Want to Make Money Writing? Build Relationships With Editors
Getting published isn’t about good writing, it’s about good relationships. If you want to make money writing, check out these tips for building strong relationships with editors. I’m telling ya, relationships are the key to a steady income!
I make money as a writer (I hope to earn more than $50,000 this year). The majority of my income is from my blogs, but I have a few long-term clients who send me article assignments regularly.
When I first started making money writing, my biggest mistake was rushing my query letters. Instead of taking my time and writing my query letters slowly and carefully, I quickly dashed off a few thoughts and sent my email to magazine editors. My article acceptance rate was low, but I still managed to make money my first year freelance writing.
If you want to be a “real” writer – one who actually makes money – then you need to take your time before sending your pitch to the editor. And, you need to develop a good relationship with that editor! They’re thirsty for good writers – and you can be one of their regulars!
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As a professional writer, I now know that 1) I have to spend time on my query letters; and 2) keep building relationships with magazine editors.
The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing is worth investing in (because despite what I said earlier, you do have to spend money to make money freelance writing!).
And here are a few tips for writers…
Want to Make Money Writing? Build Relationships With Editors
And, here are my tips for working with editors (who hold the key to the publishing kingdom!)…
First, be disciplined
I have to throw in this tip, even though it’s not about building relationships with editors. It is, however, crucial for people who want to make money writing!
Freelance writing is the right career choice for people who are self-disciplined and self-motivated — and aren’t easily distracted by the internet, tv, housecleaning, or a bag of Lay’s chips. Being disciplined means you know and work with your personality and lifestyle, and you don’t force yourself to be something you’re not. For some writers, this means disconnecting their wireless or internet connection for two hour stints while they write. Or, it can mean limiting yourself to five Twitter update a day (not five per hour like I’ve been known to do!).
Learn which editors prefer what pitches
One of my regular magazine editors prefers longer, more detailed pitches with most of my sources and information listed. Another editor I work with prefers short, punchy pitches, about a half-page long, so he can share it with his fellow editors more easily.
To build strong relationships with editors so you can make money writing, find out how they like their query letters. Pitch accordingly.
Don’t ask the editor about query letters until you’ve sold an article
I usually wait until I’ve written at least one article for the magazine before I ask what type of query letter the editor prefers. I never ask when I’m cold-calling or cold-emailing — instead, I just send a catchy, thoughtful one-page pitch at first. Later, after the editor has emailed or called, I ask what types of pitches he or she prefers.
Remember that building a relationship with an editor isn’t about schmoozing him or trying to be “BFF.” It’s about respect and professional conduct. I’ve also heard editors compare it to dating: don’t try to get to home base on the first or second meeting! If you want to make money writing, you need to realize it takes time to build a successful career.
Throw your best pitch
It’s taken me a full year of full-time freelance writing to absorb this tip: line up your most interesting source or idea before you pitch the article. For instance, if I want to write an article about how the economy has affected feature article assignments, then I need to find a source with direct, unique, and fascinating experience. I’d try to line up a couple of freelance writers, perhaps a freelance editor or two — and definitely a magazine editor. Then, I’m ready to write the pitch that will hook my editor.
Put more work into your query letter than your article
The more experience I get as a freelance writer, the more time I spend writing pitches that are flawless in terms of execution, sources, anecdotes, experts, and ideas. As I develop relationships and work more with editors, I can simply email ideas in a sentence or two. If they like the idea, they ask me to write a more detailed pitch.
Again, it takes time to build strong relationships with magazine editors. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you’re patient and disciplined, you will make money writing.
Ask for another assignment when you submit an article
When I submit my assigned article and invoice, I ask editors if they have any leads or article ideas that they’d like me to expand on. I still pitch different ideas — especially for feature articles — but I like to show editors I’m open to writing most anything.
Don’t just submit your article and invoice; use it as an opportunity to build a better relationship with your editor.
Be grateful when editors ask for revisions
When editors ask for edits, be glad for the opportunity to become a better, more successful writer! I learned far more from revising and rewriting than I ever did from the editors who simply published my articles “as is.” One of my favorite Reader’s Digest editors would call me, and we’d edit my articles over the phone…I dreaded those calls, but every edit made me a better writer.
Make personal connections with editors
If an editor makes a personal reference in an email — for instance, one of my health magazine editors recently referred to his use of the elliptical trainer — follow up on it. I’m not encouraging you to buy your editor an exercise DVD if he says he likes to work out! Just ask how his work outs are going, or if he’s heard of some new exercise machine. Make polite small talk – it can help you build a surprisingly strong relationship with your editor.
The more real you are to editors (and the more real they are to you), the better your relationship will be…and the more your chances increase for future assignments.
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