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Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Journalism [Book Review]

Posted: April 3, 2014

Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Journalism by Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai is perhaps the only book you’ll ever need to read if you’re looking to be a freelance journalist in India.

“Freelance journalism seems like the right career for me. I’m good with words, so that’s not a problem.  And won’t it be cool, working from the comfort of home?  And then, the thrill of seeing my name in print in top publications! What fun!  Should be a cakewalk.”

But is freelance journalism really that easy?  Not really.  Once you dip your big toe in the waters, you’ll quickly realize that it isn’t exactly what you thought it would be.  And in the beginning, you’ll be a little lost too. So what do you do? Where do you start?  What to write about?  Whom to approach? How much money to ask for?  What……

Enter Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai. Widely-published in world-class publications, and with years of experience in the field of freelance journalism, Kavitha and Charu have condensed everything they’ve learned along their freelancing journey, into a single, terrific book. Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Journalism brims with tips, suggestions, and advice for freelance journalists – whether you are a wannabe, peering from the sidelines, waiting to jump in, or whether you’re already inside, but looking to aim higher. 

Written in an engaging, intimate style, much like emails from a kindly mentor, the book answers every question you might have – and some that you wouldn’t even have thought of. It deals with every aspect of freelance journalism, starting from identifying markets, pitching, finding sources, conducting interviews, negotiating prices and rights, what to do in a recession, marketing and social networking, money matters and everything in between – and beyond.

The book starts off with the basics – what makes a good story, what are the terms used in freelance writing, where to find stories and markets.  Pitching to editors successfully is the single most important thing you’ll need to break into a publication, and a lot of pages have been rightfully devoted to this. There are suggestions on how to pitch, what to say, and what to avoid.  One of the appendices in the book includes pitches that have worked for the authors. 

The authors stress upon the fact that freelancing is a business. Writing is only one part of it, and though you might be great at writing, you’ll get nowhere if you don’t network, and market yourself.  The book tells you how to do all this.

There are innumerable quotes, suggestions and tips from other freelance journalists, and editors of top publications in India and abroad, and these give the reader an insight into the working of the system, about what works, what doesn’t, and why. Liberally included in the text are the authors’ own experiences, and examples from the their own features and pitches – which illustrate what they are speaking about. 

The book also gives advice on peripheral, yet important issues, like building relationships with editors, using social media to further your interests, motivation, how to deal with loss of productivity and coping with rejection.  There’s also a chapter on multimedia journalism, which, along with telling you how to make the most of this new trend, indicates that if you are to survive in this field, you’ve got to make sure that you are up to date with the latest developments. 

There are some bonus features too.  One appendix contains detailed Q&As with four freelance journalists who have tackled the field in different ways.  This is very insightful – it tells you what you can expect from this field, and it serves as an inspiration – that there is no one right path.

In this book, Kavitha and Charu are handing to you on a platter whatever they’ve learned by trial and error, in a couple of decades of work.  I think it is tremendously generous of them, and if you’re serious about freelance journalism, it’ll do you good to grab this book.  At Rs.250, it is worth every paisa, and more. 

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Shruthi Rao is a writer and editor.

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  1. Looks like a very interesting book. I will definitely pick it up. Thanks for the review! 🙂

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