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Wordsmiths!
March 1, 2007 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Ink-stained wretches need not apply. "This is probably terribly unfair, but I just never quite trusted a writer whose letterhead described him or her as a "wordsmith," a "scrivener," "écrivain" (with or without the diacritical), or an "ink-stained wretch." Nor was I favorably impressed by printed citations of honors received ("James Beard Award-Winner Biff Bartleby, Scrivener"). And kids, please, no personal logos: Above all, avoid cute drawings of kitty cats at laptops, or manly fists grasping ostrich-plume pens." And other things freelance writers should avoid. (From Mediabistro; registration may be required.)
posted by Man-Thing (61 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sound advice in there. I recently found myself on the other side of recruitment for the first time, and jeez, the number of people who didn't follow this guy's Rule One amazed me.

I didn't have to register, so don't be deterred from clicking that link.
posted by imperium at 6:49 AM on March 1, 2007


I posted this because I, too, have been on both sides of the desk. As a freelancer I have sent out innumerable queries without receiving the courtesy of a reply--sometimes from magazines for which I have written in the past. As an editor I have been chewed out by writers who want to inform me that I am really stupid for turning down their article ideas. The relationship between editors and freelancers, at times, is like a marriage gone sour, when both partners spend much time complaining about the annoying habits of the other. Perhaps with good reason. In general, though, I'm on the freelancers' side--they have a much tougher time of it. In a perfect world, every editor would be forced to attempt to live as a freelancer and see what it's like. Kind of like an ink-stained version of It's a Wonderful Life.
posted by Man-Thing at 6:50 AM on March 1, 2007


All pretty reasonable rules, and it blows my mind that people have trouble with them.
posted by COBRA! at 6:55 AM on March 1, 2007


My standard answer to a premature "What do you pay?" was always "We don't pay anything until we hire you and you do the job."

Good luck to Saveur (he complains about "écrivains" but works for an American magazine called 'Saveur'??) with a douchebag like this playing editor-in-chief. Usually an outfit that doesn't specify rates beforehand is some rag that pays just enough to sustain the ego of hobbyists who just love seeing their name in some magazine (who commonly describe themselves as 'écrivain' and 'wordsmith', you see), but certainly not enough for a serious, professional journalist to actually live on. Or is it different on your side of the pond?
posted by NekulturnY at 6:56 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Re: #7

If you can't develop the patience necessary to not blow up an editor's inbox on a daily basis it helps to have multiple submissions for different articles out at once. That way you can take a week to obsess about each in turn, which generally stretches out the periods between those desperate breakdowns of personal restraint that result in annoying correspondence.

The actual patience development thing came for me after getting a couple articles published. Then the overall desperation level lessened considerably.
posted by The Straightener at 7:00 AM on March 1, 2007


Is it OK to call myself a wordsmith if I literally hammer them out on an anvil in a barn heated by a coal fire?
posted by DU at 7:00 AM on March 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


One thing I have often seen editors and experienced writers refer to--without the further details that would be so useful--is "common beginner mistakes" in the actual MS, not the query. The clear implication is that there are common mistakes that are somewhat beyond the level of submitting handwritten copy, or being unable to do a spellcheck, or form a grammatical sentence or a coherent paragraph, but that still shout "beginning writer." Yet what these mistakes are remains an unrevealed secret. Why? If someone who is actually privy to the list and has examples could just be intensively interrogated about it until he cracks and spills, I'm sure there's a book in it.
posted by jfuller at 7:03 AM on March 1, 2007



Is it OK to call myself a wordsmith if I literally hammer them out on an anvil in a barn heated by a coal fire?


Yes, only on resumes and business cards created through this process.
posted by drezdn at 7:05 AM on March 1, 2007


Also, telling an editor you've never worked for that they're stupid for not wanting your story is considerably different than having a comeback for an editor you've worked with in the past.

I pitched a story recently and I suspected the editor thought my take on it would be different than what I was thinking (judging by her response), so of course I wrote back and clarified, with a "and if you still don't want it, that's fine, too." I can't IMAGINE telling an editor I'd never worked with that they were stupid for not wanting a story, though.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:16 AM on March 1, 2007


Sometimes you can get interesting submissions from people who don't read your publication. When I was at an aviation magazine, we once received airplane poetry from P.J. Soles, a.k.a. Riff Randell of Rock 'n' Roll High School. We couldn't use any, but still, it was fun to receive. (Can't remember any of it--sorry.)
posted by Man-Thing at 7:20 AM on March 1, 2007


He didn't name the magazine, NekulturnY, he just works there. Saveur is one of the premiere food magazines in the US... If he declines to declare a per word rate, it will have zero effect on the number of writers pitching him ideas.
posted by mzurer at 7:21 AM on March 1, 2007


What I Learned About Freelancing as a Web Designer

1. Hire an illustrator. Fire the clip art of Mr. Wizard or at least get rid of the drop shadow and tone down the colors from primaries.

2. Pull-Quotes in acid green? Seriously?

3. Add some margin to help your forum bars breathe.
posted by hal9k at 7:25 AM on March 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


From the parenthetical last sentence of rule number 3:

a year or so's worth of issues before sending of your query

Dude, I'm going for your job, so of course I make my own rules.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:35 AM on March 1, 2007


Working at a small press with universally ignored submission guidelines I've gotten every kind of submission one can imagine:

Notes scrawled on a napkin, mimeographed Dr. Bronnersesque 1000 page rants about LBJ kidnapping the Lindbergh Baby, a "Roman a' Clef" fictionalizing the life of Lee Iacoca self-published with a cover that includes menswear catalog clipart from the the seventies and hand cut and pasted cars all over it, endless satanic abuse memoirs featuring Dick Cheney (these are actually usually well presented, with concise query letters and correctly formatted sample chapters and so on), bizarre threats, pleas for help, very sweet biographies of distant relatives who were navigators in the Merchant Marine in the fifties and never did one single thing of note in their lives, children's books about Jefferson Starship (really!) and one nice lady included a home baked oatmeal cookie wrapped in foil that I threw into a dumpster around the corner instantly. The hand clutching the quill pen thing is so ubiquitous that it stopped being ironically charming or kitschy long, long ago.

If I may address the mefi membership as a representative of the public at large I would like to assure each and every one of you that you are all utterly insane weirdos and it's a marvel that anything gets done in the world outside of murder-suicide, trash hoarding and forum posts about Grey aliens. That having been said, we welcome your submissions and while the financial constraints of independent publishing do not allow us to publish everything that is submitted to us, even if we find it worthy, we wish you the best of luck and would be happy to hear from you in the future.

I love unsolicited manuscripts and if I hit that 260 million dollar powerball I'm totally going to open a publishing house that exclusively publishes (unedited, natch) slush.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:39 AM on March 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


Hey DU!----You mean like this?
posted by sourwookie at 7:43 AM on March 1, 2007


So I'm sitting at my desk at around 10:45 on a Thursday morning, working endlessly on the query letter that I seem to have devoted hours to already, without it getting one tiny bit better. So I decide to switch over to metafilter for a bit of procrastinating, time wasting, and much needed creative release.
And of course, the first thing I see is this.

Sigh. There is no rest for the weary.
posted by crackingdes at 7:47 AM on March 1, 2007


Thanks for the info, mzurer. If it's well known that Saveur pays decently, that's another matter entirely, of course. But I still wouldn't start a story before I knew what I could invoice. And Saveur is still a terribly pretentious name - it also sounds a lot like 'Poseur', which could explain why mr. Douchebag was asked to run it.

jfuller, since you ask about the List:

- bad structure will betray your beginner status. Poorly structured stories & interviews will end up as a collection of rambling paragraphs with no clear purpose or angle, filled with "interesting" details that do not serve the story. In short, they will be boring, which is also a giveaway. Story arcs are good.

- a missed ending is a clear sign of a beginner; ideally you strive for an emotional ending, a strong send off. You're aiming for something like the last sentence of James Joyce's 'The Dead'. Beginning writers will end the story where they run out of story material.

- the dead giveaway is of course: not accepting any feedback (and insisting that your story is exactly the way it should be, when in fact your sentences are too long and your story is a boring collection of rambling paragraphs with no clear purpose or angle, and is filled with etc. etc.).

- (mostly music) interviews that are made with the express intent of showing how witty, clever, interesting, deep, and thoughtful the 23 year old interviewer is, and how expansive is his (it's mostly guys) knowledge of this particular music niche that nobody cares about. Often, these interviews will have the lead singer of a struggling, obscure band saying things like: "Wow, that's an amazing remark!" or "That's actually a very good question".
posted by NekulturnY at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


it helps to have multiple submissions for different articles out at once. That way you can take a week to obsess about each in turn
Fascinating. I used to take a similar approach to dating.
posted by deanc at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2007


I pitched Saveur a few weeks ago and got a very polite, personalized rejection in 48 hours. I was ecstatic!
posted by veggieboy at 7:54 AM on March 1, 2007


...wordsmith," a "scrivener," "écrivain" (with or without the diacritical), or an "ink-stained wretch."

Do people really put that on their letterhead? Really?
posted by generichuman at 7:55 AM on March 1, 2007


The number of would-be writers out there who Don't Get It is scary. Back in the day, the ones I particularly looked forward to--and there were several--were the query letters that asked if we had any editing work available, mis-spelling "editing" as "editting".

I wrote back to one of them, pointing out that mis-spelling the title of the job that one was applying for when a prerequisite of the job is being able to spell was pretty much an instant kill for the application, and got a tetchy response saying that it had only been in an email and therefore "didn't count". As a technique for getting me to reappraise their resume, it was unconvincing.
posted by Hogshead at 8:08 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Ink-stain wretch"? Is that something I'd need to use a pen to know about?

I'd think the computer eqivalent might be "willing carpal tunnel sufferer" or something.
posted by wendell at 8:12 AM on March 1, 2007


He didn't name the magazine, NekulturnY, he just works there.

I'm not sure how true that is...

Colman Andrews was the co-founder of Saveur and its editor-in-chief from 2002 through 2006. He has written thousands of articles, reviews, and miscellaneous items for magazines and newspapers in the course of his 40-plus-year career.

posted by drezdn at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2007


I thought I'd read somewhere that Shakespeare's business card had, in kind of a Comic Sans font, the words Play Doctor in big letters, underneath which was an illustration of some kittens dressed in doctor and nurse uniforms. Or maybe it was bunnies. (Or maybe it was Neil Simon.)

I haven't written anything but emails to editors in years, but way back when I kept my stationery simple. I did, though, worry about what stamp went on the query envelope. "Don't give me those Love stamps," I'd tell the post office people. "I don't want this editor to think I'm a little old lady from Pasadena."

In truth, editorial mail is probably opened in some cave below the offices, by lower-grade Morlocks, and the person it's addressed to rarely sees it.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:31 AM on March 1, 2007


Notes scrawled on a napkin, mimeographed Dr. Bronnersesque 1000 page rants about LBJ kidnapping the Lindbergh Baby, a "Roman a' Clef" fictionalizing the life of Lee Iacoca self-published with a cover that includes menswear catalog clipart from the the seventies...

Reminds me of a friend who works for a funding body for live art/performance/novelty bloodletting type artists - he couldn't find the source of a strange stench in the office, and after a day spent combing the entire building it turned out the smell came from an application for funding. In the form of a pork pie covered in eyelashes.

Also, is this piece stuck in the past? All seems very formal. I've never heard of a 'query', and have only ever pitched stories in a quick email or over the 'phone. Admittedly I'll have put a wee bit of effort into the quick email if it's going to a publication or editor I've never written for before, but... a written pitch, on headed notepaper? Weird.

This is probably terribly unfair, but I just never quite trusted a writer whose letterhead described him or her as a "wordsmith," a "scrivener," "écrivain" (with or without the diacritical), or an "ink-stained wretch."

I think I can safely say that no editor I have worked with would ever employ someone who described themselves in such terms, and, in fact, would laugh right in their faces. Getting the term right is tricky, though - in magazines that have those extended byline thingies, I'm almost always identified as a 'visual arts writer and critic' or similar, which would be fine if it didn't make me sound like such an absolute tosspot.
posted by jack_mo at 8:34 AM on March 1, 2007


> Do people really put that on their letterhead? Really?

Twenty years ago, when I was working at an urban printshop where resumes and stationery were our daily trade, I could easily find stuff in our files worse than that. Twee Levenger-fueled fantasy personas are neither special nor rare.
posted by ardgedee at 8:36 AM on March 1, 2007


Bunch of losers sitting around in a bar. (Throws back a drink.) "Oh yeah, I used to be a freelance writer, it's a tough racket."
posted by three blind mice at 8:41 AM on March 1, 2007


What about Dreamweaver? That's ok, right?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:41 AM on March 1, 2007


This is why I cut out all the bullshit and just had "Master of the physical world" printed on my cards.
posted by smackwich at 8:48 AM on March 1, 2007


As an editor (and former freelancer) I have to say that I agree with everything he says. Rule #7 especially.
posted by tiger yang at 8:55 AM on March 1, 2007


In truth, editorial mail is probably opened in some cave below the offices, by lower-grade Morlocks, and the person it's addressed to rarely sees it.

It's true. I was one of those Morlocks at Harper's. If a submission wasn't sent in by an agent, chances were good it went to the slush pile to be read (and mocked) by bitter, unpaid interns.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:14 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I've been toying with the idea of trying to get published somewhere, somehow, but my brief stint at a literary agency still causes me to get the screaming, paralytic heebie jeebies when it comes to actually envisioning myself contacting a publisher.

Well, that and the actually writing something good part.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:40 AM on March 1, 2007


Metafilter: a pork pie covered in eyelashes.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:57 AM on March 1, 2007


God, oh God, I hate freelancing. Well, no, I love the writing part, and the getting the story part, and even the editing process. I am, if I do say so myself, passable at all those things.
I fucking hate query letters, I fucking hate coming up with a great idea and then scrambling for places to sell it, I hate the miserable pay and ADD schedule...
Oh, that reminds me, gotta start searching for more work again...
(My dream is to be the editor at some vanity press where I can seek out great writers, come up with innovative theme issues, write what I'd like to, and have it all glossily-funded by some trust fund dilettante who wants all of the prestige but has no idea how to run a magazine).
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 AM on March 1, 2007


My experience is that 60 percent of stuff published in small press is by the editor's idiot friends, who have freelanced at the paper for years, can't write to save their loves, refused to be edited, and won't write to established word lengths or spellcheck. 39 percent is written by the staff themselves. The remaining one percent is written by a freelancer who happened to pitch the right story at the right moment, and who will never be published in that paper again. I suspect similar publishing behavior is true throughout the world of the written word.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:18 AM on March 1, 2007


People actually make a living writing? besides best-seller type guys? (I'm not being sarcstic, I'm honestly stunned). Sounds like a dream, but the whole idea seems too otherworldly to even consider.
posted by jonmc at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2007


and I always figured an ink-stained wretch was what happened after you got drunk and ate your Bic ballpoint.
posted by jonmc at 10:21 AM on March 1, 2007


a "Roman a' Clef" fictionalizing the life of Lee Iacoca self-published with a cover that includes menswear catalog clipart from the the seventies and hand cut and pasted cars all over it

James Lileks submitted stuff to you guys? Nifty.
posted by grubi at 10:27 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


As an editor (and former freelancer) I have to say that I agree with everything he says. Rule #7 especially.

As a freelancer, I have to admit #7's one of those damned-if-you-do, really-damned-if-you-don't things. The only way I've ever gotten work from cold queries was by following up on them within a couple weeks by phone - often as not to talk to an editor who didn't read it, can't find it on his desk or in his inbox, or has some vague memory of the first two sentences, which contained the words "wind power," and they just did a climate change story like two years ago, so it's not really their thing.

Whereas any time I've sent a carefully crafted pitch email (or paper-copy query with samples and the works) to an editor I've never met personally, it's gone completely unanswered unless I've followed up semi-pesteringly on it soon after. Not even a fuck-you-very-much without the follow-up. Which, when you've spent a day and a half crafting the damn thing, makes you want to tell M. Saveur to stuff nos. 1 through 4 right up his smug ass, because he and his colleagues don't respond to those who obey them anyway.

Also editors: Would it kill you to reciprocate on #3 with a two-minute Google search (or even just a scan of the query thorough enough to get to the bio at the bottom)? This would save those of us who are well-established veteran freelancers from having to bite our tongues against your "Well, since you've never worked for us" skepticism and condescention. Ah yes, because the basic rules of storytelling have transmogrified into something of such Joycean complexity on the pages of your niche-market, image-driven mag that hasn't run a feature more than 2,000 words long in 20 years that a decade of pro writing might not be sufficient work experience to trust you can deliver a decent story on time. Which, along with the shit pay that's always late and the unreturned queries and the rest, does in fact make the grass on our side of the fence kind of comparatively brownish.

/PetPeeveFilter
posted by gompa at 10:31 AM on March 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


People actually make a living writing? besides best-seller type guys?

Lots of people do.

Many many many fewer people actually make a living writing freelance. At least, not in the current Toronto market. The J-schools churn out lots of wide-eyed and enthused young "professional journalists" creating a glut in the market, and a seemingly increasing number of hobbyists turn slush piles into slush mountains.

Le sigh. Mid-twenties with a fulltime copywriting gig, and I'm already jaded.
posted by generichuman at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2007


Screw all this noise. I'm going into graphic design.
posted by thecaddy at 10:46 AM on March 1, 2007


(By which I mean, I once had high hopes of making a living writing, spent years getting bad grades to work on the student paper, and discovering that as much as I love writing, I just don't know if I have the moral strength necessary to get into the business after reading everything that's been said in this thread. To say nothing about my rampant cynicism about news media that's been developing over the last two years or so. And my love for run-on sentences. And sentence fragments.)
posted by thecaddy at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2007


It is interesting to see how many Mefites seem to be wordsmiths, scriveners, écrivains, (with or without the diacritical), and ink-stained wretches.

Perhaps we should sell services. "FPP and comment ghostwriting services - $35 USD."

Then, we can start to underbid each other and become jaded, cynical, and eventually start working in PR.
posted by generichuman at 11:02 AM on March 1, 2007



Heh, generichuman! (I parsed that as "gene rich human" on first glance)

I am someone who actually makes a living as a freelancer and I have to say, the pet peeve about "wordsmith" etc. matches my own. I've always felt that if you fetishize writing that much, you probably aren't actually doing much of it or haven't for long. It seems embarrassingly adolescent to enshrine an identity like that, also. But I know some nice, smart people who do it-- so I just quietly cringe for them.

You do have to follow up with editors, but you also have to know when to back off. It's basically the art of nagging without being perceived as too much of a nag.

Likewise, when you want something from writers or editors, it pays to approach them with an attitude of humility-- if you let people know you know you are possibly being a pain in the butt, they are far more likely to help you. If you come on with arrogance and assume they live to help you, watch out.

I really, really hate people who contact me for advice on the subject I write about without reading *anything* I've written first and without intending to do so. I would never even consider doing something like that.
posted by Maias at 11:47 AM on March 1, 2007


I worked as the Submissions Editor for a mid-sized theatrical publishing company for about five years, and worked as a freelance writer before, during, and after that period. Incidentally, 2006 was the first year I was able to support myself entirely by writing, without having to supplement my income with temp jobs or less savoury activities.

While my experiences as an editor were of a significantly different type, as we were most often sent completed works (in theory) rather than idea proposals, I agree with most of what this guy says. I never got a submission from an "ink-stained wretch" or "wordsmith", but there were similar warning signs my subfield.

I think some people are taking his "don't ask about money" bit the wrong way. It was pretty easy to find out how much we payed, but if someone had asked me that in a random, off-the-street submission query, I admit that would have found it incredibly presumptuous. It's all about appropriate time, place, and tone.

Of course, having worked on both sides, I hate everyone equally, editors, writers, and publishers alike. Some more than others ... a poetry publisher who wanted to expand into plays wanted to publish something of mine once, and they were astounded that I wanted money for it. Apparently, in the world of poetry, it is not uncommon to actually pay for the privilege of being published. WTF?

Incidentally, as an editor, I opened all my own mail, and read every single submission, cover to cover. And, yes, I was told by other editors that I was insane for doing this.
posted by kyrademon at 11:48 AM on March 1, 2007



... or manly fists grasping ostrich-plume pens...

But ... but ... but...
posted by From Bklyn at 11:59 AM on March 1, 2007


I've had pitches accepted by Colman Andrews, generally quite promptly. He's a delight to work with and a completely unpretentious person. Saveur is going swiftly downhill now that he has left.
posted by Eater at 12:24 PM on March 1, 2007


I've never made a full living from freelancing, and am astonished by those who do. I have worked as an editor, and this guy is being polite. It enrages me to see how many people want to be writers because they think it's easy, and they pollute the pool making it a lot harder for professionals to get noticed.

(Okay, I'm mailing query letters out now on a novel, and I'm a little bitter).

The best submission package I ever got included poems and clip outs from porn magazines. This was from aguy who wanted to write CD reviews. I didn't give him the job. He wanted his package back and I had to find all the porn samples that had scattered around the paper's office.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:27 PM on March 1, 2007



Actually, I think the guy's comment about asking "what do you pay?" is dead wrong.

I ask that upfront because some surprisingly prestigious publications pay so little that it is not worth my time to write for them (literally-- it would cost me more to do the research and reporting than I would make).
posted by Maias at 1:01 PM on March 1, 2007


Actually, I think the guy's comment about asking "what do you pay?" is dead wrong.

I ask that upfront because some surprisingly prestigious publications pay so little that it is not worth my time to write for them (literally-- it would cost me more to do the research and reporting than I would make).


Trust me: you can make it up in volume(s).
Full Disclosure: I write sofa-size books.
posted by hal9k at 1:41 PM on March 1, 2007


Heh - I guess I should have checked out his bona fides before making that flip remark!

The list does come off as pretty douchey, but after that first reaction, I sat back and wondered if I believed that he could have received so many poorly though-out proposals as to make such a list meaningful. I decided can believe it, and it makes me more sympathetic to a prickly demeanor.
posted by mzurer at 1:51 PM on March 1, 2007


There are two kinds of freelancers: the ones for whom "freelancing" is a euphemism, and the ones for whom "freelancing" is an actual career.

What separates the two? In my experience, a spell of suffering. I'm making ends meet as a freelancer in Toronto, but first it meant a barely-paid magazine internship, then a year of absolute poverty and mounting debt, as I scrabbled for writing work, and grew my pool of contacts. More work might have been out there, but I was too busy learning to get up on time of my own accord to go find it. Learning to work for yourself is hard, as everyone who's done it knows.

Faced with months of uncertaintly like this, a lot of people do the sensible thing and get jobs - some as editors, some as copywriters at newswires, some in other fields altogether. The upshot is that there's not an enormous pool of full-time freelancers who have gone through the poverty period and are established enough to be reliably on-call when newspaper and magazine editors need them. So once you arrive at career freelancing from euphemism freelancing, the work's not bad.

It can be done, but it takes time.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:16 PM on March 1, 2007


‘Fartsmith’ ok then?


(TBM that was damn funny

Metafilter: Bunch of losers sitting around on Fark. (Throws back a drink.) "Oh yeah, I used to be a on Metafilter, it's a tough racket.")
posted by Smedleyman at 3:18 PM on March 1, 2007


Two experiences:

Looking for work at a well-known freelance auction site which shall not be named. Its strength seems to be in programming and expert (legal, technical) writing; looking for general freelance writing and editing work was the bottom of the barrel.

E.g. some client wants an e-book on "How to Become a James Bond Male." Another wants a piece on how to shampoo horses. The usual academic frauds appear, trying to convince you to write their Ph.D. dissertations in two weeks for $50 USD. The site often pulled these advertisements, but not always.

I had the definite impression that the auction site attracted the more-or-less English-proficient job-seekers from the globe, so that you were inevitably underbid by someone from India for whom $75 to write a 40-page e-book in two weeks was not a ludicrously small sum.

My other experience was working as a temp library cataloger in a school library that was desperate for books. Hence I had to catalog a number of self-published books. The titles, cover design, and content of the books still recur in my nightmares.
posted by bad grammar at 4:19 PM on March 1, 2007


Faced with months of uncertaintly like this, a lot of people do the sensible thing and get jobs - some as editors, some as copywriters at newswires, some in other fields altogether.

I certainly got seduced by that. But, what the hell. There's still time.
posted by generichuman at 6:00 PM on March 1, 2007


The best submission package I ever got included poems and clip outs from porn magazines. This was from aguy who wanted to write CD reviews. I didn't give him the job. He wanted his package back and I had to find all the porn samples that had scattered around the paper's office.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:27 PM PST on March 1 [+]
[!]


Well to be fair, you can't blame him, really. I mean, you know how sensitive most guys are about their package.
posted by perilous at 6:45 PM on March 1, 2007


He does forget the most important point for a freelancer: Make sure you have a day job. That's the best advice I've ever recieved on the subject of freelance journalism. I've made a little money writing, and once the costs come out it is a very little money indeed.

Stringing a quasi-coherent sentence together and whacking it in an envelope does not in way make you a writer. Kindly remove yourself and your puppy stationary from my profession so submissions editors can stop weeping into their burboun about you and finally get through the pile to me.

(Is is just me, or has this thread pulled out the more elaborate responses from Mefi? Lots of polysyllables, not so many LOLS.)
posted by Jilder at 7:52 PM on March 1, 2007


Stringing a quasi-coherent sentence together and whacking it in an envelope does not in way make you a writer. Kindly remove yourself and your puppy stationary from my profession so submissions editors can stop weeping into their burboun about you and finally get through the pile to me.

Do I smell a manifesto?
posted by generichuman at 8:51 PM on March 1, 2007


I really, really hate people who contact me for advice on the subject I write about without reading *anything* I've written first and without intending to do so. I would never even consider doing something like that.

No fair, maias. They've generally read one of your newspaper or magazine articles, or how else would they know to contact you in the first place?

They just aren't prepared to spend $20 on the book when they can have you give up your free time to answer their specific personal queries directly.

Form letters quoting your hourly consulting rates are your friend.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:47 PM on March 1, 2007


Hey, I've made a living as a freelance writer for nearly four years now producing craploads of content for evil corporate overlords.
posted by slogger at 10:48 PM on March 1, 2007


If you're sending an unsolicited query, I think it's appropriate to wait until your target expresses interest before asking about pay or anything else. It doesn't seem to me that the Saveur guy expects anyone to do any actual work without knowing how much money they'll get.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 2:07 AM on March 2, 2007


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