Many authors earn additional income from paid freelance writing, which has the added benefit of getting additional exposure for the author with the publication’s readers. Getting paid to write for publications is a whole different ballgame from writing free articles and distributing them to print and online publications purely for exposure. In order to get paid for your articles, you have to build on your experience and get the attention of editors. Print publications have pay ranges from $.25 per word up to $2 or more per word, depending on the distribution size of the publication. The top glossy magazines pay much higher rates than local newspapers and hometown magazines.
It’s not easy to break in to the large magazines that you see at the checkout stands in your grocery store. Most contributors for premium publications have many years of professional freelancing experience. However, you can work your way up to major publications if that is your goal, or you can choose to stick with writing for small and mid-size publications.
In chapter 7 I covered how to write for smaller publications by contributing article reprints or providing first rights. Once you have a few of those under your belt, you will officially have “clips,” which is an industry term for samples of your work. Bigger publications will want to see these.
Write a Query
When it comes to writing for larger publications, the standard cost of admission is a query letter to the editor. A good query opens with a proposed story idea. That means you need to pitch something relevant for the publication’s audience. It should briefly explain the angle you will take with the story, followed by why you are the best person to write the story. Here’s a brief example of a pitch to a wedding industry business magazine:
Dear <editor name>,
Pinterest has quickly become the third largest social media site and I would like to write an article for <publication name> called “Pinterest Profits! How Wedding Professionals Can Turn Pins into Dollars.” This article will explore how wedding professionals are leveraging Pinterest to increase website traffic and gain more customers. I will interview three sources who I have already identified and write a 1200-word article with concrete tips and solutions for your readers.
I am an author of <book title> and I have written articles for <list publications here or leave this line out if no experience just yet>. You can view some of my previous work here: <links to your articles from smaller industry publications>. I appreciate your consideration and would welcome the opportunity to work with you.
A query should be brief, compelling (great title), timely (related to a hot trend or tied-in with an upcoming event or holiday), and should clearly appeal to the publication’s target audience. To locate editors, look for an email address in the masthead or via the publication’s website. Another great source for locating editorial contacts is Writer’s Market, a paid directory: http://writersmarket.com.
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