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How To Make Money From Freelance Writing | Reviews

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WritersServices Reviews

How to Make Money from Freelance Writing – Andrew Crofts
Piatkus (revised edition 1997) 223 pages

 

How To Make Money From Freelance Writing

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'On the occasions when I’m unwise enough to own up to what I do with my life, I’m frequently told that my questioner would be a freelance writer if only …'

 

 

'The realities of freelance life are very far removed from the glamorous picture so many people have of it.'

 

 

'Crofts urges his readers to write all the time, as only practice can make perfect.'

 

 

'It’s not a profession for the faint-hearted.'

If there is one rule of freelancing, it ought to be ‘never tell anyone, other than your accountant, what you do for a living’. On the occasions when I’m unwise enough to own up to what I do with my life, I’m frequently told that my questioner would be a freelance writer if only … Mostly, I learn that I’m very lucky to be able to have so much time to myself and do something I really like, which is slightly frustrating when you’ve no work on the horizon and the cat’s refusing to eat cheap cat food. The realities of freelance life are very far removed from the glamorous picture so many people have of it.

Whether Andrew Crofts entirely dispels these illusions, I’m not sure. As he rightly observes in the introduction to his book, a freelance is anyone who sells their work to others on an ad hoc basis, which could be a Hollywood scriptwriter or a regular columnist in the local paper. But while the life of a script riter in La-la Land might sound very enticing, the principles of the freelance life are pretty much the same as for those working on the dining-room table while the house is empty, and more of us are likely to be doing the latter. Nevertheless, we all need dreams to keep us going, and what Crofts is offering are possibilities.

Crofts is honest enough not to hard-sell us the Hollywood dream though he writes in balmier days when there was more freelance work available. And yet, even in a shrinking magazine market, there is still freelance work to be had, so long as you’re better than the rest.

The principles Crofts advocated in 1997 are as relevant today as they ever have been. To be a successful freelancer, you have to work hard, dedicate yourself to your craft, and sell yourself effectively to prospective employers. And that’s what Crofts’ book aims to teach. Writing, you have to learn for yourself, and Crofts urges his readers to write all the time, as only practice can make perfect (this seems trite but it is entirely true).

Marketing, though, is something that Crofts is well placed to advise on, and he talks his readers through the ins and outs of approaching magazines, gathering commissions, and carrying out the work, especially doing the work. No romantic, Crofts (himself a busy and reputable ghost-writer) is very firm about the discipline and hard work required of a freelancer and makes no bones about what is required. It’s not a profession for the faint-hearted. I find his account of how to get a novel published rather flimsy, but this is an area which is well documented elsewhere. However his section on ghost writing is about as close to the horse’s mouth as we’re likely to get.

If I have criticisms of Crofts’ book, it’s perhaps that some of the advice on the tools of the trade, especially computers, modems, the likely rise of e-business, is so quaintly outdated as to seem risible, and that his view of the publishing world is maybe lit more by the sun of Los Angeles than the UK but there is no doubt that the book is inspirational and encouraging. It may be sketched in very broad brush strokes, but this is less a fault, more a reminder that a book can’t do or get the work for you, only point you in the right direction.

 

© Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor. 2002

Reviewed by Maureen Kincaid Speller

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List price: £8.99
Publisher: Piatkus
1993-04-28
Paperback
Sales rank: 2,728,881