Your Best Conference Self

Image Credit: phenomena.nationalgeographic.com

Come on out of that shell when you attend a writing conference. Image Credit: phenomena.nationalgeographic.com

We’re getting excited about the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors conference in April. It’s a chance to catch up with colleagues and, hopefully, make some new connections in the writing community. But with that excitement comes the social anxiety of striking up conversations in a room full of strangers. Eeek!

Writers tend to be pegged as introverts, a quality that “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” author Susan Cain argued, in her TED Talk, should be encouraged and celebrated in society. However, being an introvert at a conference, an unnatural environment that calls for some gusto, isn’t always easy. That’s why, in preparation for events this spring and summer, we sought some advice on suppressing that inner introvert.

Writer’s Digest columnist Chuck Sambuchino takes fellow writers through some steps to avoid a full-blown, sweaty-hand, tongue-tied panic. Here are a few highlights from his  Conferencing for Introverts article:

  • Don’t stress about your outfit. While you shouldn’t look like you fell out of bed or “rolled in a dumpster,” fixating on your outfit isn’t worth it. In the end, people are more likely to remember your brilliant thoughts and sunny attitude.
  • Other people are nervous too, even editors and agents. Just just relax. Try and treat them like equals.
  • While you’re there to network, you don’t have to be front and center at every event. Hitting up every gathering will drain your energy, so pick and choose the ones where you’ll feel comfortable (at least a little) and get something out of it.

Have any tips for your fellow introverts? Don’t be shy, please share.

Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

Kristine_4Name: Kristine Tucker

Location: Parkersburg, West Virginia

Years in the Studio: 4

Sections I write for: Careers, Education, Home and Parenting

I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

Up-cycling vintage furniture.  I’d take a good old fashioned flea market over the mall any day.

If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be…

Flavorful, upbeat, and practical.

The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is…

Flip pancakes. I always splatter the batter and wind up with pancakes that are oddly oval and oblong.

My favorite movie of all time is…

The Breakfast Club. My love affair with the “brat pack” never ends. “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”

 

Check out some of Kristine’s most popular articles:

 

 

Tips From the (DMS) Experts

We offer up some tips from the freelance community outside of Demand Media to help make your work life a bit more, enlightened. But we’ve been told that what you really want are some tips from the writers, editors, photographers and bloggers who are successful in the Studio.

Biz Fi Writer Eric Bank

Writer Eric Bank

Writer Eric Bank has been working in the Studio since 2010, and is a fixture in the Business & Personal Finance section. He is also a regular on the Ace Writer’s list. Eric offers some advice about working with editors to new or returning writers in his own words:

Look Past Editor’s Words

Editors will give you varying degrees of correction — sometimes vague, sometimes specific. I’ve found it helpful to figure out the underlying concepts motivating editorial comments. Some editor’s spell it out, which is useful. When the comments seem puzzling, check the DMS guidelines and correlate the information with the editor’s feedback.

Pay Attention to Publisher

The vast majority of my rewrite requests relate to getting the right voice for the publisher’s audience. For example, articles for The Nest must be colloquial and easily accessible. Conversely, articles for Zacks can be a little more sophisticated. Heed the editor’s requests for publisher-specific voicing and style.

Watch Your Punctuation

You can write a superbly researched and cogent article, only to have the editor return comments that point out improper uses of commas, quotation marks and other punctuation without acknowledging your otherwise brilliant work. Don’t take offense, simply fix the problems and try to avoid them in the future. You need to own The Elements of Style to help get it right.

Bend But Don’t Break

I seldom have rejected articles anymore, but I’ve had my share. My advice is to try to accommodate your editor — he or she is trying to ensure your article satisfies the publisher’s requirements. If, however, you simply can’t come to terms with the editor, think about appealing a rejection. I’ve found that appeals are effective about 75 percent of time. Only take a stand when you can back up your appeal with cold facts and logic — sputtering at the editor will probably count against you.

Have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Please comment below.

Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

JK with his horses, Rambler and Biscuit, at the Gryzybow Farma on the Germany/Poland border in Slubice.

JK with his horses, Rambler and Biscuit, at the Gryzybow Farma on the Germany/Poland border in Slubice.

Name: JK Assar

Location: Warsaw, Poland

Years in the Studio: Three years

Sections I write for: Food

I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

In the gym. Working out is fundamental to who I am, the second love of my life. My workouts comprise a lot of compound lifts and sprinting, nothing fancy, just work = force x distance. There’s something about challenging gravity with iron and battling friction with self-propulsion that’s akin to spirituality. The weights in your hands and the track under your feet don’t respond to excuses, reasoning or apologies, and when you challenge them and succeed the rewards are both immediate and long term, tangible and provable. Plus, girls like abs.

JK, "working for food, booze and a place to stay at the Mountain Hotel in the Swiss Alps."

JK, “working for food, booze and a place to stay at the Mountain Hotel in the Swiss Alps.”

If I ruled the world for a day I would…

Extend my reign indefinitely. But on the first day, I would teach the world to cook. Nothing fancy, just the basic techniques needed to prepare wholesome, tasty meals using whole foods. The reliance on fast and convenient foods as a sole nutrition source would lessen, obesity rates would drop globally and self esteem would increase individually. The world would be a happier place.

The greatest risk I ever took was…

Leaving America with only a backpack and a gauzy vision of what I wanted for myself. I was burning out as a chef, and rather than watch the respect I have for the kitchen erode, I left the industry. I moved abroad before I started freelancing, so I had learn a diverse set of life and social skills in a short amount of time to survive. Before I settled in Poland a couple years ago, I earned my stay at more than one hostel by offering the establishment my cooking and bartending skills. I’m not advising to just pack up and go as I did — you have to have a little bit of crazy in you to do that — but everyone should travel abroad alone for one year for introspection and personal development.

My favorite movie of all time is…

Ratatouille, an engaging research film about life in the professional kitchen. It should be mandatory viewing for anyone nihilistic enough to want to be a chef.

Check out some of JK’s best work…

How to Cook a Ribeye Steak Medium-Rare on a Griddle

How to Cook an English Cut Beef Chuck Shoulder Roast

How to Cook Souvlaki in the Oven

Top 5 in Pets

We’ve got so much quality stuff coming out of our 22 sections, that we want to start bragging about sharing it more regularly. We thought we’d kick things off with the Pets section, because we get the sense that animal lovers are a popular breed in the Studio. Here are five articles that section editor Eve Lederman and site editor Cathy Flanagan picked out because of their spot-on answers for all your cow, kangaroo and creepy crawler questions.

mantis What Female Insect Kills the Male After Sex? by Pamela Meadors

mooDo Cows Make a Different Sound Besides Moo? by Kat Walden

kangarooWhat Bones Power a Kangaroo’s Jumping? by Ben Team

lizardWhy Do Lizards Fall Asleep When You Put Them on Their Back? by Slone Wayking

CentipedeHow Many Eyes Do Centipedes Have? by Betty Lewis

Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

credit: dailyteacher.wordpress.com

credit: dailyteacher.wordpress.com

Name: Elizabeth Mott

Location: Flyover country

Years in the Studio: Since 2010

Sections I write for: Tech; Society 6 Art; RadioShack

I’m usually work hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

Spending time with my significant other and our three cats, enjoying music and popular culture. In my outside-DMS life, I’m an advertising and marketing designer and strategist. Sounds lots more hifalutin’ than it really is.

If I ruled the world for a day I would…

Ban prejudice and hate of all kinds, make sure everyone had enough to eat and rescue all abused animals. Make politicians behave like people. Force doctors to experience the healthcare system from the patient’s perspective.

I couldn’t make it through the day without…

Coffee! Strong coffee! My brain refuses to boot unless I’ve drained my big yellow mug.

What is your theme song for life?

It’s not a song, but I’m convinced that persistence pays off.

Ask the Editor Recap

jon-stewart-huhThere’s no such thing as a dumb question. No, really. Here at DMS we don’t believe in chuckling or eye rolling our way through any query, big or small. That’s part of the reason we created our Ask the Editor forum series where section editors answer segment-specific or general questions on the spot. If you haven’t checked them out, you can review past threads here, or take a look at some highlights below!

Q: Hi Tiffany. I’ve been experiencing something in Food pieces often lately, something I’ve run into in other studio sections, but not in Food, that I find frustrating. Perhaps there is a Food-specific guideline I’ve missed. Often, I have been offered a reference that requires registration; it has come up in recipes and articles from “Cooking Light” mostly, where after a few sentences the content is grayed out. The site is selling their advice, and I think they’re pretty good. But I am very frustrated that a credit card is required to even start a two-week sample of what they offer. Am I on firm ground if I ask the writer to replace the reference with something more universally available? Posted by Roy Hobbs

A: Thanks for your post! We do require writers to provide references that can be easily verified by the CE. In your examples, it’s clear that these references cannot be easily verified by you, which is problematic for fact-checking purposes. This also makes it more difficult for the reader who clicks on these links. Whenever you encounter this, please ask the writer to replace the reference with something that can be more easily accessed by everyone.

Q: Here are some of my other questions:

  • Do you use the exact topic phrase are the article title?
  • Are references limited to those approved by DMS or can we choose others.  Are peer reviewed journal articles OK?
  • Please provide any general advice you have as an editor on how to succeed with DMS.

A: Such good questions.

  • The topic phrase does not have to be the article title.
  • References are not limited to those approved by DMS. You are free to utilize texts, articles you access via subscriptions services etc.; however, when utilizing this material, you may be asked by your editor to include the sentence/paragraph you referenced in your submission. The only references that are not allowed are those listed on the Blacklist here. I know you write for the health section, so it also might be helpful to check out our Recommended References in the Basic & Medical Health Guidelines here.
  • The best advice I can give for succeeding at DMS is to read the guidelines. So many pitfalls can be avoided by simply referencing your section-specific guidelines as you write your first few articles. Learning the DMS style can be tricky, but once you are familiar with the guidelines (Not necessarily having them memorized,but having them handy and knowing where to look for certain questions.) your life as a writer will significantly improve. I also encourage you to ask questions! Don’t be afraid to shoot me an email about how approach a title or how to format an article. That’s why we’re here — my email is jenny.seyfried@demandmedia.com

Q: New to Demand, so a couple of basic questions:

  • What are the most common errors made by new writers and how can they be avoided?
  • I’m aiming to make ACE by the end of summer. Any tips?
  • Since you’re open to interrogation, what is the meaning of life? (an attempt to continue to lighten the mood…)

A: Welcome to Demand, Art.

Many new writers forget to read the segment and site guidelines before writing their articles,so they end up having to revise content that otherwise would have earned approval in the first pass.

Submitting generic content is another common error among new writers. For example, the title reads, “How to Research an Essay on the Battle of the Alamo,” and the writer submits an article on how to research a general essay. For the former title, the article should identify where to find the best sources for studying that particular event.

Deeply researching your topic and composing lean, clear prose that is particular to the title should put you in good standing in the ACE program. Of course, that’s not much in the way of tips, right? You would give that advice to any writer composing anything, including a laundry list.

What is the meaning of life? I’m still working on the meaning of “antidisestablishmentarianism.”  But, Toni Morrison, who is far more eloquent than I ever could hope to be, once wrote, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Until someone else explains this mystery more clearly, that will do.

The next Ask the Editor session is on Wednesday, February 12, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST with Science Editor, Rachel.

You Aced It: January ACE Writers

With the start of a brand new year comes a fresh new list of writers whose stellar performances and sizable contributions ushered them into the prestigious inner circle that is the ACE Writers’ Club. Imagine digital velvet ropes, keys and passwords. Yep, it’s fancy. OK — maybe not that fancy, but being a part of the ACE Writers’ Club can mean great things for your self-esteem and your wallet. Some ACES earned upwards of $450 for their impressive contributions. Don’t be jealous — just join the club — find out how, here.

Congrats to this month’s members!

  • Fred Decker
  • Solomon Poretsky
  • Paige Turner
  • C. Taylor
  • Van Thompson
  • Chris Deziel
  • Danielle Fernandez
  • Nick Peers
  • Alan Sembera
  • JK Assar
  • Jane Meggitt
  • Jessica Bruso
  • William McCoy
  • Kevin Lee
  • Julie Christensen
  • Sara Ipatenco
  • Eric Bank
  • Aaron Parson
  • M.L. Rose
  • Beverly Bird
  • David Weedmark
  • Elizabeth Mott

Things My Studio Bio Won’t Tell You

coffee2

Name: Beverly Bird

Location: The Jersey shore. Land of boardwalks, beaches, casinos and pine barrens.

Years in the Studio: I started in late 2009, so a little over four years now.

Sections I write for: Legal, Relationships, Biz and Finance, Real Estate and Careers.

I’m usually working hard, but when I’m hardly working, you can find me…

In the kitchen. I love finding and trying out new recipes, and I try to gather friends and family around the table at least once a week to act as my guinea pigs. Someone is bound to poke at their plate at least once each meal and ask, “What exactly did you say was in this again?” or “OK, this is…interesting. What’s the green stuff?”

If I had to describe my work in three words, they would be….

Satisfying.  Fun. Challenging.

The one thing I wish I could do well, but can’t is…

Sing. I try. I really try. Much to the dismay of my loved ones.

I couldn’t make it through the day without…

Coffee. Not just any coffee – Wawa coffee. It’s a convenience store chain in the east that makes the best cup known to mankind, hands down. A few years ago, the stores started selling it by the bag so now I can brew it at home. All day. Every day. But it still somehow tastes better when the store brews it.

The greatest risk I ever took was…

Thumbing my nose at a regular paycheck and the confines of a law office and going back to work for myself in 2010.  With only two weeks’ salary saved. And a child to support. On my own.

Check out some of Beverly’s most popular articles:

Brand New Resource Centers

A new year means brand new features for DMS contributors like you. Last month, we introduced Demand Insights, a new tool for writers to measure their personal impact online. This month we’re excited to announce the relaunch of our Resource Centers.

Starting today, you’ll notice redesigned resource centers for both Writers and Editors.

WriterResourceCenter

The new resource centers include some great new features to take advantage of:

  • A rotating gallery spotlighting some of our favorite resources.
  • A new and improved Error Correction and Rewrite Clarification Form for writers.
  • A whole collection of training videos for copy editors.
  • Helpful social media links for both writers and editors.

We’ve streamlined these new resource centers to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for section or site-specific resources (like our Travel Writer Handbook), be sure to visit the corresponding section guidelines.

We hope you enjoy the new resource centers. Be sure to check back regularly for new additions!