If you want to sell almost everything nonfiction that you submit, including 75% of what you send to editors, here’s the not-so-secret formula:
• Before submitting any copy, first send a super query letter to the editor asking if she/he would be interested in your preparing and sending an article about ____. (If you’re unfamiliar with query letters, you might want to read 25 Professional Query and Cover Letters.)
• Then write and send the material only after you receive a positive reply and you understand specifically what the editor wants, how she/he wants it sent, and by when. (Also discuss photo details, if needed, and the photo submission protocol. Do this after you receive the “go-ahead” just mentioned.)
Why will that get you a 75% selling ratio? Because editors buy almost all that they request after reading the query, assuming, of course, that you can put the information on paper and get it in the editor’s hands in a timely fashion. What you send must be as good as the other articles in that publication. Most important, you aren’t going to waste your time researching, interviewing, and composing without knowing that it will be seriously considered for use by the editor. And because you will study other articles in that editor’s publication similar in topic or tone to what you will submit so you know the acceptance level and the editor’s tone and content expectations.
Then if you want to sell that article again and again, to lift your selling ratio to a 100%, 200%, or even greater ratio, though you wrote the core piece only once, you:
• Submit it to non-competing markets that buy simultaneously, like newspapers (that buy copy that’s not been in print nationally or within 100 miles in another newspaper), or
• Sell second (or reprint) rights to copy already bought and printed on a first-rights basis (usually magazines and journals; you must ask the editor about newsletters). After it appears in print in the primary target market, you send a copy of the clip (a copy of the printed article) and explain in an accompanying cover letter which publication bought first rights, when it appeared in print, and that you are offering second or reprint rights.
Does this formula work? It has for me 1,700+ times with freelance offerings (about a third in niched markets, most of the rest in travel). The process was also the theme of How to Sell 75% of Your Freelance Writing, which appeared in five editions (last as Writer’s Digest Books’ Sell and Resell Your Magazine Articles)– all of the books now out of print, although the entire process in a slightly modified fashion is in the Travel Writer’s Guide. If the process didn’t work, the 100,000+ who bought those O.P. books would have let me know!
This is timely because I just released a 30-page how-to ebook report called “How to Get Your Niche Article in Print 75% of the Time in Magazines, Newsletters, Journals, and Newsletters” that gives many more details at every step. It costs $4.99 and is reader-ready from Kindle and Nook or from us in .pdf, all immediately downloadable.) This process can keep you in print and well fed almost forever. Another, related secret: you have to keep at it–the damn articles just won’t sell and write themselves! I slanted this ebook report toward a niche article (because the best, fastest, and safest book publishing income comes from niche markets) but it works just as well for anything queriable.
Somebody gets paid to fill the newspapers, magazines, reports, digital releases, and so on. The core of this not-so-secret is revealed above!