that the correct meaning would be 'to tie me over until
dinner' as tie can mean to support, bind or connect. This means
that it would be tied in past tense.  

"Tide can mean a period of time; however, it does not work as a
verb in any way shape, or form.  In the thesaurus, it is all about
the tide and ocean movement which would not work in any context."

However, everyone else seems to be of the opinion that the correct
form is tide. And you guys really did lots of research into this.

Roger Burke, for example, found his answers at 
http://www.onelook.com/?w=tide&ls=a.  "TIDE: 'a tendency of people
to think or feel in a particular way.'  That seems to fit with the
idea of 'something to tide me over.'"

But as for the past tense, Roger had only this to say: "After
looking through some of the larger dictionaries I have, there is no
information about additional spellings for 'tide' in the quoted
context. So, I'd say that implies only one spelling. And, hence, I
can say (after a meal, for example), 'well, that's tide me over.'
Or, just before I quaff a drink, I can say, 'well, this'll tide me

"So, I'd suggest it would be awkward if not incorrect to use
'tided' as a past tense. On the other hand, I think I've heard the
use of the participle 'tiding', as in 'tiding me over'. 

"Overall then, it might all come down to what you think you can get
away with to convey the meaning you want - a sort of literary
Janet Ann Collins, however, is certain that she knows how to use
the word and its past tense.  She writes: "According to my old
Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, 'tide' was
originally a noun referring to a period of time. One meaning is 'to
flow or surge' and the past tense is 'tided.' 'To tide over' is a
variation, meaning to help along temporarily, so it should have the
same past tense."

Another person who thinks she's found the answer but also another
question is Wendy Scott.  Wendy wrote: "Here are a few bits and
pieces regarding the term, 'tide over'. It sits in my Oxford
Canadian under the definition for 'tide' as an 'intransitive 
Verb' -- 'tide over' enable or help a person etc. Merriam Webster
(10) shows 'tide' as a verb: tide; tided; tiding, and interestingly
in both dictionaries, the adjective, 'tideless' [Old English from
Germanic, related to TIME]. So here's a thought -- if a person
feels tideless could a bit of spare time tide them over?"

Not sure I know the answer to that one, Wendy.  But then again,
I've had several other explanations for the origin of the word too.
 Like this one from Jean Snow.  Jean used as her resource, 
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-tid1.htm and she wrote:"The
true form is to tide one over. In some slight defence of to tie one
over, it is becoming more common, but it is a folk etymology (read
if you prefer) that has grown up because the word tide here seems
to make no sense."

Thanks for explaining the confusion to us Jean. She continued: "The
phrase means that something  especially money  will see one
through a difficult period and keep one going until things improve.
An example from the Daily Telegraph from 31 August 2002: 'As well
as putting money aside, which can be used to tide him over when he
returns from his post in Antarctica, Mr Bursnall can begin to build
up a deposit for a flat.'

"The idea is that of the swelling tide, which will carry you over
some obstacle, with the implication that it won't require effort on
your part. It may be that it's a deliberate echo of Brutus's
comment, in Julius Caesar: 'There is a Tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the Flood, leads on to Fortune, or it may at least 
be taken from the same idea of a ship, say, waiting for the tide to
rise and carry it over the bar into a harbour.

"Perhaps oddly for an expression that concerns something so basic
and immemorial, the phrase is first recorded only in 1860. Many of
the early instances evoked the watery associations explicitly, as
does this, from Edward Meyrick Goulburn's book The Pursuit of
Holiness of 1869: 'As an exuberant mounting flood shall tide us 
over the difficulties of our career.'

Helen Gazeley also thinks it has a nautical origin.  She wrote:"
To tide over - it has to originate with sea-faring, doesn't it? 
We've such a history with the Navy etc that you can almost
guarantee that this sort of thing started on a ship. Incidentally,
apparently the German language has the equivalent weight of phrases
relating to woods and trees. 

"So I found this explanation at 
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/tide-over.html. I don't think
there's anything wrong with the past tense either. 'His loan tided
me over until the next pay check,' sounds fine to me." 

Thank you to everyone who jumped to Terrie's aid with this
conundrum.  Now we all know how to use the term correctly.  

And now onto this month's question from Amanda H. Geard.  Amanda
wrote: "You say you're looking for questions, and I've had one on
my mind for a while, so I'm glad there's somewhere I can go to
hopefully have it answered."

We'll try our best, Amanda. 

"I read a story by a writer a while ago - one of the stories I
critiqued on a site called Critters.org - and the writer of this
particular story had a cool idea I'd like to use in an upcoming
story I still want to write, although I won't write it the same way
he used it in his story. Is that an acceptable thing to do, use
another writer's idea, but changing it in your own story? Or will
it be better if I ask the writer for permission to use his idea in
my story before I write it? What's the right thing to do here?

"Please advise, as I'm in two minds about it, and don't want to
start the story before I know what to do."

Can you help Amanda with this problem?  Email me your replies with
the subject line "inquiring write" to editorial@writing-world.com. 
And I'm still looking out for more questions too. 

Until next time, 


Copyright 2011 Dawn Copeman


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or fewer on any subject and/or write a short story, 5 pages max.
on any theme, single or double line spacing, neatly hand printed
or typed for a chance to win cash prizes. Deadline: 12-31-2011
Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details and enter!


Pre-registration Open for Geneva Writers' Conference 2012
The 8th Geneva Writers' Conference will welcome over two hundred
writers from around the world to a weekend of workshops, panels,
readings and networking, February 3-5, 2012, led by well-known
authors, editors, literary agents, and editors from the UK, France,
Italy, Switzerland, and the USA, to be held at Webster University,
Bellevue. Organized by the Geneva Writers' Group, the Conference is
non-profit and made possible through registration fees and the
generous support of sponsors. For more information, visit 
Bram Stoker's Private Journal Found
This is the kind of story that always seems too good to be true,
but in this case it IS true.  Bram Stoker's great-grandson has
found Bram Stoker's private diary on a bookshelf in his home.  The
diary, which includes preliminary character sketches of Dracula,
will be published in 2012.  For more on this story visit: 

EBook Sales Charts Now In New York Times
To further cement the fact that eBooks are here to stay and are an
accepted part of mainstream publishing, the New York Times has now
started to print charts showing the best-selling eBooks. Nielsen
BookScan is providing the data for the top ten bestselling eBooks
each week.  For more on this story visit: 


how to negotiate agreements, choose pricing strategies, define
tasks, deal with difficult customers, and much more in "What
to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants"
(2nd Edition) by Laurie Lewis. In print and Kindle from Amazon
at http://tinyurl.com/setyourfees


Writing Jobs and Opportunities
"Creative Nonfiction" Open to Submissions
Have an idea for a literary timeline? An opinion on essential texts
for readers and/or writers? An in-depth, working knowledge of a
specific type of nonfiction? Pitch us your ideas; Creative
Nonfiction is now accepting query letters for the following
sections of the magazine:

UNDER THE UMBRELLA - explores one subset or type of writing that
falls under the creative nonfiction umbrella--dad memoir, extreme
travel writing, as well as lesser-known kinds of creative
nonfiction--and the patterns that connect these types of writing.
Past example: CNF's Armchair Guide to Stunt Writing.

WRITER AT WORK - an analysis of or an in-depth look into a specific
writer's writing process. Past example: Gay Talese's approach to

BETWEEN THE LINES - focuses on the business of writing and the role
of the editor, agent, publisher and nonfiction writer in the
contemporary publishing landscape. This section is reserved for
more serious, newsy (in a general way) topics. Past examples: The
future of literary magazines in America, and a defense of

REQUIRED READING - catalogues and explores essential texts for
nonfiction readers and writers. Pieces can be as simple as a list
or as complex as a lyric essay. Past examples: David Shields'
inspirations and recommendations, and the narrative forms of Norman
Mailer as recounted by his biographer.

THEN AND NOW - literary timelines or comparisons of the genre's
past and present. Past example: a history of the genre (and the
magazine) from 1993 to 2009.

AFTERWORDS - the final page of the magazine. We're open to just
about any ideas that can be presented completely in one page,
though we are more inclined to pieces that take a lighter look at
the genre, craft, and/or industry. Past examples: First sentences
from first books, and the ever-expanding nonfiction subtitle.

[Note: Nothing increases your publishing chances more than a
familiarity with the magazine; we recommend you become a
subscriber, but a working knowledge of our last two issues (#38 and
#39) is a great place to start, too. Once you're a student of the
publication, query us via email, according to the guidelines below.]

Guidelines: All queries should be sent to "queries [at]
creativenonfiction [dot] org", and the subject line should include
the section you're querying about (e.g. "Between the Lines"). In
the body of the email, please include the following:

Your name; your email address; your idea (250 words or less); your
bio as it relates to your idea (250 words or less); and your plan
for executing your idea (250 words or less).

Queries only. Please do not send completed pieces. Please do not
send attachments. Please send brilliant ideas and a solid plan for
turning said brilliant ideas into brilliant pieces of writing.

This inspiring, practical new book will help you write
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techniques and examples of best practices used by great writers.


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inspiration, you need the acclaimed book: Toxic Feedback: Helping 
Writers Survive and Thrive by Joni B. Cole. "Strongly recommended," 
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FEATURE: Task-Based Logs - 
The Most Useful Method of Record Keeping

By Laurie Lewis

(Excerpted from What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers
and Consultants" (2nd Edition))

I hadn't seen my friend Paul, a freelance architect, all summer. He
was consumed by a major project and was working day and night,
through weekends and holidays. The day his client gave the final
okay on his drawings, after numerous redesigns, we met for dinner.

"Was it worth it?" I asked.

"I guess so. I made $24,000 for this phase. Not bad for a summer
from hell."

"You must have logged thousands of hours on that job," I ventured. 

"I suppose," Paul said. "I don't keep track of my hours when I'm
paid a flat fee."

Later I took a calculator and played with some numbers. Suppose
Paul had worked 50 hours a week for the 12 weeks of summer. That
would be a total of 600 hours. He had earned $24,000. His hourly
rate equivalent (24,000  600) would be $40. That's not very much
for someone with Paul's talents and experience.

Like Paul, many freelancers don't keep track of their time if
they're charging by some method other than an hourly rate. In fact,
some consultants prefer methods of payment other than an hourly
rate not because these methods are more profitable, but because
they don't necessitate as much record keeping. "I dislike charging
by the hour, because I can't be bothered keeping track of my time,"
more than one independent contractor has told me.
On the other hand, some consultants become obsessive about logging
their hours. Roberta keeps a multicolored diary, identifying the
hours she devotes to her consulting business in blue, the time she
volunteers at her children's schools in red, and her exercise time
in green. "All of these things are important to me," she explains.
"I want to see lots of each color every week."
Richard also keeps a multicolored log, but his is reserved for
business. He works for about ten clients each year and assigns a
different colored pencil to each. Sun's logbook is not color-coded
but, like Roberta's and Richard's diaries, it meticulously accounts
for every minute of her day. Sam, who can't remember life before
computers, keeps his records in a spreadsheet, with a separate cell
for each 15-minute period.
Each of these detailed logs tells when the record keeper was at
work. The logs indicate how much to bill when charging by the hour.
In addition, Roberta can review her weekly diary to see how well
she is balancing important areas of her life. Richard can tell at a
glance how many clients he has worked for in any given period. Sun
and Sam see the pattern of their workdays. These logs reveal a
great deal about the entrepreneur's work habits, but they do not
actually provide much useful information for managing or improving
the business.
If you are going to keep track of your time on the job -- and
everyone should -- it makes sense to keep records that will give
you data you can put to practical use. The most valuable logs are
those that record not just the hours you worked but what you were
doing during that time. In other words, what tasks did you need to
perform to complete an assignment?

Task Master
Every job consists of a series of tasks. Even a seemingly simple
job can be broken down into component tasks. For example, Vivian is
a freelance word-processor. During the course of an assignment, she
may do the following:

-  Scan the raw material to see what style elements it contains    
(subheads, lists, etc).
-  Make formatting decisions about the various style elements.
-  Type the material.
-  Proof it.
-  Make corrections.
-  Write a memo to the client.

Rather than simply log "12-5:30 PM" as the time spent working on a
25-page document, Vivian notes how long it took her to do each
task. How many of these 5-1/2 hours were actually spent typing? How
long did it take to proof the 25 pages? What else did she have to
do as part of this job?

It's easy to keep a task log. Just take a piece of paper or set up
a simple database or table when you begin a job. Some consultants
opt for time-management or tracking software that enables them to
indicate tasks. If you use automated electronic tracking, remember
to record time for tasks not performed at the computer. Whether you
use paper or device to keep your project log, note each task you do
and how long you spend on it. Include other information that will
help you calculate your average speed in completing particular

Table 1 shows Vivian's log sheet for typing that 25-page paper. The
log lists tasks on the left. The numbers on the right are the time
Vivian took for each task. She records her time in pencil to the
nearest quarter-hour. This is a convenient method, although
sticklers for detail may prefer to log by the minute. If a job
extends over several days, Vivian erases the time she previously
recorded for revisited tasks and substitutes the sum of the hours
previously logged plus those worked on the new day. Record-keepers
who don't like to erase might set up a different time column for
each day and total the columns at the end of a job.

Table 1: Log for Typing a 25-Page Paper 

Look over material, decide on style                1/4 hour
Type (25 double-spaced pages                        2-1/2 hours
Proof                                                        2 hours
Make corrections                                        3/4 hour

Total:                                                 5-1/2 hours

A task-oriented log helps Vivian make business decisions and charge
appropriate fees. Besides telling her how much to charge when
billing by the hour, this type of log reveals:

-  How many pages Vivian can type in an hour.
-  How many pages she can proof in an hour.
-  How much time besides the actual typing time she needs to allow
for a job.
-  How much more work she can accept, given her current workload.
-  Whether the client has realistic expectations about how long a
job should take.
-  What to charge as a flat fee when she sets the price for other
typing jobs.
-  Whether the fee that the client offers will be fair for a given
word processing job.
-  Whether a job she has completed at a fee fixed by the client
turned out to be a good deal.

Let's see how information from her logs can help Vivian with other
projects. From the job described earlier and other work she has
logged in the past, she knows she can type about 10 to 12 pages an
hour if she is given neat material. If she is working from
handwritten copy or transcribing a tape, she averages 8 to 10 pages
an hour. She can proof her work at her fastest typing speed, 10 to
12 pages an hour. Vivian also knows that no matter what the
assignment, she needs to allow time for general administration,
such as scanning the material before starting the job, writing a
note to the client, and preparing an invoice.

Suppose a client asks Vivian to take on a 200-page assignment,
which must be completed in 4 days. He says she'll be given a
heavily edited paper document; no electronic version is available.
Assuming a worst-case scenario, Vivian calculates that she can type
only 8 pages an hour, which means she'll need 25 hours for the
typing alone. It will take another 20 hours to proof the job at the
rate of 10 pages an hour. For these 2 tasks together, she may need
as much as 45 hours. That's more than 11 hours a day, not including
"general administration" time. The total project could come closer
to 48 or 50 hours.

Vivian tells her client that she cannot do the job in 4 days. He
offers to give her an extra day, even as much as a day and a half
if it will help. Even so, she will still be facing long stretches
at the computer. But this good client is a regular customer, and
she would like to accommodate him. So Vivian offers 2 alternative

-  She'll do the job in 4 days at her usual rate of $20 an hour,
but she won't be able to proofread it.

-  She'll return the work neatly typed and fully proofed in 5 days
or early on day 6, but she will charge $25 an hour as a rush fee. 

Because the client needs a perfect, mistake-free document, he
agrees to the rush surcharge.

As it turns out, Vivian logs a total of 51 hours -- and a lot of
back- and eye-strain. At $25 an hour, she earns $1,275. She would
have earned $1,020 if she had charged her usual rate of $20, so she
came out $255 ahead. (She used some of the rush-fee bonus to pay
for a massage for her sore muscles.)

Because she kept task-oriented logs, Vivian knew that her client
had underestimated how long the job would take. Armed with this
knowledge, she felt confident asking for either a more manageable
assignment or a higher fee than usual. Unlike Paul, the architect
whose failure to keep good records caused him to guess how well he
was doing, Vivian knew what she needed to do to bring home decent
pay for a grueling week.

More Complicated Projects Need Longer Logs
Vivian's log sheet listed only a few tasks. More complicated jobs
entail more tasks, and their logs are therefore longer. But no
matter how many tasks are involved, the time needed to prepare a
work log is minimal. Just make a note of the task and check your
watch when you begin and end it. We'll discuss later in this
article how accurate your clock has to be.
Table 2 shows a longer project log from my own files. This job
involved writing an article based mainly on interviews with two
people. The first step, however, was to do some Web research so I
could pose good questions and understand what the interviewees were
saying. They sent me links to other Web resources. After reviewing
them, I was ready to start writing. In addition to writing the
article, I created two tables and wrote captions for three photos
the interviewees sent. I edited the draft until I was satisfied,
then sent it to both the interviewees and my client, a magazine
publisher. I incorporated their changes into the final version.
Table 2: Log for Writing an Interview-Based Article

Web Research                                        2-1/2 hours
Attempt to Schedule Interviews                1/4 hour
Prepare for Interviews                                1/4 hour
Interviews (two)                                        1-1/2 hours
Read material sent by interviewees                1-3/4 hours

Write initial draft (5 s-spaced pages)        8-1/2 hours
Prepare reference list (18 refs)                1 hour
Prepare tables (2) and captions (3)                1-1/2 hours
Edit entire draft (text and tables)                10-1/4 hours
Send to client and interviewees                1/4 hours
Review new data sent by interviewees        1/4 hours
Incorporate client/interviewee changes        2 hours

General administration                                1-1/2 hours

Total:                                                 31-1/2 hours

Like Vivian, I record my time on each task to the nearest
quarter-hour. The numbers in parentheses next to the task
description provide information I can use to calculate averages.
For example, I conducted two interviews, which averaged 45 minutes
each. If I have expenses, I record them on the bottom of the log
sheet so I can find costs easily when I calculate the hourly rate
I kept this detailed log even though I was being paid a project
rate, not an hourly fee. The amount of time it took to write the
article would not affect my pay, nor would the hours logged on each
specific task. So why keep such a record?

More Than Numbers
A task-oriented log gives a consultant a wealth of information
about his or her own work and helps in pricing future jobs. Logs I
have kept over the years have offered me the following insights:

-  Task logs remind me what a job entails. Writing is not just
writing. The items above the first gap in the task list in Table 2
represent all the work that occurred before I put a word on paper.
Over the years, I have learned that I waste a lot of time trying to
schedule interviews, so that has become an item in my task lists.
Hidden time-wasters such as this and other necessary work that must
be done before writing mean I could spend as much time preparing to
write as I do actually drafting an article. When pricing a job, it
is essential to keep this preparatory time in mind, as well as the
hours lost to administrative tasks such as preparing a package to
send to a client.

-  With task logs, personal work patterns become clear. In the days
before computers, it usually took me about half as long to edit a
draft as to write it. Now it takes as long to edit as to write,
often longer. This is because I incorporate other tasks into
editing by computer, such as doing Web-based fact-checking and
formatting a document.

-  Knowing my work patterns helps me schedule my assignment load. I
can accept or reject a new job based in part on how much time I
must allow for the work already on my desk.

-  The accuracy of a client's time or money estimate can be
assessed from past project logs. When a client expected me to edit
a 600-page manuscript within 3 weeks, I consulted logs from other
editing jobs and saw that I needed at least twice as much time,
given my previous commitments. I turned down the job. Not long
afterward, the same client asked me to write a short technical
article from the transcript of a lecture, for which I would receive
a fee of $200. At the time, I was earning $350 to $450 from other
clients to write articles of similar length and complexity, using
tapes rather than transcripts. After checking my project logs for
the latter articles to learn how much time was related to using the
tapes, I calculated that the rate for the transcript-based article
was too low. When I presented my case to the client, he raised the
fee to $300 -- not just for this article but for all future work,
and not just for me but for all freelancers on similar assignments.

-  Work logs can help determine an appropriate per diem rate. I
base my per diem fee in part on what I am likely to accomplish in 7
hours -- but also on the possibility of a 10-hour day.

-  Now for the most important reason to keep task-oriented work
logs: The best project rates are based on estimates of the number
of hours each component task will take. When I am asked to estimate
the price for a project, I review past logs to see how long I
needed to complete similar tasks for other jobs. Using time
estimates based on comparable experience from my own files, I can
come up with reasonable expectations of how long the job might
take. I use this time estimate to calculate the project fee. 

My log sheets, handwritten on lined yellow paper, reside in the
work folder for each project, under the invoice (the top item in
the folder). I can easily retrieve my project logs when I want data
to estimate a price for a new job. Other consultants keep their
task logs in a computer file for easy access.
If, like Roberta, you want to see at a glance how you are balancing
your life, continue to keep records to suit those needs. But also
maintain task-oriented logs for each job. Keep this type of
detailed log for every project, no matter how you are being paid:
by the hour, on a per diem basis, as a flat project fee, on
retainer, or by some other method. The log is for you, and you
alone; it is not something you would want to share with a client.
Use shorthand if you want, but make the log as detailed as you need
to get the most information for understanding and improving your

Stop the Clock!
Many consultants confess that they don't like to keep detailed time
sheets because they're confused about when they should stop the
clock. When interruptions occur -- the telephone rings, you need to
put paper in the printer, or you go to the bathroom or get a drink
of water -- should you turn off the clock?
Elaborate arguments can be made pro and con. The reason consultants
most often cite to keep the clock running is that just as staff
employees are not docked for telephone or bathroom time, neither
should consultants be expected to work without interruption. In my
field of publishing, freelancers have developed fancy names for
clocking their time, including "stopwatch editing" and the
"editorial hour" (48 minutes on the clock is equivalent to 1 hour
of billable time, a fellow freelancer has determined). 
Interesting though these discussions may be, they are dwelling on
the wrong point. Whether or not you're billing by the hour, your
time sheets should give you more information than how long you
worked, with or without interruptions. Your records don't have to
state how long an hour is and when you stopped the clock, but they
should tell you what you can accomplish in an hour. Once you start
logging by task, you'll stop focusing on how many minutes of
working time are in an hour and start to comprehend what you can
actually do in this time period.
When you make this shift, you'll probably find that you round up
your time (like the 48-minute "editorial hour"). The reason is not
to account for the interruptions that break your concentration.
Rather, you'll round up your hours because when you refer to your
logs later to price a job or to evaluate a client's estimate,
you'll want a realistic figure, not an ideal situation. It's always
best to assume that a job will take longer than the ideal.

Try It; You'll Like It
When I give workshops on pricing for freelancers, nearly everyone
comments favorably about the logic of logging by task:

-  "It's the most practical approach to record keeping I've ever  
-  "I'm going to start logging by task immediately."
-  "This will help me see clearly what it is I do when I work."

Years after taking a workshop or attending a presentation,
freelancers have told me that the most important advice they ever
received in their self-employment careers was to log their time
according to the tasks involved. You can verify this for yourself.
For 6 months, keep task-oriented logs on every project you do,
whether you are paid by the hour, the day, the job, or whatever.
After you've used the information in your logs to price other jobs
and to manage your business better, you will be convinced that the
little bit of record-keeping effort was totally worthwhile.


Laurie Lewis is proud to have celebrated her silver anniversary as
a freelance medical writer and editor. During her long career, she
learned a thing or two about the business of freelancing, and she
captured some of this knowledge in her book What to Charge: Pricing
Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants, now in its second
edition. She also has shared her expertise in editing and
freelancing in workshops and presentations from coast to coast.

Copyright 2011 Laurie Lewis

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Free Stuff for Writers:  Just 50,000 Words

By Aline Lechaye

Yes, I know it seems like just yesterday we were starting 2011, and
now it's already November, which means that it is now that time of
the year where some of us (guiltily) dust off our laptops and
pencils and try to write a novel. That's right, people, NaNoWriMo
(National Novel Writing Month) is here again. 

If you're new to NaNoWriMo, head over to http://www.nanowrimo.org/
to see what it's all about. Some freebies are being offered on the
official NaNoWriMo site, so remember to check out the Special
Offers page at http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/offers.
Freebies from NaNoWriMo include Yarny, a distraction-free writing
software that saves your work automatically (it keeps old versions,
too!), lets you jot down notes of characters, places and important
artifacts, and helps you keep focused and organized. You can work
from any computer in the world that has an internet connection,
without having to email files to yourself or upload to file storage
sites. If you feel the need to save your work to your own computer,
Yarny will export your work in txt format. Try it out here:

Another freebie comes from PangurPad, which is also a writing
software. It's in a cuter vibe than Yarny, but the basic principles
are the same, although PangurPad allows you to continue to write
even without an internet connection. There is a handy Wikipedia
search function you can use to look up relevant information
quickly. PangurPad also has more formatting options than Yarny.
PangurPad is offering a free trial membership for NaNoWriMo
members, so if you want to use it you'll have to sign up with
NaNoWriMo first. You'll also have to remember to export your work
to your own computer before the trial period is up! Take a look at
PangurPad here: http://www.pangurpad.com/. 

WriteWay is also offering NaNoWriMo members free trial full access
to their writing software. The free trial lasts until December 15,
2011. With WriteWay, you can organize your book into chapters,
acts, and scenes; add cover pages; color code scenes and use
"status flags" to remind yourself that a scene still needs work;
add images anywhere within the book; listen to your computer "read"
your book to you (how sweet is that?); export finished work in
various formats, including pdf and rtf; organize character
profiles, and much more! Head over to http://www.writewaypro.com/to
download the software and get started. (Note: WriteWay currently
only runs on Windows.)

If you need something a little more demanding, remember that you
can always use the online version of Write or Die whenever you need
a little boost. Simply set a writing goal and a period of writing
time, and you're ready to get to work! If you stop typing for a
given period of time, writing reminders will pop up, unpleasant
sounds will emit from your computer, or your writing will start
"unwriting". No sign up is required, but Write or Die doesn't save
anything for you, so you should always remember to save your work
to your own computer before you exit the site! Go to 
http://writeordie.com/ and scroll down until you see the "Write or
Die online" on the right side of the screen. 


Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye@gmail.com.

Copyright 2011 Aline Lechaye


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Writers' Lounge
This is a blog with lots of useful tips on how to get noticed by
the publishing industry with guest posts by published authors. 

Poetry Publishers Who Accept Electronic Submissions
This site does just what it suggests: it lists poetry publishers
who accept electronic submissions. Unlike other list sites, this
one is continually being updated. 

Atomic Rockets
This is a site for science fiction writers so that they can get the
science part correct in their fiction. 


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Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors "at" writing-world.com) 

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial "at" writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2011 Moira Allen

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