Saturday, February 25, 2006

Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer

I was absolutely thrilled to be given this book as a Christmas gift this past holiday season. Although I have been a writer for a long time, there are some things that change once in a while and other things that all writers should brush up on.

The sub-title of this book is "How to Win Top Writing Assignments" and the author is Jenna Glatzer (who is the editor in chief of Absolute Write). The book has 227 pages. Most writers who poke around online at all will recognize that website and more than likely are already receiving the email newsletter that is sent out from Absolute Write.

The advice in this book is down to earth and it is written in a way that anyone reading it can understand the first time and not have to go back for a hidden meaning. It is concise and very easy to follow.

I think one reason I enjoy this book so much is because the author doesn't beat around the bush telling me what to do and what not to do. Instead she tells of what publishers and editors look for in a freelance writer. After reading the book, I was left with the feeling that if I did not make freelance writing sales with all the articles I have written and are still to be written, there was most likely a step I missed or something needed another edit. I was suddenly armed with knowing what editors look for, so there really was no reason (unless one is a lousy writer!) not to be able to sell articles.

The thing I needed most from this book was finding out what to do if a client you have written for does not follow through with the payment. That subject is not often covered in writing and journalism classes and even if it is, we often forget it when the non-payment actually happens to us.

Although I often finish books and shelve them without bothering to look at the appendix, I highly recommend checking out appendix B in this book. It is titled "Useful Jargon" and there are terms listed that all writers should know. There were a few that I had never heard before, even having been in this business for so long, so it was definitely beneficial to me.

In chapter one, Ms. Glatzer talks about getting started in the freelance writing business and how to set up your own business. Throughout the book, Internet sites are listed that are very helpful in various ways to the freelance writer and I have gotten some great leads by loading those pages and going surfing from there.

The second chapter covers how to find (and remember!) ideas to put into your articles or stories. Another great benefit of the book is that there are "assignments" sprinkled throughout the pages to help get the creative juices flowing.

Subsequent chapters cover many topics that new or seasoned writers need to remember or learn for the first time. Some of the topics include:

(1) How to find markets for selling your work, whether online or in print. This includes how to find the writer guidelines that most publications offer.

(2) Things to concentrate on when you are studying various markets. What do they want?

(3) How to pitch your writing. This is often the most important step because if you can't get an editor interested in your query, you won't be selling him or her your article because they will never see it.

(4) How to deal with rejection. Writers need to pick themselves back up when there's a rejection letter. I keep hearing that thick skin is needed but surprisingly from all the writers I know, few actually have it!

(5) How to sell your reprints. This was especially advantageous personally because I tend to sell a piece and then totally forget that I can still sell reprint rights.

(6) How to interview people for articles. Certainly not my favorite part of the writing business but Ms. Glatzer makes it sound doable and that's helpful to me.

(7) Dealing with editors and publishers. How should they be handled? Are there things you should never do or say?

(8) Making your clip file and keeping it in order.

(9) The business of money from what rates to expect to collecting when there's been a non-payment.

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