Make Money Writing Fillers
What Is A Filler?
Open any magazine, newspaper or webpage, and most likely you will come across a filler. A filler is a short item used to fill a space in a publication (or to fill time on the radio or television--keep in mind that a writer writes these fillers as well).
"The Teaching Home" and "Reader's Digest" actually reserve space specifically for fillers.
Fillers can be as short as a fun phrase; Happiness is thirty-one different flavors of ice-cream. Or fillers can be a long five hundred word anecdote. Fillers are generally nonfiction.
Recipes are fillers in certain publications. Jason Wolfe's free online weekly newsletter, "DIRECTCOUPONS," includes a reader's recipe in each issue. Hints, tips, problems and solutions, jokes, witty quotations, quips, epigrams (short clever poem or paradoxical statement) and other juicy nuggets of writing can also be sold as fillers.
Where Do I Find Fillers?
Fillers happen all around you. Do you clean? Do you have children? Do you cook? Are you a husband or a wife? Do you work (okay, do you have another bread-and-butter type of job?)? Where do you relax? What do you do for enjoyment? Do you have animals? Do you belong to a church or another type of organization? Have you discovered a better/faster/healthier way to do something? You can find fillers everywhere, for any reason, as long as you keep your senses open.
Observe and be alert for unusual or humorous signs on marquees. We read this on a church billboard: Drive-Thru Bible Study. Keep an eye on store windows, traveling trucks and buses. You just never know what you may be passing by.
Watch people. Listen to what they are saying. You will hear twists on old sayings, puns, amusing stories and plenty of jokes.
Mary Ann Hahn of New York says, "Tune in when someone compliments someone else by saying, 'Good idea,' or 'I ought to try that!' Jot down the idea. Many magazines use these tips as fillers, and these short pieces can help the new writer's break into national publications."
Recording Fillers and Keeping Records
Keep a pocket sized notebook and a pen handy at all times. You will be ready to record incidents instantly. Unless you know shorthand, I recommend writing the comments, jokes, signs or happenings as completely as time allows. I have found that writing key words only does NOT always jog your memory when you are ready to type the filler.
You can use one page per filler, or use index cards, which will be of help when you are ready to file them. File them under headings such as: "Hints," "Tips," "Jokes," "Amusing Sayings," "Quotes," "Recipes," "Personal Experiences," etc. If you feel your filler should go into more than one category, put it in each category and note the cross reference.
Each time you submit the filler, list the date, name and address of the magazine. When it sells, pull it from the category files and move it to a "Published" file.
Additional Filler Tips
While writing, pay attention to the position (viewpoint) you take to project your filler.
An objective viewpoint may be good if you are making a statement, when it doesn't matter who is speaking, when you report what happens, and when writing certain types of work/shop tips ("Before attempting to take out a splinter, soak the area in very warm water."). The statement can stand alone in an objective viewpoint.
Using a subjective viewpoint allows you to use emotions or reactions of a person. First person ("While watching my three-year-old play catch, I...") viewpoints are subjective, as are the third person ("Johnny Cash may have made good, but when he..."). This puts us in the thoughts of the major character.
Don't be limited to anything. Find out what works for you and for the market. Practice writing your filler from different viewpoints. Which one is best for what you are writing? Which one would you want to read? Study the markets to discover what is selling.
Like any other form of writing; be sure your manuscript is in the best professional form possible. Editors will be turned off by sloppy work. Include an SASE.
Most editors buy all rights when purchasing fillers.
But... Isn't Filler Pay Pretty Low?
Some markets pay about $5 for fillers, while others pay $50 or more. Fillers may not seem lucrative to you, after knowing the payscale, but put it in perspective, and think about your time.
Most fillers do not require queries. With that in mind, you just saved weeks of waiting, as well as money for postage. But that is not the time I am talking about. Say a feature article will pay you $500. It will take you hours, maybe days of research. Next you will be organizing your information, in order to complete the article. Finally, you send it out, only to have to rewrite. How much time is that for you?
Writing a filler often takes mere minutes; you happen to read a sign at church with says: "What Part Of 'Thou Shalt Not' Didn't You Understand?" This took maybe a minute to jot down, possibly a half an hour in the library looking for an appropriate market, and maybe five minutes to send it off. Maybe an hour. If you are paid $50 (think Family Circle, Woman's Day), that comes to $50 an hour.
Had you been writing that feature article--flat $500 pay--you would have to have it completed in only 10 hours to earn the same $50 an hour. Most of us know feature articles' query letters can take more time than that.
In addition to more money for amount of time spent working, fillers are a terrific way to get the editors used to your work, style and name.
And after you send in a filler?
Don't sit around waiting for a response... get to work! Send another filler. There is a market for your work and it's waiting for you.
Adventure Journal, The Adventure Travel Magazine: Travel Publishing Group, Inc.
50 Oak Street Suite 30
San Francisco, California 94102
Needs: anecdotes, facts, newsbreaks, short humor, 50-150 words.
Angels On Earth: Guideposts, Inc.
16 E. 34th Street
New York, New York 10016
Needs: short angel incidents, attributed quotes about angels.
Sample copy and writer's guidelines for 6*x9* SAE with $1.01 postage.
P.O. Box 64090
St. Paul, MN 55164
(612)962-6739 fax: (612)962-6755
Needs: Jokes, short anecdotes, quizzes, and informational paragraphs.
Pays: $2.00 per published line.
Chesapeake Bay Magazine
1819 Bay Ridge Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 24403
Needs: boat and boating anecdotes, news and more.
P.O. Box 300
Peru, Illinois 61354
Needs: math puzzles, challenging mazes, crossword puzzles, crafts, recipes, plays, music, and art. Ages 9-14.
Bright Ideas (post cards, only)
P.O. Box 5028
Grand Central Station
New York, New York 10017
Pays $50 if they print your tip.
Call 1-888-216-7219 for examples.
The Family Handyman
2915 Commers Drive, Suite 700
Eagan, Minnesota 55121
Needs: funny goof up stories about your handyman follies and escapades.
Buys all rights. Pays $100
Get It In Writing!
P.O. Box 20336
Carson City, Nevada 89721-0336
Needs: Anything related to writers and/or writing. Short quotes, advice, tips, comedy and more.
1445 Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802-1894
Needs: Christian anecdotes, short humor, 300-600 words.
Pays 7 - 10 cents a word.
Sample copy and writer's guidelines for #10 SASE
4 Times Square
New York, New York 10036
Needs: opinions, thoughts, tips, how to pluck your eyebrows without the pain... you get the picture.
Pays: $50 if they print your writing.
Our Family, Oblate Fathers of St. Mary's Province
P.O. Box 249
SOM OEO Canada
Needs: jokes, gags, anecdotes, short humor.
Sample copy and writer's guidelines for 9X12 SAE with $2.50 postage.
Only Canadian postage or IRC useful in Canada.
Politically Correct Magazine
Turquoise Butterfly Press
P.O. Box 750
Athens, Ohio 45701-0750
Needs: facts, gags to be illustrated by cartoonist, newsbreaks, poetry, short humor, 20-200 words.
Pays 1 cent a word.
Writer's guidelines for #10 SASE.
Radiance Magazine On-line
Radiance: The Magazine for Large Women
P.O. Box 30246
Oakland, CA 94604
Needs: Short stories, poetry, kid's projects, book reviews and tips.
Pays: Book Reviews: $35 to $75, Profiles: $50 to $100, Short Stories $35 to $50, Poetry: $10 tocom $15.
Ranger Rick, National Wildlife Federation
8925 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, Virginia 22184
Not buying riddles, word searches, dot-to-dot or crossword puzzles.
Needs: nature-related, challenging, original freelance puzzles, something an 8-10 year old can finish without help.
Short Stuff, for Grown-ups
P.O. Box 7057
Loveland, Colorado 80537
Needs: anecdotes, short humor, 20-500 words. No x-rated adult fare.
Sample copy and writer's guidelines for $1.50 and 9x12 SAE with 5 first-class stamps.
Strange Horizons Magazine
E-mail: email@example.com and type "POETRY SUB: Your poem title" in the subject line. Plain text in the body of the email. No attachments please.
Needs: Poetry Submissions: under 100 words, no simultaneous submissions
Pays: $10 to $20.
True Crime Fanatic Newsletter and Website
Post Office Box 20336
Carson City, Nevada 89721-0336
Needs: True crime articles, stories, news and book reviews for website and newsletter. Reprints are fine.
Pays: $5 for articles/stories/news over 1800 words; $3 for articles/stories/news up to 1800 words and over 1,000 words; book reviewers and all others are given a byline AND A BIO page for links, works and pictures. $1 per use of orginal photos. Paid within 60 days of publication. We NEVER ask for all rights!
Working Mother Magazine
135 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10020.
Needs: Articles and tips dealing with time, home and money management, family relationships, and job-related (work/family) issues. 700 to 1500 words.
Pays: Did not mention.
1507 Dana Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
Needs: anecdotes and (short) humor for or about writers, writing, and the writing life, 50-250 words.
DON'T FORGET TO SEND FOR WRITER'S GUIDELINES, AND A SAMPLE COPY WHENEVER POSSIBLE. WRITER'S NEED TO BE FAMILIAR TO THE MAGAZINE THEY ARE QUERYING.
About the Author
Teraisa's words can be read in books and publications such as: More the Write Advice, Christian Unschooling: Growing in the Freedom of Christ, Woman's Day, Highlights For Children, Baby Years, True Crime Chronicles and The Writing Parent. She's Nevada State Representative for ByLine Magazine and is finishing up The U-Haul Murders: True Crime and Capital Punishment. In her spare time, she enjoys homeschooling her three wonderful girls.