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Sunday, May 11, 2014

For only Rs.154, enhance your reporting and writing skills

This past week I have been reading Everything You Wanted To Know about Freelance Journalism (But Didn't Know Whom To Ask). And as I came to the end of each well-written, information-rich, filled-to-the-brim-with-practical-advice chapter, I would think, "What a wonderful book this is for all my students who are working as print journalists."

Sure, the title seems to indicate that this book is only useful for freelance writers, but, really, what Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai have done is produced a brilliant "ideas" book for anyone working as a journalist, freelance or otherwise.

For instance, there is a chapter titled "How Do You Write a Feature?". Rao and Ramadurai pack more helpful material into 38 pages than many other Indian authors of similar works manage to put together in a whole book. We get not only excellent advice on how to write features but also relevant examples from their own articles that have been published in national and international publications, with detailed explanations of why their approach and style succeeded.

In another chapter, "What Is a Pitch? And Why Is it Important?", we learn how to pitch our stories to our editors, an essential skill for reporters (and, of course, freelance writers). And in "What Makes a Great Interview?", Rao and Ramadurai provide an extremely useful Interviewing 101 guide.

For serious journalists, especially for those who are starting out and also for those who are a few years old in the business, each of these chapters alone is worth the price of the book.


There are another dozen chapters that are as enlightening as the three I have chosen to highlight above. Each chapter is virtually bursting with ideas ideas for stories, ideas in terms of structure and style, ideas that will help you thrive as a reporter or feature writer or columnist. (Even subs will be able to pick up some good tips from this book.)

I consider myself an experienced journalist but I have learnt so much from Everything You Wanted To Know about Freelance Journalism that I wish I had got my hands on it when I was starting out. I would have been much better at what I was doing.

This is unquestionably the best book of its kind and I have no hesitation in recommending it highly. Place an order for it on Amazon... today. (The cover price is Rs.250. When I was looking to purchase a copy for the college library, I found it selling on Amazon for Rs.175. The price on Amazon today is Rs.154.)
  • Interestingly, both authors are based in Bangalore. Their contact details are available on their respective websites: Kavitha Rao, Charukesi Ramadurai
  • If I have one quibble about the book, it concerns the cover. What were the publishers (Westland) thinking when they decided to go with a typewriter, for heaven's sake, as the cover image?