Several years ago (4 and a half to be exact) some writer friends of mine talked about how they had written articles before writing books. This conversation took place on an e-mail group I belong to, LDStorymakers, a group made up of published LDS authors. As the conversation continued I realized that most of them had started with articles, either through college, or newspapers or freelance magazine writing. I had only recently learned what the word freelance meant. They all talked about how much they learned through writing articles and how it got them started. Many of them still wrote articles from time to time, using the byline to advertise their name--advertising you get paid for.
So I asked some questions--how do you submit? What do write about? How long should an article be? How long is the process? They kindly answered these questions even though I'm sure I sounded like an idiot--see, I'd written exactly one article and I can thank Annette Lyon for helping me with it enough that it was publishable in an issue of Irreantum, the AML magazine she was editor for at the time. I had four books and one article--one friend, Marsha Ward, had over 900 articles to her credit. Not only was it good diversity and getting your name out there, you got paid for most articles and therefore could bring in $$ in between royalty checks. That all sounded awesome to me.
I wanted to write an article--but on what? I still didn't have a clue how it all worked, but I read the Ensign every month and so I started looking through it, seeing if it sparked an idea. It did. We'd moved into our current ward a few years earlier, it had been a hard adjustment. We'd moved several times before and we'd found that every ward was a little different. This one was no exception and it had taken us awhile to find our place here. So, with that in mind I wrote up an article on how to find your place in a new ward. I spent an obscene amount of hours on it for it's length, teaching me that good writing doesn't have to do with the number of words, it's using the words to their best ability. Once I'd labored over and over and over it, I sent it in, received an e-mail receipt and waited.
For almost two and a half years.
I got a phone call saying they had decided to accept the article last sprint. They sent me a check ($150--sweet!) and a contract giving them full right to the article. I signed everything and waited.
For a year and a half.
Then I got another phone call a few months ago saying the e-mail address they had for me wasn't working, did I have a new one. Thank goodness I hadn't moved and they could still find me. I gave them the new one and they sent me the edited article for me to approve. I approved it--like I'm gonna find a comma splice or dangling participle, ha--and sent it back and waited.
For three months.
And then my friend Anne Bradshaw saw it and told me about it. Wohoooo! So, as you thumb through your copy, smile at my article, the first step I took into the world of freelance. I is very happy about it (poor grammar intended)