How to Negotiate a Writing Contract

I was supposed to be at MagNet this week, talking about strategies writers can use to negotiate better terms in their writing contracts. But that was before I was sidelined by a nasty bout of vertigo. (The good news is I'm already starting to feel a lot better. The bad news is that I had to miss out on all the conference fun.) I was really hoping to share these two handouts during Wednesday morning's session. Since I wasn't able to do that in person, I figure I would share them online. Hope you find them useful.

Related links:

Why I Am No Longer Writing the Column I Loved for The Toronto Star

Make This Your New Mantra for Contract Negotiating: Don't Make Things Worse for The Next Writer

Cool Audio Transcription Trick

Last week, I had to transcribe a lengthy interview. I had already recorded the interview using a handy telephone recording service I discovered a while back. (Recordiapro will record phone calls from any telephone line at a relatively low per-minute rate.) What I needed was to figure out the easiest (a.k.a. least painful) way to transcribe this interview. (My usual method involved starting and stopping an audio recording, then racing to type as much text as I could remember before repeating the process. We're talking painful.....)

Anyway, I figured that someone must have come up with an easier way of doing this, so I decided to spend a bit of time researching possible solutions before I sentenced myself to an afternoon at my computer, working away at this loathsome task. (You can tell I really enjoy transcribing interviews, can't you?)

Somewhere, I came across a suggestion (see comments section of this post) that made sense to me--and it applied to a piece of software I already owned, Audacity. (Audacity is open source, cross-platform software audio recording and editing software.)

Anyway, the solution was really simple and elegant. I imported my file and then selected "Change Speed" from the "Effects" menu. I slowed the speed of the recording by 50 percent. The pitch was not affected, so the recording was still very clear. I was almost able to keep up with the recording as I listened and typed. (I had to stop a few times, but only a handful of times.

I couldn't believe what a difference this made in terms of the ease of transcription, which is why I had to pass this trick along. Hope someone finds it useful.

Two Useful Apps for Writers

I'm always looking for ways to tame my in-box. Maybe you are, too. After all, if your ability to make a living depends on your ability to find and manage information (including what passes through your in-box), you need all the help you can get in managing spam.

Earlier this summer, I started using a helpful in-box sorting tool that is rather appropriately named SaneBox. It sorts your mail into a very limited number of folders based on rules you determine. (I don't know about you, but I used to have about 100 mail folders--and I spent an insane amount of time setting up filters to route my mail to this older or that folder. SaneBox eliminates the need to do all that thinking and fiddling. You simply decide whether emails from a particular sender are top priority (in which case they should arrive in your regular in-box), whether they could be deferred to a later time (SaneLater), or whether you never need to hear from this person again (SaneBlackHole). There are a few other folders you can use (I use SaneNews for all my newsletters and press releases). But that's the basic idea. You do have to remember to take a peek in your non-priority folders (it's tempting to forget that they exist). But that was a major problem for me when I was filtering email into 100 different places. I forgot that they existed. I'm feeling a lot saner since I found SaneBox. Perhaps it will be the solution to your email woes, too. Cost: $7.50/month and up.

The second app I've started using is called AwayFind. I've only been using it for a few days, but I has already proven itself to be extremely valuable to me. AwayFind is an e-mail babysitter. It watches your e-mail for you so that you can go off and do something more productive (as opposed to checking your email every five minutes and surfing the Web to kill time while you're waiting for an all-important message to arrive). When that message does show up, AwayFind alerts you (via your choice of method: text message, iPhone app, or email). I've set it up to notify me by text message when my editors email me, so I can respond right away. It sure beats not noticing an important e-mail from an editor because it got buried in my in-box. Cost: $4.99 and up.