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6. If you choose to telephone an editor to pitch them a story, remember – their time is valuable. First, ask them if it’s a good time to speak for 10 minutes. If it’s not, then ask them for a convenient time to call back. If they can speak, limit your pitch to 5-7 minutes. No editor wants to be on telephone with someone for an unendurable length of time. Do not start telling them about all of your publication credits or credentials unless they ask. Stick to pitch for your story idea, and focus your conversation accordingly. If they like it, you may continue conversation for longer than 10 minutes. If they’re not interested, politely end call.
7. Deadlines are important to editors, because they need written material before they can make decisions about visual materials, ad space, and layout and design. If you have promised an editor something, do your absolute best to submit it by agreed upon deadline. If something has come up – in your personal or professional life or in process of writing and interviewing for story, communicate need to slightly extend deadline to editor in advance. Most editors will work with you on deadlines, provided they are not under gun themselves. Newspaper editors usually do fly by seat of their pants, so keep this in mind when asking for extensions.
8. Engage editor in a short e-mail about your story prior to writing it and he/she may come up with a few guiding sentences to help you. This is a chance to try to get a feel for how editor would like this written prior to writing it. An editor may help you frame a story, give suggestions for potential interviews or subjects, or cause you to look at story in a totally different way. Don’t despair if you receive no response. The editor may be busy and not have enough time to reply.
9. Do not write stories or articles that are just barely disguised promotional pieces for your business associates, friends and family, or your own business. It’s OK to mine these contacts for story ideas, but make certain content you present is not OVERTLY promoting anyone. Any seasoned editor can smell a promo piece a mile away and will not publish it.
10. Try to write in subject areas you feel passionate about. For example, if you are passionate about hiking, write for some outdoor magazines. Editors are drawn to freelance writers who have a knowledge base for material they’re submitting. This is an excellent ‘in’ with any editor – a well-developed knowledge base is a good foundation for any story. If you have a passion, pitch right editor your idea. GO For it.
Elizabeth Kirwin has published work in national magazines and newspapers. She is co-owner of Sidhe Communications http://www.sidhecommunications.com in Asheville NC. She develops web sites, newsletters, brochures, and other marketing materials for companies and health care ogranizations nationally.For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.