Industry Profile: Freelance Writer Brooke Geery
09 Sep, 2008
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Brooke: I am about to tell you a lot of stuff about myself, so I will keep this short. My name is Brooke. I do “extreme” stuff and then write it off my taxes.
Shay: What is your job title?
Brooke: I have self-bestowed the title of Extreme Journalist upon myself, but I guess yo could call me an editor and freelance writer.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Brooke: I think the only time my dad was concerned was when he got an angry phone call from someone I’d written about who didn’t like what I had to say. But no, considering I was in high school and getting paid to go to events and write stories I think they were pretty stoked. Plus no one in my family has a real job. It’s just not the Geery thing to do.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Brooke: My first day snowboarding was on the Burton Ouji board. Yeah it was a 158. But that was just a loaner. My parents bought me a Funky off one of my dad’s friends whose daughter had gotten knocked up so she wouldn’t really be using it. My first real board (no offense Funky) was a Burton Air 5.1 with Custom bindings.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Brooke: Supposedly Andrew Mutty is sending me a new Flow Myriad for the season, but currently I have a two-year-old Myriad with Burton Stiletto bindings set up if the need to snowboard was to arise, or a Ride Verona with Ride bindings in case I need to go ride powder. I think I am going to stick with the 32 focus boas for this season. Being lazy, I am a big fan of boas.
Shay: What was your first job?
Brooke: I worked at Kmart as part of the team that turned regular Kmarts into “Super” Kmarts. It was a big responsibility really, but I take no responsibility for Kmart going bankrupt a few years later.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Brooke: I like to get up when I feel like getting up, not have to drive very far and then ride untouched powder in the sun until I am tired, no hiking required. When I get home, there should be a hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps waiting. No but seriously, I am stoked if I get to go ride, maybe make a couple powder turns, don’t get hurt and have a hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps when I get home.
Brooke: Ben Franklin and Andrew Jackson.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Brooke: Oh man, no I am going to feel old. Something like 15 years.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Brooke: Depends on the season. I am stoked if I make it to the mountain once a week and go on one bitchin’ trip.
Shay: What magazines have you been published in?
Brooke: National Geographic, the New Yorker…JUST KIDDING! Pretty much all the major snow mags– Transworld SNOWboarding, Snowboarder, Future Snowboarding, SG (and once when it was Surfing Girl), The Journal, Alliance Wakeboard, Transworld Business, a couple Euro mags and a ton of random industry mags and zines.
Shay: What is your best article you’ve written to date?
Brooke: I really think that would depend on whom you ask. Personally I have a few pieces I’m really proud of, most of them the ones that required the most effort. I did a big profile on Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins for SG right before they went under that I’m proud of. Oh and the “Ultimate Snowboarding Atlas” that was basically a story about every state’s contribution to snowboarding in Future Snowboarding. http://brookegeery.com/?page_id=51
Shay: What is your favorite magazine to write for and why?
Brooke: Not gonna lie, who ever is paying.
Shay: As a freelance writer, do you pitch ideas to magazines or do they come to you to write an article?
Brooke: It depends. At this point I am established enough that I know the major mag editors and a lot of times if they need something written that I would be appropriate for, they will just come to me. But every once in a while I come up with an idea that I know someone will bite on, and then it’s up to me to sell it. I HATE doing pitches though. Loathe it.
Shay: Is it important to edit your own writing?
Brooke: YES! This is my number one piece of advice and I’ve gotten in trouble over the years for not doing it. When you are writing for someone else, it’s easy to assume that they will catch any mistakes you make, but usually this is not the case. Chances are they’ll change the one sentence you liked the most, and leave the blatant factual error, so I always try to send stuff in ready to be published. Then hopefully the editors will only improve it.
Shay: Is freelance writing your full time job or do you have another job that pays the bills?
Brooke: Do I work a “day job?” No. Of course, good luck making ends meet off writing about snowboarding. I actually edit a website about wakeskating that is pretty much my full time gig. Go ahead hardcore snowboarders, mock me. But when I am cruising around on a boat in some fabulous lake in a warm and wonderful locale with a beer in one hand and a camera in the other, and my tan looks fantastic, well, I can think of worse ways to earn a living. Oh yeah, and wakeskating is really fun.
Shay: Yobeat.com is your brainchild, is it easier to create articles for Yobeat versus a magazine?
Brooke: Yes and no. I mean, if I say something is good enough for YoBeat, it’s good enough for YoBeat, so I never have to worry about having to do rewrites. But it’s a lot easier to motivate to write something when there’s a paycheck on the other end (sorry if people think it’s all about the love.) But when I get inspired to write something, it’s easy for me to just write it, no matter where it’s going. I think that’s the number one reason I am good at what I do…I am fast!
Shay: Who works with you at Yobeat?
Brooke: People seem to think YoBeat is this massive staff, but not so. Nick Lipton, who interned for me all summer, (and got said internship by asking me for it when I met him at the mountain) is doing a lot of the grunt work. Jared Souney, BMX photographer and awesome dude extraordinaire did the design. Rachel Cotton, who I originally started the site with, still helps out when we have technical difficulties and keeps claiming she is going to start writing again. And we have a few people who write and submit photos, but you’ll have to talk to Nick the managing editor for the full list of those!
Shay: Does snowboarding need more honesty and brutal truth?
Brooke: I never really set out to be brutally honest, but I think snowboarding, and everything in life, are much better with a sense of humor. It just happens the funniest things are usually those that are true. I think with YoBeat the goal is to say what everyone is thinking, but is afraid to say, because, why not? Everyone’s a blogger now, and no one wants to read another industry blowjob. At the same time, I try not to be overly negative, which is why we try to focus on riders, videos, and riding we are psyched on whenever possible.
Shay: How is working as a freelance writer (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Shay: What experience did you have or attributes before to become a freelance writer?
Brooke: This is a hard one for me, since I’ve been a freelance writer since I was 15. Collin Whyte (former editor of Future) said I “out Almost Famous-ed him.” And honestly, when I started, I was pretty damn bad at writing; it was just a right place, right time, meeting the right people sort of thing. I like to think I’ve gotten better. Well, I hope anyway.
Shay: What’s the best park you’ve gotten from your job?
Brooke: Going to Japan. Of course the people who were paying for my trip basically went out of business days after buying my ticket, so other than airfare I had to pay for everything myself. But I had a great trip and was able to make enough money writing to pay at least for my expenses.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Brooke: As I said, never knowing when the money is coming or where it’s coming from.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Brooke: Since I do summer stuff with the wakeskate site, snowboard stuff, and I work predominantly online, I am pretty much always equally busy.
Brooke: Experience hands down. I went to college and I definitely learned some important stuff there, and it made me a technically better writer, but have I gotten any work because I have a degree? Not a chance.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a freelance writer?
Brooke: Just do it. Seriously, you’ll never get a job if you don’t try, so just start writing, pitching, etc. Oh and make sure you have a trust fund, a sugar daddy, or a real job, too.