Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What's Going On

Thought I'd share bits and pieces about the various things I'm working on and other day-to-day business issues.

Current projects:

For pay, I'm busy writing K–12 curriculum materials and children's book reviews, and I'm about to edit a couple of books. I am comfortably busy in the short term and looking for more work to do later this fall/winter.

For free, I'm still working with EFA's Education Program. I've put together the Fall 2007 season, and we'll announce the schedule by early September. I'll post details here, too, when all is officially official.

Some good news:

That book contract issue I mentioned a few weeks back? Well, the publisher agreed to terminate our two agreements. And I'm getting what I asked for — to keep my advances on both novels and for all rights to the works to revert to me. That means I can sell them (or try to) to another publisher or two. I'm happy for the resolution and can't believe I let the situation go for as long as I did.

I'll let you know when I get the final paperwork. It's been just over a month since I sent my letter and 3 weeks since the publisher said someone would handle the request "next week." In the meantime, I've become reacquainted with both manuscripts. Read 'em, marked 'em up a little. They were designed for a very specific audience and will need reworking before I start querying appropriate publishers. I'll enjoy that, though.

The nays have it:

I made a pact with myself at the beginning of the year to say no more often. Last year, I took on too many jobs for lower pay than is typical. They were great projects, don't get me wrong. That's why I said yes — to do interesting work and get ins with new clients. But I ended up agreeing to do more and more of the same to try to keep my income at a good level. It's so easy to get caught up in the cycle because once you've said yes to several projects of one type, well, you're at the top of the list for those clients and also not available when more lucrative jobs come along. Editors really have no problem finding someone else, and if that someone else does a good job it is just as easy for an editor to keep calling her instead of digging your number out of her piles, I mean, files.

When all was said and done in '06, the return on my efforts just didn't satisfy. The money was only one source of dissatisfaction. For example, I did too many all-weekend and all-night writing sessions (these are best handled by college kids, trust) — the very type of situation I'd learned to avoid as a mature professional with good organizational skills. Yet there I was, writing more, for less, and feeling like there was no time to take a breath and get myself back on another track.

It's August '07 now, and the frenzy from last year ended in about March. Some things are still settling as I reconnect with previous clients, negotiate higher fees with some lower-paying clients, close out dead deals (see the good news above), say no to many of the people my lower paying clients referred to me (birds of a feather 'n' such), try to sell myself to new clients, and just generally recast myself as a more proactive businessperson. Which leads to . . .

Creating my own work:

For the first time ever since turning to full-time freelancing, I've started dedicating tangible time to my own pet projects. And I'm letting that effort count toward my workday. This is HUGE for me. I am lucky to have enough reliably steady work to allow me to work self-initiated pursuits into my time, but Lady Luck has nothing on hard work. And I decided that it's high time I started rewarding myself for the many years of effort that got me to this point. Now that I'm in my fabulous (early) 40s and have let go of (lots) of my driving need to sometimes do what I think other people think I should do — I can do just that without feeling the need to apologize. It feels good, and I really love the entrepreneurial buzz it gives me. Plus, the reward I'm talking about is still work. So. There.

Current personal projects that I hope to place with publishers and/or present to the positively pretty public include:
  • The two middle-grade novels I need to rework. One is a mystery, the other is an adventure story.
  • A book about writing that's half done. I'm sending out the proposal by the end of August.
  • A historical fiction book I've been preparing to write for 15 years. This is the biggest thing I've ever worked on, so it's creatively satisfying and very, very, very scary. I'm updating my research and outlining it right now.
  • Two new web concerns. I'll leave it at that — although I will say that they fit in with my professional profile — and give full details as I launch the new sites over the next year or so. I'm very excited about this path and hope I have the stuff to make these ideas work. Right now I'm in the process of determining how much help I need/can afford/can't afford to not get to realize the sites I've sketched.
  • A YA novel that incorporates two very distinct perspectives on the same year; I'm most excited about the twisty end.

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