Thursday, June 18, 2009


Hi Sharon!  I am writing to ask you some questions about writing articles for sew and craft magazines. I saw your "Hems in a Hurry" piece in Threads, and since being laid off last month :( I am looking for anyway I can to supplement my income. I don't see myself writing informational and or instructional pieces so much as fun, easy and cute things that can be made with recycled fabrics etc. 
Are there any tips you could give me to help my ideas stand out from others? Do you supply the photographs as well as the instructions? How much could I expect to be paid for something like this? Also, if you have any contact information or any other tidbits of info you think I could use I would appreciate it so much! 
Thank you Sharon, you are my powerhouse of knowledge! -- VM

Dear VM -- So sorry to see that you've been laid off.  Ugh!  With luck, the economy will turn around soon.
Contact the editor for the magazines of interest to you.  Get a copy of their editorial guidelines.  Make a list of topics you'd like to write.  Choose the one you think is most appropriate to them and where you feel the strongest.  Make sure they haven't had a story about it recently.  You can do this on-line.  If they've had such an article in the distant past, be sure to get a copy so whatever you write is not the same -- better that it is new and improved!
Then choose an article you like from the magazine.  It doesn't matter what it's about.  Write your article in the same style and format.  This lets the editor know that you will fit in.  Write tight in short, declarative sentences.  Need a reference?  Look up William Zinsser's "On Writing Well."
Then send a pitch per their editorial guidelines.  Sometimes this is just a paragraph.  More often it's an outline that shows them you know what you're talking about and can give them a complete article.  And hey, you've pre-written the article, so creating the outline will be easy.
Be ready to give them visuals.  Sew up samples and send in pictures to show how you'd illustrate the article.
Understand that the editor could change things dramatically.  No worries, they are just trying to please their readers.  You just work with them to make it accurate.  Be prompt and easy-going and they'll ask you to write for them again.
BTW -- This does not pay well.  But any money these days is a good thing, right?
Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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