Tag Archives: editor

The Holidays, Writing & Marketing

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Every year I do something that helps move my career forward during the holidays…

I market myself.

This means reaching out to people to touch base, getting my contacts organized, sending out some new feelers and other strategies designed to both keep me working and find new jobs. Here are some great things you can do to stay on top of things for 2013:

  • Send holiday cards. Sending out a simple holiday greeting is a great way to remind editors you are out there. Touch base and write a short note in the card. It’s good business.
  • Organize your address book. Add contacts that you should have in there and delete old e-mail addresses.
  • Research places to send an outreach e-mail to in the NY. Get an Excel document going with names and e-mails of people that you would like to reach out to for work in the New Year. Don’t send these e-mails over the holidays–they’ll probably never see light…but do get ready for your marketing push in January.
  • Look for reprint options. Sift through any articles you sold in 2012 and see if you can re-slant them for another publication in 2013.
  • Do your tax prep. I’d advise using an accountant, but no matter what you do for taxes, you’ll need to organize your receipts. Get it done while things are quiet and you’ll be thanking yourself in April. Believe me.
  • Network. Arm yourself with business cards for all of the holiday parties that you will be attending and pass them out like crazy. You just never know when someone will need a writer.

Do you have any good tactics for marketing yourself during the holidays? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

On Being A Professional Writer…

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Let’s talk definitions today, shall we?

So what exactly does being a “professional” writer mean?

Many people talk about professional writing in terms of money. After all–isn’t that what most people think of when they hear those words? If you are making money at writing you are professional. Right?

Well…sort of.

Professional writing is also an attitude. Acting in a “business-like” manner is also a part of being a pro writer–whether you are getting paid, or doing an assignment for free. So what are some of these characteristics that would make one a pro in this regard?

  • Always turning assignments in on time–or early.
  • Checking facts and figures.
  • Following the directions for an assignment to the letter.
  • Returning e-mails promptly.
  • Anticipating customer needs.
  • Maintaining professional correspondence.

That last point is one I’d like to say a word or two about…

Maintaining professional correspondence means not getting to “friendly” with your client. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly. Just remember that your client is a client. Because of the nature of the web, sometimes the relationship may begin to feel less formal, but it doesn’t mean you should start e-mails with “Hey there” or assume that you can turn something in a day late because the editor likes you.

Do you have any “requirements” for people who use the professional writer moniker? Do tell!

My Pet Peeves As A Writer

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

by Catherine L. Tully

Everyone has them, but they aren’t all the same.

Pet peeves are those little quirks that drive you up the wall as a writer. Not the typical fare–such as getting paid late or having a client that changes their mind all the time. I consider those normal.

It’s the other stuff I’m talking about here…

And I’m going to list a few of mine for you. Yep. Right here in the open. And I hope when you finish reading, you’ll share one or two of your own…

Here we go:

Pet peeve #1: No response after sending an invoice.

I love editors that shoot back a “thanks” or a “got it” when I send an invoice out. Otherwise I keep wondering if they did indeed receive it. Now I know it’s a quirk, but what can I say–I’m paranoid. And I like to get paid.

Pet peeve #2: The rush job panic.

I get that sometimes a writing project may need to be a “rush job”. What I don’t like is when the client still wants to get a deal in terms of price, or when they keep checking in to see the progress. If you want it more quickly, you should be prepared to pay a little extra. And if you keep e-mailing me or calling me, it’s less time I can spend getting the project done.

Pet peeve #3: Adding extras along the way.

I don’t mind scouting out photos for a piece, preparing a snappy sidebar to go along with an article or even sending in material for fact-checkers. What is hard is when those things are added at the last minute–and with a tight turnaround time. I’m happy to go the extra mile as long as I’m not expected to perform miracles.

Pet peeve #4: Silence.

It freaks me out when I have to get ahold of an editor and they don’t respond. If I have a question, I e-mail and ask it. When I don’t hear back, I hate having to follow up again and ask. I feel like a pest. I feel like I”m annoying the editor. I hate feeling like that! It’s even worse if I have to do it more than once…

So those are a few of mine–what are yours?

Tighten Up Your Writing

CatherineSubstitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.  ~Mark Twain

I love this quote. It’s so true.

Every single writer can tighten up their work. (And I include myself in this category.) Here are some ways you can improve your prose and stay sharp:

+ Have someone else read through your work and give you feedback. (Another writer is often a good choice.)

+ Find a good thesaurus. Use it.

+ Try to become aware of your habits as a writer. Any catch phrases you depend on or adjectives you use again and again should be pruned so that you aren’t repeating yourself all the time.

+ Ask yourself what you can eliminate. Writers have a tendency to think that more is better. Get rid of the excess and you will probably find that things read much more clearly.

+ Read critically. When you are reading someone’s writing, think about what you would tighten up. Magazine articles are ideal for this type of exercise.

Do you have any tips for tightening up your writing that you can share?

What do you call yourself, freelancer?

editorial services firmBy Jake Poinier

What’s in a name? When it comes to freelancing, I’d argue: A lot.

What to call ourselves is a matter of frequent and sometimes heated debate on LinkedIn, as Planet Word brought up in a post today, “Are you a consultant or a freelancer?” My first recognition that “freelancer” isn’t always the best word to use was back when I first read Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer back in 2001. He uses “commercial writer,” which is a useful distinction, particularly for those of us who focus on business writing rather than exclusively writing for publications.

The problem is, “freelance” can carry some negative connotations—fly-by-night, can’t get a real job, in-between-jobs—and I’ve learned over the years that there’s a benefit to using the right phrase at the right time. Here’s how my thought process has evolved:

  • Freelancer (or freelance writer and editor) is reserved for when I’m talking to people within the industry: graphic designers, web designers, ad agencies, magazine editors and other people who are hip to the concept. It’s useful shorthand, and immediately implies “I’m for hire.”
  • I’ll use commercial writer or corporate copywriter if I’m talking to someone who’s in a business field. For example, a marketing director or business owner that I’m confident has some experience in marketing/advertising, but might be wary of (i.e., may have had a bad experience with) freelancers.
  • Finally, when I’m talking to someone who might not be familiar with the creative industry, lately I’ve been using a complete phrase: “I run an editorial services firm.” I find that it puffs things up a bit, and will usually provoke a follow-up question.
  • Personally, I never use consultant. I suppose there might be a circumstance I’d use it someday, but I haven’t come across it yet.

So….what’s your favorite term for describing what you do? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Jake dispenses business prescriptions for freelancers at DoctorFreelance.com—no matter what you want to call yourself.

Top 5 Editor Pet Peeves

freelance writing advice 3by Joe Wallace

Editors are a busy lot. We’ve got typos to correct, abused commas that need first aid, and metaphors to un-mix. It’s a fulltime job. When you’ve got Glenn Beck misspelling “oligarchy” on national television, you know your inbox is going to be flooded with people writing “there” when they meant “they’re” and “affect” when they meant “effect”.

So how can you earn the undying gratitude of your poor, harried editor? By not committing one of these offenses that will, someday, be punishable by large fines and jail time:

5. Failure to follow instructions. This is often the case when simple, but important items like how to attribute a source are concerned. If the publication wants present tense, be OCD about it. “Johnny says the biggest thrill of his life was becoming a were-spider.” as opposed to “Johnny said being a were-spider is better than being a were-lobster”. If you just double check that little thing your editor wants, it saves a lot of trouble on the back end. And they love you for it. Continue reading Top 5 Editor Pet Peeves