Tag Archives: writing advice

The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter

dan-poynter-self-publishing-manual.jpg If you are interested in the journalistic aspects of the writing game and don’t know who Dan Poynter is, do yourself a favor and check out the Poynter Institute. You will find a whole universe of stuff you didn’t know existed. Dan Poynter has built a hell of a reputation as an expert in all kinds of journalism, and you should not underestimate the value of any writing-related material with the Poynter name on it.

That includes this self-publishing manual. To be fair, I haven’t read this one yet but the Poynter name lends enough credibility to recommend it. To those who might take issue with me on this one, spend an hour at the Poynter site and tell me if you still disagree. And if that’s the case, forget the book–you can learn a LOT just by having a go at the site and soaking up the benefit of all that experience. At the website you will find a lot of info on Poynter workshops and seminars,and I have many friends who have attended Poynter seminars, all come back with glowing reports of the massive amount you can learn about the craft in a very short amount of time.

Buy for $13.57

Freelance Deadline Hell

When I’ve taken on too much work, I try to do a few things to keep myself from going completely nuts. Here’s a little handy list in no particular order:

  • Whittle Away the Pile–I take the projects that are due last and try to nibble away at them in between more pressing deadlines. I’ll hit a little research in the AM before launching into my main work, then do a bit more work after breaks or lunch–again, before getting into my main gig. That probably sounds crazy, but I’ve found that knocking out sections of busywork or writing chores that don’t require a lot of thinking time gives me a sense that I’m making progress on everything.
  • Knock Out the Easy Ones–When I have many things coming due at the same time, I try to hammer out a few of the easiest things first to make more time for the tougher writing.

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Missed Opportunities For Publication Credits

One of my biggest regrets as a writer is having missed the chance to get a few serious publication credits with a major retailer. My freelance gigs had dried up and I was running low on cash. I felt backed into a corner and took a job as a Loss Prevention Agent for Gap Inc. “Loss Prevention” is corporate shorthand for “store detective”, and I took the job feeling like it was a major setback and a symptom of my failure to hack it as a full-time writer.

Since I was feeling so sorry for myself, I completely missed viewing the experience as a way to get published and rebuild my writing career into a viable concern again. For starters, the anti-shoplifting angles would be great for any retail trade magazine, but I was so out of it that I overlooked an even better chance; submitting retail loss prevention how-to articles to the company-wide newsletter and corporate website.

Who wouldn’t love to have a writing credit for Gap Inc. on a resume aimed at other clients in PR, marketing, and trade magazine publishing? I blew it big-time, and realized it only after leaving the company for a brand new writing opportunity as a staff writer for a music industry daily.

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Six Signs You’re Working For A Clown Company

WTF is a “clown company”? An easy answer if you’ve ever had to write for one. For those who haven’t yet– a clown company is one that has lofty aspirations, big ideas, but absolutely no idea about how to implement them. They usually go out and hire some college grad with little experience who will work on the cheap, let them flounder around for a while, then step in and ruin everything. OR they let the college grad set up some kind of woefully inefficient system and run the operation into the ground.

Some of these disasters-waiting-to-happen are dedicated to writing products, others need writers for PR, web copy, and other material. One thing clown companies do is hire freelance writers to try and keep their costs down. That’s good for us…for a while. The problem with working for a clown company is that eventually you’ll either get stiffed in the pay department, you’ll get paid very late on a consistent basis, you’ll be asked to do more and more unreasonable things for the same money you started with, or worst of all you’ll be given an attractive offer to work full-time, or you’ll get dropped in favor of someone who can work cheaper than you.

Why is the job offer the worst part of all? Read this list of danger signs you’re working for a clown company and all will become clear:

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How to Respond to Writing Job Ads on Craigslist

I will be the first to point out that there’s a high signal-to-noise ratio on Craigslist, especially for writers. That said, you can sometimes find real opportunities there, and I’d caution new writers against dismissing it out of hand. When I worked as Managing Editor at Gearwire.com, I once put out a call for writers that had almost no effect other than making me laugh. I did manage to hire one good writer, but a good 90% of the responses I got went instantly into the trash. Here’s why:

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