What are the best freelance writing books? Ones that teach you how to get paid to write for magazines, of course! This list of the best freelance writing books includes a brief description, and can help both experienced and new magazine writers haul their careers up a notch.
These books about freelancing aren’t “one-time reads” — they’re solid resources for every writer’s bookshelf.
First though, a quip from a “real” writer:
“Books are like lobster shells; we surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development,” wrote Dorothy Sayers in The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (in 1928!).
Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $100,000 a Year or More is one of those books you’ll never grow out of, no matter how experienced you are! Bob Bly’s writing tips require lots of discipline and organization, but they will help you make money writing.
And, here are several of my favorite books for freelance writing…
The Renegade Writer – The Best Freelance Writing Books?
These two “Renegade Writer” books changed how I approached my career…
The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Feelance Writing Success – The writing tips and advice in this book by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell were great, but what I really loved was the freedom they offer. It’s like they liberated me to do what I wanted in terms of freelancing: send queries by email, write pitches that reflect my personality, query more than one magazine at a time, etc. (Formichelli and Burrell may not actually advise freelance writers to do those specific things, but that’s what I took from The Renegade Writer).
The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock – Another excellent freelance writing book by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell, which (you guessed it) focuses on writing query letters that grab editors’ attention. The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters is a follow up to their first book; it’s all about writing the perfect pitch letter.
Books on Getting Paid to Write for Magazines
Magazine Writing That Sells – Don McKinney wrote this book back in 1994 – he used his vast experience as a McCall’s editor to compile an informative, detailed book for freelance writers. One of his chapters is called “53 Ways to be a More Effective Freelancer” – and many of his chapters are similarly valuable, with the same type of lists and freelancing tips.
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Feminine Wiles: Creative Techniques for Writing Women’s Feature Stories that Sell – This is a great book not just about freelancing for women’s magazines, but about writing for most publications. Donna Elizabeth Boetig’s writing advice is far better than the cover of the book suggests. She lists editors’ likes and dislikes, various interview techniques, and general how-to advice for freelancers.
Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments – Here’s the first thing Jenna Glatzer writes: “According to a National Writers Union survey in 1995, the median income for freelance writers was only $4,000 a year. Just 16% of freelance writers pulled in more than $30,000 a year.” Okay, I know 1995 was a long time ago (if 12 years is indeed long) – but her point is that it’s hard to get paid to write for magazines! But then Glatzer goes on to explain how to do it…so don’t fret, fellow scribes. Read.
Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids – Christina Katz’s book for moms who want to be freelance writers contains helpful information for all writers. “Beginning writers need to remember that it isn’t talent alone that sets you apart from the crowd,” writes Katz. “Just as important are the appropriateness of your ideas, attention to detail, professionalism, and follow-through.” Writer Mama covers everything from how to draft a query letter to how to get your family adjusted to your writing routine.
Six-Figure Freelancing – Kelly James-Enger’s book is one of the best ways to learn magazine writing because she explains the nuts and bolts of the business. Even professional writers will glean some important freelancing advice from Six-Figure Freelancing – she describes everything from how to write letters of introduction to how to form a support network of fellow writers and entrepreneurs.
Writer Profits: How I Got the Gig – 15 Writers Tell How They Get Paying Gigs and How You Can, Too – Okay, I haven’t actually read this book about freelance writing by Susan Carter, but I would. Here’s what Cynthia Lueck Sowden said: “I wrote one of the chapters in this book. After reading the entire book, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned from my fellow authors. It just proves that there’s more than one avenue to success. This is real-world freelancing, described by those who know it best. Best of luck to all writers!”
What are the best freelance writing books you’ve read? Comments welcome below.
And if you’re itching to get paid to write for magazines, read Writing as a Career – Who Else Wants to Get Paid for Writing?