No matter your level of experience, selling your writing can be the most difficult part of being a writer. That's especially true if you're a novice in the freelance marketplace. Louise Dop has some good insights on how NOT to sell your writing. (Hint: Reverse this advice, and you can actually sell your writing...)
How Not To Sell Your Writing - Common Mistakes For Freelance Writers
By Louise Dop
It doesn’t matter how brilliant your writing is, you won’t sell it if you don’t act in a professional and businesslike manner. If you are a freelance writer trying to get your work placed in a magazine or e-zine, the editor holds the key to your success. Bombarded with queries and manuscripts, they are likely to put your work straight in the bin if you don’t stick to their strict code of conduct. If you want to see all that hard work rejected, try some of the following:
Don’t bother to find out the name of the contact who reads submissions. Just address it to ‘the editor’ and hope for the best.
A glance at the publication in question or a quick call to their office should give you the information you need to address your query correctly.
Submit your work on scruffy, crumpled paper, folded many times and stapled together.
While it’s not necessary to spend a fortune on best quality writing paper, it should at least look fresh and well presented. Use the biggest envelope possible to minimize folding and never use staples – editors hate them! If you have a large number of pages, fasten them with a paper clip or put them in a plastic folder before placing into the envelope.
Use brightly colored stationery covered in cute pictures or witty comments. For good measure, enclose free gifts and stickers.
Anything other than business stationery will mark you out as an amateur and guarantee that you won’t be taken seriously. Having said that, as long as the envelope is the right size, clearly addressed and has been stamped with sufficient postage, it is acceptable to reuse old envelopes. Chances are, the editor won’t actually get to see them as they are often opened by a junior member of staff.
Send off your completed manuscript without bothering to read the submission guidelines.
Most editors have very strict guidelines for submissions. If they include the words ‘no unsolicited mss’, do not send your completed manuscript or it will go straight in the trash can - unread. Send a query letter instead. If the publication does accept full manuscripts or if the editor asks to see yours, it should be typed using double-spacing. If email submissions are accepted, you don’t need to worry about double–spacing.
Ring or write to the editor after a few days to see if they like your work.
The speed with which your query is answered can vary but it is perfectly normal to wait weeks or even months for a reply. If you haven’t heard anything after about 3 months it is acceptable to make a polite enquiry about your submission.
Argue or complain if your work is rejected.
If you are rude to an editor they will never consider your work again. Accept the rejection graciously and try to learn from the experience. If you are asked to modify the piece in some way, do it if you want to get published.
Submit your work late.
If you have been lucky enough to land a commission, make sure you keep to the deadline set by your editor. Discuss this at the beginning of the project so that a realistic timescale can be agreed. If you suspect that you are going to have difficulty completing on time, let the editor know straight away.
Sell the same piece of work to lots of different places at once.
Nothing will make an editor more furious than paying for a piece of writing only to read it in a competing publication a few days later. Some magazines and websites are prepared to buy reprints but you must be honest and present them as such. Editors will usually want to know where and when the piece first appeared.
Louise Dop is a successful freelance writer and technical author. Her ebook, The Writer's Secret Weapon, brings together a collection of the best free online resources for writers and gives an insight into the writing life. With over 50 direct links to resources, this straightforward guide will show you the real-life tips and tricks that – armed with an Internet connection and basic computer literacy – you can try for yourself right away. www.clearlywrite.co.uk
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