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The #1 mistake writers make when trying to get published

August 14th, 2018 by Bob Bly

In the pre-internet days, the most popular assignment for
freelance writers was doing magazine articles.

The way it works: You sent a “query letter” outlining the article
you propose to write.

Based on the strength of your query letter, the editor said yay
or nay.

Freelance writers typically got the name and address of the right
editor from a reference volume called Writer’s Market, which is
still published today.

And so many writers made a terrible mistake that got them
rejection after rejection on their queries.

Namely, they never actually looked at or read the magazine they
were pitching.

As a result:

>> They did not know whether the magazine was entirely staff
written or also used freelancers.

>> They did not know what stories the magazine had run recently
and so often pitched something the editor had just published —
which meant the magazine was unlikely to buy another article on the
same topic.

>> They did not understand the audience for the magazine — who
they were, what interested them, and what they wanted to know.

>> They did not know the departments and columns that were most
open to freelance contributions.

So most of their queries were off the mark and fell on deaf ears.

If you want to freelance for a magazine, get and read a number of
issues to get a feel for the points above.

Likewise, if you are a copywriter, and you get an inquiry, spend
a few minutes reviewing the company’s website before you call

Today, the thing seems to be writers (and marketers) asking if
they can write a guest post for someone else’s blog. I get
several such requests a month.

And they are making the same stupid mistake magazine writers made
in the old day: not reading the blog they want to post to!

For instance, my blog is about writing, marketing, and business

A few weeks ago, I got an email from HB who was looking to write
guest posts for me.

The guest posts he offered were all about cryptocurrencies; e.g.,

Anyone even glancing at my blog would instantly know this is not
a good fit for me, as I do not write about investing.

So HB’s post would be completely irrelevant to my readers. And I
politely turned down HB’s offer.

Frankly — not that he would care if he knew, which he doesn’t —
my opinion of him as a marketer is, based on this one contact
with him, pretty low.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 at 11:53 am and is filed under Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 responses about “The #1 mistake writers make when trying to get published”

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  2. Mobile Mechanic said:

    Oh the pre-internet days, I miss those days although writing these days and getting it out there is so much easier.
    Jeff owner of Mobile Mechanic Orlando FL

  3. Frank said:

    I appreciate your honest feedback about the marketer interested in a guest post on your blog. It’s very important to build a reputation with someone before you ask them to do something for you.

    In today’s day it’s hard to find non-spammy people interested in a guest post on your website. I especially find that difficult with my website as well.

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