Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Getting it Right

As you know I've been pitching more articles this week. I've had a good run on article publications recently and I'm keen to build on that by searching for new markets and widening my base. This has involved me indulging in one of my favourite pastimes of reading magazines  -  it's a hard life isn't it!  I don't just read them for pleasure, though. Although I am interested in their contents as a reader, I am also researching the content, layout and tone of the magazine through the eyes of a writer who wants to write for them.

It's advisable to read both as a reader and a writer so that you don't waste your time, or that of the editor's by making sure you target the right magazine and in the right way. You have a much better chance of getting that commission if you do. Not that doing your homework properly, working hard and targeting correctly will guarantee you success - but not thinking about it and being sloppy in your approach to editors will guarantee you a rejection!

So here are my top tips - or what has worked for me - in getting commissions.

1. Do your homework, as mentioned above. Read the magazines cover to cover, adverts, readers' letter page and all, that you want to write for. There can be no substitute for this. I find that if you pick a magazine you enjoy reading then you'll be more enthusiastic about writing for it and your enthusiasm will show in your writing. If you're finding it all a bit of a bore and your heart's not really in it - choose another magazine/subject to write about. Editors are pretty quick to pick up on and reject those writers they can see just aren't that interested.

2. Get the name and contact details of the editor right.  If you don't know who the appropriate person to pitch is then find out via the magazine hard copy itself or the magazine's website/twitter or facebook. If all else fails ring them up. Remember there may be a main editor as well as sub editors who deal with features.

3. Really think about your idea and pitch before you approach an editor with it. Is it really what the editor would want to print in their magazine? How best can you convince the editor that it is?

4. Be very careful with your spelling and grammar - if your pitch is full of errors then the editor will assume your article will be riddled with them too and may reject the idea. If you know your spelling and grammar are not up to scratch then ask someone who does have a good standard of spelling and grammar to check it for you.

5. Find out the magazine's pitching and article guidelines and follow them to the letter. If they want the article typed, double spaced and e-mailed then do that - don't post it, hand written. Details should be on the magazine's website or you can request them via e-mail or phone and ask them to post them to you.

6. Don't hold on to an idea for ages, too afraid to pitch it. Editor's, generally, do not bite and will only be too happy that someone has gone to the trouble to send them a well thought out, appropriate, pitch. Once you have the idea and have written the pitch send it - someone else may just pip you to the post. It's happened to me. The editor liked my idea but was just about to publish a story that was similar to my idea.

7. Don't take rejection personally because it so isn't. How can it be? The editor doesn't know you from Adam. It's the idea they're rejecting not you as a person or writer. It may be they've already published something similar or are about to, or your idea just isn't right for that time or it won't fit in to the space or theme of the next few issues. Don't worry about it and unless the editor specifically tells you not to or states they don't take unsolicited articles or pitches/articles from freelancers then do keep sending your ideas in. Editors like to know that you're not just a one trick pony and that you aren't put off by a rejection and are continuing to want to write for them.

8. Don't ever think your ideas will never be good enough because they will. Keep reading, keep coming up with ideas, keep pitching them and keep trying new markets - don't restrict your writing opportunities. The idea is to widen rather than constrict. You won't know if you can do it until you try and then keep trying - it can be a lengthy and complex process so don't give up at the first obstacle - sail right over it and keep jumping!

Happy writing

Julie xx


Simon Whaley said...

Lots of good advice there!

Julie P said...

Ta chuck!