Wouldn’t it be great if you had a cadre of editors who accept your articles for every one of their issues? Realistically, though, freelance writing isn’t always that stable. However, you can settle for second best — getting your work into their magazines as frequently as possible.
Since September 1, 2007, I’ve had over 70 articles accepted for publication across 32 different magazines, newspapers, and e-zines. Fifteen of these magazines have taken 33 additional articles after accepting my first one.
So, for repeat business, I’m batting an average of 47%. I’ve been told these are pretty good odds.
Here are eight ways to establish a relationship with editors that will raise the odds of getting second, third, fourth, and even more articles accepted:
** 1. When you submit a completed article to an editor, try sending a pitch for a new article idea. This works about half the time for me. And, it’s so much easier to get repeat business with the same editor than hunting down and “breaking in” a new editor. If the editor politely declines your pitch, try another idea. Editors appreciate your loyalty to their magazine and respect your persistence.
** 2. Pitch one idea at a time and only when you have completed your previous piece. Bombarding an editor with several ideas simultaneously can overwhelm her. Besides, she may want to see you can complete one piece before starting another story. The Artilleryman magazine has accepted four of my articles, and I have at least three more stories stacked up to pitch…but I only pitch one at a time.
** 3. Demonstrate your flexibility to the editor. She might accept an article idea, but suggest a different slant to your story. My motto is “whatever they want, they get.” The editor of Mysteries Magazine liked my pitch about Paris’s Ancient Catacombs, but told me she’d prefer a broader full-length feature piece (5,000 words) about catacombs throughout Europe. Since she pays by the page, you can bet I jumped at the opportunity to write a longer piece.
** 4. Always remain open to the changes an editor recommends, and don’t take it personally if she edits your article down. Conversely, if an editor wants you to write a sidebar to enhance your article, do it well… and do it quickly. Likewise, if you are sent a proof of your article to check for errors, do it thoroughly, and send it back within a day or two.
** 5. Deliver well-written articles, and deliver them on time. Doing so will help gain an editor’s trust. I promise my editors the article they request within three weeks… then deliver within two weeks or less. Which brings up another important point…
** 6. Never promise an article you can’t deliver. That will effectively close the door to any future relationship with the editor.
** 7. Don’t play games with editors. Be scrupulously honest when working with them. I had an article accepted by editors of two competing magazines, leaving me in a quandary. So, I contacted the second editor and told her the story was taken, then asked if she would be interested in another article about a related topic. She bought it.
** 8. If you’re behind schedule with an article, keep the editor updated on your progress. I have an article completed for Mid-Columbia Magazine, but I’m waiting for better weather to be able to drive east of the Cascade Mountains to take some landscape photos. I’m keeping the editor informed about this, and he appreciates the updates.
Once you’ve established a “sacred bond” with editors by practicing these tips, you’ll find them much more receptive to future article suggestions. Many editors like to have a regular stable of writers that they can count on for good solid articles… writers who are tuned in to their magazine.
If you can position yourself to be one of those writers, you’ll have no trouble publishing story after story after story.
[About the Author: Roy Stevenson is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Washington. He writes on Travel and Culture, Military History, History, Fitness and Health, and Film Festival Reviews. He first started travel writing in September 2007, after taking the AWAI Travel Writer’s course in Portland, Oregon, and since then he’s had 75 articles accepted for publication.
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