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Q&A

Recession Writing Tips, Part One

15bc79edd7a0d4a370bd7110.M.jpgThe print world chopped more jobs last week and the stock market continues to tank. This is a frightening time to work as a freelancer.

To help GalleyCat readers cope with this ongoing crisis, we caught up with freelance guru Michelle Goodman, author of the brand new book, My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire. Every week she offers career advice at ABCNews.com, and her new book may become required reading for a new generation of struggling writers.

According to Goodman, all freelancers should do one simple task: “Diversify, diversify, diversify, she explained. “Have your two or three beats or niches, sure. But make sure that if you’re a health and fitness writer, you’re not just relying on the health glossies and lifestyle section of newspapers. Worm your way into online media outlets like Yahoo! and iVillage. Write for trade and alumni publications. And don’t turn you nose up at writing newsletters for the wellness and medical industries or writing marketing copy for companies selling vitamins, fitness equipment, or any other products in your area of expertise.”

She added: “Even if you just do one trade pub article or copywriting gig a quarter, it’s a foot in the door with another type of revenue stream should the bottom fall out and you lose all your MSM or newsstand work. Also, capitalize on (or beef up) any writing-related skills you have. If you can edit, project manage, broadcast, podcast, design, code, or teach, you’ve just greatly expanded your marketability and income-earning potential.”

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Two Questions For Curtis Sittenfeld About Her New Laura Bush-Inspired Book ‘American Wife’

curtis.JPG Curtis Sittenfeld’s third novel ‘American Wife,’ out September 2nd, is narrated by one Alice Blackwell, a former children’s librarian haunted by the memory of a tragic, random accident. Oh, and her husband is a George W. Bush-like US President. As Alice tells the story of her life, Sittenfeld allows us a nuanced, clear, almost psychic glimpse at what life might be like for one of the most public women in the world. Here, she answers two questions about the hotly anticipated book, one obvious and one random.

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Dating Tips From Bob Morris, Author Of Dad-Pimping Memoir ‘Assisted Loving’!

assisted.jpg Bob Morris used to dole out delightfully crotchety etiquette tips in the Sunday Style section, but like many people who are great at telling other people what to do, he was less than expert at dealing with his own problems. Like, for example, helping his widowed dad find lasting love — while searching for a suitable match for himself at the same time. But everything worked out … well, I suppose you have to read the book to find out how everything worked out. Bob not only answered my questions, he included bonus advice on how to look good in your online dating profile picture.

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FishbowlNY: Melissa Walker Makes a Splash

Rebecca Fox lands a Q&A with YA novelist Melissa Walker prompted by her recent appearance in T, the NY Times fashion supplement, for an article about novels for teenage girls set in the modeling world. Walker explained to Fox that she’s doing what she can to keep it real in her portrayal of the industry:

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“It just felt like there was a deeper story to tell than flashbulbs and runways. Also, you’ll notice the heroine doesn’t ever do drugs or adopt an eating disorder; the chaos just swirls around her, so I think that was how I got away with it.”

Her series launched last September with Violet on the Runway, and Violet By Design is out now; the third volume, Violet in Private, ships this August.

Just Two Questions: ‘How To Be Useful’ Author Megan Hustad Explains How To Succeed In Publishing By Actually Trying

htbucover.jpg Megan Hustad worked at Knopf, Basic Books, and Counterpoint Press before leaving publishing to write a book about the unexpectedly actually-relevant lessons of what she calls “success literature,” so naturally her book — coming in May!– is full of what-not-to-do examples that will sound familiar to anyone who’s had similar jobs. Like the time Hustad “innocently typed up a dismissive reader’s report for a manuscript, stating something to the effect that I had a hard time caring about the troubles of a privileged Connecticut boarding school girl — and promptly handed it in to a boss who, lo and behold, had been a Connecticut boarding school girl.” Oops.

Hustad isn’t just interested in cataloging office bloopers and culling the highlights of ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People,’ though. Her thesis is at once ‘duh’ and revolutionary: She posits that “middle-class young people have been suckered into adopting a cynical detachment that they can’t afford,” that we “get pushed towards a mindset that privileges being cute and clever, plugging away, and uh, yeah, that’s about it.” Also, she says, we’ve been fed the dangerous misinformation that “just being ourselves” is a good thing in an office environment. The solution: We must reclaim the word “ambitious,” which has become something of an epithet, and recasting it as a positive description of people who hope to actually enjoy their working lives. It seems obvious, but the thing is, no one else is saying this.

Long story short: This is the book you’ll want to travel back in time and press into the hands of your 22 year old self so that she doesn’t, say, respond to a question from her boss about whether she knows so-and-so with, “Oh, yeah, I smoked pot with him once!” You’ll probably also want to give it to your intern. (You know, the one who rolls in at 10:00 and takes three hour lunches.)

After the jump, Hustad reveals the surprising secrets of (real) success.

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