Tuesday, June 19, 2018

There's Always Tomorrow

Writing is a vocation. 

You may have to keep reminding yourself of this. Especially when you want everything - money, writing projects, publishing success - to go faster. 

I read a guy's blog this week where he talked about burn-out. He was so determined to get a novel finished he wrote 16 hours a day for about three weeks. He said that suddenly he couldn't make out the words on the screen. He was looking at a foreign language and he realized his brain had shut down. 

The experience frightened him so much that he stopped writing and suffered a long period - over six months - of angst over what had happened.

For a long time he was too afraid to start writing again for fear that his mind would play this trick on him again.

Luckily that's not happened to me yet. Sounds awful.

The worst thing that happened one year was that I got one of those humps on my right wrist - apparently they're caused by hitting the keyboard too hard for too long. It took a few weeks of gentle typing for it to go down.

It didn't hurt. I just looked deformed for a while. A friend suggested hitting it with a book - he said he'd heard that was the way to make them go back down. Not being a fan of pain, I declined his offer to fix it and trusted nature instead.

I've never had it again - since I started using laptops.

I guess the point is that you can just push yourself too hard sometimes. I know that, say, Olympic athletes need to train for hours every day. I know that soldiers train hard every day to reach optimal strength, mindset and efficiency.

But what about more cerebral pursuits?

Clearly it's possible for the brain to be overstimulated - leading to mental breakdowns and, at the very least, stress.

Most writers agree that bouts of excessive writing can be physically draining. Even the most prolific writers don't recommend more than four or five hours max a day. It's fairly well accepted that much more and you're really in no condition to give it your best.

As writers we must learn patience.

Waiting on publishers is challenging. It's the main topic of conversation at the writer's groups I attend. It's also one of the reasons I recommend self-publishing. Even if only to act as a stopgap, so writers have at least a chance of making money from our work while waiting around for agents and publishers to take notice of us.

Plus, increasingly, the publishing world requires 'proof' that readers want our work. What better way to showcase our novels, books and writing than on Amazon? We can get feedback, reviews and testimonials - not to mention actual sales of our work to readers.

Plus of course there's the added benefit of feeling like a published author - which will seriously help your self esteem and hopefully boost your commitment to writing regularly.

Because writing needs to become a habit, especially if you want to one day do it full time - the dream!

You need to pace yourself. Live well but healthily. Keep your moral, mental and physical strength up and commit to writing every day.

In this age of 'I want it now', it may seem frustrating to have to wait for anything. But for the writer, this is often the reality.

Fact is, it's always been this way. Nothing's changed.

Except now we can at least publish ourselves on the Net while we're waiting for the call from Random House or Harper Collins. (Anytime, guys - honestly, I'm here all day, just waiting!)

And did I mention publishing with Amazon is free?

Plus you keep all the rights?

No contracts, no catches and no fees.

Just a professional platform to showcase your work.

Oh and, in case you're interested, you make money too!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can't, Criticise...

Recently, one of my esteemed students wrote me a letter - yes, an actual piece of paper with handwriting on it - gasp!

She thanked me for one of my courses that she was working through at home. She said she liked my 'metaphysical' approach to writing because it helped her move out of a block she'd been having.

I've never really thought about my instruction being 'metaphysical' to be honest. It's not meant to be. A better term might be 'holistic', in that I see writing and the writer as equally in need of guidance and advice.

The writer, to me, is inseparable from the writing. You can't be a good, honest and effective writer if you don't aspire to be a good, honest and effective person. If that's metaphysical, then so be it!

But you don't have to be perfect.

In the same way as your writing doesn't have to be perfect. What's perfection anyway but an intellectual tool we use as a benchmark?

Perfection is relative.

The newbie may feel sheer joy at a piece of average writing - infused with that rush we all feel at times at our accomplishments.

But a writer with years of experience may still cringe at something she's written when others see nothing but genius.

It's all relative.

We each must aspire to our own concept of perfection - but learn to be satisfied when 'enough is enough'.

I've never know a decent writer who didn't think that something in their work couldn't be improved.

Famously, Fitzgerald once broke into his publisher's office at three in the morning and crawled inside the printing galleys, pulling out letters, rearranging the text of his novel - the day the book was going to press!

Okay, he was probably drunk. Fitzgerald often was. But most writers can relate to this kind of obsessive need to 'fix' their own writing until it shines.

Talking of obsession and the need for perfection, Steve Jobs is sorely missed - not least at Apple. His kind of focus is rare - more especially because it was justified. A lot of people - artists especially  - may be precious and difficult to work with - but not all of them are so right!

But maybe they are - in their own way.

May be we don't give enough credit to those 'control freaks' who strive for perfection and, like Steve Jobs apparently, make life hard for those around them. 

I guess that's the great thing about being a writer. You are in control - most of the time. Your world is exactly as it should be, within the confines of your pages.

It's one of the reasons I've never really understood the need for criticism. It's too easy for others to find the flaws in other's work. It's destructive - not only creatively but personally too.

A critic can crush a writer's spirit irreparably but... to what end?

Also, I've never known a writer to improve dramatically as a result of criticism. Quite the opposite.

It's encouragement that helps improve a writer. Because when writers feels good about what they do, they seem to become more aware of the flaws themselves - and seek to better their work independently.

Criticism closes a writer down more often than not, forcing them to consider giving up the whole thing - as was probably the critic's intention.

No, we should always strive to 'lift up' an artist - to help them feel 'enlightened'. Inspiration comes from a feeling of transcendence. Criticism can only drag us down to earth and make us feel inferior, misguided and misunderstood.

How would God have felt - if there's any such thing as a deity - if some critic was looking over her shoulder, pointing out all her mistakes as she created the universe?

Maybe she would have scrapped the whole idea of creation - and taken up some other activity like playing atom solitaire or cosmic cloud busting.

Where would be then?

I'm not being as flippant as you might assume.

I really do think that artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians - even inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs - should be encouraged without question. Because true creators know the flaws in their designs better than anyone. They really don't need others to point them out!

But I guess it's the way of the world.

The ninety ten rule. Ten percent of us want to change things, create new possibilities and understand the true meaning of our existence.

The other ninety percent just want to sit back and bag.

To be realistic, they say.

Well, if being realistic means that nothing should ever change or that none of us should aspire to perfection or dedicate ourselves to the attainment of truth or beauty or enlightenment, then I'd rather be called anything but realistic!

So I don't really mind being thought of as metaphysical - as long as it doesn't marginalize what I do.

I try to speak to everyone, not just to those who will listen.

But isn't that the point of art, of good writing, of transcendent music, film and whatever?

To create something that speaks to us all?

I hope so.

Have a great holiday this year - and give some thought to how you might improve the world - especially if there were no such things as critics, naysayers and other members of your friends and family!

Seriously, have fun - and be good, at whatever you do.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Hydra Syndrome

The following article seemed to hit home with a lot of writers when I sent it to my subscribers. 

It was originally called The Medusa Syndrome but many learned scholars and professors (yes - they get my newsletters too!) pointed out I'd made a slight 'myth-take' when it came to picking a mythological creature for my syndrome. I hope you enjoy it - and please, feel free to leave a comment of your own!

Have you ever noticed how you, as a writer, see-saw? For one heady moment you know you're brilliant and then, later, with just as much clarity, you know what you do is awful. It's the writer's curse.

I've noticed this happens at certain times in the writing process.

When the ideas are fresh and you're starting out on a project, the adrenaline is flowing, the words are spewing on to the page - everything seems so clear, so clever, to you.

And then after, when you look back, the words seem dull, the structure contrived and the talent - well, non-existent. But then... later, it can seem smooth and inspired again... and then, even later... dire.

Hold up! What's happening here?

I call it The Hydra Syndrome or, for short, THS.

You may remember that the Hydra was a mythological creature with many heads - and each time one was cut off, another sprouted in its place.

And the trouble with being a writer is that we too have many heads. Some are kind and benevolent, some are harsh and critical. And it doesn't matter how often we try to quash one head's opinion of what we do, there's always another that will have the alternate point of view.

It depends on our moods I think. When we're happy and confident, our words seem to fire all the right neurons on the brain, the synaptic gaps are bridged with ease. There exists more than just the words in our writing - there's a whole world of meaning implicit.

But then sometimes when we're tired and listless, our brains are foggy and the words seem empty, unable to quite convey the richness we wanted to invoke.

At other times, we feel nothing. We see the words for what they are - just words: pale shadows of reality with no depth, no power, no meaning.

Whenever I'm suffering from a bout of THS, I have to remind myself that, when reading through a different head, I thought my writing was fine. But then I think, am I deluding myself? Maybe the bad head that hates my writing is the true head? Maybe the happy head is a liar and is secretly chuckling behind my back... oh, the woes of writing!

The other day was a good example.

I'd just finished editing (for about the twentieth time) the first 9500 words of my new novel. I was pretty darn proud of what I'd done. As well as the words being perfect (or so I thought) there seemed also a profound depth of hidden meaning, subtle interconnectivity and the odd clever nuance that would have my readers in awe, enrapt... and yet...

I gave it to Robyn, my wife, to read. As she did so, I waited, butterflies threatening to burst out of my stomach like the alien in, um, Alien.

At least she read the whole thing in one sitting. I was dreading that she'd put it down and say, "I'll read the rest tomorrow." That would have hurt. Big time.

Anyway. At the end she said, "Yeah, it's excellent." But, of course, because she didn't say it's brilliant, I was disappointed.

"What's wrong with it?" I cried.

"Nothing. It's really good." Really good? What's that supposed to mean? She must hate it!

Tentatively, I ask, "Anything that might need fixing?"

"Well, there's a couple of typos." Typos! Gah - after twenty passes! How could that be? "Nothing major," she added.


"Well..." Here it comes, I thought. "You've got a couple of point of view issues. You tell the story from one guy's point of view in one chapter and I think you should do it from the hero's."

I slumped. Reality check. Thanks, Robyn.

She was right of course. I have to go back and fix it. But now I'm thinking my 9500 words are heavily flawed, and will remain so, until I've dealt with the problem. Now I wouldn't show my book to another soul because it's dreadful, awful, until I've rewritten at least two large chunks of it. But then, maybe then, it will be perfect! Yay!

And to think, I used to wonder why my mother thought that writing was a silly way to make a living. Maybe she was right. I can find at least one of my Hydra heads that would rush to agree with her.

But I think the real point is that we need to be critical of our writing - at least some of the time. If we thought that what we did was always brilliant, we'd lose objectivity and we wouldn't want to improve, wouldn't know how to improve even.

Being hard on our writing sometimes is what makes us better writers.

But at those other, special times, loving what we do is what keeps us doing it!

How To Create Writing Success

Here's a cute lie that most people believe:

Writing is more than a skill, a pastime or a way of making a living. It is a vocation - like being a nurse or missionary. In order to commit yourself, and impress those that would read your work, you have to want to do it for nothing.

Indeed this is how many of us become writers - it's something we feel compelled to do, whether asked to, required to or not!

Certainly I've noticed that when you first start dealing with publishers, your enthusiasm, commitment and talent are of primary concern. Any talk of money too early in the process will see you ostracized very quickly. You're supposed to want to write for yourself - for art's sake - first.

I guess it's about trust. The people that would help us get our work seen - in other words, published - need to be sure that our motives are sincere. That we write for some purpose other than just to make money.


I have discussed this aspect of the writer's dilemma many times - and I have a counter argument.

Writing is time consuming, hard work sometimes and almost impossible to sustain a good living at for most writers - 80% make less than $10,000 a year according to the last survey I read.

It's clear that if writers don't get paid, they can't continue writing - at least not without considering poverty as a career choice.

Given the vast millions that publishers make, I've always thought that they should pay new writers to submit work - but of course that's never going to happen! There's simply too many would be writers who are willing to chance it based on nothing more than a vague possibility of success.

But This is To Your Advantage

Because for every one hundred writers that try and fail - either through discouragement, the apathy of publishers, or the sheer force of having to pay the rent - there's one, like you, that ain't givin' up!

But how do you sustain the momentum - the will and the courage to continue?

Easy. Get obsessed. Dream about your writing success. Fantasize about it every moment of every day. Create a compulsion within yourself that cannot be undermined.
Be insane. Be illogical. Be unrealistic!


Over the years I've noticed something very telling. The writers with the most talent don't always rise to the top. But the writers who don't stop and won't take no for an answer, and just keep going regardless of criticism and bad experiences, are the ones that make it - every time.

Reflection Strengthens Determination

Actively thinking about your writing is not just about trying to improve or responding positively to feedback, it's about organizing your thoughts and reactions to to what people say about your writing. You can take criticism well or badly. It can fire you up or destroy you. It's your choice.

I used to think I wasn't good enough to be a professional writer - and my lack of success reinforced that view.

But I had it all wrong. What I failed to understand at the time was that, if you just keep going, respond to feedback and keep plugging away at new projects, you become good enough over time.

Your technique may improve. You may begin to write more effectively or tell better stories. But none of that matters if you don't have the single minded drive to overcome the apparent obstacles to your success.

It's too easy to get discouraged. The system is designed for that to happen - to weed out those that are not determined.

Take heart, if you are fully commited, there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome, there are no barriers - real or imagined - that you cannot triumph over.

In the words of a very old cliche - and things become cliches, remember, usually because they're true:

"There is nothing you can't do once you set your mind to it."

So, go for it!

Rob Parnell

How To Make Writing Resolutions You Keep

Probably the most consistent problem I'm asked to help with is how to sustain the momentum required to finish writing projects.

Writing a book is apparently the secret wish of 90% of the population - as though writing a book somehow validates us as humans - and perhaps makes us a little immortal. 

But only around 5% of people will ever rise to the challenge - and even they will falter more times than not. Of these would-be writers, less than one percent will ever finish their books - and just to be depressing now, only a handful of that one percent will ever be published, or publish themselves.

Faced with this punishing reality, how do you find the strength to carry on writing?

Let me answer by telling you a story.

Once, a very long time ago, I asked a practising motivational guru how I could become rich. I say it was a long time ago because in those days I was very cynical and I asked the question as more of a challenge than a query. The guru gave me a quick answer:

"Want to be rich."

I gave a dismissive grunt at this and asked, "Yeah, so what if that doesn't work?"

She smiled when she said, "Then you didn't want it enough."

At the time I took this to be a cop out. I congratulated myself, smugly, that I had exposed her phoniness.

Now, of course, I know better.

Because this is precisely how life works. In order to make anything happen, to get things done, achieve results, you have to want them enough.

But, but, but...

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Knowing this isn't getting you any closer to the 'how'.

How do you get yourself to want something that much? I mean writing success is one thing - but all that work! Isn't there an easier way?

Well, yeah there is actually - and all it requires is a little shift in your perspective - and a whole lotta dreamin'...

Now, I could list a bunch of 'things to do' to help you create a little writing success but - that can wait for another day. 

I want to tell you about the single most important aspect of success.

Today's the Day

Success is not a place or a time or a circumstance.

It's a state of mind.

And it's happening right now - all you have to do is to reach out and grasp it.

Take a few moments - actually the rest of the day - and imagine that you are rich, fulfilled and able to do anything you want, whenever you like.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now ask yourself: How would you feel? What would you do?

This is the shift in perspective I was talking about. You're never going to help your subconscious deal with writing success unless it believes it's already happening. 

Because it's only when success is actually happening to you that you will begin to make the right decisions for your writing career and enable yourself to perpetuate the writing life you want.

Writing for a living requires commitment. Some things will work out, some things will not. That's the reality. You can't wait for the good times and then expect everything to be fine from then on. It doesn't work like that.

Achieve Your Writing Goals This Year

You need to decide, right now, that you are a writer - and will continue to be a writer from this moment on. And while you're about it, tell yourself you're already a successful writer - dwell on it, dream on it, and make it real.

Because it's believing that you are already a good and talented writer that will get you to finish writing projects.

I know this is true because, no matter the actual talent of the writer, it's the ones who believe in themselves and dream about the writer's life that make it. 
Every time.

I also know because a long time before I had houses and cars and money, 
I behaved in this way. Though I may have been naive and perhaps not that good to begin with, I never stopped believing I was meant to be a successful writer.

And believing made it so.

Believing made me write more, made me read more, made me study writing, made me take courses and keep on learning as much as I could.

I still do it today because writing is a lifelong education. You don't just wake up one day and say, "Ah, now I get it, now I know enough."

Writing is a way of life and it's when you immerse yourself in it totally that you gain the necessary resolve to finish things - and then get them out there and read!

To Your Success.

Rob Parnell

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Ghost Writing - The Spooky Truth

You write a book for someone else, and they pay you to put their own name on it.
Is that even legal? It is. And professional ghost writers defend their right to do it.
There’s money to be made here because there are many people who have a lot to say but do not necessarily have the time nor the skills to write it all down.
However, there are some pitfalls to the ghost writing business.
First piece of advice? Always have a contract in place before you start the actual writing.
It will save you a lot of heartache - and lawsuits - in the future.
It’s worth remembering that not all ghost writing will entail writing books. Some corporate executives want their company statements written by someone else.
Scientists and doctors sometimes procure the services of ghosts to write their dissertations and academic reports.
Celebrities have been known to hire ghosts to maintain an online presence for them.
Webmasters too will often want their sales pages written for them - to which they will attach their own names.
If you’ve ever helped anyone with an article for which you never took any credit, you’re involved in a form of ghostwriting.
Some wannabe authors will even pay you to write their fiction for them - a scenario that, to be honest, rarely ends well.
Many people will want you to write their autobiographies - and may well have lots of money to pay for them.
At least once a month I meet someone who says they’ve led such a fascinating life that ‘everyone’ tells them they should write it down - or at least get someone else to do it.
As a writer, I know my own life story is not particularly riveting to anyone but me. Publishers, too, generally don’t care about normal people’s lives, even when their histories are sometimes astonishing.
But that doesn’t mean YOU shouldn’t get paid for writing them!

Getting Started
It’s surprisingly easy to get lots of potential clients when you set yourself up as a ghostwriter.
It seems there are hundreds of punters out there constantly looking for scribes to write for them - or at least toying with the idea.
The real issue you have to face is which of these people are ever going to pay you a fair going-rate for your services.
When people ask how much you might charge to write an autobiography for them and you mention $5,000 as a minimum starting point, you will often be met with total incredulity.
But you will need to stress that book writing takes time - and is clearly a skill the client doesn’t possess!
A thorough and well-researched book may take anything up to a year to write.
So there’s a year’s salary for most - right there.
A traditional in-house publisher’s ghostwriter may get anything up to $100,000 per manuscript, to give you some perspective.

Moving Forward
The best way to go is to advertise yourself as a ghostwriter - say on Facebook - and deal with each inquiry separately.
I’ve found that sustaining a dialog over time before mentioning price is more effective than simply quoting quickly, which generally goes nowhere.
You need to find out exactly what your potential client wants. How they want everything to work, including how and when payments will happen, what approvals the client is looking for and how the contract will look once it’s finalized.
In amongst these details, you will also want to familiarize yourself with the envisaged project.
Face-to-face meetings often help here because there will be nuances about what the client expects from a ghostwriter that are impossible to discern through email or via the phone.
When you’re satisfied you know what you’re letting yourself in for - and that the client does too - then this is the time to present a quotation that will also act as a contract of employment - once it’s signed by the client.
The quotation should list the time frame, the payments, exact specifications as to what is to be considered "a final manuscript" and usually some leeway for the client to make changes and request deletions.
There should be clauses that deal with the relationship breaking down plus riders that perhaps outline that future payments may be in order if, for instance, the manuscript becomes a runaway bestseller without your name on it.
Conversely, you’ll want a brief clause that will make it clear you are not legally liable in any way should the client get sued over the manuscript’s contents.
Payment Rates
While it might be nice to charge a dollar a word for short ghostwritten articles, you’ll rarely find anyone who wants to pay more than $50 for an 800-word piece.
Many punters want to pay less than $5, clearly slave labor - and not to be encouraged.
Just say no, would be my advice.
For short projects you might want to charge an hourly rate of perhaps $50 an hour, although most clients are nervous of hourly rates, especially if they’re unsure of how fast or slow you work.
What I usually do is to set a fixed rate for the job, payable upfront - or at least a quarter upfront - and then an hourly rate for unplanned amendments or later consultations.
The first couple of consultations I will do most times for free.
Big jobs require sizable upfront payments in my view.
Many ghostwriters I know have gotten suckered into writing for free, only to have their manuscripts rejected half way through the job, losing the client and their pay.
This can happen, so you really must make sure you get paid for what you do before you start. At least then, if things go badly before the completion of the project, your time and energy has not been entirely wasted.
Good luck if you’re ready to take this ghostwriting path.
True, it’s not for every writer. I get way too involved in my own stuff to have the necessary patience for ghostwriting.
I’ve only done it a few times - and realized quickly the work was not for me.
But, you never know, YOU might be really good at it! 
Ghost Writing does pay pretty well, after all.
Keep Writing!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Art of Business Writing

It’s surprisingly easy to get writing work from local businesses.
At least that’s been my experience.
Basically, all you need to do is let businesses know you offer business writing services - and they’ll call.
The main caveat I would offer you is that it’s best to contact business offline, in person - as opposed to just using the Net to attract business.
Of course, you can use the Net if you like.
All I’m saying is that you’ll likely be more successful - and more quickly - if you try to establish personal relationships with business people in your local area - rather than focus on large online corporations that will no doubt already have lots of their own in-house writers.
Now, it’s probable you think that the most glamorous of corporate jobs is either writing their ad copy or their promotional material.
Both are considered the most prestigious and influential of all corporate writing gigs - which is why these gigs are usually so well paid.
However, I've found that most companies, especially the larger ones, are very loathe to sub-contract this kind of work to what they perceive as novice writers.
The big ad agencies and their in-house stable of writers will beat you to this gig every time. When it comes to business writing it’s rare you’ll get to do sexy work right up front.
It’s more likely you’ll be given less prominent work first.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a great job.
You should.
When you first approach the corporate world, businesses are much more likely to try you out on less high-profile material like office procedure manuals, inter-departmental communications, and things like corporate reports.
It’s your job to be receptive.
Listen to a client's needs and zero in on things you can do to help them.
Offer to immortalize their admin procedures or perhaps write a report on improvement ideas that will appeal to middle managers and small business CEOs.
You'll find that, in many office situations, there are various writing jobs that either they've been putting off for years or there are procedures that need to be written down that nobody in the department is quite competent enough to do.
Generally, any kind of corporate work will require you spend some time in the clients' office, either poring over ancient (and usually very badly written) company literature and interviewing staff about what they do.
It's important to do this, and not just for PR reasons.
Clients like to see you're taking an active interest in the inner workings of their company.
But also, you will often need to pick up on the 'lingo' and the acronyms peculiar to the company.
Remember though. when invited into a foreign work environment, take your own laptop and avoid using the company's own computers.
You don’t want your draft files on their servers - and you’ll want them to pay for your final product!
Here’s some advice about pricing.
Of all the things I've learned about offering writing services, this one next fact is probably the most important.
And that is, having a leaflet with your rates on it is a sure-fire way to destroy any chance of getting any work! I've seen literally dozens of aspiring freelancers do this and fail, usually before they even begin.
To me, the reasons are obvious.
First of all, it's impossible to quantify what a client wants before you speak to them.
They often don't know themselves.
Plus, you'll find that, rather than offering specific services, coming up with solutions that involve writing can, in itself, become a substantial part of your service.
Secondly, charging by the hour for writing jobs will seem like an expensive option for most companies.
For instance, my going rate was about $197 an hour for corporate work.
This is actually quite low but if I put this figure on a leaflet I knew for sure that I'd never have gotten any work.
Because, to your average office department manager, changing almost twice what they earn themselves will seem like an outrage.
The average manager will look at the “per hour” figure and, without context, is already reeling at the thought of trying to get the budgeting department to authorize the expense.
So, don’t talk about the pricing of your services AT ALL until they’ve asked you to quote for a particular job.
And then only quote them in writing - never just off the top of your head.
Here’s a tip:
Don't charge a business client for your first meeting.
Much better to talk to a new client for free – for as long as they want.
Let the client decide what needs to be done.
If necessary, help them conceptualize their requirements.
Talk things through with them.
Then say you’ll be in touch...
Then, explain to them - in a letter or email - what you believe they need to do, based on your first meeting.
Let them respond to you.
Then, come back with a quote for a job.
I've found this approach works best when you give two or three options in your quotation.
First, give an option where you'll do the basic work for a set amount.
Second, give an option where you will do the job more thoroughly (giving examples of the extra work you will put in) for a higher price.
Third, suggest a third option where you quote for the full on, ultra-cool service you’re prepared to offer for quite a high price - usually at least double the figure in the first quote.
My experience is that, once it's all in black and white, the client will nine times out of ten go for the most expensive option.
Weird, that.
I guess the reason is, by the time your quotation has been finalized and absorbed and the client has grown to trust you, he or she is satisfied that you will do a good job tailored to their specific requirements, even though they may often end up paying more for your services than all those writers who posted hourly rates in their pre-priced leaflets.
Remember too that your price quotation is not just a letter detailing your proposed service.
It is ideally an exercise in great copywriting that will skillfully lead your client into making the right decision.
When someone confirms they want you to carry out the work, NEVER take a verbal order as sufficient authorization.
Always require a manager’s signature or instruction in writing before you proceed with any work.
This is vitally important for when it comes to getting paid later on. 
You need to be business-like.
Not only in your manner but with the appearance of your documents, and especially in your accounting and admin practices.
Keep neat and clean records of everything in separate files for each client.
You'll be surprised how often clients come back after a few months and ask to see copies of your work or request you resubmit invoices and statements of account.
Also make sure that all invoices relate back to the original authorized quotation.
As an aside, there's no need to rush out and buy a smart suit for meetings with corporate clients.
I've found that business people are often suspicious of you if you are too smart or you wear expensive ties.
I think they prefer that a professional writer is a more casual beast and not the traditional suit-wearing, gray-socked animal they're used to seeing around the office.  
If at all possible, ask for some upfront money.
Say, ten percent of the final fee.
Call it a 'good faith bond' that you will provide an invoice for before you start any work.
You'll find the companies most reluctant to provide money up front are also the ones that have the most difficulty paying the final account.
Asking for an upfront fee can be a good indicator as to how smoothly your relationship with the company will go.
If I don't receive the upfront fee, I invariably don't start the work.
It’s too much of a risk.
When you visit on office, it’s oftentimes difficult to know just how far up the food chain is the person you’re dealing with.
Sometimes you find out you've been liaising with someone who is not actually authorized to spend money, even though they promised they would 'sort something out' for you.
Be careful in this regard.
Remember it's okay to start small.
Contacting local charities, schools, and community organizations and asking if they'd like help writing their newsletters etc., can be a good way of building a portfolio and 'getting your foot in the door'.
Most work comes from referrals in this business, so you can never have too many people saying good things about you!

Keep Writing!

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!