Tag Archives: writers and editors

I’m not late on this post….

420838710095906257_a873bb3665e9I’ve posted this EXACTLY when I meant to, which is exactly two months later than I should have posted this.

So I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. My apologies. I’m back with a vengeance to share wondrous tales of freelance heroism, hardships and glory!

To begin my tale, I’ve just returned from a trip to New Orleans, whereby I encountered a psychic. Ok, a psychic and a huge amount of booze. But the psychic was the highlight.

As I sat down to have my palm read, the first thing he said to me, while pointing to a little y-shaped crease in my palm, was “I see you are a writer…” Holy telepathy, Batman! Get out of my head!

He followed with “…but you never write for yourself anymore. Only for others. Your writing is out of balance. If you find the time to write for you, the other writing will improve.” Cut to me falling out of my chair. (From shock. Not from booze. I know you were thinking it.)

Of all the things he said to me during my 15-minute palm reading, this stayed with me the most. And whether or not he can see into the future or can read into my soul via my palm, he was onto something. I never write for “me” anymore.

15-year-old me understood the balance: Finish your book report, and then spill your guts to your diary about that “B,” Stephanie, who tried to tell you that your perm looked like fried crap.

20-year-old me understood the balance: Finish your article for the college paper, and then blog about the importance of finding a mini skirt that does double-duty in hiding my new-found pizza gut.

Even 25-year-old me in journalism school understood the balance as I updated my MySpace status with deeply introspective thoughts on the new Rihanna single.

So why doesn’t 3[number deleted] -year-old me understand the balance? All work and no play makes Mandy dull.

So my advice to you, and to myself, is to make as much time for the fun, personal writing as you do for the clients.

Clients are wonderful. They pay the bills, but don’t let them have ALL of your creativity. Reserve some for yourself! Whether you blog beautiful advice to others, or scribble dirty limericks onto Post-it notes, don’t forget why we got into this mess in the first place – because before the clients came along, you simply loved to write. Cheers to that! *hic*


Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional writer/editor for more years than she can remember. You can find her at the bar, where most writers do their best work. 




Know Your Client – Become Your Client

Amanda Smyth Connorhero

It’s always exhilarating to take on a new client. I personally enjoy taking on clients who specifically want to focus on site copy. It gives me great joy to be the voice of a company. To create the tone, the style and the narrative for a website feels powerful. I feel like the company’s success is somehow riding in my hands and flowing through my pen. But the mistake many freelancers make is in not learning to write in the client’s voice.

You can’t just describe the company. You can’t just talk about the company or your client. You have to become your client. Think how they think. Speak how they speak and represent the company as though you had worked there all of your life.

Nailing down the tone, style and narrative of a company’s voice is really tough. I’ve seen companies plow through a dozen freelancers in an effort to find just one who could carry the perfect tone and style that the client demanded.

I managed one project for client “Anonymous-Huge-Nationwide-Chain” whose list of writing style guidelines was like nothing I’ve seen before. Continue reading Know Your Client – Become Your Client

William Gibson’s Book Proposal for Spook Country

william-gibson.jpgWilliam Gibson is one of the world’s most renown science fiction authors. For all intents and purposes, Gibson has transcended sci-fi into a genre of his own creation much in the same way the late, great John D. MacDonald grew his own action market with his Travis McGee series. Gibson doesn’t use a central character to drive his novels the way MacDonald did with the McGee books, but the analogy still holds–both Gibson and MacDonald’s writing possess one-of-a-kind qualities often imitated, but never equalled

Gibson is a great example of how a writer survives–he’s branched out plenty with articles for Wired, spoken word appearances (including the amazing Technodon Live album by Yellow Magic Orchestra) and film screenplay credits for his work including 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic.

He’s basically a legend in his field, but even Gibson can’t just plop out a manuscript and ship it off to a publisher–he goes through the same motions other writers do, albeit with a LOT more clout. Would you be surprised to learn William Gibson submitted a proposal for his most recent book, Spook Country? It’s true.

In addition to a great interview with Gibson at Amazon.com, the same page also features this link to Gibson’s proposal for the book, fascinating reading if you’re curious to know just what it takes to capture the attention of an editor. Granted, there is no cover letter–not that Gibson needs one–and you know he’s got the editor’s attention from the second the envelope hits the desk. That said, the proposal makes for worthy reading if you can’t seem to picture what that proposal–the first introduction to the book for your editor–is all about.

If you haven’t read Spook Country yet, beware, there are some spoilers in the proposal. What is most interesting for those who know the book is how differently the proposal looks compared to the final product. Cheers to Gibson and Amazon for giving us a tiny glimpse behind the scenes.