I absolutely love working with the same editors over and over. I love not having to spend half my week querying and scoring big assignments. I devote a bit of time to making sure that my favorite editors consider me a sure thing — I consider it worth just as much as if I spent that time querying. Here are a couple of the super secret methods I use to keep editors thinking of me:
- Suggest new ideas. Every time I turn in a story, I try to email the editor of the publication in question with an idea for the next edition. It might sit in her inbox until she’s finished sorting out the current edition, but when she’s ready to start planning, I’ve already made her job easier.
- Be polite. All those manners Grandma beat into me? They come in handy. I’m polite, whether I’m talking on the phone or sending out emails. My invoices even say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’
- Turn in material a little early. If you’ve had a month to work on an assignment, it’s downright classy to turn it in a day or two early, and make an editor’s life that much easier. It’s not always easy to be early, but it’s worth it.
- Make yourself available. I’m not suggesting answer emails and phone calls as soon as they come in — after all, many freelance writers do have day jobs. But try to get back to your editor on the same day, even if it’s just to play phone tag. Making the effort is enough.
- Offer supplemental material. Photos, charts, sidebars: I haven’t met an editor who didn’t like supplemental material. I have met editors willing to cut down my beautiful prose to add in an adequate photo, but that’s life.
- Don’t check back every day to see if your money has been mailed. I’ve heard a thousand horror stories about nagging writers who want to get paid now! If your contract states a specific date of payment, you are officially banned from worrying about your payment until that date. You are allowed to nag if that date passes and no check appears. If your contract does not specify a date of payment, consider getting a new contract.
- Run spellcheck, for the love of Heaven! Can you tell that I’m spending this week working on a major business document that no one ever bothered to spellcheck? Seriously, though, while an editor’s job is to improve your writing, if she has to go through a stack of errors even a machine can catch, your odds of getting more work from her go down very quickly.
- Stay in touch. If you don’t hear back from an editor, especially if you submitted an idea along with a story, check back. You may have gotten lost in the shuffle — but you’ll never make it out of the shuffle, if you don’t bring your idea back to the editor’s attention.
- Don’t get into trouble. It should go without saying, but stupid crap from poor citing of sources down to not returning phone calls will land you directly on an editor’s personal blacklist.
All this said, if an editor doesn’t pay on time, is problematic to work with or just plain makes your life difficult, it’s okay to let your name slip to the bottom of their stack of writers. If it isn’t working, just let it go.
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