It’s not often that you turn the page of a book to be met with a friendly picture of a good mate – but that’s exactly what happened to me reading Susie Kearley’s The Little Book of Freelance Writing …
Ruth Holroyd is the friend. We are both allergy bloggers – she at What Allergy, I at Allergy Insight – and we work together occasionally on Awards in the ‘free from’ and allergy sector, including the FreeFrom Skincare Awards, which I conceived and co-founded, and for which Ruth is a regular judge. It was a pleasure to read an extended interview with Ruth about how she makes a living from her blog, and also tackles the trickier aspects – such as where to draw the line on the issue of product reviews or advertising, and dealing with spam and malicious web attacks.
In fact, the interviews with a variety of writers in Susie’s book are all very much worth a look. They give you a true feel for the sheer variety of what a career in writing can involve, and also the diversity of opportunities that potentially lie ahead for the writer just starting out on the often crazy journey that is working with words. You don’t know where you may be going, but there are lots of directions open to you, and many of them are worth pursuing.
I’m an established writer who gives writing advice, and so you might imagine reading a book by another established writer who gives writing advice may be a wasted exercise, simply because I’m not the target reader. I’ve never found this to be the case, and it isn’t the case here. Obviously I knew a lot of the sound advice Susie dispenses, but I still picked up some good tips – such as asking yourself why an editor should really care about your pitch – and other suggestions gave me more to think about. A book blog tour? Never considered that before!
Reading writing books is advice given early on – and I would agree with it. I do think it’s possible to read too many, but you should read a fair few. I still have some I first bought twenty years ago. Both new and old books are worth rooting out: the advice being given today is obviously topical and up-to-date, but the classic book advisors also give universal tips that do not go out of fashion. Besides, different writers have different experiences. It’s not about sticking to every word they suggest to the letter, but about getting ideas, applying some that you like the sound of, experimenting and being motivated by the positivity which successful writers impart.
Finding a good writing group, getting inspiration from the classics (a great tip), looking into social community journalism … there are lots of ideas here. Earlier I used the word ‘feel’ and it applies again to this handy little guide – The Little Book of Freelance Writing really gives the beginner or aspiring writer a real feel for what the job involves, and if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s the ideal book for you.