Have you ever wondered who writes the bits and pieces that fill the gaps between longer items in magazines and newspapers? Well, I’m one of those contributors and have been reaping the rewards – whether in the form of cash, vouchers or prizes – for many years.
From professional wordsmiths to people who rarely pick up a pen, anyone can write ‘fillers’, as they’re generally known, and may find them surprisingly lucrative. The plus side of this activity nowadays, when everything can be sent by email, is that it need cost the writer nothing at all.
Drawbacks? Well, I can’t think of any at the moment
Incorrect spelling of Saturday
Snippets of all kinds, appropriately aimed and sent in good time, if seasonal, will find a market.So, what do I mean by a snippet? It should be short, sharp and to the point. Having said that, it might be a money/time saving tip, anecdote, joke, cutting full of ambiguity, weird sign, snatch of overheard conversation, senior moment, example of poor translation, short factual piece, reader’s letter and so on
Those of us who weren’t born yesterday have a head full of knowledge and experience to choose from! Submissions accompanied by photographs are popular with editors and you may have years’ worth of family albums. Ours go back to long before I was born and are ideal for ‘nostalgia’ pieces.
The trick is to study the market for opportunities by browsing through anything you can lay your hands on, either at home or when you’re out and about
Even the frustration of a long wait to see a doctor or dentist can be soothed by rummaging through the reading matter provided for patients. If inspiration strikes, the next step is to head for a large retailer’s magazine shelves to check for up to date requirements and contact details. Be aware that titles very similar at first glance may differ considerably in their target readership and tone.
No caption needed!
Try to tailor your own submissions to suit. (Sorry about the unintentional pun.)
Once you get the bug, you’ll have eyes and ears permanently ‘out on stalks’ to capture useful material. I’ve heard one child asking what has frightened an ‘alarmed window’ and another puzzling over what a bottle of Still Water might turn into. Examples of poor spelling, grammar and syntax are all around us these days and it can even pay to study the small ads. in your local paper, shop windows or on notice boards.
You may already have heard the famous one about the ‘small table needed for old lady with twisted legs’, but I’m confident that you’ll find many more!
Don’t be put off if you don’t succeed at first. The more popular magazines receive many submissions and something similar to yours might just have landed. Keep a careful record of where and when you’ve sent each item. If you hear nothing after a few weeks, tweak if necessary and send it on its way again.
Word of warning! Never submit an item to two publications at the same time. The likelihood of both accepting it may be small, but you’d be unwise to risk the wrath of rival editors. They also keep up with the market and your card would be marked!
Below are just some of the many publications I have sent 'snippets' to!
Encouraged by positive feedback from people who’ve followed the advice given at my workshops, I’ve brought out a little handbook entitled Easy Money For Writers & Wannabes.
It’s available from Amazon as a download or paperback and I’m very happy to donate a signed copy of the latter to OAPSchat for use as a raffle prize.
All photos shown are copyright Maggie Cobbett.