Emily's Reviews > The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success

The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli
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Oct 09, 08

bookshelves: reference
Recommended for: very green writers, students, journalists, work-from-home people, the unemployed
Read in October, 2008

A freelance writing friend of mine recommended this book to me. I was glad she did because at first I thought I could really use the material in here, but the more I read it, I discovered the advice wasn't all that revolutionary or necessary for the kind of writing I want to spend my life doing.

If your goal is to write for money - as in, write ANYTHING for money - then this book is good for you. There's excellent tips on wheelin' and dealin' with editors and snagging multiple assignments in the many magazine markets that exist. But if you're out there to try to become a more literary writer and create meaningful pieces that are artistic, informative, and publishable - or even if you just want to write pieces that are FUN and challenging and unordinary - then I'm not sure this book helps much. You're better off buying a craft book or reading the Best American Nonfiction anthologies for ideas and inspiration.

I got the feeling that the authors of "The Renegade Writer" are only concerned (and assume their readers are only concerned) with fluff pieces - how to's, self-help, and chewed up, spit-out, reworked copy that anyone can do if they have a telephone, a computer, and half a brain. That may be the hopeful thing you can gather from reading this book - that is, people who think they cannot write for a living can learn that they can and it doesn't require much effort other than time. They can also learn how to get editors' attention, which may be the most difficult thing for freelance writers starting out.

Whereas there are some good tips in here for breaking down doors at an editor's office, I didn't really find anything that "renegade" about it. Maybe people who have already read a dozen other how-to-freelance books would enjoy this because it talks a lot about breaking rules and myths I've never heard of or have considered following. (But then again, I may not be the target market for this book because I've worked in newspapers before.) The rules may also not make sense or will sound a little outdated for younger writers, too, who may not even know what a "Writer's Market" is.

The ideas for writing are bland, but there are some good tips for reworking articles you didn't write into something you can publish for a different market (again, not the kind of writing that puts you up for a Pulitzer).

Also, the cheeky girl talk from the authors gets really annoying after a while, and it makes them sound dumber than I think they are, but perhaps that's an effort to attract the market this is best for - those looking to break it big into Cosmo a la The Devil Wears Prada dream.

I'll keep this on my book shelf for rainy day querying questions, but otherwise it's going to gather some dust.
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