It’s (Almost) Always Okay To Submit A Whole Magazine Article On Spec

by Anne Wayman

questions about freelance writingHi Anne,

I want to write short personal narratives for magazines targeted to moms.

I’m wondering if it would be appropriate to include the story with my query letter… or maybe at least part of it?

Because I don’t have experience being published with any magazine before, I was thinking if I included some of my article, it would allow my writing to speak alongside my letter.

I would appreciate your advice on this!

Sarah – in comments

Hi Sarah,

Before I answer your question I’m going to suggest you get yourself a copy of Writer’s Market. And get the book version – in the front of that annual volume is a whole series of articles about how the freelance writing game is played. You’ll find out about agents, markets, query letters and about writing an article for magazines on spec or speculation. The market listings there will also help you figure out which magazines want spec submissions and which don’t.

Now, about your question.

When you’ve got few or no credits or clips sending a complete article to a magazine only makes sense. The editor can quickly tell if you’ve been able to write an article her readers will want to read – in both subject matter and voice or tone.

It’s call submitting on spec or speculation and is referred to as an ‘over the transom submission.’  There’s a long tradition of new magazine writers getting started this way.

Better to submit the complete article rather than a part – again because you don’t yet have the credits that would make your query strong.

Keep your query letter short – something like enclosed is an over the transom submission. When you’re submitting on spec to magazines you don’t need to explain anything else unless you’ve got a serious credential that backs up what you write.

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Email me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll do my best to answer it here.

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by takomabibelot

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah March 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

Thank you, Anne! I just checked out Writer’s Market from the library and am thrilled (yet anxious!) to start this process. Thanks again for your advice!
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annew March 7, 2012 at 7:39 am

Cool, let us know how it goes.

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Gracy Lee March 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

This is a nice post. It is always wise to keep your query letters short. You anyways have the freedom to decide your contents of the article. Keep writing.

Thanks for sharing.

-Gracy

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annew March 7, 2012 at 7:39 am

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