1. Dash off a quick query letter. Make sure that in your letter you beg the editor to read your article, bribe them with bikkies squeezed into the envelope, and let them know that your mum loves the story idea. (Alternative: Create an enticing, exciting, well-thought out query that makes the editor want to see your article or book. Let your writing, idea, and credentials speak for themselves).
2. Start with the A’s. Don’t research for the best publisher, just keep sending your manuscript or query out to everyone under A, then move on to B name publishers. (Alternative: Spend time researching the market for your type of idea, article, story, or book. Study similar pieces and learn the name of the editor).
3. Your story or article is great the way it is and you don’t want anyone telling you to change anything. Never let anyone read your work before you mail it out. (Alternative: Join a critique group. Be open to suggestions from other writer’s and listen, consider, and rewrite).
4. Assume that you know best what the magazine wants. You’ve been a reader for a long time, so make sure and send in your completed article whether it’s what they usually buy or not. Let the editor know you think they need a change and your piece is just what they need. (Alternative: Be flexible and send a query first. Maybe the editor will like your idea, but not your slant. Maybe she will want different experts or require them if you haven’t suggested using them in your piece. A flexible writer is one an editor comes back to again and again.)
5. Send an epic when they want a skit. The magazine may say they want stories from 1000-1500 words, but they just don’t know how wonderful your 6,000 word story is unless they read it. After all, their guidelines aren’t written in stone, are they? (Alternative: Believe that editors mean what they say. Don’t send a manuscript if they want a query. Keep to word counts. Always send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. Make an editor’s life easy and they’ll remember you.)
6. Guess your facts. Who will know? You are pretty sure you heard somewhere that all dogs are color blind, but you can’t remember if it’s a myth or a fact. But since lots of people say so, it’s probably true so just put it in that way. If it’s wrong, an editor will fix it. (Alternative: Talk to experts when you are stating facts or statistics. Keep records and contact information. Your editor will probably check up on these things and will know if it’s been guesswork on your part.)
7. Make sure you work stands out. How about a cool looking font? If you print in 8 point you can get more on a page, or in 16 point your editor can read it really well. What about a colored envelope or cute drawings on the corner of your query letter? Getting noticed is your first line of attack. (Alternative: Keep everything professional. Use 12 point, Courier or Times New Roman, and stay away from the hot pink and eye-popping purple stationary and envelopes. Your ideas and writing should be what stands out.)
8. Bug the editor. Check every week on the status of your work. Gosh, if it’s online, they should be faster, so email them every day in case they forget you. (Serious alternative: Never harass an editor. If your idea has been on their desk for a lengthy period of time, perhaps 2-4 weeks beyond their listed response time, send a polite letter or email, then give them another 2-4 weeks to answer. When you decide to withdraw your manuscript, be tactful and don’t burn your bridges.)
9. Send your first draft. After all, it’s straight from your heart. If they like your idea, then it’s time to dash out the manuscript and send it in immediately. (Alternative: Look over any ideas they might have mentioned for changes in your original query. Think about the best way to set up, research, and write down your article. Keep your promises. If you promise 101 Ways, don’t give 85. Let your writing cool and take a fresh look at it before dropping it in the mail or hitting that send button.)
10. Send out dozens of copies of your story or article to every magazine you can think of at once. You’re not getting any younger and you can’t afford to wait 3 months to hear back. (Alternative: Keep accurate records of when and where you’ve sent your writing. Unless it’s time sensitive, give the editors a chance to get to, read, discuss, and consider your piece. Don’t be afraid to follow-up, and then send your piece elsewhere if you get no response. Instead of shooting one manuscript 20 places, try working on another while the first is being considered. And another, and another, and another.)
Your office doesn’t have to be papered in rejection slips. Think of the alternative instead. And find some soothing wallpaper for the office.