By Guest Blogger, Mike Sacks
Member of the Editorial Staff at Vanity Fair, A Successful Freelance Writer and the
Author of And Here’s The Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers On Their Craft
As for advice for a career in freelance-writing, I’d recommend a few things:
Network with as many like-minded people as possible. Don’t look it as being a competition. You’re all in this together. And you’ll need their help down the road (and they’ll need your help).
Write every day, or try to write every day. I think it’s important to actually write something (or even just think about an idea or two) each and every day. Writing is like any other learned skill; it has to be practiced. Now, that’s not to say you have to write publishable prose every day. It’s no different than practicing an instrument for a performance. You can make mistakes. You can try different angles. You can invent styles, etc. But it’s very important to actually write. A lot of writers don’t like writing. The
best writers will write five or six (or even seven) days a week. It’s just what they do, and if they don’t, they feel uncomfortable. The great thing about writing is that you can write and then keep on writing until you’re happy with it. You always have a chance to improve.
Be determined but not obnoxious. When you pitch editors or book publishers or agents, you should follow-up with them and be persistent, but not so persistent that they’ll find you obnoxious. I usually wait two weeks or so and then follow-up with a quick email. If you still don’t hear back, wait another two weeks and contact them again. If you STILL don’t hear back, they either don’t like what you’ve submitted, or you shouldn’t work with this person.
As far as submitting, I would submit to any publication that you like reading. Ask your friends what sites they read. And then do a bit of research to see if it’s a good match.
Contact those writers whose work you admire and ask to interview them. Mention that you would love to seek out their advice. Most people will hopefully get back to you.
Read everything, but the good and the bad. Learn what to do, but also learn what NOT to do.
Write in the style and on the subject that interests you the most. Don’t write in a different style on a subject that doesn’t interest you just because you think (or are told) it will be more “marketable.