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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 15:13             13,500 subscribers           July 2, 2015
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     The Things We're Not Good At
FEATURE ARTICLE, by Brandy Cross
     How To Spot Clients Who Won't Pay & What To Do When They Don't
choose the best pricing method for the job, negotiate if the 
client balks, keep useful records, and more in the award-winning 
"What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers & Consultants." 
In print and ebook formats. http://tinyurl.com/obo5c2o 
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The Things We're Not Good At...

In the last issue, I talked about the dangers of "the things we are
good at."  One of the greatest dangers of the things we are good at
is that they tend to distract us from the things that we are NOT
good at.  

No matter where we are in our writing careers, there's bound to be
something that we're not terribly good at, but which we still need
to be able to do.  In the beginning, perhaps, we may have imagined
that "being a writer" simply meant sitting down and writing (though
even that isn't as easy as it sounds).  Soon, however, we
discovered that being a writer involved mastering an extensive
toolkit of skills and techniques, without which we could neither
proceed nor succeed.

Of course, there are undoubtedly a host of skills that we don't
possess and don't, in fact, actually need. The fact that we're not
good at something doesn't automatically imply that we OUGHT to be. 
But as writers, there are certain things that we DO need to be able
to do well -- and again, those things tend to change over time.

One way to identify the "thing that you're not good at but ought to
be" is to identify the thing that is holding you back.  Of all the
things that you don't do so well, what's the one thing that, if you
COULD master it, would make a real difference in your writing
career?  What's the thing that is standing between you and success,
or increased success?

For example, many writers hate "pitching."  (In fact I think I can
safely say that MOST of us hate pitching.)  It's very easy to get
comfortable with a certain type of market, or a certain level of
market, whether that is based on a topical niche, a pay range, or
whatever.  It's a lot easier to keep pitching to a market that
consistently says "yes" than to try to break new ground with a
market that might say "no."  Why waste time, we ask ourselves,
pitching to unknown markets when we have a "sure thing" going with
the markets we already work with?  Pitching to higher-paying
markets can be particularly scary, because a rejection implies that
we're not "ready" to move up to a higher level.  Many writers spend
years at a particular pay zone rather than try to move up the
scale.  And so our fear of pitching -- the thing that we're not so
good at, or think we're not so good at -- holds us back from the
chance of greater success.

Many writers still believe they can proceed, and succeed, without
mastering the basics.  I still hear from writers who believe that
things like grammar, punctuation and spelling are simply polish on
the apple.  Rather than regarding these as fundamental,
foundational skills, some writers regard them as "extras," icing on
the cake, nice to have but non-essential.  "I have a great story,"
such writers say.  "It's the editor's job to handle the grammatical

I could be wrong, but I suspect writers are the only "artists" who
harbor this quaint notion.  Imagine a painter, for example, who
seeks to create (and sell) a work of art.  After laying down the
basic design and some broad strokes on a canvas, he trots off to a
gallery, hands over the piece, and declares, "I've done the big
picture; you finish the details!"  Not going to happen!  Nor is it
going to happen in the writing world.  Editors have a glut of
material from which to choose, and neither the time nor the
inclination to waste hours correcting someone's grammar.

In determining which area of one's toolkit requires work, always
start with the most basic issues first.  If you aren't that good at
pitching, and you also have a poor grasp of punctuation, work on
punctuation.  The best pitch in the world won't help you make a
sale if you hand in a piece that, shows, you don't, know where the,
commas go.  

No matter where you are in your writing career, however, a vital
element in allocating your time (surely the scarcest of a writer's
resources) lies in facing the fact that at least some of it needs
to be spent upon those things that we do NOT do well.  Otherwise,
no matter how much time we spend on the things we've already
mastered, we will find ourselves coming up, time and again, against
obstacles that just aren't going to go away.

For example, a key thing that I'm not good and, and that is
therefore standing in my way, is promotion.  I hate promoting.  I
have no idea whether I hate it because I'm not good at it, or I'm
not good at it because I hate it -- or whether, if I became good at
it, I'd learn to love it.  Ultimately, that's a chicken-and-egg
question that simply doesn't matter.  My lack of promotional skills
is holding me back, and if I want to achieve my goals, eventually
I'm going to have to spend some time at this thing that I'm not
good at, and BECOME good at it.

And there lies the bottom line.  In the last issue, I pointed out
that we writers tend to be good at a great many things, because
we've often had no choice but to master those skills over time.  We
mastered them by spending the time to BECOME good at them.  We
weren't born with an innate grasp of grammar, or punctuation, or
website design.  We built those skills.  Today, it's easy to forget
how much effort may have gone into the development of "the things
we are good at."  Conversely, it's very easy to be dismayed by the
amount of effort we have to put in to become good at something new.

But you've already done it.  I've already done it.  Whatever skills
may be on our "easy to do list" today, we acquired them through
effort and time and struggle.  We've done it before and we can do
it again.  If we want to become successful, or become MORE
successful, or achieve a goal that has been eluding us, then we
MUST do it again.

And when we do... one day... we will suddenly realize that some of
those things we weren't so good at have become the things we ARE
good at.  They become the things we do without a second thought,
the things that are easy, the things that are comfortable.

And then, of course, it starts all over, because... there will
ALWAYS be something new that we need to learn, to master, to
overcome.  It never ends, really.  Unless we never start.  

Because if we DON'T tackle "the things we aren't good at," we're
already reached an ending.  We've accepted, by default, an end to
certain hopes, dreams, and goals.  If we only do what we're already
good at today, we will never get any farther tomorrow.

Copyright 2015 Moira Allen

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained. (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here:

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How To Spot Clients Who Won't Pay & What To Do When They Don't 
By Brandy Cross


Freelancing can be a risky business, and in an imperfect world,
every new client is a potential risk. Because there is very little
protection in terms of guaranteed payment for work, many
freelancers have to take chances, or learn to spot potential risk
clients. While contracts and various services such as joining the
Freelancers Union may help you get your money in case a client
doesn't want to pay up, the best option is to try to avoid putting
yourself in a no-payment situation in the first place. 

Signs That the Client Might Not Intend to Pay 
Initial Shock Over Rates - Clients who react poorly to an initial
quote are fairly frequent if you deal with small businesses, but
are something to watch out for. If a client thinks that your rates
are ridiculously high and then does a complete 180 without any
additional encouragement from you, they might be thinking that they
can just skip out on the payment. In addition, if the client reacts
poorly to your rates, you probably don't want to work for them

Location - While not always applicable, location often has an
impact on whether or not clients intend to pay. Clients from
economically wealthier areas tend to be more likely and more
capable of meeting fees. Paying attention to the client's location,
their English level, and whether or not they are in a country that
uses USD, Euro, or GPB can help you to avoid non-paying clients.
For example, if you are talking with a client in the Philippines,
hiring you for a USD rate is incredibly expensive based on the
local exchange rate ($1 USD is roughly 45 pesos) and they might not
be able to afford your rates. There are many exceptions, but it is
a good idea to tread carefully when working with smaller companies.

No Payment Policy - Asking about a client's payment policy can help
you to identify clients who have an idea of how and when to pay
you. Ask how long they take to make payments after receiving the
completed project and how they intend to pay you. While this
information is important, it is also a good way to ensure that they
have thought it through. Many larger companies have standard
payment policies of 30-90 days, but smaller companies may pay upon
arrival, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Get the details before
starting the project. 

Indifference - Unless the company is large or wealthy enough for
money to not be an issue, then indifference is a red flag. If the
company does not care about rates at all, they also might not care
about actually sending you a payment. 

Changing Attitude About Results - Finally, the biggest red flag
from clients is attitude. Clients who drastically change their
opinion on the quality of work at the final draft are usually
looking for reasons not to pay. One common trend with non-paying
clients is to express approval of initial drafts or outlines of the
work, appear pleased with the results, and then express extreme
dissatisfaction when it comes time to pay. Chances are that unless
there were very major changes between the previous and final
versions, the client is looking for reasons not to pay. If this
happens, clearly outline that payment is expected no matter what,
and refer to the payment policy from your contract. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Non-Payment
Research the Client - Researching the client before accepting a
contract is probably the most important thing you can do. Spending
10 to 15 minutes looking up a client on the Better Business Bureau
or the Freelance Union's Client Scorecard can save you a great deal
of hassle later. It is also possible to simply Google the client
and check out any freelance profiles they might have. For example,
Odesk allows you to see the client's feedback from previous
contractors as well as their average paid rate. 

Sign a Contract - While contracts are not always feasible with
every client, they can help to ensure that you get paid. Small
projects, or those under ten hours of work, are probably not worth
the hassle of writing up and signing a contract, although this also
depends on the amount to be paid. Most professional companies are
willing to sign a work contract. Contracts allow you to press
claims in small- or large-claims courts. They also give you the
opportunity to outline everything expected from both yourself and
the client. There are a number of free templates available online,
but each contract should be customized for the business in
question. The contract should outline what is expected from you,
what is expected from the contractor, the payment details in
numbers (hourly rate or project rate), upfront and milestone
percentages, the payment deadline, and hopefully late fees. If the
client requires an NDA, you can work that into the contract as

Ask for an Upfront Payment - Asking for upfront payments is not
always possible because some clients may be wary of investing in a
freelancer before receiving any work, but it definitely cuts down
on employers who don't pay. Upfront payments of 20, 30, or even 50
percent are very common in projects, especially those with
milestones. If you have a good reputation, good feedback, and
plenty of references, then getting an upfront payment from a good
client should not be too much of an issue. 

Stop Working as Soon as a Payment Is Late - When you turn in work
and payment has not been made by the times stipulated in the
contract or payment policy, it is time to stop work. Even if you
have deadlines, it is important to wait for payment before
continuing work. Send the client a message to explain that you are
pausing work until the invoice is paid. If the client lets you know
that the payment will be late with specific and believable reasons,
then you can make an exception; otherwise, try not to work for too
long without payment milestones being met. 

Send Invoices - Invoicing your clients through a professional
system is important for any freelancer. Not only is it useful at
tax time, it also reminds clients that they are supposed to pay
you, and affords you an easy way of filling a claim if they do not
pay. Sarah Horowitz of the Freelancers Union recommends sending
each invoice by snail mail and email, and placing a courtesy call
to alert the client that you have sent the invoice.  Freshbooks and
Quickbooks both offer invoicing services for freelancers. 

What to Do When Clients Don't Pay 
Be Persistent - The biggest mistake you can make when a client does
not pay is to just give up. In some cases the reason for not paying
is simply forgetfulness. Send a reminder for the invoice, send the
invoice again via snail mail, and call the client. Remind them that
the payment is due and then get a date for the payment.  

Have Your Lawyer Send a Letter - If reminding the client about
payment does not work, have your lawyer send them a letter. This
will cost you money, so it may not be a good idea for a very small
payment, but usually it is enough to scare the client straight. If
you do not have a lawyer, consider getting one, or send a formal
letter to the client explaining that you will take them to court if
they do not pay. 

Small Claims Court - Unfortunately small claims court is not always
an option, especially for international clients. Small claims vary
with limitations of up to $2,000 and $25,000 depending on the
state. A small claims court can help you get money from an unpaid
contract, but it is difficult or even impossible without a signed
contract. You also have to pay attention to lawyer and court fees
to ensure that they do not exceed the amount of the payment,
although the client should pay those if they lose the claim. If the
client does not show up to the hearing, you are automatically
awarded the case. 

Spotting clients who don't intend to pay isn't always possible, but
you can reduce risks and improve your chances of getting paid by
paying attention. Usually, if you have a bad feeling about a
client, they don't treat you professionally, or they ignore
questions about money, then you should definitely steer clear.
Since a contract is the best way to pursue payment if the client
refuses, it is also important that you sign one with every major
project.  Finally, it is always a good idea to brush up on local
small claims law in your state before accepting larger projects so
that you understand what you can do if something goes wrong. 

Brandy Cross is a freelance writer who makes a living copywriting
and blogging for various businesses and corporations around the
web. Writing is a full time profession and hobby, and she is
working on a novel in her spare time. When not typing one thing or
another, she can be found reading, cooking, playing games, or doing
yoga depending on the time of day. 

Copyright 2015 Brandy Cross

This article may not be reprinted without the author's written

Link to this article here:

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A book fit for a Queen, by a Queen
Alexandrina Victoria, better known as Britain's Queen Victoria,
wrote at age 10-and-3/4 a book titled "The Adventures of Alice
Laselles," which is slated to be published this year by the Royal
Collection. It tells the story of a girl sent away to a boarding
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Amazon Launches Mexican Site
Amazon.com has just launched its first e-commerce branch in Mexico
that sells print books.  Amazon has been selling Kindle books in
Mexico for several years, but has not had a store to sell physical
products.  The new Spanish-language Amazon.com.mx offers a range of
products, including books, DVDs, music, electronics, household
items, health-care items, sporting and fitness supplies, watches
and more (though their pull-down menu of departments is still quite
a bit shorter than that of the US site). The site also offers free
shipping on orders over MX 599 (about $38 US).  For more
information, visit http://www.amazon.com.mx

New publishing group created by Penguin
Berkley Publishing Group (BPG) is the new banner that constitutes
the Berkley and New American Library (NAL) imprints of Penguin
Random House, and joins their separate editorial, managing
editorial, production and art departments to their already existing
combined marketing, publicity, and advertising teams. For more,
visit: http://www.penguin.com/meet/publishers/berkley/

Like to read in the bath? Now you don't have to get your book wet!
a company based in The Netherlands, is on a mission to create
waterproof books. The books are said to have fully waterproof
binding and "paper", which is made of polypropylene, don't use
trees and are 100% recyclable. Tests have been conducted "on ink at
various water temperatures and soap types." For more, and to
support their Kickstarter campaign, visit: http://kck.st/1Lfvtat

WritingCareer.com is a free online resource to find paying markets
for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report
on current needs of editors and publishers who are open for
submissions, pay competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees.


Detailed market listings with calls for submissions, updated every

Lists writing competitions with a focus on UK. Other pages on the
website provide poetry competitions and some bitter-sweet funnies
from the writer's life.

Humorous quotes from famous personalities. Website was last updated
in 2012 (Facebook page in 2013) but is still a good one-stop-shop
for those looking to crack a smile before every chapter.

New website with a single writer voice. Contains some articles,
course sign-ups and general information about writing. Worth a

"A site that helps bloggers get published on sites beyond their own
blogs." Success stories, tips and tricks, and publishing
opportunities galore. Subscribe to their free newsletter to receive
markets regularly.

EVERY WRITER NEEDS A HOLIDAY!  "The Writer's Guide to Holidays, 
Observances and Awareness Dates" offers 1800 events worldwide --
Instant inspiration for those days when you can't think of anything
to write about!  Holiday topics are a favorite of editors, so fuel
your inspiration and jumpstart your articles today!  Available in 
print and Kindle editions; for more information visit
CONTESTS, from Writing-World.com!  "Writing to Win" brings you 
more than 1600 contest listings from around the world.  You won't 
find a more comprehensive guide to writing contests anywhere.  
Available in print and Kindle editions from Amazon!

This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 

DEADLINE: August 1 
PRIZES: 15,000
DETAILS: For the best poetry collection published (or scheduled to
be published) in the UK or Republic of Ireland during contest year;
author may be any nationality. 
CONTACT: Poetry Book Society, Book House, 4th Floor, 2 Tavistock
Pl., London, WC1H 9RA, UK, info@poetrybooks.co.uk 
URL: http://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/projects/34/

DEADLINE: August 5
GENRE:  Short stories
OPEN TO: Authors aged 18 years or over on 1 January whose 
primary residence (i.e. resident for over six months of the year)
has been in the United Kingdom or Ireland for the past four years.
DETAILS: Submit a previously unpublished short story of 4000 words
or less. See guidelines for specific submission requirements.
PRIZES: 3,500, 1,500, 500   
CONTACT: costashortstories@gmail.com

DEADLINE: August 15 
PRIZES: $500 and publication
DETAILS: Christian-themed fiction for children age 6-12, 750-1000
words. No historical or Biblical fiction. No specific theme.
CONTACT: Pockets Magazine, P.O. Box 340004, Nashville, TN 37203-0004

DEADLINE: August 31
PRIZE: $250 and publication in Lunch Ticket
DETAILS:  "Lunch Ticket's mission is to publish work by
under-privileged and under-represented voices, to promote social
justice through publishing without hesitation or apology
meritorious work that challenges the toxic status quo of
oppression." Creative nonfiction authors are invited to submit an
essay of up to 5,000 words on the subject of their choice. 
URL: http://lunchticket.org/the-diana-woods-memorial-award/

The competitions below are offered monthly unless otherwise noted;
all require electronic submissions.

PRIZES: $100 and other prizes
DETAILS: Various monthly fiction, nonfiction and poetry contests;
for some, you must become a member of the site.
WEBSITE: http://www.fanstory.com/contests.jsp

PRIZES: $50, promotion, publication; 2 runners up - publication
DETAILS: Monthly short fiction contest.  Winning stories featured
in Feed Me Fiction short story magazine.  Any type of fiction;
1000-4000 words.  Monthly; winners announced by 15th of following
WEBSITE: http://fictuary.com/short-story-contests/

PRIZES: $100, $50, $25, plus review and membership
DETAILS: Must be a member. Competitions throughout the year,
including novels and flash fiction. 
WEBSITE: http://www.thenextbigwriter.com/competition/index.html

DETAILS: Submit fiction, creative nonfiction, prose poetry, and
writing for children/young adults to 1,000 words. The first story
that "knocks the judges' socks off" each month is declared the
winner. Use the link below to access the submission page - that
page has links to the guidelines for submissions.
WEBSITE: http://whidbeystudents.com/student-choice-contest/

PRIZES: $50 to $100 Amazon gift certificates
DETAILS: Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, on themes posted on
WEBSITE: http://www.scribophile.com/contests/ 

PRIZES: $100 in WD books
DETAILS: We'll provide a short, open-ended prompt. In turn, you'll
submit a short story of 750 words or fewer based on that prompt.
You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your
WEBSITE: http://www.writersdigest.com/your-story-competition

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Did the Victorians predict cell phones?  Find out in the July issue
of Victorian Times!  In this issue, you'll also learn more about
the postmen of the Victorian world; discover that new-fangled
invention, the typewriter; enjoy the playfulness of animals; take a
look at some REALLY old recipes; and enjoy our usual selection of
crafts, recipes, history and more!  Download it free or access the
print edition at 

on how to reach more than 100,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


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Copyright 2015 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor