The Secret Language of Editors: Byline

Abigail GreenFreelancers’ Phrase Book
By Abigail Green

Is there any greater thrill than seeing your very own name in print? Unless it’s in the obituaries or police blotter, that is… I’m referring to seeing your byline accompanying an article you penned yourself. I’ve been at this for more than a decade, and I still get a little burst of pride when I spot my byline–probably because I know how much hard work went into getting to that point!

If you’re trying to build your clip file and get recognized for your work, obviously you want to focus on publications that give bylines. Not all do, however. Some magazines run writers’ bylines for feature articles, but not for shorter pieces like the front of the book sections. And some publications give a credit rather than a byline–meaning your name may be listed in tiny italics beneath the piece rather than in 18-point type at the top. Of course, the font size and location on the page of your byline is up to the graphic designers.

Many publications also include short writers’ bios, such as “Abigail Green is a frequent contributor to the magazine,” or “Freelancer Abigail Green lives and writes in Baltimore.” Some may even plug your book, blog or Web site. When you’re studying markets for your work, take note of how bylines are handled so you’ll know what to expect.

A word of caution: if at all possible, confirm the spelling of your name before your article goes to press. I have been dismayed to see my hard-earned byline as “Abigail Greene” and other interpretations. Once an article of mine even appeared with another writer’s byline. Turns out the designer had pasted in the wrong name. Fortunately, they were able to correct the error on a color printout so I can still use the clip. For even more peace of mind, ask to see the galleys (the pre-publication layout of your article) before the magazine goes to press.

Byline or credit, small type or large, above the text or below… these may seem like trivial issues, but for writers, getting credit–and recognition–for our work is vital. Just make sure to keep your increasingly recognizable name out of the police blotter, OK?

Abigail Green (www.abigailgreen.com) is a freelance writer in Baltimore. Over the past 10 years, she has written about health, travel, weddings, business, education and more for national, regional and online publications including AOL, AAA World, Bride’s, Baltimore Magazine, Cooking Light and Health. Her latest project is raising her first child, which she chronicles in her blog: http://diaryofanewmom.blogspot.com/.

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