All writers are given a lot of advice, and some of it is very repetitious. So you’ve probably heard this before, but it’s still worth thinking about.
What are editors’ pet aversions? Once it was poorly typed, messy manuscripts, but with the blessing of computers, we don’t have to think about that any more. But the rest of the list still applies … a long, flowery introduction; an overlong article padded with meaningless or hackneyed phrases and cliches; unrelated material written with no idea of the policy of the journal; old ideas that are just a rehash of someone else’s work; too much personal touch or the writer’s life history. If an editor wants to see more of your work, even if he rejects one manuscript, he/she will tell you so and leave the door open for the future.
Although publications need big name authors to sell them, they also need first-rate articles from unknown writers. You may get lower rates of payment at first, but you will be encouraged if you show promise. Big names are always in print, because they provide what is demanded.
Often the best time to sell an article is before it even gets written. Many articles are written only after preliminary negotiations between editor and writer. Once you have an idea for an article, it is a good idea to write to several editors sounding them out to see if the idea interests them. This does not commit them to buy your story, but at least if the idea is acceptable, the length is right, the style is suitable, then you have a 90% chance. Of course your letter to the editor must be clear, without bragging, concise intelligent, dignified and to the point. It should crisply outline the feature, and indicate the authoritativeness of the material, and if possible – why you are the best person to write it.
I am still smiling about a letter written to a writers’ journal (obviously with tongue-in-cheek). “You must publish my article because I am the best writer in the country, possibly in the world. I have also written a book, which my mother says is the best book she has ever read, so perhaps you will consider that also.”
Happy writing! Am always glad to hear your comments, and to help with any writing problems. My latest novel (no. 14) is “Searching for Sarah”. If you want to buy it, or any of my previous books, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org