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Letter to a Young Writer

Dear Interested intern or apprentice:

One of the problems I've found with most writers is that they want
instant success. You can be the writer you want to be. But, to achieve that
goal, you must go through the same struggles while you're learning your
craft that all other writers do. I actually wrote 49 terrific articles when
I decided to become a writer, and no one bought them. Then when I met my
mentor, he taught me how to sell my work. Most all colleges and universities
teach you how to write for academia and for newspapers (the lowest-paying
market in all of journalism). However, they don't teach you how to write for
magazines, the Internet, companies and corporations or how to write books.
Most importantly they don't teach you how to sell what you write and how to
conduct your writing business like a business. That's some of what you'll
learn here as well as magazine-style editing in AP style.

Another problem with some young people is that they lack courage. They're
not willing to lose or make a mistake to win in the long run. Rejection
slips will come your way, and you'll get many of them, if you want to sell
magazine articles. If you're willing to take that rejection and plenty of
it, then you can be the writer you want to be and have the career you've
dreamed of having. The most-critical ingredient to your becoming successful
is your learning how to write query letters and coming up with article
ideas. You also must learn your craft, while writing for small-paying
markets. Being successful in the beginning of your career is far more
important than earning a lot of money. Without some success in the
beginning, you'll not continue to grow in your writing. You need to learn
all you can about how to write effective query letters, and you need to get
a notebook and start writing down article ideas. Then match those ideas up
with your "Writer's Market" for 2007 with markets that pay $150 or less an
article. Writing is a continuing-education program. You can write about any
subject in the world and get paid for it, as long as you don't depend on
your own knowledge for that subject information to write the article. If
you're as serious as you sound, here are some suggestions you can start on

1) Buy the latest copy of "Writer's Market" - the 2007 edition. This book
will be for you what the Bible is for someone's studying to be a priest or
preacher. Read about all different types of magazines, the kinds of article
they want to buy, the suggestions they make, the prices they pay, etc. Your
articles are like tomatoes at the farmer's market. You may grow really-big,
beautiful tomatoes. But if you don't understand what the average price of
tomatoes is at the market or how to display your tomatoes at their best at
the market so that customers will choose your tomatoes over other vendors'
tomatoes, then you won't sell any tomatoes or articles. So, first begin to
study the market with your pen and notebook in hand.
2) Make a list of as many article ideas as you can about a wide range of
subjects - especially subjects you know nothing about but that you'd like to
learn more about. By writing about a subject you know nothing, you'll learn
and be able to share what you've learned with your readers.
3) Learn how to write a query letter. You won't write any article until you
sell it, and that's why query letters are so important. I'll teach you how
to write query letters that editors will buy. Then you won't waste your time
writing articles that no one wants to buy, like I did.
4) Get a quality digital camera that shoots at least 6 megapixels or more,
if you won't have one. Cut out pictures in magazines, paste them into a
notebook, and then try to shoot that same picture with your camera.
Magazines, websites and book publishers will buy manuscripts that perhaps
aren't top of the line, if they're accompanied by great photography. Most of
the time editors won't buy articles with poor photography.
5) Learn all you can about PhotoShop, the Internet and computers. That's the
direction journalism is going in the future. Two-thirds of the magazines I
once wrote for and the newspaper I was the outdoor editor of for more than
20 years no longer exist. But the opportunities on the Internet for a writer
are tremendous.

Now, know you can't accomplish all of these recommendations in a short
time, however, this direction is where you'll be going, if you come to work
with us. Although I can show you all the shortcuts to be successful, your
work ethic, your courage, your willingness to learn and your ability to
never quit will serve you far better and cause you to move quicker toward
reaching your goal than anything I can do for you. But, if you truly have
the passion, the desire and the courage to be a writer and photographer, you
won't have any problems learning what you need to know, making more money
than you've ever dreamed of making, being able to travel with most of your
expenses paid and making money from the article information and photos you
gather on your travels. I appreciate your interest, and if this career is
something you really want, I'll do all I can to help you be successful.

With best personal regards,
John E. Phillips