Author Topic: Writing and Getting Your Article Published  (Read 3308 times)

Offline Gyppo

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« on: February 14, 2011, 04:23:41 PM »
At the risk of being accused of stating the blindingly bleeding obvious...  And sometimes these things need to be stated because as 'dreamers with pens' we're all naturally adept at only seeing what we want to see.

Many rejections are simply because the would be author has sent his work to the the wrong publisher/magazine.

Very few people would be daft enough to send pornography to the The Christian Herald, or 'Jesus Loves Me' poetry to Playboy, but some magazine editors will tell you that at least 80% of what they get is just unsuitable.  That's the key word, unsuitable for their magazine.  It could be beautifully written and presented, but it never stands a chance.  Rather like planting trees on a railways line and hoping the trains will stop running long enough for them to grow.

So the best way to cope with rejection is to not court it unnecessarily in the first place. If you have enough money to send everything you write to every publisher under the sun then this chuck and chance it 'shotgun approach' will get you some results, but it makes no economic sense.

Buy, beg, or borrow from a library useful books like the Writers Handbook, or The Writers and Artists Yearbook.   Look at magazines, if you're an article or short story writer.  Narrow the odds down to half a dozen potentially good markets and target them properly for a while. 

When you get rejected ask yourself why?  Compare what you wrote with what gets published.  Learn by studying the differences.

Some magazines are obliging enough to offer guidelines.  Send for these and read them.  Don't just skip to the rates of pay section.  Or if you do go back and read the other important stuff afterwards ;-).  Whether they pay peanuts or top money you won't get either unless you give them what they want.

Nearly all guidelines include this phrase, or something very similar.  'We strongly advise you to read several recent issue of our magazine'.  This isn't always possible, due to cost or convenience, especially if targeting an overseas magazine, but they wouldn't all say it if it didn't make sense.

Don't let this research become an excuse for not sending things in.  Don't let it become another form of the so insidious procrastination.

As they say in military circles, time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.

"But..."  I hear you cry, "I want to be a writer, not a bloody researcher."

The sad fact of life is until you earn enough money to pay someone else you have to do it all if you want to cut down on your rejections.   There's no magic number of submissions or length of time at which point the 'publishing gods' say, "Oh look, poor old so an so has been sacrificing his manuscripts on the altar of indifference for long enough, let's publish a few and see if it inspires him to start thinking a little more clearly."

There's plenty of reasons why even truly good articles get rejected, but by putting your submissions onto the right desk you will improve your chances immensely.So sit back, take a deep breath, and then think about where to send your manuscripts.

Anyone can collect rejection slips.  I used to keep mine in a box, but one day decided celebrating the failures wasn't  good psychology.  I now use the plain backs as scrap paper.  That way they're doing something useful.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline deborahowen

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2011, 10:49:09 PM »

Gyppo, that's excellent advice.

If I might add a postscript: The best way to sell work is to match one's
writing style to the magazine and then write the article/story for it. 
When an author reads an article and thinks to himself, "I could write
something like that," they've found their market.

Research and marketing is 60% of writing. It makes the other 40% look
easy.
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Lin

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 02:29:55 AM »
I was recently at the Romantic Novelists' Association Winter Party where my guru friend and well known Author Katie Fforde was present.  I think I enjoy critique and rejection but I think there comes a point where you can get very low about it.  Katie told us in her speech it had taken her eight years to become a novelist.  She has countless books published now.  Her story is a good one, very positive and motivating.

Rejection is all about realising that one day, someone, somewhere in some country or another will take up your novel, read it and like it.  Your job is to keep up the interest by sending off as many submissions as possible.  Make it part of the job.  Sell yourself in as many places as possible.  In the meantime take on board what everyone seems to want in your book.  If you seem to be sending it off and getting nowhere - have the readers all said the same things?  what could be improved to make it even better.  Make it sparkle.

I have written my novel many times over just to be sure I can make it as good as it ever can be at this stage.  At the same time I want to make myself known.  You have to go out there and market yourself.  I already have many contacts now and I feel sure that I can count on at least three of them to submit to in the future.  It doesn't stop there, you have to keep going and feel it's fun trying.  Join an internationally renowned writers' association - they are the 'in crowd' and can point you in the right direction.  Quite a few of us have joined the RNA now and has made a difference to our contacts.

Katie once told me that each rejection is a step closer to publishing.  You might decide to scrap the first book and get on the with second one.  My second novel is stronger than the first one, but keep writing your novels and keep sending them off.  It's all part of the system.
 
Write a book, have it rejected several times - ok you learned something each time - If you cannot make the first book work - write another one!  Have two novels on the go at the same time.  - why not?  It gives you a break from the first one whilst you get over rejection.  You are a writer first and foremost - remember that! You have to say 'I am a writer' ten times a day and believe it. Rejection - pah! It's only a positive experience after all.

Lin x
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 04:55:20 PM by Orangutansaver »

Offline deborahowen

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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 11:27:03 AM »
And one last point before we bury this subject: it would behoove all of us to remember how bad it hurt us to hear criticism when we were newbs. I have to work at tact and diplomacy as it isn't part of my natural element (actually, I have to borrow it from someone else), so if I can be kind, anyone can be kind. It is a fact that honest criticism is the quickest way for a writer to learn so critiques are a valuable tool but they go down the gullet a whole lot easier when sandwiched between two compliments. It also helps to outright say, "I want to help you." Great discussion.
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Offline Skip Slocum

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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 01:03:29 PM »
Hear, hear. There is a vast difference between honesty and cruelty.

Skip
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 01:06:23 PM by Skip Slocum »

Lin

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2011, 03:34:36 PM »
I think critique should be like a graph.  Start with the high and gradually go down to a low, then back up half way with a revelation near the top.

It should also contain suggested ways on how it can be fixed.  When I used to teach, there was no point in saying 'that isn't quite right, but you're getting there.'  The student wanted more than that, its the bit in between they need to show them how it's done through their mentor. 

Lin x

Offline MWM

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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2011, 08:04:45 AM »
Lots of good sense here, especially from Deborah and Gyppo.
<a href="http://mistakeswritersmake.blogspot.com">Mistakes Writers Make blog</a>: An online resource for new writers of non-fiction

Offline Carrie

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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2011, 09:14:52 AM »
Well, I haven't had but one rejection(since I haven't sent anything off yet). and that one was from my Mom when I told her I was trying to get ready to go to a writer's conference. ( I am learning about quieries and proposals and platforms instead of watching Daniel Boone reruns)

She told me she just couldn't see any point in spending all that time doing that.

Offline deborahowen

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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2011, 01:29:05 AM »
Well, I haven't had but one rejection(since I haven't sent anything off yet). and that one was from my Mom when I told her I was trying to get ready to go to a writer's conference. ( I am learning about quieries and proposals and platforms instead of watching Daniel Boone reruns)

She told me she just couldn't see any point in spending all that time doing that.

That's no surprise. Most writer's families won't support them - and I know how it hurts. Although I'm a published writer and have founded two writing schools, my mother recently said to my husband, "Well, it's not like she's a real writer." (Whatever a "real" writer is.)

Limit your time with negative people. They'll suck you down like quicksand. Find your support group among other writers, Carrie. One of the best places to go is a writer's conference. Good for you! You'll come out so fired up you can whip anything! Go for it! Deb
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Offline evatje

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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 11:32:29 AM »
I can cope (sometimes) with  a rejection letter because I suppose "that is life". But how do I cope with no answer at all? How can I understand silence?  ???

Offline deborahowen

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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 02:09:18 PM »
Editors have thousands of submissions a week. Most won't take the time to comment, but one way you can try to entice them is to enclose a self-address, stamped postcard. Write "Comments:" on there, and "Thank you" at the bottom. Even so, most won't be bothered with that either. Allow up to four months before you inquire, but by then, you should at least receive a rejection slip.

But the sad fact is this: If you research your market wisely, then write a story or article to match that market, your chances of acceptance will soar. If you write your material first and then try to match it to a market, you will likely fail. I have whole files of stuff that will never sell because I didn't write for the market. Those items serve as a constant reminder to not try to reinvent the wheel.
Deborah Owen :)
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Offline Annmarie

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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2011, 02:55:24 PM »
This is all especially fun when you have a feeling you'll get a no, but try anyway.

A corporate publisher contacted me recently looking for a journalist with a list of qualities that I have -- except for glossy magazine, human interest article experience. I've done human interest stuff here and there, much of it years ago. But for the most part, I've worked in other media and other article genres the past 10 years.

So I'm sitting here sifting through my published work thinking, What the heck am I going to send as examples?  Maybe I'm not a good fit, but I can't resist a corporate client. Pays more, never reneges.

I guess I'll just send my faves (no matter how old they are!), and hope for the best. The worst they can do is say, "You're not quite what we're looking for..."  :)
« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 03:02:30 PM by Annmarie »
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Offline evatje

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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2011, 04:14:05 PM »
Thanks, Deborah, that's helpful.
Do you think it is OK to use websites to research markets? That is cheaper than buying I-do-no-know how many magazines.

Offline Gyppo

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2011, 10:08:29 PM »
This is all especially fun when you have a feeling you'll get a no, but try anyway.

A corporate publisher contacted me recently looking for a journalist with a list of qualities that I have -- except for glossy magazine, human interest article experience. I've done human interest stuff here and there, much of it years ago. But for the most part, I've worked in other media and other article genres the past 10 years.

So I'm sitting here sifting through my published work thinking, What the heck am I going to send as examples?  Maybe I'm not a good fit, but I can't resist a corporate client. Pays more, never reneges.

I guess I'll just send my faves (no matter how old they are!), and hope for the best. The worst they can do is say, "You're not quite what we're looking for..."  :)

I got a regular column in a computer magazine when the only 'clippings' I had to my name, apart from a couple of short stories, were articles from shooting and motorcycling magazines.

'Not at all your subject, but some indication I can write to length and deliver on time.'

I was 'on trial' for the first couple of articles, just to prove i could do the job  Those articles just had a byline.  After that the editor asked if I could come up with a suitable column name, and I became one of their 'regular writers' right up until the magazine folded.  Mostly I was left to pick my own subject, but on a couple of occasions was asked to review a product, which was an extra half page on top of my regular slot.

It's a good feeling to be wanted like that, apart from the regular money.

Gyppo 
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline deborahowen

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2011, 11:33:25 PM »
Thanks, Deborah, that's helpful.
Do you think it is OK to use websites to research markets? That is cheaper than buying I-do-no-know how many magazines.

By all means, use everything at your disposal, but here's how I get copies of magazines FREE.
(You have to be a little gutsy to do this. Practice makes perfect.)

I go to a doctor's office. Lots of magazines there. The receptionist asks if I have an appointment or can she help me. (Sometimes I get by without being noticed.) If I have to answer, I tell her I'd like to look at their old magazines. With a dumbfounded look on her face, she will always say, "Okay."

I sit down and go through the magazines that are applicable for what I have in mind. I look at the date. If they're more than a month old, I put them in the "keep" pile. I usually come up with two or three magazines... none of which are new editions. Then I go to the receptionist and say, "These magazines are dated __________. None of them are new. May I have them?" I've never had anyone say "no" yet.

Step 2: Take the mags home and look at the credits page. Note the names of the editors and compare them to the writers of the articles. If the editors wrote more than half of the magazine, forget it. They aren't very interested in freelancers. You want mags where hardly any of the articles are written by the editors.

Step 3: Analyze all the articles of that magazine and take notes on each one. Things to look for:

1. What voice are the articles/stories written in?
2. What tense?
3. Do the articles enumerate or use bullets?
4. Do they use quotes?
5. Do they use subdivisions?
6. How long is the average article/story?
7. What kinds of articles/stories are they? Do they all seem to have the same theme?
8. What other things do you notice that are peculiar to the magazine?
9. Look at the ads - what sex and age group does the mag target?
10. Do they use sidebars? (Small columns off to the side that further explain an article.)

When you come across an article/story that makes you think, "I could write that," you've found
your gold mine! That's your market. Now that you've found your market, read every single thing in that magazine. Read the articles, stories, and even the ads. Go to the magazine's website and see what their circulation is. Beginners do better by submitting to a mag with about 50,000 circulation (or less).

NOW it's time to write the article. Do NOT write the article first and then try to market it. Find your niche and match yourself to it. Best of luck - Deb
Deborah Owen :)
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