Write From Home: Lessons From The Editors

Writers talk about rejection all the time ? just part of the job. But getting rejected by a no-pay publication really scrapes the barrel. I know: it's happened to me more than once and now that it's been years [of therapy] later, I can admit lessons learned.

1. Competing Market

My first novice article submission was to an AboutCom site. The writing was good, and loaded with links to other helpful sites. It was the latter that got the piece booted. The website editor simply did not choose to publish articles that might lead readers to sites similar to her own.

This goes directly to the "study back issues" mandate offered by experienced writers. Even if you don't agree with a specific editor's approach, you need to write to those specifics or submit elsewhere.

2. Preaching to the Choir

Animal organizations are usually sorely in need of donations, whether financial, by way of goods or content for newsletters. However, an article on the care and feeding of feral cats, garnered from years of experience in rescue work, was rejected on the grounds that it was targeted to the wrong readership.

Acting on that advice, I searched out and submitted to "how-to" publications directed at readers not involved in stray cat rescue, and published the article multiple times. For example, a gardening ezine was interested in it from the point of view of "pest control" rather than any humane reasons per se. Semantics aside, people who might never have read the thing in some radical animal rights newsletter were potentially reached.

3. Regurgitating

There may be nothing new under the sun, but at least try to give your article a unique twist or perspective. To my knowledge, I've never been rejected on the grounds of simply rehashing; however, as an editor myself, I've turned down many submissions due to repetitive themes and outlooks.

It's shocking how far some writers go to avoid writing: I obtained permission from a recent journalism grad to reprint a wonderful article of hers that I'd stumbled across. While doing research into the topic (for purposes of artwork), I found the exact same article. Verbatim. Written by someone else.

Use those No/Low-Pay Markets

I'm still using those free articles to get paying jobs: clips from a couple of humor parenting stories written nearly five years ago pulled in two assignments from national US print publications. Similarly, I base everything I write on rejection lessons learned over the years: study the publication (not just the guidelines); put yourself as a reader of that magazine; flip your angle, dig deep and work hard for originality.

Published freelance writer and copyeditor, Stephanie Olsen, is publisher of JustMarkets. For paying, telecommute writing jobs and markets (your only source on the web six mornings a week!), visit http://www.justmarkets.com. Get your Free Market of the Day, bi-weekly newsletter and Welcome Gift today.

In The News:

Public Writing and the Junior Scholar  The Chronicle of Higher Education
'Mum notes' become book  New Zealand Herald
Write for THE  Times Higher Education (THE)
Why Writing Better Will Make You a Better Person  The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Rise of the Robot Reporter  The New York Times
How to Get Every Email Returned  The New York Times
Why I Quit the Writers’ Room  The New York Times
Does It Pay to Be a Writer?  The New York Times
Unfinished Work  The New Republic

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