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Freelance writing

For the first time ever in my checkered careers, I am writing a
’how-to’ article, which will include photographs of the process. I
have no idea how to submit a proposal to a magazine. I appeal to
the wiser heads on Orchid for advice. Is there a specific format
which I should use for the ‘proposal’ ? I believe there’s a better
word, used in publishing, than ‘proposal.’ Can I submit it to several
magazines concurrently, or must I do it serially (and wait, each
time for an answer) ? I am a total ‘newbie.’ to this…is there a
book or books which I should read? Thank you,

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718

David, I have submitted a few articles in the past to a select few
American magazines. I suggest, I repeat, make contact to the editor
of that particular newspaper or trade magazine and ask them the
following queries. on what topic, supply them the necessary photo’s,
is this article going to be in the first person or just a technically
filled piece of interesting “how to do” I also suggest
some little amounts of humour.

I for one David, suggest that your mode of writing should be as you
were talking directly to that person. I have written to two
newspapers last month both of which received two separate articles.
My idea was that these two newspapers will print the two articles
alternating, that is, one article in one paper, and then switch over
to the other article in the other newspaper…simple? Both readers
will not read the newspapers simultaneously as they are living in
separate areas of your country, watch out for this.

I do not ask for payment, but have them allow me some free
advertising in the month of my choosing. Once you have made inroads to
the editor, send them an email “proof” but realise that they will
definitely reduce the content to suite their paper space. I had this
done once out of an article of 1600 words, it was reduced to only
<500 words.

I wish you great success in this new field of endeavour…“Gerry, the
Cyber-Setter !”

David, The process for submitting a story idea to a magazine is
called querying. In essence you write a few lines of the proposed
feature along with a “hook” which suggests what is interesting about
the story and why you suppose you are the best person to write this
particular piece. If your query is good the editor might agree to
purchase the feature and then you actually produce the article with a
written contract which stipulates the payment and publication rights,

(I am sure our esteemed Orchid colleague, freelance writer and
editor, Suzanne Wade, could provide a much better description of the
process :wink:

Most publications will send you their submission guidelines, some are
even available online, they can vary greatly from one magazine to
another. It is best to know in advance what they are looking for, and
be familiar with their publication and content. Also helpful to know
what percent of their content is from freelance writers compared to
staff written features.

I took a wonderful online class through a local community college two
years ago. It was an ENG 235 class called : Magazine Article
Writing". I had no idea how much work was involved, it was a
tremendous amount: 12 to 15 hours or more per week of research and
writing for a 3 credit hour class. I am glad to have done it and now

I certainly have a much more profound respect for any magazine
article I read, and appreciation the considerable work the writer
goes through to produce it.

A well written feature story is a true work of art.

Michael David Sturlin

David Barzilay wants on writing a ‘how-to’ article for a
magazine, including books on the subject.

I own and recommend Guide to Writing Magazine Nonfiction by Michael
J. Bugeja. has the table of contents. The publisher’s
website has more at

Guide to Writing Magazine Nonfiction
by Michael J. Bugeja
Paperback: 328 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.64 x 8.95 x 5.92 
Publisher: Pearson Allyn & Bacon; 1 edition (June 3, 1997)

There are brief bios of the author at

The latter states “His creative work has appeared in hundreds of
magazines . . .”

Daniel Kamman

Hi David, I’ve only had one article published, but I’m working on my
second book. My advice would be to purchase the magazines you are
interested in targeting. Study the layout and writing style. See if
the magazine is on the Web - if it is, go to their site and see if
they list their guidelines for submissions. You may have to do a bit
of hunting to find this Many magazines are published by
a larger entity, like Kalmbach. Try going to the larger publisher’s
web site and see if they have guidelines for article submissions. If
you come up empty in that search, don’t be afraid to call the
magazine and ask for the guidelines. After all, without knowledgeable
writers submitting articles, magazines would have nothing to offer!
Just be friendly, professional and upbeat when you talk to these
people. They are usually interested in what you have to say and may
ask you questions about your article, so try to be prepared for that.
As far as I am aware, you may make multiple submissions as long as
you don’t mislead the magazines into thinking that you aren’t. Here’s
the link to Beadwork’s guidelines for getting published. It should
help give you some idea of what magazines like to see.

Get someone literate to proofread your article before submitting.
Never try to proofread your own work - you won’t see your mistakes
and you won’t be sure that the article is understandable to a
reader. My personal favorite book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Getting Published, by Sheree Bykofsky. Her book is targeted at
nonfiction books, but covers magazine articles too. I have met this
lady and she’s a very sharp agent who has been in the publishing
business for a long time. Her website is and
she has very helpful to offer there as well. I hope this
helps. If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to contact me
off line. Also, I’m pretty sure we have at least one freelancer on
the Orchid list. Hopefully, they’ll have some words of wisdom for you

Best of luck,

Good for you David!!

I may be a bit off base here according to some, but I have only
submitted my articles to one magazine at a time. The last four times
I submitted them, all were accepted. Usually, when one magazine
accepts an article, they send you a form that spells out your rights
and their rights…i.e., you ‘own’ the article but since they are
publishing it, they have publication rights and therefore, you cannot
turn around and publish it somewhere else for a given period of
time…usually a year. In one case, my magazine did not use quite all
the article and I wanted to do some local publishing myself for class
purposes. I asked them and they gave permission.

You should ‘finish’ your article as best you can but be ready to see
something else in print. The editor will correct your language and
syntax and even move things around to suit their style. Just make
sure it is clear, concise and complete!

When the article is finished to your best ability, just put it into
an evelope and send it to your first choice with a letter explaining
what it is and asking if they would like to publish it. If it is
technical in nature, they may send it to some other people for a peer
review just to ensure it’s accuracy. They usually let you know
pretty quickly if they are interested. My first article took two
years to write and only 3 months to get published.

Good luck…and let us know when you get published! Cheers from
Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine
jewelry! @coralnut2

I’ve been a freelance writer and author for 15 years, and I’m not
going to add any more advice to this thread except maybe a plea:
remember that writing, like jewelry making, is an art and we need to
demand and receive fair compensation for it. Please don’t accept from
magazines and publishers low-ball rates just because you want to get
published or see your trade name out there…it undercuts us all.

I was recently offered a contract by a publisher that was new to me
wherein I would produce a book that I estimated would take 3-4 months
full time (including photos); they offered a $500-1500 advance
against 5% royalties (which on this book pans out of a total
sell-through of a first run at about $3,000 – .75 cents per book).
Can you imagine working for such chicken feed for your jewelry? I
politely declined the offer which they declined to improve (like
customers, never insult an editor; they could show up at a future
market!) and they WILL find someone to work for scratch.

Anyway, I could rant and rant, but talk to professionals before you
negotiate a price to find out what is right – be fair to yourself
and to the other artists of the world!


I fully agree with Roseann. Especially, don’t do something ‘on the
cheap,’ in order to establish a relationship. If you’re a setter,
for example, don’t start a customer at $10.00 per stone if the ‘going
rate’ is $25.00 (I made up the numbers.) When they need a high
quality job done, they will likely go to someone who does expensive
work. because the feeling will be that YOU only do the ‘scut’ work.

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718