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May 21, 2011

Writing Disappointment

About six weeks ago, I got the urge to see if I could write a video game blog, or write for one. I started my own, but I haven't posted anything for a little while now (must get back to it).

I was looking for video game review sites, but I stumbled upon a video game news site that advertised that they're always looking for new writers. I jumped at the chance. One of the positions they were offering was "weekend writer," which means you would post the majority of your stories during the weekend, though you could also contribute during the week as well. There would be no pay, but you could eventually be given games to review, and you might actually be able to get into some video game events and stuff as "Press."

All in all, it sounded pretty cool, and I've always said that one thing that would motivate me to be regular on my blogging is having something be "required" (i.e. I'm not doing it just for myself, as I tend to get lazy sometimes when I do that).

I'm not going to name them, but I will say that it's not any of the really famous ones (Games Radar, Game Informer, Gamespot, etc). I had never heard of them before. But you've got to start somewhere, don't you?

I sent in my request, and didn't hear anything for two weeks. I had pretty much put it out of my mind when I get an email from them, thanking me for my interest and saying that they make their "hiring" (is it really hiring if you're not paid? I don't know) decisions by asking the prospective writer to write stories based on press releases that the editor sends. These are releases that the site has already written about, so it's not like what you send back will be posted. It just gives them an idea of your writing style and response time. Most stories on the site are 150-200 words long.

I receive the email on a Sunday morning. I quickly responded back, and I ended up writing three pieces for the editor that day.

Then I didn't hear from him for two weeks.

Again, I just wrote it off. Ok, rude way to turn somebody down, but whatever.

I did hear from him again, though. He apologized, saying they'd had a lot of work revamping the site and he hadn't been able to get back to me. Sent me another story to do. Keep in mind all of this happened on Sundays.

Didn't hear from him again until the next Saturday (the day I was at a conference) when he sent me another press release. I emailed back (Yay, iPhones!) and said I was at a conference but I would do this first thing Sunday morning.

I sent the story back on Sunday.

No response.

Today, I get an email thanking me for the write-ups, but "unfortunately I have to say your style is not what we're after right now, so I'll have to decline I'm afraid."

And you know what?

I'm not that disappointed. A bit pissed off, but not that disappointed.

The first weird thing (and not the thing that really pissed me off, because I just thought of this while writing this post) is: why the hell did you have to wait a week to blow me off? I know this was for a "weekend news writer," but does that mean that this guy only works weekends?

And even if he does, since they're gauging writing style, couldn't somebody else have done it too? It's not like they have a different style on the weekends, so only the weekend editor can make any judgement about the writers.

The most annoying thing, though, is that I really felt like I was being strung along. It took a month for all of this. Granted, one week he was busy and apologized, but still. In that month, I wrote five pieces. Five pieces? In a month? And three of them were on the same day.

That's ridiculous.

I really only kept going because, if it happened, it would have been kind of cool. I'm in Vancouver, and there are a lot of video game companies up here. Maybe they would have asked me to go visit them and see a game? I don't know.

But the longer it dragged on, the more I felt "it's cool if it happens, but I really don't care that much any more."

When I got that email today, my initial response was "Eh."

It's too bad, though.

I would have looked cool in the tweed hat with the "Press" tag on it.


  1. Dave, I've had similar experiences in the past, and I know it sounds paranoid, but I honestly wonder if they're doing this to get free content. Don't you wonder who wrote the first op-ed pieces they sent you to critique and revise? That's where it all starts to sound fishy to me. If they decide to use your content, there's nothing you can do to stop them, and if they string you along for a full month of continual request for "just one more writing sample", they can get a good number of articles out of you for free. Because of my suspsicions on this, I no longer play that game. If they string me along for longer than 2 weeks, I cut the contact. No one is that busy or that important that they can't behave in a professional manner. And besides, they were brain dead to not snap you up. *stomps off in a righteous huff*


  2. No, I actually looked on the site to get an idea of what type of story (length and stuff) that they wanted, and I found every news story already there. In fact, the very first one they sent me was a story from January.

    But you're certainly right about not allowing yourself to be strung along for more than 2 weeks.

    And I appreciate the kind words. They definitely should have snapped me up. :)

    Are you hiring? LOL

  3. Aww Dave... that sucks. But I think your style is awesome and your blog is one of the few I read consistently. It sucks that they strung you along... I agree with Dawnie. If they don't contact you after two weeks, the hell with 'em.

  4. Thank you! I really appreciate hearing that. And I did not post this just to get responses like it. :)

    I guess I should post more often, eh? :)

  5. Dave, I can't promise you a tweed hat with a "Press" tag on it... but check your email.


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