What Geoffrey Owens can teach us

At the beginning of this month, actor Geoffrey Owens made the news for being photographed working in Trader Joe’s, a US grocery chain. Monstrous purveyors of fetid journalism the Daily Mail appeared to take pleasure in this purported downfall. “From learning lines to serving the long line!” they sneered, not passing up the opportunity to remark …

Freelance writing rates

One of the most common questions I get asked about freelance writing for magazines and newspapers is, you won’t be surprised to learn, “How much do publications pay?” The answer is that it varies — hugely. Glossy big name magazines can pay £1 a word or more, especially to big-name writers. Small or local or …

Stop telling writers they have to be have-to-be writers

My response to a tweet from Northants Authors last week didn’t adequately convey my full annoyance at it. The original tweet was: ‘“You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all.” Joss Whedon’ — followed by some writerly hashtags. I don’t know who Joss Whedon is, nor whether his or her quote …

Should you ever assign copyright?

I’m often asked this question. Is it ever OK to relinquish your grip on all-important copyright in your work? The ever-brilliant writing advisor Simon Whaley recently addressed this in a post, called The 0.01% Copyright Conundrum. In summary, Simon assigned copyright to some of his early non-fiction books, deciding to do so after going through …

Flattered and deceived (Mistake #124)

I imagine few writers begin writing because the prospect of being flattered by readers and editors is attractive to them, but I don’t think I’ve ever met one who didn’t enjoy the pleasure of being told their work was read, enjoyed and appreciated. It’s only natural and there’s no shame in it. We writers are …

Forgetting your memories (Mistake #123)

I’m late to it, but this article from the Wall Street Journal is a strong and satisfying argument for writing your memoir — even if nobody ever reads it. Penning your memoir can help you make sense of your character and your life and come to terms with difficult past events, the article argues; it …

Editors are rude (Mistake #122)

Believing that editors are rude is much like believing that people are rude — most are not, but a very few are. But really this is about all sorts of editorly behaviour which is taken to be rude by writers new to the game of writing. Being ignored by editors is widely perceived to be …

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer

I’ve not seen the first two, but this, the new and third edition of Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen — editor and founder of Writing-World.com, one of the largest writers’ sites on the internet — is packed with invaluable information. We start with some plain truths about the business: that …

Stop telling writers that they should be writing

If you are in the business of telling writers that they “should be writing” then I’m afraid you are in the business of pissing me off. Swanwick Writers School are perpetual offenders of this guilt-inducing castigation. I’ve heard great things about their courses, but my experience of following their Twitter account for a year means …

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