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Writing for a Living?

On an information superhighway, a professional writer can be the king of the road. Websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines, and email newsletters all need content. If you have the skills and the contacts, you can earn a very good living, and often with the benefit of keeping your own hours.
The biggest challenge, however, is getting the assignments and actually getting published. Start by building a portfolio. This shows samples of your work, and should be able to display the variety of styles. Include a short how-to (which reflects that you can organize information in a way that’s useful to the reader), a narrative or a personality feature (which indicates your skill at story development), and an investigative article (which proves that you can research).
Most companies will still prefer a writer with actual experience, so if you don’t have any, create opportunities. Volunteer for a community newsletter or put up your own website. Writing classes and writing groups also look good on a resume. You can also try joining amateur writing contests—the prize may be minimal, but it instantly opens a network.
You can also field story proposals, called a prospectus, to any of the thousands of niche magazines and newsletters and their web counterparts. Unlike newspapers (which usually maintain a regular staff), they are always eager to build their pool of freelance writers, since it allows them to field out stories simultaneously. You can also earn more by contributing to several magazine titles, as long as they’re not direct competitors (newspapers are stricter about allowing their staff to moonlight).
Your story proposal should contain a brief summary of a topic, the way you plan to tackle it (called copy points), the resources you plan to tap, and the reason why you feel this article is a good fit for their publication. It is very important that you know the publication well; one of the best ways to make sure you never get a writing assignment is to irritate the editors by sending them something that has nothing to do with them. Review their back issues to find out their typical lineup of articles and the tone and style they typically use, and identify topics that you feel would interest their reader.
Getting a book published is more difficult for a “raw” writer with no experience. While publishing houses do accept manuscripts, they receive thousands a day. It is better to course this through an agent, who can help you identify publishing houses that “specialize” in the topic you are pushing. Another track is to join contests where the prize includes a meeting with a publisher, or even contests given by the publishing company itself.
However, all these efforts will fall flat if your writing skills aren’t competitive. Aside from formal training like workshops, develop the habit of active reading. Active reading means that you are dissecting the way the author slants and develops his work. Analyze his technique, and determine (as a reader) whether or not it works. Keep a file of both the very, very good and the very, very bad articles as reference when you are working on your own skills. And remember—writing is a verb. To be a writer, you must write. Practice everyday, even when you don’t technically “have a job”. At least, when you do get that big break, you have the skills to really give them your best possible work.

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Source: High Quality Article Database –

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This entry was posted to Pro Blog Tips on Wednesday, January 4th, 2006 at 11:00 am and is filed under... General Interest. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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