Today I looked at my shelf of writing books and decided I had spent a lot of money on Freelance writing books that I should have saved. As with most how-to writing books, the majority of the twenty or so sitting on that shelf all repeated the same information over and over again. So, I’ve decided to pare down.
I started three piles, the definite keepers, the maybe keep, and the boring, outdated and in my mind worthless. By the time I was finished, I had three books in the keeper stack, and one in the maybe. The rest went into the sell on eBay stack.
I won’t mention the books that didn’t make the cut, but the three I am keeping are definitely worth talking about. I believe these are the only three books you will ever need to be a freelance writer in today’s marketplace.
Book 1: Writing for Magazines, A Beginner’s Guide by Cheryl Sloan Wray. This book covers the basics, everything from how to get an idea to seeing that idea in print. It is written in a very clear, down to earth, easy to understand style. Step by step, Ms. Wray leads the wannabe writer along the path to published author. Her list of Twenty Ways to NOT Get Published is not only humorous but also filled with common sense that as writers we should already know, yet sometimes forget.
The downside, if you can call it that, is this book is a bit dated. Although written in the mid-nineties, it has very little information about writing and marketing in cyberspace.
Book 2: Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer. This books picks up where book one left off. Ms. Glatzer is definitely a writer who knows and exploits using the web to market your work. As the founder of the website, Absolute Write, her forums are visited by hundreds of writers daily.
This book covers everything a freelance writer needs to know, from getting ideas, making yourself an expert, and getting deadbeat publishers to pay up. The strategies she gives for breaking into the top paying markets are tips that every freelancer should know.
While many would say this is another book for beginners, I would beg to differ. This book will help every writer, from novice to seasoned professional, catch up to what is happening in the publishing world and how to harness the World Wide Web and email to make yourself more successful.
Book Three: The Renegade Writer, A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. When I first read this book, my first thoughts were these ladies had to be crazy. They were advocating breaking every submission and editorial rule I had ever heard. Then I tried, very timidly at first, following their advice. And I found out, they were right.
The ladies take the myths of freelance writing and show you the rules that can and should be broken. From simultaneous submissions, to the SASE, Ms. Formichelli and Ms. Burrell say the rules are all hogwash.
They show a new way of doing things, the renegade way of breaking into new markets, coming up with ideas, querying editors, negotiating contracts and everything else a writer needs to know and in the process explode the myths we’ve been told were the only way of doing business.
So there you have it, the three books I’m keeping on the shelf. They are all I need, and I believe all any freelance writer needs to fully understand the business of writing and publishing, both in print and on the web.
And that lone book in the maybe stack, watch for it on eBay soon too. I really don’t need it.