Pitching Articles: 5 Tips for a Successful Freelance Writing Pitch

If you want to make a living writing for your favorite publications, you need to perfect your freelance writing pitch. Here are a few things to keep in mind when pitching articles for magazines, newspapers and the web.


If you’re a freelance journalist or blogger eager to earn income from writing and reporting, learning to create an engaging pitch is crucial. Many writers complain, “I have a great story. How do I get the editors interested in it?”

The answer is simple: Perfect your writing pitch. Here are some tips to help you master the art of pitching articles and getting an editor’s attention.

1. Do Your Homework.

Find the appropriate editor of a good target publication online. Try a Twitter search. For example, in Twitter’s search bar, you could search for “Refinery29” “editor.” From there, you get a listing of accounts whose bios match those search terms. Many of the people listed will have email addresses and contact info in their bios, as well.

  • Look for email formatting clues. For example, Buzzfeed uses the firstname.lastname@buzzfeed.com formula. With that, you can figure out any editor’s email address.
  • Once you find the email address of the editor to whom you want to pitch, address them by name in your email (and, for goodness’s sake, spell their name correctly!).

Familiarize yourself with the publication that you’re pitching to, so that you’re sure they show an interest in the type of story you want them to publish. For example, Writer’s Digest would have no interest in a story about deer hunting.

BONUS: Check out pitchingshark.com — it has a list of editors who are currently seeking pitches.

2. Grab Their Attention.

The subject line in your email should be a short, catchy headline (no more than 65 characters) that sums up your piece and screams, “Open this email and publish this story!” Think click bait. For example, if I were pitching an op-ed about Beyoncé, my subject line wouldn’t be “Pitch: Beyoncé.” My pitch would be a quirky headline/angle: something like, “Pitch: How Beyoncé Nearly Killed My Marriage.” This may not be the headline in my finished piece, but it definitely grabs an editor’s attention more than just a keyword or a topic.

3. Keep It Brief.

For an email pitch, you want to stay around two to three paragraphs. Editors are busy. Try not to be too long-winded.

Make Sure Your Pitch Includes:

  • A possible headline. Editors may change it, but it helps to provide one.
  • The stance you’re taking. For example: If you’re writing about Black Panther, was it the best Marvel movie ever (yes), or was it overrated? What is your position?
  • WHY. This is the most important part of the pitch—yet it’s also a part many people forget. Why does your position matter? Convince the editor that your story should be read. Explain your story’s value.
    • Stories that engage the human element behind a product or event are often successful. For example, is your story about a single mom who started a daycare for special needs kids after difficulty finding childcare for her own child? People will connect with that mother’s struggle, her lessons learned, and the journey that led her to create that business.
    • Interesting and quirky stories about the events or people that inspired a book, brand, product, or event also grab media attention.
    • Stories that involve social issues often get attention as well.
    • Stories that teach or offer a benefit to their audience work, too. Think about how-to articles or “expert” advice pieces.

Explain why the piece will connect with their readers; tailor pitches to the publication. Tell why your story is timely, unique, significant and interesting. Mention a few points that you will make in your article. If you think you have written about an important issue, explain why it’s important in your summary. Many times, readers will agree.

[13 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Sign That Book Contract or Take That Freelance Writing Job]

Be clear, simple and to the point, while including enough information to explain what is going on and why it is newsworthy. This section should be no longer than a paragraph or two (no more than 100 words per summary).

    • Include the format. Is your piece an essay? An interview? List? Let the editor know what to expect.
    • Indicate key sources. Where did you find the facts to back up the information in your story? Other news sources? Interviews? Let the editor know.
    • Give a deadline. Write a simple sentence to let the editor know how long they have before you pitch the story to other sources. For example, you can say, “If interested, please reply within one day. If I don’t get a response at that time, this story will be pitched somewhere else. Thank you.”
      • Many times, editors do not reply to pitches in which they are not interested, so, if you don’t get a reply, you can give them one gentle nudge—just to be sure your email didn’t get lost in their inbox. After that, if you don’t hear back, assume they have declined your story, and pitch it to the next publication.
    • Attach your portfolio. Give the editor a sample of the article you are pitching, as well as links to other writing samples, so they can check out your style. This should come at the bottom of the pitch.
    • Include your contact information. Give editors an email and phone number so they can reach you if they have questions.

Learn how to make transform your writing habits into a lucrative career at indieLAB.


5. And Most Importantly: Check Spelling, Facts, Grammar, and Tone.

Summary/Quick Tips:

Email is best for approaching editors. Include a brief and clear top line that sums up the article or story. If you are pitching news, this is most likely the first line of your story. Follow that with about 100 words of context and supportive background information.

Here is an example:

[Subject Line/Headline] Pitch: There Are No Such Things as Sluts and Vampires

[Stance] This essay would outline the ways that slut-shaming is problematic because such practices diminish women, excuse rape, and validate rapists while attacking the victim. The word “slut” should be perceived as fictional, the same way that vampires and other mythical creatures are fictional. Through reporting and talking to victims, this piece will explore the reason why our society needs to end slut-shaming once and for all.

Format: Essay

Resources I will use: KTLA5News Interviews with [all of the people you are interviewing]

Like the sample above, your 100 words or so of context should include information that backs up your opening line and helps to explain why your story is newsworthy.

Below that, include your bio: a brief summary of who you are, including any prior publications. Then, link to writing samples from those previous publications, if they are available, so the editor gets a feel for your style and qualifications.

No Previous Publications? That’s ok. Demonstrate your writing skill by sending the completed piece. That way, the editor can see precisely what you have written and how much editing work the piece will need.

Now What?

Don’t just stare at your inbox. Be persistent. Call and follow up. See if your pitch was read. Courtesy and charisma can help improve your results.

Do …

  • Target your pitches. Pick the right section and editor for your story.
  • Include a clear, concise headline for your article.
  • Include a bio and contact information.

Don’t …

  • Pitch to a publication you haven’t read. Know that your style matches what they publish.
  • Give up! If you get no reply, follow up with a phone call. If that fails, pitch the story to another publication.

If you start using the tips above, writing pitches will become easy, quick, and effective in no time. Keep practicing and pitching… And I’ll see you in print.


Learn more in this online course: Freelance Writing

The post Pitching Articles: 5 Tips for a Successful Freelance Writing Pitch appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/freelance-writing/pitching-articles-5-tips-for-successful-freelance-journalism-pitches

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IELTS Writing questions 2018

You asked, and we acted! Here comes the list of the latest IELTS writing questions that we compiled from all the recent IELTS exams that you share with us daily. The list below includes IELTS writing questions from January to June 2018.

Why are these helpful? Because whenever you sit down to practice for your exam, you don’t have to waste time looking for the most recent IELTS writing questions – bookmark this page and come back, because we are constantly adding new writing questions at the top of the list. If you get one of these in your own exam, that would feel like winning the lottery!

All our appreciation goes to the wonderful IELTS test takers who shared these – guys, you rock! Your sharing really makes a difference, and your contribution is always appreciated.

Everyone, you’re welcome to put writing questions from your own IELTS exams in comments (or email them to info@ielts-blog.com) – we will keep adding them to this page.

IELTS Essay Questions January 2018 – June 2018

Remember to spend no more than 40 minutes on one essay, and write at least 250 words.

Essay Question 1

School teachers are more responsible for social and intellectual development of students than parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Essay Question 2

Some people believe that preserving natural environment is crucial. However, most make no effort to do so. Why do you think this is happening? What are some simple actions that could help the environment?

Essay Question 3

Some people believe that preserving natural environment is crucial. However, most make no effort to do so. Why do you think this is happening? What are some simple actions that could help the environment?

Essay Question 4

In many countries the proportion of older people is steadily increasing. Some think this is good, while others believe this is a problem for a country. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 5

Some people use the Internet to search for solutions to their medical problems. Is it a positive or negative development? Give your own opinion and examples from your experience.

Essay Question 6

Nowadays families move to different countries for work. Some people think it has a negative effect on children, while others disagree. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 7

Some people believe that it’s not necessary to have internet access to live a full life. What is your opinion? Give reasons for your answer and include examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 8

Many people believe that parents should teach their children about money matters. What are the best ways to teach a child about money, in your opinion? Give some examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 9

The trend of increased consumer goods production is damaging the natural environment. Why is it still happening? What are the solutions for this situation?

Essay Question 10

Childcare training courses should be mandatory for all parents. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give your own opinion and include relevant examples.

Essay Question 11

Nowadays people are affected by social media and the Internet. Is it a good or a bad trend, in your opinion? Explain it by giving your own examples.

Essay Question 12

Some believe that modern technology is increasing the gap between rich and poor people, while others disagree. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 13

Nowadays more and more people want to live by themselves. What are the reasons? Is it a positive or negative trend?

Essay Question 14

Some people think cars are a better way of transportation around the city, while others prefer cycling. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Essay Question 15

Nowadays the most important task is the environmental protection of our planet for future generations. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Essay Question 16

Some people think that the government should invest money in arts and cultural events, while others believe that the government should spend money on more important things. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 17

In the modern world it is possible to shop, work and communicate with people via internet and live without any face-to-face contact with others. Is it a positive or negative development in your opinion? To what extent do you support this development?

Essay Question 18

Some believe that people should not continue to work once they reach the age of retirement. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer and include relevant examples from your experience.

Essay Question 19

Nowadays people are influenced by fashion, in particular when choosing their clothes and hairstyle. Is this a positive or a negative development? Give reasons for your answer and include examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 20

Some cities have vehicle-free days when private cars, trucks and motorcycles are banned from the city center. People are encouraged to use public transportation such as buses, taxis and metro on vehicle-free days. To what extent do you think the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Essay Question 21

Some people think that hobbies should be linked with technology, while others believe that it is not necessary for hobbies to be involved with technology. Discuss, what is your opinion? Give reasons for your answer and include relevant examples from your experience.

Essay Question 22

Some people say that artists such as painters, writers and musicians affect our life more than scientists. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer and include relevant examples from your experience.

Essay Question 23

These days free music and free films are available online. Is this a positive or a negative development? Give reasons for your answer and include examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 24

Many people prefer to live in their own house, while others are prepared to live in rental properties. Discuss both views, give you own opinion and examples.

Essay Question 25

In many countries plastic bags are the main source of rubbish causing pollution in oceans and on land; therefore they should be banned. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Essay Question 26

Some people think that only the society should be blamed for any anti-social activities. What are the causes for these activities? Who is responsible for them?

Essay Question 27

The best way to reduce traffic congestion in cities is to provide a free public transport service. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give your opinion and examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 28

Nowadays people use social media to keep in touch with others and be aware of news. Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Essay Question 29

Some people believe that it is better to live and work in a vertical city with multiple tall buildings, as compared to a horizontal city with fewer tall buildings. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 30

Some people think that one should plan detailed activities for their leisure time, others disagree with that. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 31

Some people feel that robots are very important to humans’ future development, while others think they are dangerous and have negative effects on the society. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 32

The trend of online shopping is increasing significantly. What effect does it have on the environment and society in general?

Essay Question 33

Nowadays the importance of teachers is diminishing due to increased availability of alternative resources to students. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement?

Essay Question 34

Some people think that new houses should be built in the same style as older houses in the local area. Others disagree and say that local authorities should allow people to build houses in the styles of their own choice. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Essay Question 35

Some people spend a lot of money attending cultural or sports events. Is it a good or a bad thing? Give your opinion and examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 36

Life in the 21st century is better compared to the previous century. To what extant do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer and include relevant examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 37

The old tradition of a family having a meal together is disappearing. Why do you think is this happening? How does it affect individuals and the community?

Essay Question 38

In some countries people think women should have equality with men, in particular equal rights to work as police officers or serve in the Army. Others think women are not suitable for such jobs. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 39

Some people believe we need to pay higher taxes in order for the government to build population’s basic needs services. Others say the government should find other means to get funds for it. What should the government do, in your opinion?

Essay Question 40

Some people want the government to spend money on researching life on other planets. Others, however, think it is a waste of public funds and there are too many problems on our own planet to be fixed first. Discuss both views and give you own opinion.

Essay Question 41

Some people think that the effective way to reduce pollution is to tax the companies which cause it. Others think that there are better ways to achieve this. Discuss both the sides and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 42

Some people think parents are responsible for transporting their children to school. Others think it is the government’s responsibility. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 43

Some people think that several short holidays from school are better, while others think one long summer holiday for the year is better for children. Discuss and include your own opinion and relevant examples from your experience.

Essay Question 44

More and more people nowadays are buying fashionable clothes. Does it have more negative or positive effects? Give reasons for your answer and include relevant examples from your experience.

Essay Question 41

In some counties younger people are increasingly losing interest in teaching. Why is this happening? What can be done to improve the situation? Give reasons for your answer and include examples from your own experience.

Essay Question 45

Some people think that air travel should grow without a limit, while others believe that governments should limit it. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 46

Nowadays many business meetings and training are happening online and not in real offices. Do you think the advantages of this approach outweigh the disadvantages?

Essay Question 47

Some people think that giving homework to students is not a good idea. Others believe that homework is good and helps students achieve better grades. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 48

Some people believe that children’s success in adulthood is related to the way they have been raised by their parents. Do you agree or disagree? Give your own opinion and examples.

Essay Question 49

Some exercises are good, but not all, and without knowing the difference people who do all kinds of exercises can harm themselves. Do you agree or disagree? Give your own opinion and include examples from your experience.

Essay Question 50

Some people want academic subjects such as history and physics to be taught in secondary school. Others want practical skills such as mechanical and gardening to be taught. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Essay Question 51

Nowadays people living in large cities face problems in their daily lives. What are these problems? Should governments encourage people to move to smaller towns?

Essay Question 52

The tendency of human beings to copy one another is increasing in popularity. Is this a positive or a negative development? What can be done about it?

Essay Question 53

In many countries senior positions have higher salaries compared to those of young workers of the same company. Some people think this isn’t justified. Do you agree or disagree?


from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-writing-questions-2018/

“How do you get into writing comics? Write a comic.” Eisner-Nominated Alex de Campi Talks Comics, Prose & Multidisciplinary Creative Work

Acclaimed comic book and graphic novel writer, columnist, and filmmaker Alex de Campi shares her secrets for getting into writing comics, working with comics artists, tackling multidisciplinary creative projects, and more.


Alex de Campi is an Eisner-nominated comics and prose writer who has written everything from Wonder Woman and Judge Dredd to groundbreaking multilingual digital comics. She recently published the highly acclaimed Twisted Romance (Image Comics), and her latest book is the graphic novel Bad Girls, published by Simon & Schuster in July. In addition, de Campi is a filmmaker who has directed music videos including Amanda Palmer’s “Leeds United,” and she  will be Kickstarting her first complete novel soon.

This year’s pre-conference program at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference will include an invaluable series of workshops on Writing Comics and Graphic Novels. There, Campi will present Making Your First Comic, From Pitch to Production, an intensive session that will teach you how to write and format a comic script, highlighting the differences in process between comics, screenplay and prose; find and work successfully with artist collaborators; strategise your best place in the joyously diverse comics industry; and get that comic published. The session will also address agenting, contracts, rights, and earnings.

The range of work you do (and earn awards for) is—and I have no other term for it—damn impressive. Would you classify yourself primarily as a comic writer, a filmmaker, a columnist, or a general multidisciplinary creative professional? Which of your mediums do you prefer working in, and why?

I consider myself a writer first and foremost. I do other things, of course—direct music videos, draw and paint, do a bit of voice work/audiobook recording (hey, I didn’t smoke all those cigarettes and drink all that whisky to not use the resulting voice). But writing is my home base. I’m never happier than when curled up in bed or propped up in my favorite coffee shop or pub, working on a story. The other disciplines are great for added perspective, though. It’s restful to draw for a bit. It uses other parts of my brain, makes me look at things in a different way. Directing and editing film has helped my story pacing and visualization tremendously, too. And exercise is my meditation—so I stay quite fit as well.

Alex Segura Discusses Crime Fiction, Comic Book Writing, and His New Book Blackout

How did you get into writing comics in the first place? What advice would you give a writer looking to do similar work?

Oh, you know. I fell in with a bad crowd, basically. They wrote comics, and they suggested I write comics too. So I did. I got into it quite late—not until my 30s. I’m happy about that, though. There’s so much pressure to do things by the time you’re 30 but you don’t have to. I took the Hemingway route: had a lot of adventures overseas, came back, wrote much better work than I would have done at 22. Your first thousand pages are still going to be garbage, but it’s a better class of garbage. And you’re more likely to realize its weak points.

How do you get into writing comics? Write a comic. It’s that simple. In any creative writing profession, there’s this burden of permissioning we put upon ourselves—you don’t believe you can just start writing. Hey, I’m telling you: You can. You don’t need to read a book or take a class or get an agent or get a pitch accepted before you’re officially a writer. Just go do the thing. Then do it again. And again. Along the way, once you get in a habit of completing stories rather than just beginning them, sure, take a class. Go back and learn the craft, because craft really is important.

But the learning is 90% in the doing. The habit is key. And also: your education doesn’t matter. It’s okay to be struggling with grammar and spelling, there are programs (and subeditors) for that. It’s okay if you don’t look like all the people in your genre who are famous. There’s space for you, and people who will gladly welcome your stories. Do the thing.

Your comic writing spans several genres—political thrillers, superhero comics, noir, even children’s manga. Is there a particular genre you prefer to write in, or do you prefer genre hopping? What have you learned from writing in multiple genres? 

I default to suspense and action thrillers. I’ve tried to write romance, and it just turned into an action thriller with a lot of sex and stronger than usual emotional arcs. I grew up on trashy pulp books and Ian Fleming, and Sam Peckinpah films, so it’s just ingrained in me that every chapter has to end on a cliffhanger. And because of the comics background, I’m very comfortable choreographing thrilling action scenes. Now, emotional arcs and sentimentality? That was something I really had to go back and work on. So I did. It was fun, and made my writing so much stronger. But as a working writer, you do a project—like, say, my Mayday series (a Cold War spy noir), and you finish it, and you feel a bit done with that style of writing for a while. So you go do something that feels fresh and different. I am a little in awe of people who can stay within the confines of a genre, to be honest. I’m too much of a magpie for that. There are too many fun new things to try. I do always circle back to action-thriller, though.

How does writing comic books compare to the other types of writing you do? E.g., what aspects to you have to prioritize or take into consideration when writing comics vs. novel writing, etc.?

The hardest thing for me in terms of multidisciplinary work was finding my prose voice. I love ornate, lyrical writing styles but my comics scripting voice is SO stripped down and efficient. So many of my comics have extensive wordless sequences, and I think are stronger for that. How do I convert that, which feels genuinely like “me”, to narrative prose? It took a while, and a lot of experiments under pseudonyms, until it clicked. My prose is as stripped down and efficient as well, with the odd baroque flourish here and there, but now I know I can nail an action scene in prose as well as I can in script. And people think my prose is quite descriptive, which is hilarious to me, because there’s only the illusion of descriptiveness. It’s all very tactical.

What differences do you find between writing original indie comics and series like SMOKE or VALENTINE and writing for established series/franchises/characters like JUDGE DREDD or ARCHIE/PREDATOR?

There’s not a ton of difference, to be honest. The process is the same: outline, breakdowns, script. But in the work-for-hire, there is someone else reading and approving the outline and breakdowns. I’ve chosen my work-for-hire/franchise work very carefully, only specific, high-profile franchises who have great, visionary editors. Working for a bad editor is just… it’s not worth the money. It really isn’t.

What’s it like collaborating with other comic writers and artists? Do you find that the art can influence the direction of the story? How involved are you in the visual representation of what you’ve written?

It’s a great part of the joy of the process. A novel, you’re working on your own for an extremely long time, to the point where you begin to wonder if you’re not a little crazy. Comics scripting is similar, but then you hae people giving you feedback and interpreting your thing, and that’s just so nice. I always write full scripts, but then the artist is free to interpret it how they want, and since it comes back to me for lettering, any changes and improvements they make are very easy for me to cope with. I always tweak my dialogue in the lettering stage, anyway.

The art doesn’t necessarily influence the direction of the story too much, but I will write to an artist’s strengths, and around their weaknesses. You can see this especially in my Twisted Romance series which came out from Image in February (trade in August), where I wrote four love stories for four wildly different artists, each story specifically made to their strengths and to what they wanted to draw. It’s fun to do that, every so often, trying to become invisible in someone else’s style. I also did that for my upcoming Ghost in the Shell story (Kodansha, September), where I was trying to immerse myself in Masamune Shirow’s style and pacing.

What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

So much! My second novel, a strange literary sci-fi story (first novel is Kickstarting soon). Just finished the Mayday sequel, which is set in Berlin in 1972, and that starts getting drawn in November. Midway through writing another Image miniseries, which is a wild, psychedelic young adult story, and noodling around with a very irresponsible action thriller about two veterans from South Boston going on a road trip of vengeance. My crime noir Bad Girls comes out from Simon & Schuster in July 2018, too, and I have a YA graphic novel that I think is the best thing I’ve ever written out on sub now, pray for me, it’s weird as hell and I just hope an editor loves it as much as I do. And if they don’t, well, I’ll crowdfund it. This one’s getting out ythere, come hell or high water.

You’ll be leading a session at the Writing Comics and Graphic Novels workshop at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Can you give us a little taste of what you intend to address there?

There’s so much ground to cover, but I’m going to talk about the structure of writing a comic book script and how it’s different from a novel draft or a screenplay, how to find an artist, how to approach publishers, the many possibilities of where you can go in the industry, and a lot more. You’ll walk out of there with a lot of practical knowledge about how to make a comic book and get it into people’s hands, as well as a broader understanding of the comics industry as a whole and your potential career path within it. And of course there’ll be Q&A, too.


Join Alex de Campi and other comics experts for this special pre-conference program at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference!

The post “How do you get into writing comics? Write a comic.” Eisner-Nominated Alex de Campi Talks Comics, Prose & Multidisciplinary Creative Work appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/writers-perspective/off-the-page-author-interview-series/alex-de-campi-eisner-award-writing-comics-music-videos-novels-genres

The Lowdown on Libel: Understanding What Libel Means for Writers

When contemplating whether to pen something potentially controversial, your best defense is knowing when your work is protected and when it crosses the line. While libel laws vary from state to state, there are general principles you can rely upon. (This article originally appeared in Writer’s Digest magazine.)


By Richard D. Banks

In a litigious society such as ours, libel suits sometimes serve as the chief weapon against the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and a free press. Even the most prestigious publications are susceptible: In November 2016, a jury awarded Nicole Eramo, a University of Virginia administrator, $3 million in a libel suit brought against Rolling Stone and the writer of an article—an article that was quickly discredited and subsequently retracted—that portrayed Eramo as indifferent to an alleged rape at the university. The defendants appealed and in April of this year, the case was settled for an undisclosed amount. Such cases can leave writers wary of what they’re willing to write—unsure of whether to trust a source or leery of accidentally publishing misinformation.

Memoir Writing: Legal Issues You Need to Know

When contemplating whether to pen something potentially controversial, your best defense is knowing when your work is protected and when it crosses the line. While libel laws vary from state to state, there are general principles you can rely upon.

Understanding Libel

Libel is a false statement published as fact that harms the reputation of a living person, existing business or other organization. There are four factors that together fulfill the legal definition of libel. Writers must be found at fault for all of the following elements:

  1. The work must contain a defamatory statement that damages the reputation of the plaintiff.
  2. The identity of the plaintiff in the piece must be perceptible to a third party. So long as the plaintiff is recognizable, you cannot claim protection from libel by having used a different name, or by claiming that the work is fiction.
  3. The work must have been published and seen by a third party. This includes all written media, from print to online publications—as well as digital communications in the form of email or tweets.
  4. The material in question must be patently false. The First Amendment’s protection of free speech arises from the value placed upon
    discussions and the expression of opinions in a democratic society. Therefore, “opinions” are safeguarded, since they are technically neither true nor false. Libel laws apply only to statements of fact. Thus, if you wrote a piece wrought with opinion and the facts of it are true, you have not committed libel.

Proving Actual Malice

Ever wonder why, with all the seemingly untrue things written about politicians and celebrities, libel suits are relatively rare? The landmark 1964 Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan is largely responsible, as it held that to prove libel involving a public official or figure, in addition to the required four elements above, the writer or publication must be found culpable of actual malice. So what does that mean? To be found culpable of actual malice, it must be shown that the defendant acted with the specific intent to cause harm, or with “a reckless disregard” for the truth. Hence, sloppy reporting or careless research can satisfy this requirement.

Avoiding Libel Claims

In addition to being cognizant of the four elements of libel, here are some other steps you can take to protect yourself when you venture onto unsteady ground.

  1. Obtain consent or have a release signed by the subject in question.
  2. Consider libel insurance. If you authored a book, you can generally
    be added to your publisher’s policy; otherwise, it is on you and the premiums are costly. Members of the Society of Professional Journalists are offered discounts for some insurance programs, as are members of the Authors Guild. Visit their websites for more information.
  3. When facing a potentially thorny situation, seek advice from an attorney familiar with libel law. Many publishers have house counsel or outside attorneys available, and the Authors Guild and SPJ may provide legal services to its members—especially if it’s a First Amendment issue.

The unfortunate truth is that anyone can sue anyone for just about anything. That said, if you keep the elements of libel in mind as you write, as well as take the proper precautions when applicable, then you will likely find yourself well-fortified to withstand a libel charge.


About the Author

RICHARD D. BANK is an attorney and professor of publishing law and creative nonfi ction in the graduate school at Rosemont College. He’s also a freelance writer, writing coach and the author of eight books, including Th e Everything Guide to Writing Nonfi ction and, most recently, the memoir I Am Terezin. Find Bank online at richbankwriter.com.


indieLAB is an interactive conference for entrepreneurial authors, freelance writers and independent publishers seeking to develop a publishing strategy, build a platform, grow an audience and get paid for their work. Learn more and register.

The post The Lowdown on Libel: Understanding What Libel Means for Writers appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/business-legal-matters/the-lowdown-on-libel-for-writers

How To Design a Professional Ebook for Free

Discover the three major steps and a slew of free tools to help you format and design an ebook from start to finish—no design skills necessary.


The most frustrating fact of book publishing—one all self-published authors are forced to learn—is that of all the different actions required to publish a book, actually writing the book can be the easiest.

While most writers genuinely love writing, writers who love to format and design an ebook are few and far between. As a result, many writers reach the end of their manuscript, and find themselves with two equally unattractive options:

  • Learn to design and format a book.
  • Pay someone else to do it.

Most self-published authors aren’t operating on a massive budget, and every penny saved is important. This leads most self-published authors to foray into a long, frustrating slog of learning to design their book, often with expensive tools.

Should You Hire Someone to Design Your Website?

But book design doesn’t have to be that hard. This piece the three major steps and a slew of free tools to help you format and design an ebook from start to finish, no design skills necessary.

Design an Ebook: 3 Steps (and Free Tools) for Self-Published Authors

1. Start by Formatting Your Manuscript

The first step to designing a beautiful book is to take that sprawling text document you call your manuscript and format it.

In the past, you would have had to learn to use a tool like InDesign and manually lay out your book, but in the age of the internet, there are free tools to do it for you. For any book that is not particularly image-heavy—meaning not a cookbook or coffee table book—the Reedsy book formatter is a great tool. All you have to do is copy and paste your text into the book formatter, insert your chapter breaks, and select your trim size. The rest is taken care of for you.

If, however, you are creating a cookbook or other image-heavy book, Canva’s eBook Maker is probably better for your needs. It takes a bit longer to figure out, but the tool was designed for laying out images in books.

One quick note on trim sizes: The major size standards are 8.5” x 11” for bigger hardcovers, 6” x 9” for US trade publishing, and 4 1/4″ x 7″ for mass market books.

2. Create a Cover

Most authors find cover design particularly intimidating. It’s easy to look at book covers and point out what you like or don’t like, but it’s extremely difficult to start with a blank canvas and design a book cover from scratch.

For this reason, if you’re an author designing your first book cover, you shouldn’t start from scratch—you should start from a template. Canva is the best tool for this. They have thousands of book cover templates, and they allow for easy point-and-click customization, a feature which you will find very useful in a moment.

After you have a template picked out, you need to replace the template’s default images with images that fit your book. You can find free images easily using stock photo sites like Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash and you can edit those images just as easily using a free online tool like Pixlr. (Note: Double-check the permissions and fine print when downloading images from free stock photo sites.)

The key to editing images when you don’t have design experience is to keep it simple. Resize, rotate, and tweak colors as needed—that’s all you need to do.

Once you’ve edited your images, you can drop them into your book cover template on Canva, insert your book’s title and cover text, and download your beautiful new book cover. This whole process should take you an hour at the most.

3. Package Your eBook

The technical aspects of digital publishing can be infuriating to authors. With all the different file formats and digital readers, it can feel like a task better suited for an engineer, not an author.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, you can very simply package your book into any variety of digital formats using a powerful, free tool called Calibre.

After installing Calibre, all you need to do is click “Add Book”, select the formatted manuscript you downloaded from Reedsy, and upload the manuscript. Once your manuscript is in your Calibre library, you can edit the book and add your new cover.

Now, from within Calibre, you can export your book into any format you like. EPUB and MOBI are likely to be the only two file formats you use—the former being used by the majority of digital reader platforms, and the latter being used specifically by Amazon’s Kindle.

The beautiful part of EPUB and MOBI formats are that they are “reflowable”, meaning that regardless of how big your reader’s screen is, your book’s text will be formatted correctly.

As hard and expensive as self-publishing an eBook used to be, it really has become this simple:

  • Format your text using a free book formatter.
  • Design your cover using a free template and images.
  • Package your book in 5 clicks using a free eBook manager.

In total, you shouldn’t need to spend more than a few hours putting everything together and rolling out a beautiful eBook—completely free.


About the Author

Caleb Kaiser is the founder of Silvina Books, a company that helps writers build their complete author platform.


indieLAB is an interactive conference for entrepreneurial authors, freelance writers and independent publishers seeking to develop a publishing strategy, build a platform, grow an audience and get paid for their work. Learn more and register.

The post How To Design a Professional Ebook for Free appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/self-publishing-questions-and-quandaries/how-to-design-an-ebook-for-free

IELTS test in China – June 2018 (Academic Module)

S took the IELTS test in China and remembered the following topics and questions:

Listening testIELTS test in China

Section 1. About house rental.

Section 2. About elephants and farmers’ crops.
Questions: multiple choice.

Section 3. About sport club membership problems and solutions.
Questions: multiple choice.

Section 4. About security in public places and reasons behind it.

Reading test

Passage 1. About a marketplace in a barn.

Passage 2. A science lecture about Mars.

Passage 3. Comparison of sports in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given a horizontal bar graph showing citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits and other) production. All data was in thousands metric tons and we had to summarise it.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

School teachers are more responsible for social and intellectual development of students than parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Speaking test

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– Describe your hometown.
– How did you get here today?
– Who else came with you?
– What is the proper age for driving, in your opinion?
– Do you like to spend time with teenagers? Why?

Cue Card

Describe a long car journey that you had in the past. Please say

– Where and when did you go?
– Who did you go there with?
– Why did you decide to go there?

Discussion

– What did you do on your journey?
– What vehicle did you have?
– What cars do you like?
– What are the benefits of private transportation?


from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-test-in-china-june-2018-academic-module-2/

Risky Business: Taking Big Risks in Your Writing Career—and How They Can Pay Off

In the “Risky Business” feature in our September issue, we talked with other writers who had taken big risks in their writing careers and how it had paid off—along with what they learned along the way. We didn’t have room to share all their insights in print, but we’ve included them here.


Truth: These bold strategies will help push you forward at any stage of the writing career. So give them a try—we dare you.

How did you know that it was time to pursue freelance full time?

“I set a very firm boundary of ‘If I don’t make X amount by Y date, I’m going back to law.’ This gave me a set deadline for experimentation, encouraged more ambitious projects and overall kept me focused on what I was doing and why.”

—Jodi Ettenberg, author of The Food Traveler’s Handbook (legalnomads.com)

“Consider the alternative: You could choose not to write. You could push these desires to the side and continue doing what you’re doing. The writers who really feel called to write will realize that the alternative just isn’t an option.”

—Amy Rigby, writer and marketing consultant (whereverwriter.com)


What was the first step you took in preparing to support yourself?

“There wasn’t much preparation before diving headfirst into freelancing. No savings built up. No pre-launch marketing. I had a solid foundation in business, marketing and PR from my education and past employment. That’s what kept my head above water.”

—Jenn Mattern, writer and editor of All Freelance Writing (allfreelancewriting.com)

“It’s very important to have a plan B. When I quit my job as a lawyer, I still had my bar admission and a law degree. Make a list of all the skills you’re good at and see where you can eke out a different trajectory if this won’t work. Or better still, to try them both—skills for something new, writing on the side. You never know where it will lead you.”

—Ettenberg


Online Course: How to Craft a Book that Will Sell and Launch Your Writing Career


What gave you the courage to make the leap?

“I knew something had to change when I was having trouble sleeping. When I was tossing and turning, I knew, deep down, that I wasn’t living the life I was supposed to be living—and that broke my heart. I just couldn’t do it anymore. As soon as I went all in and committed to pursuing my writing, I felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.”

—Rigby

“The scariest part of taking a chance was not knowing that it would work, how it would work, or how quickly it would work. I didn’t want to just quit cold turkey and spend the next few months scrambling for clients and not knowing when I’d be stable. So I made myself a deal: I would quit my ad agency job, but I would also get a new job temporarily while I started the business.

Over about six months, while working that new job, I took a business-writing course at the local chamber of commerce. I attended networking events. I put up a website. And I started telling every person I knew that I was looking for freelance copywriting work.

I made myself a promise. I could quit the new job when either, A) I had enough clients that I literally could not take on more work without quitting, or B) I had enough money in the bank to cover expenses for a year with no income.

About six months into the corporate job, I achieved A.

I’m pretty risk-averse, so this slow move into freelancing was definitely the best choice for me. It helped me mitigate my stress and set up a foundation for the business before leaving a more steady income source.”

—Gigi Griffis, travel writer and founder of The Ramble


What aspects of being a full-time writer surprised you the most?

“What’s surprised me is the sheer amount of pitching you have to do! It’s seriously time-consuming work.”

—Rigby


What advice would you offer writers considering a fresh start?

“See what’s missing in the marketplace, whether that’s your voice that differs from someone else’s, a product you feel can fix a ‘pain point,’ a unique something that speaks to your work. In my case, my site brought in readers, but I did not take sponsored posts or press trips as a business model. Instead, I developed products I hoped would be useful to my community. The first was my book, The Food Traveler’s Handbook, the second was food walks (where I took readers around Saigon and Oaxaca on street-food crawls), and then came celiac translation cards and my hand-drawn maps of food. Each of these is appealing to a different demographic of my readers, but they all fall in line with who I am as a writer, and as a person.”

—Ettenberg



Read more in the September 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest, or subscribe to get WD all year long.

The post Risky Business: Taking Big Risks in Your Writing Career—and How They Can Pay Off appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/business/taking-big-risks-writing-career-pay-off

Day Job Jumble Quiz: Can You Guess the Day Jobs of These Famous Authors?

The Potpourri for the Pen column in the September 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest featured a game in which you had to match these famous authors to their unexpected day job. Take the quiz below. (If you’re just looking for the answer key from the magazine, scroll past the quiz for a list of the answers.)

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Find the Answer Key from the Magazine Below [Quiz spoilers ahead!]

Kurt Vonnegut – G. Car Dealer

Harper Lee – D. Airline Ticketing Agent

Haruki Murakami – H. Jazz Bar Manager

J.D. Salinger – I. Cruise Line Entertainment Director

Agatha Christie – B. Apothecary’s Assistant

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – C. Engineer

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – E. Surgeon

William Burroughs – A. Exterminator

Octavia Butler – J. Potato Chip Inspector

Vladimir Nabokov – F. Zoology Museum Curator


Read more in the September 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest, or subscribe to get WD all year long.

The post Day Job Jumble Quiz: Can You Guess the Day Jobs of These Famous Authors? appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/quizzes/day-job-quiz-famous-authors

IELTS Speaking test in Vietnam – June 2018

When D took the IELTS Speaking test in Vietnam she was asked the following questions:

Speaking testIELTS test in Vietnam

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What subject are you studying?
– Why do you study this subject?
– Do you like it?
– Do you think computers make our lives easier?
– How did our life change since computers appeared?
– Did you learn how to use the Internet at school?
– Do you think we use computers differently now compared to the past?
– Do you think we will use computers more in the future? Why?

Cue Card

Describe a parent or a relative that you admire the most. Please say

– Who is he/she?
– How do you know him/her?
– What does he/she do differently to others?

Discussion

– How did parenting change compared to the past?
– Please give some examples.
– How should kids be raised, in your opinion?
– Do you think parents are scared of raising their children?


from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-speaking-test-in-vietnam-june-2018/

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 441

For today’s prompt, write a notice poem. A notice could be a warning about something. Or it could just be an informational type of notice. Or perhaps, you just noticed a person, place, or thing for the first time.

*****

Get Published With Poet’s Market!

The 2018 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, includes hundreds of poetry markets, including listings for poetry publications, publishers, contests, and more! With names, contact information, and submission tips, poets can find the right markets for their poetry and achieve more publication success than ever before.

In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on WritersMarket.com. All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Notice Poem:

“senryu”

how often do i
take notice of a person’s
eyes over my shoes

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). For whatever reason, he notices that he usually avoids eye contact with strangers.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

The post Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 441 appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-441