I try very hard to keep my visits to Writer Beware limited to weekend surfing, because anytime I start reading this fascinating site, I wind up losing tons of precious time. I just can’t stop reading this stuff! It staggers the imagination how many scams, bad deals, and predatory jackasses are wandering about looking for writers to take advantage of.
Today, I got caught up in the Writer Services section where you can get the latest on bogus “help” for book writers including pay-for-airtime radio scams, trade show book representation, and other dodgy deals. Most vexing to me was the “query and submission service” which preys on the busy writer’s need to get more submissions out the door whenever possible.
Granted, Writer Beware is aimed mainly at book authors, not article writers. Those of us who spend more time blogging, writing articles, and doing commercial writing work won’t need much of this advice until we start working directly in the book writing/publishing world–but I find this site quite valuable because it gives you a peek at the behavior and practices of scam artists. That kind of behavior isn’t limited to publishing books, and when you see an editor or a client behaving in the same way as these publishing con artists, you can quickly spot suspicious techniques and business practices if you know what to look for.
That’s why I encourage all writers to have a look at Writer Beware, getting literate in the art of the scam is a good way to protect yourself from getting blindsided by the same old tricks applied in innovative ways. Bravo, Writer Beware, you’re doing us ALL a public service.
This great blog got my attention today thanks to a fantastic list of links, resources and advice by Skellie called Your Home Office Library: 45+ Home Office Tips, Hacks and How-Tos. This piece is packed with info on setting up, organizing, and working at home. Anywired is a blog for anyone who wants to make money online, but in this case that phrase does NOT apply to “work at home” scams or other dodgy programs.
Skellie writes for freelancers, telecommuters, web business owners, anybody currently earning a buck with a net connection. I am seriously loving this blog. I get a lot of satisfaction from any blog that knows enough about the game to put “making money” and “finding work” in two separate categories. Cheers, Skellie–you’ve got new fans here. Anywired is tops with us.
In case you haven’t figured it out just by reading a few of these blog entries, I like reading Folio. Even as a freelancer, I find this magazine-centric site filled from top to bottom with useful and interesting content. Take Folio blogger Mark Newman’s recent entry, You Will Be Fired. Newman’s advice is aimed at people making careers in magazine publishing, but his excellent advice should also be required reading for anyone aspiring to make a go at freelancing full time. Newman compares the writer’s collection of published clips to a stock portfolio.
In the investment world, people who don’t diversify get killed. The same goes for freelance writers. Sure, you could spend a good deal of time writing nothing but articles about Creative Anachronism, how to make your own swords, and what to wear to the renaissance faire. You could also spend a lot of time sticking your thumb up your nose wondering why you only sell five to ten pieces per year.
Here are some ways you can branch out, flex your creative muscles, and try to pitch ideas to new markets you never even thought of touching before. Some of these ideas are certifiably nutty, and by design. The purpose is to get you thinking about your own work in ways you’re not used to:
5. Make a list of your topics of expertise. Now take each part of your list and find a secondary topic that is informed by your actual expertise. A good example–if you have a lot of experience writing about art, chances are you’ve got a lot of solid information about how artists go about promoting themselves. You can start writing pieces about PR and marketing using what you’ve learned from your art writing. The key is to play up the artist-as-relentless-self-marketer angle. Apply this idea to every entry in your list. You’ll be shocked at what you learn about yourself.
Continue reading Five Ways to Diversify Your Writing Portfolio
Any freelancer in the game for longer than say, five seconds, has run into scams specifically designed to lure writers and those who want to be writers. Some of these are direct rip-offs of your time or your work. Others aren’t deliberately out to hurt you but are run by people who are clueless about how the writing business works. Either way, it doesn’t really matter since the bottom line is wasted time, money and resources.
One example of a dubious publishing model is reported by Storycrafters, which ran complaints about a shady-sounding “get published” scheme at a website called ZootyandFlappers.com. Naturally I’d be willing to give both sides the benefit of the doubt, but the publisher of ZootyandFlappers went on an ill-considered written rampage against “writers beware” site Preditors and Editors. Bad move, that. The Bard springs to mind here, the lady doth protest too much.
I’ll try my best not to comment specifically on ZootyandFlappers.com. At publishing time, I don’t know whether it’s a scam site or not. I’d be a liar if I didn’t say it sounds dogdy, but I have reasons I’ll get to in a moment. For me the jury is out because I just don’t know enough, but I know when I smell a rat–and there is a definite rodent bouquet in the air over this particular controversy. With that in mind, here are my own personal warning signs that absolutely scream “STAY AWAY”.
Continue reading Are You Being Scammed? Warning Signs for Writers