The Renegade Writer, 3rd Edition by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell - A Review

Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell, authors of The Renegade Writer, seek to help writers make a decent living from writing.  They know that freelancing isn’t always easy.  In fact, the book The Renegade Writer languished for years before it was published because they had trouble finding a publisher.  The first edition was published in 2003, and the second edition in 2006.  When the company that published The Renegade Writer was sold, Formichelli and Burrell found themselves being routinely shorted royalties.  Long story short, they ended up with rights to their two books again and created their own publishing company, Renegade Writer Press, which published the 3rdedition of The Renegade Writer, published in 2017.

Formichelli and Burrell demystify the writing process and offer excellent tips and suggestions that almost any writer could benefit from.  The 3rd edition has been updated to include more emphasis on the Internet and social media, since they saturate our culture.  They also feature interviews with real writers at the end of every chapter.  I loved that some of these writers have a blurb explaining how their careers have fared in the 10 years between the 2nd edition of this book and the 3rd.

Book Contents

This is a meaty book chocked full of valuable information.  I took a few weeks to read it all, and now that I've finished, I plan to slowly reread and take notes.  There is so much information here!
The book is organized in 10 chapters that cover each step of the freelance writing process:

Chapter 1:  Breaking In by Breaking Rules:  Even New Freelancers Can Be Renegades

Think you need to work for content mills that pay $10 per post to get experience?  Those jobs won’t lead you to more respectable work, nor will they pay the bills.  Instead, there are many other publications you’ve probably never thought of, like trade magazines, that you can pitch.  If you’re a stay at home parent with kids, does that mean you need to shelve your writing career until the kids grow up?  The authors dispel these myths right from the beginning, empowering the writer who is still looking to catch her big break.

Chapter 2:  Cranking Up the Idea Factory:  Bold Thinking Leads to Countless Ideas

Some writers hope to find editors who will regularly give the writer ideas, but that’s rare.  You’ll have to become astute at creating your own ideas.  Besides, when you do, the work you create will be more exciting because you’re interested in the topic.  The authors give many suggestions to help you come up with more ideas including *ssshh* stealing from others and mining your own experiences.  They also offer many more suggestions that should help you find plenty of ideas to write about.

Chapter 3:  No-Fear Marketing:  Now Turn Those Ideas Into Assignments

Do you think you should write the query first, get the contract, and then write the article?  Not so, especially if you’re a new writer.  Think you should only research the magazine you want to write for? Take the time to also research the editor! The authors dispel many myths in this chapter, including the idea that you should not query simultaneously.  If two editors take you up on the same query, what a wonderful problem to have! (Don’t worry, they give suggestions for this that will make you and both editors happy.)

Chapter 4:  Signing on the Dotted Line:  Renegades Get Fatter, Fairer, Safer Contracts

Contracts are often bad for writers.  Do you want to give away all of your rights to the story? Do you want to negotiate what the kill fee is?  Did you know that many editors have two contracts and often give new writers the less generous contract?  This chapter is vital for all writers, new and experienced.  You can, and should, negotiate the terms of your contract to be fair to both you as the writer and the publication.

Chapter 5:  Mining for Information:  A Little Digging Can Turn Up Gold

You may be intimidated asking “real people” for quotes, but many people are happy to talk to you and be included in your article—you just need to know where to find them.  Formichelli and Burrell offer plenty of ways to find expert quotes, including asking your editor!

Chapter 6:  Talking the Talk:  Renegade Interviews Get the Story, and Then Some

From how to transcribe your interview notes (or finding someone to do it for you), to letting an interviewee wander off topic (you never know when you’ll find material for more articles!), to how to thank your source, this chapter covers everything you need to know about conducting interviews.

Chapter 7:  Putting Pen to Paper:  The Rights and Wrongs of Writing

Should you clean up a quote?  Is perfect grammar necessary? Do you have to turn your article in on time even if it’s not.quite.there yet?  In this chapter, learn the how and why of writing your assignment, working with the editor and proofing your work before it gets published.

Chapter 8:  Getting the Green:  Don't Be Shy When It Comes Time to Collect

As a freelancer, your paychecks don’t come every two weeks like an hourly worker.  Instead, you’re at the mercy of the publisher to pay on time.  The authors of the book have had their fair share of late payments.  One writer they know even pitched a tent in front of the magazine’s office and refused to leave until he got his check; in just a few hours, he was paid.  Formichelli and Burrell give strategies for getting the money as well as how to negotiate a better kill fee.

Chapter 9:  The Renegade Attitude:  Your Success Often Depends on Your Mindset

Freelancing is a tough to break into, and if you mope after a few rejections, you’ll never get the writing career you want.  The authors urge writers to see rejection as business decisions and move on to the next query.  This chapter also contains great tips on working with editors as well as when and how to end a relationship with an editor.

Chapter 10:  Thriving Beyond Surviving:  Reach for the Top

Do you have a blog for your freelance writing business?  If not, you may be missing regular assignments.  (Formichelli got a $1,400 a month gig simply because the client found her website, liked it, and hired her.)  Is writing or marketing the most important aspect of your business?  The answer may surprise you!  This chapter will help you keep and grow your freelance writing business.

Book Bonus

Also, at the end of the book, you’ll receive a code to get a free copy of the 900 posts published at the now defunct blog, Renegade Writer Blog.

Is This Book Right for You?

If you're new to the freelance writing field or even if you have some experience under your belt, this book is worth purchasing.  Just negotiating one contract could more than recoup the price of the book, and if you're able to use several of the authors' tips, you'll find your income soar.

Buy the book here in digital or hard copy from Amazon. 

No comments:

This site uses affiliate links, and some content may be sponsored. For more info, including privacy policy, see our full site terms.
Powered by Blogger.