How to Influence Editors and Make Friends

There are some writers that are heads and shoulders above others. They always snag the important gigs and never seem to have a dry spell. What is it about them that makes them so popular? Abundant talent? Insider connections? Eh. Talent will take you far and connections will help you get your foot in the door, but there are three things that, when all else is equal, separate the cream from the watery stuff no one wants. Communication. Star writers are excellent communicators. They keep their editors informed on article development, including any changes or source issues. They are accessible. Emails [Read more…]

Article Quickie: A Writer’s Confession

My name is Terreece and I’m addicted to ellipses. There. I said it. I am free from my shame. Those three periods…they say so much and I find myself using them way to often. Every writer has a crutch. Some liken it to their ‘writing style,’ but there is a difference between a crutch and a style. “I can quit anytime.” One way to tell if your go-to writing technique is a style or a crutch is if a writer can be flexible and not use the item. Whether it’s a particular format or transition, if a writer has trouble [Read more…]

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon

Masthead Located within the first few pages of a publication, the masthead lists the important information you need – editor names, assistant editors, departments, contributing writers, etc. It is also helpful to find out the email configuration of the company – a not so secret tip on getting your queries to the right person without the SASE. On Speculation When a writer has a fantastic idea and an editor isn’t so sure, they will ask the writer to write the piece on spec or speculation. This means a writer will write the article in its entirety on the hopes that [Read more…]

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – A – C: From AP Style to Crib Sheet Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – D – G From Deadlines to Ghostwriting Headline The attention grabber,  the big bold letters at the top of the articles that stop readers in their tracks. Example: “Sixty Ways to Drive Your Man Wild” or “Top Ten Blogging Tips for Beginners” or “Why Your Kids Hate You.” Careful with the sensational ones, readers hate a content tease. HTML Hypertext markup language. Without getting all techie, it’s the tags that create <b>bold</b> lettering, italics, indentations, hyperlinks, etc. Some gigs [Read more…]

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon

Deadline These are those all important dates that you never miss. It’s when an article is due, when the editor wants it in and when excuses will be tough to take. Dek A quickie summary of what an article is about, it usually is placed in the table of contents or under the article headline. Editorial Calendar The theme and publishing calendar for a publication. Most print publications have calendars set far in advance, some as far as six months which is important to remember when sending queries. Writers also use an editorial calendar to schedule their work and organized [Read more…]

2011 Writing Prep: Work on Your Ledes

A good lede (lead) draws readers into the piece. It’s purpose is to pique interest, tell readers what the piece is about and transition them into the body of the article. It also needs to develop rather quickly. That is a lot of weight to place on a paragraph or two, which is why it’s the area writers agonize over the most. As with most things, writing improves through practice, critique and analyzing others. This exercise incorporates all three. Rewrite the ledes you come across throughout the day. Newspaper or magazine articles, blog posts – it doesn’t matter, simply read [Read more…]

Writing is Like Sex

While you’re doing it, you’re focused, zoned in and intense. Every distraction is met with deep disappointment – the phone, the kids, the dog standing there watching you do it. When you’re not doing it it’s all you can think about leaving you distracted. “It” is writing, but the passion in which we pursue, fantasize about and devour it makes it a lot like sex. That’s another big reason why it’s fun. The Heat. There’s nothing like the heat of new blog post, new assignment or new magazine. The magazine represents an opportunity. The blog post or assignment represents a [Read more…]

Read What You Write

Jerry Springer. Everyone knows the name though no one will admit to watching the show. It’s been on for decades and yet the show’s host, Jerry Springer, admits he doesn’t watch it. Why? In an article published on the Huffington Post, the talk show host said “I don’t watch the show, but it’s not aimed at 66-year-old men. If I were in college, I would watch. I enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun.” I’d wager there are several (hundred) writers that don’t read what they write. Whether it is a blog post, column or article, many writers finish [Read more…]

You’ll Never Get Paid On Time!

In honor of Halloween I’d like to trot out and kill a few monsters in the closet that scare would be freelancers out of their dream. Monster: You’ll never get paid or paid on time! There’s not a working freelancer I know that has never been hosed by a client. There’s also not a store  I know of that has never had to deal with a bounced check or shoplifters. Kill Strategy: Planning and prevention. Magazines are notoriously slow. There’s not much you can do about it other than to stack work so while your waiting on Shopper’s Delight’s article [Read more…]

Niche or No?

There is one big question freelance writers must tackle regardless of their experience or career length: niche or no? Newbie writers will read article upon article and blog upon blog touting the importance of finding a niche, picking a niche, taking a niche out on a date…Veterans will find themselves bombarded with articles and posts on when it’s time to leave a niche, switch, combine, create a Frankenstein and give a manic laugh… The truth is – you have a choice. Pro Niche: 1. Building a good reputation as a writer is important. Getting steady work is important as well. [Read more…]

How Do I Find Magazines Taking Submissions?


Dear Jodee, I would really appreciate any advice on how to take the first step to writing an article and submitting to a magazine. How do I go about finding information on what magazines are taking submissions? Patty Dear Patty, Many, if not most, magazines have a web site, which can provide you with a wealth of information about the publication. If the writers’ guidelines are not posted there, you can contact the magazine and ask for them. If you type “magazine writer’s guidelines” into Google, over 370,000 hits will come up. I would add “pay OR paid” to your [Read more…]

Deadline Dilemmas

It’s no secret missed deadlines are a great way to end a professional relationship with a publication. They are a nightmare for both the writer and the editor. The editor is left holding the bag with thousands of dollars on the line waiting on a late article and the writer is off somewhere sweating bullets trying to pull a rabbit out of a badly squished hat. And, while the entire FWJ blogging crew can take turns yelling out into the world wide web that writers should NEVER miss a deadline, it is going to happen. The best we can do [Read more…]

The Power of ” ”

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“I didn’t say that.” “My words were taken out of context.” Two phrases no writer, nor their editor, want to hear. Quoting sources is not as easy as people make it out to be. There are rules to quotes and too often those rules are ignored. ” ” Means Exactly Said First big point. When you put a person’s words in ” ” you are telling the reader that the words within the quotation marks are written exactly the way the person said them. Word for word. No fudging. If you miss words or add words you are then changing [Read more…]

This Month in Media News

It’s that time of the month! While you were hunched over your keyboard writing articles and SEO-ing the heck out of your blog, you may have missed these industry nuggets: You may have heard that Editor & Publisher will cease publication at the end of the year, but you may have missed this great Q&A between Greg Marx of Columbus Journalism Review and Editor & Publisher’s editor-in-chief Greg Mitchell. Like eating? Like blogging about eating? If you can articulate the difference between nutmeg and cinnamon you may be interested in learning: Spanfeller Preps Foodie Launch for Web from AdWeek. What [Read more…]

Don’t Forget the Old School: Say hello to the library

There’s this place with books and periodicals, a staff that has an acute expertise for researching just about every subject and best of all it’s free! It’s the public library. This installment of “Don’t Forget the Old School” will take on why visiting the library is important to writing. Ambiance It’s the library’s mystique – the rows of books, the smell of the pages, the weird looks from that one guy who appears to be talking to his toes… Technically, writing and researching in a library won’t increase your I.Q. immediately, but it will be a more productive place to [Read more…]

Persistent and Consistent – Keys to successful article writing

I talked to a friend and mentor the other day and she stressed the importance of being persistent and consistent in whatever you do. Initially, I was inspired to apply those key terms to another area of my life when I realized she said, “in everything you do.” It applies to article writing as well. Are you persistent – writing despite things going on in your life or business? This is important especially if you’re a blogger, but applies to magazine and web writers as well. Blogging on a regular basis despite sickness and strife helps build and keep your [Read more…]

However…Making Transitions Count

A killer article has a few key components: developed, compelling lede, thought provoking closing, thorough research and smooth transitions. Writers will spend hours, if not days, combing over their research. They will take a hard look at their lede and closing to make sure each gives the desired impact. Many will check over the article for proper word usage and spelling, then send it in to the editor. Wait. You missed a spot! Transitions cannot be ignored. They give an article flow, acting as speed bumps, yellow lights and stop signs throughout the piece. Have you ever read an article [Read more…]

Three Things to Do When You Lose Your Editor

Freelance writers and editors often are portrayed as having an adversarial relationship. The long suffering writer has to bow down to the editor – supreme being of a publication. The editor has unfair demands and a fickle finger. One minute you’re in, the next you’re a kill fee. On the other side, editors are rumored to be workaholics who have so much to balance and not enough time to do it. They are besieged by freelancers who keep spelling the editor’s name wrong and while mass pitching 1000 word/$5 per word pieces.  They juggle writers who miss deadlines and who [Read more…]

Too Many Articles Killed the Freelance Writing Star

Success is going to happen. As a freelance writer, if you keep plugging away, success will happen for you. Sometimes it will hit all of the sudden. A deluge of articles, projects and client meetings suddenly appear in your email box. In between giddy high fives to yourself, you quickly say yes to everything and get to work. Other times it builds slowly, like a tide coming in and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by work. Soon you’re slogging away frantically trying to meet all your deadlines and while steak for dinner is nice, you don’t really get to enjoy [Read more…]

10 Popular Article Writing Questions – Answered! part 2

5. How do you write a great lede? The lede is one of the most important components of an article. It hooks the reader, tells them what the article is about and encourages them to continue reading. Before writing the lede, ask yourself “What is this article about?” Go through your research and find the information, statistic or anecdote that best represents the article’s information and formulate your lede around it. Also check out “Driving Rules for Getting to the Point with Your Lede” and “Lede On, Hook Your Readers Every Time” 4. What makes a good article? A good [Read more…]

Popular Query Questions Answered!

Piggybacking again off of Deb’s popular Frequently Asked Questions and the first part of 10 Popular Article Writing Questions, I’m also tackling query questions. If I miss one of your burning questions please let me know! 10. What is a query? A query is like a sales letter aimed at the editors of a publication. It is used to pitch a specific article idea and yourself as a writer. Some liken it to a cover letter, but I believe there is a difference. A cover letter is interest in a specific job and pitches yourself to the hiring manager, a [Read more…]

5 Ways To Tell Your Article Angle Sucks

Coming up with article ideas or interesting angles is one of the challenges of being a freelance writer. Throw out the thoughts of being in competition with other writers, your main competition is yourself. Can you continually come up with ideas and angles? Are those angles fresh and interesting or the stale standard? Do you have the determination to mine resources for new ideas? I know, it gets tough out there. It seems there are a million “writers” and actual writers covering every topic under the sun. The internet has spawned a deluge of information and the average writer may [Read more…]

Remember When? Article Queries Edition

I was clicking through the Freelance Writing Jobs web site reading articles and coming up with ideas for May’s editorial calendar when I came across this old blog post of mine: “There’s Rejection and Then There’s REJECTION!” I found myself giggling at a question “Is it just me or does it sting more when you’re rejected by hot key?” I was talking about the digital querying age and how rejection form letters are often a hot key away from delivering a swift, coarse “No.” I then got a little nostalgic about the good old days of querying. Remember… Stocking up [Read more…]

Writer? Journalist? Is there a difference?

On my web site and in bios everywhere I tend write “freelance writer/journalist.” Sometimes I alternate – freelance writer for one publication, freelance journalist for another. I feel compelled to highlight the difference, but I have to wonder does it matter, if so to whom? I also wonder if there is really a difference. A person writing for a magazine or newspaper has to follow journalistic guidelines, except in first person narratives, so does that make them a journalist? When a journalist blogs like I do for a non-news blog are they a writer only? I tend to attach journalist [Read more…]

Bitesize: Subheads in Article Writing

Often an article will have a topic that is like a giant buffet or one of those burgers loaded with everything under the sun. While impressive to look at, it is best to break the whole thing down into manageable bites so that the reader isn’t overwhelmed with information and the writer isn’t overwhelmed with finding a way to transition each morsel into a delectable feast. Outlines Help When writers cull their research and outline their article before starting the writing portion of the process, they’ll find subheads tend to highlight themselves. These standouts are a part of important information [Read more…]

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