I was watching my local news on TV one evening, and saw a story about a family in my area who had adopted nine siblings out of the foster care system. This adoption was the second-largest in my state’s history. And of course, the writer in me thought, “What a great story! I wonder if any magazines would be interested in their story.”
I contacted the family first to make sure they’d be willing to speak with me should I find an interested publication. They agreed and I sent off a query letter. Within the week, I got a phone call from the editor. They wanted to see this family’s wonderful adoption story ASAP. I wrote it, and was paid $300 for my efforts.
Another time, I was reading my local newspaper and saw a feel-good story about a woman with special needs who had accomplished some amazing things, including running a mini marathon. Again the writer in me thought, “I’m sure there are magazines out there that would love to see a positive story about someone who’d overcome so much.”
I located the woman, and had a wonderful phone conversation with her in which she agreed to share her story with me. I sent out a query letter and again, it was accepted. I wrote her story, sent it to the magazine, and promptly received a check for $250. (The photos I took netted an additional $100.)
Now, when I watch my local news or read my newspaper, I keep my eyes open for stories I can use. I especially look for positive stories about people who’ve overcome adversity. Many of the glossy magazines publish profiles of interesting people, but oftentimes, the only way a publication is going to become aware of these people is through writers who live in the area.
And that, my friend, is you and me.
So the next time you sit down with the Sunday paper, don’t just read it. Read it like a writer.
Diane Sonntag is a teacher and freelance writer. She has been published in many magazines, including Celebrate Life and Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul. She can be reached at DianeSonntag – at – comcast.net.