Here’s a freelance tip: write a self-help book

The Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in The World? Or just statements of the bleeding obvious? SJA member CAROLE ANNE BENTON reviews the latest self-help book aimed at journalists

This little book is going to make people talk. In some ways it follows the SBO philosophy – “state the bleeding obvious” – but in others it is a very comprehensive overview for the emerging generation of students who take Media Studies as a qualification and wonder how to use what they have learned.

Author Linda Jones has broken down the sections to cover book publishing, public relations and website content, but the majority of the book focuses on writing for print – newspapers and magazines.

Jones is realistic about the problems which a lack of experience creates. Several times she makes the point that editors regard most freelancers as “cold callers” and that polite persistence is the only way to build a good reputation as the salesperson that can deliver the right product at the right price.

She also tries to separate the romantic notion of writing the “definitive” article from the business of selling a certain number of words to occupy a column hidden away on an inside page.

Regulations change very quickly, and so the chapter detailing how to set up as self-employed and to maintain records is a little light – but she does try to stress that the only way to pay the household expenses every month is to offer a consistently high-quality, professional service.

The old chestnut of dealing with accounts departments is covered, as is the need for a written contract before slaving to meet a deadline and incurring expenses.

This is a very friendly book. The information is presented with summary pages and snippets of writing facts. It is laid out as a revision guide, and I can imagine that it will be bought by libraries and careers departments, to sit alongside the grammar guides and autobiographies of successful journalists.

Linda Jones has been a journalist for 20 years. She runs a successful company entitled Passionate Media. She also writes several moneymaking blogs.

The Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World, by Linda Jones (The Greatest in the World Limited), £6.99

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