February 20, 2008
Magazines That Pay for Letters and More By Ann Goldberg
I recently received a check for $150 for a 90-word letter and a photograph in a British magazine. It's the best payment I have ever received, for one article but I regularly receive checks for between $40 - $100 for letters and tips I send to publications.
WHAT TYPES OF LETTERS ARE PUBLISHED?
Household and cooking hints
HOW DO YOU GET IDEAS?
Ideas crop up all the timeso I always keep a notebook with me. As you go about your daily life make a note of things you do that others may not do the same way (e.g. housework, cooking, dealing with your children, ways you save time and space, your hobbies). The ideas don't have to be yours . You can ask your friends for their tips on spring cleaning/housework/favorite sayings/what their children said. I've trained my family and friends well and they know to tell me about all these things.
Read the letter pages in publications to give your memory a jog. Reading about some family's trip to the zoo may remind you of something funny that happened when you went. A reader's tip about how she gets burnt food off her pots may remind you of your own favorite way. An old, published article/rejected one/old query all can be divided up into several letters, especially if it was a service/how to piece. If you once wrote an article on "Ten Ways to Cut Down on the Spring Cleaning" you can divide that up into at least 5 short tips.
HOW TO WRITE AND SEND THEM
Write clearly and concisely. Don't include extra words - trim and trim again. Cut adjectives and adverbs. The shorter the letter, the greater your chance of publication. However, do give personal details. I have been contacted twice by an editor who has published many of my letters about my family's antics, and asked questions e.g. the names and ages of the children mentioned or the exact year some event happened. Ask permission before sending photos to the editor as email attachments.
WHEN TO SEND THEM
Depending on each publication, letters are usually published between six weeks and six months after receipt. A tip about preparing your kids for going back to school in September should be sent by June or ealier andhints on making Xmas decorations should be sent in the summer. Be careful that the terminology you use doesn't limit the timeliness of your letter. If you don't use the term "spring cleaning" when sending household hints your tip will be useable all the year through.
Always carry a digital camera with you. Capture anything interesting or unusual, whether it's a road sign, a store sign, a weird translation into English of a foreign menu, your children caught in a funny pose orcute animals. All these can earn you money with almost no words at all. And a letter or even a tip with a photo can double your earnings. Some publications don't print letters without photos. Once an editor emailed me and said they were publishing my letter and alone it would get $50. However, if I could send an illustrative photo, they would make it the Letter of the Week ( $100) and also pay for the photo ( another $50). I received a total of $150.
WHERE TO SEND THEM?
The largest market for these fillers seems to be the UK weekly women's magazines, each of which publishes up to 20 - 30 tips and letters every week. Their requirements / topics and sometimes even email addresses change so unless you have regular access to the publication, be sure to check their website for updates.
Payment from these publications is in Sterling but I have listed the approximate equivalent in U.S. Dollars.
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Ann Goldberg is a freelance writer who has been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world, including C.S.M., Parents, The Lady, Nursing Times, The Jerusalem Post and She. She specializes in features on parenting and household topics, humor and essays and gets most of her inspiration from her 7 children and (so far) 16 grandchildren. She can be contacted at anngoldberg - at - yahoo.com.
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