Friday, September 05, 2008

Landing Your Very First Job

Question of the day: I'm still in college, but graduating soon with my degree in Creative Writing. All I've ever wanted to do was write, and my plan has been to start small with submitting stories and trying my best to get published, then work my way from there. Right now I write for my college's newspaper and have been published by them several times. My post-graduation plan is to try finding a full-time job in publishing and write when I can. My main question is, in your opinion, is that the right course I should take, or rather, what do you think the best course might be when my main goal is to just write? Of course I need a job, which I have, but I want to get into the editing field. I would love to edit stories and such, so I guess I'm wondering what options someone like me has at this point in time.

I think that it sounds like you have an excellent plan and also, an excellent background. I started in PR after college, so maybe some others here can chime in who went right into magazines, but from everything I know, you're on the right track.

I've been asked before from new grads if there's a chance if they can make it right away in the freelancing world, and the cold, hard truth is that I think it would be very difficult. There are so many established writers who are also circling around the same magazines that there is just very little chance that an editor will send a lucrative assignment, as a newbie, your way.

So instead, go out, get that editing job, hone your skills even more, collect great clips (which it sounds like you're already doing), and pull together a great portfolio. In addition to building both your writing and that portfolio, you'll also meet a ton of other up-and-coming editors - you'll all move to and from different magazines, go to the same parties, run in the same circles. And these contacts will prove invaluable once you're ready to head out on your own. I think - and this is just an educated guess - that editors who start at magazines and leave to freelance probably have a much easier time breaking in and staying in the game than total outsiders.

So I think that you're definitely on the right track. Keep at it! Remember that things snowball in this industry, and while you might be chomping at the bit to write, write, write, (or at least get paid for that writing!), all good things come to those who wait. And from the sound of it, good things are headed your way!

Anyone out there get a magazine gig right out of college? Want to chime in with advice for our reader?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And Then There Was Ask Allison

Question of the day: Why did you decide to start a blog (which I enjoy very much!)?

Whew! To answer this, I have to really think back to nearly two and a half years ago! I cannot believe that I've had this blog for so long. Wow.

But I started the blog for several reasons. The first - and most altruistic - is that I was tired of reading Ms. Snark (or was it Miss Snark) who anonymously offered advice that I sometimes thought was mean and also sometimes thought was wrong. I thought, "Hey, I've been in the trenches of publishing for long enough that I might be able to offer some advice of my own." Only I wanted to do it with, well, less snarking, and with accountability. If you disagree with me or want to take me to task, at least you know where to reach me, what my background is, and whether or not my experience is relevant to yours. As far as the snarking goes, I'm all for snarking. Some would say that in my real life, I'm maybe even a tad too snarky. But this business is tough, and I've never seen the need to be snide to newcomers or fellow writers...there are plenty of other people in the industry who will do that all on their own.

The second, less altruistic reason that I started the blog is that I'd just sold my first book, and I knew that a blog was a great way to self-promote. And this has been proven true. Not because I cram my books down your throats (at least, I hope I don't!), but because I've made countless friends in the blogosphere who are always more than happy to help me spread a word when I need it spread. In this sense, the blog has been invaluable.

So, to make your question a more universal question: if you're thinking of starting a blog, consider why you're doing so in the first place. Try to make yours unique in that it actually offers something to readers rather than just posting about your belly-button lint or what not. A blog requires a lot of upkeep, and I'll admit that lately, when I've been really, really busy, writing a blog post has been the last thing that I've felt like doing. So be sure that you like your topic: I've found, for example, that once I tackle a new question for a reader, I forget about the fact that I was dreading carving out some time in my day to do so. I'm sure that other frequent bloggers out there know what of what I'm speaking.

So readers, tell me: why did YOU start a blog and what do you think you've gotten out of it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

OMG, It's Crunch Time

So I got back from vacation last night - we actually came back early because we were so ready to return to real life - and I woke up early this AM with that panicky feeling that comes when you have soooooo much on your plate that you don't even know where to begin. Yikes. Can anyone relate? Nah - I'm sure that none of you out there feel so busy that you actually feel your pulse speed up when you think of everything you have to get done!

But here's the reality I recognized this AM: my book is coming out in a month! Holy freakin' crap. Which means that I have to start answering a variety of Q/As for blogs, put together a reading group guide for my publisher, stay on top of the PR/marketing stuff that's happening, check in with the movie folks who said they might have some news soon, etc, etc, etc. On top of that, my fabu hubby is throwing me a book party after my NYC reading (NYC-ers, let me know if you're around on Oct 15th, and I'll send you details!), so I'm trying to coordinate that too.

Oh, and there's all of my freelancing stuff to attend to: I love doing all of my celebrity stuff, which is primarily what I focus on these days, but now I have a slew of interviews to conduct and draft within the next two weeks.

Oh, and did I mention that we're moving out of our house in two weeks? Um, yep. For four-six months to endure construction. (Don't get me started on this one. Let's just say that I love my husband very, very, very much to put up with this!)

So...back to the point of this post. We're always discussion how we all juggle our myriad hats as freelancers, and today, here's what I did: I woke up, and started doing things immediately. While my kids' waffles cooked, I followed up on some celeb stuff and some book PR stuff on my laptop in the kitchen. Once they were settled in with my sitter, I came up to my office and fired off emails about some book club guide questions. Then I dealt with a few party-related emails. Then I posted this blog. Next, I'll take a quick walk to clear my mind (and go grocery shopping!), then I'll head right back here to keep plugging away.

For me, the only way that this stuff gets done is to do it. Now. So I am.

Anyone else wake up today - the first day after a lazy summer - and feel like everything was snowballing?