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Query with clips. Those three little words can send most new writers plunging into the depths of despair.

Every time you look up guidelines for magazines, it's the same old story: Query with clips! You have a wonderful idea for an article. You've studied the magazine till you know exactly the type of article most likely to be accepted. You know the style they prefer, have the word count down to a fine art, and have polished that query letter until it shines. But what to do about the dreaded "clips?"

If you've convinced yourself you "must" have clips in order to get published then of course you'll end up with drawers and boxes of writing that never leaves the drawers and boxes. Or, you can do something about it.

One possible way to side-step this seemingly monumental problem---and end up with a clip in the bargain---is to make sure your query letter is so well written that your writing ability shines through and gives the editor a good idea of your style.

Make that first sentence ask a question so compelling that the editor "must" know the answer. Make a statement or give a statistic so startling that the editor simply "must" keep reading. Do not mention the fact that you don't have clips.

Present your idea in such a manner that the editor is intrigued, understands the approach you intend to take, has no doubt as to where your sources of information will be obtained, is satisfied that the word count is suitable for the section the article is aimed at, and is convinced that your article will be irresistible to the magazine's readership.

Follow these basic rules and you'll probably receive an acceptance, a contract, publication with a by-line, eventually a check, and of course-that all important clip!

Another approach to consider when trying to get a foot in the door and get something-ANYTHING-published with your by-line is to look as close to home as possible.

No matter where you live, there's a local newspaper, a general interest magazine, or some such weekly publication either in your home town or a town or city close by.

Small circulation local newspapers or magazines are usually most receptive to new writers. Read back issues. Study them closely. Can you write similar articles with a different twist or fresh approach?

Or, is there a type of story, article, or column that particular publication is lacking? Is there a regular gardening piece? A parenting column? A book and movie review section? What about an "up close and personal" column where a local person is featured weekly? Does this newspaper or magazine have a column on pet care. Is there a regular humor column? A fishing or hunting corner? If not, can you fill that spot?

When you've decided on which approach to take, call the editor.

Explain that you are a freelance writer and have noticed that his or her newspaper or magazine consistently publishes the type articles that you would be interested in writing.

Or, mention that this particular publication lacks coverage on a certain topic that you feel would interest his/her readers. Then convince the editor that you are the person to fill that void.

If you are an expert in any field-say so. If you've had training in journalism, let him or her know. Maybe you're an expert in computer programming, an experienced health care worker. Do you teach scrapbooking? Yoga? Give guitar lessons? Chances are there is at least one subject that you know a lot about. And you can be assured that there are plenty of readers who would just love to know all about this topic.

Most small town newspaper or magazine editors know that what their readers want is interesting well-written articles about people just like themselves. They know too, that articles giving readers advice or help in dealing with everyday problems or concerns are always welcome.

If you're the brave sort and would rather meet the editor in person, then call the office and arrange a for a short meeting (fifteen minutes should be long enough to make your point.) Most editors are not chain-smoking, ink-stained formidable ogres. In fact they're usually "real people."

It never hurts to have a half-dozen or so well-written interesting articles on a variety of subjects that you just happen to have with you. If the editor is too busy to read them then, ask if you can leave them, along with a business card. No need to spend a lot of money on fancy cards. A plain card with your name and title-freelance writer-and contact information will do.

If you've done your homework, presented yourself and your work in a professional manner, and convinced the editor that indeed you're one freelancer he/she can't afford to let get away, before long, you'll open the paper and there you'll be-a published author!

Another kind of "clip" is the newsletter clip. Do you belong to any organizations, groups, clubs, etc. They usually produce a monthly newsletter. Contribute to it and add to your clips.

Don't forgot writer's organizations. Join local writers groups or national organizations and contribute regularly to their newsletter. Clips from national newsletters look great on your resume.

Seek out local service clubs and offer to write press releases. Your by-line may or may not be included with a press release but the clip is yours. (Just remember to write on it the date and source of publication.)

Eventually one article will lead to another and your "clips" will start accumulating-along with your checks.

The one thing to keep in mind when you read that dreaded request "Query with clips" is that every single writer on the face of the earth had to start somewhere. And, at one time, each and every one of them had "no clips."

However, it didn't stop "them" from writing, submitting, getting published, and-getting paid. Don't let it stop you!