Monday, August 22, 2011

Self Publishing Is a Dirty Word

I remember the days when people would be embarrassed to say they were self-published because when they did they received pitying looks; because money isn't made from self-publishing. If you did it yourself it meant that a publishing house would not accept your work. It meant you weren't a very good writer.

While it wasn't always true before, now, with the introduction of internet self-publishing and now the ebook, it's not only becoming far more popular and it's becoming an actual reputable platform.  Even many professional freelance writers are choosing ebooks over the traditional method of publishing.

The Question is Why?

When the Kindle came out the ebook revolution began. While many cried that it was the end of the book, and many still do, it is simply a new option. One that gives many people the opportunity to publish their work without the miniscule royalty that many publishing houses dole out to their writers. Many people who refused to buy Kindles when they came out now own them and swear by them.

While there is the ebook, there is also Print on Demand publishers such as Createspace that will publish a hard copy of the book you want to publish; but only when someone wants to buy it.  For a book that you know will either sell slowly or only sell a few copies, it is a good option.

What this means for Writers

Self Publishing is no longer the dirty word it was. While you still want to avoid vanity presses, ebook and Print on Demand publishing is becoming something reputable. Someone can publish their work for the world to read. Of course, some of the usual drawbacks with self publishing still apply. The biggest drawback that still applies is the marketing aspect. The writer, in most cases, are doing entirely all of the marketing to sell the book. While for many this can be troublesome, for others, especially those with small niches and new writers, who the publishers will not heavily market your book through traditional means.

So while you may still want to search for a publishing house, you may not need to go to a publisher for all of your writings. For that collection of short stories that many publishers will quickly overlook, self publishing may be an option. Make sure to check out your options when you are working on getting published.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Uses of an English Degree

So, you're getting an English Degree. When you tell people they give you a sympathetic look, or they ask if you're going to be a teacher. If your intentions are not teaching and you tell them such, they give you a confused look. Then comes the uncomfortable moment when you have to explain to them what you're going to do with that English degree, and hope they're not of the crowd of people that think you'll be stuck working at a coffeehouse or in fast food with such a 'useless' degree.

Have no fear! I'm here to let you know what careers are available for those of us with an English Degree so you don't have to feel like you have to are stuck with a career in fast food or waiting to become the next great novelist.

  • Author - Most writers want to become authors in some sense. Whether they want to publish the great American novel or not, being an author is about having your name on a book. It's a hard part of the writing industry to break into, as it requires skill as well as patience.  
  • Editor - One of the prized positions for many English Majors, an editor, for a magazine or a newspaper, will not only edit other people's work, but often times they will also be in charge of writing a few articles each issue, as well as dealing with freelance writers.
  • Technical Writer - Technical writers are the people that write service manuals, and other instructional or informational pieces. They are needed in any industry, from electronics to automotive, to health care. If you like writing, and want to get involved in a specific industry that you don't believe caters to writers, technical writing may be for you.
  • Journalist - You too can be Lois Lane! Well, perhaps not literally, but journalist have been around for quite some time. The most current incarnation, and the one people think of, came around with the onset of the printing press. A time honored tradition that requires good writing, reporting techniques, and a love of the truth.
  • English Teacher- The most commonly assumed job for those seeking an English degree, if you like teaching others, it is always an option. You don't even need to stick to public school system. Private schools, tutoring, or professional writing teacher, you will find that many people want to learn how to write well. If you can teach someone else to write, this is an option.
  • Freelance Writer - While not everyone is cut out for freelance writing, as it is a competitive field and the independence you get from working for yourself also translates into the panic of having to do everything yourself, if you can bowl through the awkward first few months where you're sure you'll never get anyone to pay you over $5 for an article, it is fun and rewarding.
  • Marketing Director- Writing is, let's face it, pretty important to marketing. While you may not start as the director, you could end up there with persuasive writing skills.
  • Public Relations - Writing speeches, doing press releases, and generally making the public happy isn't necessarily hard for a writer. If you are a good persuasive writer, and you love working with people, this could be the job for you.
  • Administrative Assistant- The office world may not seem like the most attractive profession, but an English degree can be the easiest way to get your foot in the door to a writing based job. While some may use this as a doorway to another job, others may enjoy an Administrative Assistant job, especially in certain industries, as it is generally lower stress than a lot of other office jobs.
  • Paralegal/ Legal Assistant- Those skills you learned for how to write a good essay and a research paper translate into investigative ability that will turn around and can be used well. Whether you decide to use it as a bridging degree or not, it's up to you.

Despite that there are many professions available to the English Major, if you're interested in these careers and don't want to go to college or don't have the time, these are just some suggestions. Many of them you don't need a degree at all to get into. Many people move into their jobs without ever getting a degree. This can be great, and this can be dangerous, depending on the industry. I always encourage people to at least get an associate's degree in something, as it's the shortest (and cheapest) degree to get.

I may be a bit biased, however, since I grew up the girl who wanted to get a degree in everything, and still plans on getting quite a few degrees. Including a PH.D in psychology.

What are your thoughts on the uses of an English degree? Did you get one and then go in a totally different direction or did it lead to your dream job? Did you get your dream job without needing a degree? Did I miss any other interesting jobs you can get with an English degree?