Ask The Expert

Should I Bid on Writing Jobs?

As a freelancer, I am used to editors and publications stating that they will pay flat fees for a certain word count or pay so much per word, but I have come across a situation that is new to me and my circle of writing friends. A local business with international contacts is looking for freelance writers. This business does quite a bit of work with government and commercial contracts and the freelance work is for a company publication which will go out to employees and retirees. I have submitted a resume and clips to them and now the department which solicits bids needs to contact me. At this point I will be asked to submit bids regarding the articles possibly based on word length or even number of sources. How should I approach this as I am unfamiliar with what would be a good market rate and what if they want a bid based on something other than word length or type of article? …

How Do I Know If It’s Selling or Not?

There are some writing sites where you can purchase a writer's story, and the site owner gets a cut, and so does the writer. Well, I put one of my previously sold stories up at the site, but I am getting very suspicious of the site owner/editor just because of some things that I will keep to myself for now. …

I Didn’t Sell All Rights!

Occasionally I freelance for the local newspapers and, per my contract, I retain the rights to the story. However, I've found my stories on "research" sites. Can I approach these sites for unauthorized use of my work (it's the "research" part that's throwing me off)? Until I started freelancing full-time last year I was pretty lax on rights, but now that it's my sole livelihood, I'm trying to be more vigilant. Any light you can shed on the topic would be appreciated. …

How Much Do Ghostwriters Charge?

A chaplain I know has approached me about ghostwriting a book on his experience in overseas last year. I've never ghostwritten professionally before, and I'm concerned that websites I've surfed for information on ghostwriting may be money-making businesses rather than true ghostwriting sites for real writers. Do you know where I can find some valid information on going rates for ghostwriters, how they get paid, if the proposal costs extra or should be included in the total cost, etc.? …

Something We All Wonder About On Occasion…

I enjoyed reading your excerpts from the world's worst book proposals and it brings up again for me the question of why writers who write badly think they write well. As I've participated in writer's conferences and workshops, I've encountered a number of people who fit this category, and it boggles my mind how people can write for years and produce any number of book-length manuscripts without a clue as to their lack of ability. Agents, editors and self-publishing services such as yours must be constantly inundated with queries from people like this. What gives? …

Can You Recommend An Editor?

I love your site. It's very fun and informative. Do you know of a good manuscript editing service? …

What’s The Secret To Selling Books Online?

While I consider myself a fairly good salesperson, I am eighty years old and wonder if self-marketing is for me. I wonder if I have the physical energy to get involved in self-publishing. At the same time I have come to trust WritersWeekly in a number of areas. But I still wonder, Can an old man market a book? …

Where Are Your Archived Paying Markets?

I was wondering if there is a way to access markets older than last week? I recently saw a listing for a trade magazine looking for articles about good employee management practices but now I can't find it! …

This Writer REALLY Got The Shaft…After 5 Years!

In 2001, I signed a contract through my agent, and began working with an editor at the publishing house that accepted my proposal. After I delivered the manuscript and received half of my advance, the editor told me that she proposed my manuscript to the company as a hardcover rather than the gifty small book I'd proposed. Great, I thought. The bad news was that it would have to wait another season. Then it was pushed back again because she claimed that she hadn't figured out what the art should be yet. At that point, we were talking two years. But I didn't think that meant never. …

Where’s that DeadBeat Editors Letter Again??

Dear Angela, I am an avid reader of your newsletter and it has inspired me to get back into the freelance game this year. I recall seeing a letter for writers who have deadbeat clients who try to get out of paying. However, I've searched your site and can't locate it. I need it now and wonder if you could direct me to it's location. Thanks so much! Dawn It's here: http://www.writersweekly.com/the_latest_from_angelahoycom/002330_01122005.html

Copyright Questions

Can you answer copyright questions, or refer me to someone who is knowledgeable? I have two questions: 1. I write information articles for a corporation, under an executive's byline. Most of the work is done through email, with no contract. If the company refuses to pay for a particular article - let's say they claim I failed to do adequate research or did not submit a second rewrite - can I claim copyright infringement because of their use of my material of someone else's byline? (Or do they protect against that by thoroughly revising the final draft?) 2. I write press releases for a nonprofit org as a volunteer, and submit to the PR manager via email attachments. The releases are published online (and in print) with the PR manager's name, not mine. Sometimes they are revised without my knowledge before publication. I discovered the org used entire paragraphs from "my" releases in a monthly magazine. Should they 1) give me a byline and/or 2) pay me for the additonal use? My request for information about this was ignored. The magazine does not hire freelancers - articles are written in-house. …

Who Provides Your Medical Insurance?

I searched many different ways in your newsletter to find your information about the family medical insurance. My friend needs insurance to span the gap between now and Medicare. …

MJ Rose Helps Author With “Reel To Market” TV Program Question

I've loved your newsletter and website for years -- you're a great authority on the writing life. I have a book coming out in the spring, and my publicist has asked my co-author and I to create a reel to market to TV programs. Have you any suggestions for resources for writers wanting to create such a thing? I have no sense of the necessary production values, how long it should be, format, etc. I have searched and searched and can't find any information on the web. Any wisdom would be much appreciated -- an E-book, an article, a regular book - I'm just seeking some pointers on this. Thanks so much! …

Should I Pay To Enter A Writing Contest?

My question has to do with entry fees to contests. Are they now standard when you see a contest that you might consider entering? I'm slightly confused by that, because essentially isn't that just another roundabout way of paying to get your writing read or published? …

A Letter to the Editor Criticized My Article!

I recently landed two articles in a mid-sized magazine, and when reviewing the second noticed a letter to the editor tearing apart my first article. The letter was quite vitriolic, there were no counter-opinions expressed, and I was never contacted for any rebuttal. I have to admit to bruised feelings since even though everyone is entitled to an opinion, I had hoped I might have been backed up with a balanced opinion or even a chance to respond to letter writer. …

That All-Too-Common “Life Threatening Illness” Excuse…

I sent a magazine a story a couple years ago now, and after repeated follow-ups (I'm a pretty patient person still working toward my first print fiction clip), I got word this summer that they had accepted my story for publication in their next issue. The e-mail said that their publisher had been in a life-threatening accident and was recovering, but they thought the next issue would be out soon. That was in July. I sent them an e-mail again in November to request an update as to when that issue would be coming out, but I haven't received a response yet. In the past, I always got a response within a couple days. I can't find any info about them when I do a web search, but they are listed in the 2006 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market. …

Should I Contribute To This Celebrity’s Book?

I'm curious. What happens to the unpaid (except in signed copies of the book) contributors when a well-known celebrity publishes a book with the stories and "wisdom" from ordinary writer folk? Do the ordinary folk get any publicity or press in the ensuing publicity tour? Does it hurt/help a writer to have their selections published in someone else's best seller? I've been selected to have a story I wrote published in a celebrity's book and folks are asking ME what happens and I have to say, I honestly don't know! Can you clue me in? …

Is My Old Publisher Illegally Selling My Book?!

My book was first published by another Print on Demand company. I've since had it printed elsewhere. Just this morning whilst searching the Heathrow Airport website for book retailers to contact in the course of my marketing strategy, I came across my book title, the old version, on Amazon.com, selling for …

Should I Submit Articles To An Article Mill?

I was wondering if you have anything positive or negative to say about those sites that ask writers to submit articles for resale. The sites then post them and let other companies buy the articles for publication. …

Should I Let Sources “Check” My Article? NO!

I write non-fiction articles and every once in a while I have an interview subject who wants to review the material before it is published. I feel uncomfortable doing this because when I have allowed it, they want to change quotes that I know they have said. How do you suggest I handle this? …

What Exactly Is A Vanity Press?

I have a question... I recently finished a fantasy novel and I am in the midst of looking for an agent and a publisher. I received an offer from a publisher, but the details are that I need to pay $1500 first, and according to the contract, the onus of marketing is on me (they do cover art, editing, printing, and I think I get 100 books). They'll do SOME marketing but it reads that most of it is my responsibility. One friend says this is a vanity press. I've contacted a couple of authors who have been printed with this publisher and both of them raved, very positive. It's the $1500 part that bothers me and how many books it takes to make that back. …

Should I Write On Spec?

In my 20 years as a writer, I think only once have I written something on speculation (and that was before I accumulated hundreds of clips). I recently approached a new publication with an article idea but the editor would like to see the complete manuscript (1,000 words) first. I'm assuming she means on speculation. I've emailed her back asking her if this is what she means. In the meantime, what are your thoughts about writing on spec? Someone advised me to draw up a little "on spec" contract so that the editor has a time limit for making a decision to accept the piece or not and that if they decline, I'm free to pitch it elsewhere. …

Who Owns Copyright To Old Letters?

A student in my "Write For Dollars" class asked this question, and I was unsure of the answer. I told her I would "check with the expert." At a recent garage sale she purchased several letters that had been written between husband and wife during World War II. She wants to use portions of these letters in a creative nonfiction story, but does not want to alter the principal characters' "real" names. Her question: Is this legal? Is it ethical? Does she have an obligation to consult or discuss her plans with family members of the deceased couple prior to publishing? Would family members of the couple have a right to reclaim these letters once their existence was made public? (They were sold by a son who is estranged from the rest of the family.) …

Still Confused About What Is And Isn’t Spam…

I read your article, Angela and I'm still confused. It was my understanding that I could email friends, family or someone with whom I have an existing business relationship, without it being considered spam. I was planning to add an opt in box on my website, but also from time to time to mail to a group of people known to me, probably using Constant Contact. Please clarify. …

Can A College Make Copies Of My Book Without Permission?

I have a question about copyright law and have been unable to find out the answer. Twice now professors have photocopied an entire book I wrote, to use as a class textbook. Each made 30 to 40 copies, which they gave to their students. Because copyright law mentions "educational institutions", I'm not sure if this is considered "fair use" or not... …

How Can I Get Amazon To Change My Listing?

What would be helpful, I think, would be to provide some guidance about HOW to get Amazon's attention, should we find such problems. Tackling that behemoth is daunting, especially, when one can spend a lot of time just figuring out how to e-mail them in a useful way. …

Changing Your Name After Being Published

I have been published for about three years in a niche market. I will be getting married and want to change my last name. How can I be sure that people will know I'm still me? …

Need Co-authoring Contract

I was recently contacted by an agent concerning my first book that I have written. I wrote the book but did receive ideas, comments and critiques from one of my friends during weekly brain storming sessions. We have a friendship agreement to split any profits 50/50, minus expenses, I have but I feel like I need some type of contract signed before I send out my proposal to the agent later this week. I was wondering if there was a website with example contracts I can pull from and get this taken care of. …

Richard Answers Question About Amazon’s Used Book Sales

I'm writing in regards to the amazon.com zshop listings for sellers that sell books. The information for the sellers has a line that states purchase information with a quantity. Does this indicate that they have purchased this quantity of books? …