Archive for the ‘Writing Tips’ Category


What is Freelance Journalism?

September 22, 2010

by Brian Konradt

Freelance journalism is one of the more hectic forms of freelance writing. If you want to become a successful freelance journalist, you’ll need to be comfortable with spending much time hunting down stories, traveling from place to place, and writing under short deadlines. If you enjoy all of that, and if you’re interested in some of the best opportunities for personal creativity, then freelance journalism may be for you.

When we talk about freelance journalism, we need to distinguish between two types: newspaper journalism and  magazine journalism. As a rule, newspaper journalism involves a much narrower range of subject matter than  magazine journalism, significantly shorter articles, and a greater focus on form. Typical newspaper articles follow a  hierarchical format: the most pertinent information first, the least pertinent last. For example, an article about a local parade would start with “The X Parade will travel down Main Street at 10:00 Saturday in support of Y,” while it might  end with “Onlookers are advised to bring umbrellas.”

Additionally, writing as a newspaper journalist means that you need the ability to find out about the news. Often, a journalist’s day looks like this: the editor assigns the journalist an article topic at 6 AM. By 8 AM, the journalist is  making phone calls to various parties related to the topic. For a story on rising gas prices, this may include CEOs of oil companies, local gas station owners, car owners (interviewed on the street or at gas stations), car manufacturers, and local policymakers. Journalists usually interview anyone with a meaningful connection to the topic, and who can provide some good, succinct quotes and information.

Information-gathering goes on for most of the day, usually ending around evening. The journalist then works on the  article, fact-checking where appropriate, before submitting it for publication sometime that night, with the deadline  depending on the individual paper. Then the journalist is able to go to sleep–until 6 AM rolls around again, and the next article topic comes in.

More leeway is available with the larger “feature” articles. These appear in film sections, lifestyle sections, health  sections or other less breaking-news-focused parts of the daily paper. Often newspapers publish these sections  weekly, rather than daily, to save on printing costs.

For example, the film section may only appear on Fridays, the food section on Tuesdays, etc. The upshot of this is the  freelance journalist has more time to research and to work on an excellent, well-rounded article. Using the same  research methods (calling everyone connected to the topic, scheduling interviews, synthesizing succinct points from a large information pool), a feature writer constructs a more in-depth look at a given topic than a news writer can  achieve in a short column of text.

Additionally, there’s occasionally more freedom in the choice of subject matter. Perhaps you know about an excellent local band in need of a profile? Maybe you volunteer in a community organization that does interesting work and  deserves a write-up? How about writing an article on the health benefits of soybeans? A newspaper’s “features” section can be an excellent venue and a personal one, which can be rare in freelance writing. Additionally, feature articles  don’t depend heavily on the hierarchical “news” format, making your job much easier (or harder, if you find it difficult  to structure an article without set guidelines.)

Magazine journalism is similar to the “feature” style of newspaper journalism, albeit with much more generous word  limits (and often more generous pay rates.) The downside is that a magazine may not have as many opportunities for publishing your work. The broader subject matter of a magazine may also result in topics that require more legwork  and potential travel expenses (hopefully paid for by the magazine) than just a profile of a local policymaker. To be an effective magazine writer, you’ll need to look much harder for article ideas, but the payoff can be well worth it.

How do you scout out freelance journalism jobs? For newspapers, have some sample articles written, a good working  knowledge of style guides (especially Associated Press style), and a willingness to work on whatever is available until  the editor or publisher promotes you to working on more enjoyable assignments. For magazines, it’s best to research your articles and write them in advance; afterwards you can send query letters to the appropriate editors in hopes of  becoming published. In either case, submission information is printed on the staff page of magazines and newspapers. You can also find submission information online at the publications’ web sites.

The career of a journalist isn’t for everyone. Whereas many freelance writing projects are about a predictable routine of research and writing, the variety and novelty of writing news and feature articles eschews all routine in favor of a  constant flurry of ad hoc interviews, phone calls and general information-gathering. But to some people, this is far  from a drawback. If you’re one of those people, start developing your portfolio now, get in touch with some editors  (either by appointment or by query), and prepare yourself for a successful career in freelance journalism.


Brian Konradt is the author of the book, “Freelance Poker Writing: How to Make Money Writing for the Gaming Industry,” available at Learn more about different writing careers at



The Naked Truth about Book Publishing

April 27, 2010

Just read a VERY interesting eBook, titled, “The Naked Truth about Book Publishing” by Linda Houle.

A quick read about how a book goes from manuscript to print and ebook form in the changing publishing world. You probably already know most of this information, but a lot of new authors are unaware of how tough it is to get a traditional book contract, or the latest options for self publishing.

From the author’s website:

Like the legendary Phoenix—with a cycle of death in flames, then rebirth—books, and publishing, are undergoing a major metamorphosis.

The Naked Truth about Book Publishing takes a quick and dirty peek at the realities of publishing. Whether you are an author, independent publisher, or just an avid reader, it’s critical to know what’s happening and how current changes affect you!

Ebooks are now widely accepted, displacing print book sales and transforming a multi-billion dollar industry.

Bookstores are fighting for survival. They’re either struggling to adapt, or going out of business. Publishing giants are developing new business models to stay afloat. For decades they’ve counted on a few top name authors’ best-selling hardcover titles to support the rest of their books.

Old wasteful printing methods are fading away, and nearly all paper books of the future will be made to order. Stores that still carry books will only stock the best-selling titles—the sales publishers still count on. Want to browse a bookstore and discover something new to read? In the future you’ll use an electronic catalog at a store kiosk—or search for interesting titles on-line.

If you’re a writer you must pay attention to what’s happening in the world of book publishing. The classic, though challenging method of finding an agent to shop a book to a top publisher is no longer the best choice for many authors. In a shrinking market, many agents are already looking for other jobs.

Small, independent presses are growing in popularity. Many use a traditional business model, then work hand in hand with authors to develop and promote their books. Other choices include DIY companies—to get a book into print for a fee. And a growing number of people do everything themselves. Setting up their own businesses and self-publishing their manuscripts. Some by-pass print altogether. Ebook publishing is fast and easy and now open to everyone! A few top-name authors are leaving their big publishers and bringing their ebooks directly to readers.

Read the Naked Truth about Book Publishing to help set goals and make the best choice for your manuscript. The resources and links provide nearly everything you’ll need to get your book into print or epublished, and into readers’ hands!

Chapters include:

Types of Publishing
Goals and Promotion
Avoiding Scams and Bad Deals
Author Publishing
Ebook Publishing

The eBook “The Naked Truth about Book Publishing” is available on many sites including Fictionwise, and as a print book on


Novelist, blogger, and award winning travel writer, Perry P. Perkins is a stay-at-home dad who lives with his wife Victoria and their two-year-old daughter Grace, in the Pacific Northwest. Perry has written for hundreds of magazines including Writer’s Digest and Guideposts.  His inspirational stories have been included in twelve Chicken Soup anthologies, as well.

His books include the novels Just Past Oysterville, and Shoalwater Voices, and his new humor collection, Elk Hunters Don’t Cry. Perry is the Portland Writing Examiner, and you can read more of his work at ElkMountainBook, and on twitter at:

He also write’s as the Portland Fatherhood Examiner at:

Perry’s books are available at


Creating a marketing budget

December 16, 2009

Hey all,

As many of you know, I self-publish some of my work through’s CreateSpace venue, and I’ve noticed a lot of discussion lately from folks concerned about  the up-front costs of publishing and marketing their books here on CS.

While I believe that we’d be hard pressed to find a better deal than CS (CreateSpace) offers, in these economic times it’s certainly understandable (believe me) that even the minimal cost of the pro-plan ($40), some business cards, bookmarks, a few review copies, etc, etc…can quickly outgrow a self-publisher’s budget.

Especially if, like me, you don’t have any budget to start out with, lol.

Read the rest of this entry ?


The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit!

December 14, 2009

Hey all,

I just finished reading “The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit!” by Createspace authors C. Pinheiro and Nick Russell. I’ve been writing for over two decades and, like many of you I’m sure, I have quite a collection of “how to” books on the shelf above my desk. This book, without question, is the most valuable book I’ve ever read on the subject of self-publishing, and actually making money at it.

The author’s writing style is engaging and easy-to-read, the step-by-step approach is easy to understand and clearly doable for just about any author of non-fiction. Like I mentioned, I’ve been doing this awhile and, being something of a research-junkie, I’ve read whole rainforests of material on the subjects of writing, publishing, and marketing.

I just wish I’d had this book ten years ago!

The authors captured me, heart and soul, on page three:

“You are smart, talented, and you WILL succeed. You can mke money doing what you love. Just keep reading.”

How can you not be inspired by that, lol?

If you’re new to self-publishing and feel a little lost, or if you’re an old hand who’s open to getting some great advice on growing your business, do yourself a favor…buy this book!

– Perry




GoNOMAD, a resource for travel writers.

May 15, 2009

From the GoNOMAD website:

GoNOMAD is always looking for talented, dedicated travel writers, photographers and researchers to join our team.

We welcome queries and articles from professional travel writers and travelers with a strong writing style and something unique to share with our audience. We pay for articles that are high quality, informative and provide useful guidance for a future traveler. 

Stories should be anywhere from 800 to 2,000 words long. but most of the stories we use are best at about 1400 words.

GoNOMAD pays $25 for features that are sent to us with good photos, captions and the word file.

GoNOMAD also offers some travel writing tips as well as specific department needs, guidelines for queries, submissions, and photography. They suggest that you sign up for their free newsletter.


New Favorite Quote

May 13, 2009

“The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”

~ Robert Benchley

And all the writer’s said….”Amen!”


YOUR OUTLOOK by C. Hope Clark

May 12, 2009


Misery seems to love company. I’ve received so many emails from readers who have been taken advantage of by magazines and publishers in recent months. They seem to be multiplying.

Especially in these weird economic times, we feel the need to complain. After all, who has anything to cheer about? If we walked into the office, a classroom or the local bar and said it’s a great day, someone would throw something at us.

Much of the reason we become freelance writers evolves around taking control of our lives. Many employees, working for a boss, feel as though they’re living a life scripted or prescribed by others. We dream of taking the leap, so we run the show.

So why aren’t we?

We choreograph our own dance. What’s to stop you from saying you won’t take the negative anymore? Here are my suggestions:

1. Turn off the news. Reporters become almost orgasmic over the dropping Dow, a crooked CEO or a misspoken politician. As the pundits yell and announce late-breaking financial disasters, our blood pressures spike. Mute them out of your day.

2. Get away. I know you can’t afford a vacation. Go to the bookstore or the library. I go outside. Change your environment to brainstorm about what you can do differently with your writing career. Come home and note dates, deadlines and measurable benchmarks to determine your success.

3. Let it pass. If an editor hasn’t paid you, and the cost of pursuing the publication outweighs the payment owed you, let it go. Write it off your taxes. Don’t rant for days on every blog you subscribe to. It won’t make you feel better.

4. Quit complaining. When we dwell on the bad, the mindset hangs like a low, gray winter cloud over our heads. Stop every negative comment. For some weird reason, we love gathering with like souls to rant about what’s wrong in our lives. We love to talk about everything screwed up or malfunctioning from the weather to prices, from politics to religion, from the neighbors to our coworkers, from our

friends and relatives to people we don’t even know. Remember curse jars? Set up a jar and put a nickel in it each time you put down anything or anyone.

For some reason, we want to prove to people we’re having a tough time. What’s wrong with showing people we’re actually okay? How about content? It’s not trendy to be happy, and that’s sad.

Start conversations with good ideas, notions of success or comments of something pleasant. The positive will instill confidence in you, in others, and empower you to make the best of 2009. You might find this year is when you recreated yourself into something better.

 – Hope

 C. Hope Clark

FundsforWriters is an online resource for writers. You can be a thirty-year veteran or a part-time wannabe, but here at FundsforWriters (FFW), we consider you a writer none-the-less.

We attempt high quality and we remain true to our original intent – provide PAYING markets for writers. Our ads must touch upon a writer’s world, and we shy away from generic and get-rich-quick affiliates.

And when we endorse a product or a book, we believe in it.