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Writing Books/How to build up a writer's resume?


Hello Rhonda,

I am a ultra-newbie to the writing world, having only written for school assignments through high school and now continuing through college. I've been told since 6th grade that I should pursue writing, and now at 22, I am finally listening to it. I've just begun working on my first novel. The trouble is, I have many questions and uncertainties about the writing industry. With all of the query letters and synopses and resumes writers must send to various people, it seems that writers have to spend a great deal of time and energy proving they are worth looking at. I have no officially published work (and have no idea where to start at that), so am I right in thinking that it's much harder for my work to be considered by agents/publishers? Where do I begin to get my work published by credible organizations? I've also noticed that there are many websites that encourage writers to submit work for publication, but in the fine print it says upon submission that the website owns the work. Is this legal? Will I lose credit for my work? Is getting published by anyone a good idea, just to build up a resume? I would think not, but again, I have no idea. Any light you could shed on this would be profoundly appreciated. Thank you!!!

Hi Heather,

CONGRATULATIONS on going after what you want as a writer! Cheers to you!

In regards to getting published, you might find it best to land an agent first.  Directories such as Literary Market Place and Writer's Market list agents.  You can get these directories at the bookstore or in the reference section of your local library.  Make sure you ask for references and review other writers/books the agent has landed good contracts for with publishers.  

Complete an outline of a book or the first three chapters of a book so you will have something to submit to an agent.

It is legal for a website to claim all rights to a writer's work if that's the agreement that the writer signs.  When it comes to short stories, articles and especially books - 1st North American rights if preferred.  That way you can still sell your material outside of America.  Also make sure that you put a date on the length of time that you sign the rights away to a publisher, etc.  That way, after the deadline passes, all rights revert back to you.

To build a solid writing portfolio, I encourage you to work with reputable and respected editors and publishers.  They don't have to be large magazines and newspapers, but they should do good work and have a solid reputation.  

You can begin to build your portfolio by submitting articles to your local newspaper.  Include your school assignments on your resume.  Count the writing that you have already done! Your local newspaper or magazines in your area might love to have you join their staff.  Reach out to them and tell them the types of writing you are interested in doing.  Also reach out to the student affairs office at your college and ask about writing for your college newspaper, etc.

Best wishes and Happy Writing!


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Rhonda Campbell


I can answer questions on how to get published in magazines and newspapers; how to market your own books; how to earn a living writing; how to write press releases; how to find a good editor; how to edit your own books; finding a good printer; finding a good book illustrator; doing your taxes as a freelance writer. Questions I can't answer include specifics around working with a print on demand publisher


I have 36 years of experience as a writer (fiction and non-fiction). I am a book reviewer with Nielsen Media. I am a newspaper columnist and a reporter. I am a former radio station host and I am the editor of a literary newsletter, The Book Lover's Haven. I am also the author of more than 10 books.

Writer's Critique Group

The Trenton Times Philadelphia Trend Sisters in Style Essence Magazine The Pittsburgh Quarterly Obsidian II, etc.

I have taken numerous writing courses on book, proposal and grant writing as well as marketing and promotion

Awards and Honors
100 Most Admired African American Women Who's Who

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