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Technical writing for magazines


#1

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Art Jewelry Mag Nips at Heels of Lapidary Journal
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/art-jewelry-mag-nips-at-heels-of-lapidary-journal

I’ve stayed out of this arena, reading all the comments made so far.

We are getting away from the publication and its content and into a
literary fairness commentary. Except for airing views, nothing will
be resolved here and now.

What we have is a relatively new publication which for the most part
is well received. It cannot be all things onto all. No need to tear
it down because it isn’t. We collectively need to support all
publications with a bent towards jewelry, all jewelry, yes including
"beads" and “clay.”

These two seem to get a rise out of quite a few and then we have
another round of words with no chance of solution.

We have recently lost a very valuable, to Wire Artists publication.
Whether you work with wire or not, this was a very functional
magazine, Wire Artist. Each bi-monthly issue offered projects not
only for all levels, but for children as well.

Instructions and photographs were of excellent quality and easily
understood. Submissions for all projects came from the wire workers
themselves. There were no “professional” writers other than those
who wrote business support articles on a regular basis.

Within our community, there are many who would happily submit how
to’s simply to share a pet project. We have many unsung artists
among us. It would be wonderful to give them a voice.

Orchid is a sharing community. Instead of commenting on what Art
Jewelry is not, how about better supporting it?

Lapidary Journal did not betray the community because it brought
Beads into the magazine and public. There was a need to fill. This
is another publication that welcomes submissions from us. If we want
to see specific things, we need to think about sharing what is
familiar to us, and perhaps in that way enlighten others.

Some of us buy every component we use in our jewelry, others,
including myself, go out dig it, process it and then include it,
incorporating field trips, lapidary and smithing. That may be of
interest to others out there.

Rock and Gem magazine has for years, every month given a Dremel in
exchange for a how to article. Some of these projects are great,
each month there is another artist featured. Their name is in print,
their project is featured and they are happy.

Perhaps one of us will take up Dori’s offer and apply to Art
Jewelry. Why not?

Terrie


#2

I have two personal observations on the matter of jewelers being
paid badly for writing and on the matter of hobbyists charging low
prices.

(1) At least, when I write for a magazine like Lapidary Journal, I
get paid something. I’ve written and published several journal
articles in the field of Assyriology, which took much more time to
write and for which I have been paid nothing (I am also unemployed
in the field of Assyriology). Sometimes, I haven’t even been given
offprints of my articles. When I review a book, the most I get is
the copy of the book (which, in my field, can be worth $150, but
it’s not necessarily a book I would’ve bought otherwise).

(2) Re charging more for one’s jewelry: some of us remember how it
was when we were younger and too poor to afford the kind of jewelry
we liked. I always remember that, when I’m pricing things. I am
also aware that I do not make my living as a jeweler, and I try to
remember those who do. But if I raised my prices a lot, I could
simply be competing for the some of the same buyers that higher-end
jewelers do. That begins to take the fun out of making jewelry. I
don’t want to get into having to do high-end shows, taking
competitive photos of my jewelry, worrying about my displays, etc.
(I’m getting too old for that anyway.) I admire those of you who
do those things, but I’m aiming at a different group of customers.
And by teaching jewelrymaking, I think it makes for more discerning
(and perhaps willing…) buyers, when they become aware of what
goes into making a piece of jewelry.

Judy Bjorkman


#3

All,

I have responded to numerous requests for interviews by asking the
requestor how much they are going to pay me. Most want the
interview for no cost and tell me the exposure is my pay. I tell
them that I get plenty of exposure all by myself and turn them down.
At the current prices paid for articles I see no reason at all to
take the time to write. Maybe when I finally stop doing lapidary and
jewelry as a full time business I will take the time to write.
Probably not tho, as I hate to give away what I have learned to
magazine people who make a profit at my expense.

Gerry Galarneau


#4

Judy W. et al!

As you probably know by now I am one of the many contributing
writers for “Bench” magazine…to say I write is a understatement. I
think of each stage in the process of “explaining” each and every
setting procedure. To write an article just on “Setting a Princess
Diamond” took me well into 6 pages of ‘notes’ not including my many
pictures. “Grinding Gravers” another 6-7 pages…ouch! I have to make
a list of all of the necessary tools that will be needed…My simple
"Glossary of Setting Tools" consists of only 27 pages of notes at a
month of constant writing and many revisions. This is totally geared
to the new setter/jeweller.

Judy, my new book, that is nearly completed has only 50 articles on
setting and with over ‘613’ pictures on a CD-ROM. These are also
geared to the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced levels of
setting…Did I say that I have over 8 articles just for the Retail
trade alone?

Judy, any one can write a technical book, but they MUST know who
they are writing for. I insert lots a humour in my writing, it
lessens the pain of understanding and makes the reader laugh a tad
while reading.“Humour is like an anaesthetic, it dulls the pain of
learning”…:>)

Setting is easy, its the learning that is hard, so lets make it easy
for the new folks,eh? I am very sorry all, I write with the command
and spelling of the “Queens English”, that is Canadian version of
spelling, e.g…jewellery, neighbour, jeweller…ad infinituum!

Even my “AJM” interview that is appearing next month, has some
subtle humour thrown in.

“Gerry, the Cyber-Setter!”


#5

Just one comment on the writer’s rights: a writer can assign “first
serial rights” only to the magazine and reserve all other rights.
These other rights can then be sold by the writer. This would
include “second serial rights” to another publication later on; as
an article collected in a book; on the writer’s own website etc. If
the pay is very low for this magazine, as it is for many trade
magazines, and if you have a good marketing ability and the time to
do it, then reserving the other rights is a way to compensate for
the initially low payment.

Ettagale Blauer
ettagale@aol.com


#6

Well, I think Jackie may have something there. I have been
considering this thread for several days…trying to decide if and
or how to respond to the comment about not being able to make a
living by writing for magazines.

I have been published in both Lapidary Journal and Art Jewelry. Did
I get rich or buy a new BMW? Certainly not. Did I get rich by
sharing and ideas…you bet your bippy! We don’t write
these articles for a living and I doubt any of the magazines editors
would expect that. All they are asking is that we put our
experiences and about a specific subject down on paper
and let them make the silk purse out of it.

What do we reap? Well, we get some recognition for one thing. We
get self satisfaction and the excitment of being published. We also
get a lot of inner happiness by giving an untold number of people
the answers to questions unasked and on ideas untried.

It takes me, certainly not a professional writer but with a fair
amount of technical writing under my belt, about 10 hours to write
and proof read, edit and otherwise prepare pictures etc for an
article. Otherwise, the words just flow. A pro should be able to
do that in about one half the time. A word of advice…in my past
life we had a saying, “an engineer writes like an engineer thinks
and no one else can understand it”. Don’t get too involved in the
details of writing…stick with what you know and keep it simple.

Otherwise, if you want to make a living writing…give up being a
jewelry artist and become an artist of the word.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#7
    Well, "low pay" is a relative term. The amount any magazine
pays for an article is a separate topic than whether we do art for
a living or for a hobby. That's more relevant to the "underpricing
or overpricing" issue. Certainly, no one's forcing you to write
articles. I'm not sure how many people make a living from writing
articles for trade journals. And, I'd always thought that "artist"
and "making a living" were mutually exclusive terms. Those jewelry
makers who make their living at making and selling jewelry might
not consider themselves artists, but rather astute business people.
I think our biggest problem is that we don't know how to be artists
AND business people at the same time. 

Well, Jackie - I guess I most whole-heartedly disagree! First, at
some point low pay is most definitely not relative; it’s quite
subjective to the cost of living, which at any level must include
basic needs OTHER than just hand-to-mouth.

And goodness! - Art and making a living are not “mutually
exclusive.” I am not sure when this attitude took hold, but once upon
a time not too long ago artisans were well-paid, respected members of
a community and not people living on the fringes, just barely
scraping by and considered “colorful” by the majority of society.
Kurt Vonnegut QUIT working at an excellent middleclass job at General
Electric because HE COULD MAKE MORE MONEY WRITING! Sometime in the
80s is when things stagnated, I think.

And most artists I know are not dumb bunnies at business; that’s
another myth. I am very good at marketing and business–many years in
retail–and I’m a decent artist at both jewelry and writing, but the
pricing and pay issues are just very difficult right now. The dollar
is not going as far as it did (sound like my dad!) but our pay is
pretty stagnant.

As to “No one forcing” me to write articles? Well, gee - I am a
professional writer. I guess I would say all those bills might be
forcing me to write. Twist my arm! Or maybe I should give up and go
work for Walmart. Which would hire me at 3/4 time so they don’t have
to pay benefits…

Needless to say, I will never just roll over and accept that art and
a decent living are not possible. Fair compensation is a right all of
us deserve! (And by decent living, I don’t mean a Lexus and a 5000
square foot house; my husband, who is a writer, and I have 2 old paid
off Toyotas, live in a tiny cottage and are trying to build our own
1000 square foot home one brick at a time . . . We just want a chance
to pay for health care, a little retirement, and maybe once in a
while something other than wine in a box.)

Roseann


#8

Another point of writing to those who want to learn.

I bought a CD Labelling-program with a 54 page manual…heck, I
needed a PhD in Computer Sciences. to figure out what they were
trying to tell me. I just repacked the package and returned it. Not
before complaining to the head office on this “excersise in
futility”. I said I am a novice in PC…(yeah sure) this manual made
no sense to me at all.

You just gotta know who you’re writing for and at what level…right?

imagine a University level teaching physics to Grade 2 math
student…duh!..:>) Gerry!

Toronto where the grass is now turning green, thank G-d! along with
Judy and her Lilacs…:>)


#9

Judy,

Thank you so much for bringing up these really good points - I had
not considered it from that angle. My comments on this matter really
relate to hobbyists, and I think you’re a jewelry professional,
especially as an instructor. When I talk about low pricing, I am
specifically talking about pricing really really high-end products at
rock-bottom just because it’s a hobby - not over-pricing art that
should be lower priced. That is, pricing based on materials, time,
and value.

Roseann


#10
    I have responded to numerous requests for interviews by asking
the requestor how much they are going to pay me. Most want the
interview for no cost and tell me the exposure is my pay. 

I love being interviewed! I always say yes! My latest interview has
just come out, I’m waiting for my copy.

I look at it as building my press pack. Actually, there are some
articles in which I was quoted that I don’t have copies of, that I
have to track down.

Each article helps you get the next one, which in turn leads to
bigger and bigger publications.

Elaine
Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#11

Don in SoFL, et all

What do “we” all reap and desire? recognition and nice pat on the
back, and a good healthy monetary thank you…money comes to those
who don’t look for it…“exposure” is number 1. money comes back to
those in other ways,…how? glad you asked…:>) I have been writing
for a noted magazine for some time, now I get to go on seminars and
getting nicely paid for it, too. am now doing my third "paid for"
seminar. “Word of mouth” is the payoff because of technical writings.

don’t hold the $ too close to your eyes, you might get blinded by
the instant pennies, its the final result you should be looking at.
One person tells another, and then its an organisation calls upon
you…now thats the real payment of your writing abilities. Same
thing with me, once my book is available after 4 years of writing my
50 articles I will reap some $$$ from my own schedule of contacting
other resources for more seminars. Its basically a “one step at a
time”, don’t jump,…I know its a long haul,…but the road is worth
it!

Moral of this email, just remember your writings are your tombstone,
why? your words and ideas “will last longer” than you. Your education
will enable someone around this world to make a living from your
writings, gear your ideas to “that” person. Not to make the almighty
dollar.Your simplest idea will make a world of difference to someone,
don’t forget this fact.

Gerry!


#12

Coralnut,

Think you may have missed the point, mine at least. Its a
fundemental issue of fairness. These publications are profit making
activities, not charitable endevors. “A workman should be worthy of
his hire” Thats an old saying that simply means a person should be
paid fairly for the work he/she does.

Perhaps you can write a publishable article in a few hours. My hat
is off to you. I have spent many hours than that on my best pieces.

Richard
www.rwwise.com
For Information and sample chapters from my new book:


#13

About “writing for hire.” If you are doing this professionally, as I
have done for years, you give up any sense of ownership. It’s not
"your" writing and you don’t even expect a by-line–much of my
writing has been ghostwriting (in the first person, no less). What
you do expect is a decent hourly rate. Roseann is getting is more
than I ever got, but my most recent job paid $60 an hour.

However…if you feel like writing is an “art form,” I don’t
recommend this route. For me, at least, it took all the creative
pleasure out of doing my own work–that’s why I began exploring other
creative outlets and ended up making jewelry.

On the other hand, if you like to see your name in print, and want
to contribute to the jewelry community, and have the time and money,
and–this can be key–want to publicize workshops you offer, go for
it. LJ pays $300 for a Step by Step and it will cost you to do it.
But if the math comes out even, it could be a form of free publicity.
And a lot more reliable than sending out dozen of press releases.

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments


#14
 We just want a chance to pay for health care, a little
retirement, and maybe once in a while something other than wine in
a box.)

Thank you, Roseann, for protesting! My husband is a free-lance
writer, and I am an artist who happens to be a jeweler, and I don’t
think that just because I love what I do, inclusding teaching, that
that means I should do it just for the love of it! Nor should my
husband! We have four kids, all of whom need a good education. We’re
not expecting to get rich, but “a workman is worthy of his hire”.

And Gerry, I’m not sure what the point of your post was. You write
reams, I got that. Humor in it, good. If you do it well, you deserve
to be paid for it. If you want to give away your hard work, that is
your business, but my husband and I are in our 50’s, and always
broke, and not because we live high on the hog. I find it acutely
frustrating that writers and artists are expected–even by their
colleagues, apparently-- to have other careers to pay their bills,
and give away the fruits of hard-won skills. If a lawyer, a
businessman or a doctor are crazy about their jobs, no one thinks
they should do them for free!

OK, I guess I should stop here. As you can tell, this is a bit of a
sore point with me. The world does not owe me a living-- just don’t
tell me I should be happy to create, teach, or write for free, or
that I’m not an artist just because I am trying very hard to make my
creativity support me!

–Noel


#15

On the subject of technical writing; there are many individuals who
write prodigiously on all manner of topics, but in the final
analysis it isn’t the word count that matters, it is the quality and
clarity of the content.

Michael David Sturlin
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com


#16

What a perplexing thread this is! I think “cross-over” is an issue
here.

There are some of us who are very good at casting or bench work.
There are a few of us who are good writers, or could be.

There are darn few who are both. That’s the “cross-over” person.
The practitioners who can write or even can not deserve to be heard.
How else to elevate our work? Kraftwerks was designed to address this
exactly. After all if one can not write and get published why not
share what you have by doing it in an educational forum?

Technical writing is how I got started writing at all. I have seen
very good professional writers fail to get the technical part well
presented more than once or twice. Even with the best interviews with
the best experts something gets lost. We have all seen practitioners
who are very good at designing or whatever but just can not put their
work to words very well at all. Heck we forgive each other on this in
every orchid session. Perhaps co-writing is the best blend but then
we have two people to pay! I’m not at all sure this technical
writing is an art form in the same context as say a great novel, or
fine sculpture. Writing is an art of course but I’m pointing out a
relative scale that points to the monetary value.

Technical writing is in a class of its own. It is often best put
forth by those “cross-over” folks who can do their specialty and
write all about it in an interesting way. Often the media itself is
what is being “used”- rather than the writers reputation, to get the
word out and raise the state of the art. The writer may very well be
paid by the work in the shop rather than at the keyboard. I have
written both ways-paid and not. In general I just look at the value
of the once it is out there and look at the budget of who
or what I am writing for. Where there is a budget I get paid. Where
there is no money available I really look at my time investment and
the “good” I hope the will do.

It seems sometimes out efforts to share generously risk taking some
income away from someone somewhere. That is an unavoidable
consequence. We take that risk when we share all these great bench
and casting tricks. After all someone may be keeping that very same
trick very close to the vest for purely profit based reasons. The
"art" if you will is bigger than any of us as individuals or our
income needs.

When and if we can take on another skill we grow as individuals. Even
if that may add one more practitioner to a full marketplace. Full
time professional writers have my highest respect. Its difficult,
competitive and about as reliable for income as any art like acting.
When I write as a semi-professional I may well be taking an
assignment away from a professional. Paid freelance writing
assignments are darn hard to get. I get my assignments by knowing my
subject so well its just jumps out in the words I write. My editors
(Thanks Suzanne, Rich, and Tina) make my writing much better. My
part time status as a writer (even that seems an exaggeration)
assures me no professional writer is losing much to me and my semi
professional efforts. These days I can write in a variety of forums,
and I really have found a great outlet for some creativity. I really
enjoy political/editorial writing, which you will not find here ever.
But where there is no budget there are no “professionals” in the
money making sense at least at that moment. Ganoksin is a great
library of donated. So are some of the newer or smaller
magazines. I will write for Hanuman at no charge anytime. If
AOL/Time Magazine ever calls I’ll have a different feeling and a very
different price quote.

Daniel Ballard
Precious Metals West/Fine Gold
Kraftwerks Director


#17

Hello Orchidland,

Just thought I’d throw in a bit about publishing in many scientific
journals with peer-review. It’s sort of interesting in that the
author pays for the privilege of having her/his paper published -
something in the range of $100-$150/ page. When writing research
grants, one needs to include the publishing costs and be prepared to
purchase reprints to answer those requests as they come in. Some
journals are putting their articles on the web and are accessible to
members for downloading - that helps. Since faculty usually have to
publish or perish, the journals can be selective and ARE.

Subscriptions are pricey too! With the funding cuts, many libraries
are having to eliminate some journals to stay within budget. (Sigh)

Things are tough all over.
Judy in Kansas


#18

If you dont think it is fair dont do it. What is the problem with
that? They will find someone elses filler to put between the covers.
If you think your introducing something new, it is most likely
yourself that you are fooling.


#19

You know, as a hotshot programmer, I didn’t make $60 an hour. And
all the technical writer’s I knew made 1/2 or less of what I made as
a programmer.

I have several friends who are still in the field of technical
writing, and they would ALL like to know where they can get paid $60
an hour for technical writing.

$15 to $20 an hour is a darn good wage. Wake up and join the real
world, where part time minimum wage jobs are becoming the norm.
Even for people with “advanced degrees”.

Sojourner


#20

$60/hour is indeed a normal and fair wage for freelance writing;
that’s what I charge for writing marketing copy. (Charlotte, NC area)
If most freelance writers were able to get 40 hours a week of solid
writing time, that would indeed be a hefty salary. (However, I
suspect the quality of writing would not be diminished due to
burnout.) But it doesn’t work that way. There are myriad other tasks
involved in running a home-based business, not least of which is
going out to try to get that work.

Most “hotshot freelance programmers” I know make $60 or more per
hour. When I was working on the agency side, the firm routinely
charged clients from $90 to $150 per hour for my services. I think
I’m a bargain by comparison, and my clients do, too.

Even if I could bill 40 hours a week, every week (Ha! Not in my
wildest dreams…) $31,200 before taxes is not what I consider a
"darn good wage" for a self-employed person with (as I have) fifteen
years of experience in the field. Especially when one is paying
self-employment tax and outrageous healthcare premiums from that sum.

You seem to be angry that anyone should try to be paid what they are
worth - or that someone should think their skills ARE worth anything.
The “real world” I live in is where professional people charge the
going rate for their work and expect to get it, not where freelancers
grovel at the feet of their clients, happy for any scrap sent their
way.

Courtney Hipp

Courtney Graham Hipp
cgHipp Jewelry Designs