June 02, 2005

ARTICLE | Writing on Spec ...

The Dangers of Writing on Spec
By Deborah Straw

[Extract] Over the last two years, an increasing number of magazines seem only to want to look at articles submitted by writers on spec. Is this because there are too many writers pitching ideas, so editors want the freedom to be able to pick and choose the best possible products at the last minute? Are there are so many wannabes willing to write for nothing for the thrill of being published? This business of writing on spec may work out for the publisher, but it is bad news for the writer. My advice, based on a 20-year-publishing career, is generally not to write on spec.

Writing on speculation means that you have a deadline, you have a word count, and you have an approximate pay schedule. Everything is in place except the promise to publish and pay. Beginning writers often have to write on spec to prove their mettle. Many of us are willing to do this once or twice to break in. We need clips to enable us to get into large circulation papers or magazines. Note, I said, we're willing to do this, once or twice.

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