----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Three Weeks and Counting

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Three Weeks and Counting

It's been about three and a half weeks since I submitted my book package to a literary agent. In general, it takes at least six to eight weeks to hear back, so I'm not surprised by the lack of response so far. In fact, I'm just glad I haven't gotten a rejection letter yet! (Of course, I'm probably jinxing myself by writing this post.)

In the meantime, as my faithful readers know, I've been searching for a job. Here's a little progress report:

1. Wrote a banner ad, landing page, and lead-generating article for a small financial brokerage. The team was "real pleased" with my work and asked me for a price quote for two longer, more labor-intensive pieces, which I explained would cost more than the original article. I didn't hear back for a few days, and when I followed up last week, I was told that the company was still awaiting cost approval. I hope that the project will eventually move forward, but with massive belt-tightening in every sector, it may be a no-go.

2. Upon request, provided writing samples to a nutraceutical company that approached me after seeing my resume on Monster. My contact there then asked me to provide a 250-word writing sample, with citations, about the health benefits of co-enzyme Q10, "keeping in mind FDA regulations on what the nutrition industry can and can't say." In general, I am happy to take writing and copy editing tests as a way of proving my skills, but this company had not provided me any information about the position for which they were hiring, and when I went to its Web site, all that came up was a logo and a phone number. Also, the emails that I received from them were poorly spelled and punctuated, which seemed unprofessional. I asked my contact to provide some additional information, but I never heard from her again, leading me to believe this was a scam to get free work from unsuspecting writers.

3. Had a phone interview on Friday with the head of a marketing agency who was looking to hire a copywriter. We had a good chat, and he said he thought I could "provide value" to his company. However, he let me know that he was speaking to many other candidates. I followed up with a hand-written note. No word as of yet.

4. Created and sent a direct mail piece advertising my skills to local publications and marketing firms. Made one connection for a potential assignment next month.

5. Got in touch with an old client that generally asks me to write catalog copy and press releases to refresh its corporate image before a major trade show in January. Sadly, I learned that the company had hired an in-house public relations person to handle those needs. I was not considered because I live 400 miles from the office.

6. Revamped my resume to make it more targeted for administrative jobs, which seem to be more plentiful than writing jobs. Applied for positions such as receptionist, typist, and executive assistant. No response as of yet.

7. Signed up with a temporary placement agency. No assignments currently available that match my skill set.

8. Updated my LinkedIn profile and have been spreading the word that I am eager to find full-time or contract employment.

9. Advertised my tutoring abilities in the local area.

10. Attended a training session to become an SAT essay grader for the Princeton Review. Awaiting the next step--an online test.

I realize that the employment situation is grim and that many, many others are searching for work. I had just hoped that my combination of education and experience would qualify me for something. I am even willing to start over and take another entry-level position, despite my years of writing and editing experience. However, it's depressing to find that entry-level positions still pay so little. I saw one assistant position advertised where the president of the company wanted someone with three or more years of experience to keep the office clean and organized, answer phones, design marketing materials, handle accounts payable and accounts receivable (MUST be a QuickBooks PRO!"), run personal errands, babysit his children, take care of his home and pets, make travel arrangements, assist his wife with any requests, "complete any and all tasks asked of you which may at times be unexpected or unorthodox," "be able to think for him," and be available 24/7, all for $32,000 a year. I've seen other positions advertised that claim to have "competitive compensation," which in their minds is $26,000 a year. When I got my first job nine years ago, I made $35,000 a year. But hey, the marketplace is glutted with people looking for work, so employers can afford to be picky. Maybe I should be applying for these positions as well, on the theory that any job is better than no job.

At least Mr. Pink is still gainfully employed. We are also lucky to be renting a nice condo in a beautiful area that is unaffected by the Southern California wildfires. I have good friends and a fantastic family. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving. But I just don't know what else I can do to find a job. Some of you have offered very helpful suggestions in the past. Any other thoughts?


  • At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I feel for you. Could you position yourself as a financial writer and query large brokerage houses or financial firms, such as Schwab or Fidelity? They might need writers for internal/external newsletters, marketing pieces, etc. Perhaps you could also try contacting the public relations or marketing departments of large accounting or consulting firms, such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers or BearingPoint.

    Could you apply to local community colleges as an adjunct professor? Often, all that’s required to teach English or writing is a master’s degree or relevant experience.

    If you’re interested in healthcare writing, perhaps you could try contacting the marketing or public relations departments of local hospitals or physician practices.

    Best of luck to you, with both your job-hunting and your novel!


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