The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to write, work & thrive on your own terms, by Zachary Petit

My Copy: 9781599639055 (image from

Well, I had to pick this one up again, but all the work brouhaha made me take forever to finish it. I kept going back and re-reading certain bits, but not because it was boring. Not at all–I was just really interested and have to admit, I needed the sense of humor Mr. Petit sprinkles throughout the pages.

The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to learn how to get into writing for pay and what publishers are looking for, what some of the industry terms mean, then this book is definitely for you. It’s also got a very handy breakdown of what most magazines (online or otherwise) have in their layout if you want to be an article writer, and as Mr. Petit’s been an editor for Writer’s Digest, he uses that as a great example.

And yes, you’ll get a bit more out of this book than you would just digging for every article you can think of from the back catalog of Writer’s Digest, so on that note, I’ll consider the book quite worth the investment. Shelf-worthy.

I’m on a whole new chapter of my life, and freelance writing is something I want to be a major part of it, so this book had to be one of the first writing books I picked up again. There’s plenty within the pages, and it’s not a doorstop of a book. There’s some good basic info on interviewing, things you have to keep in mind regarding recording of sources and interview tools, working with editors and pitches, the dreaded query letters, and how to spot a bad writing deal before you go all in and figure out you’re not gonna ever get paid.

The Oatmeal had a great comic on writing for “exposure.” Mr. Petit doesn’t weigh in much on this idea of writing for “exposure,” since he’s talking about a career and wants you to get paid. The word “freelancing” doesn’t seem to get read all the way and greedy content mills focus on the “free” part of the word. Hmm…

Anyhoo, definitely a writing book that’s worth a shot if you want to do short writing for publication in various outlets, or learn how that works or if you’d be a good fit for it. I’m definitely keeping this one. Probably the friendliest guide I’ve had the chance to read so far.

P.S.– The man was often outrageous, but I gotta totally agree with Harlan Ellison when he says you’ve gotta pay the writer. And I admit, I love how he cuts through the b.s.:

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