We get lots of requests from young aspiring writers, photographers and folks running from the law on how to break into the automotive writing business. To these young car enthusiasts, writing about musclecars, drag racing, drifting and wheel bearings—and actually getting paid to do it—is a dream job. Yup, Automotive journalism is the fast ticket to fame, glamor, riches and luxury. Rather than spending an enjoyable hour or two on the phone with each and every one of you explaining the ins and outs of what an automotive journalist has to do, we thought we’d just lay out the whole deal here.
The common misconception about being a writer, is that it’s difficult—beyond the God-given talents of all but a precious few. And, that’s what many auto writers would have you believe. Well, we’re going to blow the lid off the whole deal. Right here. Right now.
At the risk of getting strung up by our fellow auto scribes, We’re going to tell you the honest truth. Being an auto writer is easy. That’s right, easy! It’s a fact. Our colleagues may cringe at this secret finally being made public, but in hushed discussions at the track during Super Stock eliminations when no one else could hear us, their experiences confirmed what we already knew. This job is a piece of cake.
The hardest part of being an auto writer is creating a column, such as what you are now reading. We mean you gotta come up with 500 or so words every month. Now, it’s not the actual typing on the letter and number keys that’s difficult, it’s thinking of what to type that’s the brain buster. ‘Course, that’s not a problem at some print magazines and e-zines. If the writer or editor can’t come up with the right words, the advertising director, or one of the layout artists or even the janitor is right there to help. Shucks, they’d even write—or rewrite—the entire column if called upon to do it, and sometimes even when they’re not. Now, if that ain’t easy, I don’t know what is.
And there’s more. Here’s the real kicker. An entire industry has been established just to help auto writers and editors fill pages. It’s called “public relations, the editor’s best friend.” These nice pr folks send you stuff absolutely free that you’re welcome to put in your car mag or e-zine. This saves a lot of brain cell wear and tear for us writers, and also allows editors take the money they save in their editorial budget by not having to pay a writer for the stuff, and have themselves a fling in Vegas, take a cruise, or whatever. Public relations professionals send you all kinds of material. You get exciting news stories and even pictures of and about their clients and their products. They even provide approved quotes from bigwig company executives that writers can use to give their stories that extra credibility edge over the competition.
One of our favorite pr firms that sends us a Christmas card every year, regularly deluges us with stuff about their premier client—Zino’s—maker of Zino’s Fartz-B-Gone with exclusive Fartz Gard upholstery freshener. This stuff is dynamite, if we say so ourselves. So, we get these news stories how in blind taste tests 5 out of 7 Chinese immigrants who came over in a cargo crate preferred Zino’s over the next two leading brands of car care products. Now, that’s news. And, so is this—a Zino’s news release and photo just as we received it:
Now, if that ain’t the stuff that inspires great automotive features, wel’l hang up our auto journalist’s hat.