Monthly Archives: January 2011

Secrets to Success as a Writer from Mediabistro Grad Rose Fox

Rose Fox has written a rundown of what she considers the secrets to success as a freelance writer. The article, which is part of Mediabistro’s series of pieces by graduates of their workshop, is a fantastic compilation of succinct, no-nonsense tips of how to make it as a freelancer. No words are wasted, but everything is worth paying attention to. For example, the article starts:

Read widely. Write endlessly. Do your research. Proofread twice. Make your deadlines.

It’s worth it to take ten minutes out of your day to read this. Or maybe print it out and pin it to your bulletin board.

Secrets to Success as a Writer from Mediabistro Grad Rose Fox – MBToolBox

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Claire Novak: Love of the game – ESPN

At first, I was ready to dismiss this column as simply another of the many “how I became a freelance writer” screeds that litter the Web (when you have nothing else to write, autobiography is always quick and easy). But Claire Novak, who writes about horse racing, has a point to make: That one doesn’t need to gamble on a sport — even horse racing — in order to understand it.

In third person (a style that irritates me, but never mind), Claire says of herself:

She would never tell a bettor, in spite of his knowledge of how to construct a Pick 3 or a winning Superfecta, to keep racing alive by hopping aboard Uncle Mo and taking him out for a morning spin. She wouldn’t ask a hot walker who didn’t speak English to “do his part” by hosting the New York Racing Association’s televised handicapping show. She wouldn’t tell a track manager that he should go out and put new shoes on a racehorse’s hooves. And she certainly wouldn’t tell a turf writer whose job description did not include handicapping that he or she should start pushing money through the windows in order to fulfill some imaginary, non-existent obligation.

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2011 Minnesota Magazine Mingle | Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association

A networking opportunity for Minneapolis freelancers: The Minnesota Magazine Mingle

Hosted by the Loft Literary Center and the Minnesota Magazine and Publishing Association, the event will take place on January 27, 2011 at Open Book in Minneapolis, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

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Face-to-face: Attending trade shows and conferences

First, my apologies for not writing here for a while. I'll give the excuse I've been giving everyone: What with the holidays, and then going to CES (the Consumer Electronics Show), I'm just beginning to get my breath, look around, and take in all the day-to-day tasks that I've neglected.

Speaking of CES, there's something that an employed person could take for granted, but a freelancer needs to consider: Whether to travel to a trade show, conference, or other venue in which you ca'n meet possible editors, clients, or suss out a story that you can sell.??

Face-to-face meetings may seem less important these days, when almost all business can be conducted via phone, email, Facebook or Twitter, but actually sitting down and talking to somebody can still be important. People remember you better if they've actually met you; you can make more of an impression and have a more interesting and responsive conversation. As an editor, I am more likely to give an immediate assignment — or, at least, consider a possible assignment — when I've actually met the writer (although that's by no means an absolute; I've employed many writers who I've never met face-to-face because they are simply good at what they do).

The trouble is, of course, you have to be able to afford the travel costs — the hotel, the plane (if you have to fly), etc. Many writers I know who are already established do the rounds a month or so before a conference they want to attend to see if they can get enough assignments based on the conference to pay their way; anything else they pick up along the way is then gravy. (The days when a magazine would fund a writer to a conference or trade show are largely, unfortunately, over.)

One word of caution: There are conferences sponsored by vendors and organizations where the sponsor will offer to pay your way. If you plan to sell a story based on that conference, check with your editor before you accept. I know an editor who recently had to turn down a proposed article that she wanted to buy because the vendor had paid the writer's way, and that went against the ethics guidelines of the magazine.

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