Five Tips for Submitting to a Freelance Writing Open Call


If you’ve ever thought about submitting a resume and writing sample to a company, there are a few basic guidelines you can follow to help maximize your chances of landing a trial assignment. These are drawn from my own experiences wading through the “slush pile” of freelance writer applications, so take that for what it’s worth.

  1. Follow the submission instructions. Companies need freelancers who can follow directions, so sending in something extraneous or omitting something mandatory can be a big strike against you.
  2. Organize your resume so that any writing credits are first and foremost. If none of your job titles pop out as relevant, or you only have education as relevant experience, my best advice would be to self-publish a few supplements or contribute (for free) to e-zines and come back. Links to blogs and other portfolio-style websites can also be useful.
  3. Make your writing sample short, sweet, and relevant. It’s harder to write concisely than it is to write at length, and the longer it is, the less likely it is to be read at all. If you’re applying as a writer to an RPG company, attach rules material such as an item, a place description, or an adversary. Don’t attach fiction unless you’re specifically applying for a fiction writing position.
  4. The strongest writing samples display creativity, highlight your command of the rules, and showcase your unique writer’s voice. They also demonstrate higher level grammar and style proficiency, such as avoiding passive voice and wordy phrases.
  5. Finally, be professional and polite. It’s amazing how many emails we get with huge spelling issues or a pretentious tone. It’s one thing to sell yourself, but it’s another to brag about yourself. Strangely, the cover letters that do the most boasting typically have the lowest quality writing attached…
  6. Bonus Protip: If the website says “we do not accept unsolicited x, y, z…”, you look foolish opening your email with “I know you don’t accept unsolicited x, y, z, but…”!

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