Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Freelance Article Writers: Questions of a Newbie

I'm working my way through a comprehensive market list and finding a lot of seemingly dead ends. So I'm going to throw questions up here. I'll add to them as new ones come up and answer them if I find out the info, but don't be shy: if you know an answer, please enlighten us.

It was only the other day I asked a question that others apparently didn't know either but for one reason or another didn't ask. I'm not scared about looking a bit slow in the head - I always look that way :p

1. What are "Tear sheets"? I found this explanation:

'Any time your work is published, you get copies, often literally clipped out of copies of the magazine, for your own future advertising and portfolio. Tear sheets are the evidence that your work has been published. Tear sheets are similar in this regard to reprints of articles'

Does this mean the publisher tears out a copy of your article and sends it to you for your own records instead of sending a full copy?

2. Contributor Guidelines Available. I'm used to the fiction markets where the guidelines are displayed on the websites - simple and convenient. In a lot of freelance article markets, I've seen listings saying "Contributor Guidelines Available" but I can't find them on the websites. Am I supposed to email the editors for a copy? If yes, then is there a proper format for doing this or is a simple direct request all that is required?

In addition to this one, I see things like:

Initial contact: email/phone/full submission/short outline

I'm guessing if I'm supposed to phone editors with a pitch for an article, there would be some extremely busy people who are on the phone all day. What about fillers? Are we supposed to phone with these too? Doesn't sound particularly efficient or logical.

3. What are media packs?

4. Is there a pitch format?

5. What is the standard rate of pay for new comers?

I am amazed that all these magazines have a large percentage of their content provided by freelancers and yet guidelines are hidden away, or extremely hard to get hold of, or the freelancer has to jump through hoops to get.

It's like some secret world out there, a members only club.

I had some spare time this afternoon, so I quickly skimmed through the beginning of the Australian Writers Marketplace, and noted down which markets accepted articles on topics I could write about and which ones accepted fillers. In the short time I had available, I noted down 31 markets. This evening I went through them, visited every single one's website, read the details of each market in the Guide.

I have created a list of markets where I know what they want. I put in it all the little details I can find to help me market the right articles and fillers to the right markets - just like I do with my fiction stuff. Out of 31 markets so far, I've added 4 markets to my list. Two of those are fiction markets that accept articles as well. The other two I managed to find out about through similar methods I find stuff out about fiction markets.

This is ridiculous.

Can anybody shed some light on this...please.


Frustrated :(

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