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.

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:


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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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