Roger Meyers' Maxims for Non-Fiction Article Authors

This is for authors not writers (i.e. an author is a published writer).

Send out lots of queries. Eventually, you'll find a dumb or desperate editor.

Don't take rejection letters personally. The magazine might just have published an article on you topic or have one scheduled. Or the editor had a fight with their spouse that morning or their car broke down on the way into work and nothing you propose will please them. Or they don't like people from Michigan. Or it's 5 PM on a Friday afternoon. Or your topic or writing suck.

Be comfortable with ambiguity. Some experts tell you to include a S.A.S.E. (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with queries and articles; some experts say this indicates an amateur. Some experts say you must note on your work that it is copyrighted; other experts say this is unnecessary.

Experts say you must write what you know. Then you can avoid any research.

Experts say you must know the magazines you are querying. Then you are able to spend a lot of time and money investigating magazines. Spending time investigating magazines precludes sending out queries and you receiving those form rejection letters. When the editor of that magazine moves on and a new one takes over or the magazine goes out of business, you can start over again.

It's a waste of time, for you and the editor of a camping magazine, to submit an article on how to arrange flowers. Or to submit to a religious magazine details on how to organize a wet T-shirt contest.

You must feel excited about your topic and convince the editor that you are excited. You should know why you are excited about the topic.

Your goal is to convince the editor that people will read your article and you can write the article.

Recognize, that in most cases, editors are humanoid. They also have deadlines, bills to pay, a cranky spouse and hemorrhoids.

Read your work aloud or have it read to you. Read it to others and consider all comments. But, in general, pay just a little attention to comments from only one person and seriously consider comments made by more than one person.

After every rejection, improve your work before it goes out again.

Never wait for a response to your query. Send more out in a week or two. Some magazines never respond to queries even when a S.A.S.E. is enclosed.

Believe that anybody can be published. I am, along with others at this table, living proof of that.