There's no way I'm going to J-school: What can I read, instead?
November 3, 2009 11:08 AM Subscribe
What books can I read that will give me some idea of what it might take for me to make my living as a writer or journalist?
posted by AAAA to Work & Money (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Before you ask, yes: I know what's happening with journalism right now. Clearly, this isn't the decade to be thinking about making a living with writing of any kind, but when I think about some of the alternatives, well... none of them are particularly attractive to me at this point in my life. I can write, I can perform research, and, what's more, I like to do both those things. I'd like it even better if those were the only things I ever had to do to make my way in the world.
So I think I should try becoming a journalist.
The trouble is, I don't really know where to start. I've published a few articles in different places over the course of the past year, and I've been paid--so I know I'm capable of writing professional (or near-professional) quality stuff.
But aside from the actual writing, most aspects of the trade are still pretty mysterious to me. I don't understand the business side of things (what's a "query letter" supposed to be like?), and I don't understand how a journalist behaves during the information gathering parts of the process. I've had to contact sources for some of my projects, but when I speak to them I'm never entirely certain that I'm doing it right (assuming, that is, there's even a "right" way).
I know some of you are journalists or journalism students. Can anyone recommend some good reading material that will help me learn some of the non-obvious aspects of the trade? I'd also be interested in personal stories, but I'm mostly looking for things to include on an independent reading curriculum. In other words, if J-school didn't exist, what would you, as a starting writer, choose for your personal textbook?