To be published and build a profitable writing career – or interesting hobby – you must be resourceful, determined and totally professional in your approach. Here’s how.
Specialise in one or a few subjects
List the subjects in which you have a particular interest or expertise. You may be surprised to learn that you know more than you originally think. Include valuable or unique life experiences you have had, such as surviving illness, completing courses, gaining specific skills, or experiencing different cultures, and then use this specialist knowledge to write your articles, stories or books. Having a specialised and unusual field of expertise will open up opportunities for you.
You can sell articles and stories using the same basic idea – over and over again – by exploring and re-writing a researched subject from a different perspective to suit the specific interests of the readers of different publications.
Stick precisely to the guidelines for contributors – available on the publishers’ websites. Each publisher or publication has a particular style and format of writing, and the freelance writer is expected to follow these guidelines. Many writers fail because they have provided material that is not suitable for the publisher or they have failed to follow submission guidelines. Do this research before writing your piece, and tailor your writing accordingly.
Submit your best work
Proofread your work carefully, checking your spelling and grammar, and making sure every detail is considered. It is helpful to put aside your work for a couple of days before your final check. This means that you can read your work with a fresh eye. Make sure factual information is correct. Do not insult someone by spelling their name incorrectly. You face ridicule and even legal action if you give unhelpful or inaccurate advice. Ask yourself – what will your target reader want to know about this subject? Never copy others’ work. However, you can use facts that you find, unless it is creatively used in a database.
When you contact an editor or publisher, keep your communication concise and relevant. Be business-like in your approach.
When you start out as a freelance writer, you may be tempted to submit your articles or stories to the highest paying, best known publications. It can be wiser to target smaller publications, which may help you to become published faster, gaining the valuable experience and kudos that you need for future submissions. Consider approaching specialist and trade publications, county magazines, or small-press journals. Write for your local magazine or journal, or charity newsletters.
If your work is rejected, try again. However, use these rejections productively to assess your working methods and see where you can improve. Most editors do not say why an article or story is rejected, but often, it is because the editor has enough material or may have already commissioned a similar piece. So do not be disheartened.