Freelance Writing for Newspapers

by Shirley Crowder

newspaperRecently I was asked, “How did you get your articles published in a newspaper?” I laughed and said, “I read my Facebook (FB) comments.” I knew from the confused look on this man’s face that I should fill in more details. I continued, “I called an FB friend whose comment on one of my Christmas posts was, ‘Call me’ followed by his telephone number … I called!”

This friend, Harry Butler, coordinates writers for “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of  The Gadsden (Alabama) Times. He told me to expand one of my posts and email it to him. Why limit carols to Christmas? was published in the online and print editions in February 2014. My articles continue being published—when I have sense enough to write and send them!

Let’s look at some things I have learned about writing for newspapers. I hope some of these will spur you on to identify, investigate, and submit articles for publication in newspapers.

Aren’t Newspapers Obsolete?

Not at all! Newspapers today are not the same as they were when I grew up. In those days you had four main sources of news: television, radio, print newspapers, and news magazines. You couldn’t find the news any time of the night or day, you had to wait until the newscast came on, the newspaper was delivered, and for the magazine to hit the stands or your mailbox. Not so, now. You can go online and find news about events, places, and people all over the world, at any time of the night and day.

Don’t limit your scope.

When you think of newspapers, be sure to include the online news sources, not just the daily newspapers. Think print AND online.

  • Many denominations have weekly or monthly conference or associational newspapers.
  • Communities often have their own small newspapers and are looking for articles on a wide range of topics.
  • News websites often need writers.
  • Clubs, Organizations, and Associations are looking for articles about the passion or focus of their club, organization, or association.

“I don’t even know where to begin.”

As with any writing project you need to do research. Here are some suggestions on how to get started:

INvestigateInvestigate

The most important step in writing for newspapers, as it is with any writing, is to investigate newspapers/news sources.

  • What newspaper is for and about your city, county, state, etc.?
  • Buy or download a copy each day for a week or so and read them cover-to-cover, making note of the type articles in each section on each day of the week that are things you could write about.
  • As you’re investigating and getting to know the newspaper, look on their website and get the submission guidelines and procedures. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines and procedures. (NOTE: Many newspapers now have online portals through which articles can be submitted.)
  • Does the paper accept articles from freelance writers? If not, don’t discount this newspaper. See the section below, “Other ways to be published in a newspaper.”
  • What types of articles will they accept: fiction, non-fiction, real-life accounts, humorous stories, historical accounts, etc.?
  • What is the newspaper’s preferred style of writing? Do they prefer articles that are more folksy than formal?
  • How many words do they want for articles?
  • What topics have they covered recently? What ideas did those give you for articles at different times of the year: summer, start of school, Christmas, etc.?
  • What types of people, places, events, and things do they tell about in their newspaper?
  • Does the newspaper have a foundational political point of view? If so, does it match yours?

Think about …

You may get an inroad at a newspaper by writing an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, or a book review.

writeWrite

Now you can begin writing your article, keeping in mind all the things you learned about what types of articles the paper publishes.  

  • Make certain to follow their submission guidelines. How many words? Is there a specified font size and line spacing?
  • I always find it helpful to put whatever I am writing aside for a day or so and go back for a careful edit and proof. Then, proof it again! It is also a good idea to have at least one other person proof your writing before you submit it.

sendPitch / Submit

From the submission guidelines, you will know whether you need to send a pitch/inquiry or just submit your article.

If you are to submit a pitch/inquiry, be as concise as possible. Many editors say you should be able to state in one sentence what the article will be about. Remember Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet saying, “Just the facts.” The pitch or inquiry should include:

  • The headline or article title.
  • Some articles have a line that appears just below the heading that describes what the article will be about. You will know from your investigative work if articles similar to yours need to have one.
  • Write a paragraph that briefly describes the article.
  • Give them a bullet-point listing of your published articles, including the date of publication and the publication name. Do not embellish here.
  • Do not send attachments unless specified in the submission guidelines. Only send pictures if they request them.
  • Be patient as you wait for a response. Usually, the submission guidelines tell you in what time-frame they will respond to you and how they will respond, via email, snail mail, etc.
  • Keep writing and submitting articles while you wait!
  • Some newspapers pay for articles and some do not. The submission guidelines will specify this. If you are trying to break into freelance newspaper writing, you may want to write some free articles or articles that don’t pay much to get some articles in your writing portfolio.
  • If they accept your pitch/submission, be certain to meet their deadline, and if possible, get it in a little early. Editors will love you!
  • If your pitch/submission is rejected, carefully evaluate your article and submit it to another newspaper. Write another article and submit it to the same newspaper.

What idea do you have that would make a good newspaper article?

Click to Tweet: Do you have a great idea for a newspaper article? #amwriting #newspapers #inspiredprompt

Freelance Writing: Book Compilations

By Jennifer Hallmark

Book compilations. Freelance writing. Can the two be combined? Isn’t a compilation a bunch of novellas yoked together?

Sometimes.

A compilation is, in simpliest terms, a gathering or compiling of different items to produce a finished product. So, yes, a book compilation can be several novellas that fit together. Christmas and romance compilations are very popular.

But I’ve been part of four compilations that did not fit the novella template. The first I was part of, gathered by Tracy Ruckman, then of Write Integrity Press, was a novella called A Dozen Apologies. I was asked to contribute a chapter to the work which consisted of one novella. Later, Tracy asked me to contribute a chapter to another novella, Unlikely Merger.

I also took part in a short story compilation, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, compiled by Jennifer Slattery. She added two of my short stories to the compilation which centered around the Fourth of July.

Lastly, I contributed an essay to the non-fiction book, Not Alone: A Literary & Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility & Miscarriage, edited by Jessica Snell. I shared my difficult journey of a miscarriage that I hoped would help others dealing with this type of tragedy.

Four compilations. Four different works that had different contracts, expectations, and three different editors and publishers. But since a freelance writer is a writer who is self-employed, writing for book compilations is a good way to supplement your income. If you are prolific, you can make a living at it. Or at least make a little money while you write the next Great American Novel.

I love being part of a book compilation because the writing was fun and I enjoyed working with different editors and people who also took part in the work. It was a great learning experience for me and proved to be helpful as I prepare to launch my first novel next June.

I asked some of my friends the same question and they said:

I love being part of a book compilation because…

Julie Arduini: “I love being part of a book compilation because it allows the opportunity to work with some of my favorite authors. Before I started writing to publish, I was a voracious reader. The authors are talented and writing with them made me want to stretch and grow in my craft. Readers also are able to enjoy the creativity that evolves when the compilation has a theme, like A Christmas to Remember. The authors take that one premise and write. Not one story is the same, and yet they are sewn together by the theme. Mixing the authors and theme together creates a beautiful tapestry that I pray is a gift to readers when they open our compilation.”

Find Julie’s book at Amazon.

Eva Marie Everson: There is the challenge–and as an author I love challenges–to writer tighter than usual. I cannot tell my story in 100,000 words. Or even 85,000. I have 20-25,000 words to draw readers in, keep them in, and take them to a satisfying conclusion. A Southern Season was my first attempt at this. Much harder than I thought, but incredibly satisfying when I was done. And I got to work with great authors like Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda W. Yezak!

Find Eva Marie’s book at Amazon.

Claire Fullerton: Being a contributor to a book compilation gives the great gift of camaraderie to a writer. There is supportive resonance in group association, and I find the act of being a team-player rife with motivation. I was recently invited to be a contributor to a compilation of four novellas, in a book titled A Southern Season (Firefly Southern Fiction.) Four authors contributed to this book, with the only guidelines being that each novella was to be set in the South, during one of the four seasons. I chose the autumn, and felt as I wrote my novella that I was upholding my end of what would be a book comprised of a year’s full cycle. Because autumn is a month I associate with decline, I chose to set my novella at a Memphis funeral, replete with bouts of nostalgia, Southern customs, and social mores. Though I have been given the proof, intentionally I have not read the contributions of the three other authors who contributed to the book. I am waiting until the November 1st release of A Southern Season, and am looking forward to reading its entirety, with the satisfaction that will come from being a part of this compilation.

Find Claire’s book at Amazon.

Ginger Solomon: “I feel blessed to join with other authors in group sets because we all write with similar goals in mind, glorifying God in our writing and blessing our readers with clean stories. And it’s a great opportunity for readers to find out if they like what I write while getting other great books to read at the same time.”

Find Ginger’s book at Amazon.

Elizabeth Maddrey: “I love being part of a book compilation because it’s a great chance to be introduced to new readers who are fans of author friends but who are new to me.”

Find Elizabeth’s book at Amazon.
Linda Yezak: I love being in a compilation because it affords me the opportunity to write in genres other than my brand. I get a kick out of it. In November this year, my novella Ice Melts in Spring will be released from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina’s Firefly imprint. This is my first purely Christian Women’s Fiction novella, meaning that if you take the Christian theme out, the story will crumble. In August of 2018, my first historical romance novella, Loving a Harvey Girl, will be released through LPC’s Smitten imprint. Ordinarily, I write contemporary “cowboy” romance, so going off track is fun!
Find Linda’s compilation book at Amazon.

The Write Course: 3 Minute Tips for the Beginning Writer Episode 6

Jennifer Hallmark here. Welcome to my You Tube series called “The Write Course: 3 Minute Tips for the Beginning Writer.”

Today we’re starting on a new segment and our road trip question is, How long will I stay?  Is writing for a season, an extended period, or a permanent residence? Join me as we discuss this.

Episode 6: Today’s topic is Launch into the Adventure: How long will I stay?

Click to tweet: A new YouTube series for the beginning writer. Catch Episode 6 on the Inspired Prompt blog: Writing: How long will I stay? #amwriting #WritersLife

3 Questions Wednesday with Sharon Rene

photo to useHappy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Sharon Rene. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Sharon: Creative, emotional, loving

All great characteristics! Now about travel…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Sharon: Ireland and Scotland because my ancestors are from these two beautiful countries. I am fascinated by their beauty, history and mystery.

 I would love to visit them both also! 

ireland-1971997_1280Last question:

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Sharon: The theme music to Mission Impossible would fit. I often feel like I’m taking on impossible quests but with God nothing is impossible.

Interesting choice. I love that song. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: Author Sharon Rene talks about writing and a giveaway. #Writer #amwriting

Sharon: I would love to give away a copy of  A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace. US winner will receive a print copy and international winner will receive a kindle copy.

 


A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace 

A Mixed Bag of God's Grace_5x8_FRONTA Mixed Bag of God’s Grace is a collection of short stories for children, ages seven to eleven.  The stories are biblical, historical and contemporary. The biblical section includes Daniel in the Lions’ den from the perspective of one of the hungry lions and the apostle Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. In the historical section the reader travels to England in the middle ages and encounters a queen, knights, and a ship full of pirates. Modern young Christians face a variety of
issues in the contemporary section. A devotion, prayer and scripture follow each story.

Purchase :  Amazon


photo to useSharon Rene enjoys writing children’s and young adult books. Several of her flash fiction stories have been published by Splickety Magazine, and she’s also had nonfiction pieces published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Life Changing Miracles. Her book for children ages seven to eleven is entitled “A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace,” and was published in May 2018. Currently, she’s working on a YA speculative series. 

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How to Break Into Freelance Writing

by Jean Matthew Hall

A freelance writer is one who works on a self-employment basis. They can work for just one magazine or, more often, for several different publications at a time. The more versatile a writer can be, the more likely they are to be published and paid for their work.

Freelance writing can include magazine articles and stories, curriculum materials, coloring books, online magazines and websites for adults or for children, business websites, ad copy, testing materials and on and on.

Whatever type of writing you choose to do a few basics apply. They include (1) targeting the periodicals to which you submit and (2) creating your articles to fit those target periodicals.

Targeting Periodicals

  • Get organized and prepared—as a freelance writer you’ll be dealing with a number of publishers, website owners, etc. Create a large file for each one.
  • Decide what topics interest you—Most periodicals buy far more nonfiction pieces than fiction. Make a list of things you are curious or knowledgeable about: animals, space exploration, American history, Madagascar, inventions, etc.
  • Research periodicals that relate to those topics—this will be really time consuming. But you want to avoid sending your articles to the wrong types of periodicals, if you want to be published.
  • Start with Market Guides—Google “magazine (or periodical) market guides” and you’ll find a list for your type of writing. They cost about $30 each. Then USE them. Check the material in the front of the guides. Most have lots of information for creating and submitting the articles you are writing.
  • Make a chart—make a spreadsheet type chart for organizing the information on publishers. Include the following for each:

Periodical’s name, acquisition editor’s name, editor’s email or submissions email address, periodical’s website URL, do they accept unsolicited queries, the number of subscribers, target readers (age or business or hobby), list their regular features, what rights they purchase, what they pay, type of fiction they use. Make a column for notes.

  • Choose 5 or 6 publishers to target with your submission.
  • Read and study several issues of each of those periodicals. You can do this by requesting or purchasing copies, reading samples on their websites, reading them in your public library, using your public library’s website “Research Tools.”
  • Study the periodical’s website. Writer’s or Submissions Guidelines are often hidden. Search under “Contact Us” or “About Us.” Also look for author’s terms. Read and follow their guidelines exactly.

Now you’re ready to research and/or write your article or story.

  • Brainstorm ideas. Nancy I. Sanders suggests a “Wagon Wheel” graphic organizer that includes a hub with the types of articles you wish to write and spokes for potential ideas for nonfiction articles. On the side of the page list the topics that have already been covered in the magazine samples you’ve read. Those should help you with ideas to write on the spokes.
  • Contact the publisher with your ideas. Write a short paragraph of description for each idea. Be sure to include how you think it will fit in with that periodical’s focus or theme. Mention any other publications you have written for. Ask the editor if they would be interested in any of your ideas. Be sure to include your contact information and thanks for considering your ideas.

Sound simple? NO!

But it’s worth the effort if you:

  • Want to see your name in print
  • Want to touch the lives of thousands of people with your idea
  • dream of writing an article about the subject of your passion
  • are serious about generating income from your writing.

You can also search for freelance writing jobs in places like:

Job Boards. Try some of the free ones:

  • Problogger
  • BloggingPro
  • All Freelance Writing Job Board

Twitter is a great place to find freelance writing opportunities. Follow several freelance writing job boards like:

  • @Write_Jobs,
  • @WhoPaysWriters
  • @JJobs_tweets

Ask around among friends, family, neighbors, former coworkers.

Make it clear on your website that you are looking for freelance writing opportunities.

Guest blog for free. Such articles not only give you exposure, but also count as writing samples!

Network with other freelance writers on Facebook.

Visit local printers and web designers. Let them know you are looking for freelance jobs, give them a sample or two of your work and a business card. Ask if they will keep you in mind or mention you to their customers.

Join Face Book Groups for freelance writers. A few of these groups are:

  • The Smart Passive Income Community
  • Blogger2Business
  • The Entrepreneur Incubator

Oh! And don’t forget to pray. Ask the Lord to provide opportunities and to put you right where HE wants you with your writing.

Jean Matthew Hall spent twenty-six years teaching children and teens–and loving it! Then twenty more years teaching women’s Bible studies.  She recently signed a contract with Little Lamb Books for a series of picture books. Yipee! The first book should be available in the spring of 2019. Sometimes our dreams come true in ways we couldn’t imagine. Jean’s have.

Click to Tweet: How to Break Into Freelance Writing via @InspiredPrompt with @Jean_Hall – make it clear on your website that you are looking for #freelance #writing opportunities.