I’m just starting to do more freelance writing. (I have sold a few articles in the past).
You said “send the articles out on spec (over the transom)” in your post, More Productivity or More Money?
I’m just wondering – do you mean to circumvent queries and just send the whole article manuscript out on spec? Don’t most top-paying magazines require query first?
Pam (in comments)
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to confuse you.
When freelance writers market articles to magazines basically they have two approaches. (Once and awhile an agent or publicist will market some articles for a very well-known writer – that’s not what we’re talking about here.) The writer may:
- Submit a query – a sales letter selling both your idea and you as a writer. You’re right, most magazines want queries. Editors like them because they can quickly tell if the idea pitched and the freelancer proposing it are likely to be able to interest their audience and complete the assignment. Accepted queries result in either an assignment or, an invitation to submit the article on spec. The assignment is essentially a contract and if the magazine cancels the article the author may receive a kill fee, usually a portion of the price of the article if it had been published. The invitation is just that – but means the editor will pay close attention to the submission and, if it meets her requirements, is likely to buy and publish it.
- Submit the completed article on spec or over the transom. The idea here is that it’s easier for new writers to demonstrate their skills with the whole article. If the editor likes the article, he will probably buy it; if the new writer had sent a query instead, the editor might have decided not to take the risk. It’s NOT meant to circumvent queries; it’s a different method.
Market listings often state if a magazine prefers one or the other.
Does that help?
If you’ve got a question about freelance writing send it to me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll do my best to answer it. Or ask it in comments.
Image from http://www.photoxpress.com/