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Recovering Fool asked

|:Any freelance writers out there with advice on how to
|:get started?

I'm not a freelance writer, although I certainly enjoy the writing process. *Usenet groups* may well be a good way to get yourself some experience, and I don't mean the writing of posts per se, although it might be via that route, that would pay off in the real world. Of course it depends upon your interests.

One of my interests is novels and I used to participate in the group rec.arts.mysteries, and twice the newsgroup picked up some articles I'd written (they snap up whatever they like from various books groups without authors' permission) and published them again in the official reviews group. So I now have two "published book reviews" of sorts, were I to need anything on that order. Had I been so inclined, however, I could have submitted more formal reviews to the guy who runs the group and might well have gotten published that way as well.

My other interest that I know I could milk for a lot if I cared to is computer adventure games. This is because every day it seems there is a new "gamer"-run site for games reviews. And many of these sites offer far superior and more lively reviews to those in "professional" magazines, on- or offline. I have one friend who's a freelance writer who was writing reviews for two little outfits and because the right person read her reviews she's landed a *paying* job with an online mag as a result. The opportunities are limitless I think. Listen. I was (minding my own business when I was) contacted by the webmaster of one (quite an impressive one too) who'd read (I suppose appreciatively) something of mine on some games group. He asked if I'd be interested in joining their "staff," and I've done so and committed myself to writing -- within a specified time frame, EEK -- my very first official game review (oh, the horror, one thing is writing for fun ...). However, in this case, too, had I been interested in doing so, I could have written to him, enclosing a writing sample (maybe an informal review post), offering my services. All these gamer-run web sites use free labor of course, as do book reviews groups.

These are examples of what may happen -- that *might* help one seeking to fatten his portfolio of "published" matter -- when you're not even looking for it if you participate in special interest newsgroups. Someone ambitious could have a field day in usenet land.

Also, I almost forgot, this is very important, if you've some time on your hands (because what I'm proposing may well become an addiction). Subscribe to the newsgroup called "misc.writing." The subscribers to that group are for the most part professional, published authors. But the group isn't a place to submit your prose for criticism (try alt.prose ??? for that), it's a place writers relax, hang out and banter. And they also discuss publishing matters and dispense advice to unpublished authors seeking same. It's not an elitist newsgroup *but* one should read it for a while before posting to avoid personal embarrassment (e.g., those who don't take the time to find out what it's all about and do, e.g., submit their prose are dealt with politely but I wouldn't want to be one of them). The group has a real flavor all its own. Even if you didn't post there, just reading the advice given to other aspiring writers should be educational. They probably have a good FAQ too, although I don't really know. I don't have time to read it anymore, but I used to--it was my "read for the sheer pleasure of it" newsgroup.

Probably none of the above is the sort of advice you had in mind, but it struck me forcefully that even if it wasn't you might consider it anyway. :/

Best wishes,

Nada L.

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