Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why you shouldn't give out free samples

I have posted before about my annoyance at people who ask me to create free samples for them, when I have many samples available on the Internet. It's a rude and unreasonable thing to ask. On Elance (and I think oDesk but I haven't checked), it's against the TOS to require or offer free work, even a mock-up, to be considered in hiring decisions. I recently reported someone for requiring free work (he had a book that needed editing and it seemed he was having every candidate edit a separate chapter...hmmmm) and his job listing was removed from the site.

Recently, someone on AbsoluteWrite posted this link, which gives another excellent reason to not give free samples to anyone. A legitimate publisher, whether in print or on the web, should be satisfied with your existing, already published samples.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Literary Showcase: I don't think so!

I received a friend request on facebook from Literary Showcase ( It's a place to upload samples in one place, where only registered publishers can see them.

On the surface, this seems like a good idea because uploading your sample supposedly allows many publishers to see it instead of sending out multiple queries, and you're only posting a portion of it so the whole thing isn't out there.

However, I have my reservations. First of all, they charge you $30 per sample you upload. Email queries are free and mail queries only cost, what $.42 I think a stamp is now? Secondly, why would publishers go on this site looking for material when their inboxes are flooded? Sure, it SAYS it has publishers signed up, but it's pretty easy to say that.

I ignored the friend request, and I don't see any reason to sign up or try this place out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Mini Outline

Some people like to do a complete outline of whatever they're going to write before they actually start writing. I don't like to do that--I like to just get down to business, although I usually have an informal outline in my head. However, sometimes I sit down to write a 1200-2000 word article and stress that I don't have enough material to fill it. What I have started doing recently is doing a quick brainstorm on the different section headings I want to cover and putting them in. Once I have that, I can see that I only need a couple hundred words (or whatever) per topic...which makes the whole thing much more palatable to approach. Give it a try!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

YouPublish: share and sell what you write

Michy referred me to a site this morning that I think has a lot of potential. It's called YouPublish, and it is a site that allows you to post your work, either for free or for a charge. They keep 50% of the proceeds...but hey, that's a lot less than traditional publishers!

This is pretty cool, because you can post things here you don't have another outlet for. I have some humorous first-person essays that don't really fit into what most magazines want, so this will be a good place for them. I may not make much on them, but if I sell even one copy, that's more than it made sitting on my hard drive!

I decided to try it out with one of my books, Budget Horse-keeping. I'll post each chapter for $1 for those who only want parts of it, then the whole thing will be available for a discounted price. Here's hoping it works for me...and you!

If you are interested in signing up to sell your work, please use my referral link. I'll receive a commission from your sales (out of YouPublish's half, not yours), and you will get the same if you refer your friends.

Please visit my profile there, and Michy's too!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Save Garbeau's!

If you live in the Sacramento, California area, you are probably familiar with Garbeau's Dinner Theatre. Sadly, they are in danger of closing! Here is a note from one of the owners:

Urgent and amazing news on Garbeau's!!

We have a final deadline and a final goal!! If we make $8,000 by Monday, March 16th, we stay alive and the landlord says he will renegotiate the rent in a way that will help us sustain Garbeau's through this recession!

If we do not raise $8k by Monday, Garbeau's is closed.

This is the final stretch and it's soooo close to being in our grasp! If you've been considering it, please attend Thursday's karaoke or the weekend's dinner theatre or family theatre.

This is it! Let's keep Garbeau's open! Please tell everyone and repost this on every Facebook, MySpace, online blog--everywhere!

Thank you all for all the support you've offered throughout this campaign!


Visit Garbeau's today at to see how you can help.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Helium Review

I mentioned some time ago that I decided to start writing for Helium. I didn't do a lot there until they started paying small up-front payments and empty title bonuses in December--at which point I started writing a lot more. I decided to write enough to earn $25 per month, which is the minimum payout. Of course, having more articles there means that I make a little more in trails, which is nice, but mostly for the ego because it's still not very much! Another nice thing about Helium is they sell articles in their "stock content" program, which has happened to me twice--two different articles have earned an extra $5 because someone read it and liked it and bought it. I retain the rights and the articles stay on Helium to earn more pennies and maybe even get sold again.

Is Helium a good place to earn money?

Well, Helium is a place to earn some money. Don't quit your day job purely to write for Helium, unless you live where the cost of living is very, very low and you have very, very low standards for living. Even if you have five writing stars, and it takes a long time to get there, you only get $2.50 in up-front payments plus $1 for empty titles. The performance pay is paltry, but it all does add up to a little bit of cash at the end of the month.

The best chance at making money is to do the Marketplace, where publishers are looking for articles for a bit better money. The competition is fierce--I've only sold one article there so far. However, you get a kill fee if your article is not selected and you have at least one writing star, and then you earn pennies on it. Everything I put on Helium I rework and put on Associated Content. I also take non-exclusives from Associated Content and put them up on Helium. Between the two, I end up making a somewhat less paltry rate per article.

What I like about Helium:

*No waiting for someone to review your work. It goes up immediately.
*Guaranteed payment, although it's small.
*Stock content sales
*Good place to get ideas for articles

What I do not like about Helium:

*Very low pay
*The rating system sucks
*No formatting, so it doesn't look as professional as other sites
*There's a lot of crap content

Check out Michelle L. Devon's thoughts on Helium in her
Month-Long Helium Challenge