If you’ve ever thought about submitting a resume and writing sample to an open call for freelancers, 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, as well as my experiences as someone submitting my resume to a company for consideration.
- 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.
- Organize your resume to be more like a bibliography, listing any writing credits first and foremost. If you don’t have any writing credits, or if your job experience or education is irrelevant to writing, you might want to try self-publishing or being a guest contributor at your favorite blogs first to build up your resume.
- Make your writing sample short, sweet, and relevant. It’s harder to write concisely than it is to write at length, and the longer your sample is, the less likely it is to be read in full. 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 to a fiction-writing position, and don’t attach screenplays when you want to get hired to write short stories.
- The strongest writing samples display creativity, highlight your command of the game’s rules or knowledge of the market’s target audience, and showcase your unique writer’s voice. They also demonstrate higher-level grammar and style proficiency, such as avoiding passive voice and wordy phrases.
- Finally, be professional and polite. Remember that another human is the one reading your email. Manage your own expectations, and if you’re not selected for this opportunity, be gracious about it. It’s a small world out there, and never know when you might run into that editor again.
- Bonus Tip: If the website says “we do not accept unsolicited x, y, or z…”, think twice before opening your email with “I know you don’t accept unsolicited x, y, or z, but…”. See tip #1!