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Let Me Fill You In

September 11th, 2020

From the age of ten I wanted to be a writer.  Ever since my teacher chose to read my humorous poem out loud to the class.  It was about a monster who ate too many pies.  (Don’t ask!)  I remember the kids craning their necks, to hear every word. I watched as smiles appeared gradually on each face and hearing the faint giggles in the background.

My cheeks burned with embarrassment but my heart burst with pride.  Afterwards, I received a round of applause and I knew I wanted to feel like that again and again.

Fast-forward to adulthood and here I was purchasing The Writers Bureau Creative Writing Course.

The earlier modules suggested writing fillers for magazines.  I bought women’s mags all the time and  often flicked through them without really paying attention to the content.

But now, I was scrutinising each page and was surprised to find readers were being paid anywhere between £25-£50 for a short letter, or an everyday tip, (such as painting clear nail varnish on your tights to stop the ladder from running), with an accompanying photograph of the tip.

Initially, I thought what is the point, they probably receive thousands of letters per week, why would they choose mine?  But, I thought why not and sent one anyway.  Then one day, to my amazement, I received a letter and a cheque for £25.00, thanking me for my contribution!

I literally jumped up and down with pure delight.  I felt like I was ten years old again.  I felt important and special, just like I did in that classroom. So, that is when the real addiction began.

It wasn’t, and still isn’t, about the money (although, I’m certainly not complaining). It’s the rush, the adrenalin and the excitement of seeing my name in print.  That feeling never goes away. Not even one-hundred and sixty published ‘fillers’ later!

Here are some useful tips on how to study the market for your ‘fillers’:

 

Analyse the latest hard copy of the magazine/publication you are writing for. Nothing compares to actually having the publication physically in your hand.  From this, you can check the word count and style of each section they are accepting reader’s contributions for.  This can change regularly, so always read the current edition.

If you want to send something with an Easter/Christmas/Valentine’s theme etc, send it at least three months in advance of the occasion.

In my experience, I have found that you are more likely to be accepted for Jan/Feb and Aug/Sept editions.  (Remember to send three months in advance of these months ). This seems to be when publications are short of contributions, so you may stand more of a chance.

Women’s mags tend to like contributions from male readers, or letters/tips concerning men.

Always send a photo, where possible, with your contribution.

 

Finally, all I can say is send, send, and send some more!  I have between seven and fifteen items out at any one time. More, if my schedule allows.

 

Sharon Carey is forty-three years old and lives in Cheshire with her husband and two teenage daughters.  Her published work includes, non-fiction fillers and letters for various publications;  research for a crime magazine; flash fictions and a short story in an anthology book. She’s also performed a fictitious story for theatre.

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