Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor


Sample Copies -- Your Best Investment

By Suzan L. Wiener
2006, Suzan L. Wiener

(A previous version was published in The Writer's Ezine)

Do you ever wonder why other writers know what to send to editors and their work gets accepted when yours doesn't? The reason is a simple one. It's because they have done their homework and invested in sample copies of the publications they submit to. This way, writers know what the editors of the publications want and can gear their article or story to get an acceptance. They also know the issues the publications address, and whether or not the issues they want to write about have been done already. No matter how great an article is, an editor won't accept it if they have already published something too similar.

When you send for magazine guidelines, do you try to lower the expense by not getting a sample copy? It's definitely not a good idea. The editor may even change the focus of their magazine, making the guidelines outdated by the time you get them.

Often, having just one copy of the publication isn't enough. You need at least three or four current issues to make sure you're on top of what type of articles are being accepted. I get many more acceptances if I know the magazine or e-zine thoroughly. It reflects in my writing and the editor knows it, too.

If you have a copy of the publication you want to submit to, you won't waste your time writing a piece like one the editor has already used. And, the editor won't look at your work thinking you're a beginner. Don't forget, editors receive lots of manuscripts every week. Doing your homework is definitely a plus.

It is amazing how fast editors will change the type of articles and stories they use. It's not easy for writers to keep up, but they must if they want to get that most-welcomed acceptance letter and check. Editors appreciate articles that are geared exactly to their audience; it doesn't even matter if they come from the slush pile. An editor will happily accept your work and use your material again and again -- if you know their publication well.

If you can't afford to buy individual sample copies, inquire about a discounted subscription rate. It is often less expensive to become a subscriber than to pay for individual sample copies. Many publications offer special subscription rates.

Also, check your local library to see which publications are available there. If you can't check one out, simply photocopy the pages you want to keep. There is often a photo copier at the library you can use with a nominal fee. Check with your writing friends to see if you can trade publications, too. I have saved a lot of money doing this.

Editors don't have to know that you are a beginner; your work will be viewed like that of a seasoned writer -- if you do your homework first. You will be glad you did.