Welcome to The Freelance Life

[Announcing a new monthly column, The Freelance Life, by Ethan Gilsdorf, about the trials, tribulations, triumphs --- and tips to share --- along the path to becoming a freelance writer. This fall, Ethan is launching a suite of classes at GrubStreet called the Freelance Essentials Series, which teaches students the skills and craft to become working freelance journalists.]

by Ethan Gilsdorf

Back in the 1990s, when I first contemplated becoming a freelance writer, I was green. OK, I was more than green. I was chartreuse. I was viridescent. I was so naive-green, it hurt to look at me.

But for some reason ...

Ethan Gilsdorf

Craft Advice Different ways to learn to be a better writer Secret The Workshop

Writing the Killer Pitch Letter


Today's lesson: How to write a killer pitch letter.

By "kill," I don't mean actual death. That would be wrong, illegal, and really messy given all this heat we've been having. I mean, how to write a pitch letter (aka "query letter") for your novel or nonfiction book or article idea or essay that literally stops editors and agents dead in their tracks. Your goal: to get them to read beyond that first paragraph (what we in the biz call "graf") and into the heart of your query letter.

Ethan Gilsdorf

Craft Advice Secret

Kill an Editor or Agent with a Killer Pitch Letter

[Another entry in the ongoing blog "Would We Lie To You?: News from the Non-Fiction Career Lab"]

By Ethan Gilsdorf

So you've had your one-on-one with an agent or editor at the Muse and Marketplace conference. And you have this sinking feeling you need to give that query letter a makeover.

Or, you want to send out your manuscript. And you've never written a cover letter before.

The Non-Fiction Career Lab

Craft Advice The Writing Life

Grub Street Beyond the Classroom: From Feedback to Fist Pumps

The table of any writers’ meeting at Grub Street generally plays host to a combination of familiar artifacts: computers, coffee, notebooks and photocopies.  It does not, however, usually involve chainmail.  Or plastic swords.  Or giant foam twenty-sided dice.

But all those things – plus tiny plastic Orc figurines – filled the table at Grub Street when Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks came to discuss his book with our freelance writing group.  Or perhaps I should call it *his* freelance writing group – because he’s the man who brought us all together.  Though it was us that kept it ...

Kaila Kuban

Success Stories

You gotta walk before you can run

When it comes to book-length projects, you have to walk before you can run. (Image © Ethan Gilsdorf)

Ethan Gilsdorf

Craft Advice

Let's put on a show!

Here's my nephew Henry, star of the show

I was hanging out with my nephews over the weekend.

Jack and Henry are aged 8 and 4 respectively. A couple years back, Jack took tap dancing lessons.


Inspiration Secret

The Personal Essay in Progress: Providence

Grub Instructor Ethan Gilsdorf will be returning to Providence with his Personal Essay in Progress class, starting April 24th! Sign up now! 


Grub News

Get Writing Providence!

Grub is coming back to Providence! Sign up for Grub's newly added courses with Ethan GilsdorfThe Personal Essay in Progress | The Narrative Personal Essay 101 | Jumpstart Your Writing: Providence


Grub News

Master Narrative Personal Essay Deadline Extended!

Looking to step up your personal essay this Spring? The deadline to apply for Master Narrative Personal Essay with Ethan Gilsdorf has been extended to December 19th! Apply here.


Grub News

Cheryl Strayed Says, Take Risks in Your Personal Writing

GrubStreet instructor Ethan Gilsdorf had the chance to speak with Wild author Cheryl Strayed about what it's like to take risks in your personal essays and memoir writing. Here's what she had to say. 


Editor's note: Practice what Strayed preaches in Ethan's popular class, Writing and Publishing the Risky Personal Essay. There are still a few spots left -- click here for more info!




Ethan Gilsdorf: This is a question for my writing students at GrubStreet. I’ve been teaching a class right now here in Boston called “Writing and Publishing ...

Ethan Gilsdorf