Bag of Tricks (Tools of the Trade)

Study Hall: A Writer’s Best Network Resource

Study Hall offers plenty of resources for freelance writers

When it comes to freelance writing, no man (woman, non-binary individual) is an island. You can’t expect to succeed on your own. Attempting to brave forward without at least a few touchstones and guideposts will land you in hot water. And you can’t always track down the people you need to score winning stories. That’s where writing communities and networks come in handy. Study Hall straddles the line as both – a freelancer’s dream come true.

Why Network?

I know – writers are introverts. Given a choice, we’d cower in the caves of our writing rooms and offices. Nothing makes us happier than impersonal research. But writing doesn’t always work that way. We have to speak with clients. Send out LOIs. Make cold calls. Even consider the (shudder) occasional interview with a flesh and blood human being.

And if you’ve contemplated pitching a story to a magazine – whether online or in print – you have to obtain that coveted contact information. Which isn’t always available.

Even to the astute researcher.

So you need a helpful network you can turn to for help. Writers with the information you need – because they’ve already worked with the individual or performed the magical ritual that delivered the name to their summoning circle.

And that’s where Study Hall comes in.

It’s a network of freelance writers HELPING other freelance writers with their work. Minimizing the chance of interacting with the general public. (Well, until you land the story, at any rate)

Study Hall

Study Hall popped up on the internet in 2015. Founded by Kyle Chayka and P.E. Moskowitz, it sits in the heart of the publishing industry – both digital and print.

“A coworking space for freelance writers.”

~Study Hall

It’s a community for writers – which you KNOW I harp about – but there’s even more they offer. Within the network, you have the opportunity to dive into information any freelance writer would sell a kidney for. (Note: Please don’t sell your kidney – or any other organ or limb – for ANYTHING. You need them)

The network includes:

  • A Slack channel (and the available discussions include EVERYTHING – as I discovered)
  • The email Listserv (in case you missed something on Slack)
  • Newsletters covering everything happening in the publishing industry
  • A weekly newsletter on pitching opportunities
  • Access to guides and templates for pitches and queries
  • The resource database to get you through sticky questions
  • And the coveted editor contact list

It’s a treasure trove of writer data that updates – well, constantly. Because the publishing world changes by the minute. Editors move, houses change (or close), and writers are denied pay.

This isn’t the kind of thing you’ll find in your skim of the daily paper.

And while the internet is supposedly current, it doesn’t always capture some of these shifts or points. But a network committed to protecting and supporting WRITERS? That’s where you find the crucial info you want.

Subscribing to Study Hall

First, let me assure you I don’t have any affiliation with Study Hall. I earn nothing if you choose to subscribe. (So don’t get suspicious on me)

The team’s composed of writers – same as you or I. And the amount of work they invest in keeping the network running, fair, and polished is immense. That isn’t easy or cheap.

As such, they have multiple levels of subscription:

  • Digest: The editorial newsletter (Pitch calls and media commentary)
  • Listserv: Access the Listserv and newsletter (No databases or editor list)
  • Network: The whole shebang
    • Or you can pay annually and save some money
  • Media Workers of Color: The team offers subsidies for those who meet this qualification – and you get EVERYTHING

I use the Network. All. The. Time.

Obviously, that newsletter gives me an idea of where to send pitches. And knowing what’s going on behind the scenes in publishing is huge.

But I’ve also chased down editor contact info – both on the list and through Slack and the Listserv. It’s also fantastic to participate in AMAs with published authors. Or see where people are getting their work placed. Even see the questions coming out of the community.

And COMMUNITY is the key word.

Everyone pulls together to find answers, locate references, and pin down people. It’s a major networking opportunity if you have aspirations for publication.

Or just want to connect with genuinely nice people.

Pick Those Brains

Writers SHOULD do their homework. I’m not saying to ditch your research skills, throw a question into an arena, and sit back for someone else to do your work for you.

I turn to Study Hall when I’ve exhausted every other resource and search I can think of. Because that’s what it’s FOR.

Abusing a system won’t fly, though. People are willing to help you. But if you pester them constantly, they will get annoyed and start ignoring you.

Communities have rules. And you need to read through them FIRST.

But when you’re at your wit’s end and struggling, don’t hesitate to turn to the tools at hand. I promise, no one will begrudge you an honest request for help.

And you can probably return the favor down the road.

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