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By Freelance Writer Roberta Beach Jacobson in Greece

For three years I edited Kafenio, an e-zine dedicated to European life and culture, and for three years I marveled at the types of inquiries I’d get from writers. If you’re taking Great Escape Publishing’s written course on travel writing or you’ve attended one of their live workshops, then I’m sure you already know what I’m talking about. Here are a few things I picked up over my years as an editor that have been most invaluable to me as a freelancer… 1. When you approach an e-zine for the first time, do you bother to give your full name? Many writers do not, and this came as a shock to me in my first couple of months as editor. A submission would arrive with subjects such as “Hi there” or “Hello,” and then when I opened it, there was simply an article sent by “Bob” or “Jeremy.” These mysterious writers included no quick cover letters to introduce themselves… no full names… nothing. At the time, Kafenio, was a POA (pay-on-acceptance) market, so knowing the writer’s snail address would be of some value (I mean, where did writers expect to receive their checks?) Yet, I estimate one in four gave a postal address. 2. Web publications are great because they give us a lot more freedom than their counterpart print publications. But that’s no excuse to ignore every basic rule for freelancing. In your brief cover letter … …you should not only include your full contact details but also mention any pertinent information the editor might find valuable like whether your article has been previously published — an important point and a “must know” for an editor. 3. Being savvy on the Web involves all sorts of new skills. One writer was new to the Internet and apologized for sending her article three times. I understand some technical mistakes are unavoidable. But I didn’t get it three times — I got it 15 times! The same thing, over and over, filing my mailbox. (Don’t even ask how many times her apology note came in!) If you’re not really sure what you’re doing, testing your new skills on an editor is a bad idea. Try first sending your article to a friend or family member and be sure you get all the kinks worked out before you approach an editor (a.k.a guardian of your paycheck). 4. Kafenio was an e-zine covering European life and culture and nothing but. This was clearly stated on the front page, in the masthead and in the writer’s guidelines — all easily found on the site. Yet writers submitted travel articles about Tokyo, even movie reviews, as well as articles on vegetarianism and just about everything else under the sun. Why would anybody send an article about food in New Zealand to a publication interested in Europe? An editor can tell if a writer has never bothered to look at the site. It is evident in the approach, I can assure you. And this does not exactly earn the writer points. Do a little research on the publication. Think before you send. 5. At the very least, you’d think writers would strive to get an editor’s name right. Yet about 25 percent of my mail had my name wrong. And I don’t mean a slight typo. I mean totally wrong… I can only guess when a submission that should have been directed to me, Roberta Beach Jacobson, was addressed to Anna Horn or Myron Schmidt that the writer must have left the name of the last editor they tried to sell the article to on the query letter! Not a good sign. [Roberta’s travel articles have been published in Travel Smart, Transitions Abroad, The Educated Traveler, International Living, The Athens News, The International Railway Traveler and JustSayGo.com. She has contributed to travel books by Lonely Planet, Survival Books and Travelers’ Tales. Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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