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Giving a Little Extra Can Help Your Freelance Work

We network. We ask around. We send out impressive portfolios. But if a potential client were to choose between two freelance writers who both wrote well, delivered on time, and charged the same rate, but the other one offered a free extra service on the side, which one would he most probably choose?

I would say he’d choose the one that offered the extra service. Like everyone else who likes something free thrown in, clients like a little extra on the side.

I always make it a point to give a free service, especially to first-time clients, because it’s a way of building what could be a long-term relationship with them. If I were a client and I was happy with an initial project with a writer/editor, why would I look for anyone else?

When I’m doing book editing work for an author, I throw in a free encoding service, because some authors do write by hand and they send in manuscripts in notebooks, sometimes several of them. I simply adjust my editing rate a bit to cover part of what would cost the encoding (so when you think about it, it really isn’t 100 percent free). Sometimes when I’m feeling generous, I give the service free. Either way, it helps me as a writer because while encoding, I read the manuscript and get an idea of its overall plot.

How about you? Do you offer extra services to clients and how has this practice helped grow your freelance work?


Challenge That Keeps Me on My Feet

One of the many things I learned when I was managing a group of manuscript editors long ago is that one can never be complacent and that one should never rely on memory, because an editor’s brain soaking up so much information can go on overdrive.

I never trust my memory fully, believe me. That is why I have all these notebooks, because I need to write everything down.

So I love these challenges that people throw at me, questions like “Is it lie or lay?” or “Should I place the comma or the period inside the quotation marks?” Some of the answers to these questions I know by heart, but sometimes, I just want to make sure. When someone trusts you enough to ask for your opinion, you need to be sure you’re giving them the correct answer.

And so big thanks goes to Pie, who made me dust off my Chicago Manual of Style and New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, just so I could answer her answer fully and correctly. Challenges like these are currently few and far between. My editor’s mind has learned, in the corporate world, to let go, to leave mistakes be (Kace and Joan were comrades in that struggle), because I am no messiah and I cannot completely overhaul a Website and correct 10 years worth of grammatical errors.

What keeps you on your feet?

My Favorite Font

I used to be a big Times New Roman user, and back at the publishing house where I used to work, one of the first things I did before editing a manuscript was to turn off track changes and convert the text to Times New Roman 11.

In the last two years of magazine work, however, I’ve discovered the sleek, more readable 10-point Trebuchet, finding Times New Roman illegible (or maybe it was my poor vision!)

Slate recently asked a number of writers what font they prefer, and it’s an interesting range: from Courier New to Palatino, and Century Schoolbook to Hoefler Text.

Nowadays I find that setting my MS Word document to Trebuchet has become a habit even when I write, although I try to use Verdana or Tahoma every now and then, for variety.

Jonathan Lethem, author, You Don’t Love Me Yet: A Novel

I dislike the temptation of making a raw draft look like it’s already typeset. Before computers, I wrote three novels on a typewriter, and there can never be anything but 12-point Courier (double-spaced) forever: I write on an eternal Selectric of the mind. I can even hear the rattle of the metal ball against the sheet of paper, I swear.

Read the full article here.

Rewriting and Letting Go

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian tells the story of Sibyl, a midwife whose patient dies duringmidwives1.jpg childbirth, prompting her to perform a C-section to save the baby.

However, the heroism is not rewarded. Sibyl, instead, is sued by the state for voluntary manslaughter. The story is told from Sibyl’s daughter’s point of view. The narration is candid, raw, and surprisingly touching. I was surprised that the author was male who was writing about one of the oldest professions in the world.

In an interview with Amazon, Bohjalian tells of the pain of rewriting and why he doesn’t read his books after publication.

There certainly is a finality in a book, of not being able to change anything once it has been printed, unlike a Web post that can be updated or taken down. Books are forever.

Anything is better than wondering (yet again) whether a particular metaphor for the color of blood is sufficiently precise; whether an exchange between two of the characters is plausible; or whether the opening is powerful or the ending is satisfying or why anyone who doesn’t share my last name would ever bother to read my new book.

I get this way whenever I finish a novel.

The truth is, I have never reread any of my books once they are between hard covers. It’s too painful.

Read more in Chris Bohjalian’s AmazonConnect blog.