Monday, 20 September 2010

Make The Most Of Opportunities ... Before They Disappear!

So, there I was, last Thursday, with a magazine editor sitting on my sofa, drinking a coffee I'd made him five minutes earlier, when he flabbergasted me. It had nothing to do with a decision he was making - but the reason he was making it.

Inside the back page of his monthly magazine was a sunny/cloudy column. Somebody would write a 300-word pessimistic outlook on life, and then someone else would counteract this with a 300-word optimistic version.

At the bottom of the page was his call for submissions - he asked writers to submit something suitable for one of the 300 word slots (either a pessimistic outlook, or an optimistic one) and someone from the editorial team would write the other pessimistic/optimistic angle. I had my piece published in the March issue. So what was it that the editor said that flabbergasted me?

How many freelance submissions do you think he'd received during the two year period (that's 24 issues)?

  • 1,000?
  • 800?
  • 392?
  • 89?
No. The answer was none of those. In two years, all he had received were four submissions. Four.  FOUR! And one of those was mine, whilst another was from a friend in my writers' group.

No wonder he was dropping the column. He was fed up of having to write it himself each month!

So the message is, don't dismiss any writing opportunity. If you see an editor calling for submissions at the bottom of a page, then give it a bloody go! Write something and send it off. You don't know how grateful the editor may be! And when you've done it once, do it again. Who knows where it may lead? The editor may ask you to write more things for the magazine.

The editor sitting on my sofa believed that many writers simply assumed that hundreds of other writers were sending material in. Don't fall for that assumption. If you do, you could find that the opportunity is taken away.

Good luck.


  1. Thanks Simon, this is very helpful. Puff! my misconceptions are gone.

  2. Snivel! I was just thinking what an interesting idea that sounded, until I got to the fatal 'dropping the column sentence'...ho hum.
    That's a lesson to us all - but it's so easy to fall into that 'they'll never pick me/mine, so why bother' trap.
    Good advice Simon. Once again it comes down to - nothing ventured, nothing gained!

  3. You never read anything written by Mr Apathy or Ms Low Self-Esteem, do you? A good lesson for us all.

  4. And the magazine is...... :o)

  5. A good point. Think we often assume what others are doing - when in reality they 'aint ! (If that editor really has dropped the column, then am sure somebody here is going to nick/use the idea ;)

    (Just come across you Simon, via Christine Muir's blog. Now following you and perhaps you might follow me too )

  6. Great blog Simon - and has a similar vein to my piece in Writers Bureau E-Zee writer this month