Thursday, February 22, 2007

Getting to know editors is the key to landing assignments

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A major part of becoming a successful freelance writer - and making some money - is getting to know editors, which is turn means editors get to know you, which in turn means the editors know your work, which in turn...

I'm getting all turned around on this. Sorry.

Earlier this week I had coffee with the new editor of Prosper magazine, Jeffrey Young, who is one of those free-wheeling, free-thinking kind of editors who are simultaneously fun and a writer's nightmare. Fun because they challenge writers and love new ideas. A nightmare because they will not accept half-effort on writing or research. The unmotivated writer need not approach Jeffrey Young.

Jeffrey Young
Jeffrey Young

I would wager, however, that once a writer gets to know Jeffrey - and they agree on stories and styles - that writing for Prosper could become a good, regular-writing gig.

The other side to knowing many editors is when stories pop up, you have many directions in which to sell.

As part of Legislative Analyst's look at the proposed governor's budget this week, I found a half-dozen story ideas which I could aim directly at magazines for which I've written. Queries have already gone out this morning for a story on making last-year's "yacht tax" a permanent tax (it was set to sunset), a second on a strong recommendation that state university student fees not be hiked 10 percent, but 2.4 percent, and a third on health-care issues.

All three are going to editors for whom I've written before and so the whole nervousness on the editor's part (Can this guy write these stories?) is missing. The story ideas will be judged solely on their merit - and space considerations - by the editors.

Oops. Just thought of a fourth query, based on that LAO report. Time to get writing another email.