Tuesday, October 26, 2010
First time writer gigs
No venue is going to taunt itself as a haven for green, still-learning-the-ropes writers. That identification would mean they produce a less than professional product. Sure, a lot of venues will draw you in to sell you their writing resources, but it's doubtful they'll buy your articles. Who wants to send their child to a novice teacher, or send their relative to a novice doctor, or paint their home via a novice painter?
Do you really want to find markets like that? No, you don't. Because putting such a clip on your resume labels you as novice when you pitch to full-fledged markets months or years later. You don't want your query letter or resume to scream NEWBIE. You want it to say you are a writer. Trust me, it's not the number of years that makes a difference on your writing resume, or the number of articles you've written.
Your reputation rides overwhelmingly on the places you've written for.
If you feel less than worthy of writing for a publication, then you do the following:
1. Study the publication cover to cover (or webpage to webpage), to include the ads. Study several issues. Analyze the voices, the length, the phrasing.
2. Study the publication's competition, just like above.
3. Write practice articles. Lots of them. Have someone you trust compare yours against the published pieces.
4. Find a mentor, editor or serious critique group to rip up your work and force you to rewrite.
5. Write daily.
6. Study grammar and style manuals, like the Chicago Manual of Style and The Elements of Style.
Every piece of work you publish, even on the two-bit, easy, cheesy, amateur or writing mill sites, remains in the world for others to find. You may have written a simple piece on walking your dog five years ago for a homemade newsletter, but a simple Google search may turn it up when the editor of an international glossy considers your pitch on the changing architectural standards of Atlanta.
You can't hide what you publish. Someone somewhere can find it. So skip the first-time writer gigs. No one in the business understands the logic of delivering mediocre work to "first-time writer" venues. What they respect is someone who practices and writes long enough to only submit quality work, who took the time to get it right in the seclusion of their home rather than across the Internet for all to see.