Subscribe to Your business

Your business

What to do on a writer's retreat

Tropical boat house

If you've ever considered going on a writer's retreat, Melanie Bishop has some advice for you: Don't get so focused on the work that you forget to recharge your creative powers with a little bit of play as well: "Productivity is certainly one goal of a retreat. But there are other desired outcomes, such as returning home rested, relaxed, and energized by the time away. The goal is not to return home as though you’ve just pulled a week of all-nighters in a row."

Freelancers review their customers

Woman using laptop

Carlett Spike surveyed freelancers about their favorite outlets to work for and the most popular ones included some familiar names and others you might not have heard of: Mel magazine, Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Times, Quartz, the Guardian, and the New Yorker. Spike writes, "We focused on pay, the editing process, turnaround time, and the ability to maintain a relationship with the publication."

When your book needs an agent

Book contract

Jane Friedman offers advice to aspiring authors on literary agents — when you need one, when you might not, and how to avoid missteps in etiquette: "Virtually no New York publisher accepts materials directly from authors; it has to be agented. If you try to submit without an agent, your work is most likely to go straight into the trash can (either literally or digitally). But this question can be a little more complicated than it first looks."

The good and bad of writing online

Laptop and writing paper

Laura Hazard Owen interviews Manjula Martin, whose "Who pays writers?" site tracks freelance pay rates. They discuss the hazards of Twitter for writers, recent cutbacks at Medium, and how the Internet has helped and hurt writers at the same time: "So here’s the thing about the Internet setting you free, right? The Internet can set you free, but it can also set free those who may want to exploit you for your work. It’s like a giant free-for-all, catch-all, venue."

When it pays to hire an editor

Edited manuscript

A growing number of writers are using professional editors, but they're not always using them for the right reasons, Jane Friedman writes, before listing three reasons to consider doing so: "If you’re hoping an editor will wave a magic wand and transform your work into a publishable manuscript overnight, you’ll be disappointed by the results. But if you feel you’ve come to the end of your own ability to improve the work, you’re more likely to benefit."

Why working from home works better

Laptop on outdoor table

People who work from home have fewer distractions than their office-bound colleagues and can communicate just as effectively with their co-workers, Suzanne Zuppelloa writes in a takedown of remote work myths: "Misconceptions and stigmas persist about remote work — things like work attire (Do remote workers even get dressed?) and level of commitment (If they can’t be bothered to get to an office, they can’t possibly care that much). It’s time to put stereotypes to rest."

How to negotiate creative control

Hand signing contract

It's an author's nightmare — a book that gets changed, and not for the better, before getting published. Matt Knight explains how authors can protect themselves: "While cooperation and mutual consent should be the goal standard (because competent editors will improve a manuscript), at the very least, you should demand to be consulted about all changes in the manuscript, whether for style or substance, and that the content not be inherently changed without your consent."

On managing expectations for a book

Bestsellers sign

Former Doubleday publicist Andrea Dunlop offers advice to aspiring authors on managing their expectations and setting realistic and achievable goals for their work: "First: a reality check. If you include self-published titles, somewhere around 4,000 books are released every day. Bestselling authors are outliers on the level of Hall of Fame baseball players. I don’t say this to discourage you, only to encourage you to set more realistic standards for yourself."

Do you still need your own website?

Website on iPad

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn draw a growing share of web traffic, but Donna Talarico writes that authors still need websites: "I’ve overheard and read online conversations in which people say authors no longer need websites. I argue, strongly, that is not the case. Authors who choose not to create an online space they can completely control are missing an ideal opportunity to promote themselves and connect with their audience." She includes tips for creating a site.

Searching for a freelance book editor

Editor correcting manuscript

If you're thinking about using a freelance editor for your next book, Maya Rock has some tips on finding a good one, such as this one on seeking out testimonials and references from an editors' other clients: "Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Just be aware that the relationship between freelance editors and their clients is very private — many clients request confidentiality. Still, others are happy to give feedback." Also, asking for a sample edit.