Wake of Death

As a freelance writer, you’ll probably run into a lot of fly-by-night publications that are looking for writers to supply them with content. These outlets are great for new people trying to beef up their portfolio with tear sheets or just get some experience. Typically, these publications won’t pay you. Most of the time, writers put up with it, because they usually have a day job anyway.

Once you’ve written a few articles, you can start being a little picky about which fly-by-night publication you want to write for. Sooner or later, you’ll get picked up by a regional rag that actually has some good connections. The trick is to make their connections your connections. That way, when you finally have the opportunity to write for a paying gig, you’ll have more to bring to the table.

Whatever. The point of this post isn’t really to dole out advice about the writing industry. Instead, I just wanted to reflect on my journey thus far. Don’t worry, it isn’t long.

So, let’s see here. When I first started out, I got picked up by SWITCH magazine and I wrote a short review of two bars for them. As my first “professional” gig, I was fairly excited. The magazine was still in its pre-launch phase and its debut kept getting pushed back, which had me worried. Then the Editor-in-Chief left, which worried me more. When I contacted one of the founders, Gerry Garcia, he assured me everything was cool and even assigned me two interviews: one of Tatyana Ali and one of Sam Sarpong. Once again, my excitement shot through the roof and I thought I was well on my way to becoming an entertainment journalist. And then I got the bad news that funding fell through and the magazine was put on indefinite hold.

Later, I would freelance for a Webzine called In the Scene. I was one of the few restaurant reviewers and this is actually where I got most of my reviewing experience. If you’d have seen the site, you’d agree that it was pretty slick with a neat flash interface. I even went to one of their hosted parties at some club in Long Beach. I ended up just smoking on the patio for a couple of hours. In any event, they went under too, without any notice.

Then, of course, there’s MNZ magazine, which I’ve already written about in a previous post. If you don’t feel like clicking the link, here’s the short version: They were an East coast mens Webzine and I was one of their movie reviewers. Using them as my credentials, I got invited to a couple of press screeners, but when I turned in my reviews, the zine didn’t run them. Then they stopped communicating with me altogether. It was weird. So when they closed down, I wasn’t disappointed.

I tried my hand at paid blogging, but not the kind that “posties” typically do, which is blog about a product or whatever. Instead, I got picked up by an — at the time — up-and-coming social networking site called Muvas. It had a small, but dedicated community and I was hired to generate activity in their blog section. I talk about my time with them in this post. Anyway, they never paid me so I dumped them and deleted all of my content. They also went under some time later.

More recently, a British film review Web site called The Big Movie Review put a notice out for film reviewers. They later became ScreenGoblin, which is a link I had in my sidebar. Since I was already writing movie reviews for myself, I just handed the content over to them, since they boasted a higher readership. They posted my reviews, but then stopped answering my emails, so I quit writing for them. On a whim, I clicked on the ScreenGoblin link tonight and got a “server not found” error. When I plugged in their old address, I got this announcement.

Anyway, all of this is simply to note that I seem to have Death’s touch when it comes to the publications I write for. I’m exaggerating of course, since there are magazines in between the one’s I’ve listed here that I’ve written for and subsequently left and they’re still standing, like bello, Valley Scene, and hopefully Buzzine, which I still write for and have no intention of leaving, by the way. I just thought it was interesting to see how many publications I’ve worked for that folded.

That probably won’t look good on a résumé.