Friday, September 7, 2007

Going for the National Gig- Be Bold!

As a writer, I've always wanted to get an article into a national magazine, but the sound of that task was so daunting, I never attempted.

Well, now I work from home as a full-time freelance writer. I know that to be successful at this, I have to beat the bushes looking for work because it's certainly not going to come knocking at my door.

I do a lot of freelancing locally. I recently wrote an article on a topic that I dearly love and although I was happy with the finished product that was published, I also felt a twinge of disappointment. There was so much more to the story that I didn't have space to put in a newspaper article.

This dilemma got me thinking: why not finally take that leap and approach a national magazine? This way, I could write a different article on the same topic and include all those nuggets that I couldn't put in the newspaper version.

I did it, and I got the gig. It was so easy, in fact, that now I can't imagine why I didn't attempt it sooner. The editor said something that really surprised me, too.

In my case, I had already written an article on the topic, so I included that in my email pitch. During a follow-up phone conversation, he said it was obvious that I had a strong newspaper background because the article was concise and well-written.

I'm not telling you this to brag on myself. I'm telling you because of what he said next: "You wouldn't believe some of the crap that people send me."

I got off the phone and couldn't quit thinking about how I've been short-changing myself all these years. I've always felt like I was a decent writer, and never had the guts to send anything to a national magazine, while apparently there are people out there who aren't good writers, but they still have the guts to submit ideas nationally.

You know what that tells me? Be bold.

Now I want to share with you how I did it, in hope that it gives you the confidence to try it for yourself.

Do Your Homework
  • Go to a local bookstore and look through their magazine section for the type of magazines that focus on the particular subject you wish to write about.
  • Read the articles to get an idea of the tone, the type of information they include and the style the magazine uses.
  • Find the name of an editor. Then go to the magazine's Web site, where you can almost always find the editor's email address.

Have a Well-Prepared Pitch

  • In my case, this was easy, because I already had an article on the topic. If this is the case, send them a copy of the article and be up-front about whether it's been published somewhere else. If it's been published, explain how this article will be written differently for the publication to which you are pitching.
  • If you don't already have an article written, make sure you include in your email why this is a good topic for the magazine. Pitch your three most interesting elements of this idea.

Don't Jump the Gun

  • Of course you're dying to know what you will get paid, but don't be tacky. Wait until you know you have the gig, then ask about payment. If you're not happy with the amount and you think you can do better, politely thank them for the opportunity and explain that you want to shop the idea to other publications first.
  • Don't forget to ask them about their preferred style and length. There's no sense in writing 2,000 words if they only have room for 900.

So that's it. I hope this helps. Happy pitching!

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