THE WRITERS BUREAU
"Within a few months of sending in my first assignments my confidence grew and I started my first book. It was picked up for publication almost immediately and since then I have not looked back. I now have several books in print and also work for many international clients on a regular basis. I have nothing but praise for The Writers Bureau, as my website states, and would recommend anybody considering a career in writing takes this course before embarking on the long road ahead."
Suzanne Harris, UK.
"I landed a big travel writing assignment with an online portal. It's
10,000 words long, and it'll be up on the site in a few days. I was given Rs.
10000 ( approx £130 ) for this. They love the piece, and are relaunching the site with my piece as the
Harshad Karandikar, India.
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FREELANCE MARKET NEWS
an essential guide for freelance writers
For up-to-date market information, Freelance Market News is invaluable.
Issued 11 times a year it's packed with information on markets in Britain and around the globe, plus you get all the latest news and views on the publishing world.
Every subscription comes with FREE membership of The Association of Freelance Writers. Your membership also entitles you to discounts on books and competitions, a free appraisal worth £18 and a Membership Card which confirms your status as a Freelance Writer. For full details and to subscribe visit the website at: www.freelancemarketnews.com
IN THIS MONTH'S ISSUE OF FMN:
HOW TO FOCUS FOR SUCCESS
How To Follow Through
by Caroline Deacon
Does this sound familiar? You had a wonderful idea for a feature, sent it off to a magazine and... nothing. No-one phones or emails, no cheque arrives through the post. What should you do? What you shouldn't do is give up on the idea. Instead, learn to follow through.
First things first
Did you pitch your idea correctly? Each publication will tell you how they like to receive ideas, usually on the page with the list of contributors and staff. In addition many publications issue writers' guidelines, most have websites, and many more list their requirements in the Writer's and Artists' Yearbook or Writer's Handbook – both usually available in your local library reference section. Always follow these guidelines; if they say they prefer to be contacted by email, then email. If they say no unsolicited manuscripts, send an outline and ask permission to send the whole manuscript. Incidentally, "no unsolicited manuscripts" doesn't mean they don't commission freelancers, it just means they want a brief summary, not the whole thing.
Hitting the right market
It should go without saying that you must do your research properly. You can have the best idea in the world, but if it doesn't suit the publication you are approaching, they will not buy it. You could have exclusive news of a famous footballer having an affair with his coach, but the Lady will not be interested. The tabloids will fall over each other for it of course. The commonest mistakes writers make are:
* Pitching a general feature to a specialist magazine. "Why I took up fishing" will not be of interest to a specialist fishing magazine; they've all been there, done that. This is far better for a general interest magazine.
* Pitching a specialist topic without specialist knowledge. Magazines are unlikely to buy a health feature, for instance, unless you have the right background.
* Pitching an idea that you think they "should" cover. OK, so you think pictures of skinny models do terrible things to teenage girls, and you are right, but a fashion magazine will actually not want to be lectured at. You might think that your women's magazine "should" cover being a mum – well no, not if their market is single women.
* Pitching opinion rather than facts. Sad to say editors and readers are not actually interested in hearing what you think. Readers' letters and viewpoint columns such as the Lady's are the only place for opinion, and you still need to make sure the opinion is in line with the magazine's readership. The Lady's readers will not want to know your thoughts on rugby, for instance.
OK, so you did your research and you pitched the appropriate idea in the appropriate way. Still nothing.
Firstly let's imagine what is happening for the editor. If it is a small publication, chances are he will be doing everything himself: commissioning features, arranging photos, planning the magazine, maybe even chasing advertising. Once a month he has to produce a magazine from scratch. A lot to do – and on top of that every day he gets probably 100 emails, yours among them. Answering you is not a priority – getting the magazine out is his priority. He will probably scan your email, and if it looks interesting and he is an organised person, he will stick it in a sub-directory called ideas, and when he next needs an idea he'll look in that sub-directory. Chances are though, he won't get around to it unless prompted.
If it's a big publication, the features editor will have this job, but he or she will be getting 1000s of emails a day. Their task will be to whittle these down to a few, and then pitch these to the editor at the editorial meetings – probably every six weeks.
Bear in mind that each magazine only has room for two or three features a time, and you are up against some stiff competition. But don't despair – if your idea is really good, they will want it, especially if you can also prove that you will deliver.
Chase up the editor with either another email or a phone call after six to eight weeks. Incidentally, for readers' letters, if you have not heard within eight weeks assume they've been unlucky, but don't bother following these up. If you follow up with an email and still hear nothing, then ring within a fortnight.
The phone call
Have your original pitch in front of you when you ring. Introduce yourself politely, and then say you are just ringing to check whether he got your spec ideas, and whether he is interested in any of them. There will be a hesitation at the other end of the phone at this point, so helpfully tell him exactly when you sent it so he can look it up. (Incidentally email pitches should just say something like 'spec ideas' in the subject line.) You should also briefly tell him what your ideas were.
Listen to what he has to say – he will either tell you why your ideas are unsuitable (which is excellent as it gives you massive clues as to what is suitable) or he will ask you for more information – again that's great, it means he's interested in the article. You must be flexible – so if he says he only wants 1000 words instead of 2000, great, say you can do that. Don't try to persuade him he really wants something he doesn't – that will only put his back up.
Ringing at the wrong time
Editors are always busy around the time they are putting their magazine 'to bed' (i.e to press) so back off if he tells you that is happening. Instead try to get an agreement that you can ring him back in a week's time.
* Gatekeepers. In large magazines, phones will be answered by a switchboard or an editorial assistant. Never antagonise them – they are potential allies. Simply ask them when the features editor will next be in, tell them your name and ask them to say you called, and ring off cheerfully.
* Make it easy for the editor to get in touch – put your email address, home address and phone number on every piece of correspondence.
No one likes rejection, but remember it's not you as a person who is being turned down, but your idea. The best way to avoid being despondent about rejections is to keep active! So always have more synopses sitting on editors' desks than you have time to write and that way, if one idea goes nowhere, there is always another one.
Caroline Deacon is a tutor for The Writers Bureau, and also tutors creative writing for the WEA. She has been a freelance writer for 10 years now, and writes for a wide range of publications, including health journals, parenting magazines, and travel magazines. She has written, edited and contributed to a number of books, including Babycalming (published by Thorsons) and the forthcoming Teach Yourself Child Development (Hodder Headline). For more information see her website www.carolinedeacon.com
Contact us with any thoughts, questions or queries at: firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Feedback' in the subject line.
THE WRITING CLINIC
If you have a question you want answering then send it to: email@example.com with 'The Writing Clinic' in the subject line.
"My question is regarding writers markets. I have been researching markets on the Internet and have generally found that markets for my preferred genre, Horror and Sci fi, are generally based in the USA?
I am a real Newbie at all this and have only just finished Module Two of the Writers Bureau Comprehensive course. I'm based in the UK and am wondering whether I should be trying to find UK markets or does it make a difference where you get published in the world?"
THE WRITING CLINIC'S ANSWER
The first thing is that it doesn't matter where you get published in the world – so long as you get published. So, keep trying those American markets.
But there are some avenues you can try in the UK. First, if you've not already done so, check out the sites of the British Fantasy Society www.britishfantasysociety.org.uk and the British Science Fiction Association www.bsfa.co.uk
Next have a look at the website for The Edge magazine at www.theedge.abelgratis.co.uk They accept new fiction – no reprints – by both well known and new authors. They are looking for 'modern SF, horror, fantasy, crime, erotic, transgressive, non-cliched stories'.
Another option is to look at www.ttapress.com They publish both The 3rd Alternative and Interzone. If you go to the site and click on 'publications' you will see details of both these magazines. Plus, they give good contributors' guidelines.
Finally, a new one that was reported in Freelance Market News recently is www.spinetinglers.co.uk This website has been launched by writers in Northern Ireland to give aspiring horror and dark fiction authors a chance to get their foot on the first rung of the publishing ladder. Every month there will be a competition and the top five stories will be selected and published on the website. The one judged best by their panel will win £50. But, we don't know anything more about this project – so tread carefully!
We hope you find this helpful and good luck with your stories!
* * * * * * *
"Can you recommend a guide book on script writing for TV, radio and stage? "
THE WRITING CLINIC'S ANSWER
The following books are all extremely good and are all available from www.amazon.com
How to Make Money Scriptwriting by Julian Friedmann
Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger
Writing for Television by Gerald Kelsey
Writing for Television and Radio by Robert Hilliard
In addition you might like to have a look at www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom and many large book shops now sell scripts for popular TV and radio shows. It may be worthwhile buying some of these so that you can study them and see how they are crafted.
NB: I have uploaded two issues of E-zee from the archive that contain articles on writing scripts for TV & radio. I hope you find these useful. To view them, simply go to the back issues page on the website and scroll to the bottom of the list or click here.
Note: If you are a student of The Writers Bureau and have a question relating to your course please contact the Student Services Department directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabay's Copywriters' Compendium, "contains a wealth of inspiring ideas, descriptions and definitions to help ensure the success of your next creative writing project. It’s like having access to your own personal copy-coach whenever you want." www.gabaywords.com/index.php
The BFI's website has a useful resource page for anyone undertaking a scriptwriting project. www.bfi.org.uk/filmtvinfo/gateway/categories/scriptsscriptwriting/writing/
The Biography Channel website has a great search facility on it – perfect for anyone who's researching a biographical article or book. You can search by name, keyword or category. www.biography.com/search
This month's article was written by Caroline Deacon, a prolific writer who has been tutoring for The Writers Bureau for many years. Details of her many publications can be found at her website: www.carolinedeacon.com
That brings us to the end of this month's issue. Next month, Jackie Cosh shows you how to profit from forging a change in direction with your writing.
As usual, if you've any suggestions or would like to comment on content then please contact Teresa at:
And don't forget if you've enjoyed this issue of E-zee Writer and found it useful, tell your friends about it so that they can subscribe too!
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