Before I found GEP, when I first tried to get my writing published, I approached hard copy magazines because I believed they would pay more. I had no experience at all and didn’t know what else to do—and I just assumed that online publications would be equally challenging to pitch.
I looked everywhere for help and jumped at the chance to talk with someone who had been published in a couple of magazines. However, the conversation caught me completely off-guard…
I thought he’d give me a little advice, or a pep talk, or maybe even the name of an editor who took pity on new, unpublished writers. But instead, I was told that the chances of getting published in print magazines as a new writer were so slim that I was probably wasting my time.
His advice was to instead write for free until I had “paid my dues.”
I almost quit right then and there. Of course, money wasn’t my primary motivation for writing, but I still had bills to pay.
But, I didn’t quit. I made up my mind that I was going to be published in a print publication by the end of that year, so I reached out to a regional boating magazine that I regularly read. The editor said my submission wasn’t right for them, explained why, and asked me to try again.
I was surprised enough to get a nice reply. But an explanation and an invitation to try again? I was shocked. I had this vision of red-faced editors who shook their fists and screamed at inexperienced writers while smoke curled slowly from their ears—but here was an editor being kind and encouraging.
That reply gave me the courage to immediately try again. I still thought print media was the right way to go, so I reached out to another regional publication. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was approaching one of the biggest, most well-read Great Lakes boating magazines around. I just happened to like them. And I knew their subject matter very well, so they were next on my list.
When my article was accepted, I was so shocked that I shoved myself away from my desk so hard that my chair rolled across the room, both arms over my head in the “Touchdown” position. Then, convinced that I had misread the email, I went back over it about five more times.
The message finally sank in—I was about to be published. I was also about to be paid. The magazine offered me a check for the story—and one that I didn’t expect.
Published… AND paid.
With two positive responses and a paycheck under my belt, I decided I’d better build off my unexpected momentum and reached out to a third magazine. My submission landed yet another check.
It’s been two years since I attended Great Escape’s Travel Writing Workshop, and I’ve been paid for more than 29 articles—all in print publications. I’ve had two articles appear in the same issue, too, and have landed more than 11 cover stories. I’ve even had people recognize me from the bio picture in the front of a magazine.
With almost every acceptance, I think back to that early negative conversation and wonder what would have happened if I had taken that advice. Write for free. Pay your dues. And maybe, someday, you’ll get paid.
Someday? Says who? The truth is, there are no dues to pay. You can land assignments from paid publications, even as a beginner.
Anything can happen if you’re just willing to try.
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