2014: Books I read

2014: Books I read
  1. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
  2. The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (re-read)
  4. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton [book club]
  5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  8. Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (re-read)
  9. We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  10. Life After Life by Kate Atkins [book club]
  11. The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey [book club]
  12. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult [book club]
  13. Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois [book club]
  14. Sabriel by Garth Nix (re-read)
  15. Lirael by Garth Nix (re-read)
  16. Abhorsen by Garth Nix (re-read)
  17. Across the Wall by Garth Nix (re-read)
  18. The Happy Prince & Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
  19. Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
  20. The Chaplain’s Legacy by Brad R Torgersen [Hugo nominee]
  21. The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells [Hugo nominee]
  22. Equoid by Charles Stross [Hugo nominee]
  23. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie [Hugo nominee]
  24. Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross [Hugo nominee]
  25. Parasite by Mira Grant [Hugo nominee]
  26. The Double by Fyodor Doestoyevsky
  27. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  28. Clariel by Garth Nix
  29. Livid by Francesco Verso (translated from Italian)
  30. Maze Runner by James Dashner
  31. All You Zombies and other stories by Robert Heinlein
  32. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  33. Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  34. Mortal Instruments: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  35. A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  36. Stranger on a Train by Jenny Diski
  37. Inheritance by Lisa Forrest
  38. Moron to Moron by Tom Doig
  39. Book of David by Anonymous
  40. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
  41. My Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  42. Deeper Water by Jessie Cole
  43. The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
  44. The Call of the Trance by Catherine Clément (translated from French)
  45. The Hunt for Pierre Jnr by David M Henley
  46. The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon
  47. Manifestations by David M Henley
  48. Holiday in Cambodia by Laura Jean McKay
  49. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (re-read)
  50. Stories of Sydney edited by SWEATSHOP and Seizure
  51. A Man Made Entirely of Bats by Patrick Lenton

Some random stats:

  • 25 books by women; 24 by men; 1 anonymous (Book of David—presumed male but may be a collaboration); 1 mixed gender collection
  • Books from 10 series or parts thereof (throwing dirty looks at Jaclyn Moriarty and David M Henley who’ll have their respective third books of trilogies out in 2015)
  • 47 novels/fiction collections versus 4 non-fiction books (my quota of 3:1 went out the window when I read 18 novels before I picked up Murder in Mississippi)
  • 6 short story collections
  • 9 of these books were made into 11 movies in the last five years (that odd number brought to you by the three movies made from The Hobbit)
  • 18 books by Australian authors
  • 14 authors I’ve seen live at events

PayDay #2: What should I charge for my writing?

PayDay #2: What should I charge for my writing?

Having established that you don’t want to write for free, you need to figure out what you should charge (or accept, if you are not in the fairly privileged position of setting a rate).

I highly recommend Anthony Caruana’s posts on his blog Totally Freelance, particularly these three:

  1. Setting a pay rate
  2. There is no correct rate
  3. The Balancing Act of Setting a Rate

There are really three ways of looking at setting a rate:

  • What you need to earn
  • What you want to earn
  • What everyone else is getting

It very much depends on what kind of person you are as to which method you’ll find more appealing.

smart money frustration

Be smart about what you charge

Cost plus

This is easy if your life is fairly stable and you’re thinking of switching from an existing job to freelancing, or you have a part-time job you want to supplement with side work.

Tally up all your expenses (and I mean all your expenses, from rent/mortgage repayments and food and bills to discretionary shopping, travel and entertainment) from the last year. Add the tax that you paid. This is your base figure.

Now, add the amount on top of that that you would like to earn in the coming year; say last year you went to Queensland for your holiday (nothing wrong with Queensland… don’t snigger) but this year you want to go to Iceland. That’s eleventy-bajillion dollars more (trust me, Iceland is expensive, and that’s coming from someone who lives in Sydney).

Base figure + eleventy-bajillion = cost plus figure

Divide your cost plus figure by the number of hours you think you’ll be working this year (don’t forget to give yourself a few sick leave days and holidays!). Boom! There’s your hourly rate. Adjust for word rate if required.

Because this method is based on expenses, you can make gains or losses by shifts in your spending, whether involuntary (‘oh yay, a new tax’) or voluntary (‘I’m going to buy fewer Faberge eggs this year’). If you were pretty spendthrift last year but this year you’re planning an austerity budget, your cost plus figure might actually be a little inflated. But that’s okay, it’s a guide.

Pro: Gives you a hard minimum and a solid incentive to earn money.
Con: Dependent on spending habits/discipline.

Target salary

This is basically you saying ‘I want to earn a six-figure salary’ and then crunching the numbers until you get an hourly rate. Say you want to earn $100,000 and you plan to work 200 days per year. This means your target day rate is $500 and your target hourly rate is $62.50 (based on an 8-hour day).

Don’t forget that tax comes out of this and remember to account for the fact that there will be some hours of work where you won’t earn any money (doing admin etc).

Pro: Great if you’re an ambitious, goal-setting kind of person.
Con: May not be realistic.

External

Organisations such as the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Australian Society of Authors have a rate sheet you can use as a guide, though you need to check if the rates they propose work for you.

Information provided to writers’ resources like Rachel’s List, the Emerging Writers’ Festival and this anonymous Tumblr can also give you an idea of what other people are being paid and you can set your rate accordingly and/or slam your head into your hands and cry for all those starving writers.

Pro: Allows you to set a rate aligned with the market.
Con: Market could be (is) totally screwed and you won’t be able to pay your bills.

And another thing…

Some of the variables you might want to consider are:

  • Experience: Those new to writing (or new to a subject) may feel more comfortable asking for a lower rate to cover possible deficiencies in their knowledge/experience. Conversely, those who are highly experienced may simply be quicker at writing on a particular topic and therefore need a higher rate to compensate.
  • Expense of time: A fraction of your earnings should also cover your ancillary costs (administration, pitching, liaison, invoicing, chasing up invoices etc). Being more efficient at this is obviously good, but you can also add a little to your rate to compensate.
  • Time cost of money: Money that you have now is worth more than money you’ll get later. Remember this if you have a few slow payers on your books (for example. a quarterly magazine that pays 30 days after publication but requires copy 30 days before publication). Assess whether the wait is worth the rate.
  • Easy/painful client or topic: Ah, where would we be without pain pay? If it’s a topic you can cover but you find boring, perhaps push for a little more to make up for the unchallenging work. On the flipside, you might find a client who is a dream to work with, briefs well and pays on time and you may want to reward them.

What do you use to calculate your ideal rate?

PayDay Series

1: Should I write for free? 
2: What should I charge? [You are here]

Mad, bad, sad

Mad, bad, sad
renaissance-baby-swing

“None of these babies are even close to handling this other dickhead baby on a swing.” From 39 Renaissance babies who can’t even

This week has been… I’m a professional wordsmith and I can’t even—I cannot find or create a word that can actually describe what this week has been like. It’s been mad, bad and sad in immeasurable ways and as I’m trying to process things, other things keep coming up that are important, true, significant, relevant. So I’m sorry that this post is going to be a collage of musings rather than anything analytical.

Mad

Tony Abbott and Richard Flanagan Photo: Josh RobenstoneThe craziest things that have happened have happened to the Abbott government, mostly because they deserve it. First there’s Richard Flanagan and Bob Graham who, at the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards—usually a safe space for the PM of the day to do something positive and get in a few photo ops—pledge prize money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Asylum Seekers Refuge Centre respectively. It was one way to fire a shot at the foundations of this lunatic government: see all those things you’re not funding any more? We’ll fund them because you’re an arsehole for not valuing those things, and we’ll do it publicly too.

Then at the Human Rights Awards, once-upon-a-time Gitmo detainee David Hicks heckles Attorney-General George Brandis, possibly the strangest person to invite to speak at anything related to human rights. Apparently Hicks was there to support his lawyer, who was up for an award, and had no idea Brandis was going to be there to speak. When opportunity knocks…

Bad

I could keep you here for hours with a rant. instead, I’ll just give you a short list:

  • Not just the evidence of the CIA torturing people but the fact medical professionals assisted them (also, don’t read below the line).
  • Scott Morrison using detained children as a bargaining chip with crossbenchers to extract more immigration (read: refugee control) powers.
  • Malcolm Turnbull, that lying bastard, trying to filter the internet (to ‘protect copyright’) but not calling an internet filter an internet filter.
  • Tony Abbott playing the gender card for Peta Credlin. Not pretty.
  • Greenpeace setting back the plight of climate activists by trampling all over the Nasca lines. Idiots.

Sad

Stella Young, writer, comedian and disability advocate, died. The tributes to her last week were mostly heartbreaking with room for a laugh. The one thing that really hit me was this letter to herself, which appeared in Between Us: Words and wisdom from Women of Letters, curated by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire.

#writingwhilefemale, a hashtag Maxine Beneba-Clarke started, that shares the everyday struggles of writing while female. I’ve been fortunate in my career in comparison to a lot of the contributors and for that I am grateful.

Having to rearrange my dentist appointment (my third in two weeks) because the $1,417 I’ve paid to him so far, including an $800 splint that gave me a headache all Saturday, was pretty much my cash reserve for the rest of the month and I have no money until my clients pay my invoices. Yeow.