>Are you nervous about approaching editors with your ideas or your stories? It’s normal. In a way, every query is like a applying for a job. You might say the query is the application, and your outline or book proposal is the interview. Success means a new opportunity, work to do, and the potential for money and more work. Failure means starting over. Anyone who says this is their favorite part of freelancing is probably being sarcastic. Love the writing? Yes. Love the research? Sometimes. Love the money? Always. Love pitching your work? Not so much.
But it’s not bad once you get the hang of it. If you are excited about your idea and you know it fits the publication you’re pitching, AND if you can communicate your excitement and prove that it fits, you will succeed.
To help you in that quest, you might want to invest in Moira Allen’s new edition of The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, which just came out from Allworth Press in September. I have a piece in there, Chapter 17, on pitching to agents at writers conferences. I’m proud of it, but that’s just a tiny taste of all the good stuff in this book.
Allen and various guest authors share step-by-step instructions for preparing queries, pitches and proposals for all kinds of articles and books. Want to sell a column? They tell you how. Want to sell a travel article? The instructions are here. Want to know three ways to make your query irresistible? Page 51. Want to find writing work in the corporate world? It’s here. It’s all here.
Moira Allen is the longtime publisher of Writing-world.com, which offers a monthly newsletter, articles on every imaginable facet of writing, and more. She is also the author of Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, also from Allworth Press. I have a chapter in that book, too.
Make sure you buy the SECOND EDITION of The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals. The first one is good, but a lot has changed in this computerized world since it came out. Besides, I’m not in it. 🙂
Have you purchased your copy of Freelancing for Newspapers yet?
>I’m double-posting today to answer a question from a writer named Susan, who had some questions for me:
” I enjoyed reading your piece, “Newspapers: A Great Source of Freelance Opportunities.”
I’ve taken the opportunity to sell work I’ve done to newspapers, primarily because I’ve found it a very comfortable relationship.
Since I reside in both Florida and Illinois, one line in your piece was of particular interest, ” and the Chicago Tribune pays from $150 to $500 for travel articles–which you could resell to the L.A. Times or the Miami Herald….”
I haven’t written travel articles, I write health features, but why did you specifically mention the Times or the Herald for resale, and how would I go about reselling pieces I’ve done for the Trib?
Thanks in advance for your advice.
That I mentioned those particular papers was simply a matter of having the information and being impressed at their rates. In other words, it’s a coincidence that they happen to be the papers from where you live.
That said, you can resell any type of article, not just travel articles, as long as you have not given up all rights and your story fits the mission of papers you’re aiming for.
Let’s talk about rights. Ideally, you signed a contract for your work, but if not, you should have an e-mail, letter or at least a verbal agreement as to what rights the first publication is buying. Don’t accept an assignment without knowing what rights you’re giving up. In the best situation, they only ask for first rights or claim exclusive rights for a limited period of time, which allows you to offer reprint rights elsewhere.
Some papers buy all rights. You can try to negotiate a change in that clause, but if you don’t succeed, all is not lost. You can still write a new article using much of the same information but adding new material to fit the new market. Or you can go at the story from a different angle, making it a whole new piece.
Approach the new publication in much the same way as the first one. E-mail a query or send the whole story, making sure you mention where it ran before. Most publications pay less for reprints, but it still adds to the total you can make from that story.
A couple of cautions with newspaper reprints:
Most papers put a lot of their content online. If your story is going to be on the Internet indefinitely, that may harm your chances of republishing it elsewhere.
Many papers are part of conglomerates that own several newspapers. They often share content. Try not to offer reprints to papers in the same family.
I hope that answers some of your questions. There’s more information in my Freelancing for Newspapers book, as well as in Writer’s Market, at Writing-World.com and other sites for writers. I also recommend The Renegade Writer and The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing, both wonderful books.