Writers encounter censorship
in every country in the world. It's happened to me;
and, if it hasn't yet, it can always happen to you.
In which case you'll need help. In addition to PEN's
Freedom To Write Committee and the NWU's position-taking
activism on this subject (see Writers' Organizations
links, below), here are some resources:
Copyright and Intellectual Property:
Almost indubitably the future
of writing (and certainly the future of writing in
the digital environment), hypertext is the writer's
equivalent of digital imaging and hypermedia: time-based
arts for poetry and prose. It has creative-writing
applications, of course, but promises to become a
standard for all kinds of writing, including scholarly
work, essay form, and journalism. Don't knock it until
you've tried it.
If you want to experiment
with hypertext at no cost, download Stephen Linhart's
ButtonTalk, a simple, elegant little freeware program that enables you to create any kind of bare-bones hypertext and save it (if you so desire) in HTML format for posting at a website, burning onto a CD-ROM, or any other use. Excellent, clear instructions in the accompanying manual both accustom you to this form and get you up and running in no time. (Mac only, OS 9.)
For a more sophisticated hypertext program, try a free download (for Mac or Windows) of Jay David Bolter's StorySpace, which allows you to incorporate images, sound, and video, as well as text, into a project.
Michael Shumate's Hyperizons
came online on March 1, 1995 -- very early in
the life of the Web -- as a site for hypertext
fiction, and now contains numerous examples of
everything from theory to praxis, plus numerous
links to other pertinent sites.
Broadly defined (as it is by
the National Writers Union, of whose Journalism Division
this writer is a member, and by the American Society
of Journalists and Authors, of which he's also a member)
-- the term journalism covers all writing for
periodicals, not just reportage. The links immediately
below connect you to sites that take both the wider
and narrower view of this concept.
Chock-full of vital information,
Journalist's Guide to the Internet, presented
by Christopher Callahan -- associate dean of journalism
at the University of Maryland's College of Journalism,
discusses everything from the Freedom of Information
Act to online newspapers.
back to top
Market Online is the bible for free lances -- the single best annual compendium of information about rates, rights, personnel, etc., at book and magazine and newspaper publishers in the U.S. (See Print Resources, below.) Now they're online, with some no-cost services and some special services for subscribers only.
provides all sorts of specialized information
you won't get elsewhere: publishers on particular
subjects; publishers in particular cities, states
and zip codes; literary agents; and much more.
You get the most by subscribing, but what they
offer to registered free users is not too shabby.
R.R. Bowker's booksinprint.com
gives you free access to publishers' online catalogs,
industry news, and other useful material. As with
LMP, above, you get everything by susbscribing,
but there's a lot here for free.
Another Bowker project,
concentrates on serial publications -- newspapers,
magazines -- and provides articles of its own
plus access to vast quantities of relevant and
helpful data. Same deal for subscriber vs. free
user applies here.
Here are some online job boards
and other sites that facilitate your search for clients.
Note: both the National Writers Union (NWU) and the
American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA),
listed below under Writers' Organizations, provide
job hotlines in the members-only sections of their
WritersWeekly.com bills itself as "the highest-circulation freelance writing ezine inthe world." Who am I to dispute them? With a "Markets" section, a "Forum," articles, and more.
is an excellent source of leads to possible outlets.
Same goes for SunOasis.
And for the generically
Services Marketplace allows you to register
as a provider of writing services, search a job
listing, and have your name, contact information,
and areas of expertise made available to potential
clients for those services -- everything from
journalism to creative writing to tech writing.
Not everything's online (yet). Much of what you need to know still takes the physical form of printed books and magazines. Some of us find that reassuring. I recommend the following as reliable publications.
Allworth Press produces an extensive line of carefully researched, well-written books on most aspects of professional writing, from legal matters to marketing and publicity to hypertext. I haven't found a dud so far.
Marilyn and Tom Ross's Communication Creativity website, provides information on their excellent books about publicity, marketing, self-publishing, and other pertinent matters. They write in a punchy, energized style thatr's infectious.
Writer's Digest magazine has long served as a resource in itself. They also publish an extensive line of books. I've used their Writer's Market series profitably for decades. If you buy the 2005 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition, they throw in a free 1-year subscription to WritersMarket.com, a service that puts that information, and more, online, updated regularly. (See Marketing Info, above.)
The Writer magazine, another long-running periodical, also has a line of useful books, and offers special features for subscribers at its website.
Publicizing yourself and your
work, and involving yourself deeply in promotional
efforts for your books and other major publication
projects, has become a necessary sphere of activity
for 21st-century writers. Here are some sources for
pertinent information on such matters.
Larry James offers 40+
Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an EVENT!!
at his website, CelebrateLove.com. Lots of helpful
John Kremer's Book
Marketing Site has much useful information
on this subject, with links to numerous other
We all dream of finding
our books discussed in the New York Times Book
Review some Sunday. Dream on -- and put a
finer point on that reverie by browsing the Times
Book Review Archive, which includes that section's
entire contents from 1996 through the present.
Renascence Editions is "an effort to make available online works printed in English between the years 1477 (when Caxton began printing) and 1799."
Plus constitutes a vast, ever-growing anthology
of first-rate sci-fi.
Reference and Research:
The single best search
engine on the Web, hands down, is Google.
One caution: Google ain't infallible; it bases
its hierarchy on the quantity of web links to
particular sites, on the theory that the sites
most heavily linked to are the best or most significant.
Not a bad premise, but there are others (volume
of traffic, for example). And whatever you need
may be buried in a less popular site. So combine
a Google search with one using another search
engine, such as Alta
You can take short online
seminars in a variety of subjects -- from globalization
to red tides -- at no charge, at Fathom.
Content providers include some of the world's
largest universities and other institutions. Registering
with them gives you access to email newsletters
on specific topics, plus much online content from
university presses and other sources.
A fantastic resource: 4Literature.net
presents thousands of classics of literature online:
Kate Chopin, Sappho, Ezra Pound . . . All of them
public domain, so you can cite them freely at
any length you choose.
Great Books Online (named after Melville's
famous scrivener), similarly, provides the complete
texts of hundreds of works of fiction, poetry,
nonfiction, and reference, from Gertrude Stein's
Tender Buttons to Edward Sapir's Language:
An Introduction to the Study of Speech.
for Writers and Writing Instructors: Jack
Lynch's handy portal to style guides, grammar
manuals, gender-neutral usage instructions, and
World of Writing: Yet another portal with
a heap o' links to relevant sites for writers.
Book Review has a fine Resource portal page
for writers, with links to many useful sites.
Want to publish your own e-book . . . at no cost? Just take your text files, in any of a variety of word-processor formats, and your art files -- including your own cover art -- to ReaderWorks Standard, drop it in, tweak it a bit, and voila!
An e-book that can be read in Microsoft
Reader, a free utility you can download here.
Then attach it to your emails or stick it on a
diskette or CD-ROM and and send it to whomever
you wish. This free service brought to you by
Overdrive ReaderWorks e-book software products, which include ReaderWorks Standard, a free book-designing a electronic publishing utility you'll find at their website. Eliminate the middleman. Stop killing trees.
Looking for a short-run
publisher for a print edition of your own work?
which for under $100 can publish your book within
7 days -- perfect-bound, sixty pages, 25 copies.
For an additional fee, they'll obtain an ISBN
number for you. One limitation. This POD (print-on-demand)
publisher requires you to present your files in
a Microsoft Windows-based format.
Those of us who write ratiocinative
prose for a living often get locked into writing patterns
that grow stale. Same holds true for finctioneers,
poets, and others. Some of the tools listed below
offer opportunities for wordplay. Others provide useful
services, such as rough literal translation into various
languages. But those can be turned to word play also
(convert a text of your own from English to French
three times and see what happens). Loosen up, dudes.
Language Tools offers a text-translation function
that lets you go from numerous languages to numerous
languages. It also allows you to search the web
in different languages, and allows you to set
the Google homepage in dozens of languages --
living, dead (Latin), and imagined (Klingon, Elmer
Fudd, Pig Latin). Lively up yourself.
service also translates text automatically --
up to 150 words at a clip, and into more languages
than the Google function.
"Well, he's a writer,"
the late Sam Beckett reportedly said, delighting
the late William Burroughs. Want to get a little
William Burroughsy with your texts? Here's a WSB-inspired
Cut-Up Machine online, and you can download
a free version of it (28kb) for use offline. Lots
more Burroughs stuff at The
William S. Burroughs Files and InterZone.
To hear the Old Man of the Mountain's virtual
voice, go to The
Ghost of William Burroughs for audio clips
Toolshed from Burning Press offers a wide
variety of Mac/PC-DOS programs for random-text
generation, text scrambling, and other provocative
activities to deprogram your relationship to language.
Genius will take any text and convert it to
These represent professional
writers' organizations -- that is, organizations with
admission requirements that include a track record
of substantial publication. WordWork does not
list writers' organizations that accept members with
no professional qualifications. (No, college or university
study, even if leading to an MA degree in creative
writing, journalism, or literature, does not in itself
represent a significant or even adequate qualification
as a professional writer. Fulfilling the requirements
for a higher-ed degree in any field and actually proving
yourself competent to practice within it professionally
are two different things entirely. "Smart from
books," as Nelson Algren once wrote, "ain't
smart at all.")
Some are general, for writers
of all (or most) stripes and in all (or most) forms;
others represent specializations. Useful to know what
niche organizations exist; some may pertain to your
American Center, the U.S. Division of this
international writers' organization. The acronym
stands for Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists,
Novelists. Strong on anti-censorship activism
through its "Freedom to Write Committee,"
with an "imprisoned writers" emphasis
and an international outlook -- as a result of
which it pays attention to those unsung heroes
of writing, translators. Not particularly energetic
in relation to nuts-and-bolts issues such as copyright,
bad contracts, low fees, and broken agreements.
Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA).
Writers Union (NWU). Youngest of these four,
and already the largest. An affiliate of the United
Auto Workers. This is the organization that fought
and won the epochal Tasini v. Times court
battle. Among the benefits of membership: access
to a decent health plan for free lances, liability
insurance, a highly effective Grievance Committee
to take on your fights for you, contract advisors
to review your publishers' boilerplate, and a
great press pass. Easiest of these to join in
regard to membership requirements.
USA, the U.S. division of the International
Association of Critics of Art. Membership benefits
include an international press card that will
get you into just about any foreign museum, and
most U.S. museums, free. If you write about art,
membership's definitely worth your while.
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA).
For people who write everything from journalism
about medical issues to those instruction sheets
that come with your prescription drugs.
Journalist's Guide to the Internet, presented
by Christopher Callahan -- associate dean of journalism
at the University of Maryland's College of Journalism
-- provides an excellent Links page devoted to
Organizations & Related Sites.
Please report any nonfunctioning
links on this list to firstname.lastname@example.org.