Dear Mr. Wei Ling Chua,
Thank you for your decision to submit material for syndication by the International News Syndicate.
One of the problems we are experiencing is that we are receiving few quality articles from graduates, most preferring to deal directly with editors. Further, articles posted on the International News Syndicate website must be of “timeless quality” and suitable for an international audience.
INS is reluctant to “post” a small selection of articles and direct editors and other media buyers to these because of the small range of choice and suitability. INS and ourselves have spent years developing a favourable impression with many editors and don’t wish to be seen unnecessarily taking their time.
We will be delighted if you take advantage of the syndication service offered by International News Syndicate.
But, personally, I must stress the following ... you will almost always have better results dealing with editors directly.
Editors usually prefer to be involved in the “commissioning process”
from stage one. Instead of buying a syndicated article they usually prefer to be able to brief the journalist on what they specifically want from the story. For example, a specified word count, more or less use of technical jargon, perhaps a sidebar to the story containing product information, travel advice or whatever.
Stated simply, most editors like to deal with freelance journalists with whom they have worked previously. They are looking for writers who they know create the least hassles, are familiar with their title, can follow an editor’s brief and are known to be able to deliver competent material.
In turn freelance journalists who build relationships with editors are more likely to have their article ideas accepted and also to be asked to write future pieces.
It would be remiss of me not to stress the importance of one-to-one contact and I hope this came across “loud and clear” in the actual Course.
Syndication is great if you have the right story. Otherwise it can be a waste of everyone’s time.
Below I have cut and pasted a writer’s contribution for us on “syndication”. Being interested in this method of marketing your articles, I think you might find it most informative.
If you can develop the right article for syndication, it’s possible to see it sold 50 times and more.
In the meantime, here is some further information about how the International News Syndicate works.
Material should be sent to: email@example.com (or simply reply to this email)
When sending your article please remember the following requirements.
* Your initial e-mail should clearly identify you. Please state your name and previous student number issued to you from the Morris Journalism Academy. (We need this information or the attachments you send cannot be opened). We would also appreciate a brief description of your article in three to four paragraphs and the type of media buyer you think will be most interested in your material.
* All written material should be sent as an attachment, saved as a Word document.
* Your photographs, if any, should also be sent as another
attachment in Jpeg. Do not send more than 10 images, we’ll let you know if more are required.
When sending material to International News Syndicate for intended syndication, please ask yourself the following questions:
* Is there a magazine, newspaper or Internet site that will clearly be interested in this material?
* Does the material have international readership appeal?
* Does it have the potential for multiple sales in different geographical locations?
* Could I offer this material more effectively myself? Editors
will almost always prefer to deal with freelance writers they know or with whom they can build a professional working relationship.
* Do I regard this material as more suitable for syndication or direct marketing to an individual media buyer?
Payment is initiated upon receipt of such from the media buyer by International News Syndicate.
Completed articles should be submitted as a Word attachment. Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and a list of sources used for the article, along with their contact information. To help us fact-check, we ask that you include copies of any printed background materials you used for the piece.
If you do not have photos, photo suggestions are appreciated.
Never send original manuscripts, artwork or slides, as we cannot be responsible for their return.
Please remember INS does not deal in “breaking news”. The service concentrates on timeless feature articles, that is, stories that don’t age overnight. For example, how-to articles, travel features, interviews, personal experience and human interest.
When sending material, also remember it will need to be of interest or relevant to international media buyers, that is, editors and publishers servicing readerships in different geographical areas to where you are writing about. Editors rarely buy syndicated material dealing with the country or region in which they publish, preferring instead to work with freelance journalists with whom they have worked previously – writers who are familiar with their title and are known to be able to deliver competent material according to the "brief" the editor wants followed.
International News Syndicate offers material in two ways:
1. By e-mail, directly to media buyers who we believe will have a perceived interest in the type of material we are offering.
2. Posting material on the INS website. Only material with a wide perceived international readership is posted on the website to help limit unnecessary searches which can be frustrating for busy editors and publishers.
There is also the chance for commissioned assignments. We regularly get queries from editors looking for a freelancer for a particular job, usually in a specific geographical location. Or, for a freelancer who is specialising in a niche media market.
International News Syndicate has a database of about 4800 editors and publishers who we contact on a regular basis with perceived suitable material from our accredited freelancers.
At this stage in development, INS does not receive a great deal of syndicated material because currently it is only comes from Australian sources. Hence the current "upgrade" to the site to attract international freelance contributors. We are also fully "internationalising" the site to more easily market to international media buyers. At the time of writing, we anticipate this is going to take about three months to get right. We are also in the throes of redeveloping the INS website to include a mass of information to assist graduates and other freelance writers accredited with us.
In the meantime, we are using our well-tested system of contacting editors and other media buyers by direct e-mail offering the material we believe is appropriate to them.
When we receive the feature article/articles you wish to offer for syndication these will, if suitable, be included in the "monthly menu" of syndicated material being offered. There is no charge to you for this service.
Your copy and photographs will be carried, shipped and mailed by messengers, couriers and mail services while in transit to and from media buyers and, in the case of use, by its vendors. All these carriers and vendors will decline coverage of "extraordinary value" for items like photographs. Under their policies (and in the case of mail services, no matter the amount of insurance purchased), photographs will be covered only for the replacement value of the film and processing.
Therefore, it is impossible for International News Syndicate Limited or media buyers to warrant against damage or loss while photographic or written materials are in their premises or in transit. When returning materials to a contributor, the class of mail will be determined by the amount of postage provided for on the SASE enclosed with the submission.
Editors rely on receiving accurate and reliable information. It's important that you check all facts and figures. In general, a media buyer will require:
* Confirmation of all facts and figures used within an article from a primary source.
* For medical, nutrition, and technical advice, direct quotes from accepted professionals or experts.
* Full contact information for every source used in creating an article.
* An extra copy for their files of any map, catalog, brochure, or other primary source you may have acquired from an agency or manufacturer.
You may decide to query prospective media buyers yourself. Please remember most editors will prefer queries to unsolicited and completed manuscripts. Please send emails with attachments and web links rather than mailing envelopes with letters and clips. You’ll get a quicker response via e-mail. Make sure you include your own email address within the query.
If you must mail a query and clips, include a SASE envelope if your samples must be returned. No publication will accept responsibility for unsolicited artwork, photographs, and manuscripts, so please don't send originals or anything that you can't afford to lose.
Process of submitting a query:
Remember these points ...
* If a magazine or newspaper relies heavily on photographs, the editor will probably want to see these images before a decision can be made on your article.
* It is important to know the type of article a magazine traditionally uses.
* Your letter should include exactly what you wish to cover in your proposed article and a brief outline of the information or points you intend to include. The more specific you can be, the better the editor will be able to judge the merits of your idea.
* If your story and photographs are selected for publication, the media buyer will decide whether or not to use the duplicates that you originally submitted or require new ones to be made for improved quality. Only on special occasions will they ask for original transparencies, and special arrangements will usually be made for their shipment and handling as well as insurance.
* Often, media buyers are overwhelmed by the great volume of submissions they receive for the limited number of pages available in any given issue of the publication. Editors wish they could use all of the meritorious work they receive. Unfortunately, they can't. Sometimes it’s a matter of space. Sometimes an article similar to the one article you are proposing has already been used or even recently commissioned. Most media buyers try to get materials returned within approximately eight weeks.
* While most media buyers hope to review and return unusable material as quickly as possible, their priority has to be producing each issue of the magazine. If photographs or manuscripts are deemed suitable for publication, they may be held for future consideration. Holding such materials does not automatically constitute an acceptance of terms and conditions printed on delivery memos, packing slips or similar correspondence.
* Since some media buyers rely heavily on photography, these buyers must see photos before any decision can be made on an article. Hence, phone queries are not appropriate.
* Photographs for submission: Please limit submissions to approximately 10 photographs or less. Media buyers don't need more than this to see the merit in an article idea. In fact, many editors consider the initial submission of too many photographs to represent the lack of necessary editing to present a selection that succinctly supports the subject being queried.
* Most media buyers can work with digital files and duplicate transparencies. Most accept all film formats, preferring 35mm, medium format and 4x5 for transparencies and 5x7 or 8x10 for prints. Most buyers do not accept original transparencies or negatives. If, of your own accord, you choose to send originals, you do so only at your own risk. Realize that while media buyers try to protect images sent to them on speculation, they will accept no responsibility for lost or damaged photographic materials or written copy. Since they do not accept original materials, they will not accept financial responsibility for lost or damaged original photographic materials, transparencies or negatives.
International News Syndicate Limited
Morris Media Building
497 New South Head Road
PO Box 1738
Double Bay NSW 2028
T +61 2 9327 7778
F +61 2 9327 1174
Syndication * the best way of getting your work into print?
By Rob Walls (Note: You May use “Ctrl” and “+” to increase the size to view the following)
As a writer, photographer or illustrator, the task of getting your work to the printed page can seem daunting, unavoidably time-consuming and often just plain aggravating. The chores associated with negotiating with tough editors, dealing with deadlines, billing publishers and chasing up payment, seem to continually conspire to keep you away from doing what you do best.
Perhaps the answer is syndication. Syndication is the simultaneous publication of a story and/or photographs in a number of newspapers or magazines. Now, if you are the kind of creative worker who needs to see your name in print, read no further. Syndication is not about ego.
Then again if you are someone who can cope with getting your work published several times, rarely ever seeing it in print, but getting paid for it every time, then syndication is for you.
First advice on syndication ... consider doing it yourself, that is, becoming a “one writer” agency. The communication facilities that are available today almost make it simple. And, then you have the enormous advantage of dealing with editors in person.
Still, you might prefer to have your material handled by an agency for the very reasons mentioned before. You might feel you are better off producing copy or pictures and leaving the nuts and bolts of distribution to someone else.
Syndication agents operate by taking a commission for the handling of your sales of your stories, photographs, cartoons, or illustrations.
Second advice on syndication ... agencies, and editors who buy from agencies, want to deal with writers with a pre-existing and solid reputation. If you are an editor buying a syndicated story, you must be able to trust its source. Established writers and photo-journalists have built the credibility necessary to give editors confidence. If you are not a well-known writer, with solid credentials, you’ll probably need a
story that is too good to resist.
Agency commission is usually of the order of 40% to 50%. This may sound high but you need to bear in mind the amount of work involved. The thing to bear in mind is that if you were to handle this yourself you might make several sales on your own behalf, whereas an agent can sell a good story many more times than this. The question then to ask is: would you rather keep 100% of a few sales or collect 50% of 20 or more?
If you have doubts whether this is possible, you only have to look at my own experience. I still receive income from a feature agency for pictures made in the late 1960s. And, of the many stories I have had published, I have had several features that have sold between 30 and 60 times.
The most productive of these has been a travel feature I wrote while on assignment in Papua New Guinea. Needing a break from the pressures and demands of the assignment, I took myself off to an isolated lodge on the Karawari River, a tributary of the upper reaches of the Sepik.
After a few days rest I began to look at my surroundings with renewed interest and realised that there was the possibility of a good travel piece right under my nose. A resident musician at the lodge was a retired 70 year-old head-hunter called Phillip. Phillip had, he confessed, killed and eaten no less than eight people. My curiosity was further aroused when I discovered several skulls which had been confiscated under anti-sorcery laws at a nearby government patrol post.
Inspired by this bizarre connection and the isolated luxury of the lodge, I wrote a piece about this exotic destination which I called Hotel of The Headhunters.
My first sale of the story was to the Airniugini in-flight magazine. I then offered the story to a feature agent in London who managed to place it many times in the next twelve months. Over the next few years the story appeared no less than fifty times. I stopped counting when sales had reached the half-hundred mark.
The story has been published in Norway, Japan, Malaysia, Finland, Italy, and twice each in Australia, the United States and Germany. The story still sells. Its longevity stems from the fact that it is not only a well-written story, accompanied by good photographs, but also more than that, it is good strong topic that was not deadline-related.
The outcome of this effort was that the airline saw me as a very useful and influential generator of publicity for Papua New Guinea. From then on I only had to suggest an idea for them to offer plane tickets and accommodation.
About a year later, I proposed the idea of writing the biography of Phillip the head-hunter and went back to interview him. That story has sold around 35 times. Over the years, I went back to Papua New Guinea for several other stories, all of which have sold well.
The thing is there was nothing exceptional about what I had done. I am an average wordsmith and probably an above average photographer. Good syndication and good subject matter had enabled me to mine a particular vein of stories in a way that maximised the return for effort.
How does syndication work? Traditionally a writer or photographer’s work was distributed by an agent to the widest possible market as hard copy accompanied by prints or duplicate transparencies (colour slides). This hit-or-miss approach worked well in its time, but was expensive, relatively inefficient and not suited to stories that were likely to become stale if not used immediately.
This of course meant that the most profitable type of stories were those that did not suffer from a “use-by date” factor. The sort of feature that had timeless qualities and which was as relevant a year or even a few years after it was written. These are still the kind of stories best suited to syndication.
The Internet however, has changed the face of syndication considerably.
Today the options are much more practical and efficient. You or an agency are able to pitch a story idea or outline, accompanied by a selection of pictures, by e-mail to an editor or editors and get responses quickly, if not immediately.
This has meant that independent syndication agencies and individuals can also sometimes compete with hard news, as well as features.
This is where the syndication agent comes in. Though you are only getting around half of the publication fee, you are getting half of a lot of sales as opposed to 100% of a few. Additionally, you may find that the experienced agent will ask far more than you would dare and that the 50% you get can actually be higher than what you would have asked in negotiating on your own.
As a producer of words or pictures for print your time is always more productively spent at the keyboard or behind a camera. Finding a good agent to handle your output can be the ultimate in liberation.
But, to succeed in the business of syndication, it’s essential you chose the right type of story – an article that will remain topical and interesting reading to a world market.
You’ll also likely need the credentials of being previously published to impress your commissioning editors. As in any industry, there is no substitute to having an on-going relationship with the people with whom you are dealing.
By all means consider syndication. Syndicate your own material or find a reliable agent. But syndication is a “shotgun” approach to be used selectively. There is no better approach than a carefully crafted query letter to an individual editor, pitching a specific story, to that editor’s readers – people with specific interests and passions.
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