If a new writer wants to see their name in print, and/or earn money, then start by writing letters.
The majority of magazines have a readers’ letter page. Most don’t pay contributors while others do. Each will have a theme or type of letter. It could be comments on previous articles or random subjects. Market study is essential. Count the number of letters per issue. How long are they? What style do they use? Do they pay?
Letter writing needs skill and it is a good way to learn your craft as a writer. Keep it brief -under 100 words has a greater chance of acceptance. The skill lies in making every word count. There is no room for dead words like however or cliché phrases. Try to avoid all forms of to be by using active verbs and limit the adverbs and adjectives. These are the basic rules you will need to make you into a good writer whether you are concentrating on fiction or non-fiction.
In my early days as a writer I had a number of letters published. I chose only those magazines that paid money. My earnings from these covered the cost of postage for submitting articles, especially when I was having far more rejections.
Beware though, it can go wrong. Some magazines offer prizes, especially for the star letter. I won a few of these. It proved that my writing expertise had improved but I didn’t earn money. Of my prizes, I received a book that didn’t appeal, an empty tea caddy when I don’t drink tea and a man’s watch that I didn’t need because my father was a watchmaker.
Having your letters published boosts the sense of pride. Pound per word it is almost the highest rate of pay you can earn. Letter writing is a good stepping ladder towards writing for success.
You are not alone. Even well-known authors suffer rejections.
Lesser known and first time writers have even more of their work returned than average, accept them with a shrug and concentrate on improving your writing.
Today’s editors receive hundreds or even thousands of submissions from hopeful writers so there is no time for them to give a reason for rejection. Don’t take it as a personal affront. The reasons for returning work are many. If an editor is overwhelmed with submissions he or she’ll look for any excuse to reject most of them.
Number one on the list is presentation. They won’t look at work that lacks paragraph indents and has space between paragraphs as it screams amateur. If you offer an immaculate and professional layout, you are more likely to be on the short list. I learned this the hard way. The moment I sent work out as my tutor demanded, at least my reject came with a personal letter.
Editors may be already overstocked with acceptances. I had a recent reply saying that their magazine could take no more stories for two years. Another common reason is that they already have work in hand that is similar to yours.
Too many hopefuls have not done their market study and submitted inappropriate material. Make sure you fully analyse your chosen magazine and aim for their requirements and house style.
If you are lucky enough to receive a personal reason for rejection, you have had a near miss. Use it to your advantage. Take note, revise your work but I wouldn’t send it to the same editor as she has merely shown you have promise and still wouldn’t accept it.
Even editors under stress have bad hair days. Many a famous author has been told they’ll never succeed as a writer. I’ve been writing for 50 years Even so, I’ve had a few disgruntled replies which is why I’ll self-publish my sequel novel.
There’s no point in being affronted. Life’s too short and there are plenty of other outlets for experienced writers. Rejection is a process we all go through while gaining maturity. Luck also plays a part in today’s highly competitive market. Just keep on writing.