25 Tips Every Writer Should Know

Top 25 tips that every writer needs to know before they choose writing as a career. This article covers everything from queries to publishing.

People who begin writing for a career often don't realize what they are getting themselves into. Venturing blindly into the writing business usually leads writers back to that old 9 to 5 job they hate.

So what is it that writers really need to know before they begin writing? First things first, answer these questions to decide if writing should be a career or a hobby.

* Do you want to be wealthy from your writing, or would you be just as happy writing for free?

* Do you enjoy researching?

* Are you easily motivated?

* Would you be willing to write non-fiction brochures about the life of the aardvark, or are you determined to write only about well-read issues?

Now if you answered yes to or agreed with these questions, chances are that writing may be a good career choice for you. Now you need to know the most important aspects of the writer's life.

1) Expect Rejections! You will not sell everything you write, you probably won't even sell most of your ideas. Get used to it and move on to the next idea.

2) Don't expect to make a lot of money. That's why we are called "starving artists." Writers often have to write as a second career, as a spare time passion.

3) A writer should be able to write on any topic. Read the newspaper, books you normally wouldn't read, or surf the internet for ideas you may not have considered. The majority of money to be made is in the non-fiction market.

4) Be prepared to research. You will often spend more time researching than writing. Writers must research markets as well as their ideas.

5) Research how to write query letters. Try your hand at a few before submitting any. Each query letter you write will get better. Have a friend critique for you, or join a writer's group.

6) A writer must be patient, flexible, and have some skill in writing.

7) Be prepared to wait for editors to reply. Editors are overworked and underpaid, just like you.

8) Look for online markets. The internet is quickly becoming one of the best ways to become published and there are some great high paying markets. Starting online will make it easier for you to break into print.

9) Be assertive. Grab opportunities when they arise. Don't wait for publications to post a notice that they're looking for submissions; ask for article assignments and send your resume and ideas to them.

10) Be willing to negotiate. You don't have to settle for the price they offer. Many editors are willing to discuss payment and rights offered.

11) Keep your query letters short. They should be no longer than 3 short paragraphs. First paragraph should contain a hook, or an excerpt from the article itself. Second paragraph should include a working title, approximate word count, sources or interview subjects and what department it would be best for in the publication. Third paragraph should briefly list your credentials and why you are the most qualified to write this article.

12) Don't write articles before you query. You have a very slim chance of selling the article as is, without changing the slant.

13) Join a writer's organization. Not only can they offer you plenty of advice on writing, but they also look great on a resume.

14) Don't take rejections personally. Most editors don't have the time to offer their reasons why they can't use your article, but most of the time it's not your writing ability.

15) Treat editors like normal human beings--who can make or break your career. Be personable, but professional and courteous.

16) Don't call an editor without his/her permission.

17) Always send an SASE with your query letters and manuscripts.

18) Put forth your best work. Always. Don't ever do a job halfway.

19) Always query first, unless an editor specifically requests manuscripts to be sent.

20) Send your query letter to more than one publication. The odds that more than one editor will want the same article is slim.

21) Don't berate yourself, or your writing.

22) Act confident. Act professional. It will show in your writing.

23) Every writer gets criticized. Every writer has work that needs revision.

24) Keep a journal for brainstorming. Every day pick a simple topic and think up different articles/essays you could write on that topic.

25) If you start to find writing to be a chore, rather than a goal, stop for a while. You can always go back to it later.

Writing should not only be a career, but should be something you love. We all have our own story--now is the time to tell yours.

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