Mark Terry

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Job Titles For Writers

I've been meaning to write more here and for some time I've been meaning to write about the topic of job titles. Which is to say, for freelance writers going through job postings, and, I imagine, for full-time writers looking for jobs, there are a lot of different names for types of writing gigs, not all of which make sense, or that seem to have become coded within the industries they represent and not necessarily to writers. Feel free to add yours.

Technical Writer - This once referred primarily to writers who wrote technical materials for engineering and manufacturing areas. Even though I am, technically, a technical writer in the area of healthcare and medicine, I'm not really a technical writer. Because, as I said, this tends to refer to engineering, manufacturing, and increasingly, computer/IT-related writing gigs. Being "technically a writer" is something else and probably applies to people like Dan Brown and James Patterson for two very different reasons. (That's a sarcastic joke, in case you didn't get it. Although I will say, I have, from time to time, enjoyed both of their works. One, for Dan Brown before he became DAN BROWN, AUTHOR OF THE DA VINCI CODE, and James Patterson, before he started handing off the actual writing duties to other people).

Medical Writer - If people press me about my writing and what type I do, I usually say medical writing because it gets them to leave me alone. Yes, I write a great deal about healthcare and medicine and biotechnology. But, technically speaking, a medical writer writes high-end medical materials, typically for pharmaceutical agencies. At least in terms of what sorts of job postings you see, that's mostly what they're referring to. And although I have a medical background, these gigs are more commonly looking for MDs, PhDs, or people with life science degrees who have had specific training in writing the regulatory materials needed get a drug application to the FDA. If you can do this type of writing, there's a lot of work and it pays a shitload of money, but alas, it's a bit above my pay grade, so to speak.

Copywriter - This one is tricky, but usually refers to people writing some version of advertising copy. These days that can mean print ads, radio ads, TV ads, or a variety of marketing materials that include white papers, market research reports, press releases, etc. I do a lot of this, but, again, within the industry, there is a "copywriter" and there is something you almost never see advertised, but is what I am: a "technical copywriter." A "technical copywriter" tends more toward white papers, market research reports and less toward website copy and advertising copy. Most of the website copywriting I do I refer to as "technical website copywriting" because it's, well, technical, like product descriptions for a clinical lab or a biotech supply company.

B2B and B2C - I wanted to throw these out because they're common in business and technical areas, but writers off the boat, so to speak, may not understand. B2B = business to business. B2C = business to consumer. I write a lot, mostly I would say, B2B. That is to say, I write for professional audiences. Even when not writing white papers and website copy, most of my article writing is for trade journals, i.e., publications about a specific trade. For instance, Podiatry Management, which runs business-y articles about how to run your podiatry practice.

Content Writer - I would want to make sure you understand that "content" refers to, well, the stuff you put into an article, as opposed to say, "he was a happy and content writer." I figure this one to be a catch-all phrase for people that don't actually know any of the other terms. Mostly I see this advertised by "content farms" that want to pay writers $5 to write 400 words or that want to give you a piece of royalties based on how many click-thrus you get on your article. I suspect very few content writers are content with their pay and when it comes to content farms such as Demand Studios and their ilk, well, fuck 'em, they suck. Or as I heard Joaquim Phoenix say on Fresh Air today, "The Internet is a big place and needs a lot of content." Which is apparently true and it's also apparent that there are very few standards about the quality of it, but there you go. Writer beware!

Any others? I'm sure there are.

Mostly, I prefer to myself as a "writer" or a "freelance writer."

Monday, March 10, 2014

What I've Been Reading

What I've been reading so far in 2014.

Timecaster by JA Konrath
I would say pretty typically Joe Konrath, even though it's SF. Fairly imaginative, filled with over-the-top violence, sex and humor. I enjoyed it for the most part, was a bit pissed off that it didn't end, but leaves you on a cliffhanger for the follow-up book, which I haven't read, but might. In this near-future world crime has more or less been eliminated due to Timecasting, which allows certain trained people to view recent events using a special kind of time-travel equipment. So any time a crime is committed, all the cops have to do is view backwards, see who did it, track that person back, and arrest them. Except the main character views himself murdering a woman.

A Feast For Crows by George RR Martin
Probably the most exasperating of the Game of Thrones books, because few of the main characters are featured in it. Ultimately I enjoyed it, but I was very frustrated at the beginning because the storyline has spread out so far and wide that I was having trouble tracking what was going on. But it sets up a lot of things, so there will undoubtedly be a big payoff.

The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons by Lawrence Block
Ah, Bernie Rhodenbarr, aka Bernie the Burglar, is back, this time stealing spoons of historical importance, and a manuscript by F Scott Fitzgerald, and numerous other amusing twists and turns. Block's a master and he plays with his narrative timeline. I really enjoyed this book. It was great to have Bernie Back.

iSEAL by Jude Hardin
I reviewed this at length earlier, but suffice to say I enjoyed this tech-thriller.

Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell
The second book in the Sanguinists series, which features a group of vampires who work for the Vatican. I think I liked the first one a bit better, but this was really enjoyable, and has Judas Iscariot as a major character, as well as a returning Rasputin, among others. Highlyl recommended, albeit a bit weird. If you haven't read the first one, this one will make zero sense, though.

All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sazurazaka
An SF novel. The upcoming Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt film, The Edge of Tomorrow is based (loosely, presumably) on this novel. In the future the world is under attack by geoforming monsters and the main character is fighting them (in Japan) when he is killed and wakes up the same day. He finds himself in a time loop, ala Groundhogs Days, where he continually sharpens his skills and eventually teams up with a female special forces soldier who is renowned for her ability to kill the aliens. I liked it, but thought the third act was a bit rushed. And it's possible readers might find the conclusion to be not quite as satisfying as they had hoped because it works against expectations. Enjoyable, though.

Standoff  by David Rollins
Another book by Australian David Rollins features USAF special investigator Vin Cooper. I love these books, but every single one has at least one over-to-top sequence that makes me go, "Oh, gimme a break," and in this one it's sort of the premise. After encountering a a serious incursion into the US by a Mexican drug cabal, Vin is, without much backup or preparation, thrown undercover into the group, which involves a crazy Mexican drug lord who wants to invade the U.S. A lot of fun, but it also requires a fairly major suspension of disbelief.

Deep Storm by Lincoln Child
A re-read. In Deep Storm, Dr. Peter Crane is invited to work on a top secret military installation in the North Atlantic that, he finds, is trying to recover Atlantis two miles deep at the bottom of the ocean. People in the cutting edge facility are exhibiting a strange set of medical symptoms. But Crane soon finds that the Atlantis story is just that, a cover story, and that the purpose of the Deep Storm facility is far more strange and dangerous, that they may be attempting to recover weapons or technology left there by advanced alien races. It works pretty well and I've enjoyed it every time I've read it. Very exotic locale. Child is really good at creating exotic self-enclosed environments and putting his heroes into them, ala Utopia, Deep Storm.

Storm Front by John Sandford
A Virgil Flowers novel, also a re-read, because I was in the mood for something relatively light and well written, and this book fit the bill. A minister and archaeology professor from Minnesota apparently steals an artifact from an Israeli archaeological dig that might overturn Middle Eastern history as we know it. State cop Virgil Flowers is told to accompany a woman from the Israeli Institute of Antiquities to recover it. But the minister appears to be attempting to sell it to the highest bidder, which may include Hezbollah, a couple of radical Turks, and two TV stars that operate independent Indiana Jones-like shows that want the publicity. Find out that the woman might actually be Mossad and Virgil has his hands full. Really a ton of fun.