A review of Jenna Glatzer’s More Than Any Human Being Needs to Know About Freelance Writing Workbook

As Editor in Chief of Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com), and the published author of hundreds of articles, columns, reviews, features, profiles, interviews, brochures, and books on a wide range of topics, Glatzer knows her business. More Than Any Human Being Needs to Know About Freelance Writing Workbook is a broad guide to the ups and downs of Freelancing; particularly online and print magazine writing. It is easy to read, casual and chatty in its tone, and contains a number of workshop styled exercises, to help you come up with your own ideas and markets, along with practical examples, templates, and anecdotes, many from Glatzer’s own experiences.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

According to the National Writer’s Union, American full time freelance writers are earning on average 30% less than other equivalently educated workers. Freelance rates have declined by more than 50 percent since the 1960s, and while rates have gone down, publishers are getting more publication rights, and longer pieces for their money. In addition, according to Jenna Glatzer, a writer’s life can be lonely, constant work, involve tough deadlines, writer’s block, and very slow payments. Despite that, the number of people trying to break into freelance writing is growing, along with the numbers of books offering to help would be freelancers break into the market. Jenna Glatzer’s More Than Any Human Being Needs to Know About Freelance Writing Workbookdoesn’t hide the downsides of freelancing, although it does also cite some hefty benefits like freedom, creative fulfilment, immortality, power, and impacting positively on the lives of strangers. Glatzer rightly states that if you are meant to be a writer, you probably won’t be able to stop yourself, despite the practical considerations.

As Editor in Chief of Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com), and the published author of hundreds of articles, columns, reviews, features, profiles, interviews, brochures, and books on a wide range of topics, Glatzer knows her business. More Than Any Human Being Needs to Know About Freelance Writing Workbook is a broad guide to the ups and downs of Freelancing; particularly online and print magazine writing. It is easy to read, casual and chatty in its tone, and contains a number of workshop styled exercises, to help you come up with your own ideas and markets, along with practical examples, templates, and anecdotes, many from Glatzer’s own experiences.

Glatzer includes chapters on assessing whether you were cut out to be a freelancer, finding markets, successful querying, keeping track of submissions, dealing with rejection, negotiating contracts, ghostwriting, a brief grammar section, how to maximise your chances of continued work, schmoozing (networking), copyright basics, recycling your ideas, invoicing, managing slow payers, tax information, syndicating, and extending your working market. Throughout the text there are pithy quotes from well known writers like James Michener, Dennis Potter, Mark Twain, and Hemingway, and Glatzer’s conversational style (“good job, you”, “buck up little camper”, “wise ole Katherine”), creates a relaxed intimate atmosphere which is quite funny at times. Some of Glatzer’s advice is prescriptive, and may not apply to everyone, such as the suggestion that you must work 8 hours a night, and that your family must not be prepared to kill you for it, but in the context of the light humorous tone of the book, this simply comes across as tongue-in-cheek (and may well be accurate for some freelancers). The book has been designed to be printed and used as a workbook, and although they are all fairly simple, the exercises are well designed, clear in their focus, innovative, and practical. There are exercises to help you brainstorm “big ideas” such as walking through a typical day, or putting down a list of topics with angles and variations; exercises to help you work out the most appropriate articles for magazines you want to write for; an exercise to help you deal with rejection (reject those who’ve rejected you); exercises to help you improve your querying skills, exercises to help you improve your negotiating skills, exercises for creating more active articles; exercises to assist in your networking; for finding more work opportunities; for creating a direct mailing; for writing a press release; for creating greeting cards; and even for making use of other people’s ideas.

As with most e-books, there are quite a few links to paying markets, writer’s groups and organisations, articles, freelancer rates indices, and more. There are also a number of templates, for great query letters, for keeping track of submissions, interview checklists, a writer’s contract, and more. More Than Any Human Being Needs to Know About Freelance Writing Workbook is a very useful book, and one which a beginning writer will find to be a worthwhile companion, saving some of the painful trial and error which writers often have to go through before they develop professional habits, a network, and a bank of ideas to work with. For the experienced freelancer, Glatzer’s guide will provide ideas for expanding your markets – and those simple worksheets are quite powerful tools, for improving your work habits, and even some new links . There are other, more detailed books around for breaking into specific areas of writing such as the Business Writing, Greeting Card writing, Screenwriting, and the poorly paid but prestigious and emotionally satisfying literary magazines, but for a good overall guide, with a focus on regular consumer oriented magazine work, More Than Any Human Being Needs to Know About Freelance Writing Workbook is a useful, funny, and thorough compendium, and well worth the small $12.95 purchase price. For more information, or to order a copy of the book, visit: http://www.booklocker.com/bookpages/jennaglatzer01.html

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