job application tips Magazine article Newspaper article Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

An Excellent Guide to Writing Cover Letters and to Making Pitches

Format Magazine is out with a great page on pitching editors:
(external link)

They advise most of what I’ve recommended over the years but I’d add a few things.

Consider making two or three pitches in an e-mail. An editor knows in a sentence or two if your project is intriguing, why spend four or five paragraphs developing your thoughts when one or two will do? Since you have the editor reading, pitch another topic.

Fewer than one in ten cover letters leads to acceptance, get efficient at writing them and realize they are as hard to craft as the article you are proposing. Learn to accept rejection, and what is even more frustrating, get used to absolutely no acknowledgment at all.

Consider carefully what you might get paid. If the magazine pays only $100 or so, is it worth your time? If the article will require travel, your own photographs, and 2,500 words, it may make more sense to pitch another publication that will let you at least break even.

The time you spend writing for very little could be better spent making pitches to a magazine that will reward your effort. Unless you are resume building or just enjoy writing on a particular subject, always angle for better paying work.

Regarding book proposals, I’d say to query with a one page letter before writing a full proposal. A complete proposal will take you at least a month to write. See that a publisher is interested first rather than commit to what might be a doomed project.

job application tips Thoughts on writing Writing by others Writing tips

One Cent a Word?! What You Should Be Doing Instead

This recently hit Craigslist. It’s entitled “Ghost Writers Wanted.”  I thought it the bottom of the wage floor at one penny a word. But then I remembered I wrote another post which looked at 6/10ths of a cent a word. (internal link) Still, bottom or not, this is the kind of work to avoid:

I am looking for a few quality freelance writers to produce eBooks on a wide variety of topics. Books typically range between 10,000 and 15,000 words and vary in content from how-to and self-help to romantic fiction. Qualified candidates must be able to research topics quickly and turn in non-plagiarized content within 7-days’ time. Writers are free to pick up as many or as few topics as they like with no minimums required. No experience necessary. Pay is $1 per 100 words. Please send along a 300-word writing sample outlining the basics of the paleo diet, or samples of your non-fiction, non-poetry work to see if you are a good fit for the job.

You don’t get a byline. Someone else takes your work and stamps their name on it. You are far better off writing for free than doing such dead-end work. Non-profits, NGOs, and weekly community newspapers will assuredly let their volunteers claim a byline and recognition. That helps with resume building. But doing original writing and research for a penny a word will only leave you broke and disheartened. Work on your website instead.

I’ve written before on the collapse of the wage floor (internal link). How today’s writer competes with anyone who has a net connection. This job offer shows that we’ve hit the basement and, Fukushima style, are continuing to descend.

Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

Working For a Content Creation Site

What’s it like to write for a content generation site? Or, as some people call it, a content mill? It reminds me a little of my past newspaper reporting. I get a topic I might know little about, I research it, and then I write up an article. Sometimes I have to get images to go along with it.

I  choose the topics to write about at (internal link), although sometimes the choice is meager. Three or four links in every article are provided to participating merchants. Keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) are added. It’s interesting work.

Compared to the hours the articles take, there isn’t much money involved but I get a byline, a bio, and I get to keep writing. It’s resume and skill building and just one part of my overall income stream.

Here are topics I’ve written on so far. Each is 600 to 700 words. I’ve added some links to so you can see what an article is like.

Top ten creative ways to use landscaping stones.

Top ten creative places to hang artwork.

How to decorate with a triptych painting.

Where to learn the history of country music. (external link)

Electronics for international travel. (external link)

The top ten accessories for outdoor adventuring.

Why do British movies look different. (external link)

What music genre is the most popular.

Which accessories to buy for your vinyl collection.




Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips Accepting Submissions (external link) is a magazine portal and information hub. Its proprietors publish nine hardcopy magazines and the site itself features articles covering a vast swath of American and international history.

The site is now accepting short articles on almost any history subject. They’re not paying at this time, however, that shouldn’t stop you if you are interested in resume building and getting writing credits. In particular, I think a writing credit here should look good if you are trying to break into one of their magazines. Here’s how they put it:

Have something compelling to say? Looking to get published? Let us know! HistoryNet is the world’s largest history publisher and an ideal place for aspiring journalists and history enthusiasts to get published. With 2+ million monthly readers we are actively seeking new grassroots content contributors for a wide variety of topics and periods in history – anything from the ancient pyramids to the cold war. You could even become a regular contributor with your own contributor page! Email us at!

I queried them and received this additional information: is now accepting article and video content submissions.

Submissions can cover history, current events, news, and interviews with relevant subjects.

We encourage submitters to explore the historical or current events that interest them most.

Submissions are not limited to American and military history – rather, we encourage submissions from global perspectives and varied historical periods. Get creative!

HistoryNet takes pride in its unbiased, objective delivery of historical material as a means to educate and inspire. As such, we will not accept personal memoir, opinion pieces, or subjective personal narratives. Video submissions must be no longer than 20 minutes.

Text submissions should be: around 500-1000 words Double-space, type-written and a title that is both eye-catching and factual.

500 to 1000  words shouldn’t take you long to write, even with well done research. Although you are not paid, submitting an article could be well worth your time.

My brother was published in their Wild West Magazine last year and he reports they treated him well. Perhaps you should get to know this publishing house if you have an ardent bent for history.