Thursday, 15 October 2009

Aiming High

Are you aiming high enough with your writing?

I only ask the question this week because of the successes of a couple of friends from my writers' circle this week. Both Di Perry and Julie Phillips have had articles accepted by our local county magazine, Shropshire Life. Now Shropshire Life is THE local high society glossy. It's been around since the early 20th Century and anything to do with Shropshire's high society appears in it.

Both Di and Julie had written articles with a strong Shropshire angle, so the market made perfect sense for them to target. But when they emailed me asking what to do, the tone and choice of language showed that they were nervous of approaching the magazine. The problem with creative writers is that we have creative imaginations! Whilst we're sitting in the corner of our rooms wondering whether to send something off to a specific magazine, we picture the gruff, over-bearing, chain-smoking, alcohol swilling editor at a desk over burdened by freelance submitted material screaming out, "Not ANOTHER amateur!" as they read our submission. Of course, having never met the editor or seen inside their office, we have nothing else but our imaginations to rely on.

Yet what we imagine is nowhere near reality! I've said it before and I'll say it again - every word you read has to be written by somebody, so why shouldn't it be you? If you think that your idea might fit the magazine then try. IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO FIND OUT! Don't assume anything.

Both Di and Julie had 'problems' with their submissions. Either their original submission was lost in the post, or the pictures couldn't be emailed through in one batch, or they worried about whether the pictures were of a good enough quality. But they didn't let that stop them. (They may have gone all queasy in the stomach, chewed a few nervous lips and wrung their hands in fear of what they'd started, but they still persisted.) And within 24 hours of each other, each had an email from the editor accepting their work. (Actually Di had another article accepted on the same day by a different magazine, so she had a REALLY good day!)

When starting out in your writing career you need to be realistic. If you've never written anything before and you've never had anything published, the chances of getting your first piece published in VOGUE magazine are quite low. Both Di and Julie have had a couple of articles published elsewhere. Some have been for free, others have been paid for. But they're now at that stage when they have a little portfolio of work proving that they can write and write to a publishable standard.

So why shouldn't they aim high? I'm a firm believer in the maxim, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained.' If you have a magazine that you always dreamed of writing for, then have a go. No magazine says 'only writers who have had X number of pieces published can write for us,' do they?

When we are first published, it's easy to stay in the comfort zone of the market that first accepted our work. But you'll never know which other markets you are capable of writing for, unless you try! So aim high!

Good luck.


  1. Hi, Simon and thanks for your support, encouragement and advice. It has to be said that neither Di, or my self, would have even dared to approach such mags without your input!

    But what you say is true, you have to keep pushing yourself forward - even of you are quaking at the knees and feel sick (as I often do when approaching editors!) If you don't ask, you don't get. And if you don't send in your article proposals someone else will.

    Julie xx

  2. Hi Simon
    I agree so much with Julie's comments. Your encouragement has really helped us. Speaking of stepping outside the comfort zone - when you recently set a challenge to get something into Best of British Magazine - well, I just had a letter and photograph accepted about vintage tractors!! All thanks to you

  3. Hi Simon

    Without you, I wouldn't have written so many letters to the national press or submitted various ideas to a disabled magazine some of which have been accepted and they want more from me.

    Watch this space there may be even more good news at the weekend with something I have submitted getting published in a national.

    So without your encouragement I wouldn't have gone for it. I will never forget the kick up the posteria you gave me earlier this year. Write something small each day. Poor Di is going to be overwhelmed with how much has gone out of my sentbox this month.

    Not much of it has been published but at least someone out there must have been reading it.

    Congratulations to Di and Julie.

    Best wishes and thanks


  4. And another success for Di! See, it just goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it!

    Whilst it's nice of you all to make the comments that you have, the fact remains that none of that stuff would have been accepted if YOU hadn't sat down and written it in the first place! Don't forget to give yourselves a pat on the back too!

  5. What excellent advice - and well done too!

    I have a couple of ideas for a county mag, but wasn't sure if they'd be interested. Now? Well, at least I have the confidence to try.

  6. Great post. Couldn't agree more. Worst thing that can happen is that they say no!

  7. Thanks for this post, Simon. I might print it out and keep it near my computer. It's not easy going up to a new editor, cap in hand, wondering if they'll tell you to go away - a prod like this gets us out of our comfort zone and setting off in the right direction