Friday, 29 March 2013

Is this a drought period for publishing?

Though it's true that the publishing industry is feeling the heat, along with the rest of the other industries in the UK, there are still plenty of opportunities for freelance writers. You just have to work harder to find them and raise your game to get those commissions. I was in WH Smith's the other day and was enthralled by the racks and racks of vastly different magazines on a wide variety of subjects. All of them need content. Granted, not all of them will take non-commissioned work from freelancers, but the vast majority of them will. Some might not pay very much, if anything at all, but most of them will.

Your job as a freelancers is to approach magazines you haven't done in the past and come up with pitches that will attract the attention of the magazine editor. If you don't seek, you won't find and if you don't approach, you won't be commissioned.

So get out there, pick up a magazine and get pitching. But give it your best shot - don't be timid or half hearted about it. This is your chance to impress an editor and get your work in print.

Happy pitching
Julie xx

Friday, 22 March 2013

Getting to the Heart of it.

There's something incredibly satisfying about writing an article. From the exciting conception of that first idea, the approaching of the editors to the first draft, the final draft to sending the article off there's a buzz. It's the buzz of potential and the possibilities that exist from that one idea - which angle will you take? Where will you go with this? Whose story will you tell and what is it you want to say?

It's important to get to the heart of what you want to say in your article. And asking the questions above can help you to tighten your thoughts up on the subject and write an article that doesn't go off on tangents but keeps to the brief. Any other ideas you have off the back of that article idea are a bonus and can be worked up into another article.

Thinking about what you really want to say in your article and it's essence will help you focus your writing which will be all the better for it. This really helps with the writing of the pitch too and can help you to keep your pitch succinct and to the point. So next time an idea for an article pops into your head, slow down and think about what it is you're actually writing about.

Happy writing!  Julie xx

Friday, 15 March 2013

Trawling

It's time to get those magazines out and shamelessly trawl them for inspiration. Are you forever flicking through magazines saying, 'I could have written that!' Well why didn't you? is the question you should be asking yourself. If another writer has got their piece in that magazine and it's on a topic you know you can write about then it's time to come up with other ideas, get pitching and see your name in there instead!

Once I have an idea for a magazine article, I write a spidergram with the main theme in the centre and legs with relevant comments coming off it. This helps me to see the bigger picture as well as the possible angles I could take with the article. It also serves as a memo for me to include certain points in the final pitch.

Once I've exhausted the theme and can fit no more legs on my piece of paper, I try and hone it down and pick an angle that I think would best interest the readers of the mag and its editor. I pick out the main points I will be including in the article and seek out potential experts for quotes, noting the kind of expert I want and possible sources.

Then the hard work starts! I start the pitch and then leave it for a day or two to mature - often other more interesting and pertinent comments will come to me in that time period which I can then add when I return to it. I then edit it a couple of times and when I'm sure it's as tight and as alluring as it can be, I send it off.

That's how I do it and it seems to work well in the most part for me. Of course, as a writer, I cannot possibly know whether the editor has recently commissioned a similar article to the one I'm pitching or not, but if it's along the right lines but a no this time, I have to make sure I hit the mark next time by reading the magazine more closely and paying attention to the editor's comments on my last pitch - if there are any.

Happy pitching! Let us know how you get on.

Julie xx

Friday, 8 March 2013

To approach or not to approach?

When searching for new markets to pitch our articles to, it can be daunting to approach editors we've never contacted before. I think we sometimes let our imagination run away with us (well, we are writers after all!) and view editors as some sort of Gods to be revered and feared. These editors don't know us or our work from Adam's but far from being aggressive and unapproachable the majority of good editors are constantly on the look out for good copy. Why shouldn't you be the one to supply them with that?

I've approached a couple of new editors recently and they couldn't have been more helpful. My ideas were rejected but I didn't feel as though they had closed their doors to me permanently and I will approach them again. One idea was rejected because they'd recently covered something on a similar theme - that's my fault as I should have studied that particular market more closely. The other was 'not for us, thanks.'

I couldn't find an email address for one editor so I bit the bullet and rang the magazine, thinking the person on reception would give me the address. No. I was put through to 'the department' and before I knew it I was talking to the features editor! So be prepared! You don't want to lose the power of speech when the editor says 'hello.'

So, this weekend I'll be drafting some more article pitches and trying them again and some more new editors. You won't know until you try. Editors are, after all, human as well, and  receive hundreds of pitches a week. So it's up to you to do your research properly and make your pitch stand out from the crowd. This means:

1. Right topic.
2. Professionally put together.
3. No grammatical or spelling mistakes.
4. Written in the style of the magazine.
5. Pitched to the right person at the magazine - by name.
6. Sent to the right e-mail address.
7. Sets out the planned layout of the article.
8. States who your intended 'experts' will be to deliver quotes.
9. Gives the editor a clear idea of who you are as a writer and why you are the person to write this article.
10. Doesn't make promises you cannot possibly keep.

As usual, thorough research is a must and cannot be skimmed on, but don't be afraid to approach new editors once you've drafted the best pitch possible.

Happy approaching!

Julie xx