An in-depth review of her book ‘Writing Success, Unleash your potential’

I first became aware of Susie Kearley through Medium, and quickly became a fan of her work. I then found her books on Kindle, one of which, ‘Writing Success…’ contained such quality advice, that I felt inspired to share a small amount of it with you, in the hope that you may seek out the book or read more of Susie’s articles on this platform.

The very first chapter deals with the current reality of the Covid pandemic, interviewing writers who have managed to find new ways to cope and thrive in these challenging times. From an author overcoming a Covid induced writer’s block to a freelance writer pivoting to teaching online, to a journalist pitching stories about the pandemic's effect on mental health, each has had to follow their own unique path.

The takeaway is that the best thing that we can do throughout the pandemic, to maintain a sense of normalcy, and to help our bank balance, is to continue to write.

The second chapter is on writing for magazines, and it is here where 

Susie Kearley’s experience shines.

To pitch an idea, email the editor and explain in one or two paragraphs what your feature idea is, why you’re the best person to write the article and why the publication’s readers would enjoy it. Provide a ‘hook’ — a link to an upcoming event, season, or newsy topic, to make it current and newsworthy. Make the idea really compelling, be able to provide pictures if you can, and with any luck, you’ll get a commission if you keep doing this repeatedly, and for long enough!

I have read many books on magazine writing, but they contained nothing as direct and helpful as the paragraph above. The chapter continues by discussing tailoring your pitch to the moment, turning rejections into acceptances, and finding inspiration.

The third chapter is about writing for foreign markets, how to find them, how to approach them, and how to get paid. It is even possible to pitch an article you have already written…

I’ve worked with birding magazines and sold the same stories to both British and US magazines. When you rework an article for another publication there are inevitably some changes. Editors may require a different word count, or a different focus, but it’s easy to make these changes once the groundwork has been done.

In chapter five Susie Kearley then answers a question on every aspiring freelancer's lips, ‘How much should I charge?’

Some writers expect a minimum rate per hour, which they multiply by the number of hours they expect the job to take. Some take what they can get. I try to aim for a minimum income per day, which can mean working quickly on low paying jobs. But it can also be hard to estimate how long a job will take…

Chapter five gives official union rates, plus compares them to what you can realistically achieve in the market.

Chapter six digs further into pay for journalists.

The publishing industry faces unprecedented challenges including online competition, declining print sales and declining advertising revenues. The pandemic has just exacerbated the situation. Fortunately, the growth in online publishing has opened up new opportunities for freelance writers. Why not pitch ideas to some of the growing web-based publishers… Rates of pay are often lower than for print publications, but there are many new opportunities for writers beyond the traditional press. You just have to maximize your productivity if you want to make a living doing it!

Spread throughout the book are chapters dedicated to interviews with other freelancers and independent authors, including Peter Jones, the happiness guru. These were all interesting reads.

Chapter nine changes the focus of the book from freelance journalism to writing fiction. The title of this chapter is ‘Creating Works of Fiction: inspired by the classics’

Developing a brand new idea is difficult, so there’s a benefit to be gained by looking to the classics for inspiration. If you write a modern interpretation of a classic story, it leaves you free to focus on the details because the plot is outlined already. You can focus your efforts on working out the time, the place, the characters, and then consider how the plot might evolve in a new direction. This developing plot could be inspired by your modern-day characters when they start to come to life!

This chapter details many classic works, including ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘King Lear’ among others, and shows how other writers have used these classic texts as the basis for their own successful novels.

Chapter ten is an interview with independent author, Karl Drinkwater, discussing writing across a number of fiction genres.

The changing face of modern publishing, with ebooks and on-demand printing, makes it easier for new authors to enjoy the flexibility of writing in different genres, without the financial risk associated with traditional publishing. Karl Drinkwater is an independent author who writes science fiction, horror, and contemporary/literary fiction. He gave up his job working in a library to become a full-time author five years ago and today he makes a living from his writing.

The wide-ranging discussion in this interview covers the benefits of writing in different genres, how to adapt your styles across genres, adding depth, and when to use a pen name.

Chapter twelve is an interview with independently published crime writer Dave Sivers, which I found very inspiring. A variation of this interview has been posted on Medium.

Dave Sivers Sold Tens of Thousands of His Self-Published Books

Now it’s his full-time job! Here are his tips for success…

writingcooperative.com

The final section of Susie Kearly’s book is autobiographical, dealing with her freelance career from book deal to independent and the writing and publishing of her debut novel.

As you can probably tell from what I wrote above I really enjoyed ‘Writing Success — Unleash your potential’ by Susie Kearley, and recommend it highly for anyone interested in freelance writing.

The book is available on Kindle for $3.99 or for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Susie Kearley

Manage your follows Susie Kearley is a British writer and photographer, who has been widely published around the world…

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Read more of Susie Kearly on Medium:

Susie Kearley - Medium

Read writing from Susie Kearley on Medium. Freelance writer, author, animal lover. Qualified in nutrition, psychology…

susiekearley.medium.com