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Writers' Guide: Submit in Style
by Tamar Wisemon

My previous columns listed potential markets for frum, women writers. But in order to make a professional submission, the writer should be familiar with some journalistic etiquette and terminology. My next few columns will continue this theme.

1) READ the publication first, before submitting to it. This may sound obvious, but many writers waste time, money and effort submitting totally inappropriate material, when a swift glance through a couple of issues would show that they never use this type of thing. For instance, some newspapers publish a wide range of children's authors, others use a single author and won't be interested in your story, however wonderful it may be. Take note of the language, style, length and regularity of the article in the publication, so that you can submit an article in the natural "language" of that specific publication. For instance, note whether they write Sukkot or Sukkos, Yarmulke or Kippah, Mother or Mom, Mrs. or Mrs., colour or color. An editor will find it easier to work with a piece that conforms to his style. The easier you make it for the editor to work with your article, the easier it is for him to accept your article.

2) NEVER address your query to "The Editor". This merely shows that you haven't bothered to read the masthead of the magazine. You can find the editor's name by careful reading of the publication, picking up the phone and asking the editorial department which editor deals with your subject, or by referring to a past issue of Soferet.

3) SELF-EDIT your text. A professional writer turns in article that are ready to print - with no spelling errors, improper grammar, shoddy mistakes (spelling the character's name in two different ways etc.) Better yet, have a friend or family member edit your text before you submit it - and warn them that you want an honest critique.

4) LIMIT your article to the required length. In the professional writing world, more is definitely not better. In general, a magazine feature should be 1500-2000 words, a one page piece around 800 words, and fillers around 250 - 500 words. A 4000 word submission will entail extensive editing that an editor may not be prepared to invest the time in.

5) DEADLINES. Your finished article should be submitted on time. Editors work within strict time-frames, and rely on their writers to produce results according to schedule. One of the worst sins in the profession is to fail to deliver the article by the date agreed on. If you know that you won't be able to meet the deadline, soften the fallout by informing the editor ASAP!

Tamar Wisemon is a journalist whose articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Report, MOMENT, Hamodia and other international Jewish publications. She is author of a young Jewish detective series, "Y.A.D.Investigators" (Jerusalem Publications/Feldheim).


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