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12 Must-Haves For The Freelance Writer’s In-Home Library

library posterGuest post by Kelly Lee

Every writer needs support, and the best way to get 24-hour service is to have your own in-house library.

While there’s no way to pack every great resource into one post, a dozen must-have resources can provide a very basic toolkit.

  1. The mother of all freelancing sources is the 2012 Writer’s Marke. This is a soup-to-nuts approach to all the places you want to get published with tips on how to get there. It saves a lot of time and effort by providing all the basic information about the periodical or publisher, as well as submission advice and how much money you can expect to be paid.
  2. While I adore free sources, I have paid for the right to use the site for The Writer. It is a comprehensive writing hub that includes a massive database of publications that gets updated regularly, real rubber-meets-the-road advice from seasoned pros, and tips for polishing your work.
  3. If you’ve spent any time trying to ramp up your writing career, you’ve no doubt come across Peter Bowerman’s The Well-fed Writer). With the attitude “If I can do it, you can do it”, Bowerman’s book is the motivational speaker we all need in our heads, even if you’re not a copywriter. With a nod to personal responsibility and leveraging your talents, he lays out his own personal story and guides you with pithy prose.
  4. Whether you are brand-new at freelancing or have been around the block a few times, Robert W. Bly’s Getting Started as a Freelance Writer (Sentient Publications, 2008) can still pack a wallop (he inspired Bowerman). From his approach to writing queries to growing your business, there’s a little something for everyone.

  5. Rejection is a fact of life for writers, but  there’s no reason to be in the dark about what editors really want. In Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us .  Jessica Page Morrell utilizes insight, wit, and years of experience as a developmental editor to help you tighten up your work for publication.
  6. A stop at the American Society of Journalists and Authors can work wonders for you.  While there is a members-only section, there are excellent free resources, such as their Contracts Watch page, which follows issues in pay negotiations.  If you want to know your rights as a writer, this is the place to go.
  7. Another  resource to add to your toolbox is  Freelance Writing Gigs .  A popular feature of the site is the daily job board, populated with possible gigs culled from employment sites and Craig’s List (only paying positions are allowed). Other features include the mini-library of articles on every aspect of freelancing, from start-up and setting fees to banging out timely blogs and taking a hand at grant writing.  (NOTE: We have writing jobs listed here too – AW)
  8.  Not everyone can publish in Vogue or write for the New York Times, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity everywhere. C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers  has newsletters devoted to small markets and alternative funding solutions for writers.
  9. To get a quick handle on what’s out there and get some ideas, Bookmarks  can’t be beat.  This periodical is chock-full of short summaries and critiques on every genre. While the site isn’t free, there are free offerings (and most libraries carry copies).
  10. The framework of your career rests on the nuts and bolts of words, phrases, and sentences. Heed the wise old OWL – the Purdue Online Writing Lab is your best free stop for important bits on APA formatting, hints on avoiding plagiarism, content issues, and grammar.
  11. Of course, your shelves should contain at least one thesaurus although Collins Pocket Thesaurus is online at. But there are other works that can assist you in enhancing your writing, like How Not To Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms . This tome will have your characters dancing around delicate subjects and mincing words just like they did in merry old England.

  12. There are also times when you need to get right to the point, so Writing with Precision: How to Write So That You Cannot Possibly Be Misunderstood  can fill this niche. With the goal of not wasting the reader’s time, this book delves into the nitty gritty with visuals on “The Ladder of Abstraction” and sections on “Why the Old-fashioned Outline Often Doesn’t Work”.

Whole warehouses could be filled with the valuable resources out there; we do, after all, live in the age of information. But these resources can provide some structure for your own go-to information center in the comfort of your home.

What’s your favorite in your home office library? 

Kelly Lee a freelance writer and editor with a background in education.  She is the co-author of the Writing Starter series (Compass Media), and has developed numerous books for children.  She specializes in developing educational, training, and promotional materials.   

Two newsletters:
Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by FOGLibraries

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • I’ll have to take a look at these. I’m looking at my library (which sits right above my head for easy access) and I have “Bird by Bird,” the Bly book, “Writer’s Market,” “No Plot No Problem,” and “The Elements of Style” hanging out up there.
    Amelia Ramstead recently posted..The Talents I Don’t HaveMy Profile

  • Cindi

    While it isn’t a writing book, my favorite is, “Change the Way You See Everything” by Kathryn D. Cramer and Hank Wasiak. This book consistently challenges me to take a second – and third – look at a situation/article/scene with a new perspective.

  • One more book for the toolbox- your favorite grammar reference manual. I still find myself looking up obscure rules, and OK, even some ones I should know by heart by now.
    Ginny recently posted..Homemade Christmas Ornaments to Print and ColorMy Profile

  • Looks like I have some shopping to do! I have a few of these, but I definitely need to update a bit. I think a few of these will definitely help me in my quest to expand my freelance writing services/business. Thanks so much for the handy buying guide!
    Krysha Thayer recently posted..Types of Freelance Writing SitesMy Profile

    • Seems like there’s always a new book or two to buy doesn’t it.

  • Handbook for Freelance Writing by Michael Perry. ISBN-10: 0844232564

    Well-written, with practical advice for freelance writers. Written by the author of Population 485, Truck – A Love Story, and Coop, his current bestseller. Perry broke out with his memoirs beginning with Population 485, but he’s a successful working writer with many magazine articles to his credit. He plugged away at freelance writing for many years before becoming an overnight success, and this book contains many pearls.

  • I like this library. I have some of the very same books/sites in my library. 🙂 And I love there are new ones for me to check out.

    Another one I like is the wealth freelancer by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage & Ed Gandia. It’s fullof simple and effective writing and marketing tips.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Posts in Friday Lite ReviewMy Profile

    • Thanks Cathy, I’ll add that book to my list.

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