Ask The Expert

Do I Need to Pay Interview Subjects?

I'm writing a memoir for which I'm interviewing a number of people who were involved in the story, such as EMTs, witnesses, family members, friends, etc. The story is a very positive one, overall. My question is, do the interviewees need to sign any kind of a release to allow me to use the information they provide? I think they do, or should. But I can't find a standard release that seems to fit this situation-- the usual release that absolves them of any libel/slander arising from the book but also indicates they release all rights to receive revenue from doing the interview. And, if I do need to use such a release, where can I find one? …

Literary Journals – Non-Paying Markets?

What's your take on the literary journal market? In my research, most legitimate literary magazines and journals -- may of them nationally and internationally acclaimed -- are strapped for cash. Many of them only pay in contributor copies. But a lot of fiction writers -- even novelists who have managed to get published with a traditional publisher -- have contributed to them as a way to get their fiction out and to build a writing resume. When you say that editors should always pay, do you consider free contributor copies to be payment? …

When Writers Get Hate Mail

How do you develop the thick skin? I recently wrote an article for my site, it was actually for the chit chat or ramblings part where I change the content every week. At any rate, I wrote about my experience at a restaurant. Today, I received such a pretty harsh lashing from a reader. …

How Can I Attract Contributors?

I've been subscribing for a while, and now I am on the flip side of the job market. I am hoping to start a newsletter and wondering how to attract contributors. It is to be a "sharing" newsletter, so the writers need not be professional. I'll be the editor, and at least at first, the writers will not be paid. Do you have a place on your site where I can spread the word? If not, do you know where I can? …

Online Writing Guilds For Youth Writers

A gentleman who is trying to reinforce his daughter's interest in writing has asked me if I know of any online writing guilds for youth writers. All I could suggest was that you had something to do with Booklocker.com and I would see what else I could find out. I also mentioned he should to be on the lookout for a possible response from you. I'm forwarding your latest e-newsletter to him to give him a jump-start of sorts. …

Should I Buy a List of Email Addresses

Dear Ms. Hoy, Once I get an e-mag together, I still need to get a list, a starting point to get it out there. There's so much to choose from and not knowing what is good or not makes it very difficult. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks. I assume you're talking about buying a list of email addresses? Please don't do that. Most of those lists are lists of people who never authorized their emails to be sold. And, even if they had, emailing them about your book is still spam because they didn't request specific emails about your specific book. You'll need to start from scratch in building your own list. Sending out spam will destroy your reputation (and may result in you losing your website and ISP account). I offer a free ebook (http://www.writersweekly.com/index-starterkit.htm) for new WritersWeekly subscribers, which is always a good way to bring in new readers. …

Editor is Sitting On My Article…and My Money

I wrote an article for a well-known trade magazine and the editor said it would be in the fall 2003 issue. Then I sent more ideas and the editor said he was stressed running two magazines. I kept emailing him until I told him I was upset and I wanted payment. I sent him an invoice this week for a hundred dollars. He said he might be able to get my article published this fall. What should I do? Since they haven't yet published it, they may not owe you money yet. If they pay on publication, they can legally hold it and pay whenever (and if ever) they decide to publish it. You should check your contract. And, in the future, change your contracts to specify the pub only has xx amount of months to publish or they need to pay at that time rather than making you wait for publication. …

Husband Won’t Support My Writing

Dear Angela, I've always wanted to be a writer, but I'm embarrassed. Each time my husband catches me writing on the computer, he tells me it's a waste of time. I really want to write but his comments make me doubt myself. What can I do to show him how important it is to me? Jan Your letter really hit home with me and I've written added this topic to my feature article this week. See: http://www.angelahoy.com/writing/archives/001799.html

Looking For An Agent…

I am looking for an agent for my mother (78 yrs). Please help me / direct me to a source that will look at my mothers writings. Since there are thousands of publishers out there, as well as agents, we can't recommend specific publishers and agents for specific writers. I'm sorry. You might try looking for a reputable agent here: http://www.aar-online.org/

Internet Connection Through Cell Phone?

Wow, your article last week was really inspiring. I'd love to know more about how you got an Internet connection through your cell phone and how much it costs. My lack of knowledge on this has prevented me from traveling sometimes. I bought a laptop, but I'm forever chained to my desktop. Even if you don't have the time to tell me the details, maybe you can point in the right direction? Also, I'd love for you to keep us posted about your travels. I'm sure you'll do that. Thank you, Darla Bruno Richard answering here... We went with T-Mobile after reading this article, which reviewed all the cellular data services: http://www.jiwire.com/cellular-data-introduction.htm It is not the fastest, nor even the best coverage, but it was unlimited access for a flat monthly rate. Most of the other services charge you if you go over a certain quota. We're on so much that I was afraid we would hit the quotas and get stuck with extra charges (hefty ones, in some cases). Overall, it worked well. I wouldn't do any heavy surfing on it, but the connection was good enough to do email and to access the administration pages on our sites (which are fairly small in size). Though there was some signal drop in certain areas, generally it held steady as we tooled down the road. T-Mobile's coverage is pretty decent, especially along the major US highways. The big plus is it allowed us to work while in transit. Usually when we go on these road trips, everything piles up until we stop for the night. Cellular data service lets us keep on top of stuff during that normally "dead time" while on the road. It is currently the only reliable option for Internet access while in transit on the highway. It costs $29.99 per month for the service, and you have to buy a special card for $350 that fits into your laptop. (It is basically a cell phone without the "phone" part.) Details are on the T-Mobile site here: http://www.t-mobile.com/plans/default.asp?tab=internet

Did I Plagiarize?

I use the Internet as well as books and magazines for my research. However, a publisher recently accused me of plagiarism. He pointed me to websites that contained information very similar to mine. Either my notes were too similar to the original articles, or maybe I retained too much of the research material in my memory before sitting down to write. I'm not sure if I plagiarized the works or not. Can you tell me what is and is not plagiarism? …

How to Obtain Items in the Public Record

I want to learn more about what is "public record" so that I will have the confidence to walk into city hall or the court house and ask for records. Often times, small town folks who work in these offices don't even know what the law is and I find myself not educated enough on this matter to push the issue or know where exactly to look for information. I don't really want to take a law class. Surely there is some place the information is available for writers. …

Can You Quote Speeches?

Thanks for the info on the songs. How about quotes from speeches? Does the same rule apply if I use a famous quote from a person who is still alive? Thank you. Karen You can quote people briefly (note how the newspapers quote speeches liberally). However, you may encounter trouble if you use someone's quotes to make a point in your article that is NOT about the speech itself. If you make it appear the person is somehow endorsing your ideas in your article, that could get you into trouble if they have not given their permission for you to use their words in that context. …

He’s Threatening to Sue Me, But I Told The Truth!

I posted a complaint about a publisher on a website and it was all true. But, the publisher is now threatening to sue me for libel. I'm not willing to remove the story and offer a "public apology" as he demands. I was all true, but I'm still afraid. I can't afford a lawyer. What should I do? …

I Need to Hire a Marketing/PR Person…

Dear Angela, I am in the process of getting my second book published. Nine publishing houses now have it in their hot hands. I am patiently awaiting responses. In the meantime I am looking to hire someone who is "genius" with on-line marketing. Can you lend your expertise to lead me in the right direction? Many blessings and thank you in advance. Maureen Moss Author of The Nature of Bliss: Balance, Love, Integrity, Sexuality, Soul http://www.TheNatureofBliss.com Please contact http://www.patronsaintpr.com. We know the owner, Steve O'Keefe, for years, and he's a super guy. …

Four Years to Publish a Book?!

I signed a book contract in November of 2001. My book is still not out. Supposedly it's in cover design and I haven't seen it or seen blue lines. So I know we still have quite a ways to go. Also, and more concerning, is now that I understand publishing contracts more, I see there is no publication date listed on the contract. There is no clause that says when it will be published or how long before I can pull out because she does not publish it. It only indicates what will occur if it NEVER gets published. But there is alot of time between November 2001 and NEVER. Another writer with them says she's on four years. Customary and reasonable amounts of time listed in the Writers Digest says one to two years. What in the world can I do? SL Brown, MA One year is average; two years is pushing it. Three to four years? Holy cow! I'd be furious! Authors should always add a "publication date no later than xx, or rights revert back to author..." clause to their contracts. Otherwise, they may wait forever. You can try threatening the publisher with exposure about their horrible contract and slow operations if they don't return your rights. If other authors and agents knew it takes that long to publish with that firm, nobody would submit to them and the quality of their inventory would suffer greatly. They may even go out of business. Unfortunately, with no dates promised in the contract, you will probably need to hire an attorney to try to get out of the deal. Or, the publisher may be in financial trouble and may welcome an offer to terminate that contract. It can't hurt to ask. I'd really like to know the name of that publisher. We may already have complaints about them on file. …

Home Office Tax Issues

I'm trying to make freelance writing a larger part of my income this year but my head is already spinning thinking about the tax issues having a part-time, at-home business will cause. Can you suggest a good book or website that can answer my questions (as to what's deductable as a business expense if you have a part-time business, what legally you have to do to establish yourself as a business, etc.)? …

Two Different Rates For The Same Words

I have written for a national publication and was told by the senior editor that the pay per article was $50. I received that amount for my first article for them. I have two more deadlines to write for this magazine --two articles that I pitched. This magazine had a listing on another website and I contacted that person, who is the deputy editor, to inquire on what they were looking for and what they paid. She emailed me back saying they pay a flat rate of $350 for the same amount of words I am supposed to write for the next two articles. …

“Can My Family Sue Me?”

I have a million story ideas, many of them based upon my own wonderful (and dysfunctional) family or my wonderful (and dysfunctional) friends and relationships. I am scared to use this material, as I suspect the origin of my ideas will be obvious. How do you use this incredibly valuable and fascinating material without offending everyone you love? …

Where can I find a good editor?; Should I pay an agent?; Selling essays now hurt future book?

Where can I find an editor? I am currently writing a book and need to find someone to edit it. Do you have any suggestions? Please click above for a list of freelance editors we recommend. Should I pay an agent? Hi Angela, I have a question. A literary agent is interested in representing my books, but charges a fee. Is this a normal practice? They have a listing on editors and predators as a bad agency... Will selling my essays as a column hurt future book possibility? I hate to bug you like this, but you really are the only person in the world who seems to have answers to some of the thornier questions we blossoming freelancers sometimes face... …

Q&A

Due to the short holiday week, this issue is abbreviated. Ask the Expert will return to this spot next week. You can read last week's Q&A at HERE. …

How to protect children’s privacy in stories

I've enjoyed your magazine for the past couple of years, both informative and entertaining. I've seen the columns where you "give advice" and I could use a little help myself. I write fiction and my wife has just caught the "writing bug" and has decided to write about her adventures with our two kids and six foster kids. In this day and age, legalities abound, so can you tell me if we can we use the children's real names in her stories? …

Becoming a Correspondent / Book Proposal Help

~Becoming a "Correspondent"~ I've been a subscriber to your newsletter for quite some time. I was in California writing primarily for local/regional pubs, but we are now in Las Vegas, NV. I'm trying to get some work with local pubs, but the going is slow. I also have a 17 month old at home, so finding time to make contacts, put together clips, etc., is rather difficult. ~Book Proposal Help~ I've completed a Biography/Memoir and need to know is where (online, bookstore, library) I can find market statistics on the book sales of similar books and/or competitors? …

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