Tag Archives: freelance writing

Confessions of an Editor: Schadenfruede

The German phrase schadenfruede means “pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.” I regularly indulge in this shameful practice by reading blogs like the sadly discontinued (but perpetually archived and available) Miss Snark.

What can I say? I enjoy reading about other people dealing with the same sort of nonsense I encounter…it makes me feel good to know that other writers, editors and publishers struggle with me. Lit Agent X provides one of the best I’ve read this week. In the post “Query Oops”, she discusses the bonehead blunders she gets in her query letters. People asking her to “bare with me”, discussing “cereal killers” without a trace of irony, and my all-time fave, the guy who enclosed a “synapses” of his novel.

To be fair, I am willing to bet that the “synapses” guy was a victim of his spell checker. But I don’t care. Its grounds for round-filing, if you ask me. Then again, I am guilty of my own moronic blunders, which are usually the result of hitting “Send” far too eagerly. The three things I have learned in my stint as a writer and editor:

1. Never submit while hungover.

2. Never submit before coffee.

3. Never submit before breakfast.

If you can heed these three very related warnings, chances are you will go much farther than I. One day, you’ll be sitting in a high-rise office building in Manhattan and you’ll be round-filing MY correspondence. And laughing.

Oh–and before you ask: there isn’t a writer worth a damn who doesn’t go overboard on the food, alcohol, smokes or other bad-for-you things. It’s just the way we’re wired. I insist on the no hungover submissions rule with this in mind. You can pickle your innards as much as you like when the day’s work is done, but don’t you dare let morning -after sludge brain screw you out of a paying gig.

John Windsor on Techno-Lonliness

I read a great post just now by John Windsor on his Cultural Radar blog. Windsor made some observations about people who are so tied to their cell phones, PDA, e-mail, and instant messaging that a new phenomenon seems to be emerging. Techno-lonliness is what he calls that feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world because you can’t or aren’t allowed to access your gadgets (mid-flight, for example).

What really got my gears turning was the reply by a reader discussing the expectations of people who employ you (freelance writers, take note). For some–myself included–it’s that expectation of an editor or client who assumes instant access to you any time they want.

This can be a dilemma for those of us who are at once serious workaholics, but also want to take time to enjoy life outside of the 15-inch screens that dominate our world.  Just today I caught myself contemplating the purchase of a Palm Treo so that I could stay on Skype while out to lunch and dinner…the better to communicate with those clamoring for my freelance attentions.

At some point, you have to draw the line and say “enough!” and I think that while my intentions are noble, the Palm Treo idea is a bad one, at least for now. Circumstances may dictate otherwise at a later date, but for now I am keeping my worlds seperate. Kudos to John Windsor for a great post, and for reminding me NOT to give in to all my workaholic urges.

Freelance Writing Blogs: Location, Location, Location

Angela Booth’s Fab Web Writer has a recent blog entry on how to attract paid writing gigs via your writer’s site. One of the suggestions is to add your location to every page in your site. Although Booth doesn’t address the SEO value of regional keywords in the article, I do think using them is an excellent strategy–especially for those who live in areas frequently Googled such as Chicago, St. Louis, NYC, Boston, etc.

If you are a freelance writer in Springfield, Illinois, you might not get the same Google power from this tactic as you might from an address in Manhattan, but there is still plenty of networking value. How many other freelance writers do you know in your zip code? Chances are your fellow writers and editors search for other regionally-based freelancers, if only to see who else is out there.

Never ignore the power of NOT living in a major metro area–the isolation factor can sometimes work in your favor. If you are easy to find on the net because of city, state and regional keywords in your site, living in a writer-challenged area could turn into great relationships with editors near you who need the extra help. How many publications, websites and local blogs are in your area? How many freelancers? Making yourself more visible with city and state keyword and related SEO content could result in gigs you never realized were in your own back yard.

For those living in the big city, the Google clout is desirable. Are you taking advantage of these great keywords in your blogs? We here at FZ never thought of it until reading Angela Booth’s blog…thanks for the inspiration, Angela!

FreelanceWritingJobs: Your Monday Morning Market Source

Just the right gimmick for a fun, unique read? That is one thing I love about certain writing sites, including FreelanceWritingJobs. This site’s hook is the Monday Markets section. Bloggers, take note. You really only need one strong feature like this to encourage net-weary types like me to keep coming back for more.

It seems I’ve had FreelanceWritingJobs on my radar for a while, but for some reason suddenly the Monday Markets hook has got me, er, hooked. Brilliant idea. There are many ways to present standard features, and while I am sure other writing sites also use a similar approach, it’s not widespread enough to be a cliche yet. At least not to ME.

Kudos to FWJ for catching my eye with inventive strategy. Also, the Cover Letter Clinic made me pause but sadly hasn’t been updated since early in the year. Overall this site is a great resource, and don’t be fooled by the name–you won’t find it if you just type FreelanceWritingJobs.com–the URL is FreelanceWritingGigs.com. I add this fact for semi-luddites like me who often just type the addy from memory.

Ahh, this cluttered internet of ours…

Google Yourself

I recently stumbled across freelancer Daniel Brantley’s blog and decided, based on his most recent entry to take his advice and run a Google search on myself. Lo and behold, I was quite pleased to see that I’m in the top five results on page one for my very common name. Not bad for a humble freelancer with a bit of net-knowhow, eh?

Something more disturbing–a blog post rife with cringe-making spelling errors, and nighmarish violations of Strunk & White’s “omit needless words” law which should be reported to the feds. This blog post was NOT written by yours truly, but it’s so badly written and assembled that this guy’s hamfisted attempt to credit me as a source for a drunk driving statistic actually makes it appear as though I wrote the damn article. I know that’s a stretch, but it’s true.

I’m not going to embarass this poor halpless doink by linking to the badly written slop. He got plenty of bad comments about the awfulness of the article and in light of that I think he’s been punished enough. But the moral of this story is, you really ought to Google yourself to see what’s being done in your name on the net. In my case, it looks pretty rotten–if you read this blog post and assume that it’s written by me, you would never hire me to polish the brass on the Titanic.

Fortunately for me, this crapola is buried three pages deep in the Google results. Anybody looking for me on Google will find my GOOD stuff and move on long before getting bored enough to click over to page three at the bottom of the pile. That said, I know plenty of people who have had work “borrowed” for other web sites who didn’t learn about it until they randomly Googled themselves out of boredom. If you don’t know how your name is represented on the web, take a moment and pull up Google.com and give your own name a spin. You could be shocked by what you find. Cheers to Daniel Brantley for reminding me to have a look…

Introducing Sarah Skerrett

skerrett1.jpgSome of our FZ readers know we’ve been at this for a while now…since 2002 we’ve been busily scribbling away on this site, writing about the writing life, but today is a first for us. I’m very happy to introduce our first new and permanent member of the Freelance Zone team, Sarah Skerrett.

I say “permanent” as in, not a guest blogger or featured article writer. She’s now one of us and will be sharing the benefit of her years in publishing and her experiences now as a full-time freelance writer. Her background includes pop culture/entertainment blogging, resume consulting, and currently Sarah’s developing her own celebrity gossip site with a Midwestern emphasis. She divides her time between writing, editing, and consulting projects. I’ll let Sarah properly introduce herself:

“As a freelancer without the years on my side, developing an identity based on my work thus far can feel quite daunting. I’m pleased to join Freelance Zone as a rookie freelancer, having worked publishing for six years, and will be posting about my own experiences embarking on a full-time freelance career. Immediate areas of discussion include navigating the freelance lifestyle while monitoring the good, bad, and ugly aspects of the life. Feel free to contact me with comments, questions, or projects via email, sarahskerrett [at] hotmail [dot] [com].”

I’m happy to welcome Sarah to the Freelance-Zone.com team. Please take a moment to welcome her and say hello! I look forward to her posts in the weeks to come!