One magazine. Hundreds of writers. Thousands of queries. One editor. One desktop ... and a trashcan that appears to be incredibly, almost unimaginably deep. Where exactly will your submission go?
It has all makings of an editor's nightmare. Stacks and stacks of submissions, and some of them are dreadfully inappropriate and unprofessional. It's enough to give our poor editor a splitting headache at very least. No wonder that some of these submissions have only a brief existence before being filed in circular bin.
How will you ever get through to an editor who is wading through scores of submissions being sent by your competitors? That's right, your competitors. It's important to think of those other writers with that understanding. And it wouldn't hurt to keep in mind that some of them may be reading this newsletter. Face facts. Space in most publications is limited. Very limited. Not at all like your editor's trash. That trashcan really does appear to be as dark and bottomless as a cup of Aunt Annie's coffee.
Do you want to be successful in business of selling your writing? If so, then having recognized your competitors for who they really are, look at challenge from a business point of view.
Your client has a project. The project is to provide client with writing services and writing material for publication. Your client has tendered their requirements to you and to your competitors. The project and space in their publication are up for grabs, and work will be awarded to most appropriate tenderer. Keep in mind that lowest or cheapest proposal is not always accepted. In fact in this business it probably will not be!
It is very common to receive Requests For Proposals (RFPs) in business world. Serious tenderers would not even consider submitting a sloppy, hastily drafted proposal. For a submission to be short-listed, entire proposal has to be thoroughly researched, well written, and carefully packaged. To successfully submit a writing query or manuscript, you should be just as thorough and just as professional. Naturally your submission will be much shorter and more concise than tender documents in many other businesses.
So how can you make shortlist with your editor? Firstly, you need a great topic or idea but this article is not designed to help you with that. Secondly, your idea or article must be professionally presented. Here is a ten-point checklist to help you ensure your submission is ready to send. Do some of items on list sound elementary? Please check them again. You'd be surprised how many queries are sent every day by writers who fail to perform some of these fundamental checks.
1.Have I read publication? Elementary? Indeed! Come on, be honest. Have you ever read a publication's writer's guidelines at a web site or in a newsletter, had a superb idea for an article and queried - or even written article - all without going to look at publication? Don't, don't, don't ever do this! You may as well play poker machines, if you intend to leave your writing career to blind luck.
Especially since most publications have a web site, there is no excuse for not studying a publication before querying editor or submitting an article. Take a look at other pieces they have been publishing recently. What types of topics are they running? What style of writing was used?
2.Have I checked publication's writer's guidelines?
If they have any guidelines, that is. This is more common for publications in North America than in other continents, and type and amount of information contained in guidelines varies widely. First check a publication's web site to see if there is a link to 'Writer's Guidelines' or 'Submission Guidelines' or occasionally 'Contributions'. Sometimes you will need to go first to 'About' or 'Contact' page before you find this link to their guidelines. If you can't find any link, you might drop editor a polite, brief email asking if they have any writer guidelines. Do you consider obtaining and reading writer's guidelines to be a waste of time? No way. In last few months my newsletter for freelance writers has received queries on a wild variety of topics from archaeology to gardening to European history. If there are guidelines, please read them. Ensure your manuscript meets requirements of style, length etc.