Tag Archives: agent

Tips for finding a place to work and sleep in Algarve, on the south coast of Portugal

2018-01-03

These tips were written with digital nomads and remote workers in mind, but the travel guide where the tips have been extracted from (Algarve, Southern Portugal) features much more information on accommodations, sights, beaches, villages, culture, activities, food, and towns.
Carvoeiro, Algarve, PortugalHouses on the coastal cliffs of Algarve, Portugal.
Professionals who can work anywhere as long as the supply of electricity and decent Internet access are guaranteed have discovered Algarve’s pleasant climate and peaceful lifestyle. Lisbon and Porto are the business centers of Portugal, but the whole point of staying in Algarve is to manage a business remotely.

Even though the region lacks big cities, the largest towns have nightlife, and popular pubs have crowds from lunch time onwards. Internet access in coastal towns is relatively reliable, but having a backup connection, like a mobile data connection for Internet access, is imperative.

A wide range of hotels and holiday homes are available for short and long term stay in Algarve. If you want to stay in large towns, like Albufeira, Lagos, or Portimao, the chances are that the best selection and best prices are for rooms in apartment blocks. Townhouses, bungalows, and other types of places with a terrace or a small garden are easier to find in small towns or villages, such as Luz or Carvoeiro. In addition, villas are available for rent on the outskirts of towns and in the countryside.

Many apartment blocks built for tourism come with a community pool. In winter, the pool may be closed. Another nice feature with recently-built apartment blocks is that they tend to have spacious balconies. For instance, a place where I stayed on the outskirts of Albufeira was a one-bedroom apartment with three balconies. The kitchen, living room, and bedroom had their own balconies.

If you love to watch television, here is an important tip. Verify the channels that can be viewed in the place you are going to stay. If it is only RTP (Portugal’s public broadcaster), you may have to do something other than watch television during your stay. I stayed one month in a place with only RTP channels, and I could only find one show that I could understand and watch: “The Voice of Portugal” singing contest every Sunday.
apartments for tourists in Albufeira, AlgarveApartments for tourists in Albufeira.
If you are looking for a place to stay and work for a few weeks, month, or more, I recommend getting in touch with local real estate agents. First, book a place for a few days only – perhaps via an online service. It will be your base while you search for a long-term place. You should have an idea of the area where you want to stay. If not, hire a car and drive along the bumpy roads of Algarve and explore. Once you have decided on the area, contact a real estate agent in that particular district. They will show you the places available at your price level. For instance, I once dealt with an agent who handled the maintenance and rentals of apartments for entire buildings in a particular section of a town.

The important thing in this whole process is that you actually see the place before you pay. The big, ugly problem with booking a long-term stay via an online service is that you have to pay without seeing the place. When you open the door, step in, and find that it is not like the web pages, you have already lost. In that situation, the only thing you can decide is what kind of loss you are going to take: money, time, or both. Maybe you grit your teeth and decide to stay, demand reimbursement from the landlord, or negotiate with the online service. In any case, you are going to lose precious working time with the hassle – and even more time if you have to start searching for new place to stay.

The better way is to research the area, contact an agent, and ask the agent to show you the place you intend to rent.

Even if the apartment where you are going to stay comes with Internet access, always get a backup connection. This is ridiculously easy to accomplish. Walk in to a mobile phone shop (for instance, Phone House) or a mobile network operator shop (MEO, NOS or Vodafone), ask for a data only SIM card, and choose your initial data amount. There are no formalities. After you have used the initial amount of data, you can top up online, at an ATM, or in a post office. I managed to top up my SIM card at a post office (cash only accepted).

book cover image: Algarve, Southern Portugal
The travel guide Algarve, Southern Portugal is available in all major bookstores, such as Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and Kobo.

Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide

Ebooks news digest: writer-editor relationship, travel stories from tourist perspective, changing role of agents

2017-02-04

Ebook news digest February 4, 2017

photographer taking a photo in flower field
A Storyteller’s Guide to Travel and Photography
(Wandering Educators)

Perhaps it is every professional travel photographer’s dream to be able to publish a book full of beautiful photos from exotic places. Travel photographer and writer David Noyes had another idea: he wanted to create a book that features photographs taken only in places where tourist sightseeing buses take travelers. His book is titled The Photographing Tourist – A Storyteller’s Guide to Travel and Photography, but it is only available as a paperback. Klaava Media is happy to produce an ebook from the manuscript so that travelers can save a little weight and space in their bags.

4 Truths That Will Change Your Perspective on the Writer/Editor Relationship
(Women Writers)

Good book editors can turn mediocre manuscripts into great, successful books, but only if the working relationship between the author and the editor is seamless. Jessica Strawser is the Editorial Director for Writer’s Digest, and she highlights four key elements that make or break the relationship. It is worth mentioning that writers who are planning to self-publish should give some serious consideration to finding someone who can help to finalize the manuscript. Applies both to fiction and non-fiction.

6 Insights into the Changing Role of Agents in 2017
(DBW)

Digital Book World 2017 conference was organized in the end of January. One of the expert panels comprised literary agents who discussed the state of the book business and its future. It is quite surprising how little the agents believe their world is changing despite the rise of digital media, independent publishers and self publishing. They acknowledge the presence of social media, at least.

10 Undervalued Up & Coming Digital Nomad Locations for 2017
(Maqtoop)

Of ten locations listed in the article I would pick Malaysia, and a place in mainland Malaysia (not Borneo as the article recommends). Excellent Internet (depends on the location, of course), fabulous food, nice people, English spoken widely, low living costs, and good transport connections to the rest of the world. A place in the Kuala Lumpur region could easily serve as a base for exploring the rest of Asia. The top choice in the article for digital nomads is Algarve, Portugal, but can it really match Spain or France as a safe, affordable and civilized destination for remote work can be subject of a heated debate.

5 Things You Can Do to Bring Your Writing Ideas (and Career) to Life
(Writer’s Digest)

Many books have been published on the techniques and details of writing a book, but not so many about the mental challenges a long project sets on aspiring authors. Nina Amir has written a book Creative Visualization for Writers that gives advice on having a right kind of mindset and doing mental exercises that help along in the long and complex process of writing.

woman thinking what to write

Ebook news digest: publishing trends 2017, tools for remote workers, tips for book proposals

2017-01-15

Ebook news digest January 15, 2017

bricks-and-mortar, book shop in Gothenburg
Top Ten Trends in Publishing Every Author Needs to Know in 2017
(Written Word Media)

Some bold predictions and some things that already have happened are featured in this article. 2017 will be an exciting year for ebook publishing. Digital markets are growing in many countries, for instance, in Europe, whereas in the US, big publishers rather sell paper books than ebooks. The rise of self-publishers and independent publishers will be one of the key trends to follow in 2017.

The Ultimate List of 22 Remote Work Tools Any Digital Nomad Needs in 2017
(Remoters)

Remote workers need good tools to be able to work both online and offline anytime and anywhere they happen to be. The ultimate list of tools introduced by Remoters features the usual suspects, but they are proven tools. We encourage Remoters and readers to think about two issues: offline work situations and being locked out of your free cloud service account. We have argued against using Google services for business or freelance work because of risks that particularly traveling workers will eventually face.

What To Know Before You Submit: 28 Great Tips from Literary Agents
(Writer’s Digest)

This is actually a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) with expert answers to the mystery of how to approach an agent with a book proposal. It is worth mentioning that not all publishers, especially in Europe, require an agent to represent the author. If a publisher’s web site has instructions for submitting book proposals, follow the instructions and submit directly (for instance, here). The points, however, made in the Writer’s Digest article are very valid for those direct submissions as well.

Travel Photography Essentials
(Wanderlusters)

An accidental travel photographer carries a camera, and a lens or two along for a trip, but a travel photographer who shoots for money often has a bag full of photography equipment for a trip. Wanderlusters introduces a comprehensive kit for on the ground and underwater travel photography. Here is a travel photo gallery updated by our writers.

Best Events For Digital Nomads In 2017
(flystein)

Life of a digital nomad can be lonely unless you are participating in one of those organized tours that move from one country to another once a month. Plenty of online services can help you find fellow nomads and connect with others near your location. If you want to connect with hundreds or even thousands of digital nomads in one place, attend a conference. Yes, they exist for nomads, too.

This is why book publishers want details about potential authors’ blog and social media footprint

2016-12-17

If you already have had an opportunity to talk to a book publisher or an agent about your terrific book concept, you may have been asked about your blog and social media presence. For you, they don’t necessarily have anything to do with your aspirations as a writer. Maybe you don’t even have a blog and your social media is mostly about watching cat videos on Facebook. Here is the thing: when a publisher is estimating the size of the market for your book concept, the audience you are able to reach yourself can be a significant factor.
man thinking what to write on aptop
Let’s take an example. You have been living and working in Berlin, the capital of Germany, for a year. You have learned so much about the culture, country and people that you are planning to write a cultural guide to other foreigners who intend to move to Germany. If you have a travel blog where you discuss about the country, the city, the language and the way Germans behave, you probably have an audience. Your blog or other social media contribution is also a quick way for publishers and agents to browse how and what topics you write about. If, on the other hand, you have only updated your Facebook page that your family and friends read during the year, it really doesn’t count as an audience.

Without going into details of blogging, tweeting, instagramming or whatever will be the next big thing in social media, the key thing is: how many people you can reach on your own?

Many experts in the publishing business call this the Author Platform. For an extensive explanation on the Author Platform (also known as the Writer’s or Marketing Platform) and how to build one for yourself, read this article at Writer’s Digest.

The Platform concept is particularly useful for nonfiction writers. Publishers and naturally readers expect that the writer knows what he or she is talking about. The writer must be an authority of the topic of the book. This doesn’t mean that he or she should be a world-renowned expert, but should have the credibility so that the audience can trust the information in the book. Experienced, professional writers can write just about anything, but they have plenty of techniques and contacts for verifying the information they write.

If we use the cultural guide to Germany as an example, living and working for a year in Berlin gives enough experiences to write a book, but probably means that the guidebook won’t dive very deep into the local culture. If the aspiring author writes the manuscript in Berlin, it may take another year, and the authority only grows.

So, these two key things are the reasons why publishers and agents are interested in writers’ footprint (both in the real world and on the Internet):

1. Audience
2. Authority

When we discuss about writing and book publishing, we easily neglect an important factor that impacts both the publishing decision and the whole book project. Especially nonfiction books are not only about text, but also about photos, schemas, tables, drawings, and today also (thanks to ebooks) about animations and videos. If you can shoot decent photos or videos, draw pictures or put together smart data tables, it is a big advantage for you.
photographer taking a photo in flower field
If you have a plan for a nonfiction book, and are looking for an ebook publisher, read this as well.

How to artfully cheat on Airbnb

2016-10-27

Would you buy a second hand car from an individual without seeing the vehicle and test driving it? Probably not. Would you pay for a hotel room without seeing it? Yes, because a business is running the hotel and there are rules and laws it has to follow – not to mention that it probably wants positive customer reviews as well.

Would you pay in advance for accommodation published on Airbnb that is provided by an individual? Many travelers say yes, but we hesitate. Here is why.
airbnb screen shot
This is a story that recently happened to a writer who works with us. She was traveling, and exploring southern Europe when she needed a place to stay for a week. She had (and still has) a perfect visitor record at Airbnb. She wanted a whole apartment to herself where she could rest and write. So, she searched for a quiet, peaceful place near the sea.

She discovered a place she liked: a tastefully furnished, parties forbidden in the apartment because the neighborhood is so peaceful and quiet – perfect. According to the information on Airbnb, it was located near a fishing village that was only a short walk away from the apartment.

The problems started with the address. The owner of the apartment had given an address that couldn’t be found. An email was quickly sent out, and the landlord emailed another address (in another town) that was fairly easy to find. The real address wasn’t near the fishing village or the sea.

The arrival was a shock for her. The apartment was located in a barrio, in a neighborhood where people hang out on the streets in front of the houses. Broken windows in worn-out cars. Lots of dogs and cats running around free. Litter and feces on the pavements. Constant barking of dogs, people shouting at one another and car engines revving between buildings created the atmosphere for the barrio.

It was late, she had already paid for the accommodation, there was little else she could do, so she decided to stay. Inside in the apartment it was as advertised, at least.

Next morning, she wanted to take a walk by the sea. Smartphone navigator showed the shortest way – the only way – to the fishing village. A long way to walk, but she intended to take a taxi back. It was a narrow, busy road. She started walking, but soon realized the road was too dangerous because of heavy traffic.

The moment she stepped on the pavement outside the apartment she had to fend herself from dogs and stand the looks of boldly staring residents. There was no common language, only the message that she doesn’t belong there.

So, in order to quiet down the constant unrest outside and the creeping feeling of unsafeness, she listened to her iPod for one week, wrote a lot and swore she wouldn’t rent anything without seeing it first.

Now, she has a new problem. She has to be able to check a potential apartment before booking. She has lost her trust in virtual apartments. On Airbnb, it is not possible the review a real apartment before booking. The service strips phone numbers and other information that allow setting up a meeting between parties. She has to find another way of discovering and booking rentals. For now, she is contacting local real estate agents in a destination where she is going next.

How did the Airbnb host do it? The first trick was to advertise a fishing village as the location for the property, even though the real location was in a nearby inland town. Having a car would have been the only possible way to make the trip from the apartment to the beach. The second trick was to advertise it as a peaceful, calm place. Naturally, people have different opinions on what is noise and what is quiet, but for some reason, the noise level declined considerably every time the police made their daily visit in the barrio.

Is the landlord still getting away with it on Airbnb? Yes. Airbnb or the apartment owner haven’t changed a word in the property description. She wrote a polite and truthful review about the apartment but it didn’t have an effect on the description. At close inspection, there seems to be other reviews at Airbnb that mention exactly the same problems as the writer experienced.

Why didn’t she read all the reviews before booking? There are a few reviews that mention the same problems, but she trusted the property description and having read a couple of reviews, she thought everything was fine. She had stayed in other Airbnb places before this without concerns or major problems.

Since Airbnb is the business that publishes the information on properties, it is responsible for the accuracy of the information. Plain and simple. The host, of course, may disagree and refer to positive reviews that mention nothing about incorrect information or potential unsafety of the neighborhood. Ultimately, Airbnb has to decide who to trust and what is correct. If paying customers stop trusting Airbnb, that’s it. Game over.

If Airbnb neglects these kind of cases, it is only a matter of time before something really nasty happens to a customer, or customers get fed up, and the corporation’s business model will be under scrutiny.

For ages, real estate agents have acted as brokers between people who need short-term or long-term accommodation and people who own houses and apartments. The agents are successful only if the landlords and the renters trust the agent. If something is not right, the agent has to act. In every country, laws regulate how the business works, and what the responsibilities of the parties are.

Sharing economy is here, and we welcome everything it enables, but corporations have to carefully take every aspect of the new business model into consideration.

Checklist for writers: ten things to do when you are serious about writing a book

2015-11-15

Many writers believe that they have to write a complete manuscript before contacting publishers. That’s usually the case with fiction books, but a non-fiction book publishing process typically starts from an overall concept and book proposal.
eyeglasses on computer keyboard
Here is a ten step checklist for preparing yourself to writing a non-fiction book.

1. Devise a concept for your book.
This is the most important step that defines whether you should sit down and start writing or continue crystallizing your concept (or think of a whole new topic). If you can establish a credible and appealing concept for your book that also other people love, proceed. If you can’t formulate a brief description what the book is about and why it is valuable, you have to rethink your concept.
In some cases, publishers may have a concept and the table of contents ready for your book – if your book idea happens to fall into a series they are publishing. For example, Klaava Travel Guide is a series for travel writers.

2. What new information or new angle your book provides to readers?
It is highly likely that your idea for a book is not unique, but books already have been published about the same topic. Does your book bring anything new on the table, or does it approach the problem from a fresh angle that talks to readers in a new way? Above all, who are the readers of your book?

3. Identify three or five books that are similar to your idea.
In most cases, it is beneficial for your book that other books have already been published about similar topics you are thinking about. It proves there is a market for your book. Analyze the competing books and think what you can do better or do in a different, more interesting way.

4. Write an outline and table of contents for your book.
Table of contents and a brief outline are hugely important because they are the first documents you may present to potential publishers. This is the minimum publishers want to see if you approach them with your idea (often, they want more, but this is enough for many publishers to tell if they are interested, or don’t want to hear about you anymore).
Check out tips for creating a table of contents in this article.

5. Write a few sample chapters.
Write one, two or even three chapters – it doesn’t matter if they are from the beginning or from the end of your planned book. Writing actual chapters proves two things:

First, if you haven’t written a book before, you get a feel how it goes. It is important to think and develop your personal working process right from the start: how and when you do your research, when do you work, for how long, how you edit?

Second, publishers usually want to see sample chapters because it shows them what to expect from you.

6. Put together a proposal for your book.
Your book proposal must specify the following, at least:
– The book concept and outline
– The market for the book
– Competing titles
– Who are you and why you are the perfect person to write the book
– Table of contents
– Sample chapter(s)
– Your possibilities to market the book

7. Prepare to market the book yourself.
Usually, it is the publisher’s job to market the book, but they need and want the author to help. In many cases, especially in non-fiction books, the author is the best marketing tool for the product. Do you have a blog, what is your social media following, who do know among the potential audience of your book, do you have media contacts, can you tap on networks that relate to the book?

8. Not everyone needs a literary agent.
In some countries, publishers expect writers to have agents and won’t touch book proposals if they haven’t been evaluated by agents. In most countries, however, publishers receive and evaluate book proposals submitted by authors.

For instance, Klaava Media reviews non-fiction book proposals (and especially travel guidebook proposals) sent by writers themselves.

If you can get an agent, the benefit is that you get access to publishers who will listen to you agent. The agent also helps you with contract issues. Of course, you’ll have to pay the agent. Usually, it is a percentage of the income you get from the book.

9. Prepare yourself for rejections and waiting.
Do your research when you look for a publisher. If the publisher says that they only publish textbooks, don’t submit your culture-guide proposal there. Try to identify a publisher that covers the book genre and audience you are after.
Still, rejections are inevitable, and waiting for answers. The old school rule in publishing used to be that you should submit your proposal to one publisher at a time. Since some publishers don’t respond at all and it may take months from some publishers to respond, we don’t recommend following the old school rule anymore.

10. Writing a book is unlikely to make you rich.
Movies, music, and books are hit businesses. Only few products turn out to be hits that generate a lot of money for authors and other copyright owners. The rest of the products belong to the Long Tail category where products slowly sell a number of copies over time. Fortunately, ebooks – and digital media in general – has made the Long Tail possible, because a published ebook can be made available across the world for as long as you like.

Mack Collier’s article 10 Things You Need to Know to Get Published was the inspiration for this article.