We are very much indebted to a reader who called to our attention the fact that some writers have had negative dealings with Cats & Kittens Magazine and its sister publications, Bird Times and Dog & Kennel. Those magazines were listed as possible markets in the previous post, “Six Paying Markets for Short Articles.”
Indeed, since the previous post, we have learned that a number of writers have had difficulty getting paid by the publisher for their work, or even receiving responses to their inquiries. Some of these complaints are listed in the Whispers & Warnings section of WritersWeekly, the online ezine for writers (writersweekly.com).
According to WritersWeekly publisher, Angela Hoy:
“WritersWeekly has received numerous complaints about this publisher. Their list of victims is growing and they don’t respond to our inquiries.
We recommend that ALL writers avoid this publisher!”
Angela’s recommendation was dated Dec. 11, 2006. The complaints about the magazines date back to 2003 and we have no way of knowing if any of the writers have been paid since then. We do know that, as of today (Feb. 24, 2008), their web site is still up, so they are probably still in business.
Our recommendation is that you avoid Cats and Kittens Magazine and its sister publications unless you can determine that the publishers have settled all complaints.
It’s difficult to know about the reputation of some publishers so we must be wary when approaching any publications that are new to us. WritersWeekly and feedback from other writers may be our best sources for information about publications that treat writers unfairly. If you know of others, please let us know.
Your comments are most welcome.
Use the listed information at your own risk. Words into Print gives no warranty to
completeness, accuracy, or fitness of the markets, although research is done to the best of our ability.
©2008 Laverne Daley
Short articles not only take less time to research and write than full-length articles, they also can help you break into new magazine markets. Many editors say that writers have the best chance of selling to their publications by submitting short pieces.
All of the following are paying publications. Some pay moderate rates, others are low-paying. If you need your first bylines, one of these magazines might fill that need.
Boat owners, builders and designers read the bi-monthly Wooden Boat magazine. The publication focuses on the “design, building, care, preservation and use of wooden boats, both commercial and pleasure, old and new, sail and power.”
The “Currents” column might be a good starting point here. The columns features short articles covering everything from straight news to news about museums, magazines, books, organizations, events, maritime preservation and politics, interesting products, tools and people.
Payment is on publication. You might even send a query for a longer piece. Short items pay $5-$25 and longer features bring $200 to $250. Click here for guidelines and specifics about what the magazine is looking for.
Lake Superior Magazine
This regional magazine with national distribution covers people, places and events in the Lake Superior region. Editors are interested in articles on specific topics like nature and wilderness living, and short articles and photos about boats, ships or watercraft of note and their crews, plus short pieces about individuals who work and play in the region and articles about homes and lifestyles. See complete guidelines here.
Short articles averaging 900 to 1,400 words usually pay from $65 to $125. Features run from 1,600 to 2,200 words and pay up to $600, according to length, importance of the story and writer’s experience. Payment is on publication.
Editors prefer completed manuscripts, although short queries naming possible sources are considered. Do not fax queries or unsolicited manuscripts and do not call. The publication buys First North American Serial Rights and electronic rights, and possibly second serial rights for reprints in its special publications.
Frequent travelers, both business and leisure, read Continental, the in-flight magazine of Continental Airlines. Business stories and shorter items are the best way for freelancers to break into this market.
Among the sections open for freelancers are “Go Explore,” a 400-word main story, and other items of 125-150 words on a unique and timeless place to visit — somewhere off the beaten path; “Art on the Road,” a 250 word art or architecture story on a destination or an art or architectural project worth seeing; “Go Eat,” a 350-word article about a chef and his or her restaurant in a city listed on the editorial calendar and “Go Home,” 350 words about a topic relevant to the home. Check the 2008 Editorial Guidelines for more areas open to freelancers.
Freelancers write most of the articles in Dog Fancy. Don’t send the magazine any tributes to dogs who have died or stories about beloved family pets. Do offer thoroughly researched articles about health, nutrition, care, grooming and training. Editors want roughly 850 to 1,200 words, accompanied by high-quality slides or photos, if possible. Dog Fancy pays on publication. Payment varies with the quality and length of the article and number and quality of photos the author supplies. Complete guidelines are here.
Cats and Kittens Magazine
(Notice: Please see the follow-up post on this market)
Freelancers also might consider submitting to Cats and Kittens Magazine. The magazine and its sister publications, Bird Times and Dog & Kennel, want human interest stories, columns dealing with training and other informative, authoritative and educational articles about the species and their care.
The pay is low, 10 cents a word on the final edited published word count, payable on publication. Short articles run 500 to 1,000 words, features run 1,200 to 2,000 words. Go here for complete guidelines.
Finally, Sierra Magazine has four departments that are open to short freelance submissions. Sierra notes that its readers are environmentally concerned and politically diverse and that most are active outdoors. Editors are looking for writing that will provoke, entertain and enlighten that readership.
For “The Green Life,” they welcome ideas that incorporate lists, factoids, photos, how-tos, recipes, quotes, statistics, tips and other quick-hit presentations.” Generally these run 50 to 200 words, with payment depending on length and complexity.
“Good Going” in about 300 words describes a superlative place, including fascinating natural and cultural facts.
“Lay of the Land” focuses on environmental issues of national or international concern — tightly focused, provocative, well-researched investigations of environmental issues. These run 500 to 700 words, with payment varying according to length.
“One Small Step” features first-person accounts of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things. The magazine publishes a 100-to-150-word quotation from an interview that explains the person’s actions, motivations, and impact. For more information, read the magazine’s guidelines.
Please let me know if you find these market listings helpful. Your comments will determine if I continue posting them.
Use the listed information at your own risk. Words into Print gives no warranty to
completeness, accuracy, or fitness of the markets, although research is done to the best of our ability.
© 2008 by Laverne Daley
The notion of grammar and humor first struck me when I was writing an earlier post (Precision in Writing – Is That Word Necessary?) in which I mentioned dangling participles.
Now I admit that grammar and humor are an unlikely pairing, but put a dangling participle into the mix and you might encounter a bit of humor — not enough for guffaws or chuckles, but maybe enough for a quiet smile when you recognize the humor that is there — although probably not intended by the writer.
In that earlier post, I included two dangling participles that Evan Marshall mentioned in his book, The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing (Leaving the village, the mountains glowed red in the sun) and (Opening the closet door, the cat sprang from the shadows), along with Marshall’s comment, “These statements give the mountains and the cat undue credit.”
Numerous dangling participles turned up when I went searching for more. Some were on college web sites, in instructors’ classnotes advising students how to avoid the danglers, in Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, and on blogs and web sites pointing out how they can cause serious misunderstandings.
“Running through the neighborhood last Saturday afternoon, his nose detected the delectable aroma of barbecued steak on someone’s backyard grill.” (College of Siskiyous)
“Rushing to finish the paper, Bob’s printer broke.” (Guide to Grammar and Style, Jack Lynch).
“Driving home in yesterday’s storm, a tree fell on the back of my car.” (www.papersbyjoantaber.blogspot.com)
“Hanging by their tails from the branches, the children watched the monkeys.” (College of Siskiyous)
“I saw the trailer peeking through the window.” (Elements of Style)
“The man with the bushy mustache carrying a briefcase went into the police station.” (www.associatedcontent.com)
“Walking home last night, a banana fell on my head.” (ScribblesandWords.com)
It’s easy to see how dangling participles can distort your meaning and leave your reader wondering what you’re trying to say. Readers may not actually believe that somebody’s nose was running through the neighborhood or that a tree was driving a car during last night’s storm, but those thoughts will certainly divert them from what you really are trying to say.
Consider the words of Angela Harms, editor of “Don’t Dangle Your Participle.” (www.WritersResources.com)
Even when dangling participles don’t cause confusion, and they aren’t silly, these critters should be avoided. They are stumbling blocks. Your readers may understand well enough, but they will have to pause, if for only a fraction of a second, while their brains process the strange construction.”
Whatever humor we may find in the dangling participles of other writers, we certainly don’t want editors and readers to find them in our own work. To fix a dangling participle, move the offending participle so it follows what it actually describes (The children watched the monkeys hanging by their tails from the branches) (While peeking through the window, I saw the trailer).
Dangling participles happen because the first part of a sentence and the clause that follows don’t belong together and don’t make sense. When editing your work, watch for sentences containing —ing and especially watch for sentences beginning with When —ing. Then zap those dangling participles before they give readers and editors the giggles.
Writing with precision means more than using the right words and avoiding the nearly right words in a sentence. Sometimes it means taking out redundant words or phrases.
In his book, The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing, Evan Marshall drives home that point in a section called “How to Be Your Own Editor.” The book was intended for fiction writers, it’s true, but the principles he advocates hold true also for those of us who write nonfiction. For readers to understand our message, we have to use the exact words needed — with no extraneous words getting in the way.
He illustrates that point in one short section on “Simplicity and Economy” by focusing on several common phrases where we might cut out redundancies like these: (comments following the phrases are mine)
Past history (remember all history is in the past)
The sky above. (Where else would it be?)
Continued on. (Continued means to go on.)
The ceiling/roof overhead. (Where else?)
Join together. (We cannot join apart.)
A little baby. (Most babies are little.)
A brief glance. (Every glance is brief.)
Tall skyscrapers. (That’s why they’re called skyscrapers.)
The end result. (Results are usually found at the end.)
In editing our own work, Marshall said we must scrutinize our writing to find and eliminate redundancies like these, but it’s better to choose our words so carefully that we don’t use them in the first place.
He also cautioned:
“Watch for introductory participles that don’t modify the subject of the sentence — an error that slips past many editors. ‘Leaving the village, the mountains glowed red in the sun’ ‘Opening the closet door, the cat sprang from the shadows.’ These statements give the mountains and the cat undue credit.”
Whatever our writing emphasis, when editing our own work it would profit us to follow Marshall’s advice: “Cast as cold an eye as possible on what you’ve created, recognize its strengths and weaknesses, and revise and edit to bring the manuscript to it full potential.”
Excellent advice for all of us.
Please leave a comment.
Recently I had the privilege of interviewing award-winning freelance copywriter Laura Derrington about her work and her profession. The timing was perfect: She is just now celebrating 15 years as a freelancer. Laura didn’t set out to be self-employed, or even a copywriter, but she has excelled in both roles and enjoys wide respect for her abilities and the work she produces. That’s why I was so pleased when she agreed to share her knowledge and expertise in this interview.
(Note: Although Laura lived and worked in Memphis for years, her heart was in Colorado. She spent vacations exploring Colorado, hiking in the mountains and dreaming of one day living there. Laura’s dream came true in 2007 when she sold her house, packed her belongings, and with “Sky,” her Australian Shepherd, beside her, drove off into the sunset toward their new Colorado hometown.)
LDaley: How did you come to be a copywriter, what education was needed and how did you get your first copywriting job?
LAURA: I don’t know that I followed the “conventional” route to being a copywriter, whatever that is. My degree was in magazine journalism and when that did not lead to a job, I started my career in public relations for a university and later a bank, until I realized that my heart did not lie in corporate PR and my interest was in advertising. I began freelancing for a new advertising agency and a few months later was hired as their first full-time copywriter. It was a bit scary as I had no real training in copywriting.
After working for two agencies for nine years, I went freelance. I would love to say it was a heroic decision, but the truth is the agency I had sweated blood for over many years unceremoniously terminated my employment — it’s a ruthless business. So I decided to give freelancing a shot. I just started calling people I knew and slowly built up a list of clients.
LDaley:: What do copywriters write? Do you develop a concept or theme for campaigns or do you work with creative directors implementing their ideas?
LAURA: Copywriters write just about everything—print ads, direct mail, sales sheets, sales letters, brochures, presentations, postcards, billboards, web sites, radio & television commercials, PSA’s, videos, packaging, in-store displays — you name it. I sometimes develop a concept on my own, and sometimes work with a graphic designer. That’s why I have always loved it, because it is so varied and new each day.
LDaley: How can someone break into freelance copywriting?
LAURA: I would think an internship at an agency would be invaluable, so that you can see how the creative team works, how the process flows, and all the considerations that go into a campaign. Not only could this possibly lead to employment, but also it will expose you to others working in the same field. If you can’t find an internship, get some experience writing on a college publication — anything to show you understand how to write. Exposing yourself to a tough editor is the best education.
I strongly suggest spending several years working at an agency or design firm prior to attempting to freelance — you’ll learn so much more. But if you’ve been doing that and now want to freelance, start taking on some assignments (while still employed if possible) and see how it goes. At some point, you just have to make the jump.
LDaley: Master Copywriter David Ogilvy has said that a good copywriter should have a “well-furnished mind.” How does one go about acquiring a well-furnished mind? What is your way of staying current despite almost constant changes in technology, science and industry?
LAURA: I think David is right on. While I’m sure a degree in advertising wouldn’t hurt, I confess I had little formal training in it. You should have interests in many areas. Pay attention to what is going on in the world, read equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction, watch enough television to stay abreast of trends, get out of your box somewhat. This is a very young profession, and in many ways, I am a dinosaur! I try to pay attention to what’s new and what’s out of style, but it gets tougher every year. As for all the new technology, it’s a challenge — which is why I think you should work full-time at an agency or design firm prior to freelancing, so you have firsthand exposure to it all.
LDaley:: What qualities does one need to be a copywriter? What kind of pay range should copywriters expect — beginners and experienced?
LAURA: Insanity! The ability to think fast, to think differently, to stay open-minded and relaxed when the deadlines are ridiculous, which they always are. The ability to work with others. The ability to work alone, locked up in an office, and come up with four different campaigns. Good listening skills, so that you can unearth what a client is really trying to tell you. Flexibility and humor when asked to make countless revisions. Perhaps most important of all, the ability to start and stop and switch gears 10 times a day and smile about it. As for pay, it depends on where you are located, how long you’ve been at it, and what the project is. I really can’t begin to guess at an “average” salary. Just ask copywriters in your area what they charge.
LDaley:: How do you get new clients…should someone advertise or depend on referrals?
LAURA: A wise woman I once told me, “The best way to get new business is to do good business for the clients you have now.” She was right. So much is word of mouth, and when you’re pleasing your clients, they’ll refer you to others. When I first ventured out, I called creative directors and senior writers every Monday to see if they had any work for me. I hated the process, and it was very frustrating for quite a while, but then things began to change. You want to be sure your name is out there in case they suddenly need someone. I occasionally sent out some fun letters, as there was no email then. But again, doing good work leads to good referrals.
LDaley:: It must have been quite a challenge to move your business across country. How did that work out for you?
LAURA: Thanks to the Internet, I was able to move across the country in June, keeping my main client, as well as a few smaller ones. It’s worked fine, and I have made a few quick trips back to my previous home for meetings. As far as getting new clients, I’ve used emails, letters and phone calls. Actually, one of my previous long-standing clients gave me a great referral in my new city — and that referral in turn introduced me to several new contacts. (Again, do good business and your business will grow). I also now have a web site, which I just never took the time to do before, but I have discovered it’s a must when approaching clients who have no idea who I am. I am, of course, doing some old-fashioned beating-of-the-bushes to stir up new business. I hope to do some pro-bono in my new city to make more contacts as well.
LDaley:: Have you additional advice that can help us become successful copywriters?
LAURA: Having said all this, I think the key to being a successful freelance copywriter is being easy to work with—cheerful, positive, flexible. They’re sure to come back for more!
Again, many thanks to Laura for this interview. I’ve known Laura for years and can attest to the fact that she is indeed easy to work with, and cheerful, positive, and flexible. She can also be quite witty — visit her website and see how she presents lively, clear copy in a sharp, amusing way. I love the Groucho Marx quote!
Please leave a comment.
If you’re a copywriter, or if you have dreams of becoming one, you’ll want to come back here later this week for my interview with copywriter Laura Derrington.
A former Memphian, Laura now works and lives in Colorado. If you visit her website, you’ll get a small glimpse of her talent. You’ll also see a small bit of the work that has earned Laura kudos and awards, brought in new business, and kept clients happy and coming back for more.
I hope to have the interview posted by mid-week. Stay tuned.
A teacher I admired used to drill into our heads the necessity of precision in writing, of using the right word — not the nearly right word — to convey meaning. Some of the paired words below tripped me up then and some still do, sending me searching for my Associated Press Stylebook. The stylebook is always my first choice for help since most of the magazines I write for use AP style. The AP examples make it easy to choose the precise word I need. Here are some examples from the stylebook, in no particular order.
Use entitled to mean having a right to something or the right to do something. “He is entitled to the promotion.”
Use titled to refer to the name of something: The book was titled “Gone with the Wind.” This is an important one to remember when writing query letters. You wouldn’t want to tell an editor “I’m proposing an article entitled……”
Farther refers to physical distance “He walked farther into the woods.”
Further refers to an extension of time or degree. “She will look further into the mystery.”
Ensure meams to guarantee. “He took pains to ensure that the figures were correct.”
Insure refers to insurance. “He wanted to insure his house for the highest amount possible.”
Faze means to embarrass or disturb. “The snub did not faze her.
Phase is an aspect or a stage: “They will phase in a new educational system next year.”
Flaunt means to make an ostentatious or defiant display. “She flaunted her intelligence.”
To flout is to show contempt for. “He flouts the law.” I seldom use either of these words, but when I have to use one or the other, I’m grateful that AP can guide me to the correct one.
Another pair of tricky words that I rarely use. To flounder is to move clumsily or jerkily, to flop about: “The fish floundered on land.” Flounder is also a kind of fish, so I guess you could also say: “The flounder floundered on land.”
To founder is to bog down or sink. The ship floundered in the heavy seas for hours, then foundered.
A pom-pom is used to describe a rapid firing automatic weapon.
A pompom is a large paper or cloth ball waved by cheerleaders. It’s also a flower — a variety of chrysanthemum.
A pretense is a false show intended to conceal personal feelings: “My profuse compliments were all pretense.”
A pretext is something put forward to conceal the truth. “He was fired for being always being late, but the reason given was only a pretext for his general incompetence.”
Look for more Choosing the Right Word examples in future posts.
Please leave a comment.