Developing a solid working relationship with editors is the lifeblood of a freelancer writer’s career. Make sure you don’t sabotage that relationship by failing in one of these five areas:
1. Failing to show appreciation. If you have an ongoing relationship with an editor, it’s appropriate to show some gratitude for that. I send Christmas cards to my editor friends and thank them for another great year of working together. I send complimentary emails to editors, praising them for making my articles look so great in print. When I see editors at writers’ conferences, I make it a point to shake hands, visit, and express appreciation for being able to write for their periodicals.
2. Failing to remember who is in charge. John R. Ingrisano, former editor of Sales Builder Magazine, recalls, “There were freelance writers who would try to tell me why their articles should be the cover stories, or why I should not put ads on the pages where their features would be printed, or why I should run photos of them with their articles. I politely, but directly, informed them that I was not a public relations flunky working for them. I made the decisions about how my magazine would be published.”
3. Failing to follow the specific assignment. If you submit a query letter and get the go-ahead for an assignment, stick to that topic. Don’t add anecdotes about funny incidents that are not related to the topic at hand. Don’t tack on sidebars, reading lists, quizzes, or web site recommendations if none of that was assigned in the original agreement. Stay focused. Deliver what you were assigned to write about.
4. Failing to hit deadlines. Jerry B. Jenkins notes, “When I was editor at Moody Magazine, 99 out of 100 writers failed to come in on or ahead of deadline. Those who did received additional work from me. Editors need writers they can count on to deliver the manuscripts on time.”
5. Failing to do original research. Editors, themselves, can do a patchwork job of splicing random quotes and statistics gleaned from the Internet. That’s not what they want for articles. They want exclusive interviews with expert sources, reports on the latest research related to a topic, and a finished manuscript that is coordinated, fluid, and solidly on topic from start to finish.
Dennis E. Hensley, PhD, is director of the professional writing department at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. His 53 books include Jesus In the 9 to 5 (AMG Publishers) and The Power of Positive Productivity (Possibility Press). © 2013 by Dennis E. Hensley. All rights reserved.