Ten Great Resources for Writers

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.

2. AbsoluteWrite.com

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.

Comments

  1. Thanks for a great top ten list # 5! Some I’ve heard and read, some I have not. I can’t wait to go and check some of your top ten out.

  2. The Renegade Writer book caught my attention. I like to read all about the “rules” of writing and freelancing. But I also have a secret desire to say, “I hate the rules” and just do everything the way I want to.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about being a renegade lately as I learn the ins and outs of commenting on other people’s blogs. I figured out how to leave signature tags and went post happy for about a week and a half.

    I wasn’t spamming. I was leaving thoughtful comments and then adding a link to my site. Then I started realizing that no one likes signature tags. I don’t want to twerk off bloggers who I respect, so I’ve calmed the heck down on my tags.

    But the “I hate the rules” part of me says, I want to put my tags everywhere. I’m definitely going to look at the Renegade book.

  3. I admire those who go first.

  4. Though I haven’t read “Renegade,” I am familiar with one of the authors, whose work I respect.

    Though AP style is preferred, the copy editors will also want the University of Chicago style guide. There are some definited differences from AP, and their are a few publications that use it rather than AP.

  5. wordwych says:

    Thank you for this list. I’m happy to say that I can check seven out of the ten as DONE! :-) I must put forth another recommendation for “The Renegade Writer.” I love that book! I’ve swapped a few emails with one of the authors and I check the blog frequently. Lots of good info to be found there. I also like CoolStuff4Writers.com is a fun site where you can purchase some of the books recommended here – and your very own Renegade Writer t-shirt. Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with coolstuff4writers.com in any way except as a satisfied customer who loves the odd looks garnered by walking around with a Renegade Writer t-shirt. :-)

  6. Candidate #5 says:

    @Jenny – Have fun checking these resources out!
    @Melody – I hear you about signature tags. I’m usually a lurker on blogs and when I do post, I normally just include a link to my site. My problem is that I need to be more of a renegade, especially when it comes to negotiating rates! Keep on with your renegade self!
    @Adam – I was hesitant to go first, but I had some extra time on my hands this morning and wanted to get this assignment out of the way so I didn’t turn in a rush job later in the week. Thanks!
    @Phil – Thanks for the heads up on the University of Chicago style guide. I haven’t had to use it yet but now I probably will. Better to be prepared. I’ll add it to my list. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a Top 20 Great Resources For Writers list!
    @Wordwych – Are we writing soulmates? I need to get one of those t-shirts!

  7. wordwych says:

    Candidate #5, get thee to the website. They’re on clearance right now for $2 and sweatshirts for $3! :-) :-)

  8. Methinks that I have some reading to do. I’ve not heard of these books before. I sort of had freelance writing fall neatly into my lap because of a college friend who started her own freelance company and needed writers. I’m still learning as I go, but I did stumble upon this website early on and I love the community. It’s been most helpful!

    Best of luck #5!

  9. Great list! As a relatively new freelance writer, this list is very helpful. I’ve heard of/use some of these resources but I will definitely be checking out the rest of the list.

    Thanks!

  10. Candidate #5, thanks for the shoutout for The Renegade Writer — and good luck! :-)

  11. I’ve been over to Paperback Swap to order some of the books you recommended. Thanks for the tips!

  12. Candidate #11 says:

    I concur with Jenna’s book and the Renegade Book. I would also highly recommend Peter Bowerman’s Well-Fed Writer book(s) – especially if you want to branch out into more than just magazine writing. Many writers I know consider it one of the best how-to books you’ll find.

  13. Nice article. I love Jenna’s books and the Renegade Writer books. Those are my two top favorites. There is also another book out there that gave me a lot of great info called ‘Writing for Quick Cash’ by Loriann Hoff Oberlin. It has good information for the new writer.

    Well done!

  14. HI Guest Writer, Thanks for the link/mention. I’ve read Deb for…well…years and always wondered if she was “just being nice” when she gushed about helping other writers. But now that I’ve been doing this for 6 months, I realize what a nice feeling it is to help people get going. I had no idea it would be so gratifying. Best of luck to all the guest writers.~Allena

  15. Shermika says:

    I recently graduated with an English degree and in addition to working a full time job, I am trying to jump into freelancing as writing has always been a passion of mine. The greeting card market stood out to me as I am a poet before a writer (if that makes sense) and I look forward to exploring all of the avenues that were mentioned. As of late, I have only been on this site looking for gigs and I haven’t found any yet, but I’m certain something will come along. Thanks for the wondrous advice!

  16. Candidate #5, nice post! I can’t wait to check out The Renegade Writer.

    I would add to your tenth tip, a public library and/or a public university library. Public university libraries have tons of snail mail magazine subscriptions as well as electronic access to many more magazines,journals, and databases, which are helpful for research.

  17. Great advice as always!

    For those of you who are looking to get into copywriting as I did, I would HIGHLY recommend “The Well Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman. Peter’s book was my inspiration to become a freelance writer and gave me many tools to get it off the ground.

    Happy writing!

  18. Candidate #5 says:

    I’m so glad everyone has enjoyed this post and learned about so many valuable resources out there for writers! Thanks to everyone who has added their own recommendations — they’re all great!

    @Kristy – It’s always great to check out new books/blogs/sites about writing because you can gain so much from them (and so some social networking at the same time). Glad you’re enjoying freelancing so far!
    @Beth – Glad you’re finding this list useful!
    @Diana Burrell – No problem! I also want to read the “Query Letters That Rock” book and I love the Renegade Writer blog too!
    @Fiona – I’m flattered you’re taking this list so seriously.
    Candidate #11 – I’ve got Bowerman’s book on my shelf but haven’t yet been able to branch out into copywriting. I need to go over it again so I can polish up some new skills!
    @Diana – I’ll be checking out “Writing For Quick Cash” too!
    @Allena T – I always love getting success story e-mails from writers I’ve given advice to. Gives me a warm fuzzy! It evens out the days with snide comments from editors like the one I’m having today.
    @Shermika – Keep looking! I firmly believe you’ll find something soon if you stay focused.
    @Morgan – It’s also great so many libraries have WiFi now too. Thanks for your amendment to the list.
    @Alik – Maybe it’s time for me to dust off “The Well-Fed Writer” when my work hours increase in a few months.

  19. Great post #5 and thanks for going first. I just started reading Writer Mama and have both of Peter Bowerman’s books that were mentioned in a previous comment. Highly recommended.

  20. Excellent list of resources #5. I think we have the same personal library and bookmarks! LOL. Sad though that it could only be 10 though, right? Can’t forget Writers Weekly, Preditors and Editors and one of my personal favorites: Bill Walsh’s “Lapsing into a Comma” for those more interested in the hard-hitting journalism.

    Great post! And kudos for breaking the ice and going first!

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