Archive | May, 2013

A List of Freelance Writing Rates

30 May

I kind of feel like I’ve found the holy grail.

After finding another potential editing project, I was stuck again for quoting a price. Unlike the other editing job I’m still working on, which is more technical writing, this one was a children’s fiction book. The difference is that I do have children’s fiction editing experience (four months of it, but nonetheless). So instead of quoting a low price, I thought I should probably look at some more competitive rates.

And I found the holy grail of a rate list.

It gives a range of rates for all different types of freelance projects, from “just starting out” to “experienced/living in a high cost of living area.” It’s been incredibly useful to me the last few days. I’m not considering the quoted prices to be the ONLY prices I should quote–they are, after all, based on one woman’s six-year experience–but I’ve found them to be pretty accurate with current pricing trends so far.

The same author also wrote an article about how to create your freelance writing resume which I also found to be quite useful–especially as I was asked for my freelance resume for the first time yesterday and needed to create one in a pinch!

Have you found any useful rate lists or other freelance writing resources that you use? I’d love to see them!

Prompt: My Name

28 May

The Lissa Chronicles posted an awesome prompt about “your name.” I love names, so I thought, why not?

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself? Photographers, show us YOU.

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My name is Emily. I’m not named after anyone, though I was once told–after pestering my parents one time too often–that I was named after Emily Elizabeth from the Clifford books. I think the more likely story is that my mom saw a name she liked and gave it to me without any real associations.

My middle name is Marie, which is one of those “filler” middle names. I feel like everyone I meet has Marie as a middle name. However, Marie is actually a family name. I’m the third generation with the middle name Marie, and my great-grandma’s first name is Marie. My mom felt pressured into giving me this middle name as she didn’t like the flow of it with “Emily” because of the -ie sound at the end of both names, but she caved.

I like the sound of my name and I think Emily suits me. What I don’t like (okay, understatement: more like “despise”) is how popular it is! A few years after I was born, Emily soared to the #1 girl’s name in the U.S. and stayed there for eleven years. It’s still in the top ten. Funnily enough, I never had an issue with it in school. I remember there was one other Emily in latch key in elementary school and I had an Emily in one of my classes in high school. However, when I went to university there were something like 20 Emilys at the university (out of ~750 students). I worked with one of them and another was in my same two majors–English and History–so we saw a lot of each other. I would say a majority of my classes had another Emily in them. I also currently live in a house where 3/5 inhabitants are named Emily. (Fun fact: in university, I was Emily Two. Of my two closest Emily friends, there was Emily One and Emily Junior. Our designations were based on age.)

It’s not so bad, really, but it’s given me a taste for more unique names. I don’t know what I’d rename myself if I could. I love a lot of names (check out my favorite names here!), but I can’t think of another that suits me. Not that it matters–in the end, I wouldn’t actually change it, despite its popularity!

Answer the questions above! I’d love to see your answers.

The Reason I Haven’t Blogged In A Few Days

27 May

I’ve been obsessed. Yes, obsessed.

With kittens.

We have a cat, but we’ve been thinking about getting a kitten for ages. Actually, the original plan YEARS ago was to get two kittens when I moved over here. But then there were floods in 2011 and the RSPCA building went under and it was desperate for adoptions–so Cal got Thor.

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Then when I arrived last June, we weren’t really financially ready for a kitten. By the time we were financially ready, we were both facing unemployment and, well, I think I’ve discussed the long hard slog we went through to find jobs. Now Cal’s employed full-time and I’ve been making the equivalent of part-time wages for freelancing, so… kittens.

I’ve been staring at pictures of kittens online for days. On Friday my obsession reached a point where I didn’t finish my two articles for Freelance Friday, let alone a blog post. I haven’t been reading or writing. I’ve just been staring at pictures of kittens and watching them disappear as they’re adopted and…

Well… Saturday it was just too much. So. We got a kitten.

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His name is Loki. Yes, he is this adorable. Thor doesn’t like him much yet, but we hope they’ll become good friends. Loki has developed an obsession with a toy fishing pole/mouse thing and just wants to play play play play play.

Plus, we have to keep him in our room so that he doesn’t annoy Thor, and the internet is STILL not working in my room (very miffed about this). So it’s a great struggle between kitten and net, and, well, I bet you can guess who wins.

So this is my cute excuse. I don’t even feel guilty about it.

Book Review: Numbers by Rachel Ward

22 May

numbersEvery time Jem looks someone in the eye, she sees their special number. The number, she’s worked out, is the day that they’re going to die. So when she sees so many people with the same number waiting in line to go on the London Eye, she knows something is about to happen, and she runs. She and her friend Spider steal cars to outrun the police, heading for a beach and a new life–except Jem knows Spider’s number too, and his clock is ticking. When Spider is caught by the police, Jem doesn’t know for sure that she will see him again–can love bring them back together?

Okay. I had been waiting to read this book for a long time. It was yet another of those books that came through the bookstore where I worked, but someone else snapped it up and reviewed it before I got the chance. We didn’t like double reviews and in those days I often only had time to read the book I was reviewing for that week.

Anyway, it was kind of a disappointment, I’m not going to lie. It’s not that it was poorly written–it was well-written, with an interesting premise, realistic dialogue and what have you. I just could. not. stand. the. main. character.

Jem is the sort of kid I would never like in real life. She skips school, doesn’t do her assignments, thinks teachers and police offers and what have you are all out to get her. She’s angsty, she smokes, and she makes really stupid, self-centered decisions. Yeah, she’s got some pretty traumatic history that’s going to mess you up. I just could not relate AT ALL. Every step of the way I was thinking how ridiculous her decisions were and how stupid she was and what a selfish, self-centered brat she was being. For instance: “Woe is me, my boyfriend is going to die, better go kill myself, that might save him. And if it doesn’t at least I won’t know.”

At one point, she and Spider are walking along this dirt path and she was like, “omg, these bags are cutting into my palms and it’s rocky and I’m afraid of cows!” and I’m just like, “Well, who ran away thinking the police were going to throw you in jail for planting a bomb on the eye, you idiot? What did you think it was going to be like?”

I just had no tolerance for her. Especially at the end, with that life-crushing thing that happened. Yeah, Jem, it WAS all your fault. Poor you.

The only other thing that disappointed me was the end of the plot. Well, the whole plot really. The “numbers” thing didn’t really seem to play into it much at all. Actually, I’m not entirely sure what the point of the story was. I thought for sure there’d be some sort of “happily ever after” but it basically made the point that your life is fixed. Yeah, there was the “so live the life you have now” message, but it was kind of depressing in a sense–like people are meant to be the way they are and nothing they do can change that. I mean, Jem had a pretty great speech at the end, but it didn’t really change the overall feeling I got from the book.

Keep in mind that it takes a pretty good book to get me worked up like this, so it’s not all bad. I just couldn’t relate, and to me relating to characters is one of the most important parts of the reading experience. Give it a try–you might have a better time than I did.

Did this book catch your interest? Check it out here!

Ideas are not my forte.

20 May

I came across a really cool freelance opportunity and had to come here to disentangle my thoughts. Prepare yourself for a rambling post!

One article per week for two months, about anything in the world I could think of, for the Sydney Opera House. How legit does that sound?

And yet…

“All we ask is that it’s intelligent, interesting, and amounts to more than a simple review or diary-entry style of article…”

And here I sit, gazing off into the distance, wondering what theme I could write eight articles about that is also intelligent and interesting and not a review. I turned to things that I like: reading, writing, traveling. I thought about the things that I knew: kids, books, publishing, moving countries, university, Harry Potter, fantasy, history, random facts.

It’s beating in my head: one theme. eight articles. one theme. eight articles. intelligent. interesting. one theme eight articles one theme eight articles.

Nothing. I’ve got nothing. Or perhaps I have too many ideas–maybe ideas are my forte, and narrowing them down is my challenge. I think what my problem is is that I’m attempting to put too much thought into that “intelligent” aspect, but they’ve apparently had people like Richard Dawkins, Noam Chomsky, Joss Whedon, David Sedaris–so what the heck do I have to contribute?

Sigh. I’ll just be over here wallowing in a sea of self-doubt and frustration. I will find a topic. Something will come to me. Er… I hope!

(Not actually asking for ideas–I just needed to write something! But I mean, if you have ideas, I won’t say no!)

Europe Trip Planning Update (Estimated Costs)

19 May

carte-europe-300x211I’ve been slacking on the “travel” portion of this blog, and since I spent all yesterday immersed in Europe books and websites, I thought it would be a good time to give an update on our Europe trip planning.

For readers who don’t know, my husband and I have been planning  lengthy a trip to Europe for the last six months as a sort of “honeymoon.” We initially settled on about a month, but because of all the things we want to see and do, it’s lengthened to about five or six weeks. We were initially planning on going at the end of 2013, but due to joblessness for the last three or four months, our savings plan was put on hold.

Which brings me to the first update: Cal has a job! He’s getting 35k a year plus some pretty generous bonuses based on sales targets achieved. This is excellent news for the Europe fund. Last year we were basically living on his part-time earnings of ~$400/week and putting my full-time earnings into savings. We plan on putting a huge chunk of his full-time earnings plus my part-time earnings into savings now, which got me thinking: what’s our cap on Europe?

We have other things we’d like to be saving for as well, you see: our own house (we currently rent) and children several years down the track. We’ve been told different prices for Europe: one source estimated $13,000 for two people for two months. A family member said we’d need $10k each, for a total of $20k. We set up a new, high-interest savings account with an initial goal of $10,000 knowing we’d want to go over that amount to feel comfortable. Trip costs are so variable based on where you want to go, when you go, and what you want to do, that it was really going to be impossible to judge until I felt like jumping in and estimating expenses for every leg of our journey.

With the earlier joblessness, I was trying to stay away from Europe planning so that I didn’t get excited for something that was out of our reach. With Cal’s first paycheck a few days away and heaps of free time yesterday, I finally got around to estimating… and it’s looking pretty good, to be honest.

We’re now planning on going in November/December 2014 – January 2015. I think this helped the budget a lot, because it isn’t really peak season. We’re planning on going to Finland, the UK, Paris, Italy, Munich, and Amsterdam. While some of these cities/countries are more expensive than others, the off-peak season means cheaper hostels and travel costs. We’re also not opposed to staying in big mixed dorms in hostels, though we are planning on staying in private rooms in hostels or a hotel every so often so we don’t go crazy–he’ll probably be okay, but I am a very light sleeper and have difficulty sleeping in dorms! We also plan to make our own food more often than not, which cuts down on costs, and neither of us are into drinking/partying, so we won’t be paying for tons of alcohol either.

So–my calculations? Overestimating/rounding up every accommodation, flight, and train cost that I found, with a very high/dubious train from Munich to Amsterdam estimation, and based on prices for December 2013, the total comes to $9800… including roundtrip flights from Brisbane for both of us, a hefty allowance for food, and an additional hefty allowance for attractions/entrance fees/souvenirs.

I sort of gaped at the total for a while because it’s lower than anything we estimated. Keep in mind, this doesn’t cover trip insurance, health insurance, or our backpacks/gear which we still need to get. Another big cost will be possibly boarding our cat (or two cats, if we get a kitten soon!), depending on our living situation/willingness of housemates to care for them, etc.  At the same time, it does cover our exorbitant three days in the glass igloo hotel in Finland and  a relatively expensive five-day guided tour of the Scottish Highlands. We could be doing this for a lot less is what I’m saying.

I do need to get in and sort out the attractions/entrance fees that we’re going to see and how much everything’s going to cost. I’m sure I’ve put enough money into the budget for them, but I’d like to know. I have looked into “The London Pass” which covers most of the popular London attractions and comes with an option for unlimited travel between zones 1-6 and sounds like excellent savings–does anyone have any experience with this? Last time I was in London I was there for three months for study abroad, so such a thing wouldn’t have been practical, but if we have a week in London and want to see as much as we can, is it worth it?

After going through all travel options for inter-country travel, we’re also thinking about getting a rail pass. Right now, it looks like the best option to take a train from Rome to Florence, Florence to Venice, Venice to Munich, and Munich to Amsterdam. We’d need to do a 4-country pass since Italy doesn’t border Germany, so we’d probably add Austria in there as well and perhaps spend a few days in Vienna or Salzburg. With the “I don’t think this is accurate” price for a train trip from Munich to Amsterdam it would definitely be worth it, but it’d save us a few bucks otherwise too. A train would take longer than a plane, cutting into time we could have to explore, but I like it because we can see the landscape rather than clouds.

Anyway–I suppose what this update boils down to is that we’re pretty certain we can do this six-week trip to Europe for under $10k for the two of us. We’re planning on trying to save $15k before putting money aside for a house fund, and hope to come back with most of that excess $5k. It’s rough to plan because flight/train/accommodation costs will certainly vary in the next year or so before we’re able to book them, but I figure we’ll be booking about six months or more before actually going on the trip, which allows time to save extra if we find we need it. If travel/accommodation costs end up being higher than estimated, six months gives us plenty of time to save more for attractions and the like.

We still have quite a way to go to reach our goal, but with money flowing into our bank accounts once more we should be able to manage it no problem!

Have you ever taken a lengthy trip through Europe? What did your budget look like? What are your recommendations for must-see cities and sights? Or, if you haven’t been to Europe, what’s the top thing you’d like to see in Europe if you go? I’d love to hear your stories! =)

Freelance Friday: Another Job and Diving Into It

17 May

ImageI’ve placed an ad online advertising my freelance abilities for any who might need them. I’ve gotten quite a few replies, but mostly they’ve been students asking me to do their homework for them (which, on a moral ground, I will not do!) and one from someone who wanted me to write out a pre-written poem that he wanted to give as a gift. It was a sweet idea, but I think he confused “freelance writer” with “calligrapher.”

Anyway, the other day I was offered a job that was almost-completely out of my depth: editing a nonfiction e-book that the author wants to get professionally published.

I say almost out of my depth because I worked as an intern with a publishing company for several months doing quite a bit of hands-on editing, and because I critiqued stories and poems every semester during university. In all other aspects, though, I had no idea what to do.

Problem #1: What if it’s boring?
Solution: Suck it up, princess.

Problem #2: What do I charge for this?
Solution: Googled it. Again, it’s hard to know what to charge. In my ad, which was specifically for writing but which I’ll be expanding to include editing, I said my usual charge would be $12 per 500 words. All the answers I found in my Google search said to avoid charging per number of words for editing and charge per hour instead. Okay–so what do I charge per hour? The suggestions ranged from $10 to $30. While I have some experience, I placed myself on the low end because I haven’t done something quite like this before. I figured I could manage a lower paying job to start in order to get some experience behind me. I decided on $12 per hour. To give the client an idea of how much the whole project would cost him, I Googled that too and found that on average, doing an average amount of editing, people can do around 7 pages per hour. A bit of math and voila, the projected amount for the project. (Side note: I am doing between 7 and 8 pages per hour, so that was right-on!)

Problem #3: WHEN do I charge for this? aka, What if I get scammed?
Solution: A payment plan. I didn’t want to wait until the end of editing the book to get paid–it’s 400 pages and that would put me out a lot of time if I edited the whole thing and got nothing for it! Not that I’m saying it would happen, but you never know. At the same time, it didn’t seem fair to charge the client before I edited, either–after all, how would he know that I’m not scamming him? So I decided on a system where I would edit two weeks’ worth (around 50 pages) and have him pay me for two weeks, and continue like that until the book is done. At worst, I’m out about 8 hours’ editing. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things.

Problem #4: How do I stay focused?
Solution: Unlike writing, editing doesn’t really have a specific end-goal. Getting paid by hour meant that I needed to be doing an honest hour’s work–but I have this horrible habit of wandering over to Facebook or my e-mail or YouTube. So I decided to set aside a specific time where I turn off the internet and knuckle down. It’s worked well so far. I usually do it in hour-long blocks with a ten minute break in between to satisfy my Facebook addiction.

I haven’t yet sent off the first batch of edits, so I might run up against other obstacles later. It’s been an eye-opening week for me, that’s for sure! On a side note, this “Freelance Friday” went almost exactly as planned. I wrote a Today I Found Out article in the morning and one in the afternoon, followed by an hour of editing. The only upset was going to the shops for some much-needed bread (we go through loaves like it’s no one’s business) and Vitamin C and cold drugs (husband’s sick now!), which threw me off my schedule by about an hour. Still enough time in the day to get everything done, though!

Oh, and I did it in my pajamas. At home. Which was a little embarrassing when the postman walked up to the house to deliver a package, but otherwise was pretty much the best thing ever.

I suppose my questions to end are these: if you’ve had editing jobs before, what do you usually charge? Do you have a payment plan that you use? Have you ever been scammed before? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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