FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Hi again, writer friends,
A few months ago, I had a call with an editor about working together. He walked me through the various verticals and told me he usually prefers freelancers to stick to one or two because then he can send them assignments. I told him I wanted technology and education, but really, I was open to anything that wasn’t luxury or lifestyle.
This surprised—and delighted—him. Nine out of ten freelancers he spoke to, he said, asked for luxury and lifestyle. So he has tons of writers for those beats, but not enough for many of the others. Which means there are a lot more assignments on “less desirable” beats to go around. And fewer pitches to compete with.
This wasn’t strategic (I truly have no interest in writing about luxury and lifestyle), but I’ve learned that offering to write about obscure or complicated topics that no one else wants to research can be a fantastic way of finding incredible stories and getting more assignments. For one agency, I was the writer who specialized in “agriculture in the developing world.” When those assignments came, they were mine and because I was the only one on their roster who wanted to do them, the agency was happy to pay almost double my rate.
As a freelancer, one of the best things you can do is ask your editors which areas or topics interest them but don’t get pitched enough. You can easily walk away with multiple assignments from that one conversation.
Two more deadlines and I’ll have finished all my assignments for September. Then I have a two-day date with my bed.
Enjoy the issue!
Natasha Khullar Relph
Editor, The Wordling
THE WORDLING RESOURCE
UK AGENTS DATABASE: Work is ongoing on our Agents database. Over time, we intend to give each agent their own page with up-to-date details of what they’re looking for, links to their recent sales, what’s been written about them in the media, and feedback from authors on what it’s like to work with them.
In the meantime, we’ve put together a complete list of UK literary agents. Take a look here.
PUBLISHERS EYE BOOKTOK
Earlier this month, Penguin Random House announced a new deal with TikTok that lets people link to books in videos using the BookTok hashtag while also working with various creators to curate content, Digiday reports.
Why it matters: BookTok has been a game-changer for the publishing industry with views of the hashtag rising from 21 billion in November 2021 to 60 billion by July and 77 billion today. Publishers and bookstores have been jumping on this trend, especially because regular channels of book discovery such as book reviews and bookstore recommendations no longer hold the same weight they once did.
Key takeaway: As an author, your book needs to be on BookTok. But, and this is where TikTok differs from other social media platforms, you as the author don’t necessarily need to be. With publishers, bookstores, and content creators doing a far better job of creating buzz on TikTok, authors are better served by learning how to tap into the conversation, rather than starting the conversation on their own.
(Next week, we’re publishing an interview with a TikTok expert who will show you how to promote your book on TikTok without needing to create content for the platform. Don’t miss it.)
Earlier this year, at The Self Publishing Show conference, the entire audience broke out into applause when a panel of Amazon executives were questioned about their ebook return policy. The policy, which allowed US readers to return ebooks within seven days of purchase (14 in the UK) for a full refund regardless of the amount read, was causing author incomes to drop. Although a trend on TikTok encouraged users to exploit this loophole to get free books, Amazon told conference attendees they had seen no drop in numbers and received very few complaints. This was verifiably untrue. (I wrote about it here.)
Last week, the policy was reversed. After pressure from several organizations, including the Authors Guild in the US and the Society of Authors in the UK, Amazon has announced that the automatic returns policy will now only apply to purchases “where no more than 10% of the book has been read.”
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CASEY MORRIS ON USING LINKEDIN
TO GET MORE FREELANCE WORK
The editor of Home.com talks to Natasha Khullar Relph about using LinkedIn to get more freelance clients, how to become indispensable to an editor, and finding time for your creative work.
WRITERS WANTED: NINE DOTS PRIZE
The Nine Dots Prize is a prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary societal issues. Entrants are asked to respond to a question in 3,000 words, with the winner receiving US$100,000 to write a short book expanding on their ideas.
The aim of the Prize is to promote, encourage and engage innovative thinking to address problems facing the modern world. The name of the Prize references the nine dots puzzle—a lateral thinking puzzle which can only be solved by thinking outside the box.
We launch again with a new question on 7 October 2022. Visit this page to find out what it is.
When you think you have to write something, you’re over-complicating it and putting too much pressure on yourself.
Don’t write. Tell a story.
Always, just tell a story.
HONG KONG: In early September, a Hong Kong judge found five speech therapists guilty of publishing seditious children’s books, the BBC reported at the time. “Their books—about sheep trying to hold back wolves from their village—were interpreted by authorities as having an overtly political message.” After the Wall Street Journal published an editorial condemning this, the government responded. “Any suggestion that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the freedom of expression… couldn’t be further from the truth,” the statement said in part.
FRANCE: “France plans to impose a minimum delivery fee of 3 euros ($2.93) for online book orders of less than 35 euros to level the playing field for independent bookstores struggling to compete against e-commerce giants,” Reuters reports. “A 2014 French law already prohibits free book deliveries, but Amazon and other vendors such as Fnac have circumvented this by charging a token 1 cent per delivery. Local book stores typically charge up to 7 euros for shipping a book.”
SAUDI ARABIA: “Saudi Arabia has long been considered a closed book market, but the past few years have seen the country open to more international collaboration, as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program, which aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop such public service sectors as education, health, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. As part of this, the new Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission (LPTC) was established in the government’s ministry of culture with a mandate to foster more publishing activity in the country. Professional education for publishers is part of that agenda.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We turn to stories and pictures and music because they show us who and what and why we are, and what our relationship is to life and death, what is essential, and what, despite the arbitrariness of falling beams, will not burn.”
– Madeleine L’Engle
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