How to Submit Freelance Articles That Get Accepted in 7 Easy Steps


Sluggy Freelance

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Freelance articles may not always be accepted by editors. If you’ve received rejection letters, don’t stress out about it. Even if you wrote an article that’s been rejected over and over again, you can still get published. How? Let’s say you win a first place award for an article you submitted to a ‘national’ contest. This gives you leverage. Before you know it, editors will be clamoring to print your ‘award-winning’ article in their publications.

How to Submit Freelance Articles That Get Accepted in 7 Easy Steps

1. Research your subject. You’ve probably heard this a million times by now but some freelance writers need to re-read this advice. It’s important to thoroughly research a subject. After you’ve exhausted all avenues of research, write a convincing pitch and send it to an editor.

2. Research the market. This ‘piggybacks’ on Step #1. Which markets are best for your freelance articles? Make sure you read back issues before you pitch an editor. Also, read and follow submission guidelines. If a publication requires a SASE with clips (a few still do), don’t email your pitch and or query.

3. Spend time writing your query letter. Many freelance articles are rejected because of the query letter. It’s not necessary to submit a three page query letter; however, a one page query letter shouldn’t be short on details either. Write a ‘hook’ that will knock the socks off of an editor. Remember what Renée Zellweger’s character Dorothy said in Jerry Maguire, “You had me at hello.” Don’t spoil your query letter by providing an editor with the entire article. Give enough details to entice them, and don’t forget to list your credentials.

4. Send your query letter to a ‘specific’ editor. It’s important to have the correct spelling of the editor’s name. If you’re not sure how to spell an editor’s name, look it up or call the publication. Phones don’t bite!

5. Accept rejection with grace. Your freelance articles aren’t the first ones to be rejected. Many well-known freelance writers share their ‘rejection’ stories as a way to encourage aspiring writers to keep pursuing freelance writing. No writer is immune to receiving rejection letters. If you’re lucky, an editor will point out the ‘error of your way’ and offer you a chance to resubmit your freelance article.

6. Don’t write without a contract. Some freelance writers have been known to write without a contract. Don’t do this. Before you agree to write freelance articles, make sure you’ve clarified the deadline, word count, and pay rate. Ask if you’re allowed to have a ‘short bio’ at the beginning or end of the article. There must be a signed contract in place before you begin writing and interviewing sources for your freelance articles.

7. Celebrate when editors say yes to your freelance articles. Break out the champagne and celebrate when an editor accepts your pitch. Make sure you’ve clarified everything from the word count to the pay rate. Ask questions before and during writing your articles. Give yourself a ‘pat on the back’ for selling your article.

Amandah

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Amandah Blackwell’s Don’ts and Do’s for Attending Writer’s Conferences

In a couple of weeks, we’re about to bid farewell to 2011 and welcome 2012. For authors and writers, this translates to sorting through the enormous amount of writer’s conferences and choosing a few to attend during the New Year. Before you pack your bags and fly or drive to your destination, read the don’ts and do’s of attending writer’s conferences.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t sit at table with grumpy look on your face. All of us know that writers are ‘supposed to be’ solitary people however, when you’re at a conference, you may want to loosen up.

2. Don’t insult other authors and writers. This is bad business acumen and downright unacceptable. There’s room for all writers.

3. Don’t monopolize editors and publishers. You’re not the only one at the book or writer’s conference. Give your 30-second elevator speech and ask to schedule time with editors, literary agents, and publishers during classes and workshops.

4. Don’t dress sloppy. Like it or not, your appearance is just as important as your manuscript. Iron your clothes and or pack wrinkle-free clothing.

5. Don’t forget to bring your iPad and or laptop.

6. Don’t forget to bring marketing materials such as business cards, postcards, flyers, etc.

7. Don’t forget to participate in classes and workshops. You’re not in elementary or high school anymore. It’s alright to raise your hand. If you give the wrong answer, you’ll survive.

The Do’s

1. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Dress for success” a million times but there is truth to it. If you dress professionally, you’ll feel like a million dollars. Before you attend a writer’s conference purchase new clothes and get your haircut, styled and colored. When you look better, you feel better.

2. Do get over your shyness. You may want to get to the ‘root’ of your shyness and dissolve it. Life’s too short to be afraid to speak up and speak your mind. Walk up to someone you don’t know and say, “Hi! My name is (fill in the blank). It’s nice to meet you. What do you think of the writer’s conference?” It may take you a couple of times but once you do this, you’ll be able to speak to anyone, including your fans.

3. Do send hand written ‘Thank You’ notes to editors, literary agents, and publishers. Remember to ask for a business card.

4. Do network as much as you can. If you want to collaborate with another writer, conferences are the best places to find the ‘right’ writing partner.

5. Do bring paper and pen along with a recorder (if permissible). You never know, there could be a power outage and you may not have time to charge your laptop.

6. Do learn all you can about the publishing process. The more you know the better you’ll become at writing and sending query letters and understanding what agents and publishers want.

7. Do prepare a list of questions. When it’s time for the panel discussion, be prepared to ask your questions. Do your homework and learn all you can about the conference, panel, etc. Know before you go!

Amandah

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Freelance Writer Dotted I’s and Crossed T’s: Query Letter Still Needs Work

I, the freelance writer, was thrilled to hear from the editor at a consumer magazine I recently queried. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in general interest stories, unless, of course, it’s an angle that hasn’t been covered over and over again. He also rarely accepts unsolicited queries. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed. I reviewed ALL of the information that was posted on Writer’s Market before I submitted my query. According to Writer’s Market, “the publication needs expose; general interest and new product articles.” This wasn’t entirely true.

Before I submit a query, I review a publication’s website along with current and back issues (where available). I didn’t see an article with my angle on the website. However, the editor informed me that the angle I pitched was already covered in the ‘hard copy’ of the publication. I would have known this if I went to the library and read back issues of the magazine. Lesson learned.

I subscribed to Writer’s Market because I want to grow my portfolio, especially in the area of consumers’ magazines. I have many article ideas that I’m passionate about and would benefit readers. The listings on Writer’s Market make it easy for freelance writers to find publications to query. However, freelance writers shouldn’t assume the information is 100% accurate. It pays to dig deeper to ensure you know exactly the types of stories an editor needs and wants.

Steps freelance writers can do before querying publications

1. Read current and back issues of a publication in addition to reviewing their website. Make sure your angle is totally unique and can’t be found in another publication or on their website.

2. If you subscribe to Writer’s Market or some other writer’s publication, don’t take the information at face value. Dig a little deeper to find out exactly what an editor wants. As I discovered, the information about a publication and what an editor wants may be out-of-date.

3. Read, edit and revise your query letter. Read your query letter out loud to make sure it sounds coherent. Correct grammar and punctuation. Also, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How unique is my angle? What can I do to ‘tweak’ the angle and make it more unique?
  • Will the publication’s target audience be interested in my article?
  • What do I have to offer the readers of the publication?
  • Where can I find experts for my article?
  • *Do you have the correct spelling of the editor’s name?

*Note: Writer’s Market provided an email address for the editor of the publication I queried; the editor’s name was not included. I performed a Google search to locate the editor’s name. Always find out the correct spelling of an editor’s name.

4. Do you need to send a CV/resume and clips to accompany your query letter? The information on Writer’s Market did not state that a writer must send a CV/resume and clips to the publication I queried. When in doubt, find and read the writer’s guidelines. If they’re not listed on the website, send an email to the editor and or assistant editor and request them.

As I said in the beginning, I’m thrilled to have heard from the editor of the publication I queried. All is not lost because I have the opportunity to submit another angle (stronger) along with my CV/resume and clips. Whew!

Freelance writers; learn all you can about pitching and querying editors. While Writer’s Market and other publications for writers are fantastic ways to get your name out there, don’t take the information at face value. Do your own research before you email or send your query via snail mail.

Good luck!

Amandah

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How to Find and Pitch Ideas to Editors

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

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Are you having trouble finding ideas to pitch to editors? On September 7, I tuned into Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli’s Idea Clinic webinar on how to find and pitch ideas to editors. Here’s a recap of the webinar.

How to find good ideas

1. Look at your own life. What’s going on in your life? You would be surprised how many people may be going through what you’re going through. Look at your family — they’re full of ideas!

2. Think about disasters and failures. What did you fail at? How did you turn it around? Do you live in ‘tornado alley’ and have experienced a tornado? Think about the disasters and failures in your life and the world.

3. Read other publications. Get out of your comfort zone and read other publications to get ideas.

4. Speak to people. You can find ideas by speaking with family, friends, co-workers and the general public.

5. News: what happens next? What’s happening right now? What will happen next? Stay on top of current events and pop culture because there are plenty of ideas.

Most of the time, ideas come first and then you think about the market later. Of course, you could flip this.

6. Can you localize and or nationalize an idea? What’s happening in your area? Can you nationalize a story? On the flip side, how can you localize a national story?

7. Go to PR Web and other press release websites. You can find plenty ideas from press releases.

8. What’s shocking and surprising? Let’s face it; people love sensationalism. It sells! What’s shocking and surprising right now? What do you find shocking and surprising?

9. Listen to conversations. Have you ever been in the grocery store and found someone with their cell phone glued to their ear? They’re usually oblivious to the people around them. Feel free to listen to their conversation — you could find a ‘gem’ of an idea.

10. What are peoples’ problems? Remember, you’re in business to solve problems and market your business. Think about problems that most people are having and solve them.

According to Carol, “Editors are overwhelmed. One editor received 100 pitches per day — that’s 500 pitches per week. Some editors won’t respond. Keep pitching and sending at least five pitches per week.”

How to pitch articles

1. Read the publication before you pitch an idea. You’ve this before but it begs repeating. Read publications before you pitch your ideas.

2. Write a one page query letter. Keep your query letter to one page.

3. Make sure an idea is timely. It’s important to make sure your idea is timely. Remember, publications are usually 3 to 6 months ahead.

4. Be counter intuitive. Pitch an opposite idea. Give editors a fresh take on old ideas.

5. The idea must be marketable. Make sure your ideas are marketable. Study the target markets.

Rebecca

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