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

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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.


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Creative, Freelance and Ghost Writer Reflects on 2011 — Part II

Ah yes, 2011 will be coming to an end in a few weeks. Personally, I can’t wait to get out of this year. Most of the people I spoke with this past year have said that 2011 was not a great yea r. Even online, folks have said that 2011 was one hell of a year. For me, it was about self-reflecting on what I want out of life which includes what I want for my creative, freelance and ghost writing career. Here’s Part II of my reflections of 2011.

Amandah’s Reflections of 2011

1. Released the pressure off of me to earn a huge salary from my writing. I’m a single gal and solely responsible for earning a living and supporting me and my writing. Alas, I don’t have a trust fund worth $100 million. Bummer! As I wrote in my blog post What Advice Do You Wish You Received before Becoming a Freelance Writer?, I wish I could have spoken with a ‘seasoned’ freelance writer to learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ before I began. Then again, I wouldn’t have my experiences to pass onto to aspiring freelance writers.

In 2012, I’ll continue to seek full-time employment in creative fields, coaching/consulting, education, and real estate. I love real estate and don’t care what anyone says … it’s still a lucrative field.

2. I love story telling! I believe I’m a natural storyteller; I’ve been told I’m a natural storyteller. I love telling stories and creating different worlds and scenes. I love developing characters and often find myself drawn into their world. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it’s not so good. Getting wrapped up in the details can take me away from the big picture of a story.

I’m drawn to screenwriting because it’s straightforward and to the point. Basically, “He said; She said; He said; She said.” I also enjoy seeing a story brought to life through CGI, costumes, outstanding performances by actors and actresses, the music score, etc. When you see a movie on the big or little screen, it’s amazing to think it was created from a 90-120 page screenplay.

I do like writing YA, fiction and short stories but sometimes I get wrapped up in the details. As said above, I lose sight of the big picture. I’ll work on this in 2012. Perhaps, I’ll take more writing classes and workshops. I’d love to attend a writer’s conference.

3. Encouraging my nephew to write. I’ve encouraged my nephew to pursue writing. He was supposed to start a blog but is still thinking about his topic. Also, he’s disappointed that he hasn’t heard from a credit union about an article he submitted on how teens can earn and save money. I told him to contact the credit union; I don’t think he did. Hey! I can only do so much. I know he’s disappointed because his article was well written. I’m hoping this experience doesn’t discourage him from writing.

4. I need to sell my ideas. Do you know how many ideas I have written down? I have too many to focus on at once. I really need to ‘sell’ my ideas. I’ll check into that in 2012.

5. I need to enjoy writing more and remember ‘why’ I love to write. This coincides with Point #6 — releasing the pressure to earn a huge income from my writing. I need to relax and get back to the joy of writing. I lost this for a while, but I believe it’s coming back to me. It’s one of the reasons why I started Daily Family Antics. This blog is funny, blatantly honest, not depressing, and a lot of fun to write. No pressure!


How was your 2011? What will 2012 be like for you? Share

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Creative, Freelance and Ghost Writer Reflects on 2011 — Part I

Ah yes, 2011 will be coming to an end in a few weeks. Personally, I can’t wait to get out of this year. Most of the people I spoke with this past year have said that 2011 was not a great yea r. Even online, folks have said that 2011 was one hell of a year. For me, it was about self-reflecting on what I want out of life which includes what I want for my creative, freelance and ghost writing career. Here’s Part I of my reflections of 2011.

Amandah’s Reflections of 2011

1. Set a goal to reach 1,200 followers on Twitter. I’m almost there; I have 1,199 diverse followers such as writers who write for the Huffington Post, CNN, and other outlets. I’m also connected with various publishers, producers, directors, production companies, screenwriters, social media consultants/companies, and media companies.

2. Start another blog where I can stretch my writing and not worry about it. I love comedy, especially TV comedies such as The Middle and Modern Family. I recently began Daily Family Antics because “there’s always something going on every day in my home.” It’s been a ‘hit’ with readers. My mom finds it entertaining so I know I’m on the ‘right’ path. Yes, I know mom’s can be biased; however, my mom is not one of those moms. I appreciate her honesty and she has a good ‘eye’ for stories and details.

Another reason for the blog is I plan to use it as a basis for a half-hour TV comedy. I’m still in the developing stages, but I plan to work on the plot, characters, treatment, logline, etc.  in 2012.

3. Writing for HalogenTV. This production company focuses on providing folks with information they can use to be the change they want to see in the world. It’s a great website, and I’m hoping I could expand my role with them in one form or another.

4. I didn’t move. I was hoping to move by October 31 but that didn’t happen. This made a little sad because I need to be in my ‘own’ sacred space. On the bright side, I have a lot of ideas thanks to my ‘family’s antics’ and more life experiences.

5. Querying and pitching. I was thrilled to receive a response to a query I sent out for a well known magazine. I also pitched my teleplay. But, I need to do more querying and pitching and stick to my schedule in 2012.

Part II will be posted tomorrow. This blog post would have been close to 1,000 words if I posted everything at once! That’s a bit much for a blog post. That’s just s my opinion.


How was your 2011? What will 2012 be like for you? Share

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What Advice Do You Wish You Received before Becoming a Freelance Writer?

Like many freelance writers, I jumped in the deep end of professional writing with my eyes wide open. I didn’t have anyone to coach or guide me through the sometimes murky waters of freelance writing. I admit that it would have been nice to have had some ‘solid’ advice about freelance writing before I embarked on this journey. It would have been nice if a ‘seasoned’ freelance writer would have given me solid information about the business of writing. Oh well! Sometimes, it helps to learn as you go and learn from your mistakes.

Here’s the advice I wished I would have received before becoming a freelance writer:

1. Freelance writing is a business. It’s up to you, the freelance writer, to run your business. No one else will do it for you. Unless, of course, you hire outside help so you can work in your business not on it.

It’s important to know who your target market is. Also, it may be easier to write for a ‘niche’ market than trying to be everything to all businesses. It’s important to be comfortable with sales and marketing. If you can’t sell you and your writing services, who will?

A freelance writer needs to know how to create quotes, proposals, and invoices. Lucky for me, I have an accounting background and creating these types of forms wasn’t difficult for me. But what do if you don’t know how to do this? You could do a Google search or find forms on the internet and ‘tweak’ them.

2. Learn about web design and HTML coding. Tweaking your WordPress theme may or may not be easy. If you can’t afford to hire a professional web designer, learn about web design and coding or barter with a web designer. For example, in exchange for a clean and professional website, you could write blog posts and articles for the web designer.

3. Choose your domain name wisely. Is it better to use your name or a business name? What are the pros and cons? It’s possible that you could choose a domain name only to outgrow it. Before you setup your freelance writing website, conduct a ‘domain name’ brainstorming session and choose the name that’s right for you. Bounce names off of close, supportive family and friends. It’s better to do this then purchase a domain name that you really don’t like.

4. Learn how to write and submit query letters the first time. Let’s face it; there’s a lot of advice online about writing and submitting query letters. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Is there a right or wrong answer about writing and submitting query letters? It would have been nice to have been mentored by an experienced freelance writer who wrote and sent   query letters throughout the years. Fumbling in the dark doesn’t help.

5. How do you set freelance writing rates? This is another area where it’s completely gray. When you’re a new freelance writer, how do you know what to charge? What’s the ‘magic’ formula? Is there a magic formula? Most ‘seasoned’ freelance writers say there isn’t a ‘standard’ when it comes to setting rates. Personally, I think they forget what it’s like to be a newbie. New freelance writers could use guidance and solid answers when it comes to setting rates. It would cut down on the frustration of it all.

6. Where to find the right clients? This would have been extremely helpful. How did ‘seasoned’ freelance writers find their clients when they started out? How do they find their clients? Did they go through the yellow pages? Would a newbie go through Yelp? Did a ‘seasoned’ freelance writer drive through their local business park and write down the business names? What’s the 411 on this?

7. How to stick with freelance writing when you’re not earning what you expected to earn or don’t have a solid support system? What happens when you quit your job because you thought you could immediately earn the same amount of income or even more each month from freelance writing? What happens when you ‘jump into’ freelance writing without having a backup income? Are the ‘gurus’ who say, “You can earn a living doing what you love” wrong? Are they selling ‘pipe dreams? Are they doing a disservice to people? Ugh!

What happens when you don’t have the support of family and friends? How do you persevere and press forward? Connect with local writers through, the library or local bookstores. Sometimes, it helps to meet face-to-face with others who are experiencing the same situation as you. Of course, you can connect with other writers through forums along with Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media websites. Just remember — you’re not alone. There are other writers who probably feel the same as you do. All you have to do is meet them. Before you know it, you’ll have cultivated a network of writers and friends.


What advice do you wish you were given before you became a freelance writer? Share

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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!


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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!


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How to Find and Schedule Time to Write

Sometimes, you have to scramble to find and schedule your writing time. Life can be full of ups and downs and your writing may be placed on the back burner for a month or longer. Your novel, YA, poetry, memoir, etc. shouldn’t have to stay there long. Below are ways to find and schedule time to write. Don’t allow a few ‘bumps’ to slow you and your writing down. In fact, adversity can propel you towards success. Use it to your advantage!

How to Find and Schedule Time to Write 

1. Are you a morning or a night person? If you’re a morning person, get up one or two hours earlier and brush your teeth, workout and shower, eat breakfast, and start writing. If you’re a night person, put the kids to bed and start writing.

2. When the baby’s sleeping. Most moms will probably want to sleep; however, if you’re a writer, you may want to write first and sleep later.

3. On your lunch break. If you’re working a 9 to 5 job, write on your lunch break. If you receive a 30 minute lunch break, write for 15 minutes. If you receive an hour lunch break, write for 30 minutes. If you receive two 15 minute breaks throughout the work day, write during one of those breaks. Each time you write, you’re one step closer to finishing your book.

4. In the air. If you travel for work (travel writer, perhaps), bring your iPad, netbook or laptop so you can write while you’re in the air. Also, take advantage of the downtime you have while waiting to board your plane. FYI: Airports are great places for inspiration. You’ll find a lot of characters flying the friendly skies!

5. On the road. If you travel for work via the road, bring your iPad, netbook or laptop and write whenever you have downtime. Most hotels have free WiFi — accessing the internet is easy. Check out the local cafe and write there as well.

6. When kids are at school. If your children attend school from 7:45 am to 2:35 pm (or whatever schedule they have), schedule one or two hours of writing time during their school time.

7. When kids attend extracurricular activities. If your kids are in sports or cheerleading, attend dance classes, or other extracurricular activities, schedule your writing time during these times. One hour per day or every other day will add up. You’ll complete your writing project in no time.


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