Thursday, June 21, 2007

Going Into My Cave

Apologies, guys. I'm am getting my booty kicked with a project I'm working on and am behind in my blog posts. I'm taking the rest of this week off and will be back on Monday to answer more questions. (Yes, I know that they've piled up!) I just have to burrow down and crank out some work until then...I'm sure that you can relate!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reading Quandary

So I'm halfway through a book that I was enjoying enough to keep going. Parts of it were really pulling me in, and parts of it were good enough to have me flipping to the better parts. But now I've hit a wall. I've set it down for three days, and even though I keep walking by and looking at it and thinking, "I should pick it back up," I haven't yet been able to.

Now this was a big bestseller that got rave reviews. So that's probably why I feel compelled to keep going. I mean, if people say it's great, it's great, right? Well, not always. And I'm not talking about this particular book, but I can't tell you how many times I've read a book or seen a movie that has been lauded and lauded some more, and thought, "Well, that sucked."

(Though here's a secret: the more people I talk to about this book, the more admit that they didn't love it either, though they say so in hushed voices. Interesting.)

So my question is, do I keep at it? Is the critical praise worth anything? When do you guys abandon a book? Honestly, if something doesn't draw me in within the first 50 pages, I put it aside with absolutely no guilt. But I'm halfway done with this one, so...what to do? Complicating matters further is that I'm not someone who reads two books at once, so I've been holding off starting something new because I know that means that I'll have given up on this one forever.

So what are your rules for reading books? When do you throw in the towel?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Want More Peanuts!

I have been contributing regularly to a magazine for about a year. It pays me the least of any other publications to which I contribute, but I love it the most. Right now, they pay me about one peanut. I'd like to ask for two peanuts. How do I go about this professionally and in the right way with the editor? Can I even go there?

Yes! You can and should go there, in fact. But asking for a raise seems like one of the most daunting things that we do, right? I mean, it's one of those pulse-pounding sweat-inducing tasks that we put off at all costs. Why? Because we're so grateful that someone is handing us work that we don't want to seem ungrateful, nor do we want to offend the person offering said work.


Here's the thing: in any job, you'd get raises as time goes on and after you've proven yourself a valuable commodity. Writing is no different. If you feel that you deserve a raise, well, then figuratively march yourself into your boss's/editor's office and ask for one.

Here are some tactics as to how to go about it:

1) Say something like: "You know how much I enjoy writing for you. However, I earn more money writing for your competitors and was hoping that we could discuss a boost in my rate."

2) Be prepared with a number to offer. I think the best tactic to do so is to figure out how much you need or want to earn per hour for each article, and then suggest the word rate that will get you there.

3) Be kind and gracious yet still professional and firm. One of the best negotiating tips that I've read said, "Pretend that you're negotiating on behalf of a friend. You'd never allow her to get paid poorly, so do everything for yourself that you'd do for her."

4) Don't take it personally or worry that you'll be fired for asking for a boost. Most editors are actually PREPARED to raise rates if they can - the author just has to ask. And if they like you, they sure as hell aren't going to ditch you for asking. They might not be able to raise your rate, but seriously, you'll almost NEVER lose the job just for asking...and if you *do* lose a gig over getting money that you deserve, is this really an outlet you want to be associated with? (Other readers can chime in here to agree with me!)
So, those are my thoughts. Other writers out there who ask for raises, how do you go about it?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Final Formatting

Once you've gotten the go-ahead on a story, how do your format it for submission and how do or do you include sidebar information if you have it?

I think that every writer has his or her own way of formatting, and I don't think that there is a truly wrong way to go about this, but that said, here's how I set up my stories:

Greatest Article Ever Written: Allison Winn Scotch, Genius Magazine, December 2007

(Note: the above is the publication date, not the date that I hand it it)

Text, text, text that is written in Times font, size 12 and double spaced or 1.5 spaced
End of text

Sidebar: Why this story is so genius

Text, text, text

And that's it! Sort of common sense, and unless you turn your piece in on paper with unicorns in the background, I think you'll be okay.

But writers, I'm curious: how do you format your pieces when you hand them in? I know that everyone does it differently!