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Owens '83 Helps Freelance Writers

Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alexandra Owens '83 is the executive director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and was recently featured in the Daily Record in Parsippany, N.J., because ASJA has an upcoming event for freelance writers.

The article quotes Owens, "The industry is definitely changing; some areas are losing jobs while others are gaining new opportunities. More magazines are closing than opening. In the past, you could buy a car from a single fee -- that's getting trickier. It's shocking how per-word rates have diminished, but freelancers are motivated and can find creative ways to sell. We're there to help it happen through our newsletter, referral service and seminars."

Owens' bio is also covered in the article, from her start as an executive secretary for ASJA immediately after graduation from William Smith, to her move into the insurance industry as a licensed broker - and back to ASJA as its director.

"This job is perfect for me because it involves multi-tasking and is never boring," she says.

While at William Smith, Owens was a resident advisor. She earned her B.A. in religious studies.

The complete article follows.


Daily Record
Owens helps writers find work in evolving market

Boonton residents directs 60-year-old nonprofit group in New York City
Sally Silverman • freelance writer • March 17, 2009

Boonton resident Alexandra Owens is executive director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, a 60-year-old Manhattan trade association she has been affiliated with for 24 years.

ASJA will sponsor its 38th annual writers' conference April 24-26 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, and in relation to the economic backdrop, the focus will be on free-lancing.

"The industry is definitely changing; some areas are losing jobs while others are gaining new opportunities," Owens said. "More magazines are closing than opening. In the past, you could buy a car from a single fee -- that's getting trickier. It's shocking how per-word rates have diminished, but freelancers are motivated and can find creative ways to sell. We're there to help it happen through our newsletter, referral service and seminars."

Conference focus: "We provide information sharing among professionals regarding data on rates, publisher contracts, editors, agents and more. This year's keynote speaker will be Molly O'Neill, New York Times food writer, who will offer a workshop geared to aspiring free-lancers," Owens said.

First chapter: Born November 1961 in Manhattan, where she grew up, Owens graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., majoring in religious studies.

Second chapter: Owens began as executive secretary at ASJA right out of college. As the association grew, she became office manager and then director. She left in 1999 due to the difficult commute to Manhattan while starting a family. In between, she consulted at ASJA and did bookkeeping for them as well as Speedwell Historic Village in Morristown.

Third chapter: Switching gears, Owens worked in the health-insurance industry and was licensed as a broker in 2007. At the end of that year, she returned to ASJA because her children were getting older and technology allowed her to work part of her week at home, and part at ASJA's Times Square office.

"This job is perfect for me because it involves multi-tasking and is never boring," she said.

Acknowledgements: Owens' grandmother and mother were both writers. Her grandmother Thelma Van Arsbel, who died in 1998 and the age of 93, wrote for the Daily Record and the Citizen. Her mother wrote for magazines in the 1950s. "I have an affinity for the written word and am an avid reader but had no ambition to write," Owens said.

Her favorite author is Larry McMurtry and his novel, "Lonesome Dove." She also is a fan of Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes.

The cast: Owens and her husband, Michael, live in a historic Boonton home with their two daughters, Gillian, 10, and Catie, 7. In her spare time, Owens is a "magazine junky and soccer mom." She also serves on the board of governors at the Lakeland Family Y in Mountain Lakes.

 

 


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