Is your website struggling to rank for your main keywords and search phrases? Are you finding it difficult to attract visitors to your website? If so, then your website most likely needs SEO. [Read more…]
One of the first things you learn when you start writing is that writing isn’t easy.
Whether you’re nearing the end of a long novel or writing the first sentence in a short story, coming up with the inspiration and the verve to keep the words flowing – and having the confidence to stop yourself from throwing the pages out – is far from a simple task. [Read more…]
What’s the worst thing you can do as a freelance writer?
While each of us can think of different horror stories, we can all agree that sending content to a client with technical gaffes and sloppy writing is the best way to ensure you will not be invited back for another gig. But unless you have an editor to review everything you write – which we can’t all afford to have – how can you be sure you’re catching it all?
Here’s where editing tools can make a dramatic difference. [Read more…]
Some say that successful writers are born to write. That there’s no way you can learn to become like them. I say that anyone who wants to become a writer and be successful at it can learn, especially if he wants it badly enough.
Whether you’re starting out your quest to become a writer, or you’re already making a living off writing, you’re fortunate that these days, there are so many ways to learn and improve. You may not know anything about the technicalities of writing a novel but if you have one inside you, it will come out. You may just need a little guidance. [Read more…]
We all make mistakes and typos, but that’s what proofreading is for, right? There’s also Word – or whatever software you use to create documents – which has spell check built in. However, we know quite well how Word misses a lot of mistakes, especially when it comes to more complicated syntax. Also, Word is useless if you’re typing on your browser.
That’s why I was really interested when the guys at Grammarly got in touch to share their new web app, which does what Word does, but more effectively and more efficiently. In fact, Grammarly is supposed to find and correct up to 10 times more mistakes than the conventional word processor. Of course, I had to give the app a try! [Read more…]
Just like zombiecalypse (or apocalypse) believers have a survival pack ready and accessible for when the end of the world comes, a writer ought to have an emergency pack he can rely on when things go haywire.
We can go the simplistic route and call it writer’s block (although the block is not that simple when it comes to the point). Sometimes, though, it’s not that bad a block. Perhaps you just need a little jumpstart.
That’s where the Writer Emergency Pack can help you.
The Writer Emergency Pack started out as a Kickstarter project by John August, who is a writer himself.
John, a screenwriter, came up with the idea of creating a pack of cards that contain suggestions that gives writers a nudge when they get stuck – whether it’s on a plot point or on characters that don’t connect.
Let’s say the Writer Emergency Pack is kind of a collection of writing prompts – only made more fun.
The Kickstarter project has been funded – quite successfully, too! The original goal was $9,000, and it got more than $150,000 in backing.
Thanks to writers who found the idea brilliant, the pack will be available for purchase soon. If you’re interested in getting one for yourself, visit the official page and sign up to be notified when the Writer Emergency Pack becomes available.
Here’s a question for you: Do you have your own “emergency pack”? Why not tell us about it in the comments?
You might also want to read: When Writer’s Block Hits and Brute Force Just Doesn’t Cut It
In journalism, writers learn that all news stories should answer the 5 Ws and 1 H: who, when, where, what, why, and how. Did you know you can apply the same questions to your freelance writing pitches to identify the primary reasons why those pitches fail?
It’s true! By simply asking yourself the six primary questions every first year journalism student learns, you can fix fundamental problems in your query style and pitch success rate.
Why do your query letters fail to generate interest in your pitches? Check out the six basic reasons based on the 5 Ws and 1 H below.
1. You don’t know where you’re pitching.
Before you can develop a story idea and pitch your idea to a publication, you need to understand that publication. Read that publication and gain an understanding of the needs of that publication. The editor who reads your query letter is looking for content that will help him or her meet those needs. In other words, no matter how great your story idea is, if it doesn’t meet the needs of the publication, your query will end up in the trash.
2. You don’t know who you’re pitching.
It is absolutely essential that you understand the audience for the publication that you pitch your story idea to. If the audience won’t be interested in your story, the publication will have no interest in it either. Editors look for content that will engage their readers, encourage them to talk about that content with other people, and motivate them to come back for more. Your pitch needs to demonstrate to an editor that your story can do exactly that.
3. You don’t know when you’re pitching.
Many publications operate using an editorial calendar. If you can get a copy of the editorial calendar (either from the publication’s website or by requesting a copy from the publication), review it and try to tailor your pitches to match the overall theme of that editorial calendar. Also, use common sense when pitching a story to match your idea to holidays, seasons, and so on. Finally, remember that many publications create content weeks or months in advance of the actual publishing date, which could significantly affect when you send a pitch. In other words, it doesn’t matter how great your story about summer barbecues is if the publication is working on the Christmas issue.
4. You don’t know what you’re pitching.
Your pitch should be clear, concise and compelling. Delete all extraneous information from your query letter, and lead with the most captivating part of your story. Be relevant immediately. Editors have very little time to read a full page query letter. If your pitch doesn’t jump off the page within the first few sentences, you’ve wasted your time. Instead, be specific and get to the point quickly!
5. You don’t know why you need help.
There is a rule that writers can’t always follow, but you should stick to it when it comes to query letters and pitches. That rule is — never proofread your own work. However, when it comes to pitches, the rule extends beyond simple proofreading. It’s difficult to look at your own query letter and pitches objectively, because you know the entire story. To ensure your query letters are truly clear, concise, compelling, and specific, it helps to have an objective eye review and comment on them. If you belong to a writer’s group, ask the other members to read and critique your query letter before you send it. Their feedback could help turn a boring query letter into a successful pitch! If you don’t belong to a writer’s group or have access to other writers or editors, join an online forum like AbsoluteWrite.com where you can share your work for review and feedback.
6. You don’t know how you’re pitching.
Before you send a query letter, you need to be certain that you’re sending it to the right place, to the right person, and in the right format. Most publications have rules that you need to follow or your query letter will go straight to the trash can before anyone reads a single word of it. Check the publication’s website or contact the publication to request a copy of the current writer’s guidelines and submission guidelines, and then follow those rules to the letter. You can also get a copy of the most recent edition of Writer’s Market for quick access to various publication guidelines, but keep in mind, even the most recent edition of Writer’s Market might not be 100% current as it’s only published once per year.
If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have already seen the great list of the 100 most commonly misspelled words that I tweeted yesterday. YourDictionary.com put together the list and it’s filled with words that most people have trouble spelling.
I scrolled through the list and found several that often cause me to pause as my fingers fly across the keyboard. Accommodate and embarrass are two such words that always make me second guess myself.
The best part about the list on YourDictionary.com is that most of the words include a helpful little clue so you can remember how to spell it next time you use it in your writing. For example, remember that accommodate is big enough to accommodate two a’s and two m’s. That’s a great clue that I never heard before!
What words cause you to pause in your writing as you try to remember the correct way to spell them? Leave a comment and share those pet peeve spelling words. Maybe someone else in the Freelance Writing Jobs audience has a riddle or special way to remember the correct spelling!
There are a number of interesting and useful blogs written by literary agents that can help aspiring writers learn the process of querying agents, writing and formatting manuscripts, publishing, and more. However, there are five blogs written by agents that are absolute must-reads for any writer that has goals to publish a book through a well-known publisher one day.
A few of these blogs helped me immensely as I taught myself how to get a literary agent and publisher for my first book.
If you want to get published, start reading the following literary agent blogs today:
Nathan is a respected agent working for the well-known Curtis Brown agency in the San Fransisco office. His blog was one of my key resources as I researched how to get a literary agent. I loved how Nathan took the time to provide an incredible amount of useful information and was always available to respond to comments.
2. Miss Snark
Even though Miss Snark stopped writing her blog in 2007, it’s still an incredible resource to learn how to write query letters. Her blunt way of analyzing real query letters left no room for confusion. Miss Snark’s identity was never revealed (although there was quite a bit of speculation).
This is another blog that I read a lot as I tried to learn how to get a literary agent. Jessica Faust and Kim Lionetti are the primary agents at BookEnds today. One of the things that I liked about this blog was that the agents were very communicative through the comments published on blog posts.
4. Query Shark
Janet Reid writes her own literary agent blog as well as the Query Shark blog, which is filled with great information to help you learn how to write query letters. With a tagline like, “How To Write Query Letters…or really, how to revise query letters so they actually work,” it’s hard to resist this blog.
5. Pub Rants
Kristin Nelson writes Pub Rants, which she describes with the following tagline, “a very nice literary agent indulges in polite rants about queries, writers, and the publishing industry.” She writes about a wide variety of topics that affect aspiring writers, including submissions, query letters, advances, royalties, and much more.