The 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers

About Clips…

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on October 7, 2010 in Magazine Writing
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Today I'd like to talk about magazine clips.

Getting them and caring for them.

Ok. First things first. Getting clips is the key to getting more clips. Sound like a crazy circle? It kind of is. As you get more clips it will become easier to get assignments. Starting is the hardest part.

At first you won't be writing for much, if anything. Many people say don't write for free...I say, get yourself those first couple of clips and then worry about getting paid. Just my opinion. Do what you're comfortable with.

One thing you want to be sure of is the byline. If you don't have your name on the piece, you can't claim it as yours. To me, it's better to write for free (or low pay) and get your name on the article than make $50 for a piece with no byline.

Before I mentioned a few places you can probably get published without a lot of experience. Try things such as your local paper, local magazines and regional publications to begin with.


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Now. About caring for your clips.

  • First of all, make sure you know when the piece will be published. In order to get the clip, you'll need to know when it comes out.
  • Find out if you will get a complimentary copy. If not, be sure you know where you can pick up a copy of the publication when it comes out.
  • If possible, get a couple of copies. Better safe than sorry.
  • Scan your article into the computer. (For best results, slice it out of the magazine or newspaper carefully with a razor blade. Carefully!) For magazines, scan the cover as well. Make it a high-quality scan so you can print it if needed.
  • Take the actual article and slip it into an archival sleeve, then put in a three-ring binder. I file mine according to date, but some people group like subjects together. It's all up to you how you organize this.

Here's a bit more info on clips for you--

Do:

When you are asked for a clip, try to find something recent if possible. Older clips don't carry as much weight.

Make sure there are no errors in the piece before you send it. And yes-I'm serious. I've had editors make mistakes with my copy and I've found something I spelled wrong after a piece went to print. I'm not proud of that--but it happens.

Try to send a clip that relates to the subject matter you are hoping to write about if you can. For example, if I am querying a magazine on "how to save on a wedding", a good clip to send might be something I've written on "making your own wedding dress". If you don't have something that close, try for related.

Don't:

If an editor asks for a published clip, don't send them something that hasn't been published yet. That's a no-no.

Send clips via e-mail at a reasonable size--readable, but not gigantic. You don't want to irritate the editor before they even read it.

If an editor hasn't asked for clips, don't send them. Attachments are typcially not welcome unless they are requested.

When it comes to magazine writing, clips are a bit more involved than when you are writing for the web. You can't just send people to a URL and be done with it. By the same token, a lot of print clips have beautiful imagery or a wonderful layout that isn't always seen online. It can be an advantage.

Any clip tips to share? Comment below for your fellow writers!

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Catherine L. Tully has over nine years of experience writing for magazines such as American Style, AAA Living and Boys' Life. She is the editor for an award-winning blog on freelance writing and also owns and edits a blog for dance professionals.

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4 Comments

  1. JoAnna October 8, 2010 Reply

    I am diligent about getting clips of all my work, but I do have a question that you or some of your readers might be able to answer. I write for a lot of very specialized publications that I can’t just pick up at the store on my own, so I do rely on getting a contributor’s copy from the publication. For one publication in particular that I write for, the editor has been sporadic in sending me copies of the magazine. I have gotten some of them and therefore have the clips for a handful of my articles. Others, which now go back a good three years, have never arrived, despite my repeated attempts to get copies. In the case where I don’t have copies of the articles, are they as good as non-existent? I was paid but have nothing to show for my work. As of now, I’ve left these articles off of my online portfolio. Is that the right thing to do?

  2. Author
    Catherine October 8, 2010 Reply

    Hello JoAnna! I recognize you from my Dance Writers group! Small world. : )

    One suggestion would be to contact the publication through subscriptions and see if they have any back issues for sale. Another would be to ask to be put on the publishers list–that way the copy comes directly from them.

    If neither of these things work, you can still list the article in your resume–you don’t have to have the hard copy to claim it if it was bylined.

    In the past, if I had something like that which I wanted to show an editor, I would send the MS Word document. Just keep in mind that it isn’t as solid as an actual clip to some editors. If you can send published work it is better, but you can list anything you have had printed so long as your name was on it.

    Hope that helps!
    Catherine

  3. Amel October 8, 2010 Reply

    JoAnna,
    Sometimes it is better to simply subscribe to the magazine, especially if you are a regular contributor. Try, of course, to get a complimentary subscription, but pay if necessary. Since you need to obtain back-issues, I agree with Catherine that you may be able to order these. I wouldn’t worry too much, though. It is nice to have the clips, but you don’t really have to include everything you ever had published in your portfolio.

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