Friday, June 17, 2011

Around the Word

Caveat editor: One of the biggest challenges of being a freelance wordsmith for hire, if not the biggest, is how to price your services. There is no one industry standard for rates or even agreement on the unit for charging (word? hour? project?). But there are some helpful benchmarks on the Web you can consult, and one of the best is put out by the Editorial Freelancers Association. The EFA recently updated their suggested rates for editors (h/t GallyCat) and we would encourage all  editor types to check out the new table if you have not seen it yet. We'd also be curious to get your feedback on their recommendations. How do they compare with what you are seeing in the marketplace?

Identi-defining your best dictionary: The explosion of instant information online presents today's writers and editors with seemingly unlimited sources for checking the meaning and usage of words. But now that we have moved from the era of OED to TMI, how are we to separate the word-nerd wheat from the chaff? This week Ragan surveyed the lexicographical landscape and offered a handy guide to determining which dictionary is best for your needs. The first step is to decide whether you're looking for a dictionary that's prescriptive (evaluating whether usage is accepted or not) or descriptive (which defines how the language is used- but is less inclined to rule out widespread usage.) Barabra Wallraff, author of "Your Own Words" and a member of American Heritage's advisory panel of writers, offers the following advice, "The best way to decide which book to buy is to check out a list of problem words, neologisms and other terms to see how different dictionaries handle them."

Lessons in literary perseverance: Feeling beaten down by the vagaries of the publishing marketplace these days? You might take some inspiration from this Philadelphia Inquirer article, which profiles some new writers who have gone to the extremes of creativity and persistence to market their books. Jen Miller lured a group of potential buyers to a rather unorthodox signing location, the front porch of the Princeton Inn, with just one tweet. Stephen Freid, whose book "Appetite For America," describes how Fred Harvey's service empire helped usher in middle-class tourism to the west, spent months setting up a train tour that would only stop at locations near or at Harvey's hotels and restaurants. At the stops he would arrange speaking engagements with historical societies and museums and viola! he had an instant audience. What are some creative ways you've taken to reach your audience?

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