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EARN MONEY WRITING SHORT FILLERS FOR MAGAZINES
by Gail Miller
For anyone wanting to make a good part - time wage
from home, writing short fillers for publication in
news-stand magazines is an ideal way. We all have half
an hour here or there which could be utilized for
writing, so here I briefly outline how to present work
and give you a few ways to generate ideas for your
The most crucial factor when submitting work to
magazines is to act professionally. Competition can
often be fierce in this business so you want to be on
a par with all the other freelancers donít you? When
you are new to an Editor, you must show them that you
have made an effort to present yourself properly.
Never hand write submissions or query letters and
never, never, never send letters or articles with
spelling mistakes or crossings out in them.
Always check who the current editor of the publication
you are targeting is. These positions change so
rapidly it is always worth a call to reception to find
out if you have the correct contact name. And spell
his or her name correctly; make sure you have
addressed your letter correctly too. An address which
has spelling mistakes or errors in also
reflects on you. It shows that you may be 'slap-dash'
in your approach.
Always enclose an SAE when approaching a publication
or sending manuscripts, otherwise you will not get a
reply, and donít be in too much of a hurry to receive
your reply. Magazines work through their mail very
slowly and a wait of three or four months is not out
of the ordinary.
When you submit any manuscripts, always use only one
side of white A4 paper and print in black ink. Put
your name, address and telephone / email number on
every page and leave generous margins all around the
page. If you use more than one page for your feature,
number each page. Double space your work and use
around size 12 font size.
If your mind cannot generate ideas to write about,
your typing fingers certainly wonít be able to get
into action. Therefore it is a good idea to start an
Ďideas fileí in which you should save cuttings of
anything you have seen that fires your imagination.
Start collecting news snippets, facts and figures,
humorous news items - in fact anything that will get
your creative juices flowing. Try to talk to as many
people as you can in your day to day life and donít be
afraid to eavesdrop either! You can pick up some
fantastic stories listening in to other peopleís
conversations. No really! Just donít make it too
Keep in mind the timing of your submission too. Yearly
events or special occasions can be worked into short
articles very nicely However most magazines work quite
a few months in advance, so if you are wanting to
submit something topical for Christmas, donít bother
sending it in November or even October.
If I was wanting to submit something for possible
publication around Christmas time I would submit it
around June or July. This may seem a bit over the top
but you really do need to send things in this early.
Look through a dictionary of dates and look for
anniversaries; famous battles, shipwrecks, music,politics, entertainment. There are many starting
points to set you off on the road to an interesting
piece of work.
If you are still stuck for ideas, why not write what
you know about. Do you have children? What are your
hobbies? Do you have any employment experience that
can be turned around and used as material for your
writing? Where do you live? Are there some interesting
snippets of information that you could pass on in a
short feature? It is quite easy to generate ideas when
you look at your own life and experience.
There are many types of feature that are a page or
less when published. If you are wanting to write
medium length articles aim for the 1000 word mark.
Shorter articles can go right down to around the 350
word mark. These are called short, shorts. They are
still viable as features in their own right however.
When you are writing short pieces, you really can
focus on anything. If you want to talk about miniature
dolls houses, why not? What about pollution,
transport, animals? The skyís the limit. These
subjects could be made into fillers, quizzes,
humorous anecdotes or factual pieces. On the other
hand, there are certain types of features that are
designed to be short by their very nature - all
excellent openings to the freelancer.
Lists; where the writer gives a list of facts or tips,
e.g. "You know itís Christmas when ....." you would
then follow with a list of reasons why you know itís
Christmas when ..... or something like "20 ways to
Book reviews; or indeed music, theatre or cinema
reviews. You also find reviews about restaurants and
clubs and pubs in some local publications. What could
be better than getting paid to write about a pleasant
Profiles; of famous people, or not so famous ones.
Profiles of interesting people who are not actually
celebrities can be fascinating to read too, sometimes
more so. Do you know someone who has a fascinating
hobby? Maybe you could submit a profile to a
specialist magazine on that particular pastime?
Humorous essays; the type that you get in some of
the large circulation weeklies. With these, the writer
just tells of funny things that have happened to them
in their own lives. These pieces are written as if the
writer is chatting to you over a coffee. There are
plenty of columns like these published in many
magazines every week from both male and female
Readersí letters or tips pages; which appear in
numerous magazines and newspapers. They are there
specifically for readers to submit their letters etc.
However, if you are going to submit to these pages,
donít present your work as you would a manuscript -
just send a letter, as you would to anyone. Itís as
simple as that! Often the payment for these very short
pieces is very, very good. If you divide
the payment you get per word in your letter, you will
be commanding a higher rate of pay per word than an
article writer would receive.
Questionnaires and quizzes; which are very popular in
many large circulation magazines. The ones which say
something like "Are you a bitch or a babe?" or "Are
you a good liar?" The reader then has to fill in the
questionnaire and pick an answer from each multiple
choice question. The marks are added up at the end and
a Ďpsychologicalí assessment is given for that score.
These articles are fun for readers to do and a good
market to aim for, especially in the Ďteení magazine
Writing for children; If you can think as a youngster
thinks, the you have a good chance of breaking in to
the childrenís publications market. Because these
pieces will be read by children, they have to be short
anyway. If you can write activity based features then
all the better.
Poetry; a difficult market, simply because poetry goes
in and out of fashion, and you donít often get that
many poetry features in magazines these days. However,
if you feel that a particular magazine would benefit
from the addition of some verse, then by all means
approach them. You never know, you might get a regular
Well there it is. Writing for magazines can be a great
way to earn a part time, or second income. However,
you need to be able to adopt a thick-skin and not take
rejection personally ... it's all part and parcel of
the job. Someone once said that the only difference between a professional
writer and an amateur one is persistence, and this is absolutely true. If you
are serious about writing for magazines you have to keep at it until you get
acceptance. Then there will be no stopping you!
Gail Miller is a writer and artist.
Her websites include Gails Gallery;
Stage Your Home To Sell;
and, Cash For Crafts;
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