Some All Too Common Mistakes Made By Novice Freelance Magazine Writers

1. First big mistake: sending in a totally wrong query letter. Now this query may be wrong because you didn't bother to read the freelance guidelines which clearly state that article submission is preferable to sending a query. Or it may be wrong because you never bothered getting a sample copy of the magazine and, therefore, have no idea what the demographics are--who they write for, what the tone is, what the features usually address--nothing--and this shows through loud and clear in your query. Maybe if you had read the guidelines, you'd know that they only deal with writers' agents and you could have saved yourself some time and trouble. Too bad you're too cheap to buy or subscribe to "Writers' Market"? Or perhaps the query is so terribly wrong because you didn't bother to even run the spell check no less proofread it for mistakes of capitalization, punctuation, grammar, etc. and you've just told an editor you're not really a writer just a mad typer. Finally, it could have been so far, far from being the right query letter because a good query convinces an editor that an article would be right for his magazine, meaning that it is sizzling, attention-grabbing and well-written. And you practically skipped over the expected paragraph about why you are particularly well-suited to write this article for this magazine. Having a B.S. in Biology doesn't convince an editor you are qualified to write about home decor, nor does college membership in that sorority you mentioned. 2. The article you submitted had no lead, for starters. It not only didn't grab the reader, it was so mundane and run-of-the-mill it made him want to just set down the article down and walk away. 3. The flat writing continued throughout the article like last week's 7-Up. There was no inspiration, no real shred of interest shown by the writer. There were too many cliche's and adverbs and not enough facts to make the generalizations ring true. 4. Again, how does a writer submit an article in today's cyber world without at least running the spell check on it? And why not just get a red marker and write "amateur" across the top of the thing if you insist on giving "it's' an apostrophe for possession not "it is"? And what about misspelling simple words like "decor" and "scheme". And if it had been proofread by anyone, perhaps someone would have noticed the use of the word "marvelous" in every other sentence. That is called gushing and it really doesn't have a place in most objective magazine review writing. 5. You submitted a seasonal article for a seasonal issue the magazine already put to bed three months ago. Publishing time is not like real time. In publishing time, Christmas has come and gone and so has Valentine's Day. 6. Your article is 1,500 words long. Had you read the guidelines you would have known that the maximum length they accept is 600 words. 7. Having shared some ego-deflating truths about the query and article, one can't help but wonder if it were actually wise and expedient to call the editor three times to inquire about its status? 8. It's a mistake to grieve early or even middle or late rejections. They are as much a part of writing as buying another ink cartridge for the printer or researching freelance help wanted ads. Paper your walls with them like some of the great writers did. Don't give up--just vow to do better next time. Spend more time on getting to know the market and the magazine. Do your homework. Research your demographics. Outline your articles. And, please, ask at least three friends to proofread and edit it for you.

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