Ask Me Anything: Academic Samples

Clare K. R. Miller asks,

What if you’re just starting out? Are academic samples appropriate, or should you write some things to use as samples even if they’re not published?

In general, using academic samples can be a way to get around not having any published samples that you can use in terms of work to show an editor. Personally, I don’t think that they’re absolutely ideal — academic styles can be very different from what a client wants. If you don’t have any non-academic samples, I’d suggest submitting one academic piece and pairing it with something that you’ve written specifically to use as a sample. That approach can show an editor your ability to work in different styles, as well as showcase your writing ability.

Got a question about the business side of freelance writing? Leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it in next week’s Ask Me Anything.


  1. J.D. Meier   •  

    I like your point about pairing up your academic with a sample by design to show something closer to what the client might actually want.

  2. Pingback: Writing Roundup, June 4 « Uncategorized « Jen's Writing Journey

  3. Susan   •  

    Hi Thursday,

    I do think you are very knowledgeable in regards to freelance writing, how to run a business, and have followed your posts on other blogs for a long time, whic is how I ended up here.So I do respect your opinion on many, many topics.

    However, I am posting just in case other people run across this for a different point of view. Is Clare’s academic sample published in a peer-reviewed journal? In that case, then it may be very appropriate to submit it as a sample. It would demonstrate expertise in a given field. There are also some companies/clients that do want you to take data, talk to the investigators, and write a journal article. There are also clients that want the expertise and assume you will learn how to write the given style along the way (I’ve had quite a few clients give me topics and projects with that statement, “we want you to do it because of your background with this subject matter.”

    I do agree that without samples that you can show for other styles may be an impediment to land some types of projects, but if these are peer-reviewed published journal articles, there are many doors (clients/companies) that are available based on those samples alone.

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