Writers Wanted

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
writers wanted

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. (

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.

Join the conversation
2 of 51 comments
  • Zackman Zackman on Jan 20, 2013

    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.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Jan 20, 2013

    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.

  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.
  • Dartdude Lorenzo, the reason for low manual transmission here is that most dealers won't stock them. I wanted a 2012 Kia Koup with manual tranny it was available, but no dealers ordered any from the factory hence there was none available. Go on any car manufacture's web site and price and build and build your model and you would be lucky if the model existed and was available.
  • The Oracle Good news is that based on the model years many of these have already been junked or experienced terminal engine failure.
  • Lou_BC I'm confused, isn't a Prologue a preview? This would be a preview of a preview.