Anyone can be a writer, anywhere! Freelance writing is one of the
premiere home-based businesses of all time. From the vintage typewriter
to the high-tech home computers of today, freelance writing has remained
a reliable source of income for wordsmiths worldwide. Their clients
include magazines, newsletters, newspapers, book publishers, greeting
card firms, gaming companies, and corporate clientele. This two-part
series shows you:
- How to be a freelance writer
- How to find markets for your work
- How to approach editors and publishers
But, Can You Write?
Freelancing requires a good grasp of language skills. Has anyone ever
complimented you on a letter you wrote? Do you enjoy reading? Do you
notice details about your surroundings that other don't? Is your
favorite store a bookstore? Do you subscribe to or purchase several
magazines each year? Are you professional, organized, and determined to
succeed as a freelance writer? These are many of the traits found in
financially independent freelancer
Where to Begin
A common term in the freelancing profession is, "Write what you know."
Your professional knowledge, life experiences, hobbies, or interests
make an excellent place to start. The best idea generator is to study
market listings (see end of article).
You Have an Idea! Now What?
Order Writer's Guidelines. Publishers issue writer's guidelines as an
easy, way to let writers know exactly what they want from incoming
manuscripts. Request writer's guidelines from a magazine or publisher in
one of these three ways:
- Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE)
with a short note requesting their writer's guidelines
- Send an e-mail request to the editor
- Or check their website to see if their writer's guidelines are posted online.
Read an Issue of the Magazine!
Most editors complain that they receive several queries that do not
follow the magazine's purpose or format, or do not target the
magazine's audience. Some publications will send a sample issue on
request. Others charge a nominal fee.
I always visit the newsstand at my local bookstore. I sit in their
coffee shop and review the magazine without buying it. (If I bought
every magazine I approached, I'd be in poor financial shape.) You can
also get a good idea of a magazine's editorial content by reading the
articles posted at their website.
The Query Letter
Send a query letter to an editor or publisher to introduce your article
or book idea. The best query letters average three paragraphs.
1st Paragraph - The hook. The hook is the opening sentence or first
paragraph of your query letter. Editors are very busy, always working on
a deadline. If you don't astound the editor at the beginning of your
query, you will receive a rejection letter. Hint: After the editor
assigns the article to you, use your letter's first paragraph as the
first one in your article.
Second Paragraph - The proposal. Propose your article. Summarize the
article in one paragraph. Hint: Use this paragraph to build your article
Third Paragraph - Your bio. Tell the editor about yourself, including
what qualifies you to write the article you are proposing. If you have
any previous publishing credits, briefly note them here. Also, indicate
any experts you will interview, whether or not you can provide photos,
and how quickly you can begin
work on the manuscript.
SAMPLE QUERY LETTER
[letterhead with picture] Angling with Angie
January 1, 1999
Mr. Herbert Taylor
Galveston County Daily News
P.O. Box 628
Galveston, Texas 77553
Dear Mr. Taylor,
I reek of fish. Dried, dead shrimp are wedged under my car seats.
Sunscreen is my makeup of choice. Much to my neighbors' disgust, my
20' Lamar sits proudly on my front lawn. Trophy fish photos adorn my
home. My walls resemble those of a profitable bait camp and fish is
served nightly here...fried, blackened, and (my personal favorite)
barbequed. Unfortunately, the freezer has been bare this fall due to
the absence of the Fall Flounder Run.
I am proposing an article to the Galveston Daily News entitled
Flounder Run Failure. This article will focus on the rapid decline of
flounder in our bay system, and the contributing factors including
chemical plants and residential waste. The death of our waterways will
impact our generation if we do not act now. It is already affecting my
I am a regular contributor to AnglerSport magazine and have had my
work published in numerous fishing and sailing magazines across North
America. My knowledge of our bay system stems from my years of angling
these waters. The president of Gulf States Marine Fisheries
Commission has already agreed to an interview for this article.
Have a wonderful day!
[contact info centered on bottom of letterhead]
1006 S. Country Club
Shoreacres, TX 77571
Phone (281) 470-8397 Fax (281) 470-8397
Part 2 - The Next Step!