Freelance Writers: Tips for Contacting Editors

Tips for Contacting Editors



All freelance writers appreciate tips for contacting editors, since editors pay money for your manuscripts! Freelance writers who have been in the business for a while will naturally know more about contacting editors, but most have not yet realised the full potential of their writing careers, and still have a lot to learn about the industry. This article provides a few gems of advice to help you along the way, whether you are already an established writer or just starting out.

Contacting Magazine Editors

Over the past few years it has become a feasible option for a good writer to try and contact magazine publishers for contracts. These editors can be a solid source of income for professional freelance writers, but approaching them can be difficult.

It is important to remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression on a magazine editor. If your style does not appeal to them on your first attempt, you may have destroyed your chances of being picked up by that editor for years.

Before contacting an editor to pitch a story idea, make sure you know what kind of editor you are contacting. Researching the publication they work for is a good place to start. When you do contact the editor, use the power of your first impression to display your knowledge of their readers. Remember that popular printed magazine editors can be contacted by hundreds of prospective article writers every month. They have the ability to turn away nearly all of those proposals, and therefore only respond to writers who genuinely represent a professional attitude towards valuable writing.

  • To add some credibility to your portfolio you need to add a professional touch when contacting magazine editors:

  • Send them a simple introductory email, briefly explaining your purpose for contacting them.

  • Don’t use marketing speech when describing yourself.

  • Be straightforward about what you can do.

  • Then attach either one or two samples of the work you propose to do for them, and end the email with a variation of the sentence below:

“Thank you for taking the time to read my pitch. If you have any questions or would like to share your own ideas regarding my pitch, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

By avoiding marketing speech you appear more trustworthy, and through providing a sample which is appropriate to their magazine you appear to be knowledgeable on their readership. The quoted paragraph displayed above illustrates your appreciation of how busy editors are, as well as your flexibility to meet their readership needs.

Make sure the sample you attach is top notch, and then wait for about a week. If you do not get a reply in seven days you should probably move on. While some writers would advise you to call the editor after a few days, unless you believe that you would be specifically suited to write for that particular magazine, just leave it be. Editors are busy people, and a freelancer calling them to see if they received their email is too much like a sales call. There are plenty of printed magazines out there, so if you strike out with one, try the other thousand.

Contact Method

How best to contact magazine editors can differ immensely between individual editors. A few of the senior, skilled editors still like to search through their faxes and snail mail, in spite of how tech-savvy society has become. Younger and newer editors often request for contact to be only via e-mail. Various native land publication editors like to receive phone calls. Whatever method you choose, remember that editors receive hundreds of communications daily. Making your message noticeable is vital to making certain it will not end up in the ‘slush pile.’ This can be achieved by summing up your information and getting ready to enlighten the editor as to why your story is significant or of importance to their readers. At this point, do not overpower them with extensive details.

A Final Tip: It is critical to note that whilst using these tips for contacting editors, not many editors have time to receive cold calls or unsolicited mail. With this in mind, take the time to use the editor’s favoured means of contact, which often tends to be e-mail these days. In addition, ensure the content of your first contact takes into consideration the editor’s requirements (not yours) if you want to boost your odds of receiving a reply.

For help with queries and pitches, visit Editor Contactor:

Categories: Business, Writing/Publishing

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Thanks for this info Nicola. This is something I have started doing more of recently and I’m glad to see that I am doing it in the way you suggest! I use a 3 short paragraph formula that I saw mentioned somewhere:

    1st para – What the proposed article is about (and preferably a suggested title for it).
    2nd para – Why I am the person to write it (this is where I refer to one or two relevant samples of my work)
    3rd para – Why I think it would appeal to their readers (this is where I succinctly demonstrate my extensive knowledge of their publication!).

    And then a similar finishing sentence to the one you gave above.

  2. Hi Vanessa,

    It certainly sounds like you are doing it the right way. Your interview pieces are fantastic.

    I like your first paragraph approach. In fact, I might do a post that includes tips from fellow writers. If I do, could I use this? Will of course include a link to your own blog.

  3. So interesting, thanks for this post Nicola, and Vanessa’s help as well. I do believe that with the power of the internet, we have more chance to study the websites of individual magazines, and find out the name of the Editor. Imagine if you were an editor and someone called you Dear Sir/Madam, that for me would go straight in the bin:)))

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