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Rewards in Newspaper Writing
by Nicole Allard
I began this satisfying career as a freelancer
by writing what I know well--my life and my opinions. I crafted some essays
about personal experiences, and nervously sent them out to online magazines.
Although they were accepted, I received no pay for them, and a run-around from
the editors of the publications. Eventually, I realized that this wasnt worth
it. I pulled my essays from their sites, and halted all work for no pay. I read
somewhere that writing for free as a beginner is a good way to earn clips and
"work your way up". It didnt take long for me to recognize that this wasnt
true at all, and I had mostly wasted a lot of time with these
Shortly after my realization, I read somewhere
that someone had success from querying local newspapers. I had never written a
query letter before, and quite frankly, didnt have a clue on how to do this. In
spite of my inexperience, I decided to give it a shot. I wrote out a standard
email stating that I wanted to write articles or essays for "so-and-so"
newspaper and sent it out to the twelve newspapers I could find in my area.
After not receiving a response in a couple weeks, I figured it was a no-go.
Then, one day I received a message from an editor of a small, independent
publication just 20 minutes from my home. The editor wanted me to call to make
an appointment for a face-to-face interview. I didnt expect to have to actually
go to the office and meet anyone. That was a wrong assumption on my part.
Generally, if you are in the area, the editor may want to meet with you. I was
already sweating, thinking about the interview, but I was also really excited
that I received a positive response. I made the appointment, and a couple days
later, I gathered all of the essays I had written to date and headed to the
office. The editor scanned through them at super speed, and stopped at one
particular essay I wrote. Without raising his eyes from the piece, he asked,
"Youre Native American?" Apparently, there was a controversy going on at that
moment concerning Native Americans in the state. On the spot he assigned me a
piece on the current subject. I was so excited that I was practically bursting
at the seams on the drive home. I immediately started researching and
interviewing people in the midst of this controversy. After the second revision,
the editor asked me if I would like to write an editorial to go along with the
article. My opinions kept slipping into the article, and I had a difficult time
keeping them out. I agreed, and find out that the writing went much smoother
knowing that I had another page set aside just for an editorial on the subject.
About two weeks later I returned to the office to drop off my completed article
and essay. That had to be the most difficult thing I had to do in this
career-submit completed work to an editor in his office. The editor wasnt a
faceless person as usual. I could tell he wasnt as impressed with it as I was,
but he accepted the final revisions and cut me a check for both
I love writing, and particularly enjoy writing
about topics I have a great interest in. This assignment was one of those. But
holding that check in my hand was by far the most rewarding part of the entire
process, and its not necessarily about the money. I finally felt that my work
was good enough to get paid for, something writing for free will never do. The
confidence in my writing, which I already felt was good, skyrocketed. Writing is
a lot easier when you are no longer questioning yourself or your
© Copyright 2004, Nicole Allard
Nicole Allard is the Editor of Writers Success (http://writerssuccess.netfirms.com), a free online magazine for freelance writers featuring nearly 400 online guidelines, local writing groups, monthly essay contests, writer of the month, and more.
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