View Full Version : FAQ

11-22-2002, 08:46 PM
I'm starting this thread in the hopes that we can collect the wisdom of this board in one place and help newcomers find what they are looking for without reading everything or a lot of duplicate posting.

Please feel free to add to the collective wisdom. In other words, HEEEEELLLLLLPPPPP!


11-22-2002, 08:47 PM
When sending clips you can do one of two things:

Make a good quality photo copy of the item. On the clip make a note of the date and publication in which it appeared.
Just be sure that the copy is clear and easy to read.


Send a tearsheet from the actual publication with the same note.

No special packaging is required (Unless noted in the writer's guidelines). Send two or three of your best, most relevant clips in the appropriate sized envelope with your query.

11-23-2002, 10:44 PM
1- Buy a copy of latest edition of Writer's Market. Going to the library to skim it won't do. You'll need to STUDY it; which means taking it with you to the bathroom, beside your plate while eating dinner and propped on your belly at bedtime. (You'll eventually want to subscribe to their online version too.)

2- Polish your piece of writing. Don't assume God made editors to fix typos and grammatical errors. The quickest way to announce to a prospective buyer "I am NOT worthy" is to send in sloppy work.

3- When your work shines, re-visit WM and narrow down the best possible markets for it. You can try shooting for the moon from the get-go ie: sending it to the New Yorker, Reader's Digest or the Atlantic Monthly, but I don't recommed it. When you're brand, spanking new, you want clips (which you'll learn about in WM), your name in print and a bit of money. So I advise starting small; local papers, regional magazines etc. Your chances are much better of a first sale with them. When you want to get to the roof, you don't start on the last rung of the ladder.

4- Get used to rejection. Many famous writers collected hundreds of rejection slips before making a sale. If you do your homework, you won't set a new record. Learn from the "personalized" rejections; those kindly editors who took a moment to scribble a note. If it's "nice work, but not for us," take heart and look for a more appropriate place to send to next.

5- Don't send out 1 piece and spend the next 6 weeks staring out the window for the mailman, or checking your email every 3 minutes for a reply. Get something else out. Then something else. Having a dozen or more pieces circulating increases your chances of making a sale substantially.

6- Use this board. Review other threads. Go to school on other's experiences. There is a tremendous amount of information here.

7- Subscribe to writing-related newsletters. I usually botch posting urls, but I'll try to list a few I've found helpful. Information for subscribing is usually found somewhere on the home page.
www.absolutewrite.com (http://www.absolutewrite.com)
www.writersweekly.com (http://www.writersweekly.com)
www.freelancewriting.com/ (http://www.freelancewriting.com/)
www.WritingForDollars.com (http://www.WritingForDollars.com)
www.writelink.dabsol.co.uk/ (http://www.writelink.dabsol.co.uk/)

8- Use the net. Many publications have a net presence now; making reviewing their content, style and contacts MUCH less expensive than the "old" days, when you had to buy a copy or 3. Many also have writer's guidelines posted, sometimes as such, sometimes under the heading "contact us." Learn to use search engines, such as Google. Using italics helps narrow search parameters. Typing "writer's guidelines" will keep you busy. Typing "knitting" "writer's guidelines" will narrow your results. Experiment though. (It's fun.)

The above mostly relates to those who want to write and sell articles, essays, columns etc. If your interests lie in commercial writing, there are many experts on this board in that field. I suspect one of them will amble along eventually and post some dos and don'ts.

Welcome aboard. Hang on to your hat. It's a wild and crazy ride.

11-25-2002, 09:03 PM

I knew I could count on you, Eraser!


11-26-2002, 09:26 PM

11-26-2002, 09:54 PM
With a stick! ...Um, no that's not it.

1 -- Read, read, read. Think of it as recharging your muse. The more ideas you give your brain to play with, the more ideas it will generate.

2 -- Write, write, write. Even if it's garbage. Even if you are hopelessly stuck. Write something. Write a list of the worst TV shows you ever saw. Write a letter to your main character telling him/her that they need to get a move on. Write something totally unrelated to the project that you are stuck on, but just WRITE SOMETHING.

3 -- Upset your routine. If you normally write in the morning, try writing at night. If you write at home, try taking a notebook to a coffee shop and writing while you people watch.

4 -- Take a walk, go biking, lurk at the gym -- whatever gets your blood pumping. Often, when the body is busy, the mind gets bored and wanders into new territory. Many of my Ah-ha moments happen when I'm working out.

11-26-2002, 09:59 PM
First and foremost, follow the guidelines provided by the publication you are writing for.

Generally, you will want to include a brief cover letter, the article or story, and the ever important Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) with enough postage for it's return to you. You can also enclose a self-addressed stamped postcard for the publication to mail to you saying they received your submission, but this is optional.

If you are sending pictures, be sure to package them appropriately to avoid damage.

11-26-2002, 11:42 PM
I learned last week, to my horror, that you should NEVER stamp your name and address on the back of pictures. (I had a rubber stamp made years ago for SASE stuff.)

Sent my finished mss to the publisher along with 35 photos. I only have negs for 17. I thought it would be "wise" to stamp the pics with my info, lest they get scattered at the publishers.


All but the top pic were smeared with ink.

When my FormerlyKindlyEditor called me to tell me, my stomach dropped to a new low and am now feverishly working on Plan B...C.....etc.

So, if you need to send photos, write your info on tape, or get sticky labels made. I was also told not to write your info directly on the back even with a non-runny ballpoint, because you might make a depression that shows on the other side.

EverOlder&SlightlyWiser eraser

11-27-2002, 12:41 AM
Ooh, good tip!

I hope you find replacements, I know how hard you worked getting the illustrations together. My condolences. :(


11-27-2002, 12:01 PM
Jeez, eraser, so sorry to hear that!

Here are a few definitions you might need to know:

SASE: self-addressed stamped envelope

SAE: stamped addressed envelope (same thing as above-- that's just how many overseas markets abbreviate it)

query: a letter you use to pitch your article or book. Generally 1 page, with your hook, a short synopsis, and your bio

ARC: advance review copy

galleys: the uncorrected proofs from the printer that a publisher sends to an author to make sure there are no typos or printer errors

brads: brass fasteners you use on a screenplay-- you three-hole-punch it and then secure it with 2 or 3 brads (most office supply stores carry them)

source sheet: a list of names and contact info for people you have quoted in your article, used for fact-checking

sidebar: extra material that's highlighted on the side or bottom of an article-- often a bulleted/numbered list or short facts related to your article but not contained within it

clips: photocopies of your published articles (can also be stored on the Web)

option: when a screenplay is "rented" for a period of time-- usually 3 months to a year, so a producer can shop the script around and try to get financing

I'm sure there are other definitions I'm missing here... give me a shout if you can think of others!

12-04-2002, 09:22 AM
1. Read your work aloud. To yourself, or a tape recorder. If you can't say it without getting tongue-tied, restructure the sentence.

2. Try to write the same sentence (meaning-wise) in ten words or less. A lot of times that will clear up any convoluted sentence structure. You can always "dress it up" later if you like.

12-12-2002, 09:57 AM
There is a wonderful Web Search tutorial at:

www.clicknwork.com/tutorial1.asp#split (http://www.clicknwork.com/tutorial1.asp#split)

It lists tons of places beyond the usual search engines to look for information.

Note: This is not an endorsement for clicknwork. I have no affiliation with the site.

01-13-2003, 07:47 AM
Any suggestions of what to do when we (newbies) have no clips:eek ?

01-13-2003, 08:16 AM
Try writing an article for a smaller, local market.

Does your area have an "alternative" papers that are distributed for free at the local supermarkets and/or restaurants? If so, check with the editor to see if they pay their writers and, if they do, request their writer's guidelines. Many will want the article written on spec -- meaning they want to see it before they agree to publish or pay you for it -- but many are also desperate for writers.

Once your first article is published, you have your first clip and can build from there.

04-16-2003, 01:41 AM
I have about two dozen clips from my college days (17-18 years ago). They are from the student newspaper (Daily Collegian at Penn State) and my hometown daily paper where I had about one article per week one summer as a stringer. I have nothing since then. Should I relegate these clips to my college scrapbook and work on building a new portfolio of clips?

04-16-2003, 09:42 PM
I don't think there's a clear-cut answer to your question dagmar. A lot depends on the market you're aiming at now.

I would think the newspaper clips, from your stringer days, would carry more weight than the college clips. I would photocopy the best of the bunch and keep them handy for the pubs that insist on seeing clips. But if your college stuff shines, and illustrates a particular aspect of your talents, by all means include those too.

I was in a somewhat similar position when I re-started freelancing after a near-20 year hiatus. Rather than rely on old clips, I targetted publications that accepted finished pieces rather than query+clips. Going this route basically means you're writing "on spec" but a lot of editors want to see the finished product before taking their chances on assigning work based on a query backed by less-than-stellar clips.

So, the short answer I guess is: do both. Send the clips along with queries if need be, but work on a couple of new pieces that can be sent "over the transom" too.

Hopefully you'll have brand new bunch of clips before too long.

04-16-2003, 10:22 PM
Thanks Eraser. I like your suggestion. I'd rather be judged on something current that I really wanted to write rather than something almost 20 years old that I was assigned to write.

aka eraser
10-26-2003, 09:40 PM
I think this thread is worth a bump for a couple of reasons.

1- We have had a LOT of newcomers in the last several months who might benefit from a review.

2- We have also gained some newer members with a great deal of publishing experience who might add their tips.

Lori Basiewicz
03-09-2004, 08:47 PM

What Frank said. That and we're getting many of the same types of questions just a few days apart.

Lori Basiewicz
03-09-2004, 08:52 PM
. . . the article has only appeared on my website or in a publication with a small circulation?

Answer: No. First Rights are just that. FIRST Rights. Once an article has been published, regardless of where or when or how little money was paid for that privilege, the right to publish it first is gone. It can be offered as a REPRINT, provided you did not sell ALL rights the first time around.

By posting an article on your website, it is effectively published on the internet. Publications are generally not willing to pay for something that the public can access for free.

04-07-2004, 06:01 PM
* (asked by WordSoup 3/27/04 in the Humor Thread)

Stupid Newbie Question.... If a Magazine says send double-spaced hard copy, or send in the body of the e-mail, do I still need to double-space the essay within the body of the e-mail?? (Hotmail is being a Cuss and has Formatting Gremlins)

* (answered by aka eraser same day)

Don't worry about double-spacing your work when c/p-ing to a mail.

Don't indent paragraphs either. Make sure you have a full space between paragraphs. If your paragraphs are long, you might consider breaking them into shorter ones if doing so doesn't mess the flow.

Shorter graphs are easier to read in email format.

If they buy the piece, they'll transfer it to their word processing program and tweak it there.

* P. S. Copied/pasted this to bump it. Also noticed lower on the board, an FAQ has been added. Maybe this will be moved there?

- Jen

Betty W01
04-08-2004, 12:17 AM
by reading Jenna's book, "Outwitting Writer's Block"

(hey, Jenna, there's some shameless sucking up going on here :Hail: - hope you appreciate it!)

It's not only filled with good advice, it's funny! But what else would you expect from someone who gives out titles like "Johnny Depp's lost-long love" and "Keeper of the Folded Waterproof Tarp"? Jenna's writing sounds just like her. (You can decide for yourself if that's a good thing... <ducking, running, hiding>


04-26-2004, 08:13 PM
As a reporter's wife, I'm pretty new to this stuff. But I'm in the process of organizing hubby's clips for him to send out. (He's been in the biz for a while but saving clips wasn't his best skill). Any help would be appreciated.

What if the newspaper clip no longer exists? Is it OK to print it out from the newspaper's electronic archives? What about just regular word documents?

What if the clip is really long and jumps from the front page? Photocopying onto a 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper is impossible.

Thanks for any tips.

Betty W01
04-27-2004, 04:46 AM
you may want to post this in a couple of places. Try the journalism forum, too.

08-14-2004, 02:03 AM
Calculating an acceptable (and accurate) word count?

aka eraser
08-14-2004, 06:54 AM
Hapi and Editrix covered that in detail on this B & BC thread:

p197.ezboard.com/fabsolut...=434.topic (http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm11.showMessage?topicID=434.topic)

08-14-2004, 10:47 AM
Excellent, thanks!

11-03-2004, 11:45 PM
is it me or is there no journalism section?

i've been looking for some answers to this topic and similar clip problems.. anybody know the best place for it?

aka eraser
11-04-2004, 03:22 AM
Clips have been discussed fairly recently on the Freelance board. The latest thread on them is here:

p197.ezboard.com/fabsolut...=977.topic (http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm2.showMessage?topicID=977.topic)

We did have a journalism board but it was axed from lack of use. If your q on queries isn't answered in that thread, you could post a new one there or dip back a page or two to see if it was answered previously.

11-12-2004, 05:07 AM

aka eraser
04-10-2005, 01:16 AM
Bumpity-bumpity for some newbie questions.

04-30-2005, 07:33 PM
What are rep points? What are they for? Why are they good or not good to have? How do you get them?


What are blobs? What are they for? Are they a good thing or a bad thing? I see posts about these topics but I'm not tracking. What did I miss and where did I miss it?

04-30-2005, 07:43 PM
Type blobs or bonk into your search function, but make sure you have a few hours.

04-30-2005, 08:12 PM
Hi Unique,

Look in Water Cooler Changes and Announcements. You'll find scads of posts about these things. :)