Writers and Editors

Pat McNees

"Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager."
~ Susan Sontag, from a lecture about writing at Vassar College

"We're a tiny industry perched atop a massive hobby."
~ Michael Cader quoted by Richard E. Nash

"The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes but in having new eyes."
~ Marcel Proust

Prompt payment for freelancers (contractors, suppliers), with discount! Gawker reports that Time Inc. will pay you promptly, if you pay them for the service. And NBC Universal has a different version of the payday loan scam for freelancers.

SquareTrade ranks laptops for reliability. "SquareTrade analyzed failure rates for over 30,000 new laptop computers covered by SquareTrade Laptop Warranty plans and found that one-third of all laptops will fail within 3 years. SquareTrade also found that netbooks are 20% more unreliable than other laptops, and that Asus and Toshiba are the most reliable laptop brands." Go to SquareTrade site to download PDF file.

"Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals."
~ Clay Shirky, in a fascinating and persuasive piece, Why iTunes is not a workable model for the newspaper business

"I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."
~ Ernest Hemingway

E-mail Pat

About Pat McNees (host)

DYING: A Book of Comfort

Writing your memoirs or telling your family story (great resources for)

Today's Front Pages (check out Newseum's U.S. -- move your cursor across the map and see the front page change)

Top 100 Classic Websites (PC Magazine)

Top 100 Undiscovered Sites (PC Magazine)

101 Best Websites for Writers (Writer's Digest, 2009)

Writer's Guild hot list

Freelancer's Toolset: 100 Web Apps for Everything You Will Possibly Need (Codswallop)

wikiHow (the how-to manual anyone can write or edit)

Speculations advisory about PDF files

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

"No thanks, Mr. Nabokov," David Oshinsky's story on Knopf's rejection files

Why Are Women's Magazines So Much Dumber Than Men's? (Faking Good Breeding blogspot)

All the News That Seemed Unfit to Print, by Peter Carlson, Washington Post (a delightful account of the life and demise of the Weekly World News)

Writers on Writing archives (New York Times Book Review series), registration required but free

Resources for Writers (Midwest Book Review's long list of links)

Writers on Writing (the New York Times series)

Ask a reporter (NY Times reporters discuss their beats)

Internet Public Library (for when you can't find the info somewhere else)

Daylife (top news stories, up to the minute)

Front pages of newspapers from around the world (Newseum)

MediaPost (home of MediaDailyDigest)

Video Sift (finds the good YouTube links)

Liz Dubelman's VidLit "Craziest"; (a must-watch for Scrabble fans--allow 8 minutes).

See more examples under Marketing and Promotion

Vidlits (check out these well-told video tales, trailers for the print crowd)

Writers FM (radio by writers, for writers -- fascinating interviews!)

This American Life (great storytelling on public radio)

Watch C-SPAN2's Book tv online, weekends, or get their schedule (and much more)

Great medical websites

National Do Not Call Registry (to get telemarketers to stop calling your landlines and cell phones)

To reach a person on customer service calls

BugMeNot (bypass compulsory registration)

Saying Yes to Mess (Penelope Green, NYT, 12-21-06)

Sidebar: The Secret Order of Disorder (NY Times)

A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman

Post Secrets

Obscure Store and Reading Room

Strange News

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

The Meaning of American Pie (Don McLean's music and lyrics)

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."
~sportswriter Red Smith

"Researchers have found that the human brain has a natural affinity for narrative construction. People tend to remember facts more accurately if they encounter them in a story rather than in a list, studies find; and they rate legal arguments as more convincing when built into narrative tales rather than on legal precedent."
~Benedict Carey, "This Is Your Life (and How to Tell It), Science section, The New York Times

Quick Links

Find Authors

Connecting writers and editors with each other, resources, markets, and audiences

As a writer-editor I am often asked for advice about how to make a living as a writer or editor (or both) and how to find a good writer, editor, or proofreader. I launched this website to provide frank information both for people who want to know the basics and for those who want to dig deeper in a particular field. Those looking for a writer or editor might start with the job banks or specialized organizations for writers and editors (which often have directories or job banks). See also Can I make a living as a writer?

You will find links to websites and organizations useful for writers and editors, both general and specialized, with an emphasis on North America. The range of specialty organizations is astonishing -- serving science writers, cat writers, fantasy sports writers, to name a few. As time permits I'll add advice and organize pages so subcategories of information are easier to find. For now, think of this as a useful reference library that needs re-organizing and decorating.
-- Pat McNees

Fact-finding and fact-checking (plus calculators, converters, search engines, quotations, and checking for hoaxes, viruses, and urban legends)
Fiction writing and editing (sites, advice, organizations, and other resources)
Films, plays, and documentaries (and resources for screenwriters, playwrights, documentary filmmakers, critics, fans)
Food, beverage, and travel writing
Free digital libraries (books and references are available free online)
Freedom of Information Act and other freedoms
Freelancing, contracting, telecommuting (thriving as a creative entrepreneur)
Front matter, order of

Getting published (starting out)
Google book settlement
Grammar and style (websites, blogs, articles, quizzes, and exercises)
Grants and fellowships for writers
Great books for book clubs (and recommended reading)
Great search links

Health insurance, freelancers, and the Affordable Care Act

How much to charge (ranges for various types of service or product)'
Intelligent radio and TV talk shows
"Iowa Writers' Workshop vs. NYC

Narrative nonfiction (classic examples in book form)
Narrative nonfiction (excellent online examples, short-form)
Narrative nonfiction (books on the craft, including useful anthologies)
Narrative nonfiction (resources))
Nonfiction (including essays, academic writing, and food writing)
Novels and novelists (and shorter fiction)

Online games to engage the brain (including learning games for people with cognitive deficits)

Organizations for medical and science writers
Organizations for fiction writers and fans
Organizations of or for ghostwriters and collaborators
Organizations that help artists with disabilities
Organizations that may be useful for freelancers
Organizations for publishing professionals and booksellers
Organizations for editors, proofreaders, and indexers
Organizations, local and regional, for writers and editors
Organizations for journalists
Organizations, major (fighting for creators' rights, interests, and ethical behavior)
Plays and playwrights (Films, plays, and documentaries)
Podcasts and podcasting
Poetry and verse (plus publications, organizations, and contests)
Preface, foreword, and introduction (what's the difference?)
Print-on-Demand (POD) (digital publishing)
Publishing and bookseller organizations and resources
Publishing marketplaces
Publishing news, resources, and organizations
Radio and TV talk shows (including top NPR programs)
Recommended for book clubs
Resources for bloggers
Resources for producing ezines
Rights and permissions (clearing rights in visual arts, in music and sound, and in books, scripts, and screenplay)

Sample contracts and agreements for services
Scams, bad deals, and other ways to lose money (vanity/​​subsidy publishing, subsidy presses, and author mills
Science and medical writing
Self-Publishing (indie publishing)
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, social networking)
So, you want to write a book! (Sarah Wernick, updated by Pat McNees)
Specialty (niche) writing , from children's books to sportswritin
Standing and adjustable-height desks and walkstations
Starting Out (getting published)
Style, grammar, and word choice
Style guides, basic
Style guides, online
Style guides and dictionaries, discipline- and situation-specific (print and online)
Style and grammar books
Subject specialties (animals, autos, bowling, children's books, food, gardens, family history, jazz, résumés, sports, travel, website, wine writing, etc.)'

Talk shows, radio and TV (the best shows for authors, readers, thinkers)
Technical writing and editing (technical communications)
Textbook and academic authors
Tips on Tact and Tone (Pat McNees)
Travel writing
The truth about print-on-demand (POD) publishing

What is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography (or memoirs) (Pat McNees)
Will journalism survive? In what form?
Writers colonies (aka residencies, communities, retreats)
Writers conferences, workshops, and other learning places
Writers' offices
Writers organizations, major See Organizations, above, for different kinds of writers organizations.
The writing life
Writing niches (including animals, autos, bowling, children's books, food, gardens, family history, jazz, résumés, sports, travel, website, and wine writing)

Can I make a living as a writer?

These links answer many frequently asked questions, such as "Can one make a living as a writer?" (As a poet, generally, no. You'll have better luck as a novelist, but fiction is very much a crap shoot. With nonfiction, you're more likely to be able to make a living, and if you choose a field like technical writing, business writing, or speechwriting, and you're good at it, have expertise in fields with few experts, have credentials and a good track record, and live in an area where there's high demand for writing, you can make a very good living.) If what you want is to be rich, your odds are better if you choose another field. But if writing comes at all easy to you, and you develop marketable skills, it's a very interesting way to spend a life.

As is probably true in any line of work, the most satisfying jobs are not always the ones that pay well, and it's very hard to predict what will satisfy and what will pay well! Once when I was giving a talk to a writer's group about writing and editing in the Washington DC area, I said that "the more boring the work, the more you can charge," which is generally true. (Note that food and travel writing tend to pay little and technical writing tends to pay more, for example.) But as a result of that talk, I got one of the least boring, most interesting, most lucrative projects of my career. As any writer will tell you, sometimes we take on projects just because we love them, and know the psychic satisfaction will be high. Sometimes we take on work because we like who we will be working with or for. Occasionally everything comes together and we get paid well for work that is satisfying, for publishers or clients who are a dream to work with, writing for an audience we really care about. May you all find such work! May all your editors know what they are doing and do it respectfully, may all your writers turn in compelling and clean copy, and may we all play well in the sandbox!

I have also included links and tips for just plain readers, news junkies, and other enthusiasts. Please let me know about your favorite (and most-used) sites, blogs, organizations, books, etc.
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Websites, organizations, and other resources

Blog roll, too
and communities of book lovers
Best reads and most "discussable"
Fact-finding, fact-checking, conversion tables, and news and info resources
Recommended reading
long-form journalism, e-singles, online aggregators
New, used, and rare books, Amazon.com and elsewhere
Blogs, social media, podcasts, ezines, survey tools and online games
How much to charge and so on (for creative entrepreneurs)
And finding freelance gigs
Blogs, video promotion, intelligent radio programs
See also Self-Publishing
Indie publishing, digital publishing, POD, how-to sources
Includes original text by Sarah Wernick
Multimedia, cartoons, maps, charts and so on
Plus contests, other sources of funds for creators
Copywriting, speechwriting, marketing, training, and writing for government
Literary and commercial (including genre)
Writing, reporting, multimedia, equipment, software
Translators, indexers, designers, photographers, artists, illustrators, animators, cartoonists, image professionals, composers
including essays and academic writing
Groups for writers who specialize in animals, children's books, food, gardens, family history, resumes, sports, travel, Webwriting, and wine (etc.)
Writers on offices, standing desks, rejection, procrastination, and other features of the writing life
Contracts, reversion of rights, Google Books settlement
Plus privacy, plagiarism, libel, media watchdogs, FOIA, protection for whistleblowers
And views on the author-editor relationship