This morning I dashed down my driveway to get the morning paper. I’m not usually this excited to read the daily paper, but today’s edition is especially thrilling for me because it contains my first paid article for a newspaper.
I’ve been published before, in parenting magazines and various Internet Web sites. But nothing beats the excitement of knowing I broke through the newspaper barrier as a freelance writer. My neighbors will be reading my stories with their coffee and bagels.
How did I do it? In the past I had queried the paper with an occasional story idea and usually received no response, or “sorry, we’ve already got a staff member working on that idea.” But the query that finally broke through to the editor of the community section contained several ideas, not just one. This apparently showed the editor that I was a freelancer with an abundance of ideas, not just someone who “dabbled.” It also gave him a chance to pick and choose a topic that interested him.
The editor e-mailed me requesting samples of my work. I was ready with three clips of feature stories, on topics similar to those covered in the section of the paper he edited. He immediately e-mailed me back and we met later that day to discuss my story ideas. Again, he asked me if I had any other ideas or topics I found interesting. I was ready with three or four ideas that may or may not turn up in future editions.
The newspaper is the state’s largest newspaper, with a daily circulation of 440,000. The editor I queried is in charge of a section that covers several small communities. So, even though I write feature stories about local people, the pay scale is based on the circulation of a large metropolitan newspaper. As for my neighbors, they’ll not only be reading my stories over breakfast, but they just might find themselves featured in the morning paper, too.
Sally Mesarosh is a freelance writer based in Mesa, AZ. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Newsweek.com, Discovery.com, Raising AZ Kids and The Arizona Republic, among others. For samples of her writing, please visit her Web site at . You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.