Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tips for Getting Writing Clips — Publishing as a Second Language

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

“Send published clips with submission.”
“Query/clips for fiction.”
“Query/clips or complete manuscript.”

These are all taken right from the market guide. But you may wonder what that word “clips” means to a writer.

The term originates from the time writers clipped, or cut, their articles from newspapers or magazines so that they would have examples of their writing to share with other editors. Writers requested extra printed copies of the articles they wrote in order to make sure they had enough clips to share.

The truth is that nobody cuts much of anything out of anywhere these days. Most writers and editors use digital copies of their work. But they are still called clips.

Another word that is similar is tear sheet. Back in the old days (as my grandchildren would say), you received tear sheets when your work was published in magazines. A tear sheet is an extra copy of the page of the magazine. It looks like you tore it out of the magazine but it had never been bound into the publication. This word is decreasing in use but you may see it occasionally in guidelines.

You may ask the question – “Well, I just started writing. How am I supposed to get clips?” That is a very valid question.

Here are several suggestions.
Don't hesitate to write for free.
  • 1. Don’t hesitate to write for free. In the beginning, it is important to get some clips even if they are with a nonpaying market. It is important to have something that has been in print somewhere other than on your personal computer.
  • 2. Use something you already have. Writing for the church newsletter or local hometown news may not be the most widely known but it that is who you have been writing for, make it work.
  • 3. Don’t mention in your query that you are a new writer or that you don’t have clips. Often they don’t ask for clips but for the whole manuscript. This allows the editor to see that you are a good writer and can communicate clearly. That is why it is so important to submit clean, well-edited work that will rise above the slush pile.

Why are clips important? The editor can see what kind of writing you do and hear your voice. He or she knows that if you have been published before, another editor has looked at your work and deemed it publication-worthy, you have met a publication deadline, and you can stay within an assigned word count.

Suggestion regarding clips. As you write and your work is published, put links in a special file so that you can easily find them when a publisher requests clips.

Happy clipping!


Linda Gilden is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She finds great joy (and excellent writing material) in time spent with her family. Helping writers understand PSL is one of the things she also loves to do through her newest book, Called to Write. This month she is excited about having a chance to set new goals for the new year and maybe even do a few more rewrites!

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. Linda, Great information. Thank you. I like your suggestion of putting links in a file. I have the entire article in a file labeled, "Magazine Articles"

  2. A file for links! That's a great idea. I have a bad case of "where did I put that?" disease and this will help. With one thing at least :)

  3. Thanks for the info, Linda. I'll have to admit ... never heard of a tear sheet. :)

  4. I also like the file for links idea. I put things in my safe place and then forget where I put my safe place. Hopefully a LINKS FILE will help.

  5. Linda, so much great information in this article! I also like the file for links idea. I have a question, though, regarding the links file. I have written for a couple of devotional publications that come out in a book form (also had stories in some of Yvonne Lehman's "Spoken" books). How would I save links to the writing contained in those publications? What would I attach as a clip for a publication like that? Thanks for your help.