Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Freelance Writer Questions Answered

by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

These questions came from a writer who is growing his career. 

Q: Should I propose an idea or a fully written story to a magazine or newspaper editor? I don't want to submit a completed story that does not fit what the publication's editor wants.

A: Typically, you can find writers guidelines that will tell you if a publication prefers a query, proposal, or article. Writer’s guidelines for your target publication can be found on the web or in the Writers Marketor Christian Writers Market. Be certain to research the publication so you write to their audience and specifications. Note what type of stories the publication has run recently, as well as length and tone. Get additional mileage from your work by submitting to publications that accept reprints.

Q: Before emailing an editor about a story idea, should I make certain that the person I want to interview would agree to talk with me?

A: This is a chicken or the egg question. An editor may be more apt to accept a story idea when you state that you already have the interview lined up. Concurrently, an interview may be more willing to talk when you can say “I would like to write a profile about you for Publication Monthly.” 

Q: How much should I press an editor for a response to my email with a story idea?

A: Research what topics your target publication has run in the past. Make certain you suggest something fresh. Many publications specify that if you don’t hear back in eight weeks, your idea has been passed over. Without a timeline in the writers’ guidelines, you can send a polite follow-up email to ask if the editor has had time to review your query. Attach your query to the follow-up message for their convenience. No response is often a ‘no, thank you.’ 

Q: Is it better to email an editor, call them, or visit in person?

A: This depends on the editor and how he or she prefers to communicate with their writers. This information is usually available in their writer guidelines. If you live nearby, you can make an appointment to meet. 

Q: What resources do you recommend?

A: Articles, Articles, Articles: Your Comprehensive Guide by Linda Gilden, Soul Care When You’re Weary by Edie Melson, Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins; Platform by Michael Hyatt, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, The Writers Market and The Christian Writers Market.


Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Optimistic dream-driver, PeggySue is named for the Buddy Holly song with the great drumbeat. At school author visits, she teaches students the secrets to writing, and speaks at events and conferences. Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells. 


  1. Great tips, and thank you for the wonderful list of resources Ms. Peggy Sue. I've been wondering about that "Peggy Sue" thing. Thanks for verifying. :-) G0d's blessings ma'am.

  2. This was helpful.
    Thanks, Peggy Sue!

  3. Glad to get these tips! I'm still uncertain how to approach a Christian publication that lists no submission guidelines on their website. The print magazine shows a sidebar invitation to submit an idea for a story, stating all submissions become property of the mag, and may be edited for length or clarity without compensation. Would it be best to try a query?