According to the Business Dictionary, upselling is “a sales strategy where the seller will provide opportunities to purchase related products or services, often for the sole purpose of making a larger sale.” For freelancers, they are the seller and the editor is the buyer. The related service is usually a sidebar but might also be digital photographs or, in the case on an online article, a list of links to added information.
If you’re like me, I try to include sidebar options in my queries to improve my chances of having my query accepted by editors. However, sometimes I only think of sidebar ideas after the assignment, while researching my manuscript or writing the article. Does this ever happen to you? What can we do then?
The answer is upselling. I’ve had good luck in approaching editors and suggesting that I provide the newly conceived sidebar for an additional fee. Even if the editor is someone I’ve written for little or not at all, I can often sell her on the idea of my providing a sidebar for an additional fee. However, I have to be very persuasive. It’s easier when talking to an editor for whom you’ve written several times already.
How can you be persuasive?
I’ve found the most effective way to sell a sidebar after having my query accepted is to emphasize how the sidebar would amplify some aspect of the main manuscript but not fit within it without disrupting the flow. Your proposed sidebar has to add valuable information and interest. Explain how your sidebar will accomplish this.
I find that telephoning an editor after carefully preparing a description of the sidebar, why it would add value to the main manuscript and why it can’t be simply incorporated into the main manuscript, is most effective. In addition to this, you should have a good estimate of the sidebar word count. Should the magazine pay by the article rather than the word count, have a fee in mind for the sidebar. Some writers may find that they are more effective when upselling when they e-mail the editor a written proposal.
Types of Sidebars to Sell
Some types of sidebars, while adding value, just do not fit well inside your manuscript. For example, “how to” sidebars provide tips to assist readers in doing something described in your main article. The sidebar to my Workforce Diversity article about online education provides study tips customized for students taking online courses. Including this useful information in the main manuscript would have seriously disrupted its flow.
“Questions-to-ask” sidebars provide readers with questions they need to ask, and describe what information or documents they need to request to follow up on advice offered in your main article. Sidebar examples include “What to Ask a Lawyer When Writing Your Will” and “10 Questions to Ask Your Mechanic about Your Brake Job.”
Glossary sidebars provide definitions of terms used in the main article. This reduces the need to clutter your main article with definitions. Too many of these in your article can disrupt the flow, causing your readers to lose interest. Definitions also can significantly increase your manuscript’s word count.
Lists are a useful type of sidebar to add to manuscript submissions. You can use them to provide additional information and identify resource materials. This aids readers who want to learn more about your subject. Lists may also provide intriguing information related to the main article. They can be a compact, low word-count way of providing information. For example, my Equal Opportunity article on careers in pharmacy included a sidebar listing several professional organizations providing information on these careers and contact information for them. The sidebar to my Health Beat article on sensitive skin listed six skin irritants commonly used in cosmetics.
Your added income options may be limited only by your imagination.
John Borchardt has had more than 900 pieces published in various magazines, encyclopedias, newspapers, and online publications and as book chapters. He specializes in science, engineering, medicine, job hunting and career management. John is the author of the book Career Management for Scientists and Engineers published by Oxford University Press – USA and a Library of Science Alternate Selection. Borchardt received a BS degree in Chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Rochester. The author of more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific and technical papers, he holds 30 U.S. and more than 80 international patents. He has invented fourteen commercial products used to recycle millions of tons of wastepaper and to recover millions of barrels of crude oil from old oil fields.