Tyler Omoth is a freelance writer and copywriter who specializes in finding the unique angle for any topic tossed his way. He has published children’s books, sports articles, a craft beer column, reviews, and many ad campaigns.
Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Tyler. Could you give a short explanation of freelance writing?
Tyler Omoth: Certainly. Freelance writing means I write a variety of things for a number of different clients. I don’t have a full-time employer, so I’m not clocking in and clocking out. I write blogs, kids books, and other marketing materials. For me, it’s perfect because I thrive on the variety of topics. It’s great not having to commute to work, but it also means I’m always at work.
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Ferrante: You write in a wide variety of genres. Do you use a different style for each one?
Omoth: I do write in a lot of genres and, absolutely, there are different styles for each. Part of my job is to connect with my client, be it an educational website, sales magazine, or book publisher, and make sure that I understand the style and tone that they want. I used to work as a radio copywriter and I learned early on that you can’t write in the same voice for an oldies station that you do for the hard rock station. Each project is all about the end audience.
Ferrante: I would guess that you are sometimes working on more than one project at a time. How do you keep things organized?
Omoth: That is an ongoing process! I keep track of due dates on my Google calendar and I have files for each client. I try to consider my most consistent clients my day job and work on the odds and ends projects during evenings and weekends. The good part about having several projects is that if one starts to get tedious, I can shift gears for awhile and work on something else.
Ferrante: Many of your pieces are sports-based. Do you participate in any sports yourself?
Omoth: I certainly did when I was younger. I played basketball and baseball. In grad school a group of us had an intramural basketball team called “The Grammarians.” Our star player has been my editor for a number of the kid’s books. Unfortunately, my participation in sports these days is mostly as a spectator.
Ferrante: Do you interview the people you write about?
Omoth: The projects that I’ve worked on haven’t included many interviews, at least not lately. I think (I hope) that’s about to change with a new client with whom I’ve been in talks.
Ferrante: What was the most interesting topic you researched?
The most interesting topic is a tough call, because I’ve done so many. I love sports and baseball in particular. But for a book called Bizarre Things We’ve Done for Sport, I had the chance to look at weird sports all over the world. For me, the winner was Ferret Legging. Bored miners in the UK used to tie off the cuffs of their pants, drop a ferret down there and see who could last the longest!
Ferrante: What advice could you give someone interested in freelance writing?
Omoth: If you thrive on consistency and structure, freelancing may not be for you. If possible, do it on the side for awhile. I did different freelance projects for a decade before the opportunity hit to go full-time. There are still days when I wonder if I can keep it up. You really need to find consistent clients and enough of them so that you’re not completely reliant on any one.
Ferrante: Why have you chosen nonfiction writing? What is it that compels you?
Omoth: I think it started with that radio copywriting job. Everyday I was writing different things. I’d write an ad campaign for a wine shop followed by ads for a grocery store, a mechanic, and then an insurance company. Business owners tend to be very passionate about what they do and they love to talk about it, so I was constantly learning new things. I found it fascinating. I’d write for several of the same types of business, but by really digging into the heart of each one, I found that they each had their special differences. Finding and telling their stories was what I liked to do. You could have four bakeries and you’d discover four very different tales.
When the opportunity came to write books, I jumped at it. The publishers create the series concepts and divvy out the work to us writers. It’s a similar process. I may get a book assigned to me on a topic that I know nothing about, but I enjoy learning about it and making it fun for kids. I find myself drawn to writing for kids even though I do not have any children. It could be I’m just a big kid at heart.
Ferrante: What drew you to writing for children as opposed to adults?
Omoth: Part of it was simply the opportunity that popped up. I also recall how exciting it was to go to the library when I was a kid. Whether it was our favorite series of characters like Ramona or Encyclopedia Brown or digging into the non-fiction books. It was fun and exciting and opened up the world to us. For me, I couldn’t get enough of books about animals. I wanted to learn all I could about them. Now, it’s fun to be writing some books in a series on North American animals.
Ferrante: How is writing nonfiction for kids different than non-fiction for adults?
Omoth: Obviously, the language, including sentence length and vocabulary, plays a part. What may be even more important is maintaining a level of excitement and fun. With adults, it can be “just the facts” at times. Kids don’t work that way. They don’t want to read that a cheetah can run almost 60 miles per hour, but they’re fascinated if they read that it can pass your car on a highway. Visualization and comparisons are an important part of keeping it all interesting.
Ferrante: What piece of writing are you most proud of?
Omoth: After we just talked about nonfiction, I have to admit that fiction is truly my favorite. Like most writers, I have a novel in the works, but it’s hard to fit it on that busy schedule. I have a short story called Lamp Camp that I really loved. It came out of a short story contest where they give you a prompt and you have 24-hours to write a 900 words story. I won 3rd in that national competition with that story. My novel is expanding that story concept. I was also a ghostwriter for a fiction novel that should be coming out this fall as part of Capstone Press’s Jake Maddox JV series. That was a lot of fun to write.
Ferrante: If everyone were required to wear a hat at all times, what sort of hat would you wear?
Omoth: Ha! I love that you asked this. I just bought a hat that I love. My wife makes fun of me because I’ll wear it while I’m writing at home by myself. It’s a simple straw fedora that looks like a cross between something Elliot Ness would wear and old Cuban man who rolls cigars. It makes me feel retro-suave.
Ferrante: You’ll have to post a photo on your site.
If you could take any job for just one month, what job would you like to have?
Omoth: Major League baseball closer. I’m a Minnesota Twins fan and when Eddie Guardado was the closer for them, they’d blast “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC and all of the electronic boards would be flashing lightning. The crowd couldn’t help but to get excited and go nuts. I always thought that it would be an amazing feeling to have that reception when you go to work, you know? The money’s not bad either.
Ferrante: If you were asked to create the ultimate vacation destination, where would it be located and what would it be like?
Omoth: It would definitely be an island. I love beaches and the Gulf of Mexico. Of course it would have resorts with pools and fun stuff to do, but I’d also want to have a lot of music. Different styles and venues all over the island. We’d have a country band on one beach with a rock band on another. Cell phones are only allowed in your suites, nowhere else. Just relax and take it in!
Ferrante: That would be paradise.
Tyler, it sounds like you have a challenging and fascinating career. Thank you for sharing this with us.
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Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.