BWOC. That’s me. Big Writer on Campus.
As a university undergraduate, I was interested in TV writing, not journalism, so working on the school newspaper never entered my mind. Now, years later, I’m suddenly “in demand” as a writer at my alma mater.
Since penning Going Back to School for WritersWeekly.com last year, which discussed breaking into writing alumni profiles for my university’s alumni association publication, I’ve done two more such profiles, and I’m about to do another. I also sold a nostalgia piece to another editor at the magazine. But even better, my efforts have led to that most coveted kind of freelance work: assignments — those pieces that are dropped into our laps.
And what was the reason for my good fortune? Clear, “lively” writing, professional work habits, and a good grasp of grammar, spelling, punctuation and style (like knowing when to capitalize the name of an academic department and when not to). Carefully proofread, stick to the word count, make your deadline, and give the editor little reason to rewrite you, and she’ll want to work with you again.
In my case, my editor started recommending me to her colleagues. One hired me to do six feature articles for an annual report. Another wanted me to write a profile for a new magazine being published by the English department. Interest from these editors seemed to spark more interest from my original editor: Recently, she hired me to write three profiles for the school’s faculty/staff newspaper.
With all this came the realization that my university can’t be the only one in the country that uses freelance writers. In fact, it’s not the only one in my city. I bit the bullet and started querying the crosstown rival’s alumni publication. The result? Four sales to date.
Sandy Siegel has been a professional writer for more than 25 years, with credits in television, journalism and fiction. Her features and essays have appeared in numerous publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Writer’s Digest, Emmy and Westways. Some of her work can be viewed at her website, Why I Made a Web Site by Sandy Siegel, Writer, Humorist, Olympic Gymnast.