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Our New Year edition features expert advice on how to keep months ahead of the game using editorial calendars, 10 Top Tips on making your work more saleable by adding illustrations, plus the usual dose of inspiration and helpful websites.

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E-zee Writer
Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers Issue 100
January 2009

Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of 2009 and our 100th edition.

I am going to start this New Year edition with 10 simple little words; if it is to be, it is up to me!

These are the words I have chosen to motivate myself this year instead of the dreaded New Year resolutions which, according to research, a third of us break before the end of January.

This can be particularly detrimental if you are, or you want to become, a freelance writer as it is up to you and you alone to make sure that you motivate yourself to complete your projects by the required deadline and get paid!

So, I suggest you recite this mantra when you feel hesitant about taking up that special offer from us inviting you to join; recite it when you feel like you just can’t be bothered to sit down and get on with that assignment or article you’ve been putting off and recite it when you receive those dreaded rejection letters.

It is also worth bearing in mind the words of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said "When you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen." Think about that for a moment – if you think that something is going to be easy then it will be! This is because you have a positive state of mind when starting the task and you can deal with obstacles as challenges rather than problems. And, of course, the opposite also applies. Now, whether you believe in that kind of thing or not it can only be good to promote a positive state of mind when starting anything you want to do in life. Evidence shows that you are much more likely to succeed in your goals if you think you will – simple as that!

Expert advice comes from one of our newer tutors, ex- student Lorraine Mace, ( This month she advises on how to be “Months ahead of the game” by finding and using editorial calendars to plan your working schedule.

10 Top Tips explains the dos and don’ts of illustrating your work and, in the same vein, Useful Websites reveals a nifty little site where you can buy stock photos to add to your writing and sell any photos you may have to make a bit of extra cash.

Local writing events you could spend some time at this month are the Wordsworth Arts and Book Festival, held 23 to 25 January. In their own words, “We have assembled a wonderfully eclectic programme, including sessions on some of the people who were influential on Wordsworth, both personally and through their work.” You can choose to participate in a full residential weekend, non-residential day events or just choose individual events to attend. Prices for the full residential weekend start at £395.00.

If you can get along to the University of Chicago on January 29th at 5.00pm you can listen to emerging writer, Deb Olin Unferth, read from her works. And even better – this event is free! More details here.

The Second Annual Savannah Morning News Book Festival is being held between 6th and 8th February in Savannah, Georgia, when “more than forty nationally-known and local bestselling authors and their avid readers will descend upon Telfair Square in historic Savannah”. The key note speaker is southern humorist and author Ray Blount Jnr. The festival also features hourly presentations by fiction, history and biography, lifestyle and poetry authors in different venues around the city, with book signings and various other activities taking place throughout the weekend. For further details click here.

Finally, we are now ready to start our students magazine created entirely by WB Students, and to mark this occasion we would like you to come up with a suitable name for the publication - e-mail your suggestions to me.

Happy reading and have a great month!


P.S. Writing can be a useful part time income so have a look at our website to see if you could ease the credit crunch by earning from your writing with one of our courses.


It was a newspaper ad that caught my eye, so I sent off for a prospectus, and was immediately hooked. The desire to write has always been there, and now seemed the perfect time, with the children a little older and less demanding.

Becoming a student again was a daunting prospect, but I was reassured to know that I could study at my own pace. I would be working full time so this was important to me.

I set myself a personal goal to earn my course fees back before Christmas – a tight timescale of ten months, and something I secretly thought was unrealistic. You can imagine how thrilled I was when my Certificate of Competence arrived in the post at the beginning of December. It is now proudly displayed on the wall, and gives me encouragement when I need a boost.

The first piece of work I submitted was my second assignment - a story about my two cats, and I was delighted when it appeared as an illustrated article in Your Cat magazine. Over the next few months I sent off four general interest articles to The Lady, and was amazed when they accepted three for publication.

The content of the course is excellent and the constructive criticism of my tutor invaluable. I have learned so much already, particularly about how the industry works. I have just submitted Assignment 6, which includes a travel article and now realise my photographic skills leave a lot to be desired. I am tempted to pursue this study route in parallel and know I can do this without having to worry about timescales and deadlines.

I have found writing tremendously rewarding and a real confidence booster. There’s nothing quite like the thrill and excitement of seeing your work in print, and hopefully, this is just the beginning.

If someone had told me a year ago what I would have achieved to date, I would not have believed them. None of this would have been possible without the help and guidance from The Writers Bureau.

Carol Bore, UK.


When I enrolled in Writers Bureau, I had some apprehension about the claim made by them – that by the time I finish the writing course, I would have already earned back my fees for the course. But, today I am confident that I will be able to do so and the claim made by Writers Bureau is not merely a marketing statement.

My letters to the editor in magazines and dailies have become a regular feature. In the month of September 2008 four of my letters were published in magazines of national repute, including Reader's Digest, Frontline and The Sunday Indian. In October '08 I wrote a letter to People which was judged as the prize winning letter. I am awaiting a digital camera, worth Rs. 9,000/-, as my prize. I also wrote a letter to Chandamama which was also picked as the prize winning letter for which I received Rs.250/-. I was successful again in The Sunday Indian with my letters in the October, November and December issues.

All this is happening because of the analytical and focussed approach suggested by my tutor Alex. So far I have finished only four assignments, mainly because of paucity of time. However, I have started to take some time to browse through magazines, offering my reactions to the important articles which I then mail to the editor. Seeing my name in print in reputed magazines gives me a high and now the recent successes with reader’s letters propels me to explore new markets.

My latest achievement is again in this month’s issue of The Sunday Indian. The letter I sent has been chosen as the winner of Rs.3000/- award!

Now, I wish to graduate from a letter writer to an article writer. I understand this is a challenging task but, with Writers Bureau's guidance, I am confident that I will achieve my goal to become a sought after writer!

Madhukar Mohan, India.


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

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


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.


Learn the sometimes difficult art of showing your characters' emotions, as well as the usual mix of current markets, competitions and practical guidance.


Lorraine Mace

Months ahead of the game

Do you know how to find out what editors from hundreds of publications will want throughout the year? Think of the forward planning you could do. Just imagine targeting several magazines, knowing the subject matter is exactly what each editor has in mind for a particular month. That information is available in an editorial calendar.

What is an editorial calendar?
It is a schedule of the topics a magazine plans to feature during the year. Its primary function is to alert advertisers of product placement opportunities. For example, if a magazine’s theme in June is swimwear, you can guess how interesting that knowledge would be to swimwear manufacturers. It should also be of interest to freelance writers because of the opportunity to pitch ideas on similar topics, such as: changes in swimwear styles since the war, the history and use of bathing boxes for reasons of modesty, styles for lifestyles – modern swimwear for pregnancy, post-mastectomy, beauty pageant wear and suits for serious swimmers to name but a few. The possibilities are endless and, the best of it is, you’ll know the editor will be looking for swimwear-related features for June’s issue.

Other valuable information you can garner from the calendar is which countries will feature and when. If, for example, you find out in January that the August issue of a general interest magazine will focus on Spain as their travel destination, this gives you plenty of thinking time. You may never have been to Spain, and so cannot supply a travel feature in the conventional sense, but there is nothing to stop you from researching and suggesting a piece on ‘20 little-known facts about Spain’, or ‘Essential Spanish Phrases for the Travelling Family’. The public library and the Internet will supply the information, all you need to do is study the editorial calendar and come up with something which fits both the magazine’s style and the theme for the month in question.

Where and how can you get the calendar?
Many magazines have their editorial calendar accessible on their websites, often in the media kit available to advertisers. If this isn’t the case, write to (or email) the advertising department and ask for a copy.

If possible, download the full media pack as this contains lots of other information of value to the freelance writer, such as: circulation, gender split, readership age group, lifestyle trends, economic situation of average reader, the magazine’s ethos and many other facts which will enable you to target your feature to the magazine’s core readership, thus giving you a better chance of success with the editor.

One final, but vital, aspect of the media pack and editorial calendar is that they often give the lead time required. Some give editorial and advertising deadlines, but others only have the advertising dates. In the case of the latter, work on the assumption that the editorial deadline will be at least two weeks, and possibly a month, ahead of the advertising deadline. This is the date by which the finished article must be with the editor; obviously you will need to allocate sufficient time for the query to be accepted, the commission given, and the piece written, when you plan ahead in this way.

But which magazine?
The short answer to that is as many as possible. By working with several editorial calendars simultaneously you should be able to plan your year so that you are pitching ideas every month. Let’s say you have researched a subject for magazine A, knowing that magazine B is going to have a similar theme a month or two later means you can use your research twice. But do make sure the two articles tackle the subject from differing angles.

Articles that you have already had published can be reworked to suit new markets. For example, if you’d had an article published on celebrating St Patrick’s Day in New York’s Irish pubs, you might find two or three magazines that intend to use St Patrick’s Day as the theme for their March issues. Clearly you cannot submit the previously published article, but you could use the information from it to make two new pieces. One could be on how and why Irish pubs have appeared all over the world, from Périgueux in France, to Cape Town in South Africa (both places do, in fact, have Irish pubs). The other could be on Irish traditions and how important they are to the expatriate Irish.

Editorial calendars will tell you which magazines to approach with the ideas and which month’s (or week’s) issues to target. Other information in the media pack will assist you in deciding how to deal with the topic.

Finding New Markets.
Searching for editorial calendars online can lead to many new markets. If you type ‘Editorial Calendars’ into a search engine, literally thousands of pages come up. Of course, most of these will not be of any use to the average freelance writer, but if you refine your search to include your particular areas of expertise and/or interests, then the search becomes much more interesting.

I write, amongst other things, travel features. Using Yahoo’s search engine and putting in ‘Editorial Calendar’ returned a total of 1,470,000 pages. When I refined the search by using quote marks “Editorial Calendar” and adding ‘travel’ (outside the quote marks) this brought the number down to 2,510 – much more accessible. But I decided to refine the search still more by adding countries that I feel confident I can write about. ‘“Editorial Calendar” travel France’ produced 341 pages, substituting ‘Spain’ 248, ‘South Africa’ 91 and ‘Canada’ 491. From this list I may only find four or five calendars I can use, but the initial research took less than fifteen minutes and I found magazines I hadn’t known existed.

Read the Magazines.
You cannot get sufficient information from the editorial calendar and media pack to successfully pitch an idea. You still need to read back copies and/or articles on the magazine’s website to get a full picture of what the editor is looking for in terms of content and style. You should also request contributors’ guidelines. But, with the additional information provided in the calendar and media pack, you stand a much better chance of having your idea accepted because you will be able to aim at particular issues, knowing the editor is actively looking for content on a particular theme.

Trading Places
There are literally thousands of trade publications which don’t appear on the shelves of the local newsagent or bookstore. These magazines are sold by subscription only to people with an interest in the topic, or are given free to members of an industry or organisation. Their individual subject matter is almost as wide and varied as entries in a dictionary, but they all have one thing in common – the editors need content for the magazines. If you have some expertise, or can gain the necessary knowledge on the subject, studying the editorial calendars could provide openings for you. To find trade magazines, search online using the ‘“Editorial Calendar” plus topic’ approach outlined above. There are plenty of trade publications crying out for good storylines which fit their calendar.

Think Laterally
Even though you will be ahead of the game by pitching features with an issue in mind, you still need to come up with ideas that are fresh and new. One of the drawbacks of the editorial calendar being there for the benefit of advertisers is that often the same themes reappear year after year in order to keep advertising revenue.
This means that the same old ideas keep doing the rounds. To succeed, and make the editor want to use your work again and again, you need to come up with unusual ways of dealing with tired topics. Some thoughts to get you started: 

  • all year round – a theme you can split into the four seasons, or turn seasons upside down. Skiing resorts in summer or coastal resorts offering winter attractions. 
  • how-to do almost anything. Find the theme that suits you in the calendar and offer a how-to article.
  • Make the national into a local event. If something nationwide is happening, offer a feature on how that impacts in your locale. 
  • food, travel, family, hobbies – all of these have been written about so many times, it’s hard to find new ways to tackle them, but all are perennial topics on editorial calendars. Why not mix and match? Fitting a family holiday around a hobby; travelling to sample the most unusual foods a region has to offer; recipes for families too preoccupied with their hobbies to come to the table.

Success Breeds Success
Once you’ve been successful with a magazine, go back to the calendar again and again. Editors like working with writers they know will provide good material, keep to deadlines, and, as mentioned above, come up with unusual ways of dealing with the perennial topics. Use the calendar to make the breakthrough and, possibly, forge a long-term relationship with the editor.

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, is a tutor for The Writers Bureau and a writing competition judge.  


10 Top Tips for Illustrating your work

Remember the belief supposedly engraved on every picture editor’s heart...a good picture is worth a thousand words. It’s certainly true, and here’s something else that’s true...article writers quadruple their chances of acceptance and double their fees by submitting photographs with their work. So, here are our 10 tips on how to do it!

1. You don’t have to be a photographic genius. With today’s digital cameras and a little knowledge of image manipulation (which you can easily learn) you can take photos good enough to illustrate your articles – and they’ll be unique.

2. If you really can’t take the pictures yourself, try to come to a fair agreement with a good amateur photographer or a friend who is confident with a camera. Do a project together and then split the proceeds – a win-win agreement for both of you!

3. Many places of interest – museums, stately homes, theme parks etc. – will give you permission to use the PR photos that they have in their brochures or on their website for free. They usually expect you to credit the pics to them but this shouldn’t create a problem. But you must gain permission as the copyright will be theirs or belong to the photographer who took the shot.

4. Remember that if you are writing a biography or a feature and the subject provides you with a photo that was taken in a studio, then the copyright still belongs to that studio or the professional photographer working for them.

5. Also, you can’t just reproduce images that appear on the Internet – you have to get permission to use them – and if you can’t get this from the site on which they appear then forget it!

6. Many amateur photographers love taking ‘artistic’ shots of sunsets, clouds, landscapes etc. These may be beautiful but what most editors are looking for are clear pictures that contain a person – especially if they are doing something visually interesting. They want photos that are well-composed and actually get the reader involved with the subject on some level – whether it is a person or an inanimate object such as a building.

7. Always supply pictures in the format that the editor specifies. So do your research thoroughly. Many will accept digital images, clear prints or transparencies. But if you are sending digital images make sure you know whether they prefer them on a disc or as attachments in the preferred format.

8. However you send your photos, make sure that they are properly labelled with clear, descriptive captions.

9. Always ensure that you make it clear that you are giving permission for single use only. If an editor wants to use the picture more than once he/she should be prepared to pay you again.

10. Above all, be creative and don’t be afraid to experiment. Have confidence in your own ideas – digital imaging sets amateurs free to produce pictures that rival those produced by the professionals. 


The British Council, which exists in most countries, run various different writing events you can attend, plus they have competitions you can enter with quite fantastic prizes. For instance I found this competition – The International Radio Playwriting Competition – on the British Council’s Kenyan Website, but it is available to anyone not resident in the UK. There are two categories, one for English speakers and one for those who have English as a second language. The prize for this competition is to travel to London to see the play made into a full radio production which will then be broadcast on BBC World Service, plus £2500! Closing date is March 31st 2009. To find your local British council website simply type British Council and your country into a search engine such as Google.
Just to revisit top tips again, I have found an interesting website where you can buy images, if you can’t take them yourself and cannot find any enthusiastic helpers. You can also upload your photo’s for sale to others – and why not! You can purchase photo’s for as little as £3.00 and, in their words, “All photos on our site are royalty-free, meaning that the price of each image is fixed, regardless of how you intended to use it or the number of times!” Unlike many websites I tried, this one is easy to navigate and it’s free to sign up.
This is a general website for writers, I can’t say it any better myself so in their words “The idea behind Great Writing is simple; sign up, submit a piece of creative writing, and allow others to offer advice and constructive criticism. This is supported by a general discussion area where you can promote your work, ask questions about all aspects of writing and publishing, or just chew the fat with friends. We're also trying our darndest to bring you original articles on writing and interviews with those in the trade. We'll be keeping an eye out for writing contests too, and even running a few of our own.” It’s nicely laid out and very easy to navigate.

Remember, if you run a website that you think may be of use to our readers, let us know. If we like it, we’ll publish a link to it giving you a free plug. What could be better than that?

END NOTE and a little inspiration


Could you write an article about ...

1st July 1961

Diana Frances Spencer, later known as Diana, Princess of Wales, is born in a rented house on the Sandringham Royal estate in Norfolk.

3rd July 1971

Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, is found dead from a drug overdose in Paris.

5th July 1996

The worlds first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep, comes into the world at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

8th July 1822

A storm off the coast of Italy claims the life of 29 year old Percy Bysshe Shelley whilst he attempts to sail from Leghorn to La Spezia (see below for my favourite Shelley poem).

11th July 1975

A tomb in China is found to contain 6000 life size soldiers and horses, now known as the Terracotta Army, put there to protect the first Emperor of China in the afterlife.

13th July 1899

Alfred Hitchcock, best known for psychological thrillers such as The Birds, Psycho and Rear Window, is born in London.

16th July 1821

Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Church of Christ Scientist, is born in Bow, New Hampshire, USA.

17th July 1955

Walt Disney opens his first theme park in Anaheim, California, known worldwide as Disneyland.

19th July 1799

The Rosetta stone, which later allowed researchers to translate hieroglyphics, is discovered in Egypt by French troops.

20th July 1944

German dictator, Adolf Hitler, survives an assassination attempt at his headquarters. Four others are killed and the conspirators are executed.

21st July 1960

The world sees its first female prime minister when Sirimavo Bandaranaike is elected in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka. She holds the post for most of the next two decades.

23rd July 1986

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson become the Duke and Duchess of York following their marriage at Westminster Abbey.

26th July 1952

Evita, otherwise known as Eva Peron, the popular wife of Argentine president, Juan Peron, dies at the age of 33 from cancer.

27th July

The search for a treatment for diabetes leads Canadian physiologists Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best to be the first to isolate the hormone insulin.     

28th July 1866

The writer of the much loved children’s stories starring Peter Rabbit and Jemimah Puddle-duck, Beatrix Potter, is born in London.

29th July 1890

Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, famous for masterpieces such as ‘Starry Night’, ‘Irises’ and ‘Sorrow’, dies at the age of 47 after shooting himself two days earlier.

31st July 1790

The first US patent is awarded by the US patent office to Samuel Hopkins for his process of making pearl ashes and potash.

As I am named after this great English poet, and St Valentines Day is on 14th February, I thought I would include my favourite poem of his on a subject that has been debated by philosophers for centuries – love!

Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle—
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain'd its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

The first issue of the New Year is over. I hope you found something to motivate you to be more productive in all areas of your life this month, but especially in your writing endeavours. I’ll be back next month with expert advice from tutor Simon Whaley on The Great Outdoors.  In Simon’s words, “Getting published can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, especially if you write for the outdoor market. Writing walking routes doesn't necessarily mean knowing the shortest way to climb Ben Nevis or Snowdon. Many local publications like a short walk that readers can follow to help them explore their local attractions. The Great Outdoors will show you what the editors are looking for and how to avoid getting lost in the outdoor writing market!"

Plus, 10 Top Tips on creating authentic dialogue and our usual mix of useful websites and inspiration.

And finally, just to drive you absolutely potty, try your hand at these little teasers. ( Oh and if you can get past level 9 let me know how, I’m stuck!

If you found something of use to you in this issue please 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.

Shelley x

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








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Annemarie Munro Writers Bureau's Student of the Year 2022

"I have seen my writing journey as an adventure: What can I write? What am I best at? What new aspects of writing can I discover and contribute towards? I have welcomed the wide range of modules covering different types of writing, challenging me to try new aspects in style and content, pushing me gently outside my comfort zone with encouragement.

"I signed up for the course in December 2020 as a Christmas present to myself and I started the first module in January 2021. I have had eight pieces published: three paid earning £1080 and a star letter where I won a £250 hotel voucher."

Annemarie Munro - Writers Bureau Student of the Year 2022

Read Annemarie's full story


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