Thursday, April 08, 2010

 

An Interview with Demand Studios Editor, Robyn Galbos

We are lucky to have Robyn Galbos from Demand Studios with us today to answer some questions we've received about becoming a writer for them. She has provided some tips for applying and writing articles and information about some of the new Demand Studios programs, so let's get started!

WOW: Hi, Robyn. Thank you for taking time out to talk with The Muffin about writing for Demand Studios. What kind of writers are Demand Studios looking for? Specific genres? Certain experience or college degrees?

Robyn: Demand Studios is looking for all kinds of writers with a variety of backgrounds and interests. We are primarily looking for people with solid researching and reporting skills, and ideal candidates have had their work published in print or online. During the application process, writers must upload a résumé and a writing sample; the stronger the writing sample, the more likely the writer will be accepted.

WOW: So, writers can use their knowledge they gain from hobbies and other careers to write articles and make extra money on Demand Studios. What are two or three tips you can give writers who are applying for positions?

Robyn: First, take the application process as seriously as you would for a full-time position. Because this is an independent contractor position, sometimes writers think that they don't need to try as hard. Upload a recent résumé that highlights your writing experience and any expertise you may have. Proofread your résumé for typos. Typos in a résumé are a red flag when you're applying for a writing position.

Second, put your best foot forward with your writing sample. Take time to research the sites for which you are applying to write, and take note of the voice and tone of the writing. Attach writing samples that would fit well on those sites. If you don't have published work, try writing an article in the style of eHow, LIVESTRONG, Garden Guides or any other site you're interested in. Be sure to submit original work as your writing sample, however, and remember to proofread your submission for typos as well.

WOW: Thanks for the tips, Robyn. Many writers can write 400- to 500-word articles quickly; and therefore, they write several Demand Studios articles a day in a short amount of time. What are some tips for writing Demand Studios articles in a timely manner?

Robyn: The simplest answer is "write what you know." The more you venture into topics that are not your area of expertise, the more time you will take to research and write the articles. If you know a topic, you likely know where to find the most credible references. A word of caution: Even though you know a topic, resist the urge to write off the top of your head without researching. We require references for every article, and facts must be verifiable by the copy editors.

I also recommend that writers master one format before moving on to others. Once you understand the guidelines and nuances for a particular format, you get in a rhythm and can work a lot faster.

Finally, really take the time to familiarize yourself with all of the Demand Studios guidelines. This will help save time on rewrite requests.

WOW: More great tips. It seems like if writers take time at the beginning to learn about the templates and different types of articles, they will work quicker and more accurately in a few months. Demand Studios allows writers to suggest articles they would like to write. Please explain to us how this process works. Are these articles paid the same rates as articles that Demand Studios assigns?

Robyn: Writers may create their own assignments in Demand Studios, and approved articles are paid on a revenue-share basis. We are looking for titles that revolve around a topical theme while remaining evergreen. For example, articles around filing your tax returns are perfect in the early part of the year.

WOW: Sometimes, Demand Studios editors have to send articles back to writers to fix. What are some of the most common reasons why writers get their work sent back to them?

Robyn: Every article that is submitted through the Demand Studios publishing tools is edited and fact-checked by a copy editor, and we consider rewrites to be a natural part of the editorial process. Copy editors look at articles with the eye of a reader. If there are questions about clarity or facts, the editor may need to ask the writer some questions.

The most common reasons for rewrites are unverifiable facts, guideline violations, unclear sentence structure, or vague statements. An editor may also send an article back if the article does not directly answer the question put forth in the title or is not specific enough to address the title accurately. Writers who study the guidelines, do research, and cite their sources likely will receive fewer rewrite requests.

WOW: So, copy editors and writers work together to make the articles as clear and accurate as possible. That makes perfect sense! Many Demand Studios writers make an average of $15 an article, but there are ways to make between $20 and $80 an article. Please explain how writers can make more money per article and about your new specialty writers program.

Robyn: Demand Studios has several levels of special assignments that we reserve for our best writers: that is, writers who consistently deliver high-quality articles written according to all applicable guidelines. These higher-paying opportunities are for Demand Media sites and for our partner sites and include premium assignments for our copy editors. We regularly review our creator base and look for these standout performers.

WOW: It's nice to hear that hard work is rewarded, and there are chances to move up in the company while writing for Demand Studios. Demand Studios periodically has the program "Write for a Cause." What is this program and how does it work? When will you be offering it again?

Robyn: Demand Studios partnered with First Book in December to donate new books to children across the country, and the program was such a hit that we revived it for two weeks in mid-March. For every eight Demand Studios articles published during the program, Demand Media donates one book to a child in need. Thanks to our writers and copy editors, we have been able to donate a total of 26,639 books to kids so far. I can't say for certain when we'll offer the program again, but I can say it's been a huge success, and I look forward to the next round.

WOW: 26,639 books--that is awesome! I'm sure writers enjoy "Write for a Cause," and are also looking forward to the next round. In 2010, Demand Studios started awarding one $1,000 grant to one of your writers each month for creative projects. How does a writer apply for one of these grants, and do you have any information on what types of projects or applications are receiving the grants?

Robyn: Demand Studios contributors who have been with us for more than three months can apply for a grant. Eligible projects include works of fiction, non-fiction, essay collections, plays, screenplays, short films/videos, and feature length films/videos. Applications and supporting materials are accepted electronically at grantprogram@demandmedia.com. We accept submissions from the 1st through 7th of every month.

The first grant was awarded to Demand Studios writer Dan Antony for the completion of his project, "Beeg Mec," a book that tells the story of the rise of a restaurant and the fall of a government. We post all of the winners on our blog, so you can check out the winners there.

WOW: Thank you, Robyn, for taking time out to explain Demand Studios to The Muffin readers and any interested writers! If Demand Studios sounds like something you would want to check out, just click here.

interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, http://margodill.com/blog/

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

 

New Community: The WM Freelance Connection

Seven women have joined together to start a blog and a Google group about freelance writing. It's called The WM Freelance Connection; and if you haven't checked them out yet, make some time this weekend! They started out as the "Writing Mommies," that's where the "WM" comes from, but they have resources for anyone who's freelancing--well, anyone human that is. ;) Here is some of the information they have to offer on their site:

  • Daily blog posts: This blog is full of information for freelancers. Here are some of the recent titles: "Tips for Using the Writers' Market," "Increase Your Chance of Winning a Writing Contest," "Let's Talk about Press Passes," and "Writing Opportunity: Plum Magazine."
  • Quick Links: They have several pages to this site, and some of the titles are: "Writing Opportunities: Paying Gigs and Writing Contests," "Money Tips for Freelance Writers," "Social Networking Ideas," and "Freelance Writing News and Ideas."
  • Join the WM Google Group: I like this group because they are very positive and happy! Also, they give you writing prompts, and they hold contests where your work can be shared with other members of the Google group. It is super simple to join the group to see if you like it. Just scroll down on the home page of the website to where it says join the Google group, put in your e-mail, and subscribe!
  • Writers' Unblock Tool: Further on down the left-hand side of the site, they have a "Writers' Idea Bank." This is a tool that randomly generates story ideas from Mode Room Press. If you are ever stuck for a story idea, you could check this out. It may not be the exact story you're looking for, but you just never know what could give you some ideas!
I hope you will check out The WM Freelance Connection, founded by Alyssa Ast and Angela Atkinson. At WOW!, we are all about brilliant women starting supportive and encouraging places for other women (okay and men, too:) to relax and become better writers!

A couple other things. . .

PREMIUM GREEN (WOW!'s Market E-book Subscription):
For just $4.00 a month, you can subscribe to one of the best resources on the market. Okay, so I admit I am a little biased; but seriously, women, who are members and who subscribe to this monthly market book (or win a subscription in one of the contests) and participate in the listserv, rave about it. This is only about $1.00 more a month than a Writers' Digest subscription (which is even more if you live in Canada--PG is the same no matter where you live). But a PG monthly e-book is around 160 pages of markets and articles--much more than WD. When I say markets, I mean MARKETS--fiction, nonfiction, business, niche, contests, anthologies, and women's. Angela does an awesome job. And we recently posted a sample PG listserv discussion. I am just so excited about Premium Green--that's why I always talk about it. :) (One more exciting thing--if you subscribe, you actually have access to all 27 previous issues, full of all those markets for no extra cost!)

WOW! Classes: In February, WOW! is offering these online classes. These are perfect for people who want to improve their writing or marketing skills, but need a flexible schedule!

Okay, ladies, I hope to see you on The WM Connection and Premium Green Google groups! Any questions about the classes, check out the WOW! classroom page or e-mail me at margo (at) wow-womenonwriting.com (replace the (at) with @).

Cheers!
Margo Dill
http://margodill.com/blog/
Read These Books and Use Them

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

 

Are All-Media-Worldwide Rights Becoming the Norm?

Rosie is concerned!

As a publisher, I can understand the benefit of adding the clause of "all-media worldwide rights" to a work-for-hire contract, but as a freelancer myself, and one who supports freelance writers, I just can't agree with it.

In a nutshell: let's say you were accepted to write an article for so-and-so's print magazine and signed a work-for-hire contract with the term "all-media worldwide rights" in it. That means the publisher can republish your work in any format they choose--online, video, print, television, radio, etc.--without paying you anything further. How is this possible? It is, and it's becoming standard practice in the U.S., as mentioned in a recent Folio Magazine article.

What I don't completely understand is why. Even if the readers are exactly the same--which they couldn't possibly be--there shouldn't be any reason for non-payment. If you think about it, the two avenues should be set up to monetize different income streams. Print has its advertising, and so does web--there should be a budget for both. There's definitely a separation between the two, or there should be. Many have the ability to pay freelancers at least a percentage, or a reprint rate, so why is this practice becoming the norm? My only guess is that the majority of freelancers are rolling over and taking it. And so are editors.

At one time, magazine editors were the voice for their writers, but not so anymore as management gets a tighter grasp and a new generation of editors--who don't know any different--step in. But, it's not all doom-and-gloom! There are common-sense solutions you can use to protect yourself. ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) offers this piece of advice:

"We have a suggestion. Get the contract before you start working, try negotiating, and if they refuse to offer an alternate document or make reasonable changes, go elsewhere. The market ultimately speaks, and even though publishers and editors like to pretend that writers are a dime a dozen, they know it's not true. It's too hard to find the talent and dedication to get a good story. Try pitching different types of stories to other markets, or take your ideas to their competitors. When the writers they want don't want them, the tune will eventually change. It won't be the first time, and it won't be the last."

ASJA is a great organization with sound solutions. Too bad they stopped publishing their "Contracts Watch" newsletter in 2007--it was such a great resource to find out the latest on publisher's contracts, as well as an advocate for writers in the trenches. But you can still view their online archives and read quotes from freelance writers and ASJA's answers here: www.contractswatch.com.

So, what do we do about "all-media worldwide rights" becoming the norm? I don't have the solutions, but do recall the recent writer's strike by the Writers Guild of America and their victory, albeit somewhat slim, on being awarded residuals from DVD and "new media" compensation. That aside, one thing you can do is to look out for certain clauses in any contract you sign: (the clauses below were published in the print version of Folio Magazine's article--a sample from CXO Media's freelance contract)
  • Payment: $______ for all-media world rights in perpetuity upon acceptance of publication.
  • CXO will own all-media world rights for the Work including perpetual and irrevocable license to print, reprint and distribute the work in any fashion or medium.
  • You specifically waive any and all "artist's rights" you may have pursuant to any state or federal statutes regarding the Work purchased by CXO.
And, if you check out the previously mentioned Folio Magazine article, read the comment submitted by a publisher. Basically, since the publisher purchased all rights for both print and digital, it allowed the publisher to resell the article to a service, who then resold it elsewhere, and gave them a percentage of the profit from the sales...without paying the writer any profit. She admits it wasn't fair to the authors, but only after she realized that the new sellers resold it until the stories were everywhere and it ultimately undermined the value of the stories.

I know I'm going to get flack for this post from my peers, but c'est la vie. I simply don't think it's fair to treat freelancers this way.

What do you think? And what should freelancers do?

------

Join these discussions and more by subscribing to the Premium-Green Markets: the Women's Guide to Freelance Writing and Markets

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

 

OPTIONS FOR BOOK REVIEWS AND BOOK REVIEWERS

by Erika Dreifus

I love newspapers. As someone who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised there and in nearby New Jersey, I often feel as though I grew up with The New York Times. I certainly remained attached enough to that paper to maintain a subscription while also subscribing to The Washington Post when I lived in DC and to the Globe for the many years I lived in the Boston area. I'll confess that I've never had occasion to read or subscribe to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), so I had no legitimate reason to add my signature to the petition you may have heard about last year, asking the AJC to maintain its stand-alone book section—and to keep it under a specific longtime editor's control.

Newspapers have been facing struggles for quite awhile now. And book sections aren't isolated in their suffering. Sure, I've had editors responsible for book coverage tell me they couldn't take a review pitch because space was too tight. But other section editors have said exactly the same thing, responding to other article queries. Sometimes my accepted work has been delayed (and delayed) before finally being published, thanks, I've been told, to those very same space constraints.

But rumors of the demise of the book review are, I think, at least somewhat exaggerated. I'm not ready to buy into the gloom and doom scenario quite yet. For one thing, I don't believe that all the new strategies newspapers are trying—like combining book coverage with opinion writing and/or other arts and culture writing—are quite so catastrophic as some people have suggested. I don't remember how many years ago the Globe created a hybrid "Ideas" section for Sundays; I think we all weathered that change pretty well. After all, some of us believe that ideas rest at the heart of the very best books; it's a natural combination.

Maybe I'm also not quite so demoralized by shrinking book review pages in certain Sunday newspapers because, frankly, I uncover a lot of good book coverage elsewhere. As a reader—and as a book reviewer—I find encouragement and inspiration in the many magazines, literary journals, Web sites, and various "niche" publications that also provide good discussion of books, authors, and writing. Beyond that, I frequently see books reviewed and authors profiled in "other" newspaper sections (think about travel-related books you've seen covered in travel sections, food-related titles in food/dining sections, and so on).

But what if you're an aspiring or veteran book reviewer who has been alarmed enough by recent cries from certain quarters of the reviewing community to believe that the end is, in fact, dangerously near?

Where can you look?


Let's take an example. Let's consider, first, one book published last spring and think about venues where you, as a reviewer, might have sought to place a piece about it outside newspaper book reviews.

In June, Random House released Connie Schultz's...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man. Schultz, who won a 2005 Pulitzer for Commentary, is married to the junior United States Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown. The book is essentially her memoir of Brown's most recent campaign.

Now, maybe the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will no longer be able to review this book. And quite possibly Schultz's own paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, shouldn't. So where else might you reasonably expect to find the book discussed/reviewed?

Which publications might you have queried yourself?

I'd have looked to regional magazines (in this case, those focusing on Ohio). Or Schultz's alumni magazine (she's a 1979 graduate of Kent State University). Or magazines or Web sites that focus on American politics.

I'd also have considered venues especially interested in promoting women's/feminist writing, and/or interested in issues relating to marriage and family. And given Schultz's journalistic accomplishments and prominence, let's not forget the many trade publications/sites for writers and journalists (including this one!)

Are you starting to see the possibilities?

So no matter what you're hearing, don't succumb to despair quite yet. You can still do your part to sustain serious thinking and reading and writing about books, even if you have to do it outside the Sunday newspaper book review sections. You may have to think a little more creatively, and do a little more research. But if you really want to read about books, and write about them, and expand others' literary awareness (and even get paid for the privilege), you still can.


***



(c) 2007 Erika Dreifus

Erika Dreifus is a contributing editor for The Writer magazine and for Chattahoochee Review; she regularly publishes reviews in both. The author of The Practicing Writer's Directory of Paying Markets for Book Reviewers Erika has also had reviews appear in venues as varied as the Boston Globe Sunday travel section, the Christian Science Monitor, Community College Week, JBooks.com, The Missouri Review, and Our State. See some of these reviews archived on her Practicing Writing blog: http://practicing-writing.blogspot.com
and Erika's website: http://www.practicing-writer.com

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

 

Are Print Magazines Dying?

In a recent interview with Ann Moore, CEO Time, Inc. she had told us about her push for digital content. "We've actually been focusing on our digital strategy for some time, investing in our online assets since 2000," Ann said. She wasn't kidding!

April 20th will be LIFE magazine's last print issue, but readers will still be able to read LIFE online. Time started publishing the magazine in 1936, but this isn't the first time it was shut down. It closed its doors in 1972, but came back in 1978, before shutting down again in 2000.

When WOW! talked to Ann Moore, she gave freelance writers hope by letting us know online clips carry more weight than previously, and in fact, are now the same. "The print and online worlds are definitely no longer separated for journalists. Time Inc.'s biggest names in print are now writing for the web as well, and recognize it's a great way to have more articles published and seen by a growing audience." (Now I know exactly what she was talking about!)

Is this the fate of the magazine industry?

Meredith Corporation's Child magazine has also shut its doors, opting for online only. The same goes for IDG's InfoWorld, and Hachette Filipacchi Media's PREMIERE magazine.

Of course there are benefits to going online only: No more costly print, circulation, and operating expenses. But can they do as well with online advertising? It seems to me that if more magazines go strictly online it will raise the cost of online advertising. The market will need reevaluation.

What does this mean for freelance writers?

Good news for the future. With magazines moving to online and advertising rates rising, in turn, writers should be better paid and have more opportunities. Reasonably, it should create more openings, since online content needs to stay fresh and be constantly updated in real time. It may not be as glamorous for die-hard print fans out there, but online clips will be easier to buzz.

Still, there's nothing like holding a print magazine in your hand and seeing those beautiful glossy photos...

What do you think? Post a comment!

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