The World of ‘Free’lance

Semantics can be tricky. The meaning of a word as defined by one, may be different to someone else.

I believe this is true of the word freelance.

To me, freelance is an employment path. The prefix being the operative term – freedom. Working freelance, I can work the hours I choose and be as creative as I wish with my company. Choosing freelance employment, I am looking to escape the monotony of working for a hive-mind corporation. This is more difficult for artists than others, believe it or not.

The downside of freelance employment – the sacrifice of certain benefits. Primarily, an hourly wage. That is what I believe, but I’m learning that for some freelance services, the word freelance means one is free yet still expecting to collect the same hourly wage. This seems like an oxymoron to me and certainly doesn’t fit into the freelance model as I understand it.

Cactus Moon Publications started out as Kal-Ba Publishing. An author and I decided to form a company modeled after a new capitalist idea. Collaboration vs Dictation. Certainly, our idea was risky. No collaborative model has been able to withstand the tidal wave of the current capitalist philosophy. Our idea sprang from the three-sided triangle or pyramid. All sides are equal, if not, the shape is no longer equal and no longer a pyramid. Our sole income would be made through our hard work and fair play with others.

Shortly after Kal-Ba was established, I lost my partner. In a very competitive and suspicious world, I sat on a life preserver with two authors; wondering whether I should sink or swim. If I chose to swim, it would be very difficult and risky. If I chose to jump, the authors will be let down and my reputation damaged.

Though a traumatic experience, I have learned much. I am a survivor above all else so I chose to swim. In this process, I’ve learned many lessons. One – freelance services are not what they seem and as an author please shop around.

My first experience with the current freelance model came when I sat in negotiation with an illustrator. My authors were debut and I, a brand new publisher with a maverick model. During the negotiations, the illustrator remarked, “I’m taking quite a cut in pay for this. Thirty dollars an hour is pretty low.”

Wait. An hourly wage? I didn’t know this was included. I want to pay for illustrations, not the hours it takes to create. And, who decides the hourly wage? Out of curiosity and frankly, shock, I asked what he was used to being paid. His response was equally stunning. “When I worked for the last company, I made fifty an hour.” Again, freelance. Are you working for that company now? And what makes you believe as a freelance illustrator you should be guaranteed the income you received when working for a large company? Maybe I am naïve, but I believe this expectation is crazier than starting a grassroots company, dwarfed by hundreds of others.

Authors are not paid by the hour. If they were, only the wealthy could afford to read their books. Truth. I guess this doesn’t occur to most as they read a delicious story or a very inspiring self-help. Including freelance illustrators and editors.

A good novel requires collaboration. Creativity is made more beautiful when others agree to offer their special talent. Nothing is free and no one should expect something for nothing. Authors should not expect services for free and freelancers should not expect the same hourly wage they received while working for The Man. I believe this and I am not ashamed or even worried it will affect my reputation.

CMP works with amazing illustrators, editors, and other collaborators all working for the same goal. Promotion and repeat clients. This is the Spirit of our company and as such, we will not compromise this model for anyone.

Listed on the bottom of our website is a tab for Collaborators. A list of collaborators who are working freelance for others as well. This is CMP’s idea of giving back. This is collaboration not dictation. A model where everyone shares to enhance the art of another.

Feel free to peruse our collaborators and connect for your services. I don’t put just anyone’s name on that list.

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The Art of Storytelling

Open book. Indians sit at wigwam on pages of open book. Adventure story

Storytelling has been buried under so much commercialization, the art itself is lost…even to the writer.

Melissa, editor for Revisions and Edits, and I were discussing how stories have been told generation after generation. Stories that have never made it into a book and often, the author is unknown. No doubt those stories are a compilation, a story evolving over each generation but rich, nonetheless.

Storytelling was used by our Ancestors for more than the passage of wisdom. Stories provided entertainment for the children during particularly difficult seasons and illnesses. Providing the lyrics when told through music.

Imagining a life in tribal days, there had to be some storytellers whose talent made stories more compelling. The tribal actors, telling stories through shape-shifting into various characters.Some storytellers undoubtedly drew more of an audience than others.

Even today, stories provide endless entertainment and storytelling is big business.

As a publisher, I am often torn between the storyteller and writing ability. Some of the best storytellers are the worst writers. I can be a difficult task, pulling the story from deep within, putting it to paper.

This is why CMP has collaborative editors. As a young publisher, we work with budding authors and require talented, intuitive editors to help bring the story to life. Finally, we require talented illustrators to capture the story’s image. A perfect pyramid in today’s model of storytelling. The author, editor, and illustrator.

Not every storyteller is a talented writer, conversely, not every writer is a talented storyteller. In CMP’s mind, the storytelling-pyramid is an act of reciprocation. We utilize everyone’s particular talent, sharing in the storyteller’s vision, enhancing the story through collaboration on the final manifestation…the novel. Working together, the author can hone the art of storytelling.

Storytelling being a timeless art, may manifest one way today and another in the future. When a writer sets pen to paper, there should be an intention for the story. If the intention is simply – I want to publish a book… this becomes the goal. Sales may be weak since the goal has been accomplished, no thought for beyond.

When writing a story, imagine this story being read more than one-hundred years later. Maybe the story is so compelling that it continues as a legacy for future generations…The Scarlet Letter is just one example of a story still being told over two hundred years later.

If the intention is to be a storyteller, write a compelling story that can be read for centuries and watch  its value grow organically. Your intention provided the fuel to catapult the story into the cosmos. Of course, accelerants will be required. Social media, events, networking…that is just an aspect of the storytelling industry.

This doesn’t mean that in this century, the story will gain the notoriety hoped for. There is never a guarantee because genres come in and out of season. Remember author, James Allen? He wrote As a Man Thinketh in 1912. I don’t know the intention behind his writing but the book has been reprinted and is  given to salesmen by one company as a motivational tool. Over one hundred years later.

Anyone can write, but storytelling is an art.

3D Writing

What learningstyles001his 3D writing and how can it make a best-seller?

3D writing is a style where all five of the reader’s senses are engaged. Sounds easy enough but is it? 3D writing uses the various learning-styles to reach a broader audience.

Educational experts have discovered important differences between learning styles among children. In doing this research, they’ve learned how incorporating all of the different styles while teaching, ensures the best comprehension of the material.

There are seven learning styles broken down into four categories: Visual (spatial), Aural (auditory-musical), Verbal (linguistic), and Physical (kinesthetic). Learn more about your own learning style here.

Without going into great detail about the styles themselves, you can see from the examples above and their short description, how each style retains information.

As writers, especially fiction, there isn’t always a desire to ‘teach’ so why is this important?

Although labeled as learning-styles, these methods of learning are also methods of comprehension. Important for a fiction-writer if they desire to keep a reader interested. 3D characters and scenes can draw readers from almost every selected learning-style. The best way to remember them while writing, is to incorporate all five senses. Readers love to use their imagination but unless we give them a picture and character to imagine, many will not finish a book.

A writer’s own learning style will be reflected in their work. For instance: A writer with a linguistic learning style will have an over-abundance of dialogue but the scene-descriptions and individual characteristics of the antagonist/protagonist will be weak. For aural writers, there will be a rhythm and glide to the writing with words fitting like a piece in a complex puzzle. The scene-descriptions are generally rich with olfactory description. The smell of spring, or scents from pine trees in the forest. On the other hand, their characters may tend to be a reflection of their own personality. Ultimately leading to staple personalities given different names in a different story.

None of this is an absolute, of course. There is no such thing. Having an awareness of the learning-styles can help a writer with their own weaknesses and help bring their book closer to a ‘best seller’ by piquing the interest of more readers.

 

Secrets of Bayboro

Traveling as a Teen…a Reflection

Lily.2016

Easter is a short three weeks away and everyone is preparing for a trip to see family. Smaller children, although bored more easily, can be a bit easier to tame on long trips. The teenagers, not so much. They want to pull away from the fray while the family, nostalgic for old times, continuously try to draw them back in to the fold. Cajoling and demanding, talking and fighting…I know sometimes, I would be tired of a trip before I left just trying to prepare everyone.

Saturn’s Moon Press just released their first audiobook this week. Secrets of Bayboro Mansion (Fiction YA, Mystery/Thriller) is our first experience with an audiobook targeted to a teen/young adult audience. As a publisher, I had to ask myself if a teenager would actually be interested in an audiobook. Yes, they love to listen to music…all day on their earbuds…but a story? Then a memory slowly developed and I had the answer to my question.

While growing up in the seventies, our family traveled often. More often than most since my father was in the military and we moved every two years then. Travelling in a car filled with three siblings, two dogs, and a cranky driver became a way of life for me.

I never minded the traveling until I started into puberty. Then, the smelly dogs, loud siblings and HORRIBLE music (my father loved the old-style country music…Conway Twitty, his favorite) caused me to become more obstinate and irritable than normal. This is not an acceptable behavior in a car packed with people, so I had to find an escape from my misery…books.

Books became a temporary escape from my mundane and irritating life. I believe this is where my love of books developed. I don’t know if I was born to love them as some would say, because at that age, I didn’t love anything until it served me in some way. Books became my counselor, my friend, and my teacher – all in one.

I never felt alone when I had a book in my hand.

So, returning to present time, I realize how an audiobook would have catapulted me to book-heaven as a teen. I could have closed my eyes and completely tuned-out, putting more imaginative and interesting stories into my world… if even for a moment.

By Lily Gianna Woodmansee; Executive Editor for Cactus Moon Publications