Off topic: Contributions to English-language press?
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:02
Member
Spanish to English
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May 10

Some of you are aware that I do a bit of non-translation scribbling now and again here, obviously not for profit, but recently I’ve been thinking I might try to do a bit of paid work on the side for the English-language press between translations, and so I’ve been putting together a portfolio of light-hearted articles on things that amuse me, personages real and fictional, anything and everything, really. Similar to the kind of blaargh that appears in Little Translator, but possibly a mite less spicy or, well, to call a spade a spade, lewd.

I’m thinking mainstream UK/US press, but definitely not rags where the main attraction is page 3, 5 or 7. You see, I’d like any potential readers to know why the Big Brother contest is called Big Brother, for example, or know that Kant is a man’s surname and not what you might hear one of the Fowler clan yelling from his stall at Walford market - and have sent an article to a paper’s website already, but it wasn’t exactly a Contributions e-mail, just the nearest thing to it. As far as I can see, they don’t have an e-mail for that kind of offer.

I think it’s safe to assume that no press barons, features editors or scouts are scanning ProZ for potential content, so has anyone tried to offer this kind of thing to the press before, or has anyone any suggestions as to how to go about it?

Thanks!


[Edited at 2018-05-10 08:31 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
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Difficult market May 10

It's a difficult market to break into. There are plenty of books about how to make money from freelance writing, but you'd probably want one with positive reviews from others than just the author's friends. There must be plenty of websites about it too.

You need to understand how to approach publishers, as you need to push your services quite a lot in that business. If the publishers notice that you don't understand how they work, you won't get many more seconds of their time than the bare minimum needed to press Delete.

Getting straight into the mainstream press probably isn't realistic, although it may be possible in some niche areas.

Earning decent money on freelance writing takes time. But it is not just about money, but also more freedom to write what you like to write, and getting recognition for it. And a successful online presence in freelance writing can also help your translation business.

In any case, it helps to have your own independent online presence in one or more blogs, so publishers can get an idea about your writing, but you would probably want to keep a watchful eye on others stealing your articles and publishing them for their own profit. This happens a lot. There are various ways to deal with it, as content thieves often don't react when you contact them directly. Copyright infringement reports to Google and/or the relevant web hosting company often work, though. But it takes some time to do this. Everybody loves to hate Facebook, but people still spend a lot of time on Facebook, so it may still be worth including Facebook in your strategy.

You'll also need to understand the rights you are selling, for example "first serial rights". These things are explained in the type of book I mentioned.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
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Just press May 10

Thanks a lot, Thomas! Publishing houses are out, though. I learned more than I wanted to know about them when I spent a few years translating for one such place in the distant past, and anyway I don't think I have either the ability or the patience to write a book. The idea is to produce light-hearted articles in one of the more respectable broadsheets, occasional or regular.

I'd thought about blogging too, but also about the problems you mention. And I'm looking around for those pointers on freelance writing you mentioned, and checking out a few other tips that have been suggested.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
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Publishers May 10

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Thanks a lot, Thomas! Publishing houses are out, though. I learned more than I wanted to know about them when I spent a few years translating for one such place in the distant past, and anyway I don't think I have either the ability or the patience to write a book. The idea is to produce light-hearted articles in one of the more respectable broadsheets, occasional or regular.


They are all publishers. I wasn't referring to writing a book. There are all sorts of magazines and other publications in addition to the press, which is most probably bombarded daily with applications such as yours.

In any case, I'd say a good place to start is to learn about the market and how to promote your services in a way that will make you stand out. But if you set the bar too high to begin with, i.e. by only targeting the broadsheet press, and without already having some sort of successful freelance writing reputation, you risk not getting anywhere.

[Edited at 2018-05-10 14:18 GMT]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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OK ... May 10

... understood!

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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
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Member (2009)
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For rates and contact details May 10

The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook is supposed to be quite handy, though it'd be worth looking at a copy before investing in it. If you or any one you know is ever in the Landes area (Seignosse) I can lend you an old copy so you can see what it's about.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:02
English to Portuguese
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Airline magazines May 10

Mervyn,

Considering your uniquely amusing style with the Little Translator, I think it's something that should be a hit on airline magazines.

While long-distance air travel might be a thrill for some, most likely those flying to amusement parks in Florida, domestic flights on business are as boring as it gets. My top spot ever was 12 flights all over Brazil in one week! Though I was careful in choosing the nicest airline ever, the long-deceased Transbrasil, it was booooring. So I was eager to find something delightful in those magazines to read while aloft.

These magazines are wealthy, their ads are literally for the jet-set. Ritzy hotels and resorts, luxury car rentals, sea cruises, jewelers, plus expensive yet futile appliances. So they supposedly can pay better than the newspaper that will be under your pet's "production" on the next day - bird or mammal, it doesn't matter.

Perhaps you could write with the same flair about the Little Traveler. Though your type of humor is rare, it can be applied everywhere. I'll never forget an article in a photography magazine in the 1970s. While dealing with B&W processing techniques, it introduced the so-called 'wetting agent', a soapy chemical that made film and photo paper wetter, so they'd absorb developer and fixer more evenly and faster right away. It began, "The wetting agent is not a spy with bladder problems. It is..."

Years ago I found/bought (?) online a world directory for in-flight magazine publishers. It should exist somewhere, still today. Or perhaps you can find them online.

You stand the chance to be a hero, by giving some mirth to those sad air travelers, seat-bound for several hours in a row. If the mainstream press eventually finds you there, so much the better!

Good luck!


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
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Mine of information May 11

Thanks a lot, Georgie! I just might take the plunge with that. And also many thanks for the personal offer, but although I go across the border occasionally for the croissants and well smelly cheese, among other sundries, it's never usually farther than Biarritz, not usually the Dax area/Seignosse.

And José Henrique, what can I say? Is there anything you don't have ideas about? I read your post this morning, hyperarticulate and insightful as usual with the in-flight magazines, the long-haul flights, the Little Traveler, thinking Where does he come up with this stuff? - and then I switched on my mobile. The time on the dial was 7:47. It was uncanny. I swear I raised my head and looked all around and over my shoulder. It can't just be a coincidence.

Thanks a bunch - I'll take it on board with the other valuable luggage I've been given, as it were.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
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The Little Traveler May 11

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

And José Henrique, what can I say? Is there anything you don't have ideas about? I read your post this morning, hyperarticulate and insightful as usual with the in-flight magazines, the long-haul flights, the Little Traveler, thinking Where does he come up with this stuff? - and then I switched on my mobile. The time on the dial was 7:47. It was uncanny. I swear I raised my head and looked all around and over my shoulder. It can't just be a coincidence.


I'm glad you like it.

A couple of ideas for the Little Traveler.

When I was the Little Traveler, I was a training consultant. I flew all over the country leading 1-day HRD training courses (sometimes up to 4-5 days) at hotels or company premises, their training classroom. Now we have e-learning, this is no longer so common.

Make the Little Traveler an IT consultant. My elder son would be the role model. He travels everywhere, when companies have computer network problems that cannot be solved remotely online, nor with just a few local mouse clicks. Of course, in those boring moments waiting for the boarding call or aloft, the LT's mind will always be whizzing at breakneck speed, devising how some new mobile apps could make everything simpler, faster, better. Upon interacting with people - there will always be a stranger by his side, either at the lounge or in the plane - he will point out how ridiculous some deeply ingrained human ways of getting things done are.

Just a thought...


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 05:02
Member (2008)
English to Italian
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Toilet paper May 11

I have always strongly believed that literature on toilet paper MUST be a huge success - a match made in heaven, albeit consumed in a slightly different setting.

Why don't you give it a try? It may seem degrading, but hey, whatever money you make out of it certainly won't smell.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
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Good thinking May 11

Mr L, I think it's YOUR mind that's whizzing at breakneck speed! Another idea - you're certainly in form today, my man. Talk about a daily idea count ...

And Daniel, many thanks for pointing out that it's certainly true some kinds of toilet humour might be better accommodated in an appropriate ambiance. I just have to figure out a way of finding some people who would be willing to spend quite a bit more than a penny, and move some crap to enable me to move into flush mode.

Have a good weekend, everyone!!


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:02
Member (2006)
French to English
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Freelance writing May 11

Hello Mervyn,
I agree with Georgie Scott - The Writers' and Artists' Year Book is well worth having and, I'm sure, not expensive. I used it to advantage when I did some writing back in the 1980s - full of practical advice and massive lists of publications in English with details of the kind of stuff they like.
I also attended a two-day course run by Cosmopolitan in London back then and actually got several pieces published - in Cosmo and elsewhere, paid at NUJ rates.
The point they emphasised strongly was how SPECIFIC each magazine's likes are - subject matter, style, length, and so on, and that editors won't even look at anything that doesn't fulfil those criteria. They suggested writing to editors with brief outlines of articles and ideas for articles before submitting the finished product. The problem there is that one can't copyright an idea, so it's possible that someone might pinch your idea, but ... nothing ventured ...
Wishing you every success. Courage mon brave!
Jenny


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Jenny May 12

Thank you too, Jenny!! I agree with both of you, and I'll get the book at some point. See how the other half write, that kind of thing.

[Edited at 2018-05-12 11:48 GMT]


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