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Regional Newspapers to Jump-Start Your Writing Career
by Hasmita Chander
Your local newspaper offices are a good place to
start your writing sales, especially if they are small publications that cover
just one state or so. These editors tend to be more open to using new or
unpublished writers and may even spare some time to talk to you if you call up
or meet them at their offices--like the one who did in my case.
Armed with a short story for children and a few
poems, I decided to go to the editorial office of my citys newspaper, more than
thirteen years ago. I was absolutely green in the affairs of the writing
business. I didnt know a thing about guidelines, studying the market, or how to
write a cover letter. All I knew was how to weave my ideas into stories and
poetry. I was familiar with the weekend supplement that had the childrens
section because we subscribed to this newspaper at home.
I found out the name of the editor of the
supplement from the receptionist and asked if I could meet him. She connected me
to the editor on the phone first and he asked me to come up. I went with
butterflies in my stomach. What if he just gave me a haughty look, seeing my
silly little pieces of writing? I almost turned around and walked back rather
than face a sarcastic, know-it-all editor, but I didnt--luckily, or I may not
be the writer I am today.
The editor was quite the opposite of what Id
imagined. A gentle, quiet kind of person wearing glasses, he listened to me and
looked at my work. He told me that the paper didnt use poetry, but that he
would look at my story and let me know if he could use it.
A couple of weeks later, I received a post-card
from them that I read with apprehension thinking--knowing--it would be a
rejection. It was not. That is one of the most special days of my life--I was
accepted as a writer! The story paid little, but nobody with a $1000 sale could
have been prouder than I was when I received that first check.
Over the years, I wrote and sold many more
stories to the same supplement, even after a new editor took over. I went on to
write non-fiction after that and now am a full-time freelance writer, with more
than seventy-five pieces of my work in print in various publications in India
Smaller publications offer more opportunities to
beginner writers while giving them the experience and clips to get more and
better-paid work. When the work is published, compare the printed version with
the one you sent in. It may have been edited to suit the publications
requirements--jot down the changes and make sure you dont make the same
mistakes in your next submission.
I should have met that editor again after
successfully selling more work to him, to ask about other kinds of writing I
could offer, but I didnt know how to go about these things until many years
later. Of course, it doesnt do to just go and say, Now that youve used quite
a bit of my work, tell me, is there anything else you may want me to write for
Study the paper, look at the kind of articles or
news snippets you think you can write, and write out a few samples. Take an
appointment and show the editor the samples. If he likes them, offer to do this
kind of writing for them, and then ask (now you can) if they have a need any
other writing. Often, there are some topics or kinds of writing that the editors
wish they could get done by freelancers. If he does have some such topics and
you can do them, this could lead to steady assignments. Even if he doesnt have
anything in mind at that point, he may contact you when the need arises.
Articles written for regional newspapers can be
offered to others whose areas of coverage dont overlap. They could also be
offered to magazines that cover the subject, maybe with a little rewriting.
If youre a wannabe writer who doesnt know
where to start, why dont you take a trip to your local newspaper
© Copyright 2002, Hasmita Chander
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