Friday, March 09, 2007

Dear Editor: Is This a Clip?

I've read (or think I've read) about new writers using letters to the editor as published clips. What's your take on this? Is this a legitimate practice, or one of those new writer pipe dreams?

Noooooo!!! Don't do this.

Letters to the editor are in no way true clips. True clips are articles that you've researched and written and for which someone has contracted you (and should be paying you as well, but I know that some writers will write for free - a practice I really disagree with - but won't argue here). LTTE are not. If anything, sending your published letter to the editor only sends a clear signal that you haven't been published elsewhere or don't have anything better to offer. If LTTE counted as published clips, then everyone from my grandmother to a second-grader could be considered a published author, and sorry, they're not.

Please. Do. Not. Do. This.


Anonymous said...

This is a great answer, but I thought of one caveat. Writers who have published a COMMENTARY in the op/ed section of a newspaper -- a well researched, well written, and perhaps paid essay -- can certainly use that as a clip. I only mention it because in casual conversation, these sometimes get lumped in with letters to the eds, but of course, they're worthy clips.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

By using a "LTTE," you not only annoy editors but also your fellow writers. When I see someone listing the Seattle Times or Washington Post on their list of credits, I'll sometimes get curious and use google to see what they wrote. It's kind of embarassing when all I can find is a LTTE from five years ago!

Kristen said... you get all sorts of great questions, eh?