Many writers have daily word quotas or weekly query goals to help keep the writing assignments rolling in, but what can be even more profitable is selling multiple assignments by establishing and keeping a great reputation. Early on, I learned that editors love to see several clips from the same magazine. The thought is anyone can land one assignment, but only the proven get hired again. Well, the reverse is also true: establish yourself as a reliable, professional writer who is easy to work with, and you will land multiple assignments from editors. With that in mind, here are a few tips I have learned along the way to garner a great reputation and land multiple assignments from editors.
Meet or Beat That Deadline
If you want to be hired again, you must be reliable. Writers like to joke about being so creative that they miss deadlines and forget interview dates, but the truth is writing is a profession. And just like any other profession, if you want to keep your job – or in this case get hired again – you have to be professional and meet those deadlines. It’s just like the old adage, “The early bird gets the worm,” only in this case, it so happens that the on time or early writer gets the next assignment!
Format? What Format?
Make your editor’s job easier and she will thank you by hiring you again and again. Every magazine has its own format, preferences, and rules, and as a successful freelancer, you must be flexible enough to follow each magazine’s guidelines precisely. And that includes word count. One set of guidelines I read recently stated, “Either you cut it or we’ll cut it.” Not only will the piece come out more fluidly if you do your own trimming, but your editor will be happier at the thought of less work. From now on, be your own editor in regards to format and word count, and I guarantee editors will smile when they see a query or an article with your name on it.
The Art of the Thank You
Remember when your mother sat you down at the kitchen table and made you write thank you notes? Well, it turns out that mother really does know best. Most people (and editors really are people!) appreciate a simple thank you.
Especially with today’s communication options, a thank you note is a very easy way to make the relationship between you and your editor more personal and keep your name in the forefront. In addition, the note can be used to open the door for more assignments. Simply add a quick line or two mentioning that you have another idea, and chances are the editor will be more than willing to look at your new pitches.
It happens. You work hard on a manuscript, follow all the guidelines, write what you thought the editor wanted, and it still comes back with revision requests. Maybe the editor was expecting something else, or the writing was not as tight as it could have been. Either way, if you want to write again for a magazine, you must be graceful in accepting the advice or suggestions of your editor.
The best way to establish yourself as easy to work with is to actually be easy to work with. Of course that doesn’t mean you go against your principles or put your name on something you do not agree with – for those situations, see the next point. But it does mean that you recognize that writing is a process and that it is the editor’s job to protect the message and quality of her magazine.
When and How to Stand Your Ground
Sometimes an editor doesn’t pay, delays publication, or asks you to include questionable statements. Any one of these instances could make your blood boil, but it doesn’t hurt to give the editor the benefit of the doubt. Keeping a cool head, refusing to jump to conclusions, and sending a polite but firm missive often solves the problem and keeps your professional name out of the mud. Sure, there will be times that you run across a cheat, and in those instances you wouldn’t want a second assignment, but you also don’t want to do anything to sully your reputation. The best bet is to start polite, stay firm, and follow up professionally until the matter is resolved.
Landing multiple assignments is a great way to boost your income, and establishing a great reputation gives you the perfect means to land those assignments. Remember, editors simply want to know they have filled each issue with great content, and since there are plenty of good writers with great ideas out there, you have to set yourself apart by being professional, polite, and easy to work with. If you get your articles in on time and submit them in proper format, and if you take care of revisions or other issues politely and professionally, you will land plenty of repeat assignments.
Lisa Tiffin is a freelance writer from upstate New York. She has published multiple articles in WritersWeekly, TWINS, Grit, Homeschooling Today, The Polishing Stone and others.