By on January 19, 2013

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

Most writers at TTAC start as readers. Great examples are Phil Coconis, the Sutherland Brothers, Doug DeMuro, even myself.

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.

We also are always interested in exchanges with other sites that can use the traffic. Great TTAC writers such as Matt Gasnier, Tycho de Feyter, and Faisal Ali Khan started that way.

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.

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51 Comments on “Writers Wanted...”


  • avatar
    olddavid

    Abandon pro-GM or progressive orthodoxy all ye who enter in.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      I would apply, but I don’t have the qualifications. I don’t hate America or Detroit.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Technically you could just read motortrend and just say the exact opposite thing. BS tends to get his knickers in a bunch over the others more than anything else I’ve seen.

    • 0 avatar
      86SN2001

      “Abandon pro-GM or progressive orthodoxy all ye who enter in.”

      And don’t forget to have blind, orgasmic love for Ford (despite the poor quality and recalls).

    • 0 avatar
      doug-g

      For some reason, this got me thinking that what GM needs right now is a dynamic leader (at least in the eyes of the public) who takes sh!t off nobody. My late father popped into my head.

      The first ad would be a 60 second spot where the phrase “stupid bastard” was used no fewer than eight times. The end would be my father throwing parts at the camera and exclaiming, “So, you think you can build a better car? Here, build the son-of-a-bitch”! Fade to black. The GM logo appears with the new slogan “We’re tired fuckin’ with ya”.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Bertel, is this a tacit admission that Ed is never returning to our glorious experiment in automotive journalism?

  • avatar
    european

    Warum nicht? @ Bertel bzgl Eds Rückkehr

  • avatar
    niky

    Good luck in finding people, Bertel!

  • avatar
    sketch447

    I truly believe that TTAC already has some of the finest auto journalists anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree! TTAC is the best site. Fact-based, excellent writing. I’ve been reading since the days of Farago.

      And as far as olddavid’s comment, I don’t buy it. Whether or not a person is pro or anti GM doesn’t matter because as long as it is the truth that is circulated, that’s all that matters.

      Those who protest so much must be blinded by their own unfailing loyalty to GM in spite of all that has happened, that is currently happening, and that will continue to happen in the future.

      I was in Hawaii when I first heard the news about Toyota once again being the top dog of the global auto industry. Well deserved! I believe that VW will overtake GM and become the second banana of the global auto industry. I believe it will happen in the 2013/2014 time frame. And China and the US markets will make it so for VW.

      That doesn’t make me anti-GM. I’m not. GM made a lot of money for me prior to 2008. It makes me a realist. Toyota and VW are trending upwards. GM not so much.

      GM is just as shaky today as it was prior to the bankruptcy. With its teetering operations in Europe and superhigh production costs in Canada, GM’s management team has their hands full juggling priorities. I hope they pull it off. I’m not sure they can.

      I followed the NAIAS on Bloomberg while I was in Hawaii and aside from the new Corvette, a niche seller, and the mildly tweaked 2014 trucks, their money-maker, GM has nothing.

      The ELR is another overpriced niche vehicle, like the Volt. What GM needs is a bread&butter sedan like the Camry, America’s best-selling sedan.

      When Ford’s 2015 F150 hits the market place, watch out! If it incorporates Atlas features I may even trade my Tundra in on a 2015 F150 if it is available with a better, more refined engine than Tundra’s 5.7.

      I look forward to the writings of Bertel’s new recruits.

      I’ve missed reading TTAC during the 34 days I was away, with no internet access. Yep, there still are places on earth, including in Hawaii, where there is no internet access, unless you get Hughesnet (which I did not).

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Ugh, lets stop confusing “reporting facts” with what people would call perception or perhaps drawing conclusions. I’m not actually against BS in any way, he can be a gigantic asshole or an awesome gent depending on the subject and the disposition. The real point is that BS is very bias in many ways. It shows in his writing. His long known anti-GM stance is as much pessimism as it is truth. His insights can be great but he has very exact views that don’t fluctuate and he tends to ignore news that doesn’t conform to his view.

        But to hit my original point, reporting facts would just be saying GM sold X amount of units. It is safe to say that it was a good or bad sales amount based on several factors . The problems show up when you start projecting because it can be great or awful and with strong bias comes strong projections.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        I’m hardly loyal to GM. I made my living for 35 years because the other OEM’s were quicker on their feet and more adaptable. What I object to is the blatant slant of a fact to align with any preconceived ideology. But, to their credit, I keep coming back regardless of my editorial disagreement, so perhaps I’m the rube.

      • 0 avatar

        @Xeranar: Please refrain from calling TTAC editors assholes or names any other than theirs. We have rules against that, and we enforce them.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Xeranar, I understand what you are communicating, and I agree it has merit if you are predisposed that way. We all bring our own values into any situation, including the opinionations expressed on ttac.

        The writers and authors of ttac are no different, and there were some who forecasted GM’s demise long before it was anticipated or fashionable, based on ‘supporting facts’ obtained elsewhere, as in the WSJ, Value line, stock market, brokerage houses, sales numbers, Moody’s, D&B, etc.

        Everyone has perfect hindsight, but those who can forecast accurately are the ones to watch. And those who can forecast accurately time after time are collectively known as gurus.

        So that’s where the buyer, en masse, comes into play because ultimately it is the buyer who puts his/her money where his/her mouth is. The smart buyer does the due diligence so that they will not be stuck with a lemon or an orphan.

        If more people were pro-GM and saw a rosy future for this teetering, bailed-out giant, more people would choose to buy a GM product and GM would be the undisputed, largest vehicle manufacturer on the planet. They’re not. Toyota is.

        And it is true. I’m a Toyota convert. I converted to Toyota in 2008, and I’m never going back. Well, not until I have a bad Toyota experience. It could happen. But so far, so good.

        I want you to know that GM did very well for me prior to 2008, but that doesn’t make me want to rush out and buy any GM product today. That doesn’t make me anti-GM. It makes me cautious and wary. I can now afford to buy whatever GM makes but prefer to buy better, with a lot less drama and emotional baggage.

        Maybe the writers at ttac also include articles from the WSJ and other industry watchers in their daily reading regimen. Articles that are not bubbling over with enthusiasm for GM’s future. Money talks. BS walks. I’d rather be on the money side. There’s already way too much BS being spread around, including that from the GM fan club. Remember the Volt? God’s answer to a question never asked by the wheeled masses? Yo! GM will sell its millionth Volt in …..?

        I would be very cautious about GM and its future, in spite of the fact that the US government will continue to financially back GM, no matter what happens in the future.

        The new crop of Bertel’s recruits may bring different insights to an already diverse range of topics. Hey, I for one, am looking forward to reading what they are all fired up about.

        I learn something every day. Really! And I expect to learn something from the new writers at ttac as well.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Maybe we’ll have to thrust greatness upon someone.
    Lets vote, here’s mine, alphabetical order only:

    el scotto
    moparman
    porschespeed

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Bertel….

    In a mischievous, round-about way, you already have plenty of “writers” on TTAC. They are all those comment contributors, the “Best and the Brightest”, who take the time thoroughly and thoughtfully to research the issues you raise. As time goes on, and TTAC continues its journey, I see an increase in quality, style, and respect in those reports-done-as-commentary.

    ————–

    • 0 avatar
      d524zoom-zoom

      +1 I am with you on this. This site is the first site I learned to read the comments from the other “Joe Schmoes”, and have found it as interesting/educational as the articles themselves. I read other sites everyday but not each and every article including all comments by the “B&B”. I do agree with the comment made below (Mandalorian) that another international type of writer would be a benefit here, but not a total necessity.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    It might be nice to have another person from outside of North America. The international market reviews are some of the best articles.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    Thanks for the article on this. I’ve considered writing as a second career and I find myself really wishing I could learn to write well enough to adopt the style that is used here and on Cracked.com.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    Don’t think I’m good enough but it says a great deal about the site to look for good “everyday” writers, as opposed to the media “annointed”.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I really need to get to work on a few write-ups, I think I’ll start with my test drive of a Merkur and a few other beaters.

    I’m on the fence if I want to include my drive of a Panther.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’d apply, but all my stories begin with “Once upon a time…” or “It was a dark and stormy night;”, and professional writers insist that the all-important first line must be a grabber. I’d also insist that all General Patton quotes be printed verbatim…

    • 0 avatar
      doug-g

      I hear you. I sometimes think it would be fun to write for an automotive site and then reality sinks in. If your childhood automobile hero was Uncle Tom McCahill, and you remember when Michael Lamm was starting out, your ship has probably sailed. The deal was sealed when the first thing that popped into my head to write about was the time I went through three tanks of gas playing with the autronic eye on a 1970 Eldorado.

  • avatar
    marjanmm

    What happened with Brendan? Also shame no more Captain Mike’s hot hatches reviews. Miss them.

  • avatar

    Speaking of budding careers, I also started writing for free, and was eventually called upon by Ed to join the site when he left.

  • avatar

    thanks for the invite, it is appreciated. I for one will choose to remain a regular daily reader and as one of the B&B, at least to those who consider me to be so.

    it would be just swell though if RF penned a contribution on occasion rather than just the all too rare “chime in” nugget.

  • avatar
    lothar

    journalists or politicians??

    • 0 avatar

      Not much difference these days, but the training doesn’t help. I kept hearing so much grief towards one news service and never another– are they really so blind as to believe either is right or wrong as a whole? Journalists USED to be more skeptical. They could also be more sensational, too, but I think the latter has since moved to blogs and buff-books. That’s a jab at any media, not just cars.

  • avatar
    stephenjmcn

    I’ve got one killer article in me, one about a faultlessly reliable Volkswagen. The well may be a little dry after that, but feel free to sign me up.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      This isn’t “The Fiction About Cars”. Heh.

      Actually, that would be interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        stephenjmcn

        I’m feeling warm towards it just as I absent-mindedly started filling it with petrol (gas) the other night when it is in fact a TDi. Got to 10 litres of gas whenI realised, then brimmed the tank with diesel. Well, it is my wife’s car and I’m not so used to it…… 4 days on and it’s running fine.

        Interesting (?) fact for you ‘Mericans – that tank of fuel cost me £98, or $155 approx. If/when you guys get fuel taxes like us, TDi will be the norm. Yes, they cost a little more to buy, and the fuel itself is a little dearer, but handing over that kind of money each fill-up REALLY hurts. So you’ll want to do it less often.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I will be submitting. I know this makes some happy who have suggested I should write for TTAC publicly, and I know this depresses others. Controversial, I think I have one qualification down. Would love to review auto ads, print, online and TV, local, regional, national and international.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    I also greatly miss RF. He was the reason why I came here back before I had grey hair and iPad was spelled Newton.

    Booth Babe was a great contributor. Unfortunately some of the B+B did not treat her with the gentlemanly tact she deserved. I appreciated reading a woman’s view in this sea of testosterone and occasional peacock plumage.

    I read everything Jack gives us because there’s no prophylactic between us and his opinions. Kind of like Uncle Tom without the shilling for Chrysler.

    Also a great fan of Karesh. A thinking man’s car guy.

    Some Ideas: 1) There’s a guy who keeps a small page on ricers. His stuff is pretty funny and would make a great recurring feature here on TTAC. 2) Maybe something on automotive abominations. 3) Something once a week from a female perspective. 4) I also like it when the duplicity of the Dutch Mandels of this world is exposed. Please see Jack’s 10:10 comment for the fillet mignon treatment: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/perhaps-this-shiny-free-ipad-will-distract-you-from-the-realization-that-you-have-just-purchased-a-cadillac-xts-for-reasons-known-only-to-yourself/

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I love some Fords, and I dislike some GM cars,+ I drive a reliable,lightweight, revvy, modern MT wagon with 4wd , so I’m eligible, I think…(ok, some people call my CR-V a CUV, not a wagon, and I’ve owned a Buick…and an Opel…and almost bought a Saab…darn…)
    I may be able to provide cool computer-manipulated ‘ricer’ and hot rod pictures, and the odd concept, if that is of any interest ;)

  • avatar

    I EMAILED TTAC twice…

    Offered you my TESLA MODEL S video and a edited version of my written review.

    youtube.com/watch?v=SWHlEC-SjFM

    I’m willing to contribute.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I’d love to write for this blog. Now just convince the manufacturers to loan me their latest with a tank if gas and insurance…

  • avatar
    Transform

    My only complaint about TTAC is the lack quantity.

    My only complaint about TTAC is that there are not enough stories. The writing is ofton clever and sometimes brilliant, but there just isn’t enough. Lets have more articles, even if they are not clever, as long as they are true and objective. How about some in depth tech stuff, like on Ford’s aluminum F150, or how about a comparison of the Coyote vs C7 vs Hemi on an engine weight to hp basis. Then add comparisons to Europes v8s. There are countless options. If someone out there has raw knowledge/tech data I would be willing to do the writing. Regards, Jeff

  • avatar

    @all: Thank you for the great replies. And thank you for the mail in my inbox. This call for papers had and still has amazing results. Please give me a little time to work through the submissions.

    Here some quick answers to the above:

    @olddavid, @challenger2012: Hate for Detroit or America is not a prerequisite for a TTAC writer. We warmly welcome writers who express their love for both. We regularly review Detroit cars, don’t blame us if GM thinks they can punish us by withholding theirs. We can always get them. Their loss if we review one from Avis, instead of a press-fleet ringer.

    @Summicron: If they volunteer and are good, they are welcome. But people can’t be volunteered.

    @Mandalorian: We are one of the few sites with editors who live all over the world. Sometimes, we are blamed for not all living in the States and having mail-order brides. FYI: April 15 is still tax day for me.

    @Mykl, @Ryoku75: Try, you never know

    @Austin Greene: I am not a women’s libber. When I was young , Alice Schwarzer, Germany’s most prominent women’s libber, came to visit friends of mine with the news that she had left her key in the car. I went downstairs and came back with the key. “How did you do that?” I showed her a coat hanger and said: “It’s good for other things than abortions.” Loud howls. But I am still embarrassed by the puerile treatment the Boothbabe received from the alleged B&B, and I wish we’d have someone that puts them in their place. Cammie could do that, but as a good woman, she only does it for money.

    @Lorenzo: If the story is good, it can start with “It was a dark and stormy night;” – but be advised that each and every one of yours would have to do that over many years.

    @Derek Kreindler: We are going back to the good old days!

    @stephenjmcn: One article is not enough. A good writer must have a whole series lined up in his head

    @APaGttH: That could be interesting, but could also be embarrassing. Back at the job, we always said “Everybody’s an adman.” I bet the car designers and engineers have a similar saying.

    @bigtruckseries: I saw it. But I got seasick when watching the video, and had to spend time away from the keyboard

    @cheezeweggie: Free advice – those who think the cars come by themselves are mistaken. The hard part of a car reviewer’s job is to get the car. Writing is the easy part.

    • 0 avatar

      What about when I use a camera holder Like in this video I made of the Veloster Turbo???

      youtube.com/watch?v=6zxgHyJzHsM

      My own personal cars are an SRT8 and an XJ-L.
      I have access to new cars on a regular basis. Even if you think my videos suck, what about the writing portion?

      • 0 avatar

        They let you drive on the road? In the SF event trying the ’13 Altima, Accord, Camry, and Sonata we were limited to a couple cone courses. We didn’t even have time to get to really “know” the cars aside from some 30mph lane changes, let alone get in-car video. It was a rushed, bang-through sort of thing. Perhaps that’s the difference between the “Drive” events and “Editor for the Day” events. I think I’d prefer what you had, but with more cars.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    One thing I appreciate about this site is the diversity in background of the various writers. jack’s racing background, Murilee’s junkyard digging, Bertel’s business background, etc.

    And I like how two people can take the same car and write up totally different reviews about it. Whoever the next writer is, I hope this theme continues. Personally, as a mechanic and someone who takes mechanical things apart and puts them back together on a daily basis, I look at a car in a completely different light then most. Most car reviews do nothing to appease me; I don’t care much about “steering feel”; but I would like to know how much room is under the hood when things start to break.

    I’ve learned over time most automotive journalist really know very little about the cars themselves; luckily for them, most readers are in the same boat.

  • avatar
    colin42

    I’m no writer but more female prospective and a European / Asian / African? would be good

    She Often got negative comments but Camery gave to of these view points – what happened to her?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m no writer, but TTAC has been my ONLY car website until Curbside Classic came out, so now I have only TWO.

    “CC” is for memories and nostalgia for me. TTAC is for the here-and-now. I’m sticking around, for sure.

    TTAC is the best. Period.

  • avatar

    I’m not gonna bother with my own RF/TTAC story from way back when in 2006, but one thing is for sure, new writers that embrace our house style is so important to our system.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


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