Making a living as a writer, as opposed to just blogging my little heart out, has been such an interesting learning curve. In my previous full-time roles I was representing big businesses who people wanted for their own business’ success. Being a writer is basically being on the other side of that business model. I’m now the person reaching out to big publications wanting their exposure or profile for my resume, or wanting to be paid to write for them.
As such, I’ve discovered how important etiquette is when balancing the fine line between being just the right amount of assertive, such as when introducing myself and pitching story ideas, and polite, because no one wants to work with an aggressive ego maniac.
Etiquette will get you a long way when working with editors, who can get hundreds of pitches and queries a week from writers just like you. I wanted to share a few tips on how to build relationships that will last and bring you repeat work.
First rule of life, as far as I’m concerned: be polite. Thank people for their time. Remove weak words out of emails, like “just” and “think” and keep the tone strong, but at the same time polite. It’s a fine balance. It will be likely you’ll need to follow up with most editors various times as they are some of the busiest people you’ll ever meet. I suggest waiting at least a week between following up between the first email and second, then 2 weeks between the next email, and then, after another two weeks, sending a new email with new pitches. All very politely, of course.
Do your homework
Before pitching ideas, look at their site/publication. What have they already covered in the last few months? What topics do they focus on and avoid? Sending over pitches that are not in line with what they do is a waste of both their time and yours.
But not rude. Never, ever rude. Never harass repeatedly with frequent follow up emails, or demand responses. That’s a surefire way to have your emails send to the trash.
Be 100% professional
Nail the word count. Run spell check. Get your article in BEFORE the deadline. Fulfil the brief exactly. Keep questions to the editor to a minimum (questions = extra work for them). Be easy and pleasant to deal with. Build a name for yourself as someone who delivers what the publication needs with zero fuss.
Deliver clean copy
Get a friend to read over your copy to make sure you didn’t miss anything. There is no better feeling than filing copy and seeing it published soon after with zero changes made by an editor. Your editor will also love you for this as it means no additional work is needed by them.
Be thankful for feedback
Writing can be subjective and highly personal, and therefore hard to know how to respond to edits requested by editors. While my first reaction might be, in my head, that the piece was great as it was, that’s only my pride speaking, not the truth of the situation. The changes my editors suggest always improve my piece, as well as helping me better my writing skills in general. I always, ALWAYS, thank editors for their time giving me suggestions on changes to be made.
What are your tips on building a lasting relationship with editors?
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!