We are pleased to announce that Alyssa Onder, Professional Writing senior, has been accepted to the Denver Publishing Institute. While Jon Ritz brought the program to her attention as a sophomore, she only remembered the program recently while looking into her plans for after graduation. As a certification program, Onders decided the Denver Publishing Institute seemed to be a better fit for her than grad school. Associate Professor Stuart Blythe only has good things to say about the program, “The Publishing Institute is a terrific first step for students interested in book publishing. Many students actually walk away from the Institute with a job offer.” In regards to Onder’s acceptance, he explains, “Alyssa was in a section of my WRA 202 that I taught a couple years ago. Based on the good work she did then, I’m not surprised that she was accepted.”
While this four-week long program focuses mainly on book publishing, they make every day count. Lectures and workshops cover everything from book design and packaging to proofreading and copyediting to media marketing and a bit of multimedia publishing. In response to her acceptance, Onder explains what she’s looking forward to most, “I’m hoping to learn more about where the publishing industry is headed. Because DPI focuses largely on book publishing as opposed to magazine or e-publishing, I’m interested to learn about how the industry is keeping print alive and how I might be part of that.”
In addition to in-depth workshops on editing and marketing in the publishing business, the Institute also offers one-on-one sessions with DPI graduates and prominent figures in publishing. “I’m excited for the networking! There are so many experienced publishers, agents, and editors from the ‘The Big Six’ visiting DPI to work with students. I’m eager to meet them and learn about their experience with the industry.” Of course, ‘The Big Six’ Onder is referring to are the most distinguished publishing companies across the world: Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, and Hachette. From these prestigious companies, there will be two representatives from HarperCollins and one representative from Penguin, Macmillan, and Random House at the Institute, respectively.
Upon graduating the program, she will receive a Publishing Certificate. Since Onder is in the Editing and Publishing track of Professional Writing, this program gives her a perfect opportunity to not only explore the publishing industry and what it has to offer, but to network inside the business and launch her career in publishing.
By the time you leave the Professional Writing program, you will have crafted more pieces of writing than you will ever know what to do with. It’s good practice. The breadth of experience and expertise you will take from the faculty and curriculum will give you a skill-set in high demand.
But when it comes to working as a freelance writer, there’s just not a lot that coursework can do to prepare you for the day-to-day business situations you’ll find yourself in. Here are some tips to avoid a big mistake I made getting started.
Watch Out For Rocks
When you first start working as a freelancer, it’s easy to jump right in to what you’ve learned, know, and love—creating high-quality content. Be careful though, there are some rocks beneath the surface. The reality of the freelance world—and this is certainly not unique to writers and content developers—is that many clients are not entirely certain about what they want, need, and more importantly what happens on the freelance side to make it happen. This can lead to confusion and friction down the road unless the scope of your work is laid out in advance. It’s in everyone’s best interest for both sides to know what is expected of them. Take the time to sit down and work through what needs to be done.
I consulted with a small, local client on marketing strategy and implementation. At the first board meeting, we spoke generally about direction and metrics/targets for the quarter.
During the next month’s meeting, I shared news about unexpected growth in a different area. One of the members later told me how confused some of the board was to not hear about what we had discussed during the first meeting. We had set no month-to-month targets or even discussed the need for monthly reports. Why would they think that? Because without explicitly outlining how we would handle updates and meetings, each member of the board developed their own expectation. That was my fault.
Come next month, I was prepared with every metric I had. It was much better received. Lesson learned—always manage expectations from the start and think ahead.
Remember Your Training
You are being brought on as a professional. Your input in negotiations is not only valuable, but necessary. The difficulty will come in building and maintaining those relationships. You don’t want to miss a deadline because you could not get information or feedback in a timely fashion. Give yourself breathing room and make sure the client knows what is expected of and from them.
Even if you don’t intend on making a freelance business your primary career, you will find that your skills and working knowledge are too valuable to not exercise on the side—especially in today’s economy. Keep an eye out for workshops and information from the Professional Writing program on how to get started.
“Adrian de Novato has been writing professionally since 2011. He currently writes for the Amway Corporation and has consulted with various business and public advocacy groups. He is a graduate of the professional writing program and lives in East Grand Rapids.”
GIMP is an open-source, image-editing tool that allows users to customize additional features and abilities into their software. It’s a free, downloadable application (from their website) that focuses on photo enhancement and digital retouching. This program works on various operating systems and supports numerous file formats.
PicMonkey is a photo-editing tool that focuses on photo enhancement, adding text, providing touch ups on people, and offering layout design options to make sharing across media platforms smoother (think: PicStitch app, but online). Photo adjustments include a variety of frames, textures, and cute overlays ranging from comic bubbles to scrapbook effects, more filters than Instagram, and numerous other quirky photo garnishes. (more…)
They break projects down into numbered tasks to tackle, each one with hints and steps to complete in order to move on. Some of their sample projects include animating your name, creating your own animated galaxy, or building your own website. Aside from creating web applications and mobile apps, Codecademy is a great place to gain confidence in learning and using new programming skills and techniques.
Sometimes, opportunity knocks. Other times, you have to chase that sucker down the street. This is what Richa Choubey, senior Professional Writing/Information & Media student, had to do. Michigan State University has a lot of great organizations and resources as does the Professional Writing program itself, but she saw room for something more.
“I was in a Visual Rhetoric class with Haley and I was looking around and I just noticed that everyone was on Buzzfeed half the time. Even I was on Buzzfeed… For whatever reason it just dawned on me one day that that’s a perfect professional writing thing for us to have as a club. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone was looking at our site instead?”
She saw an opportunity for students to collaborate, especially drawing on the versatility of PW students, and engineer a creative hub from the bottom up for student writers to publish their ideas. Together, Choubey and Haley Erb (Junior, Professional Writing) set out to gather writers and web developers to make the idea a reality. They focused on the idea of showcasing student’s work in an entirely student-made and student-run publication. Through word of mouth, the club grew steadily, surviving the summer break and gaining momentum through the fall. Thus, the Culture Bubble was born. The project, marketed as an opportunity to write in the style of sites like Buzzfeed and hellogiggles, attracted students for a variety of reasons, but most were drawn in by the opportunity to get real world experience and the freedom to write what they liked.
“I need a platform to launch the beginnings of a portfolio for my career and this is a great place for it.” Akshita Verma, a Sophomore in the Neuroscience (Pre-Med) and Journalism programs, explained. Similar to how the PW program strives to help its students produce impressive work for the real world, the Culture Bubble also provides opportunities for students to flesh out their portfolios and showcase examples of their work in a space made by students, for students.
The Culture Bubble has four sections that encompass their interests: MSU, Pop Culture, Sass, and Grab Bag. Where Sass includes snarky editorial-type articles, Grab Bag is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories. Created during the inception of the Culture Bubble, these sections were based on topics members wanted to write about.
“I like that I am able to show off my own work, the work that I choose to make rather than assignments,” said Professional Writing Sophomore and editor of the Pop Culture section, Alyssa Smith. “I just like that I am able to show off my own work. I can choose what I wanna write about and how I wanna write about it.” While the club keeps frequent deadlines for articles to be finished, it encourages members to write about their individual interests. This not only strengthens the overall diversity of the material, but it allows students to explore topics they might not be able to otherwise.
“It’s nice to be able get a platform to publicize the stuff that you wrote in that sort of regard. It’s a kind of stepping stone to get my work around,” said Shannon Roe-Butler, a Senior in Professional Writing and English and the Sass section editor for the Culture Bubble. By establishing a student-made hub for student work, the Culture Bubble provides an admirable space for students to exercise creative freedom and showcase their individuality.
Choubey also hopes that it will provide a stronger network among alumni, comparing her experience in Telecasters to her vision for the Culture Bubble. “I already had a network there from the work that I had been doing. I knew that there were people out there that I could look up to and reach out to and have something in common with and I wanted that for Professional Writing as well. Because our alumni network is amazing, and they’re reachable, but there’s nothing that really binds us together other than the major. And while the major is small, there should be this concrete sort of thing that we can all bond over. Eventually one day we can all be a big family.”
Laura Julier, Director of Professional Writing and advisor for the Culture Bubble, expresses her hopes for the club and its future: “I’m very excited to support PW students in organizing and creating Culture Bubble. It’s yet another example of students listening to one another, identifying a need, and creatively responding. Richa and Haley have been really smart in how they’ve imagined this as an online publication, especially in the structures they’ve created to curate the writing that will be published. I think these writers are going to reach an audience way beyond MSU.”
The website officially launches March 31st.
Source: Write to Done
Is there a sure-fire way to make someone chuckle? A secret word? A fancy structure? Maybe there’s an equation? Nope. The truth is that humor isn’t funny. You’re backpedaling now and re-reading the title aren’t you? Well, don’t worry because this is, in fact, an article on how to write funny. But the point of this is that if you look too closely at humor, jokes, and comedy skits – it isn’t funny. Most humorous statements are implausible and plausible at the same time, but the catch is that it must be more implausible than plausible.
Comedy is usually inappropriate for the situation and outrageous in context, but it keeps your audience from realizing that humor isn’t funny. Humor is downright logical. For example, most knock-knock jokes are about word play and have a strict structure about them. “Knock Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Doris!” “Doris who?” “Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.” Knock-knock jokes revolve around the identity of the person or thing knocking on the door. The absurdity comes from the mash up of the announced identity of the knocker and the prodding additional question “Who?” of the one who answers the door. Now, doesn’t that take all the fun out of knock-knock jokes? I’ve stripped the jokes of their humor by looking too much into it. Humor is logical because it’s all about the undeniable truth. Exposing the nugget of honesty in the bowl of absurdity. Read more about funny writing at Write to Done.
WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric is a course offered to students in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) department, which allows students to dip into different styles of digital spaces. This course is designed to help students gain knowledge that is essential to the study and practice of digital rhetoric. I had the opportunity to take Digital Rhetoric with Professor Liza Potts in Fall 2013. In the four months I was in this class I learned how to use three new Adobe programs, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign. I also had the opportunity to experience online programs, such as Camtasia, Joomag, and easel.ly.
I wasn’t the only one who got the opportunity to improve my digital skills. This course allowed my peers and I to explore different spaces on the Internet and analyze how individuals communicate and build audience through these spaces. In analyzing these spaces, we were able to create projects and present them in different ways, with the common goal of delivering our findings through the digital world.
Liza encouraged us to step outside the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and to choose from other delivery options that best fit our projects. She wants her students to “explore different tools and different delivery modes. These projects are their opportunity to learn new tools, practice skills, and explore issues of audience and persuasion.”
WRA 415 Student Projects?
Carly Mangus, a senior in Professional Writing with an emphasis in editing and publishing, used Weebly to delivered her final reflection paper, which was “Defining Digital Rhetoric”. Weebly is a web-building tool designed to offer step-by-step web development instruction to help anyone establish a website. Carly chose to deliver her project in the form of a website because she felt that it made the most sense, if she is discussing digital rhetoric it makes complete sense to apply the concept of digital rhetoric visually.
We are proud to announce that Professional Writing senior, Maude Campbell, has been accepted to the prestigious New York University Summer Publishing Institute. While in a conference about her future for WRA 493 with Jon Ritz, he encouraged her to apply for the program. Associate Professor Stuart Blythe, who has known Campbell since she started in PW, expressed his excitement for her: “I’m happy that she’s representing MSU at NYU. She’ll be a terrific ambassador for our program.”
Over the course of the six-week program, Campbell will learn the ins and outs of book, magazine, and digital publishing. Along the way, faculty members of the Institute and guest speakers will discuss various aspects of the publishing industry including the marketing, business, and creative sides of projects. “I hope to learn more about magazine publishing and the industry from professionals working in publications that are world renowned,” Campbell said. Lucky for her, she will be working closely with prominent publishing companies that will act as industry advisors throughout the program.
During the first three weeks, she will be expected to produce launch plans for new magazine brands and for the last three weeks, she will be focusing on creating imprints for book publishing houses. Throughout the entire program, emphasis will also be placed on publishing in digital formats including web, tablet, and mobile platforms. Final projects will be judged by a panel of senior publishing executives from publications such as Condé Nast and publishers such as HarperCollins.
At the very end of the program, a Career Fair will take place where students will interview with leading publishing companies in the book, magazine, and digital publishing industries. Campbell conveyed her worries about this, “I’m nervous about meeting with professionals I have admired for years through reading their publications. It will be intimidating but through them I can gain further insight into my growing passion.” Since Campbell is in the Editing and Publishing track of PW, this program will provide a perfect opportunity to learn, grow, and network within the industry. “I am hoping we can invite Maude back and she’ll share the fruits of what will be an amazing experience,” Professor Dànielle DeVoss said.
For more information on this program, check out their brochure here.