How To Be An Editor's First Choice
There are writers who editors like, and those they?d bet their careers on. How can you be that writer who the editor will call on every time she needs an important assignment to be done? Are you a hot favorite or a pass-on-for-another-freelancer who keeps querying but receives no response? Here are the qualities that will endear you to an editor.
1. Giving more than you promise
When an editor asks for two samples, give her three. If she trusts you with an assignment, don?t wait for the final deadline, but send it in a day in advance. If she?s asked you to provide notes, make sure you give her everything she needs so that she doesn?t have to ask for anything more. If you make an editor?s job easier, she?ll love you for it. And she?ll be willing to trust you again with more assignments.
2. Constantly coming up with fresh slants
There may not be too many new topics (unless you?re writing about technology; then you just can?t complain), but there can always be new slants. An editor likes writers who can reduce her brainwork, and make her look good in front of her superiors by coming up consistently with great ideas.
3. Having all the answers
It?s important to know about your subject. That?s why so many well-paid writers advise you to specialize. So, if an editor calls you to discuss your query, and poses follow-up questions, you better have the answers. Because an editor?s never going to trust you with an assignment unless she?s sure you know what you?re doing. And not having answers to her questions is a sure-shot sign that you don?t.
4. Coming up with clever titles, and great sidebars
The most important thing I?ve learnt so far is to visualize your article. See how it appears on the page. Granted, it?s usually not going to come out like you?d imagined it, but for a minute forget that you?re a writer, and think like a designer. See the beautiful fonts and the shaded box on the side? That?s how the editor sees your article. Now it?s your job to bring that visual to life with your words.
5. Understanding the core audience of the magazine
If you?re writing for a magazine for home PC users, your editor?s not going to appreciate ideas on network security, however wonderful they may be. Similarly, when writing for a small business owner, you?d want to treat that person as a little smarter, even if he might have the same knowledge base as that of a home user. His computing decisions are more important. That?s why you should always be familiar with the reader?s knowledge level. That?ll help you make the distinction between good ideas, and great ones.
6. Making boring subjects come alive
Editors love writers with a dash of style, attitude and chutzpah. If you can give even a serious subject a touch of humor, you?ll soon be a hot favorite. This is especially true with technical, business and trade magazines. Their subject matter tends to be boring. It?s your job to not only inform the reader, but also to entertain him.
7. Having the whole package
If you can write great prose, but not meet deadlines, you?re replaceable. If you can get great interviews and dig up little-known statistics, but make the fact-checker?s life hell, you might not be seen as a great catch. If you come up with the best ideas, but can?t provide equally interesting sidebars, there?s probably someone who can. But if you give the editor all those things and more, she has no reason to look beyond you.
8. Knowing the magazine
I wouldn?t go as far as to say that will never sell something to a magazine you haven?t read (I have), but I will say that you?re not going to get rich doing it. If you don?t want to go broke buying all the prospective magazines, get yourself a reliable Internet connection and visit the magazine?s Website. No editor will stand a query that looks like it?s been sent to a million others.
Editors often like to work with a select group of freelance writers, who?ve earned the editor?s trust over time. By following the tips above, you?ll soon ensure an impressed editor, but many lucrative assignments as well.
About the Author: Mridu Khullar is the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com, a free online magazine for writers. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to get a complimentary e-book with 400+ paying markets. Also check out her e-book, "Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters That Sell," available at http://www.writerscrossing.com/queries.html