Here is another review that was originally posted on Reading 4 Writers, my now-defunct blog for reviewing writing-related book. I also blogged about it here, but this review was a little more detailed.
I picked up this book, Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer, and started reading before I knew who Jenna Glatzer was. Partway through the book, I realized that I knew of her site - I haven't spent much time on it myself, but I've heard about it from other freelancers. Frankly, it's not all good. As a result, this review will be divided into two parts: what I think of the actual book, and my reflections on it after the fact (knowing what I know about AbsoluteWrite.com).
The book itself:
Quite honestly, I have read few books that I think are as helpful to beginning freelancers as Glatzer's book. What sets this one apart is the "insider's secrets" - she tells you things that you would only otherwise learn by freelancing for the top magazines for years and years: tips such as that writer's guidelines are always negotiable once you have already written for the publication, "no email queries" doesn't always mean that, and the sections of a magazine that beginning writers will have the easiest time breaking into.
Of course, the book also covers all of the usuals, such as how to write a killer query and how to conduct an interview. However, I think Glatzer addresses even these oft-covered topics with more detail than they are usually given - and better advice.
Finally, what I like best about Glatzer's book is the conversational style. It's easy to read and understand - no snoring sections or paragraphs that make you say "What...???"
Putting it all into perspective:
And now for the big picture. While I was reading this book, I was trying desperately what I had heard about Glatzer's site. I kept thinking it was something about the hypocrisy of it all - that Glatzer and her site's members all bitch about low paying gig, while AbsoluteWrite.com is, itself, a low-paying market.
I checked this morning, and sure enough - AbsoluteWrite.com only pays $5 per article from experienced writers. After reading an entire book where she talked about jobs that pay several thousand for an article, it's insulting. One of her site's competitors, Writers Weekly, offers $50!
The moral of the story:
It's amazing what people will say when they have a book deal. A book about how to land top-paying gigs will sell better than a book about how to land average-paying gigs, yet the writer of this wonderful book pays her writers worse than low.
I think that Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer contains a lot of excellent advice for writers at any stage of their career. However, considering who the writer is, I would take it with a grain of salt - especially the part where she repeatedly says that a beginning writer may have to write for free in order to get started. I have never found that to be the case.