November 9, 2016
$260 | 6 Weeks
“I write how-to because freelancing pays my bills, and how-to’s probably comprise the largest single slice of today’s freelance market. Instructional nonfiction is where the assignments are, and where the money is.”
Writer’s Digest, March, 1992
Good advice. It was true in 1992, and it’s true now. One how-to writer recently claimed that, while over the years she has written a variety of types of articles, selling some, while receiving rejections for others, she has sold every single how-to article she’s ever written.
In this 6-week course, the student will learn how to discover and develop ideas for how-to articles. How-to ideas range from how to sell your stuff on Ebay to how to facilitate a successful book club to how to communicate with your teenager. The course assignment is to, step by step, write one how-to article, as well as an effective query letter that will sell the article. By the end of the course, the student should have a strong handle on the how-to structure, the kind of query letter that will grab the editor’s attention, and know how to successfully market the article.
Week One: Defining the how-to article, exploring all areas of your life for ideas; the external and internal idea search. Assignment: To come up with three ideas.
Week Two: Organizing the article; creating the structure; deciding the tone; the how-to “voice.” Assignment: To write an article outline.
Week Three: The grabber opening; choosing the best and most effective opening for the article; establishing a bond with the reader. Assignment: To write the opening of the article.
Week Four: The body of the article; the step-by-step how-to, the roundup; the expository how-to; using quotes; conducting your research; anecdotes; pacing the article. Assignment: To write the body of the article.
Week Five: Winding up the article; anecdotal endings; a call to action; a final summary; revising the article; writing the query letter. Assignment: To write a conclusion and to revise the article.
Week Six: Marketing the how-to article; spotting trends; sidebars; enclosures; simultaneous query/article submissions; perseverance. Assignment: To write a query letter and to create a list of five markets.