Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's All In The Wording.

Everyone reads the wording on everything, right? The terms and conditions of every website that requires you do so in order to gain access to it? The ones where you part with some personal information? The little writing at the bottom of contracts? The tiny print on the back of contractual obligations when you sign up for debt?
I'm a bit of a reprobate when it comes to things like that I'm afraid. I'd much prefer to dedicate my reading time to something that doesn't a) put me to sleep or b) takes up hours of my time trying to figure out that particular branding of the English language. I guess I'm just not cut out for it.
Yet, in the great scheme of things, when one factors in how things are actually run in the world of business, many people, myself included, have found themselves tripped up at some stage by accepting those hidden little charges, those can and can not do's, those damn terms and conditions squeezed down to letters the size of a couple of mating atoms, when it comes to signing up for someone elses party. OK, a slight exaggeration. My apologies.

I've worked hard at my writing over the past two years, in what ever form it is I write. I turned away from being the defensive person who didn't like criticism to becoming more open to it, especially when I gauge any critique weighed up against the person who gives it. Cursed mistakes creep in now and again but that's a minefield too explosive for one mind to navigate to perfection. That's the world of a writer working alone. It's not an excuse, it's a plain old fact.
This year I decided to engage in some article websites in an attempt to expand my reading base.

I went on to Elance, where I discovered writers bid for writing jobs, but if you're a critic of minimum wage then you really ain't going to like it over there.
The competition for jobs is fierce, it's a marketeers dream place, but it's mostly at the expense of the provider and it doesn't help that Elance cash in a percentage, as well as charging providers to enter the bidding war. I haven't been back there in months.
The second one I tested was Ezine. Membership is free at the basic level, they provide good free advice to writers on how to write articles which will improve your writing and it's not a free-for-all. Each article has to pass through their approval desk. The turnaround can be anything up to ten days. Once accepted content managers can upload the article to any website once they link back to the writer. Sounded fair enough to me.
Problem was I noticed people had taken some articles but 'forgot' to link back. I sent a few emails to these people, but ignorance seems to be the word of the day on that front.
Then I received an email from EZine where they said they didn't like my use of language - Gaddafi continues to slaughter his citizens - in a certain article I wrote. I saw it more of a freedom of speech issue, but i accept its their rules. After all, no-one has a gun to the head forcing people to contribute. I will continue to write there now and again.

The third website I tried was Hub Pages. No problems for a dozen articles or so, then bam, they checked me for using content that was already on another site. Except the content was my own. From this blog! Seems it didn't matter. It was a violation of the terms and conditions which I had read over with dead eyes. Again, fair enough. It's their show.
I think the writer is a little cheated by that particular one, given the contribution made when providing open source content. HubPages do have a way for writers to make a little cash through Ad's, but few writers make much by all accounts.
As you know from this blog, I'm not much of a fan of Ad's by Google or whoever it may be. Though I do see a major opportunity for webmasters to make good money from advertisement revenue given the ease of access to create and maintain a blog or website these days. And with the going rate of content mainly free to content managers, the risk is pretty minimal. It just wouldn't drive me.

Writers, particularly newer ones, are subjected to a practical witch hunt of promise when they engage online. Fed to them daily in sidebars everywhere. If you want it, it's there. But I would urge writers to see past the ranking. The ones making the promises. Do a little more research before you give your work away. Everyone's opinion matters at the end of the day. If people can profit from that while restricting and placing conditions on your work then perhaps there are better ways to advance your goals.
Forums and blogs that are critical of things in publishing are the best asset to a new writer or indeed any writer for that matter. The age of the agent maybe coming to an end as writers question why it has been the one way for so long while they struggle to establish themselves and advance their careers. Writers are better informed in this new age of technology. There is currently a seismic shift in the world of publishing happening that is rocking the foundations of the old publishing. It's a technological revolution out there in an age of information. Usually when something threatens the established order in anything, ways are found around it. But that can be the upside of the human race. Some people are just pesky, they never go away. That alone makes it worth the pursuit, in whatever form your writing takes.

While there are opinions and various ways companies and people conduct themselves in any business, there are those among us focused on something more than the exploitation of others. I've been looking into a few more websites and what sort of impact they can have if writers seek readership for their work on different platforms. I'll blog about them in the coming weeks and hopefully years ahead. When more writers learn to include their own thoughts and theories on things then maybe the writers together can help even the playing surface a little bit more for everyone. The primary focus of any successful business is nearly always profit. Once that's the goal people will always be exploited to a large degree. Writers are not benign to that either.


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