1: A twenty-year-old magazine, that you truly
enjoy writing for, folds without warning and without having published your
latest article. The worst of it is that you sent photographs with your article
and now you cant make contact with anyone who knows anything about your
In the future: Maintain close contact with
editors. Dont allow more than a month to go by without receiving an update on
your project. An impromptu phone chat might reveal the information you need to
protect your interests. I generally dont send photos until I know that the
article has been received and is scheduled for publication. Then I alert the
editor to the fact that the photos are on the way. Always duplicate photos
before sending them.
2: You spend hours interviewing a fascinating
woman tattoo artist. A local magazine issues you a contract and you write the
article. But before the magazine gets around to publishing the piece, the
woman closes up shop and moves out of the country.
What to do? Well, the regional magazine editor
will no longer want to run the story, but you might be able to sell it to a
national general interest, alternative lifestyles, art or trade magazine. Or
tweak your article a little to fit a publication in the history category,
military, health and fitness or young adult, for example.
3: You meet someone with an interesting story.
You query an appropriate magazine and get the go ahead to submit an article.
You do the interview, write the article and receive a rejection letter for
your trouble. "Oh well," you sigh. "There are plenty of other magazines that
would love this article." Wrong. You query your little heart out and get
nothing but rejections. The subject of the story keeps asking you when the
piece will be published. You feel embarrassed each time you have to tell him
that you still havent found a publisher.
Should you vow never to try to place another
profiles piece? You can if you want to. But, for the sake of your career, Id
suggest that you move on to something that will sell. When you have pockets of
time, reexamine the original article. Compare it to appropriate writers
guidelines and consider tweaking the piece to fit a particular
4: You are hired by a graphic designer to
create copy for a company brochure he is designing for a client. You complete
the job, and weeks later, he comes back with a request from the company for
some changes to the text. You finish them right away. The guy who hired you is
so close to deadline that he hastily makes the changes and sends the project
to the printer. After 5,000 copies of the brochure are printed, the client
finds several mistakes in the areas where last minute changes were made and
they refuse to pay the graphic designer for the job.
The next time, insist upon seeing the project
each and every time there is a change made to the text. Draw up a simple
contract indicating that your payment is not contingent upon the graphic
designer getting paid.
5: You are so excited about having one of your
stories published that you sign a contract without paying much attention to
it. Later, you decide that you want to include that story in an anthology, but
realize that you have signed away all rights to it.
This happens more than you might imagine.
Never, NEVER sell all rights to your work. All might not be lost, however.
Contact the magazine publisher and ask if they will return the rights to you.
Or completely rewrite the story.
6: You reject an offer of $2000 for an article
by a major magazine because they want all rights even though they will return
the rights to you 90 days after the work is published.
If you dont understand the contract and the
ramifications, take it to an intellectual properties attorney.
7: You learn that a particular magazine has a
new editor. You neglect to contact him, however, because the former editor
never published any of your work.
Always give a new editor a chance because he
or she may just adore your style.
8: A magazine editor contacts you with a
request to publishnot the article you pitchedbut a clip you sent with your
article submission. You freak out for fear that you will get in trouble for
letting a second magazine use an already published article.
Calm down. Check to see what rights you sold
to magazine number one. If you gave them first rights or one-time rights you
can still sell reprint rights. Be sure to tell magazine editor number two that
this is a reprint.
9: You are an expert on growing winter
vegetables. You write an article for a popular gardening magazine featuring
how to plant and tend a winter vegetable garden. Then you start looking for
other topics to write about.
What should you do? Write more articles on
your topic for this and other magazines. How about articles on postage stamp
gardening, tips for protecting your garden from frost and greenhouse growing,
for example. Approach the large number of regional magazines with custom
articles on seasonal gardening for each area. One good idea might be worth a
10: You are hired by a client who wants you to
"take a look" at her article, book proposal or a chapter of a book manuscript.
You recommend several changes and offer suggestions for making the work read
better. You return the work to your client with your editing suggestions.
Weeks go by without a word from her.
Yes, she is probably displeased. She thought
her work was better than it was and she highly resents receiving it back with
all of those awful red marks. Wait a couple of weeks and then contact your
client to ask if there is anything else you can help her with. Chances are
that she will eventually contact you with high compliments for helping her
create a more polished article. A clients silence is difficult to endure. But
sometimes they just need time to get over the sting of critique and recognize
the value in your suggestions. Ive had clients come back months later to
thank me for pointing them in the right direction.
Patricia Fry is a career writer, author, speaker and editorial/publishing consultant.
She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)
www.spawn.org and the author
of 27 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book
Visit her informative blog daily, www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
New book of cat stories
Patricia Fry announces her latest book: Catscapades, Tales of Ordinary and Extraordinary Cats www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html.