In January 1991 I submitted my first query letter to Black Belt Magazine inquiring if they were interested in publishing a training story about sparring and self-defense. I got a letter back saying the article idea had been accepted on speculation. Speculation meant Black Belt would take a look at the finished article but would not guarantee to use it. It took about two months to write the article, do a photo-shoot (a group of students did the shooting and appeared with me in the photos) and submit the manuscript with the photos to Black Belt. Shortly thereafter, I receive a letter saying the article had been accepted and would be published in an issue to be determined later. I was thrilled to say the least, and started looking in my mailbox for the publication letter.
I continued looking, and a year later, I had come to a cross roads. It was determined that my two part article was too bulky to publish as is. Unless I agreed to take out the self-defense aspect, I would have to seek publication elsewhere. Consequently, I re-wrote the article, then arranged for a re-shoot of some of the photos. In fall of 1994 I received that publication letter I was waiting for. The article would be published in Black Belt Magazine's December 1994 issue.
Despite all the time and work, it was one of the coolest moments for me. The same when the magazine arrived in my mailbox. I was surprised to see a couple of tournament fighters appearing in the lead photo instead of me and one of the others from the shoots. However, I was so jazzed to have the project done, it didn’t bother me at all. I went from reader of Black Belt to a published freelance writer for Black Belt. I was on a natural high for several months.
As that high started to wane, I sent in another query. I was surprised to get a letter stating that my article idea didn’t meet their editorial needs. I sent in more queries and received those same letters. With all of the headaches with the first article, then the non-acceptance letters, I could have become discouraged enough to give up on my writing career. I was at another cross roads. Do I throw in the towel, or keep steady with a philosophy I always tell the students, “Success usually comes at the end of an endeavor”? – Floyd Burk