Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Publishing As a Second Language—The On's of Article Writing

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Several terms you will hear that pertain to article writing begin with the word “on.”

ON Speculation
Many times you will hear this term shortened to on spec. This usually follows a query and issues an invitation to send your article on speculation. That is a tentative “yes" meaning that once your article is received they will read it carefully and if it fits their needs, will accept it. Acceptance on speculation leaves the door open for the publisher to reject the work if it is not up to the standards set in the query. If you have studied the publication and its guidelines and have written a strong query letter that shows excellent writing skills, the possibility of acceptance for an on spec article is high.

“I don’t worry about money, this is my ministry.” How many times have I heard these words at Christian writers conferences when the subject of money comes up? Many writers seem to think that talking about making money for your writing is a sin. But the Bible reminds us “the worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). That doesn’t just apply to construction workers, teachers, or bank executives. Writers are on that list as well. No matter what market you write for, secular or inspirational, your time is valuable to you and to those you write for.

There are several “on’s” pertaining to payment you should be familiar with.

ON Acceptance
Simply put, payment on acceptance is that once your article has been accepted for publication, you will be paid within a reasonable amount of time. This is the preference of most writers.

ON Publication
This term means that even though your article has been accepted, you will not be paid until the article is in print. Writers don’t like this as well because your article could be accepted one day and not published for a year or two later. Occasionally, the time could be even longer.

Another important “on” is on time.

On Time
It seems understood that if you promise an article by a certain deadline, you will have it done. The importance of meeting deadlines is paramount for writers. Publishers need to know they can trust writers to deliver what they promise when they promise it. If you get into a pinch and need a few more days for an assignment, contact your editor and ask for a few days of grace. Keep him or her posted on your progress if there is a question as to whether or not you can meet your deadline.

Paying attention to the details of the writing business is one of the keys to being a successful writer. So don’t hesitate to ask a fellow writer if you run into a PSL term that you don’t understand! Feel free to post questions about PSL in the comment section and we will address those terms here in the future!


Linda Gilden is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She finds great joy (and excellent writing material) in time spent with her family. Her favorite activity is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing children!

To find out more about Linda, her writing, and her ministry, visit You can also connect with her on Twitter @LindaGilden and Facebook at Author Linda Gilden.

1 comment:

  1. Linda, This was so helpful. I am new to freelance writing. I introduced it to a few of my friends who can write well and fast. They are on their way to supplementing their incomes.