Poet Jo Bell has today written a blog about how to submit poems to journals. It’s very specifically about poetry but the principles and the techniques apply to all writing, I think, so I want to be sure you see it. Plus, it made me laugh. Primarily because of this:
What follows is the Jo Bell Method; the method of an immensely, award-winningly disorganised poet who nonetheless has managed to win awards. My vast and lofty experience teaches me that the key part of winning any prize or getting into a journal is this:
SEND THE BUGGERS OFF.
This is the only area of my life where such a streamlined system exists, but it has helped me to keep sending work out. It is Ever So Simple and it works for me. If you want to get into the habit of submitting to journals, it’s not too late to make this a New Year’s Resolution and start doing this in 2015.
Flashback. Some time in the 1990s. I was doing copywriting for various firms and one rang up with an emergency. What would it cost them to do this right now and send it back? I could hear the desperation and I’m ashamed to say I upped my regular rate by some vast amount. (I’m not being coy, this is ages ago, I can’t remember the figures.)
“Sold,” she said.
So much so that I knew I should’ve asked for more. But I did do one savvy thing: having upped my rate for this one emergency job, I never lowered it again for the ordinary ones that followed.
On the other side of the deal, though, I can tell you that I have never had a freelance writer question a fee or ask for more money.
The website Contently has good piece now about exactly what editors can do financially – short answer: not a lot – and what they think of writers who do negotiate – short answer: quite a lot.
Sometimes, asking for more money is a dead-end; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. “Most of my clients have a specific budget for content,” said content strategist Jessica Ashley, a former senior editor at Yahoo! Shine who now works as editor-in-chief for TapGenes.com. “I lobby hard to get writers fair compensation, but I appreciate when writers negotiate their fees. It’s just good business, and I appreciate writers standing up for what they can offer to the site.”
However, standing up for fair compensation does not mean you should pretend to be a hardline agent. The way you present your request will definitely have an impact on how it’s received.
“It’s important to be both confident and kind,” Ashley said. She suggests explaining what you can offer for your proposed rate using “ands” instead of “buts.” For example begin with a direct stance: “My current rate is $200 per post, and I would be thrilled to contribute to this site because…”