Ten Great Resources for Writers
by Renee Roberson
Occasionally I get e-mails from other writers seeking advice on the best way to start freelance writing. I think sometimes people think they can just jump into it and start making a decent living. As with most things in life, that is the case sometimes, but 99 percent of the time, it is not. Before I really started expecting to make any money writing, I focused on doing my homework. I looked for the best online forums, books, and other writer Web sites and blogs to help me navigate my way through this sometimes crazy world of freelance writing. Here are the top 10 tools I recommend to any writer starting out:
1. How To Make A Real Living As A Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer
I loved this book because it covered a variety of pertinent topics, such as the analysis of a magazine, how to generate ideas, a study on query letters, a discussion on rights, etc. Her writing style is easy to read and often humorous, and it helped me realize I could indeed reach my goals with a little hard work and dedication.
Whether you are a newbie freelancer or a public relations executive looking to make the jump to full-time writing, you’re sure to find a forum suited to your needs at this popular writer’s site, which, by the way, was originally created by the above mentioned Jenna Glatzer before she sold it to focus on spending more time with her newborn. If you have a question about writing, or need to find potential sources for articles, this is the place for you.
3. About.com Guide to Freelance Writing – Allena Tapia
Allena can help you get started in your freelance writing endeavors, gives insight on what editors are really looking for, advises on how to pitch your latest and greatest big idea, and also offers several lists of her favorite places to look for new gigs. She clearly loves her job as an About guide, and this shines through in her site and blog.
4. The Associated Press Stylebook
It’s a good idea to pick up the latest copy of this book for your reference shelf. While many people think newspaper reporters and editors use it the most, more and more publications and Web sites go back to this as the style standard for articles. I work with several clients who ask that each writer follow the guidelines found in this book. The latest edition also contains an interesting section on “Media Law” that each of us should be familiar with.
5. Current Edition of Writer’s Market
While most of us have lofty ambitions to break into the national magazine market, this hefty publication, published yearly, also contains writer’s guidelines and contact information for trade journals and newspapers, screenwriting, playwriting and greeting card markets, as well as contests and awards. I enjoy the articles on topics such as query writing clinics and how to break into syndication. You can also purchase a subscription to the online version, which has markets updated daily.
6. Freelance Writing Jobs
If you’re reading this list, you’ve probably already been bitten by the Freelance Writing Jobs bug. But I always recommend it to new writers. There are always a variety of jobs posted whether you’re a technical writer, copywriter, journalist, proofreader, etc. You can also pick up good writing tips and ask a writing-related question you need answered in the comments section. I’ve also discovered cool new blogs I like to visit often by checking out who the other visitors are.
7. The Renegade Writer – A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell.
This book cheers on the renegade writer in us all, and encourages you not to be afraid to break any rules when it comes to your writing career. I enjoyed reading the individual profiles of writers who broke into their desired markets with just a little extra courage, or in some cases, the “ignorance is bliss” factor. Very inspiring.
8. Ready, Aim Specialize – Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money by Kelly James-Enger
This informative book features in-depth chapters on how to break in the top ten writer’s markets, such as health, parenting, travel and fitness and sports. Kelly includes case studies on queries and tips from writers who have established specialties in each market.
9. Writer Mama – How To Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz
Even if you’re not a mama, this book is a valuable resource for writers. She provides an in-depth look on how to study the feature well of a magazine, as well as exercises for developing ideas and tips for pre-writing your feature. I also enjoyed the sections on developing multiple income streams and pitching a non-fiction book proposal.
10. The Nearest Public Library
I’m guilty of purchasing all kinds of magazines with the intent of “studying” them for prospective queries. But if you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on new magazines for this purpose, head to your nearest library. Select a few back issues of a magazine and study each section to determine where freelancers are used, and which are written mostly by editors. Carve out a block of two hours or so and take your laptop or a notebook with you to take notes. You can often find back issues for sale at 50 cents a pop and you can take a stack home to study later. You can also photocopy specific sections in magazines to study later.