Journalism and writing careers advice and tips
This part of my site houses articles and resources aimed at journalists and editors.
In compiling it, I've drawn upon my own experience writing for business, technology and consumer magazines, both in-house and freelance. I've also written books (both nonfiction and fiction), edited publications and taken photographs for publication.
I hope that these articles will be useful to other writers, whether they're just starting out in their career as a journalist, or whether they're looking to experiment with new types of writing or approaches to book promotion.
This section is growing continuously. To keep up to date, please follow me on Twitter or join my newsletter list (see column on the right).
Writing for different genres
- How to write comedy for TV, radio or stage - Top tips on comedy writing from the London Comedy Writers Festival 2011. Get advice from Dan Mazer (co-writer of Sascha Baron Cohen), Griff Rhys Jones, and Robert Popper. Also includes tips on writing scripts actors want to perform and writing for radio.
- Writing for computer games - Find out what I learned at Gamecamp, which took place in London in May 2011 and brought together game creators and players to discuss the latest ideas in gaming.
Promoting yourself as an author
- 7 Top tips for self publishing your autobiography - Lots of people want to share their life story, so read my 7 top tips for making a success of it.
- How to make ebook apps for the Apple iPad and iPhone - Find out how authors are getting their content onto the most popular portable reading devices.
- How to get your audio books into iTunes and Amazon MP3 - I wrote this article for musicians promoting their music, but the concepts apply equally to authors with audio books.
- Promoting yourself as an author online - In this article, originally published in The Author magazine (Autumn 2006), Sean McManus provides a beginners' guide to setting up and operating an author website.
- Writing a For Dummies guide - Go beyond the scenes and learn about the process of writing Raspberry Pi For Dummies.
- Top 7 Essential Tools for Writers - Learn about the tools that make writers more productive and effective.
- How to write a novel - Advice on the logistics of novel writing, and the three ugly truths you must accept if you are to complete your book.
- How to self publish your book with Lulu.com - Tips based on my experience publishing my novel through Lulu's print on demand service.
- The Power of Less for writers - Leo Babauta is the author of 'The Power of Less', a book that aims to help everyone cut through the noise and clutter so they can focus on what really matters. In this exclusive interview, Babauta reveals how the principles of his book apply to writers.
Journalism: writing and editing exercises
- Proofreading exercise - As a subeditor, you're responsible for correcting mistakes in articles and enforcing consistency. Here's an article to try your hand on. It's a real article that has been deliberately broken, so it's a bit over the top. But you'll still need to pay attention to catch everything.
- Broken sentences - In this subediting exercise, you're given 30 deliberately broken sentences. The aim is to edit these sentences, picking up on bad spellings, punctuation and incorrect or confusing word use.
- Finding the angle - Each publication puts its readers' interests first in reporting what's happened, and that means that what's essential to one magazine might not even get a mention in another. Here's an exercise to practise finding the angles in a story.
Articles about journalism
- Training journalists to work in war zones and other hostile environments - A report from a training day at Blackdown UK, where I took part in an ambush exercise and had a chance to ask an elite team of ex-army professionals what makes a good war reporter.
- How to train as a journalist - Answers to readers' questions about what school subjects to pick, whether you need a journalism degree to break into journalism, and how you can spot a good training course.
- Being a journalist - I get a lot of enquiries from journalism students and other freelancers. Check this page for some hints and tips on getting into journalism.
- Eleven top tips for successful freelancing - eleven steps to more ideas and more business for freelance writers.
- Don't believe the hype - PR people are paid to fight for space in the magazine and desperate to get good coverage. I wouldn't say they'd actually lie to you. But the truth is pretty stretchy stuff.
- Writing for the web - You've invested days in learning to design your site and create the graphics, but how much time have you spent improving the text? Sean McManus offers some writing advice from the experts.
- Don't imitate. Innovate - Circular emails are being broadcast and reproduced verbatim without attempting to discover or credit the original author. This article argues that journalists must ensure they add value to their reporting about the internet.
- Writing with style - an interview with the editor of The Guardian's style guide, explaining its purpose and how it is used.