>Got clips?

>Queries and clips go together like bagels and cream cheese. When you approach a new editor with an idea, he or she is going to ask to see samples of your published work. If you have never published anything, then the best you can do is offer to send a finished manuscript. But once you have published, you’ll want to send clips.

Ideally those clips will be your best work and be related to what you are proposing to write. If you’re querying for an article about dogs and all you have is that piece you wrote on baby quilts, go ahead and send it, but if you have something about dogs, that’s the best.

Now how do you do it? Back in the olden days, people sent “tear sheets,” pages torn out of the actual magazine or newspaper, along with their letter and SASE. Then we got good photocopiers, and we could send copies. I have done that for many years. In fact, I have a file drawer stuffed with alphabetized copies of past published work.

However, the world has changed. We’ve gone digital. Most newspapers and magazines and certainly all web zines want queries and clips sent by e-mail. It’s hard to send a piece of paper through cyberspace.

So what do we do? We computerize our clips. If your article was published online, you can make note of the URL and include it in your query. But you can’t count on that article always being there, so copy it into your own file. I use the Adobe PDF program, but there are others. Search online.

If your article is only on paper, have it scanned onto a CD or flash drive, or onto your hard drive. For a long time, I rarely needed to do this, but the world has gone digital. I recently bought my own scanner (Canon CanoScan 8800F). It’s a complicated beast, and I’m still figuring it out, but I have already put some of my best clips on my hard drive, so next time I send out an e-query, I can send my e-clips. I can also clean out that file drawer.

Some editors still work by snail mail, so do keep paper copies, if you have them, or be ready to print out your computerized file, but first priority is to get them into your computer.

A writer’s clips are essential tools. Keep them handy and ready to send out with your great ideas.

Questions and comments encouraged.


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