Freelance Writer Tips And Advice: How To Choose A Market For Your Writing

This article tells writers what to look for when deciding to submit their work to an Internet publication.

You've written an article. You think it's good and you're ready to find a market, but how do you find the right market for your work? Of course it depends upon your genre. If you write fiction, it might be a little harder to find an Internet publication that will pay you for your endeavors. They're out there; they just take a little more work to find. If fiction is your game, you should have no problem finding an ezine that's right for you and that pays. But there are a few keys to keep in mind when searching for that perfect electronic outlet for your work.

First of all, if you are a working writer, you probably want a publication that pays. There are plenty of start-up websites that pay, although probably not as much as you would like. But they are also usually more willing to give new writers a chance. So you're best bet might be in finding a start-up zine. Fear not, for there are more and more each day. Finding these markets takes a bit of work. It's easy to find print markets; the guidelines are everywhere. But you have to be a bit more adept at research to find paying Internet publications. Check out job boards listed an About.com's freelance writing site (http://www.freelancewriting.about.com). Suite101's freelance writing site has some great links to paying markets (http://suite101.com/welcome.cfm/freelance), so don't neglect them. Also check newsletters for freelance writers, such as Angela Adair-Hoy's Writer's Weekly (http://www.writersweekly.com) and my own The Write Moves (http://www.allthewritemoves.com). If you're lucky you can get $1 per word or more, but expect about $15-30 per article. And of course, the better you get and the more work you get, the choosier you can get about where you submit work, so you might be able to write a few $1000 articles per month instead of 100 $10 articles. My rule of thumb is to make at least $25 per hour. If I can do that, I'm satisfied.

Once you find a publication or two or three that you think you'd like to submit to, be sure to check out their guidelines. Nearly all ezines have very specific guidelines that they expect you to follow. If you don't, you have very little chance of your query even being read, let alone your piece being published. After all, who wants to work with a write who can't follow instructions? To get submission guidelines, send an SASE to the editor, send an email, or go to the website¡Xmost ezines have their guidelines right there on the site or will email them to you quickly. You should also check out an issue of the publication to get a feel for what style they like and what articles they would be most receptive to. The great thing about ezines is that all that information is right there at the website. No going to the library for back issues or reading current ones in the bookstore.

Your next step is to query the editor. You do this whether you have the article already written or if you just have an idea for an article you'd like to write. An email query is what most ezines like, and that will likely get you quicker results than a print letter. Your query should be no more than one page, should start with a hook (possibly the intro to your article), the points you'll cover in the article, and end with you asking whether or not they would be interested. Some publications like for writers to include a resume and/or clips; you'll know this by reading their guidelines. What if you don't have clips? You'd better start writing!

Once you land an assignment, you may or may not get a contract. Writers are always advised to get it in writing, but a lot ezines are different from print publications in that they simply do not do business that way. And that doesn't mean they're disreputable; they're just busy. If a publication has been around for awhile and they have clear submission guidelines, it's probably ok to write without a contract; just get an email go-ahead. It's really important to follow your gut instinct. If an editor is vague or dismissive, I would be reluctant to write for him without a contract. If this happens to you, request a contract or ask if you can send one to them. You'll know the answer if you don't hear from them again. Don't despair¡Xyou don't want any part of people who do business this way. You'd never see your money anyway. Just go on to the next ezine on your list and try again. Writing is full of rejection in one form or another, so get used to it.

If you do get a contract, it will note your pay rate, what rights the publication is buying, and when you'll get paid. It's always nice to be paid upon acceptance, but some zines do pay on publication. Again, if it's a fairly reputable publication, you should have no problem getting your money, but if you're working with a start-up website, I would stronly suggest negotiating to be paid upon acceptance. If an editor is on the up and up, he will likely agree. If he doesn't, listen to that gut instinct and run if it tells you to. If you are in the National Writers Union, they have representatives who can give you advice on negotiating a contract and can help you file a grievence if you have a problem with a publication. Check out their website at www.nwu.org for more info.



When you get paid, the publication is buying the right to use your work. ¡§Rights¡¨ is very complicated because you get into print rights and electronic rights, reprint rights and first rights. We're going to assume here that since you are reading about breaking into electronic print, we're dealing only with electronic rights. But that in itself is a complicated issue, because the Internet as a publishing tool is relatively young, and the same clear rules that print publications use simply don't apply online. Read Moira Allen's interesting article for more information on this: www.tipsforwriters.com. The law of electronic rights is being written right now, every day, but what I have found is that generally, most ezines stick to the language print magazines use, so I'm going to define here a few types of rights that you should be aware of:

- First Serial Rights: You are selling the right to publish the story, article or poem for the first time in any periodical. All other rights remain with the author. You have the right to sell the exact same article again, although you cannot sell first rights again to another publication.

- One-Time Rights: You are selling the right to publish the work one time. You can sell the exact same article again to another publication.

- Second Serial (Reprint) Rights: You are selling the right to publish the story, article or poem again after the piece has already been published by another periodical.

- All Rights: You give up all rights to your work. The publisher may publish the work in any format -- print, film, electronic formats such as CD ROMs, and on the Internet without providing additional payment to you. You cannot sell the exact same article to anyone else ever.

- Electronic Rights: The best way to handle electronic rights is to clearly spell out exactly which electronic rights are sold, if you are selling reprint or archive rights too. Get it in an email or a contract. If you don't understand what rights the publisher wants, ask.

Are you ready? You should be; you have everything you need to know about breaking into ezines. Now get out there! Stop reading and go write something. Because, after all, you are a writer, right?

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