You WILL be rejected. Everyone says, "A rejection is not a rejection of
you, it is a rejection of your idea." I don't care what they say.
Rejection hurts, no matter what the reason. The only good part of being rejected
is when an editor sends you a personal note. You can use their comments
to improve your query before targeting other publications with your idea.
Also, if an editor liked your query enough to send a personal note, you
have a good chance of getting your foot in the door at their office at a later
time. Query them again. Many writers joke that their offices are
wallpapered with rejection letters. When you receive rejections,
remember this and know that you're becoming one of us!
The Assignment and Dealing with An Editor
If you are persistent, you will become a published writer. The editor
will contact you by mail, phone, or e-mail and tell you to proceed.
They might discuss your idea and tell you how they'd like you to write the
article differently than your query angle. They should also provide you
with a word count and a deadline. They might send you a contract, but
this doesn't always happen. Many small publications do business "on a
One editor sent me an e-mail that said, "Great idea! Can you get it to
us by August 15th?" My response was, "No problem. Send me a word count
and I'll get right on it." That was it. I knew she was busy and didn't have
time. For professional or personal chatter. I had read their guidelines and
knew what rights they were buying and how much they were paying me. I only
needed to deliver exactly what I'd stated in my query letter.
The point I'm trying to make it this: I picked up on the editor's
"business etiquette" and her stress level. I did not bother her by
calling for petty details, and I didn't even call to ask if she'd
received my article. I sent the Manuscript by express mail so I could bother the post office with a
phone call instead of her. Included in my package was my manuscript, a disk of the
article (so they wouldn't have to retype it), my photos with accompanying
negatives, and a short note proposing another article idea. My system worked
because she gave me the go-ahead on that idea and also asked me for a list of
articles I could write for them next year. I'm now a regular
contributor, and I have no doubt it is because I respected the editor's busy schedule and
made her job easy.
Writing the Article
1. Pull out the query you sent to the magazine and read your second
paragraph. Also review any notes you have from the editor if she has
requested changes to your article angle. Use these to write your
2. Do your research, if any.
3. Take and develop photos, if required. Note: If your photos feature
people, you will need to obtain release forms from them prior to
publication. See sample release form (below).
SAMPLE - Photo Release
I hereby give_______________________________(writer), writer's
publisher, successors and assigns permission to copyright and/or
publish any photograph(s) of myself with or without using my name and
to keep changes and/or additions to such photographs, portraits in
such manner as shall seem proper to their use. I also understand that
editorial matter will at times accompany these photos. I certify that
I am of full age 18 and am possessed of full legal capacity to execute
the foregoing authorization.
By filling out the form and signing below, I agree to the terms stated
4. Write the article and spell check it!
5. Let someone else read the article before you print the final draft.
This is imperative. Even someone with no knowledge of your subject will
be able to point out inconsistencies, grammatical errors, and typos. Ask
your reviewer for criticism. Hint: Don't let a family member critique your
manuscripts. Family members are afraid of hurting your feelings.
Friends, colleagues, and fellow writers make better critics.
6. Prepare your manuscript in the correct format. Most writer's
guidelines have specific submission requirements. Follow those if they
are provided. If they are not, the typical manuscript format includes:
At the top: Author's name, Author's Social Security Number, Word Count,
Title of Article (though the magazine will probably change your title),
Body - Manuscript should be double-spaced and have a page number on
7. Send the article to the editor using the methods their guidelines
require. Include a hard copy of your manuscript, a computer disk of your
manuscript in text-only format (if available), photos and negatives with
appropriate signed releases from photo subjects, and a short note
proposing another article for the magazine. When the editor sends you a
contributor's copy of the magazine featuring your article, make multiple
photocopies of your published article. These are called "clips." Include
a copy of your best clip(s) with future queries. This shows editors that you
are a credible, published writer.
The information above is an excellent source to get you started on your
freelance writing career. Are you ready? It's time to approach markets
with your ideas!
You can find a variety of paying markets for writers at
To learn how to market your freelance
skills, subscribe to National Writer's Monthly, The FREE Marketing E-mag
For Writers. Send e-mail to ForWriters@reporters.net with 'subscribe me
youremailaddress' in the subject header.