Thursday, May 27, 2010

Outsourcing to get a life

It's been a while since I last wrote on this blog, as I've been swamped- with work, the kids' activities, a car which needed fixing... the list is endless.

And then one day last week, I received not one, but four emails from blog and marketing experts I subscribe to - John Chow, Jonathan Volk, Jeremy Schoemaker, and Yaro Starak about John Reese's outsourcing. My inbox was flooded with reasons as to why I should subscribe, and NOW!

I didn't, and his program is filled, so I'm interested to see the feedback it receives. Incidentally, have you noticed that most marketing gurus have John or Jeremy as their first name? That aside, the reason I've linked to their sites is because they do offer great advice. My own advice to you though, is to select one or two of them to begin with. Most of them make their money via affiliate programs, and if it's a popular offer (like John Reese's coaching), you'll get the same message from all of them.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the services I outsource in my life. I did consider outsourcing my housekeeping, but at CA$130 for two hours, that's sometimes more than what I make! So that leaves me with the occasionally babysitter for evenings, the sitter for the kids when I'm working, summer programs to keep them busy and out of my hair, my site's web design and maintenance, and my accounting and financial matters. I haven't started outsourcing extra work like some writers do, but that's something to consider.

Any ideas on what else a freelancer can outsource to maximize time and efficiency? Write me.

And in the meantime, I'm off to scrub the sink and load the dishes!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

eBooks and their money making potential

I’ve been writing eBooks for a long time now on a variety of topics- business, health and wellness, and even a Feng Shui eBook for a client who was getting into the Feng Shui business. I’ve always enjoyed writing them and they are a great way to make money.

eBooks are often ghostwritten, in that their writers do not take credit for the material written. Not a problem- if you don’t mind your name not appearing on the site, then ghostwriting jobs do pay well. Novice freelance writers can charge anywhere between $10-$30 per page, and that’s only for the writing. If you’ve been asked to design it as well, then you can go above this amount, bearing in mind that you will have to deliver a top quality design with a linked TOC (Table of Content).

If you’ve never written an eBook before, I recommend buying some books or visiting some sites before you start bidding for a job. One of my favourites is a book created by Jim Edwards, and Joe Vitale. Jim is a journalist and writer and have worked on a number of eBooks. Joe Vitale is a legend in himself, having helped over 200 authors write their books. Both these gentlemen have years of writing experience, so when they put their heads together and came up with, How to write and publish your own Outrageously Profitable eBook in as little as 7 days, you know it’s a winner.

In this ebook, you’ll learn:
-The secrets to creating an ebook that sells like crazy
-How to quickly avoid the #1 Mistake authors make that causes them to take months or years to write a book... so you can finish in just a few days.
-The absolute "bullet-proof" best ebook to write and sell online -FAST.
-The "right" way to publish your ebook so virtually everyone connected to the Internet can buy it and read it.
-3 *Proven* methods for turning out a highly profitable ebook in record time• The "7 Commandments" of ebook formatting

You can order your copy of How to write and publish your own Outrageously Profitable eBook in as little as 7 days here, and remember, there’s a return guarantee if you decide that ebook writing is not for you.

Once you’ve written your ebook, if it’s for a client, he/she will most likely want it delivered in a word or Pdf format, which they directly upload on their sites. On the other hand, if you’ve written your ebook to sell it for profit, you’ll need to self publish it. One great site to visit is eBook Mall Publishing Center. Here, they’ll help you with formatting and publishing your ebook, so it’s ready to be uploaded and sold!

Monday, May 10, 2010

On Becoming A Novelist, with Michael C. Bernard

As a freelance writer, I know I harbour a dream of one day writing a novel. But where do I begin and what do I write about? The problem is not that I don’t have any ideas- I have too many ideas, and too little time. So it was fascinating that I could pick the brains of a published author, and see how he came up with the time, ideas and determination to complete his book.

Michael C. Bernard has been writing steadily for six years, mainly short stories and articles for smaller magazines and writing sites. Recovering Roads is his first endeavour at bigger fiction, examining a youthful story of adventure and hope in desperate times. He lives and writes on the west coast of Ireland. Read on to see how he made the move from freelance writer, to published novelist.

Most writers always dream of one day writing their very own novel. You are on your second one. And like most readers of this blog, you began your career writing for magazines and writing sites. How did you make this transition?

Okay, well moving from one area of writing to another is not as difficult as we first imagine. With only a small shift of focus, it is actually more achievable than we think. Because I am an avid reader and I love reading great fiction, as well as, good books on writing fiction, I’ve always found that my pen was willing to roam, wander and dabble in things - just a little more creative, than say, writing letter’s or articles. It has to begin initially with the fiction itself. If this is what the author is aiming for, then a short story is crucial. Get it out there fast, so people can read it. The feedback which will come back to you is always better than you expect – can and will inspire you to try something bigger, as it was for my first book “Recovering Roads.” If you are already comfortable writing for magazines, sites or blogs, then you’ll already be familiar with that crucial kind of feedback. Try something new, write something else....

Is there any special training you’d recommended a writer take before he or she sits down to write a novel?

Yes, grab a pen and paper, then sit down and read, read, read, read, especially in the genre you like! Writers are incredibly friendly souls who just love to share their very own insights, hints and tips. Needless to say, there are some truly excellent books available for aspiring author’s who’d like to learn more or basically enhance their craft. Books for beginners which currently spring to mind and have helped me out more than once; would be the likes of Stephen Kings “A memoir of the craft” Julia Cameron’s “The artist’s way” And for a complete concise set of gritty and oily details “The Nuts and bolts of writing” by Michael Legat - is a must!

Although, to have these tools is marvellous, the spirit to write is a very personal one and must strongly be there in order to begin. My advice would be to be brave with the page, just write what feels right at the start, the nuts and bolts can come later.

We hear of drafts and half completed ideas gathering dust in drawers. How long did it take for you to complete your first novel, and what was the key reason you persevered to get to the finish line?

I felt I had a story to tell, my novel seems to fall under the category of “ Fictionalized Reality” which also seems to be a bit of a buzzword today, it was directly constructed from personal experience and so, the nostalgia present in my memories, made me say to myself, “ wouldn't it be great if people heard this story.” I admit, the concept for me was an arduously long one, but I am a bit of a perfectionist and it took me three years dissecting a first draft before I was ready to release it. Perseverance, I feel, tends to come within the writing itself. You can get so involved with your character’s lives and the story; it is almost like it begins to play out once more. Again, I feel it’s personal and how much an Author really wants to tell a particular story....

How would you describe the new book you’re working on?


Well, after writing the first, I’ve gained much more experience & confidence which I’m hoping will make this book shine... I’m writing a mystery set at Christmas, a whodunit, where an unlikely bunch come together because they are just where they are - and have no other place to go. There’s a wild party, kids sliding on sleds and a burglary in the vicinity where a highly renowned member of society is found dead. It’s also a collection on the lives of these people and an exploration of what brought them to this place, at this particular point in time, so it skips back into their past to give the reader a fascinating insight. Dare I say, it’s full of charm, romance, rock and roll and all the trimmings of the festive season – watch out people! LOL

How do you derive your characters? Are your scenes based on real-life people and situations?


In a nutshell yes, but you must remember, characters will always unravel all by themselves and begin to take on a life of their own, simply because of the author’s own personal views and perceptions. While you may have a grand idea of somebody who’d make a wonderful character in your book, in theory, they may have similar traits, but you cannot know everything about them, which is good, because the characters begin to live and breathe alone - and this is what you’re aiming for. As for the situations, well, in order to begin, you need to first have a plot in mind. The more interesting this will be, will always determine how fascinating the characters turn out to be.

Do you believe anyone can write a novel, or does an author require certain special traits?

I believe anybody can write a novel. Of course, good grammatical skills are imperative, as is the basic love and respect for literature, language and the arts and a strong personal wish to tell a good tale and share it with others. Unfortunately, it is true that writing is not for everybody, this is perhaps why a lot of potentially good manuscripts end up dusty.... It’s more of a vocation than a hobby and the will and patience has to be there from the outset, so, the author is at least enjoying what he or she is doing - with no other reason for doing it, and a full commitment to see it through. I think if these traits are there, then sure, yeah, anyone can write a novel.

Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?


I’d like to thank you so much for the interview and to say a big hi to the readers here and perhaps introduce my own book, plugged somewhere above LOL The best advice I feel I can give is that the author themselves will know deep down if they have what it takes, however, long that process for them will take. For anyone who really wants to write a novel but is perhaps afraid to begin or make a mistake, know that we've all been there and please, send out that short story or join that writer’s circle and never be afraid to share your work. Remember, it’s not the grammar or punctuation that stands out at the beginning; it’s your own voice, your own unique way of seeing things and sharing things, just as important as the next person’s, so don’t afraid to say whatever comes to your mind.

Julia Cameron, in her book “the artists’ way” speaks of morning pages, which is pretty much a notepad kept close by and in the morning when you wake, write three pages very quickly without dwelling, of whatever is on the tip of your tongue. Don’t look back, just, keep doing this for about two weeks initially. Well, let me tell you - those morning pages for me have turned into evening pages, night time pages, out and about pages, the beginnings of poems, short stories, character’s dialog. It is truly amazing what you can and will write when you allow yourself the freedom to do so. Most of all have fun; it’s what being creative and artistic is all about.

My very best wishes and high regards to all the aspiring Author’s and Writer’s here and good luck with that first book!

You can learn more about Michael here: http://www.facebook.com/MikeC.Bernard

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What do you think?

I received this from one of my readers:

Dear Usha

Thank you for the most informative emails that keep popping through my inbox. These are always very helpful.

May I query something with you? A friend has asked me to go over an ms in which the writer has used names of well known places and people but giving them a slight twist, e.g. Harrod's becomes Harood's, Buckingham Palace becomes Buck Ham Palace, and Westminster Abbey becomes Eastminster Abbey. The writer has also used well known first names of people and then added different surnames which are quite similar to the names of the real people, and has them doing the same jobs.

I am not comfortable with this and am of the opinion that the writer should rather make up names that are very different from the original ones as although the story is not libellous or defamatory in anyway it such doesn't seem right.
What is your opinion? I'd love to hear from you.


Since then, I posted it on Facebook and asked a couple of friends what they thought, and the general consensus has been: If it's a paying editing job and she feels there's no malice or legal complications which will arise from this, then she should take the job.

Others have written to me saying that it's very uncreative on the part of the author create characters using real first names and jobs. And, in certain instances, it can give rise to legal issues, especially if the characters are completely recognizable.

I know from writing for magazines that if you want to use a person's real name, you need to get them to sign a waiver.

So, what do you'll think? I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Making Millions With Ali Brown and Anne McKevitt

Were you on the recent call, "Your First Million: Keys to Creating Your Business Cash
Windfall,"
with Ali Brown and her business mentor, Anne McKevitt?

If for some reason you couldn't make it, Ali and Anne have announced a BRAND
NEW course, "50 Reasons Why You Haven't Made Your First
Million... Yet: Life-changing advice to redirect your financial
destiny" which lays out the specific things that may be blocking
you from massive success, and shows you, step-by-step, how to
overcome these barriers and create your million-dollar destiny.

=========================

"50 Reasons Why You Haven't Made Your First Million... Yet:
Life-changing advice to redirect your financial destiny"
8-Week Telecourse with Anne McKevitt
May 11 - June 29, 2010
Get all the details here now.

=========================

Here's a sampling of what you'll gain from this eight-part
telecourse...


*The 50 REAL reasons that consistently obligate people to a
lifetime of missed opportunities -- and the easy, conscious
solutions you can use to overcome these "unconscious" barriers
with brilliant results

*Specific tools and simple steps to creating "neural" pathways'
that redirect your financial destiny -- and what you need to STOP
doing right now that's getting in your own way

*How your vision AND your habits shape your future -- and
step-by-step strategies for creating the right habits to
fast-forward your business and personal success

*BONUS: You get specially-designed worksheets, forms, a
"mindmap," and daily log to keep you on track, PLUS transcripts
and MP3 recordings of every call!

=========================

Every day you wait is another day that those unconscious barriers
stop you from breaking through to your first million. This course is being offered only ONCE... and it starts on Tuesday, May 11.

I and three of my students will be registering for it, and if you'd like to, here's the link:
http://www.autowebbusiness.com/app/?af=992093

BLUEHOST
On another note, I'd like to thank those who've signed up for Bluehost using my affiliate link. I know you'll enjoy all the benefits of a great webhosting company, as do I, and millions of other users. I never recommend anything that I've not personally used, or believe in.

So for those of you who'd like to give it a go, here's the link once again: Bluehost


Love and Success!
Usha

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bookkeeping Basics For Freelance Writers

I admire my friend and writer Brigitte A. Thompson very much. She's the author of eight financial books including the just released Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers published by Crystal Press. If you find yourself making a good income as a freelance writer, but struggling to get your finances in order, this books helps you make sense of it all.

Brigitte is currently working on a new book, and takes some time to share her thoughts on Bookkeeping for Freelance Writers.

Tell us what Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is about.

Writers have many important questions to ask about income and expenses, but no single source for answers. I created this book, Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers, to be that source. It is an easy-to-understand guide to organizing a writer’s financial life.

This book addresses issues writers face daily such as how to deduct travel expenses, determine taxable writing income, and claim home office deductions. Navigating through the recordkeeping required for a small business owner can be difficult. This book is written exclusively for those of us who earn money by writing.

Readers will also find that each part of this book works together to assist in forming an overall business plan. The chapters take the writer through a comprehensive process that works as a building block towards a successful writing business.

Have you found that freelance writers require a different set of bookkeeping rules?

Many bookkeeping rules are universal such as the requirement to record income, but there are some areas of the tax law that are of more interest to freelance writers. This includes dealing with royalty payments, bartering, personal property and agent fees. My book addresses the universal tax rules as well as the infrequently discussed rules that apply specifically to freelance writers.

Learning how to document expenses and how to track income will give writers the best chance at overall business success.

What are some tax deductions that freelance writers might not be aware of?


There are many tax deductions available to writers. Some expenses are common, such as the cost of purchasing a case of paper or paying for a computer software upgrade. Other costs incurred in the operation of your writing business may not jump out at you as expenses when they could be. For example, consider the following accounts.

Mileage: Trips made in your vehicle to pick up office supplies can be counted as a business deduction if you record the proper information to support it.

Meals: Treating your agent to a restaurant meal with the discussion focusing on your next book can also generate a tax deduction when properly documented.

Shipping: UPS charges and postage used to mail a query or review copy of your book can be a small expense, but it should still be tracked. Those small deductions add up and every penny spent as a qualified business expense will reduce the amount of income tax you owe.

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers devotes an entire chapter to expenses including a comprehensive listing of expenses and detailed information regarding what documentation is required to support each one.

I'm sure you've observed other freelance writers making accounting missteps that cost them time and money. What are some of the most common issues and how can we avoid them?

The most common misstep I’ve seen with writers is not taking themselves seriously as business owners. This can lead to financial pitfalls. Many writers have been honing their craft for years so it’s hard to identify an official starting date for their self-employment. Without this point to mark the beginning, it is easy to put off tracking income and expenses. This can be an unfortunate mistake.

The IRS will consider you to be in business when you are actively pursuing projects intended to generate income and expenses. This means they will expect you to file a tax return to report those transactions. Keeping track of your income and expenses from day one will enable you to pay the least amount of income taxes on the money you earn.

Many people find numbers, especially when related to bookkeeping and taxes, intimidating. Will this book make these things easier to understand"?


Yes, my book breaks down complicated number crunching into easy to follow steps. By reading the book, readers will understand why it's important to keep certain receipts and how those pieces of paper factor into the overall success of their writing business. Sometimes knowing the reasoning behind a task makes it easier to complete.

Writers can take advantage of some wonderful tax deductions, but only when they are aware of the possibility and know how to accurately document the expenses. My book explains it all in a reader friendly format.

What are some of the challenges readers face with regards to bookkeeping?

I found the most common challenge writers face revolves around what they can claim as income and what counts as a tax deduction. For example, if their first job is writing the school newsletter, is the money received really income? Do they need to do something with the Internal Revenue Service before they can be considered a business? How do they handle self- employment tax?

The second most common concern for the freelance writers is related to proper documentation. What receipts did they need to save? How should they be kept? What information needs to be recorded to prove the expense? These are all great questions and they are addressed in the book.

Why is it important for writers to understand bookkeeping?


Writers are earning money and this money needs to be reported as income on their income tax return. If writers do not have any expenses to claim, their taxable income will be higher and they will owe more income tax.

Understanding what can be claimed as business expenses when you are a writer and how to properly document these expenses will help ensure the success of your business.

The most important thing you can do as a writer is to become organized. There are many books available on how to organize your writing, but this is the best book available about how to organize the financial side of your writing business.

Obviously, your book is a great place for writers to get information on bookkeeping. Are there are any other resources you recommend?


Yes, I recommend writers visit the IRS web site to research specific tax issues and the Small Business Administration for general business information.

I also recommend joining professional associations for writers such as American Society of Journalists and Authors, The Authors Guild and National Writers Union. There are many groups to choose from so consider the benefits of membership before joining.


How can we purchase your book?


Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is available through Amazon.com and my publisher. Any local bookstore can order my book by ISBN-10: 0963212389 or ISBN-13: 978-0963212382. List price is $17.95.

If you want to learn more about Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers, visit Brigitte’s Web Site for the Book.