Saying it twice (Mistake #33)

Repetition, tautology, pleonasm… whatever you want to call it, it’s basically saying something twice. Easily done. Very common. I do it. While scouting for examples I came across one which I use all the time, and which I’ll include in this post. See whether you can spot it. But first, some examples. And to demonstrate …

Unimaginative Market Choices (Mistake #29)

With around 10,000 publications in the UK – and surely a million around the world – you might expect that the range of markets targeted by new writers would be vast. Any writing tutor would probably tell you the opposite is true. Most of us see the same titles namechecked over and over again. Reader’s …

Stating what you want (Mistake #28)

Usually, in a cover letter: “I want to share my story with readers…” That much will be obvious, if you are proposing an article about your story to an editor. Besides, what about what the editor and readers want? Rather than state what you want, state what you’re offering and ask the editor whether she …

Shy about money (Mistake #27)

“Money’s such a sensitive issue to broach with an editor,” a rather talented student told me today. No, it is not. Publishing is a business. Writing articles is work. People get paid for their work. The typical exchange goes like this: Student: “Hi Alex! Just got an acceptance from an editor!” Me: “Great! What fee …

The Apostrophe (Mistake #26)

Few will think badly of you if you don’t know, say, whether it’s St James’s Park or St James’ Park, but if you write something like “its important to get word’s right” you’re inviting derision. Apostrophe howlers like this will make any decent editor wince. Granted, perhaps she’ll think “Oh, it’s all right – we’ve …

Margin of error (Mistake #24)

Over time I’ve come to realise that when new writers study a market, and its regular slots and sections, with a view to perhaps coming up with an idea to propose or writing a piece speculatively, they are naturally drawn to potential openings which look, well, a bit ‘easy’ to fill. There’s nothing wrong with …

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