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Thread: About.com?

  1. #3276
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    Anyone know the length of time it takes them to get a group into prep? I applied back in March for a topic, but when I get the email of the application status, it tells me "we haven't had a chance to review your applications yet...it may take up to 8 weeks..." But it's been over 8 weeks now. Just wondering.....

  2. #3277
    Garden Geek Extraordinaire princessvessna's Avatar
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    It really just depends on how many people apply, etc. My own story is an anomaly, where just a month after my application, I had already won the position and my site went live. A friend just had applied for a topic and when he finally found out it had gone into Prep, it was 10 weeks. Hang in there...if you wanted, since it's been that long, you could perhaps write one short polite letter just stating it's been over 8 weeks and you were just curious/wondering/etc if they had plans to start Prep soon.

  3. #3278
    Hidin' the bodies SouthernFriedJulie's Avatar
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    Finally got word on the Baby topic. No dice. That was the last time I'm trying. For a while.
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  4. #3279
    Not so new; I just don't say much. Kathleen Roberts's Avatar
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    Okay, I have applied yet again. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment since I have applied multiple times and never make it to prep. So I'm hopeful this time but I'll try not to get too stressed about it. (ha! yeah right.)



  5. #3280
    Not so new; I just don't say much. Kathleen Roberts's Avatar
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    Well, I checked the status of my app. today just to see what it would say. It says they are currently working with a group of people. I guess that means it is in prep so I wasted my time applying. I wish we could find out ahead of time if a topic is in prep before we apply for them.

    Oh well, now I don't need to stress over the application. I did see another topic I was interested in but I don't think I meet their qualifications for it. Guess I'll keep watching.



  6. #3281
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    I had applied over a year ago for a completely different topic and got accepted into prep, but no further. This topic is one of three that I KNOW that I am really qualified for. I didn't make it past prep with the last one, one is already live with a guide and I am waiting to hear about this last one. If this one doesn't work out.......

  7. #3282
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Roberts View Post
    Okay, I have applied yet again. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment since I have applied multiple times and never make it to prep. So I'm hopeful this time but I'll try not to get too stressed about it. (ha! yeah right.)
    Believe me, it could be worse! I went through prep twice, and unlike LTK, it is unpaid, and involves a massive amount of work. Unfortunately, HTML formatting is not me strong point, and I kept ending up with bad links and other mess-ups. There went four weeks of my life!

  8. #3283
    Not so new; I just don't say much. Kathleen Roberts's Avatar
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    I think my biggest problem is timing. It seems that every topic I apply for is already in prep. I can see how it would be frustrating to go through prep (twice!) and not make it through. It sounds like a pretty intense process. I enjoyed training with LTK, but with About it sounds very stressful.

    Still though, I'd sure like a shot. I guess I have to start checking every day so I can apply as soon as a topic goes up. I only have a few things that I feel qualified enough to write on. Many topics look interesting but I wouldn't quite measure up for them.

    Maybe I'll luck out and no one will be picked during prep. Then they'll take another group and I might have a chance. I'm sure that doesn't happen very often though.



  9. #3284
    A Suburban Farmer Thrillride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Roberts View Post
    I think my biggest problem is timing. It seems that every topic I apply for is already in prep. I can see how it would be frustrating to go through prep (twice!) and not make it through. It sounds like a pretty intense process. I enjoyed training with LTK, but with About it sounds very stressful.

    Still though, I'd sure like a shot. I guess I have to start checking every day so I can apply as soon as a topic goes up. I only have a few things that I feel qualified enough to write on. Many topics look interesting but I wouldn't quite measure up for them.

    Maybe I'll luck out and no one will be picked during prep. Then they'll take another group and I might have a chance. I'm sure that doesn't happen very often though.
    That's what I'm hoping for, as well. Maybe I'll have shot if they don't choose someone out of this prep go-round.
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  10. #3285
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    Here I am again. What's the longest anyone had to wait from the time they applied until the topic went into prep? I applied mid March for a topic. I see the topic is still available and when I ask for the application status, I get the email stating that they haven't reviewed my application yet. I sent an email asking about it to an actual person, but they told me to just keep checking the 'status' email thing.

    I know my topic isn't the most popular, and the people who are experts in it aren't usually the internet type, so I guess it's taking longer to find qualified applicants. But dang, it's almost been 4 months...

  11. #3286
    Garden Geek Extraordinaire princessvessna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Writing Mom View Post
    Here I am again. What's the longest anyone had to wait from the time they applied until the topic went into prep? I applied mid March for a topic. I see the topic is still available and when I ask for the application status, I get the email stating that they haven't reviewed my application yet. I sent an email asking about it to an actual person, but they told me to just keep checking the 'status' email thing.

    I know my topic isn't the most popular, and the people who are experts in it aren't usually the internet type, so I guess it's taking longer to find qualified applicants. But dang, it's almost been 4 months...
    I know my friend is still waiting and it's been months. (It did go into Prep, but it apparently didnt work out as the status went back to "We're still reviewing). Hmm.

  12. #3287
    practical experience, FTW novelette's Avatar
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    Wow, Writing Mom! I thought my 11+ weeks was long. It was VERY hard waiting--I did send a message to customer care around week 6, although I know they say it can take up to 8 weeks before you hear anything. I was especially anxious, I guess, because my topic was one that I suggested last December and it went up for grabs in early March.

    Anyway, even though the waiting was driving me crazy, I immersed myself in another project and sure enough, soon after I did that, I got into Prep.

    Sorry about the wait. Trust me, I know what you're going through. I hope you get in Prep for your topic!
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  13. #3288
    practical experience, FTW blueobsidian's Avatar
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    I applied for a topic at the end of January and the status update has been telling me that it has been in prep since the end of March. This has definitely set the record for my longest wait!
    -Kim

    About.com Topic Writer for Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts
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  14. #3289
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    Still waiting...since mid-March...

    Anyone else ever wait this long? Oh, and the topic is Rodeo, just so you know. They want someone who writes and has been a competitor or trainer. Most people who are into this lifestyle just aren't writers and probably don't even know they could be writers for About.com. So I guess there just aren't many contenders. Still sitting with my fingers crossed...

  15. #3290
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hi All,

    I'd use some caution before agreeing to participate in About.com's training program. I think the hiring can be a bit subjective and unfair.

    I was recently turned down for a position after completing the entire Guide Prep program and my mock site.

    I'm having a hard time letting it go. From the start, I didn't have much of a rapport with the training editor. I was unsure about his editorial experience. I have been writing for nearly 15 years and some of the guidance he gave seemed a little off the mark.

    Anyway, I found out, in a strange way, this same editor graduated from college in 2007. I've worked with young editors before, but this time I was bugged. I crafted my mock site and stories to suit this editor. And, in our correspondance, he essentially told me I had the job if I did what he suggested.

    I was never able to communicate directly with the Editor of the site, so I don't know if he/she was aware of this communication.

    I've thought about submitting an appeal, but I can't figure out where I'd send it.

    I really appreciate any feedback. I need to put this to rest.

  16. #3291
    practical experience, FTW novelette's Avatar
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    Hi Heather,

    Sorry you didn't graduate Prep this time around. I've gone through Prep twice (once the old way, where people could write unlimited amounts of content, and once the newer way, where they give you a small number of select topics to cover) and I can only offer you my opinion.

    In most cases, you're competing against a handful of other people for the same topic, so they're looking for who they think is the "best" candidate for the site. You could do stellar work but if they think someone else has more of the voice they're looking for, then that's probably who they'll go with. They want people who write well for the web, which is different from print, with an engaging voice and who really grasp the concept of keeping readers clicking from link to link.

    From my understanding, your Prep mentor doesn't have the final and only say for who graduates. It's essentially decided by the channel editor; I wasn't aware that we could contact the channel editor during Prep.

    Also, the "he essentially told me I had the job if I did what he suggested" sounds really odd to me. Not on your part, on his, because the mentor isn't who decides who gets the job.

    As someone who didn't graduate Prep the first time around, I know how you feel. It can be really discouraging and disappointing. All I can say is, if you're a freelancer, this happens from time to time. I guess you could appeal but if they've hired who they think is best for the topic, I don't think there will be much you can do.

    When I failed Prep, I was bummed for about a day, but writers deal with rejection a lot, so to me, it was another rejection (though one I'd really worked hard for, which stings). You just have to pick yourself up, move on and work on something else. There could be another topic that opens up that you like even better than this one--if you read through this monster thread, you'll see that that's what happened with a lot of Guides.

    For me, it was worth trying again, so if something really speaks to you, you may want to consider giving it another shot.
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  17. #3292
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.

    I'm a writer and I know rejection, unfortunately. Usually, I chalk it up and move on.

    This time, though, I was seriously bugged. I didn't care for the prep editor and I can't say I entirely trusted his guidance. I haven't done a lot of writing for the Web so I really put myself in his hands and molded my content to his suggestions. There was one story, a simple profile, where I followed, verbatim, the outline of another guide's profile of somewhere else. Anyway, he "edited" the crap out of this story. The piece was sliced and diced and covered in corrections. I was horrified when I first saw it and then realized my copy was fine. He argued with the set up. He wanted the "Directions" in another spot and the General Info somewhere else. It was really silly.

    I've worked with lots of editors who make changes just to make changes. I know the drill, I changed the piece per his instructions.

    So, my argument is... What if this training editor isn't a very experienced editor and I change my copy to suit him? I don't get the impression the Channel Editor steps in until the last stages, maybe only when the mock site is complete.

    Prep guides are being trained by one editor to work for another.

    Rejection is a part of the writing life, but this wasn't a query, novel, or short story. This was a steady job. I think potential guides should have access to the Channel Editor of their topic, especially after making it through the first stages.

    Just my own thoughts.

  18. #3293
    practical experience, FTW
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    You know, the publishing world is pretty small. It only grows when new writers and editors (frequently younger) enter the profession. I'm well into middle age, myself, but I don't have trouble working with people of all ages, and I hope they feel the same way about me.

    Heather, while I understand (totally - I failed Prep my first time around) your disappointment, I have to agree with Del. You are in control of how you react to your current situation, but, just as you felt you didn't "click" with your mentor, you can't control how he felt about your writing or how well he felt he established a rapport with you.

    As long as you did your very best, and I can tell you did, that's all you could have done.

    Before you try to appeal the decision that was made, may I respectfully suggest that you think through all of your options? The same About.com staff will edit/mentor you should you decide to apply again. You may (as I did during my second Prep) have a different mentor, or you may not. Ask yourself whether you want to apply again some time down the road. Also, consider whether you would appeal a decision made by, say, a print mag editor who substantially changed a piece you submitted, or turned down a pitch you made.

    While you may not agree with how About.com handles its application process, it works for them.

    We're all here to help each other and be supportive. I certainly understand how you feel and agree that it's difficult to understand why things worked out the way they did. I imagine that there are many writers here besides Del and the two of us who have had to deal with the Prep experience, only to get the "Sorry, but..." email, and they also understand how much you've dedicated to the process and how frustrated you are.

    I definitely don't want to tell you what to do. Your career is yours to manage. Still, important decisions require careful thought, in my opinion, and, based on what you've written here, I feel that the decision to appeal the editors' choice is an important one.

    Whichever way you decide, I wish you the best, and I hope you'll consider applying for another Guide position some time in the future.
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  19. #3294
    Quote Originally Posted by HeatherOhio View Post
    This time, though, I was seriously bugged. I didn't care for the prep editor and I can't say I entirely trusted his guidance. I haven't done a lot of writing for the Web so I really put myself in his hands and molded my content to his suggestions. There was one story, a simple profile, where I followed, verbatim, the outline of another guide's profile of somewhere else. Anyway, he "edited" the crap out of this story. The piece was sliced and diced and covered in corrections. I was horrified when I first saw it and then realized my copy was fine. He argued with the set up. He wanted the "Directions" in another spot and the General Info somewhere else. It was really silly.
    Writing for the web is very different from writing for print.

    Without seeing what you wrote and what he suggested, I can't talk to the specifics, but something written in the print style would certainly invoke a lot of suggestions to make it better for the web style of writing.

    And I'm sure the writer would think similar to you -- that the original was fine. And it was fine -- if it had been written for print.

    This is not to say that you got good or bad advice, just to say that I can understand a writer putting out good copy and having is slashed and re-organized to match with good copy for the web.

    As for the editor promising you the job, I can't speak to that. My editors did a great job of complimenting good writing but not mentioning anything about my chances to secure the position. I was eventually selected as the guide, but I didn't know if I had a good or bad shot at it until the email appeared in my inbox.

    Honestly, I'd be curious as to what the editor actually told you in regards to the position. It doesn't seem to follow with my training, but it was probably a different editor.

  20. #3295
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Has Anyone Recently Been Accepted Into Prep..

    I found this forum and it is very helpful. I applied to a very popular topic over 12 weeks ago and still have not heard anything. Has anyone been accepted into prep recently? If not, I wonder what the hold up is. I applied for a very popular topic and I am sure they have enough candidates. Does this mean they have not found applications that they like, and I should assume I am not getting into prep?
    Thanks for your input...
    Joyce

  21. #3296
    practical experience, FTW novelette's Avatar
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    Hi Joyce,

    Have you tried checking your app's status with the automated tool? It's directly under the Apply Now link on the Be a Guide page. That will let you know whether or not prep has started for your topic.

    I know that someone else on this board has been waiting even longer than 12 weeks for a topic so I guess they sometimes get behind.
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  22. #3297
    Rejoining the Butt in Chair Club RitrChick's Avatar
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    It looks like the topics list has remained the same for ages (maybe with a few additions, but I don't think any have been taken off). Maybe they're backlogged due to summer?
    Write as if your DREAMS depended on it--because they do!





  23. #3298
    Quote Originally Posted by writerbyday View Post
    I found this forum and it is very helpful. I applied to a very popular topic over 12 weeks ago and still have not heard anything. Has anyone been accepted into prep recently? If not, I wonder what the hold up is. I applied for a very popular topic and I am sure they have enough candidates. Does this mean they have not found applications that they like, and I should assume I am not getting into prep?
    Thanks for your input...
    Joyce
    They only have a limited number of editors available to take candidates through training, and the last time I checked, there were several dozen open topics. So even if they get enough qualified applicants to start training, it could take a couple of weeks to get started.

    Also, I wouldn't assume that because it is a popular topic they will have enough qualified applicants in just a few weeks. I've seen popular topics stick around for much longer than I would have assumed.

    As mentioned above, the best thing to do is simply check the status of your application. If it has gone into prep, the status email will tell you.

  24. #3299
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I would love to see a few examples of applications that were accepted into prep. Obviously, I'm not hitting what they're looking for. I've done a lot of poking around the site--enough to know my samples were good. I have tons of print and online writing experience, though no books to my name. I have a Masters in one of the topics which just went into prep without me, so I'm not completely void of qualifications. I'm definitely open to improvement, but don't know at this point whether applying again is worth my time. If anyone saved a chosen application and wouldn't mind passing it along, I'd really appreciate an example to look at. Thanks.

  25. #3300
    I'm pretty sure this is what I sent in for my application, though it has been so long I could be wrong:

    *deleted*
    Perhaps not the best article in the world, but it was written in a very web-friendly style, which might have helped.
    Last edited by herdon; 08-31-2009 at 08:15 AM.

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