Friday, December 19, 2014

No Means NO!

As a freelance writer, finding clients can be a process of elimination on both sides. There are some services I simply don't provide--I'm not a professional copyeditor, so I say no to those. I won't leave my Skype open all day so you can randomly interrupt me when I'm working for other clients. And, of course, I absolutely will not write a 500-word article for $.50.

I also won't write about topics that go against my values. And that's an issue you face quite often when you work as a writer. I also avoid jobs that involve writing school papers for people (yes, students--particularly college students--pay writers to do that).

One issue that comes up when people find out that I write for a couple of high-profile publications is that they ask me to slip a business name into what I'm writing. Nobody will ever know, they say, and it's something journalists do all the time.

I say no and usually that's it. But occasionally I say no and get a few persuasive emails back. Yes, I said a few. I don't respond after the initial "no" because...what else is there to say?

One marketer stunned me by telling me, as part of his argument to persuade me to slip his client's brand name into one of my articles, that a reporter with a major, nationally-known, well-respected newspaper slipped brands into articles for him all the time. I didn't respond--I was too stunned to respond.

So these journalists risk their salaried jobs and journalistic integrity for a few bucks? It wasn't even about risking getting future assignments from clients. Four years of journalism school and basic moral integrity has me saying no. I'd like to believe that professional journalists have that, as well. So all I can hope is that he was lying to convince me to do this by using basic adolescent coercion...

Has an employer ever asked you to do anything that was against your beliefs? How did you handle it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Don’t You Tell Me What I’m Allowed to Read?

When it comes to reading, some people have strong opinions about what is appropriate. As I learned from my post defending romance novels, people don't mean to judge other people who read certain types of's just a side effect of the comments they make.

Literary judgment isn't limited to romance novels. The recent outcry against adults reading young adult novels is proof of that. Some people believe unless you're reading a literary classic, you may as well be watching reality TV.

I actually have personal experience with this. When I was a young PR consultant, I interviewed for a job in marketing at a very prominent bookstore. The interview was going well until she asked what types of books I liked to read. This man was part of my answer...

There wasn't even a delay. The woman looked absolutely horrified.

I thought later about the answer I should have given. It would have been a lie, but it might have helped me land the job. It's the answer we're all supposed to give when someone asks what you read. Just memorize the titles on these spines and you'll be all set.

When someone asks what you like to read, do you tell the truth? Or do you modify your answer based on what you think the person wants to hear?

This song is all the rage this Christmas...if you haven't heard it yet, you have to listen to it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

5 Ways to Annoy Your Fellow Christmas Shoppers

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go, parking lots are full, lines wrap around the building, and customers jockey for position in packed aisles. As you shop this year, it's important to be as annoying as possible in order to survive. After all, what's the point of Christmas if not to put everyone around you in a sour mood? Here are a few ways you can annoy your fellow shoppers this year.

Steal Someone's Parking Space

Yes, it all starts before you even enter the store. Here you'll have a prime opportunity to narrowly risk having your car rammed by an angry shopper. How? Find someone who is waiting, blinker on, for a parking space and at the last minute, swoop in and steal it. For added effect, let out an evil laugh as you strut past the angry driver on your way into the store. And hope that driver has auto insurance.

Forget How to Line Up

Your kindergarten teacher may have shown you how to line up, but there's no point in calling upon that information now. It's survival of the fittest. If you see a line of people waiting for multiple cashiers, ignore that line and hop behind someone who's already checking out. Sure, people will be mad, but most of the time they'll be too polite to yell at you. It's the perfect crime.

Walk in a Single Formation

Birds fly in a straight formation. Over time, evolution has led us to believe that this is how our families should walk through the mall. Never mind that people are behind you waiting to get by. Just keep casually strolling along as though the entire mall belongs to you.

Pretend You're the Only One Around

Speaking of having the mall to yourself, when you're in a store, it doesn't matter that other people are waiting behind you. Stand in front of the item you're buying for endless amounts of time and don't move for anything. If someone politely stops to let you pass, pass but stop somewhere that blocks them, acting as though you didn't realize they actually might want to move from that spot sometime today.

Act Like You're from the 80s

A few things have changed since the 80s, but you don't have to use today's technology. Personal checks are fun and stacks of paper coupons make the checkout experience like a game. Customers love waiting while you shuffle through your coupons like you're playing a game of Old Maid.

What annoys you most while you're out shopping?

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