DEVELOP YOUR JOURNALISM & WRITING ABILITIES
This course will provide you with a skills and knowledge base that prepares you to start a career as a freelance writer, an editor or a publisher. Many journalists begin their careers as freelance writers, submitting articles to newspapers and magazines. The broad scope of this course will prepare you to work as a writer in a publishing business, a freelancer, or in other areas of publishing.
- Improve writing skills
- Discover work opportunities
- Network with professionals
- Understand this industry
- Study, learn, take a step toward earning whilst doing something you are passionate about
- Start with a certificate course that is achievable and upgrade to a proficiency award later on (NB: We offer many pathways for further studies)
'Many of the skills that I have learnt from this course help me on a day to day basis’. A. Peterson, ACS Journalism student.
Learn from real world writers and publishers
Our school's publishing division is publishing ebooks every 2 weeks or so.
We distribute books through Overdrive, Wheelers and other international book distributors
Our principal is author of over 100 books, and editor for a national green living magazine
We know the industry; and we can show you what it is all about!
Note that each module in the Certificate in Journalism is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Suggested Reference Books
The following text books have been written by our principal and academic staff to complement courses offered by the school. Click on any title for further details about the content of the book, and how to purchase a copy through the online bookstore.
WHAT DO PUBLISHERS WANT?
Magazine publishers are in business, and in the main, are heavily influenced by economics. They publish in order to make money; and they will generally choose what they publish according to what is most likely to make money for them. You can increase your chances of getting published by being aware of how different kinds of publications generate income.
Periodicals (including ezines)
Money comes from advertising and/or sales of the publication (or subscriptions). If advertisers don’t buy space, there is no money to pay the writer (or anyone else). Articles which sell publications or advertising are what is required!
Money comes from sales alone, and not from advertising. Therefore, the book itself must be of interest, and sellable. Publishers consider both community interest in the subject, and what other similar titles (ie: competition) are already on the market.
Magazines will always look for writers who can supply something a little different. Articles that not only present factual information, but also create a mood and stir emotions in the reader will generally be more attractive to a magazine editor than articles that are dry and just factual, no matter how good the information.
Magazine articles are likely to be one of the most common areas you will find work. Most magazines pay freelance writers to produce articles, and a very high proportion of articles published in magazines are produced by freelance writers. Almost all magazines will welcome submissions of articles on a "spec" basis. (ie: If you send them an article, they will consider it. They might publish it, or they might not. If they publish it; they will pay you, otherwise they will return the article).
Check the magazine over the phone before submitting articles on spec. though. Some publishers will not return unused articles unless this has previously been arranged. Some (not many) will not pay at all for articles. The amount paid for articles, and the size of the articles required, can vary considerably between publications. Magazine articles can vary in length from 1000 to 5000 words. Sometimes articles can be considerably longer, but not often.
Non-fiction articles are sold in far larger quantities than fiction. There is only a small market for short stories, poetry etc. Contemporary non-fiction articles contain rhythm and changes of mood, and articles should move from quiet moments to loud or action filled sections, creating contrasts in the way the reader feels as he/she reads through the passage.
Some writers specialise in a particular type of article, writing "sports" articles, or "gardening", "travel", "motoring" or "cookery" articles etc. If you have a special skill or just an area which you are interested in, it is worth considering developing your abilities to write and sell articles in that specialised subject area.
Magazine articles are most likely to sell if they are saying something new. This does not mean that they are news articles, but they will be better accepted if they approach subjects in a way which is not commonly used by other magazines. Non-fiction articles need to be fresh and bright. They should enlighten the reader, or expose him/her to things new and different. They might occasionally prod or stimulate thinking beyond the article. They should also entertain, and be easy to read, even humorous on occasions.
Remember, you are competing for the attention of readers. They are trying to decide whether to read your article or someone else’s in the magazine, or whether to buy your magazine or another one instead. A major competitor is the television. Your article is likely to be skimmed by readers sitting in front of a TV set. Your article needs to attract their attention away from the TV set.
Good article writers tend to be:
- very keen readers in their area of specialisation (eg. a motoring writer reads books, magazines, newspaper columns...anything he can get on motoring);
- good listeners. They may not talk a lot, but they say the right things to keep a conversation going, and to get the people they are talking to, to divulge lots of thoughts and information;
- curious and inquisitive. They like factual information, seek it, find it and remember it. They can be curious to the point of being tactless or nosey.
A travel feature may be anything from 500 to several thousand words, and should normally be illustrated. If you do not have your own photographs, you may be able to get photos to use from a local travel agent or a larger bus or airline company, in exchange for giving them some free publicity (by way of a mention) in the article.
Travel articles should be written from fresh experiences, either your own experiences or information derived from an interview with someone who has visited the place. A travel article must sound fresh.
THE QUICKEST WAY TO DESTROY A TRAVEL ARTICLE IS TO USE INFORMATION FROM BOOKS OR OTHER ARTICLES.
Professional travel writers sometimes reproduce several copies of an article and submit them to different non competing newspapers in different cities or towns. This way, even if one does not publish the article, others might. If several publish it, the one piece of work may bring several payments.
WRITING FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS
Public relations and marketing firms sometimes engage the services of a writer. Companies of this type can be approached: ask them if there might be any work; tell them you are a freelance writer; show them (or send them) samples of your work. This may require nerve, and you may get knock-backs at first, but often, persistence pays off.
Amelia Lobsenz, president of an American PR company said:
"The public relations person and the magazine writer have a great deal in common. We are both creative people looking for ideas, are stimulated by the printed word. If we are successful in our careers we become familiar with national magazines and their needs. In my own early days I found myself being surprised at the directness and forthright approach of the PR practitioner. He is not a 'flack' trying to sell any product or concept that comes his way. He handles products he believes in."
PR firms can at times hire freelance writers to handle excess workloads, writing such things as brochures and catalogues, advertisements, booklets, press releases etc.
To write a standard press release requires two things:
1. You must have basic writing skills, particularly the ability to be concise with your use of words.
2. You must know the product you are writing about.
If you have a lot of knowledge about a particular area, then a PR firm may be very interested in getting you to write material which relates to that area. For example, if you are a mechanic, trying to become a writer, try approaching PR firms which handle promotions for motor car companies. You should always be clear about who your writing is aimed at. Consider who will read it, and what you are trying to communicate to those particular people. Consider how to best reach and hold the attention of that type of person.
SELLING YOUR WORK
Many good writers never get published, and more often than not, it is because they either don’t know how to sell their work, or they simply are not prepared to write work that is salable.
You don’t have to have your work published in order to be a satisfied creative writer; however, most creative writers will, sooner or later, aspire to see what they write being published and read by a wider audience. In order to understand the basics of selling anything, including writing, be prepared to do the following:
- Research your customer (publisher) and what they are likely to buy;
- Find out everything that your customer wants, even if you can’t provide it;
- Highlight what your writing has to offer rather than its features (what niche it fills, how it unique, how it can help the publisher achieve sales etc);
- If there are objections or hesitations, stay calm and try to determine, very specifically, what they are. Once you narrow down the objection, try to find a way to overcome it or compensate for it. (For example, how about if I focus the article more on teenage travelers?);
- Don’t get defensive or be over-sensitive. Take criticism and any comment on your work as a sign of interest. Most publishers just won’t comment if they see no value in the work;
- Show confidence in your ability, and willingness to develop it in ways that appeal to the publisher;
- Get the customer to look at your work, even if it takes a month or more. Offer to submit a short story or article instead of a long manuscript, and send a copy of any item that you get published anywhere. Keep your name before the publisher, even if you don’t get a particular work published. Be careful, though, to avoid becoming a pest;
- Try to reach some agreement, whether it is an agreement to edit and resubmit within a certain time or an agreement to research a better topic. This will give you an opening;
- Remember that the publisher is always right without him or her, you are not going to be published. Many writers must adapt their work to their publishers. Just keep in mind that when you are established and successful, you can start insisting on your own way of writing and topics.
Who will benefit from this course:
Early career journalists who are "learning on the go".
Writers looking to break into freelance markets such as magazines and newspapers.
Editors wanting to offer writing services to existing clients and help attract new clients.
Amateur and aspiring writers seeking to build confidence in their abilities, or improve their fundamentals.
At the end of this course you will:
- Know the difference between different types of writing, including features and newspaper articles
- Understand the fundamentals underpinning good writing
- Understand how to identify different types of errors and areas for improvement
- Understand the general process of how publishing works
- Understand how to develop a concept, then set up a structure and begin research
- Understand how to write a compelling headline
What Should You Study?
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