The Biggest Error of a New Writer

20 May 2016

Here lately I’ve received a rash of emails asking me how to become a freelance writer and make money. Well, actually, they ask how they can write and get paid by me, and then they ask me to mentor them so that their writing is good enough.

So, let’s look at this for a moment . . . I’m supposed to take on someone who is not a commercial writer, teach them how to write such that it IS marketable, then pay them $50 for 500 words that fit FundsforWriters.

Some submitters become quite disgruntled when I refuse them. Some pitch me anyway, then when I reject (always with reasons to help them learn), they get angry that I am not giving a new writer a chance by educating them how to write it better.

Note to writers everywhere: It is not an editor’s job to teach you how to write. When you pitch, you are professing to already know the craft. It should be only a matter of the writer’s pitch fitting the need of the publication.

The best ways to learn how to write for a publication:

1) Read all the freelance chapters in a Writers Market.
2) Read enough of the publication you’re pitching to understand their style.
3) Read the guidelines and study the editorial calendar (if available).
4) Ensure your writing is polished enough so that the editor wants to read more.
5) Know the Chicago Manual of Style.

Second note to writers: Editors are not there to edit your work for you. They are there to edit for the publication, to find the best topics for their readers and then edit the stories to fit the space.

Take the time to learn how to write well. Then take the time to learn how to pitch smart. Do not use editors for your trial and error learning process. Find beta readers and critique groups to test drive your work.

You cannot undo a first impression, and yes, many editors remember. An idea that doesn’t quite fit is one thing….not knowing how to write is quite another.

Freelance writing resources for the new freelance writer:

http://www.therenegadewriter.com/
http://www.makealivingwriting.com/
http://www.writersmarket.com/

By C. Hope Clark, award-winning author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series, creator and editor at http://www.fundsforwriters.com 

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