The Rise of Literary Commerce: Let’s Preserve Our “Shops Around the Corner”

I just had to follow up on the last post due to the meaning it has for me, and I can’t help but think about that classic romantic comedy with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (no, not Sleepless in Seattle, and, yes, I do watch romantic comedies from time to time). Which comedy? Oh, the one called You’ve Got Mail. A story about the rise of technology, commerce, and yet it doesn’t seem to bring us any closer than we used to in the past. Interesting film. Interesting story.

What’s even more interesting is the thematic initial plot runner at the beginning about an enormous mega-corporate commerce bookseller (aka Amazon or Barnes & Noble) pretty much taking over the literary scene against an ol’ faithful, tiny, family-oriented bookstore “The Shop Around the Corner”. It’s like David and Goliath — only Goliath wins. The bigger store prevails, providing cheaper books, better convenience, more selection.

Don’t Get Me Wrong — I Like Barnes & Noble….Image

I, myself, am a child of the literary pastime. I grew up with the books in the little mom-and-pop store, the scent of the rusty paper, like ancient libraries with their halls of wisdom and the quiet, pristine peace of a Fall or Spring morning with siblings, friends or mom and dad taking me to those tiny bookstores, so compact and personal, capable of perusing and finding one of those golden nuggets you’d never find in a massive outlet of buzz posters, aproned CSRs asking you if you need help, lines and lines of customers wanting to purchase their next Stephen King hardcovers, e-readers, Harry Potters and Twilights.

Back in the day, I thrilled at finding an ingenious piece of literary work never hailed as a bestseller. Never autographed. Author never interviewed. No movie adaptations. No dollar signs. Just a single piece of work designed to be in the hands of a tried and true reader wishing to engulf just one breath of the human experience, the resonation of a universe that can only be contained on paper with words from left to right. History made real, incarnate, immortal.

But I Loved Those “Shops Around the Corner”

I tell you: that’s where fantasy, adventure, horror, whimsy, comedy, romance, drama and sorrow were born. That’s how our books all began. It’s a sad state in the literary industry when those small stores close down for lack of willing readers.

I wish above all wishes that somehow we could preserve such hallmarks. I wouldn’t know how to do it. Like how museums and galleries can preserve such works of art like “Mona Lisa” or the works of my brother Paul Roustan, why can’t we preserve some of those ancient cultural hallmarks of childlike joy in the “shop around the corner”? A bookstore where it’s just more important to enjoy reading together, not for ourselves, not for commerce’s sake, not for fame, or glory, or getting on the NYT bestseller list?

I wish there could be someone who would give me ideas about how to do that…. Tell me…. What can we do to keep our literary pastime alive beyond that of a mega-bookstore aisle?


Sad Times in Grand Rapids, MI: Pooh’s Corner Is Closing

Many of you may know of just the magnitude of love I have for the literary industry. You can then imagine my troubled soul after hearing the most recent news about the phenomenal and Jeffersonian child in Pooh’s Corner. Very soon, I can imagine that this particular link won’t be any good…. Because Pooh’s Corner will be closing forever after 38 years of dedicated service in nourishing the literary minds of our Imageyoung ones. When? May 23rd, 2014.

The good news is they’re going to have a sale on March 28th, everything 20%, and I’m considering that a celebration and honor to applaud the work of our faithful there. I’m not going to look at it as a “liquidation” thing where everything “must go.” No. Everything most definitely will not “go.”

The memories, the love, the passion for words, the children, the stories of Pooh and friends — and most definitely my memory of meeting the great Chris Van Allsburg, renowned author of The Polar ExpressJumanjj and Zathura, right there in the mall by Pooh’s Corner — those, I’m taking with me wherever I go in my journey as a professional writer and author.

Off to the 100-acre wood. I need some honey.


Two Things Every Copywriter Should Hate and How to Avoid Them

It’s become pretty clear to me that when dealing with clientele, there are certain policies I should absolutely have before all Hell breaks loose and I’m left for dead. You might be clued in to the fact that I’m speaking from a most recent experience. That’s fine. Yes, it was a horrible experience, but we can all definitely learn from it. Especially you. So here it goes….

The First Thing Every Copywriter Should Hate

Not requesting upfront payment for a project. I’m totally sold on that not being a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong, though; sometimes you can let it slide, especially when you draft a contract that specifically says you’ll get paid regardless of what the ‘client’s client’ or the client itself says about your work. The fact is this: people don’t care about you. You’re nothing more than a penniless writer. So why should they pay you if it’s not perfect? They’ll wine and dine you, tell you how wonderful your words are and spout out fantasies about you making a million presidential flashcards, but when all the real cards are on the table, and you deliver a product that according to the client is ‘subpar’ or ‘not up to the expectation,’ the bottom line is this –

You’re not getting paid. Even though you slaved, toiled, tried, jumped through all their corporate hoops for hours and hours and hours. You don’t deserve to get paid.

The Second Thing Every Copywriter Should Hate

Letting the client determine the deadline. I’ve decided to believe that this is the doomsday of any writer.

Look: I get it when a client says that something needs to be done by [insert date]. I understand. I also understand that it’s one of the main priorities of any good writer to work hard and try to deliver at a set time. I, however, should elaborate when I talk about deadlines, in that a client really should be upfront about when they really want the work completed. Don’t “expect” something to be done “fast.” Say when you want it.

That being said, a good writer should take a good look at his or her current work schedule and determine whether or not that’s something feasible. This overlaps, too, with the first thing every copywriter should hate, that if the client’s going to wine and dine you and expect you to get in on the action at [insert date deadline], undoubtedly that copywriter should expect some form of upfront payment for having to clear out the entire work schedule with other clients just to get that project done at said deadline!

Just sayin’.

What You Should Do About This….

Be selective. Some clients are exemplary. Some clients — no matter how big the company or organization may be — are simply not. You want the former, not the latter. Ask for an upfront payment, or have the client sign that agreement stating that they will pay the flat fee/hourly rate/per word rate upon completion of the project. Period. There are no exceptions. There’s no “satisfaction guaranteed.” You are worth the work, worth the money, worth the time. And if you don’t measure up to their expectations, that’s their problem. Let them deal with their own superficiality. Move on if they don’t agree to your contract or upfront fee policy. That client isn’t good enough for you.

Secondly, and this is a much simpler solution: be honest. If the client’s expecting a specific deadline, take a good look at the truth of it all. Can you do it? Yes, or no? Can they pay upfront enough for you to push your entire schedule aside to meet their deadline? Those are valid questions. Ask them. Be truthful. Be professional. If they can’t pay anything additional, walk away. That’s it. You do not need to stress out with so much on the plate. It is okay to say ‘no’ to a new client.

Above All Else….

You’re not a ‘penniless writer.’ And you do deserve to get paid.


The Scary Dog in the Cage

Frivolity is very much like that: a scary dog in a cage. Sure, it might look scary, and even sound scary. But in the end…. it’s just a dog in a cage. And it can’t hurt you.

Frivolousness doesn’t scare me. Keep trying to shake me down; I’ll keep coming back up. And I’ll never get put in that cage.

Soon karma will come after those who seek frivolity after you. And you’ll find that those others will be the ones actually stuck in that cage with the dog. Not a pretty predicament to be in for anyone.


New Developments in My Life

My GOD, it’s been awhile since I posted on the portfolio website. For good reason, though — as I’ve been a busy man, seemingly too busy to write a simple post or two here. I have to update, specifically, because I’m in a major milestone of my life worthy of addressing on here. Because, as you know, as a writer, I reach from within to gather experiences, emotions and lessons learned to craft my creations effectively. That’s the true adage of a writer.

Before I get too on my soapbox to the point where I’m slipping on all the suds, let me point out one important fact: I have a couple specific readers – dedicated readers — on the blog that I particularly enjoy having. This post is for them. They seem to be so interested in everything I post here. Read on.

I have received a type of godsend today, an amazing turn of events I never expected to the point that I’ve got to wonder if someone up there in Heaven really is watching me. Not that I never thought the Lord was on my side in the first place. This was just one major revelation, though, to prove that He is, in fact, right here beside me, making sure justice will be served. It’s been confirmed for me, I guess.

I won’t go into detail about this, other than you, the rest of my readers, can believe that this is about a cause, a noble cause, mind you, one of individualism, honesty, truth and the drive to strive and be what I must be despite all the obstacles in my way (and believe me, there are a LOT of them). You may not even realize it, but times can be so trying in your life that you might feel alone in all of it. I have news for you. You’re not. Pivotal points in your fight for what’s right will suddenly arise unexpectedly to encourage you toward believing that everything in life will, in fact, be just fine. And justice will be served.

I know there are some, two in particular (who may be reading this right now), who might think I’m “overly-emotional” or “dramatic” or whatnot, and that’s fine. I applaud them. I hope that’s what they think of me. I wouldn’t want it any other way. The fact is this: it doesn’t matter what they think of me. All that matters is the truth. And the truth will also arise to erase every unfortunate happening as if it never occurred. And better believe it — but, rightfully so, the roles, for the first time ever, and surprisingly, will be completely reversed. And eyes will be opened. Consequences will be delivered. Count on it.


The Legal Industry Strikes Back

Do you love the Star Wars trilogies? I do. And, yes, even the prequels. Go ahead — hate on me.

But that’s not the purpose for this post. Oh, no, no, no. The copywriting is definitely progressing, as it should, in my office, as The Rainmaker Institute has just contracted with me to do some major work for major law firms all over the United States (in a galaxy far, far away).

The force is strong with this one.


Moving on Up Professionally

Part of professionalism as a freelancer is having the ability to be flexible with payment from clients. Guess what: PayPal Here has got the goods on that!

For the first time, as a dedicated independent professional copywriter, I am now able to accept all credit card transactions. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, even American Express. I can even do the ‘swipe’ if the client’s face to face with me. Talk about convenience!

I think that’s a huge part of professionalism, by the way. When a client can get on the phone with me and purchase a project for me to develop by just giving me a few credit card numbers — that’s convenience and flexibility 101.

It’s key to landing the best clients, really.


The Quintessential Cuisine Copywriter

It’s no secret: I love food. I love all kinds of food. Get me happy enough, and I might try to be adventurous enough to eat some of the more, how do you say, ‘risky’ delicacies of the world that most people might retch over! Yes, I’m that adventurous.

For sure, if there’s one thing a copywriter needs to really experience is the ability to write about food!

I Digress, Though

The real reason for me writing this post, though, isn’t to necessarily make any monumental point leading toward enlightenment in the field of copywriting, sales writing, content writing, etc. etc..

I’m simply writing this, because it just so happens I was taking a break from my work at the office here in this business complex to peruse the halls, and I came across a hidden gem: GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine.

What’s awesome about this is the restaurant is based right in the same building. And it’s a tiny, quaint, atmospheric, yet family-driven and dynamic establishment serving quite honestly the best type of Indian food I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. Savory. Sweet. Easy. Simplistic, yet complex in design and beauty. In a nutshell (or chick pea, as that’s a common ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine), major, major, major thumbs up. I highly recommend GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine.

And just another reminder about how cool it is to have my own office here with a boatload of unique businesses in the building. Oh, look — there’s a salon here, too….


Time For Ludicrous Speed

You know, it’s been awhile since I’ve been current on my technology, although I’ve been doing relatively well with it. But the fact is this:

Mobility means accelerated frequency.

I simply mean that the more you’re able to bring your content generators and word processors with you, the more often you can potentially update your blog or web site — and that’s very good for business as a professional writer.

In a nutshell, I’ll be able to post more content on here. Why? Because I now have the mobile ability to do so.

Yes indeedy, light speed is too slooowww.

(I did in fact write this post on my snazzy new smartphone. Fo sheezy, my neezy.)


Let’s Take a Break From Freelance Writing….

And recognize something monumental occurring on the 19th of December. Check this link out!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/webbweaverbooks/2012/12/19/webbweaver-books-proudly-presents-pierre-roustan


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