So you've been busy pitching your article ideas to editors and, hopefully, having some of them commissioned. Well done if you have - you're sparkling well. And if you haven't yet succeeded - keep trying. It takes time and a lot of practise to be able to write pitches and get your article ideas commissioned so don't give up on the first no. Remember that it might not be your pitch or idea that the editor didn't like. Pitches get rejected for many, many, reasons:
The editor just commissioned a similar idea - not your fault unless you're a mind reader.
They covered a similar idea recently (if you'd done your research properly, you would have seen this!).
The idea wasn't quite what the editor wanted.
Timing was off - The pitch you sent was time specific or seasonal and because of the strict lead in times of the magazine's production, you pitched it too late.
The editor's file is overflowing with commissions at the moment and they can't fit any more in.
But once you have been commissioned, this is when the hard work starts! You've been given a chance - a foot in the door. You've beaten off competition from countless other writers. You have been given the opportunity to show the editor what you can do. So don't fluff it! You might not get another chance.
How can you make sure you deliver what the editor wants?
1. Listen carefully to the editor's brief: They should give you a word count and a deadline.
2. Read through several issues of the magazine to see the magazine's house style in action and follow it.
3. Make sure you get all the quotes you need early on the process. You don't want to have to be frantically searching for experts to interview when one lets you down.
4. Write a skeleton for your article using subheadings and write in what is going where roughly.
5. Make sure your first draft is written well before the deadline so you can tweak and improve it.
6. Leave at least a couple of days between edits - a week if you can manage it and bear it. Coming back to your article with fresh eyes can bring up a surprising number of errors.
6. Keep to the word count and deadline. If you don't, the editor might have to go with another writer's article that is ready, and they might not commission you again.
7. Spelling and grammar do matter - so check, check, get someone else who knows what they're talking about to check and check again before submitting it.
8. If you're not sure about something then ask the editor - sooner rather than later. Don't guess the answer.
Do all of this and you'll deliver the editor exactly what he wants and on time. They're more likely to commission you again.