View Full Version : Clips

06-09-2005, 06:27 PM
What is a clip exactly? I mean, what do I have to cut from the publication in which my work has appeared, and show? The whole piece (which can be many pages), the byline (if it appears), the line in the contents showing the piece name and my name, what?

Thanks for help,


06-09-2005, 07:08 PM
A clip, as I understand it, is a published piece of writing. Whenever I'm asked to submit clips, I send photocopies or PDFs of the entire article as it appeared in the magazine or newspaper. If it's a three-page article, the recipient gets a three-page article.

One more thing: I do not crop pages. I do quite a bit of arts writing for a weekly newspaper, and my articles tend to be 800 words. They usually fill 1/2 to 2/3 of the page, and are often surrounded by a line of ads on one side and a roster of upcoming events below them. I "clip out" the entire page (using an exacto knife and a straight edge), and use a photocopy/PDF of that as my clip. I don't know why, but I like the idea of saving the clip "in situ." I'm not sure how editors feel about this....anyone?

06-09-2005, 07:56 PM
Thank you for the quite detailed answer. It tells me what I wanted to know, though it looks to me a bit too much to send a full number of pages, as it takes for the whole piece, but it's logical, really.

When you say: "I send photocopies or PDFs", you mean you send the photocopies if they ask for snailmail submitions, and PDF if they accept emails, or electronic media submissions? That is according to what they ask to be given, real paper thing or electronic media?


06-09-2005, 10:42 PM
Yes, I send PDFs if the editor wants the clips electronically and photocopies if they prefer snail mail. Some of my articles are archived on websites, so I send the link if the editor wants those, too.

I'm curious...how many pages do the articles you write for magazines span? At least with the magazines I read (other than the New Yorker), anything over 5 or 6 pages seems really long! If you're sending photocopies, you always have the option to copy double-sided (wait - I don't know if double-sided annoys editors or not).

The thing about sending the entire article (my longest is four pages) is that it allows the editor to see how you began the article, how you organized it and followed through on your lead, and how you wrapped it up. It seems to me that sending only a portion of an article could work against you. Again, this is open for discussion as I am only speculating.

06-09-2005, 10:50 PM
I don't write articles, at least now. Too much work on and around the piece w too little compensation.

I write short stories and F and NF (two bks in deep process, now) and intend to stick w it.

But, lengthwise of piece speaking, my short stories are in the range of ~1k - ~3k w's, so it makes for a thick piece of mss pages sent.

I guess I'll have to mention the publications in which I'd been published (when it will be published, ha-ha; I sent five shorties to six lit mags in mid April), that's all, unless they ask specifically for whole pieces, which I don't think will be the case.


06-11-2005, 06:44 AM
Many years ago, my husband and I owned a weekly newspaper. (Due to divorce, I am no longer an owner, but the paper still exists.) I wrote many features for the newspaper during that time, but they did not have a byline (my husband - who did most of the writing - didn't want me to get the credit for the features).

Is it possible for me to submit those articles as clips, even though I have no byline?

Thanks for your comments!

06-11-2005, 09:40 PM
Just a q thought: how would you prove it's yours?


06-11-2005, 10:53 PM
Hopefully someone with firsthand, relevant experience will pop by, but until then I'll chime in:

There's a certain implied trust between the writer and the editor and, at least in my experience, editors don't ask you to "prove" you wrote a clip or writing sample. The editor asks for clips in order to see if your wrting style and research skills match the needs of his publication. If he assigns you an article, and you turn one in that is nothing like your clips and leaves the editor in a lurch, it's likely that the editor will reject the article and you won't get paid. If he gets suspicious and investigates (by calling the editor of the magazine that published your supposed article), you could end up with a bad reputation among the editor community.

The point is, I'm guessing most editors trust that your clips are written by you, and it serves no one if they're not.

Now, as far as RVWriter is concerned, you can absolutely use those clips! I'd probably include a note in my query explaining why there's no byline on the pieces.

Note to WriteRead: I only write non-fiction articles for magazines and newspapers, so all my comments (and experience) deals only with those outlets.

aka eraser
06-11-2005, 10:57 PM
Dan's comment is the problem with non-bylined pieces. Was there any attribution made, such as "Staff?" If so, I'd still use them and explain in the cover letter that although not bylined, they were written by you when you were on staff. Heck, I'd use them anyway if I had nothing else and if they were decent examples of my chops.

Look for markets which accept complete pieces too. They're out there and clips, or lack of same, don't matter there. A killer piece can get your toe in the door.

Good luck.

06-12-2005, 04:13 AM
Yes, it makes sense that there's a mutual trust which comes in where there's no by-line, as Rose says, if only b/c there are publications which specify "By-line given", so one can infer from this that sometimes such are NOT given, so this is an accepted policy in the industry. If so, then it's known far and wide, to editors, agents and publishers.

A q for aka eraser. You say
Look for markets which accept complete pieces too. This concerns exactly what I have initially asked: for a clip you have to give the whole piece, or a part of it, only; is length a consideration, here?


06-12-2005, 04:22 AM
I think aka eraser is suggesting that you look for markets that accept completed articles as opposed to queries. This is somtimes called submitting "on spec." The benefit is that by sending a completed article, there's no need to furnish clips (published articles) that prove you are a talented writer.

06-12-2005, 11:19 PM
Thank you, Rose, for your input!

Maybe I'm a bit dull, but still confused...

A clip is a full copy of your published piece to be sent to whoever needs it, no matter what its length?


Cathy C
06-13-2005, 01:40 AM
Yes, it is the original article, regardless of length, but some publications don't require the actual original.

The term "clip" is carried over from before there were photocopiers, and it was an actual copy of the article in question, clipped or cut directly from the magazine. Some publications still want to see the full original article -- especially since it's so easy to "create" a clip using word processing programs. The slick glossy paper ensures that it's an original piece (or at least cuts down on the chances it's faked). Generally when I get a published article, I request five copies of the magazine for my "tear sheet" aka "clip" file, just in case I need one on short notice. I was once required to give an original clip to a product manufacturer when I was attempting to interview their R&D department head, to prove I was a published magazine writer in the field I was claiming.

If you don't have a clip with your name on it, one satisfactory method (such as something written for a newspaper with no by-line) is to get a letter from the editor of the paper stating that you were a staff writer and that the articles in question are yours.

While it may seem extreme for publications to be asking for this, it too often happens that people will try to fake their credentials and then the publication is stuck holding the bag (and if this didn't happen, there wouldn't be a stink about teachers trying to get promotions with "diploma mill" certifications!) What bag would they be holding, you might ask? If they write a good article, did it matter whether the person faked prior credentials? Yep. Someone who took the time to fraudulently state their credentials is also likely to fake the quotes and the original content, something that could get the publication sued.

Several writers organizations also require original clips accompanying an application to gain membership (Outdoor Writers Association of America - OWAA is one of them.)
JMHO, of course!

06-13-2005, 03:32 AM
Thank you, Cathy! Very informative and detailed.