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The Rookie Writers Miracle
by John Gasawski
I had a few minutes to spare one summer day, so
I dashed into a bookstore and made my way to the magazine racks. There I saw
shiny colorful cover after shiny colorful cover. Each one beckoning "choose me",
"pick me", "take me home", "how about me?"
Unexpectedly, my hand wondered to a publication
I had never seen before -- a travel magazine. This one had a colorful glossy
cover like most of the others in the rack. However, through some quirk of fate,
my hand grabbed this one. As I paged through, I noticed a bold print
advertisement. The publisher was actively seeking travel articles. Hey, I said
to myself, take a chance. You never know.
Having done some research on marketing
photography, I knew a little about query letters, who to contact, SASEs and so
on. So, off went a query letter to the editor suggesting an article titled "The
Ten Best Kept Secrets of St. Louis".
Time passed and passed. Being a novice, I wasnt
concerned with the lack of response. Then late one afternoon, I received a call
from the magazine editor. He thanked me for my story suggestion and went on to
say "I am not interested in a story on the ten best kept secrets of St. Louis
but I would be interested in an article on St. Louis."
Would I consider doing a 700-word article on
spec? "Focus on people having fun, smiling faces, clear blue skies, the major
tourist attractions, and some of the lesser known tourist spots."
Of course, in my blissful ignorance I said,
In researching markets for my photography, I
knew my chances of being published were improved by submitting photos along with
the article. So off I went, camera in one hand, notebook in the other. Since St.
Louis was home, I didnt do any planning. I just visited the places the tourist
go and took pictures, took notes and grabbed brochures. I did minimal research
to uncover several off the beaten track places to mention in the article. "Wow,"
I thought, "this is easy."
Later, back at the computer, I realized it was
not as easy as I thought. Nevertheless, I was committed. I told the editor I
would give him approximately 700 words plus pictures of smiling faces, sunny
blue skies, and people having fun at the tourist spots in St. Louis. In spite of
the blank computer screen and the blinking cursor, I managed to create a draft
I read that draft, reread it and reviewed the
punctuation and spelling. Finally, I decided enough was enough and I bundled the
article along with some slides and made my way to the post office. Several weeks
passed, but being a novice, the passage of time didnt worry me. Then the
miracle happened. I received an email advising me my article was scheduled to be
published in the next issue. What a great feeling!
Looking back on it, I realize I was fortunate
and lucky. My submission to hit ratio was 100%. My luck stayed with me because
several months later the same article was published in a commemorative issue of
the magazine. Imagine, here I was, a rookie writer, and paid twice for the same
Since then, I have been published in a number of
magazines and newspapers. The magazine that gave me my start has published three
additional articles and will be publishing a 4th in the next several
Following the suggestions of many, I always
attempt to bundle words and photos. I also look close to home for stories,
continually do my market research, have my notebook handy, and promote myself.
© Copyright 2005, John Gasawski
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