Category Archives: featured

A Closer Look: The Publishing Pros

At the end of last year I was reaching out to potential advertisers for and one of the groups I came across was The Publishing Pros (formerly RMPPG). When I checked the group out as we were discussing ad space on the site, I thought readers might be interested in learning more about them–they are an active, well-established group that I think is a great resource for the freelance writing community–and a valued advertiser on

Here’s a closer look.                  – Catherine

Web-ad-for-Freelance-Zone1. How did The Publishing Pros (RMPPG) get started?

Founded in 1991 to promote and enhance the professional skills of its members, the organization increases dialogue among colleagues and clients through meetings and social events and fosters effective, ethical business practices. Its members are editors, indexers, proofreaders, designers, writers, researchers, and others who offer a range of skills and specialties.

2. Who makes up the organization?

The Publishing Pros is composed of a professional network of publishing specialists, with most of our members based in the Rocky Mountain region, including experienced writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, graphic designers, desktop publishing experts, researchers, fact-checkers, trainers, writing coaches, translators, and other publishing specialists.

3. Who should consider becoming a member of the group?

If you’re an experienced editor, proofreader, graphic designer, desktop publishing expert, indexer, writer, fact-checker, writing or editing coach, or other publishing professional, we invite you to join The Publishing Pros (RMPPG). We offer some great networking opportunities; further, when prospective clients contact the organization looking for a specialist we post their requests on our active ListServ.

4. What services are offered by The Publishing Pros?

Members of The Publishing Pros (RMPPG) serve a variety of clients in publishing, business, research, education and academic institutions, and nonprofit and governmental organizations. Prospective clients can access the services of our members by easily searching the website directory for a particular subject area and/or publishing service needed. Clients can also arrange for The Publishing Pros to post job requests on our ListServ. Members can develop the look, sound, and feel of any print or electronic/online publication or project, including manuscript editing, copywriting, website development, novel critiquing and evaluation, book design and typesetting, e-publication conversion, indexing, logo and brand development, and much more. With the multi-varied talents of The Publishing Pros membership, clients can tap into one of the country’s greatest networks of freelance publishing experts.

5. What is unique about The Publishing Pros?

We know of no other site that contains members whose expertise ranges through all areas of publication, from cover to index. Many of our members have deep roots in Rocky Mountain publishing and can be a great resource for newer members who are learning the trade. Our newly revamped website gives members a chance to list their specialties on the directory, enabling potential clients to find them, and clients can post to our site when they have a position to fill or a job to be accomplished.

For more information on membership or services visit The Publishing Pros.

5 Questions with Jake Poinier

Jake runs Phoenix-based Boomvang Creative Group, writes an advice column for freelancers as Dr. Freelance, and is a regular contributor here at—most recently posting on “The 7 Scariest Words in the Freelance World.”

1. How did you wind up a writer?
I got my first encouragement from a high school English teacher, which led to writing for the school paper and later for my hometown paper in Massachusetts. After graduating college, I worked for about two years each at several different magazines. I realized at that point that my freelance stable had a lot of successful, independent-minded people in it…and I thought, “Why not me?” That was in 1999, and I’m happier with each passing year.

2. Was the road to being a writer what you expected? Why or why not?
Approximately. I consider myself fortunate to have worked for and with some outstanding businesses, which taught me more than an MBA ever could. I honestly don’t *love* writing the way some freelancers do, but the entrepreneurial aspect is what motivates me—which I credit to my dad.

3. What has been your best moment or biggest accomplishment as a writer?
Ha, I’d like to say it hasn’t happened yet. But I still get a thrill from each new client, had a blast ghostwriting my first book a few years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to interview some of the world’s top professional speakers for Speaker magazine. And I’m looking forward to publishing my own first book in a few months.

4. What has been your most difficult moment?
I think the shock of my first non-paying client. I’d done a big web project for a local business, which went belly-up before I got paid. It was a cold, hard reminder that, particularly if you’re doing a sizable amount of work for an unproven entity, you need to ask for a deposit. If they say “no”…there’s your sign.

5. Can you share your top piece of writing advice with Freelance-Zone readers?
Be the writer who you’d want to hire if you were an editor or client. Some folks want lots of communication and updates, some just want the finished product. Figure out what the person wants, and deliver it.

What’s New With BigDifBooks

BigDifBooksSince starting up a little more than a year ago, has come a long way.

You may remember our early plugs for the site.  We think it’s a great place for kids and parents to find really inexpensive or absolutely free original eBooks.  Just as important from a Freelance-Zone perspective is the opportunity that BigDifBooks gives writers to share their work.

Without jumping through the hoops of the traditional publishing world or paying big money through self-publishing or eBook distribution outfits, BigDifBooks allows writers to share a story for young readers – and maybe even make a few bucks from it.  If a book is accepted at the site, the author retains all copyright and decides whether to share it for free or offer it for $1.99.  The author is paid a 50 percent royalty ($1.00) for each $1.99 book sold.

We checked in with Tom Watson, the site’s founder and asked him to catch us up, as well as highlight a few of the latest books available:

How’s it going at BigDifBooks?

It’s going great.  We’re not quite Amazon, but we like our little niche.  We have about 80 books up and available.  And we really like the way our selection is balanced.  About half are offered for free.  About half are $1.99.  There are a bunch by professional writers, a bunch from adults who simply want to share a story for fun and a bunch by kids themselves.

What else is new?

We have several classroom books available now, which is something we really like.  A teacher out in Utah, Christy Frazier, worked with her class to put up a book called Animal Advice, which is terrific.  Christy is an author and contributor herself.  One of her books, Once There was a Snow Bear, is one of my favorites.  Another class from the Chicago Public School system in Pilsen, contributed five or six titles.  They worked in small groups to write original stories and do the illustrations.  They did a great job.

How about a new set of book descriptions?

You got it.

The Argument

by Annie Harmon

Annie Harmon is a talented author and award-winning illustrator.  Her second book with us is a gem.  In the story, the rain, sun and wind compete to prove who is the most powerful.  They also brighten the day of Emma, who is experiencing the wonder of the outdoors.  It reminded me of a folk tale and is illustrated beautifully with bold colors that kids will love.

I Want to be a Superhero

by Mike Winn

What child hasn’t dreamed of being a superhero?  Mike’s new book turns that dream into reality for one little boy.  It has everything – a bright costume, a space alien to fight and parents to tuck him into bed after a long day battling crime.  It’s illustrated with Mike’s great watercolors.  He is an art teacher in Chicago.

Anne Louise – The Adventure Begins

by Soo Mullen

Soo is a terrific storyteller from Cincinnati. Her first book with us, “Anne Louise – The Adventure Begins” revolves around some real winning subjects for young readers – birthdays, girls and puppies.  Kids will identify with the illustrations and writing style.

Annie Fannie

by John Schmitz

This book is all about  a little boy and a sickly puppy with a remarkable gift. It’s this talent that the puppy uses to rescue the boy when he really needs it.  Utilizing charming characters, a clever story and a longer-form narrative, this book is great for the 7 – 12 age group.

A Children’s Book of Very Short Stories

by Pauline Saul

As she says herself, Pauline Saul is ’95 years young.’  Her first book with us is about a lifetime of experiences with animals.  Often told from each animal’s perspective, the stories include heroic rescues and daring adventures.  Included are dogs, cats, a mouse, a rooster and more.  We think it’s great.

Animal Advice

by Christy Frazier’s grade school class.

Christy Frazier is one of our favorite authors – and now she’s helped her third-grade class write and illustrate a terrific book.  In “Animal Advice,” each student provides first-hand guidance from a specific animal. The monkey says, “Go bananas.” The Peacock offers, “Show your true colors.” The frog says, “Hop to it.” We love that it’s kid-written and kid-illustrated.  It’s good fun.

For more information on how to get involved with BigDifBooks, or to see all the current offerings take a peek at their website.

Review: Mobo For The Writer

Moboby Catherine L. Tully

I was admittedly skeptical when someone from Mobo offered to let me try out this ergonomic workstation. I have a pretty fantastic office chair and I doubted that this would make things any better. After all, when you sit at a desk for 7 or 8 hours (or more) a day, pretty much nothing is comfortable, right?

Wrong! I have to say that I really got into this, and it felt terrific. My hubby set it up, so I can’t tell you how difficult/easy it was, as I am a truly helpless human being when it comes to putting things together. (He didn’t seem to have any difficulty though.) Everything you need is included, with the exception of a Phillips head screwdriver.

Once I was settled into the chair with my Mobo on, I felt like Captain Kirk. Talk about a modern workstation! It was comfortable, practical and sturdy. I use a laptop, and it fit nicely on the Mobo (the keyboard surface measures 22?x12-1/2). I do admit the one thing I would change is the fact that there is no way to lock down the middle part to make sure you can’t accidentally flip it. (Still, I doubt that is very likely to happen. But I can be clumsy, so….)

I loved the fact that everything was supported, and it was extremely comfy. It definitely felt better than working at my desk. Nothing felt cheap about it, and the company states that the device is made from “high quality industrial polymers (polycarbonate and ABS)”.

Without a doubt, the best part of the whole thing is the fact that I felt cool in the chair with the Mobo attached. It really seemed like a “modern” way to be a writer. I would have to say I’d recommend it–despite my initial hesitancy. I don’t use it every day–I like to mix things up, as I believe that helps keep the repetitive stress injuries at bay, but when I really need to settle in for a marathon day of writing, it’s the Mobo that I turn to–not my desk.

So there you have it. As writers we are at a particularly high risk of getting Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), so something like a Mobo can really be helpful. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t like it–but I do. The regular price is $89.95, but it is on sale (don’t know for how long though) right now for $79.95.

7 Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch & How To Avoid Them: Part 7

A warm welcome back for Diane Holmes, with the last entry on her 7 part series about pitching…and for today we have…

#7 “Listening to you is like Herding Cats.”

Translation: “What?  Wait,  No, over there and there and there.  Yeah–   But–  I don’t under–  Un-huh.  I think–  Okay, start over from–  Wha–?”

Reality:  While books are complex and unfold over many pages, pitches are elegant and illuminate the unique aspect that makes you want to dive into those pages.  1,000 cats vs. 1 cat.

It’s good to be passionate about your book, but you still need to present your book’s hook with logical links from one idea to another.  And ultimately, you need to demonstrate that your book can be matched to an audience beyond you (aka interest the person you’re pitching to).

Solution:  Think of the editor or agent as your audience.  Bring your audience with you as you pitch by understanding what he or she already knows, thinks, and feels about your book’s subject and genre. Start there, then talk them through your book’s hook, building information logically.

If your novel is about a world in which magical beings named Linkers are tied to human souls, don’t start with, “Linker Mai-su just loves what she does and she loves all mankind and she’s their only hope.  Souls are really these vortexes and everyone has one except for a few.  And they’re really world-makers and really powerful, but that’s not Mai-su.  And….” Continue reading 7 Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch & How To Avoid Them: Part 7

7 Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch & How To Avoid Them: Part 6

It’s time for more on book pitching with Diane Holmes….her latest is titled–

#6 “There’s a term for this encounter:  Death by Meeting.”

Translation: “This is the longest 5 minutes of my life, and it’ll never end.  The details in monotone just keep coming, and eventually someone will find my cold, dead body, because I’ll have died of boredom.”

Reality: You’re so focused on sharing every fact, every bullet point, and every footnote, you haven’t been watching the response you’re getting.  If you were, you could adjust what you’re saying, know when to stop talking, or try saying something more interesting.

Not everyone succeeds in the first sentence.  Some start out rough, adjust, and then win ‘em over!

Solution:  We’re not always the best judge of what’s interesting to others.  If you can’t get a sense all by yourself about the “excitement” factor of your pitch, you need to use your critique group, writing friend, and others to help you out.

When you practice pitching to another person, have them hold their arm parallel to the ground (in front or to the side, doesn’t matter), and then raise and lower their arm as they become more and less interested.   It’s a really simple way to understand how your message is coming across.

And it can be very encouraging to try to raise your friend’s arm.  Try out different approaches.  Tweak what you’re saying.

Diane Holmes
Diane Holmes

Diane Holmes is the Founder and Chief Alchemist behind Pitch University, an online website where writers learn to pitch from the literary agents and editors (and maybe even sell their book in the process).

And yes, she was born in Texas.