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In this month's issue, we have expert advice from Lorraine Mace, on how making sure that the pitch, prose and pictures that you send in can lead to more work and ultimately, a bigger profit.

E-zee Writer
Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers Issue 94 
August

Hello and welcome to the August issue,

Ah... some sunshine at last for us poor rain-soaked citizens of the UK... oh no wait a minute, it’s just started raining again! I hope all our international readers are having more luck with the weather then we are!

In this month’s issue, we have expert advice from ex-student and prolific freelance writer, Lorraine Mace, on how making sure that the pitch, prose and pictures that you send in can lead to more work and, ultimately, a bigger profit – something most of us long for!

If you are thinking of conducting an interview in the near future or you are afraid of doing one, this week’s Top Tips is for you. Follow the rules and your interview should be a breeze. 

And don’t forget to read the end note for a sneak preview of what’s coming next month.

Shelley

PS Remember, youcan save £25 on the article writing course when you enrol before 31st August 2008! Click here to enrol.

 

THE WRITERS BUREAU

STUDENT STORIES

 



‘At first my achievements were modest enough. A letter to the Sunday Times Travel Magazine earned me £20 in vouchers and CD reviews for a music website another £50. Then several foodie pieces for a women’s website and a spoof advice piece for Newbie Writers, albeit free. In recent months, though, I have had two pieces accepted and published by Countryman Magazine and two more by Country Kitchen. Several others are accepted, awaiting publication, by Costco magazine and Chamber of Commerce publications.

‘Confession time. I have also been writing fiction. There, I have said it. And I haven’t got to that part of the course yet, but as a result I have had three stories accepted by Espresso Fiction, a subscription story site and two more under consideration for recording by Shortalk. Oh, and I am twenty thousand words into my first fiction book.

‘One other interesting project is a non-fiction book proposal in which I have had some interest. It tells the story of farming in North Wales from the 30s to the present, based on the diaries of a farmer. They were hand-written almost every day until his death in the mid-Sixties and now owned by his daughter, herself almost eighty. I am in the research phase and trying to get the diaries translated from the original Welsh at the moment!

‘Hugely successful financially? Well, I have more than covered my course costs. But the Writers Bureau has shown me new skills, helped me to develop them, and encouraged me to broaden my writing horizon. I couldn’t ask for more.’

Mike Dale, England

If you would like a prospectus for the courses studied by Mike or Nargisemail us here with your full name and postal address.

Or, to share your success stories with others, just send an email to ezeewriter@writersbureau.com
with 'Success Story' in the subject line.

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FREELANCE MARKET NEWSFreelance Market News Magazine
an essential guide for freelance writers

 

For up-to-date market information, Freelance Market News is invaluable.


Issued 11 times a year it's packed with information on markets in Britain and around the globe, plus you get all the latest news and views on the publishing world.


Every subscription comes with FREE membership of The Association of Freelance Writers. Your membership also entitles you to discounts on books and competitions, a free appraisal worth over £30 and a Membership Card which confirms your status as a Freelance Writer.

FREE sample copies are available to view at the website, along with more details about the magazine and how you can subscribe.


www.freelancemarketnews.com

This month – How to bring your characters to life and the importance of making them work to achieve a successful story.

EXPERT ADVICE

Minding Your Ps and a Q

By

Lorraine Mace

 

It must be every writer’s dream to have a regular stream of work accepted. Who wouldn’t want to become an editor’s favourite and make lots of money? This needn’t be a dream, it can become reality. Minding your Ps and a Q will help to ensure success.

Pitch

The first hurdle to overcome is getting an editor to commission an article. To be successful at this stage you must present the editor with the what, when, why and how of your proposed feature.

Start with the title. This should indicate what the article is going to be about in an attention grabbing manner. Try to be original, but make sure it has relevance to the subject.

The opening sentences of your pitch should hook the editor. In as few words as possible you need to sum up the point of the feature you are proposing.

The middle part should spell out when it is relevant, why it should be written and how you are going to tackle it (interviews, quotes and/or anecdotes).

The final part should tie the article together as a whole. Use a reference back to the opening, or a humorous punch line that neatly summarises the content.

You should also include the length to which you are planning to write the piece and whether or not you will be supplying illustrations.

Prose

Before you even think of sending a pitch to a magazine you should thoroughly research your proposed market. The article must be tailored in every respect to suit the publication.

Ask yourself if the subject matter is really suitable for the readership. If it isn’t, how can you slant the information so that it has relevance? The market’s style is very important. Is the publication fact driven or looking for a more relaxed, chatty way of getting the point across?

How many words does the publication want? The only way to find that out, unless it is stated in their guidelines, is to buy several copies and count the words. This may be tedious, but it saves you falling at the first hurdle by offering 2,500 words to a magazine that only ever accepts 1,200.

What style, tone and vocabulary does the editor want? Remember, he knows his readership and stepping outside of what sells is not going to get your article published.  Getting to know the market is part of a writer’s tool set. If a magazine is sold on the strength of its real life dramas the readers will only be interested in space probes if someone has been abducted by aliens.

Pictures

Illustrations sell words – strange, but true. An editor is far more likely to consider your proposal if you can supply appropriate pictures to accompany the text. The important word here is appropriate, so once again this is something that should be researched prior to making the pitch.

Does the publication accept digital photography? If yes, how must it be submitted – on disc or by email? What size is required?

Some magazines accept prints, but these must be enlarged to the size the publication considers acceptable.

Most publications use transparencies, but again this should be ascertained before approaching the editor with your idea.

You should study several copies of the magazine to see what style of photography is used. There is no point in submitting stunning shots of the family skiing in Whistler if your target publication only wants scenic photography without any people. Similarly if the magazine is aimed at family holiday destinations then pictures of children enjoying themselves might help to sell your travel feature.

The best idea though is to take as many different pictures as you can, with and without people, in differing light conditions and from several angles. The reason for that can be found in the last section of this article – the Q of the title.

Profit

One aspect of your research should always be to find out what your target publication pays per thousand words. The next important question is to do with the photography. Most magazines pay extra for illustrations, but how much? Do they pay a flat rate for photo features?

Finding out the rates of pay before offering your work is essential. If the flat rate for a photo feature doesn’t cover the cost of the development of photographs, postage (including return postage for the illustrations), your time for writing and research, and make you a profit, then is it really worth making the effort?

Possibly not for a one-off, but research can be adapted to fit several markets. Which is where the Q comes in …

Quantity

Research can be used in different ways to provide several features, which is the reason for taking so many photographs. Different illustrations, a new slant on the words, and you have a new feature.

Let’s assume you have visited an area of Portugal, either for business or for a holiday. You decide to write about your trip for a travel magazine who is only interested in the aspects that appeal to its readership. Your photography to accompany that feature is carefully selected to fit the market. You get paid – end of story. Except that it isn’t, it’s only the beginning.

Look through the remaining illustrations. What do you have that could accompany another article aimed at an entirely new publication? The wine making tour might be of interest to a trade publication, or a specialist magazine for the wine connoisseur market, providing you have suitable photography.

Photographs of golf courses could be used to illustrate an article for a golf enthusiasts’ publication. Different pictures could illustrate an article aimed at one of the country magazines focussing on Portugal.

The important thing is making sure each feature is individual and can stand alone. New text and different pictures from the same research or trip can provide several outlets for your work.

Broaden your horizons and aspirations and remember – as long as you remember to mind your Ps and a Q dreams can come true.


Lorraine Mace, a columnist with Writing Magazine (UK) and Queensland Writing (Australia) is the co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The ABC Checklist for New Writers. Her work has been published in five countries. Winner of the Petra Kenney International Poetry Award (comic verse category), she writes fiction for the women’s magazine market and is a writing competition judge. www.lorrainemace.com 

TOP TIPS...

10 Top tips for conducting an interview

 

Many people are nervous when they have to interview someone for an article but if you follow the guidelines below it should make the experience a pleasure, not a pain!

1. When you arrive at the interview remind the person which newspaper/magazine you represent – or the one that will be taking your freelance work.  And always make sure you are smart and well-dressed.  Turning up looking scruffy is an insult to the interviewee.


2. Go prepared.  Read what others have written or do your research on the internet.  This means you can avoid asking basic questions which will bore the person you are interviewing and get you off to a bad start.


3. Put them at ease by chatting generally before you get down to the actual interview.  But don’t waste too much of their time and, unless you already know them well, don’t be over-familiar.


4. It is better to use a recorder than make notes because you can concentrate on what is being said rather than on making sure you get everything written down.  However, do ask permission and try to place the recorder in an unobtrusive position where the interviewee will soon forget about it. (And – a big and – make sure it is working properly and you have spare batteries!)


5. Try to think of original questions to ask.  In order to do this, your background research will help, but also take your cue from what you see around you.  What do the surroundings tell you about their hobbies and interests?  If you get them talking about something that interests them you will have a far more enthusiastic subject to write about.


6. Never offer to show the finished product to the interviewee.  They may ask to see it, but it is usually wise to refuse.  If they start trying to tinker with what you have written to show themselves in a better light or because they are unhappy with some point you have picked up on it may spoil the integrity of your piece.  


7. But you must play fair.  Most interviews are informative - meant to simply shed more light on their subject and entertain the reader.  They are not exercises in tabloid dirt-digging.  So, if someone tells you that a particular topic or quote is ‘off the record’ – keep it that way.  Maintain their trust.


8. Always listen to your tape or write up you notes as quickly as possible after the interview so that it is still fresh in your mind. This also means  you can go back to the subject to check any facts that are incomplete or unclear.

9. Because time is precious, many interviews are now done by phone.  This can be a great way of conducting an interview if you have prepared for it properly.  But don’t forget that you can’t see your interviewee to pick up on visual clues and body language. Plus, it’s far easier to be misled in a telephone interview.  The ‘high flying’ businessman who you are talking to could be running his business from the kitchen table in a pair of tatty jeans.

10. And finally, always remember to thank your subject before you leave or end the phone call.  They’ve done you a favour by granting you their time.  In some cases, of course, they’ll want the publicity but many people are simply doing you a favour and you shouldn’t forget this. 

 

USEFUL SITES FOR WRITERS

www.users.totalise.co.uk/~leiafee/ramblings/realistic_injuries.htm
This site made me smile. I had never really thought about how I would go about portraying a medical injury realistically until I came across this. Fascinating stuff, including blood loss amounts for different types of injury, how much oxygen would need to seep from a spaceship before effects occur plus the symptoms and consequences of various grazes and dislocated joints. Great if you want to get your facts and medical language correct.  


www.thepuckwrites.com
This is an interesting site for those of you who want to make your presence known on the internet. This is the author’s description of what it’s about:

‘I blog primarily on my obsessions: writing, social media, and how to mix the two for fun, art and profit. I am fascinated with the new notions of personal identity and interaction that are evolving through the use of the internet and social media, and how these new technologies impact the working writer both literarily and practically.

There are articles on areas including ‘10 steps to being everywhere in social media’, ‘What is the new media’, and ‘Why choose new media over old?’


END NOTE and a little inspiration

Inspiration

Could you write an article about ...

4th  January 1967

Donald Cambell is killed attempting to break his own water speed record.

5th   January 1981

Peter Sutcliffe is arrested on suspicion of murdering a 20 year old student in Leeds.

6th   January 1929

Mother Theresa arrives in Calcutta to begin her work amongst ‘the poorest of the poor’.

7th   January 1785

The first aerial crossing of the channel is successfully completed in a hot air balloon by Blanchard and Jeffries.  

11th January 1973

The Open University awards its first Degree certificates. 

12th January 1976

Famous crime writer Agatha Christie died.

13th January 2004

Harold Shipman, possibly Britain’s most prolific serial killer, is found hanged in his prison cell.

15th January 1559

The Bishop of Carlisle crowns Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey on this day.

20th January 1265

Simon De Montfort convenes the first Parliament with elected knights and burgesses in attendance.

21st January 1950

Acclaimed British author George Orwell dies after battling against tuberculosis for three years.

28th January 1986

The world watches as ‘Challenger’, the US space shuttle, explodes following take off from Cape Canaveral killing all seven crew members.

29th January 1886

The first practical car powered by an internal combustion engine is patented by German, Karl Benz.

 

That’s it for this month. However, I thought I would end on a humorous note with this poem. It highlights the folly of relying on spell checkers!

'Spell Checker Blues'

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Anon

Taken from http://torch.cs.dal.ca/~johnston/poetry/spellchecker.html
 
I hope you found something of use to you in this issue. If so, pass the word on to all your writer friends - and even those who don’t! You never know, you might inspire them to take it up. They can sign up here www.writersbureau.com/resources/ezewriter.htm

Next month, our expert advice comes from Heather Cooke with an article entitled ‘Length Matters!’. Facing rejection again?  A basic mistake is to write copy that’s too long or short for your editor, but are there other ways in which length matters… to a writer?

Plus, there will be more inspiration from successful students and useful sites to play with.

Shelley


As usual, if you've any suggestions or would like to comment on content then please contact me at: ezeewriter@writersbureau.com

And don't forget – if you've enjoyed this issue of E-zee Writer and found it useful, tell your friends about it so that they can subscribe too! www.writersbureau.com/resources/ezewriter.htm


THE WRITERS BUREAU, SEVENDALE HOUSE, 7 DALE STREET,
MANCHESTER, M1 1JB, ENGLAND.


 
 

Sarah Plater Writers Bureau's Writer of the Year 2017

“I’m currently working on my fourth book, have been paid for my writing by at least 15 different magazines, and now earn half my income from writing – all thanks to The Writers Bureau’s course."

Sarah Plater - Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2017

Read Sarah's full story.

 
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