Saturday, June 21, 2014

Examiner 001: Start where you can get your foot in the door.

In 2009 and 2010, I started writing a series of columns on writing for I eventually stopped out of a conviction that no one was reading them, but the handful of people who did read them seemed to like them, so I've decided to repost them here, where once again, no one will read them.

If you’re looking to begin a career freelancing to magazines, start where you can get your foot in the door. You won't be able to march into the office of the editor of Vogue, or PC World, or Family Circle, but a smaller magazine may only have a staff of half a dozen people, and there may be only one receptionist (if that) between you and the editor.

You may even be able to walk right in, if you have the personality to pull it off. If not, who do you know? Specialized fields are small. If you know about crafts and hobbies, or fly fishing, or restoring old cars, you know people who share your interest, and somewhere you’ll find two or three degrees of separation between you and an editor.

Editors of small-budget magazines are always looking for writers. They want ideas, and most of all they want reliability. Frankly, these are more important than top-notch writing skills. They can teach you how to write for their market; they expect to. They can’t teach you to meet deadlines.

So your job in that face-to-face meeting is to exude professionalism, to inspire confidence. Come in with a can-do attitude and a list of ideas, convince the editor that you’re reliable, and you may well walk out with an assignment.

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