The Blogger Abides: A Practical Guide to Writing Well and Not Starving is Chris Higgins’ new book on freelancing. (Disclosure: Chris is one of my favorite things about Mental Floss and he sent me an advance copy of the book because he thinks I require freelancing help, er, I mean, for reviewing purposes.)
The book is made up of shortish chapters that read like longish blog posts. This makes it easy to find topics of interest, and it’s a readable, engaging style. The whole thing was sort of ideal for me, because it hits a middle experience level, assuming readers aren’t exactly negotiating a larger advance on their next book, but they have some clips and a couple outlets, and would like to take freelance writing from a hobby that pays for coffee and magazines into a full career. Or at least the expensive coffee. It’s not always easy to find a guide that hits that middle area, on turning an art into a business. He also assumes that readers are already selling essays and articles to magazines and blogs, and are reading with the goal of selling more pieces, at higher rates, to outlets with larger circulations, and moving from the awful topics that new contributers end up covering to the plum assignments.
Chris has a wonderful section on publicists, which is not so much how to connect with publicists but how to interface with publicists and your readers ethically. I wrote pretty extensively and excitedly about getting my first review copies of games. But once you are a Legitimate Reviewer, unsolicited review copies start to turn up. Sometimes the PR person who helped me get a review copy and press kit for a previous, awesome game is now trying really hard to get some coverage for an unrelated lame game. Sometimes a really nice person will rep a really awful product. There’s good advice, and it’s quite reassuring to know that this happens to other people. Although Chris is talking about reviewing documentaries and TV, his points on review access, disclosures, and ethics are great for any field.
There’s a nice part on freelance scheduling, too. Personally, when I’m writing fulltime (instead of taking an assignment or two while I’m working a regular job), I’m always on a rollarcoaster. Either I don’t have any work that day and I am convinced I will never ever have a job again (see previous re: not starving). or I am trying to WRITE ALL THE THINGS.
The The Blogger Abides: A Practical Guide to Writing Well and Not Starving is available for $3.99 on Amazon here, and you can also use your Prime membership to borrow it free.