Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chapter 1 - Ideas and basic information

*NOTE: All the material in this course is for educational use only and may not be used for any other purpose and may not be published in any format due to the nature of releases I've secured from website owners.
Chapter 1 - Ideas and basic information
Week one supplies a lot of basic information.
  • Don't be overwhelmed! Relax.
  • Explore at your leisure. Don't try to absorb it all at once.
  • I suggest you plan on three hours to skim week one, click into the websites, take a quick peek, and close out of them.
TIP: You may want to bookmark websites you feel will be pertinent to your goals.Later, as your hunger for knowledge needs to be fed, return and spend the amount of time you have available.
  • Pace the course to meet your needs!
  • Don't crowd yourself. Take your time.
  • If you wish, create a computer file and store the posts where you'll easily be able to return, again and again to resources that interest you.
  • TIP: A word search can bring up the chapter you're looking for.
Must Reads!
Surf-Safety checklist is a must. You'll find a multitude of good advice at Community Learning Network: (Fast link to safe-surfing information:

Media Awareness Network at provides Web literacy resources. Select your language to enter. *Be sure to read and adhere to the copyright citation at the bottom of the page.

Pages recommended for study include:
Special Initiative; read WebAware.
Media News. Media ownership, etc.
Learn things that affect where you may want to sell your writing.

Where do ideas come from?
Ideas surround you! The lifestyle you've chosen provides you with unique opportunities that you can write about for people who want to read about them.

List everything you've ever done, list every topic you know anything about, jot down ideas about people you know who are doing things that interest you (or them). Make contact with as wide a variety of people as you can.

Mridu Khullar, a graduated student of this course, is a writer you may come across more than once in your studies. When granting me permission to include her in my course she wrote, "I have a blog and a whole section dedicated to writers on my website as well."

Check out the resources Mridu so generously provides. Visit often at: Check out For Writers link, and don't miss her article, "Why the Editor is Not the Enemy," online at The e-Writer's Place:

Where You Generate ideas Matters
First, use APB Speakers Bureau website as a resource to spark ideas:

Create an Idea Calendar where you'll keep the ideas you generate while browsing the speakers.

Double click a speaker's photo to bring up their profile. Scroll down to see a list of topics, and a wealth of information that will spark ideas for you.

What does your mind conjure when you're reading them? Think out of the box.

Read what speakers speak about, where and how to find them, and get ideas for your own articles\speaking engagements  here,

This is also a fine resource to visit when you're writing an article for publication in a bonafide medium (on spec or assignment.)
*Do check their engagements and fees links.
*Do not contact the guests before a magazine has assigned your article. 
You'll find plenty of variety.
Start with an idea.Make a note of it, or a few pages of notes.
  1. File it in a folder labeled, Idea Folder.
  2. Put it away and jot your next idea note on a separate paper.
  3. File it in your Idea Folder.
  4. Continue to jot down and file ideas as they come to you.
TIP: Use a titled contest/or categories for this assignment and double the use of your time.
  • Select one idea from your Idea Folder.
  • Brainstorm and topic spoke the idea. (*See Topic Spoke handout.)
  • Consult a Writer's Market, new or old - it doesn't matter much at this point.
  • What you're looking for are categories.
You might also browse other market directories such as Working Press of the Nation, Religious Writer's Marketplace, Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, etc. Most are available at the reference desk of libraries.

OLD MAGAZINES-NEWSPAPERS - is an excellent resource to research past publications.

There's no need to ever be at a loss for ideas.
However, since is no longer available from, I'm not sure how long that page will remain accessible. Search the magazines you're interested in now, and compile your own list of magazines and URLs.

The Write Market hosts a guidelines database:, The Internet Directory of Publications (SM) lets you search over 150,000 publications on hundreds of topics from small business to cardiology. Research publishers, order subscriptions, and purchase articles:

That site may still be undergoing reconstruction when I post this, but use the tabs at the top and you'll find plenty of help, and don't skip About Us. Learn about publishers here:

If you type 'associations' into the search, you'll get a list of books available. You can learn a good deal just by reading about a book, who the publisher is, who is associated with it, etc. Try the same thing by typing 'directories' into the search. Go exploring, and let your imagination have free play.
Read the Table Of Contents of all available directories.
From your brainstorming:
  1. Make a list of the categories to target.
  2. List twenty (or more) potential markets for your idea.
TIP: *See Topic Spoke handout. As you topic spoke your idea, decide on THEME, SLANT, STYLE .
Make notes on all magazines that might be interested in your idea -- with the right slant and theme focus.

Obtain writers guidelines for each of those magazines (usually online, or available via brief e-mail request.) Search out back issues (preferably the 12 most recent issues.) Many magazines have archives online where you can STUDY and learn what interests the editor, from what they've published.

Starting Point is an excellent place to begin: The Directory brings a tremendous source with links to magazines to read. Also, type magazines guidelines into the search box, and then keep scrolling to the bottom of each subsequent page. Click the last number there to get SEVENTY FIVE pages of links to magazine guidelines.

Then --
  1. Review your idea notes.
  2. Make an outline. Write a draft and then polish it.
  3. Draft a query letter, and offer to HELP the editor's readers ENJOY learning about your topic. Make use of the publications style and jargon, and include tempting details that 'show' the editor she'll be getting what her readers want.
Wait, and wait, don't become impatient. Guidelines tell you that average response time to queries is anywhere from 3-6 months. Meanwhile, continue to write while you're waiting!!
Compare and ANALYZE the replies you receive to become familiar with what individual editors DO or DO NOT want. This is an important step. You can descern a lot from a rejection. Be sure to acknowledge a rejection that isn't just a form. Reply with a BRIEF thanks for the editor's consideration. If you have another article idea worked up, use this opportunity to ask if your idea might interest the editor.

File query rejections in the folder you began for your idea.
Do any necessary research and interviews.
Access a library database from your desktop computer, and if possible print out a whole bibliography on whatever subject is required.

Begin drafting stories for editors who ask to see your article 'on speculation.' Refer often to the magazine back issues to keep yourself on track.


Send your perfected manuscript to the editor who asked to see it.

When rejections arrive, immediately send the manuscript to the next editor on your list. Repeat as necessary until you make a sale!


See salaries and statistics in media jobs at JobSmart:

At FolioMag:, type the word salaries into the home page search space.

Finally, learn all you can at The Wall Street Career Journal,

EXERCISE 1: Start an idea file
EXERCISE 2: Study markets & get writers guidelines
EXERCISE 3: UseTopic Spoke handout; pick one story idea and find 20 markets for it
EXERCISE 4: Find & target twenty markets
EXERCISE 5: Write query letters
EXERCISE 6: Send requested articles

Next: Chapter 2