I have posted a number of blurbs venting about the frustrations of writing for eHow and Demand Studios.  Just to clarify, they are one in the same and I often interchange the names based on my mood.

Some background information.  I started freelance writing a number of years ago.  I started out writing homeschool curriculum, which I was paid very well for.  I spent almost a year after that working for BlogTalkRadio.  I understand people love what they have to offer, working for them is a nightmare that I won’t get into.  The thing is, I was there from almost the inception and had a lot to do with the site getting started, sometimes working 14+ hours a day doing anything and everything that needed to be done, and in the end I was treated like shit in return.    While I wasn’t hired to write, I did learn a number of things like how to write press releases, user manuals and training guides.  After leaving I took a number of freelance writing jobs writing things like SEO articles and reviews.  It was one of those review jobs that got me started reviewing Adult Movies.  While the pay isn’t good and it takes a lot to maintain a website, it’s something I like doing because of the freedom involved.

Since the economy has gone to hell, freelance writing jobs are harder and harder to find.  That’s not entirely true.  The jobs are there, people just don’t want to pay for them.  When I started freelance writing it was easy to find jobs that paid at least $15.oo for 750 to 1000 words.  In the last year and a half I have seen an obscene number of jobs for 750 to 1000 word articles with pay under $5.00.  After seeing a number of these I broke down and started using the Demand Studios account that I applied for back when I started writing.

I quickly remembered why I never wrote for them.

Here is just a small sampling of articles available as I write this blog post.

  • How to Design a Metal Building
  • How to Unlock Terminator Cable Locks (this allows people to steal Cable TV…nothing like promoting illegal activity, huh?)
  • How to Draw Pneumatic Schematics
  • How to Modify Sailboats

Interesting little list, huh?  I am sure that someone, somewhere can write in 750 words or less (their guidelines) a step-by-step guide on how to design a metal building.   I am also sure someone somewhere won’t mind writing an article promoting theft of Cable TV.  What do they want pneumatic schematics of?  Better yet, how do they expect you to do this without images?  You can’t upload your own images and the last time I checked schematics were basically a map drawn out in symbols.  What are we going to modify sailboats to do?

Here is what it’s really like to write for them.  I am sure someone will say it’s easy work, and for the most part it should be and probably is if you are the lucky person who gets to the fluff articles before everyone else.  You know, crap like “How to Look Like Jessica Alba”.  That aside, you get this huge pool of stuff you can write on.  Now, you can write on anything you want but you are going to get paid under rev-share.  Every one of those titles comes from search engine phrases and what people are searching for.  That means that they are vague.  Sometimes asinine.  Sometimes impossible to write.  It also means that 80% of the time they are categorized wrong.  This means that the article topic DIY Radio Controlled Car is under Animals/Fish.  This is really the norm for their categorization system.  I am pretty sure that is what turned me off of the site in the first place.

The editors who decide if your work can be published are editing things that they know nothing about.  My husband, who works in satellite communication at a major earth station has helped me with some of the technical articles that they want.  More often than not these get rejected for rewrite because the editor doesn’t understand the article and asks for clarification.  Once I was even asked to explain how to use the equipment needed to do the job.  Seriously.  If you own a spectrum analyzer or have access to one, you know how to use it.  This shouldn’t have to be explained step by step.  In fact, it almost can’t be because the settings you use are specific to the job you are doing.  I don’t even work in electronics and I know this.

The first thing I was ever told when learning how to write was to write for your audience.  No one ever said anything about writing for you editor.  This is something Demand studios doesn’t recognize.

This brings me to my last article that was rejected.  How to Build a Tron Deck in Magic the Gathering. In my mind only people who are familiar with Magic are going to be looking for this information.  This means they are familiar with a good portion of the cards and know the basics of deck building.  I don’t see why someone who has never played Magic would be looking for directions on how to build a very specific type of deck.  That’s absurd.  This is not how the editor I had to deal with this time around thinks.

The editor also seems to have some sort of understanding problem  because I won’t give specific card names or how many to use but I did for the Urza’s Lands.  This is because the entire deck is built around these lands.  What is so damn hard about this to understand?  I explained this two different ways to this jackass of an editor and he or she still doesn’t get it.  There is approximately 90 different deck “editions” to pull cards from.  Each edition has somewhere in the ballpark of 249 different cards.  That is well over 22,000 different cards to pick from to build a deck.  Just because I like the card Blunt the Assault doesn’t mean someone else does.  As much as I dislike the Haze Frog, I am sure there is someone out there who loves it.

I was under the impression that this article was to teach someone  how to build a specific type of deck, in this case a tron deck, not tell them how to reconstruct someone elses deck.  This, again, seems to be lost on this particular editor.  Apparently the “proper” way of writing this article is this:

  1. Use 4 copies of each of the Urza’s Lands, Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Tower.
  2. Add 4 red lands, 4 green lands and 4 copies of Teramorphic Expanse
  3. Add 1 copy of Copperline Gorge, Rootbound Crag and Shivan Oasis.
  4. Add 1 copy of Mana Reflection
  5. Add 1 copy of Rage Reflection
  6. Add 1 copy of Shivan Meteor
  7. Add 2 copies of Savage Twister
  8. Add 2 copies of Fireball, 1 copy of Blaze and 1 copy of Banefire
  9. Add 3 copies of Naturalize
  10. Add 4 copies of Blunt the Assult
  11. Add 2 copies of Crucible of Fire
  12. Add 1 copy of Eldrazi Conscription
  13. Add 1 copy of Genesis Wave
  14. Use the following artifacts: 1 copy of Trigon of Rage, 1 copy of Spellbook, 2 copies of Tatsumasa The Dragon Fang, 1 copy of Tower of Calamities, 2 copies of Grafted Exoskeleton and 1 copy of Argentum Armor
  15. Use two copies each of  Dragonspeaker Shaman and Dragon Broodmother
  16. Use three copies of Hoarding Dragon
  17. Use one copy of each: Jugan the Rising Star, Furnace Whelp, Hellkite Charger, Ancient Hellkite, Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Flameblast Dragon, Dragonmaster Outcast, Ryusei the Falling Star and Sarkhan Vol.

That’s not what I did.  I gave general directions as to how to put together an Urza Tron deck and why you would want to use different types of cards like scrying cards, deck thinning cards and X spells and what they are used for.  Not specific enough.  I need to tell how many and of what cards to put in the deck.  Two words editor: BITE ME!

<geek mode>

For the record, that list up there is what my Urza Tron/Dragon deck looks like at the moment.  Or at least it will look like this when the Urza Lands that I ordered show up.  I have been trying to find a way to make my dragon deck run faster.  I also tend to play with the same people so I am also trying to build it where it can take on any of the decks I know I will come up against.  That’s why it looks so weird.  Originally it was a three or four colored deck and I had copies of Belbs Portal and Dragon Arch in it.  One of the people that I play against always saved his artifact kill spells knowing I had those in there so they were removed as soon as they came out and I would end up hard casting the dragons anyway.  I won more than once with that deck, the last time thanks to Hoarding Dragon.  He thought I was going to use it to pull a Dragon Arch and instead used it to pull Tatsumasa.  My hope is that the Urza’s Lands will move things along faster for hard casting since that is what I always end up doing.  If anyone wants to know I will report back how it works once I get to play test it.

Now, having seen what my deck looks like at the moment, how many people would want to play it?  Honestly, probably not many.  Not everyone wants to be able to draw large creatures quickly let alone add in the possibility for them to deal poison counters or run with a deck with 27 lands.  Yes, I realize that I could remove the three non-basic lands but they are in there for buffer.  I have won more than one game because of something odd I have thrown in a deck.  Ask me about my four copies of Carrion Call in my poison deck.

This is really a non-traditional Urza Tron deck and I don’t expect anyone other than myself to play with it.  It’s essentially a tribal deck built to suit my needs modified with Urza’s Lands.  How am I too know what will suit someone else’s needs?  Maybe someone else wants to use Eldrazi creatures.  My point is, the possibilities of putting together a deck are limitless.  Everyone also has their own style of playing Magic that effects how they put together their decks.  I like having 1/1 tokens on the battlefield to use as blockers to protect my larger creatures, or if I am in a mood I will build up one of those 1/1 tokens to epic proportions with auras, equipment and enchantments where it can run someone over in one turn.  I play to have fun and amuse myself while my friend plays to win at all costs.

</geek mode>

Because an idiot editor who doesn’t play Magic and doesn’t know anything about it can’t understand this and who thinks that everything is black and white (there is red, blue and green in there too) and only one right and very specific way to do things my article was rejected even after I made the edits asked for.   Funny thing is, in the comments to the editor I pretty much went off about the absurdity of the edits I was made to make and tried to explain the game and it was rejected because, basically, I didn’t “follow directions.”  I honestly think it was rejected because I got pissy with someone, questioned their authority and basically told them they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.

Whatever.

I have had my work rejected before.  Every writer has.  I never started taking it personally until I started writing for Demand Studios with their holier-than-thou editors who think they know more than those with first hand experience on the topics who write for them.  I secretly suspect that these people have the attitude that anyone writing for them can’t get a “real” writing job and that they are helping their writers improve while they abuse their power and come up with some reason to reject something where they don’t have to pay someone for their work.

I sent an email off to Demand Studios telling them what I thought of their editors and how they run things.  I am sure it’s not going to be taken well or they will even care about one person’s opinion but I stand by what I said.  They are disorganized, they don’t know what they want from their own articles because the topics are too vague and will reject something for being too general (that’s what happens when your topic is too vague)  and they have people editing articles on topics they know nothing about.  They don’t remove article topics that are flagged because they promote illegal activity and they often expect the impossible to be condensed into 750 words and different editors give conflicting advice on how to do things.

Anyone who writes for them on a long term basis, writing numerous articles a week has more patience than me and is in some way a masochist.  I can’t do it.  I tried.  The aggravation outweighs the pay.

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