Saturday, May 31, 2008

One Man Banding and Pen Names

With blogging, writing an article or any writing it's one subject at a time, but since I think writing is all about breaking the rules I'm going to write about two subjects in one post!

GASP! Did she say two subjects? 

Yes, I did- and what of it? Just read...

Lately I have been hearing and talking about One Man Banding and Pen Names a lot.  It would seem that more and more places are requiring these two things to actually make it as a freelancer.

One Man Banding- the magazine I work for requires it.  Just yesterday Jenn, who is now one of my writers (thanks Robert), asked me if we would pay people to take pictures for the articles she writes.  Unfortunately, due to the policy at Focus we can't pay freelance photographers.  We require that our writers take their own pictures (or have someone take them with no pay), write their own copy, check for errors and then submit for proofing.  

It got me to thinking about how as a freelancer you have to be your own One Man Band because no one else can help you, especially with community based publications.  Now, I don't know how the big national glossies handle these things, but I do know that as beginning writers we're highly unlikely to get the chance to find out.  So, we must find local work and do everything ourselves.

On one hand, this really sucks! On the other, it's wonderful!  We gain so much more experience than "just a writer" would and become more of an asset to any company we may choose to take on full time employment with.

How can we get better at taking our own pictures?
What I did was I just bought a digital camera and began shooting.  I took 50 shots where a seasoned photo man/woman may have only needed one.  I took dozens of angles, put my subjects in the sunlight, pulled them indoors, put them under fluorescent lamps, and shot until I thought one gem might emerge.

Since doing this there has only been one time where every photo I took was thrown out and it's because the day we chose to do the shoot was really cloudy and I made the mistake of shooting my subject with the sun behind her. * Tip* Always make sure the sun is shining on your subject otherwise shadows are created*

Another thing I would recommend is when you get your digital camera (gotta go digital because it is cheaper for a rookie- trust me! you don't want to develop hundreds of shots that you wont use) you read the book that comes with it- believe it or not they sometimes offer websites that direct you on how to play with it.  Good fun!  

Or just google "be a better photographer."  It's unbelievable how much FREE info there is to help us.

NOW- onto Pen Names.  If you are anything like me, you work for a company that requires you to be exclusive.  By exclusive I mean not working for competitors.  Although I'm not under contract, I am expected to write for just Focus and no one else.

Hello!!!  As freelancers you can't make it on one magazine alone.  If you expect to freelance full-time, you simply can't wait around for checks from one place.  Pen Names are a beautiful thing!!! No one will ever know it's you =) Sure, on the tax forms you're required to give your legal name, but there is no rule that you can't use a pen name.

If you're lucky enough to have a common last name like Smith you could even get away with a first initial and last name.  Ex : Jon Smith= J. Smith.  I had a girl do that.  Sure I knew, but it was a don't ask, and I won't tell situation!

Don't be afraid to ask to use Pen Names.

Heck, I have heard of people with several.  I heard of one chick who was working for like 3 or 4 places so she had one name for each mag.  The checks all came to one name and nobody was the wiser.

If nothing else- try not to sign the damn exclusivity contract!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

So....I pulled my chair away from The Table for a bit

And look at all that's happened here!


And in all honesty, if it weren't for a couple of members here, I'd still be miserably seeking out freelance work to no avail.

Thank you Robert and Ashley!

So....since this new work has given me an excuse to pull away from my mall job (Yeah, yeah....I know!) I couldn't be more happy.

My plan tonight was to write about networking and how important it is.

I see it's been done which is awesome and Ashley, your story is very inspiring to me.

To add to that post, part of networking (and freelance writing in general) is confidence.

I'd even go as far as saying that without it, you'll get nowhere.

I've lived and I've learned.

The past few months have been truly amazing for me in all aspects of my life.

I had a little help from books and influences in my life but in all actuality I was able to find the confidence in me!

When it comes to writing, and life in general, we often are so clouded by the challenges and issues we face when it comes to pursuing our goals that we don't ever realize that the answer is almost always in the room.

We look to outside influences so often when internalizing is really the first step we should have taken. Think about things. Make decisions. Figure out what you want. Figure out how much you're worth. Are you worth more than 5 cents per word? Are you worth more than that internship that's not paying you?

Granted, often times as young writers (fresh ON the market, if you will) we'll take anything that's thrown our way.

I had many a short story published with no pay just to get my name out there.

I'll even admit to being AFRAID to go for ones that did pay because well, I thought I just wasn't good enough.

Not good enough???

Most writers send out 10 submissions and get denied 9 times.

My very first published short story was the first submission I ever had the courage to send in to an editor and THAT is a serious accomplishment.

And speaking of accomplishments, often times we don't take the time to recognize what we HAVE done with our writing. We'll look towards where we want to be and mope because we're not there yet. Or maybe we want to get paid....or maybe we want to get paid more. Well, how about what we HAVE done?

Looking at my list of things I've done with writing over the past two years, I came to the conclusion that I've made huge leaps in the right directions and am now being recognized and offered even more freelance work for the work I've already done.

That's a beautiful thing and something to give yourself a pat on the back for instead of thinking "Yeah, now if only someone will fill me in on how to sell my fiction?" lol I saw a post down below about that. If ANYONE finds any info....please pass it along. ;) (I've been told many a time that agents or self publishing are really the way to go with that unfortunately.)

So, back to confidence.

It's key.

Seriously. In EVERYTHING.

We're salespeople. We sell ourselves as writers and we sell the thing we're most passionate about. That's a tough thing sometimes. We pour our hearts and souls onto pages and sometimes, hey, someone will reject it, say it's not good enough, or even rip it apart.

Ya gotta let it go.

Don't take it personally. SOMEONE will like it or feel that it's fit for their publication. You just have to be patient and work. A lot of people claim to be writers but they're never "in their offices", ya know?

They're not WORKING.

It's not just about writing, it's about getting it out there.

The editors will not come to you! (Ok...well...sometimes...but usually not if you don't have anything out there first!)

Developing a good web presence is another tip a published author gave me. He said that agents are very web savvy these days and that a lot of times they're picking up bloggers and freelancers that way.

So, give it a go.

I'd say our little Table here is a step in the right direction.

But above all, we have to know we're worth it and know that we deserve the jobs we want.

Without that we have nothing!

So believe it.

You'll achieve it.

And the editors will believe it too.


P.S.- A Table meeting needs to happen in the near future for sure!