TTAC has always been proud of the quality of its writers. Founder Farago did set a very high standard. His wit was lethal at TTAC, he had a killer instinct for a good story, he was dead on target with GM. Knowing that, the fact that he now writes Thetruthaboutguns.com has me mildly worried. TTAC turned into a flow-heater for successful careers. We had Brock Yates , before he chose a better paid career in screenwriting and television. We had Jonny Lieberman, who, after a stint at Jalopnik, found his calling at Motor Trend. Ed went to The Dark Side. If you want to make TTAC a stepping stone in your career, or if you simply love to write, then let’s talk about it.
How to start
Like you, I read and occasionally commented on TTAC. My checkered career as a TTAC writer started, if I can recall right, in 2008 with a very odd-ball article. Robert Farago liked a strange story about Chinese wet nurses who could buy cars in cash earned from breastfeeding other people’s babies, and he ran it. It (the writing) turned into a regular gig, also because, as Farago said, “the price was right.” I wrote for free.
For me, writing was a recreational drug. Free drugs, not bad. I needed a distraction from my job of running a fledgling multinational, and later I needed a distraction from the thankless task of burning through a few million of VC money (including mine, the VC guys love to ask for a “good faith” contribution). I stopped writing when Farago left. At zero pay, it was easy to show solidarity. It was also the time when the furiously blinking end of the runway of the VC-funded company grew bigger and bigger in my windshield.
How I broke my own embargo
After not paying me for years, gutsy Farago asked me for money and to buy TTAC. Instead, I went on strike with him. Truth be told, I was burned-out even more than Farago, I wanted to focus on my new, young, beautiful, and sexy wife, and retire for the second time. We just weren’t sure whether retirement would be in a beach house in Bali, or in the tranquil clubs of downtown Tokyo.
Then the phone rang, and it was Niedermeyer the younger. Other than his father, who is a cranky old grouch, Ed Niedermeyer was, is, and will always be an all-around nice guy with a sharp wit, and an even sharper pen. How could I say no to him when he asked me to write again? He offered me money. I would have done it without money, but since he offered it, I took it. It wasn’t much, and that remained a tradition at TTAC. As opposed to running an offshore powerboat race team that sucks money faster than gas, or a company that had been, along with the check, given a 1 in 15 chance of success by its cheerful investors, the small and sometimes erratic transfers from TTAC at least paid taxi fares, and , after quite a while, a new knock-off laptop, bought in a multi-storey Beijing computer market. (<= Never write like this, unless your name is Thomas Mann.)
The rest is history. I advanced from overseas to managing to editor in chief. Which goes to show that with a lot of patience, persistence, and resistance to pain, even a pro bono job can eventually turn into a career. A small one, at least. Remember: In war, most promotions are the battlefield kind, but you need to be in the trenches for it to happen.
So, do you still want to write for TTAC?
If you want to write for TTAC, then simply send a note to editors, use “Becoming a TTAC Writer” as the topic, include your screen name, and ideally two or three paragraphs of your writing. If it’s good, you’ll hear from us. If it isn’t, silence is golden.
This was all about how to write for TTAC. Here is a sure-fire way of how not to write for TTAC: Bombard us with appeals for guest bloggings, sponsored content etc. In the beginning, we answered a few, and what came back was absolutely atrocious.
Now, the messages automatically land in the delete file.