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Monday, January 24, 2011

Give me the money—OK, don’t

Photo by Tracy O.

I write because I love to write.  I’m not in it to make a lot of money, though that would be nice.  When I first started writing, I submitted to non-paying markets.  As my husband always says, “You got to pay your dues.”  I spent many hours researching, writing, and editing my articles.  The non-paying markets accepted my work and though I wasn’t paid, I acquired credits and built a nice bio. 

Establishing credits boosted my confidence.  A few years later, I pitched to big time children’s markets:  KNOW magazine, Nature Friend, and Highlights for Children to name a few.  These publications accepted my work and paid me for it.  As I look back, it was a good thing that I waited before approaching these markets.  I simply hadn’t honed my skills or earned the credits early on. 

Though I regularly submit to the paying markets now, I don’t shy away from the non-paying ones.  If they’re a good fit for my article, I’ll pitch it to them.  I know that educational companies are often willing to purchase my work.  And more, non-paying markets continue to build my bio. 

Over the years of submitting to non-paying markets, I’ve learned that many are well-respected, award-winning publications. Think again if you believe it’s a piece of cake getting published in one. Winning an acceptance from a non-paying market can be as difficult as a paying market. So having them on your biography is a good thing.

Some people submit to the paying markets without having any credentials.  But I dare say that those writers would have trouble catching an editor’s eye.  An editor looks at your track record, especially if you’ve never written for her publication.  Many times, an editor will ask for clips before accepting your work or giving you an assignment.  Editors like to go with sure bets.  

So here’s my advice.  Put the paying markets on the back burner.  Work on improving your writing. Build your bio.  Apply this simple equation: Hard work + Non-paying markets = credentials.  Continue applying the equation until you have about five published pieces.  Then go for it.  You’ve paid your dues.  Submit your very best and cash in on the paying markets. 

Leave me a comment.  How do you feel about writing without pay?

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