or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Miscellaneous › Mothers' Writing Group › When to follow up with magazine editor?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

When to follow up with magazine editor?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I sent in my first article (on spec) about a month ago. The editor (actually intern confirmed they got it. Is it okay to check in and see if they decided to use it?

Thanks,

Ann
post #2 of 39
Well, I waited 4 months to follow up on an article I sent in April - lol. I waited partly because I was chicken and partly because I had a lot of other things going on. It turned out, they wanted it, so it was good, but I don't think I'd recommend waiting that long. In hindsight and when this issue comes up for me again, I would probably wait 6-8 weeks. But, maybe someone else will recommend something shorter.
post #3 of 39
I have a similar question. My aticle was actually accepted, but she requested some changes, which I made. I sent the revised version back, but haven't heard back since. She'd said she was trying to figure out what issue of the mag to use the article in, which is all very well--but I want to get paid! Trouble is, I'm not sure what the magazine's rates are. Would it be OK to send an email saying 'Hi, remember me, tell me your freelance rates so I can send you an invoice'?
post #4 of 39
Hi all -

First tip (and I have to keep repeating this to myself, too) you're a professional, an editor is a colleague, you're not bugging them when communicating about your contribution to the publication...

That said
With any article you should get details up front - when you'll be paid and how much. A simple - "I'd love to do this piece for you. What are your rates and payment terms?" is not rude or unexpected.

If you miss that step and have turned in an article on spec and have a confirm receipt I would give it two weeks then send a note asking if they need any edits or changes or if you should simply send them your invoice.

Smokering, in your case I would send a note asking if they have any further questions and if not ask how much you should be invoicing for and when you can expect payment.

-cheers
Diane
post #5 of 39
hey guys,
just checking in as a former editor of a national magazine and now occasional freelancer - if you DONT check in you dont look professional. you might be scared to check in but its the hallmark of the rookie.

if youve done your homework and you know youve sent it to the righ person, i'd call and check in in a week or two. start a dialogue. if they want it, ask them to send you a contract asap.
post #6 of 39
Diane, do you have any good tips on sending invoices? do you use an actual paper copy and send it snail mail or email? what's the way to do that? (newbie here!)
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainbowmoon View Post
Diane, do you have any good tips on sending invoices? do you use an actual paper copy and send it snail mail or email? what's the way to do that? (newbie here!)
I've started using quickbooks and just email the invoice. Prior to that I just used a basic word template, sorted by date, publication and country. Then emailed them after the story was accepted:


Payable to:
Diane
address
phone
email

Date:
September 5, 2008

my invoive #
080905 mag (my ref number is year/month/date mag initials)

Invoice for:
xxxx
xxxx Magazine
address

Rights sold (FSNAR etc)

Story name ## @ $$ per word: $
Expenses:
Taxes:
Total:
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hollycat View Post
hey guys,
its the hallmark of the rookie.
I'm just curious about this phrase because I've seen it or others like it countless times in the writing world, both in forums and in articles about how to break into freelancing.

What does it mean, exactly? So, as an editor, if you spotted someone doing one of the many "rookie" things, what would you do? Laugh at them behind their back? Not publish an otherwise fantastic article because it came from a "rookie" who clearly didn't have the sense to know exactly how long to wait before following up? Throw tomatoes at them? I'm not trying to be flip, really. This just perplexes me.

I think this business has got to be like anything else - if you do a good job (or a great job), make sure all of your communication with editors is professional and doesn't have anything rude written in it, then it's probably ok. Right? Or am I fooling myself? Is there really some kind of anti-rookie sentiment in the writing world?
post #9 of 39
Quote:
Or am I fooling myself? Is there really some kind of anti-rookie sentiment in the writing world?
A couple of the books that I am reading now went in to that. Now granted, I am still an absolutely newbie and right now am in "learning mode" so keep that in mind. But several of the freelance books I said had direct quotes from editors. Basically it said in many different ways that in order for a green freelancer to best break into the field, they need to be on top of everything. Great queries, excellent writing, willing to write front-of-book submissions rather than feature pieces, and top notch communication. One editor said she won't even look at queries via email and then only on stationary with matching paper/envelopes and professional letter head. Granted, her loss, but still. The impression that I am getting is that in order to be published in competitive national print mags in particular, newbies need to be perfect. The way it was worded, if an editor can get a reliable writer whom they have already worked with to write a piece, they will do that over a newbie in a heartbeat.

I know it sounds unfair and difficult, but the positive thing they expressed was that if you are consistent, deligent, and presumably a good writer, you can break into the field.

Anyhoo- that's my very inexperienced insights. Take it for what it is worth.
post #10 of 39
thats a really fair question, cool boys. ill give it my best shot for a really thoughtful answer with the caveat that my experience is limited to large consumer magazines - instyle, oprah, real simple, elle, what have you. the rules might be very different in smaller markets or for literary journals or for on-line, so if youre pitching those places, the rules might be different.

to answer your big question - no. if i got a terrific article, i absolutely would not care if the person made "mistakes" in the pitching process or was an obvious newcomer. most of the editors i worked with as an editor and work with as a writer are really good, see quality and appreciate it.

but i have to tell you, it didnt happen very often. (that great pieces came from obvious newcomers) why? because success as a writer of course depended on their skill and talent, but it also depended a lot on them doing their homework. it depended on them really knowing my magazine. really understanding the nuances between us and our biggest competitor. (to an unstudied eye, vogue and elle might seem very similar. but if you know both books you know they are very different and would style your pitch accordingly.) understanding what department or part of the magazine their story best fit. knowing what articles like theirs we had published recently and how theirs was different.

that kind of homework is part of the job of the freelance writer. and tangentially, so is learning the ropes of the pitching process. so when someone makes "rookie mistakes" it does telegraph that homework hasnt been done. you sure wouldnt automatically kick their piece out for that, but you would look at it differently. also, people that dont seem to know the process engender a tad bit of concern because there is a higher probability that they might be a pain in the ass down the road because they dont understand how the whole system works. if you dont understand a magazines schedule and how to pitch them, am i certain you understand, say, deadlines?

now, you really dont understand some of the rules til you get in on the inside, so dont be too tough on yourself. editors will understand that youre new and they wont hold it against you - as long as youre good, youve done your homework and you want to learn. so really feel free to ask questions. assistants of editors are your best friends. they'll tell you everything you need to know. when should i check back? should i invoice or do you send contracts? or whatever it is you want to know.

hope that answers your question. good luck!
post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by evies_mom View Post
A couple of the books that I am reading now went in to that. Now granted, I am still an absolutely newbie and right now am in "learning mode" so keep that in mind. But several of the freelance books I said had direct quotes from editors. Basically it said in many different ways that in order for a green freelancer to best break into the field, they need to be on top of everything. Great queries, excellent writing, willing to write front-of-book submissions rather than feature pieces, and top notch communication. One editor said she won't even look at queries via email and then only on stationary with matching paper/envelopes and professional letter head. Granted, her loss, but still. The impression that I am getting is that in order to be published in competitive national print mags in particular, newbies need to be perfect. The way it was worded, if an editor can get a reliable writer whom they have already worked with to write a piece, they will do that over a newbie in a heartbeat.

I know it sounds unfair and difficult, but the positive thing they expressed was that if you are consistent, deligent, and presumably a good writer, you can break into the field.

Anyhoo- that's my very inexperienced insights. Take it for what it is worth.
Wow. I get all of that, really. Except for the woman who will only accept a query written on matching stationary. I will never get that. I guess that's just one magazine I will never be writing for - lol. Unless I happen to have matching stationary by a fluke some time. But, if you do all of those things (which I think are just a part of being a professional in any field), then will someone really penalize you if you waited one week too long to follow up? Or said in your query how many words you expect the article to be? (I saw that in another thread). I just find myself scratching my head that these editors seem to be a sensitive bunch. I suspect that "most" aren't like that. Like the one who still bought my article when I waited 4 months to follow up. She didn't seem to care that it marked me as a rookie, if the thought even crossed her mind.

I get the need to be professional in all communication. That, I think is important. If I were an editor, I wouldn't accept a query written on a napkin. And would probably be irritated if the writer followed up the next day and every day for a month, but aren't most reasonable things ok? Or are they really all "no tags in the t-shirts" type of people?

And when are you officially not a rookie anymore? Is it after three articles in a print magazine? After 23? 100? Or just when your resume is long enough to fit on two pages?

I'm really not being sarcastic. Really. (well, maybe a little - lol). Has anyone else ever thought about this, or is it just me?
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by evies_mom View Post
A couple of the books that I am reading now went in to that. Now granted, I am still an absolutely newbie and right now am in "learning mode" so keep that in mind. But several of the freelance books I said had direct quotes from editors. Basically it said in many different ways that in order for a green freelancer to best break into the field, they need to be on top of everything. Great queries, excellent writing, willing to write front-of-book submissions rather than feature pieces, and top notch communication. One editor said she won't even look at queries via email and then only on stationary with matching paper/envelopes and professional letter head. Granted, her loss, but still. The impression that I am getting is that in order to be published in competitive national print mags in particular, newbies need to be perfect. The way it was worded, if an editor can get a reliable writer whom they have already worked with to write a piece, they will do that over a newbie in a heartbeat.

I know it sounds unfair and difficult, but the positive thing they expressed was that if you are consistent, deligent, and presumably a good writer, you can break into the field.

Anyhoo- that's my very inexperienced insights. Take it for what it is worth.
another two cents - i guess im not sure why this is percieved as unfair or difficult. writers that i would go to all the time as an editor were go-to writers because they demonstrated all of the above, they demonstrated they could do all of the things i talked about in my last post. there is a lot of pressure in being an editor. deadlines for copy, for fact checking, for art. like any job, you tend to go to the person who has totally demonstrated they can do it right, under pressure. their facts check out, they hit deadlines, they dont overwrite, etc etc etc. thats as important as being a good writer. there are more good writers than youd think.

having said that, its a field thats much easier to break into as a newcomer than most newbies think.... as long as you do the homework.
post #13 of 39
okay, coolboys, i think i understand your question better. you're coming from the place of someone who really has done the homework, and from that place, would one little slip disqualify you like bitchy middle school girls who mock you for wearing the wrong jeans? no, of course not. youre good.

most editors are really nice people, believe it or not. standards differ even between magazines, so no one is that exacting. following up ten days later vs one week later no biggie.

and ive never in my career seen an editor like the woman who wouldnt accept the non matching stationary and i dont know an editor these days who doesnt prefer email.
post #14 of 39
I followed up.

Yeah, that matching stationery thing is insane. I do have matching stationery, but it has teddy bears on it--somewhat unlikely to scream 'Hire me, Vogue!'. I don't get not accepting email queries either, but anyhoo.

So far all the editors I've worked with (heh; 'all'. Um, four?) have been lovely and friendly. The mags were national, but bear in mind 'national' for New Zealand is not exactly huge. Maybe that makes a difference in their approach? I suspect I'm lucky to be living in NZ, actually; the range of mags is smaller, but the talent pool is MUCH smaller and everyone seems to be more laid-back.

The one 'stereotypical' editor I've encountered works for a big, shiny American-style magazine which is fairly new. She made it very clear on the phone that she wouldn't tolerate rookies, that I'd better do my homework before submitting a query, and that they didn't usually deign to take stories from freelancers. Terrified me, but it has encouraged me not to query until I've had a closer look at the mag. (I fudged the research for a few smaller mags because I couldn't get hold of a print copy, and it turned out OK--still, bad habit to get into!).

evies_mom: What's a 'front of book submission'? Does that just mean a non-glamorous service piece? One of the reasons I was so nervous about my cosleeping article is that it's my first... not 'feature' piece exactly, but piece which contains opinion. My previous articles were fairly straightforward--post-partum hair loss, not much you can say about that; a family-oriented wedding, fairly fluffy topic; natural haircare, again quite light material. But the cosleeping article (as well as being a subject I held more dearly!) kinda had to have my voice in it, and stuff... hard to explain, but it was a lot scarier to write. And my next piece for the same mag (yes, she gave me the go-ahead for my traumatic births article!) will be even scarier, because it has interviews and stuff and will need to be vaguely sensitive and 'writery'. I've never done that before. Frankly, service pieces are a lot less stress!
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hollycat View Post
another two cents - i guess im not sure why this is percieved as unfair or difficult. writers that i would go to all the time as an editor were go-to writers because they demonstrated all of the above, they demonstrated they could do all of the things i talked about in my last post. there is a lot of pressure in being an editor. deadlines for copy, for fact checking, for art. like any job, you tend to go to the person who has totally demonstrated they can do it right, under pressure. their facts check out, they hit deadlines, they dont overwrite, etc etc etc. thats as important as being a good writer. there are more good writers than youd think.

having said that, its a field thats much easier to break into as a newcomer than most newbies think.... as long as you do the homework.
I don't think any of that stuff is unfair or difficult either. It's the little nitpicky things I read about that leave me thinking that people can easily focus too much on those and lose the big picture (writing great articles).

For instance, I read that saying in a query how many words you expect an article to be is a rookie thing. I would think that would be helpful, not peg you as a rookie who then won't get the job because of it. And as far as time line in following up goes, I understand what you say. But, I don't see how, if an editor has a deadline, he would not have contacted the writer first. Shouldn't he? Wouldn't he? If he's waiting around for you to contact, then it makes no sense to me. I'm not arguing the need to follow up - it just seems to me that is more for the writer's benefit and not the editors.

Thanks for continuing to contribute to this thread. I'm just procrastinating on what I really should be doing with my time.
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hollycat View Post
okay, coolboys, i think i understand your question better. you're coming from the place of someone who really has done the homework, and from that place, would one little slip disqualify you like bitchy middle school girls who mock you for wearing the wrong jeans? no, of course not. youre good.
Ha Ha Ha! LOL Yes, that's it exactly.
post #17 of 39
no worries, coolboys. im on modified PG bedrest which is why im trolling the boards. i just wanted to address one thing you said re the word count -

you might have written a truly amazing piece but it just doesnt go in the magazine. for a million reasons. wordcount being one. magazines are very tight on wordcount, (much to the editors chagrin, believe me.) so if you say your piece on kumquat chili will take 2000 words, and the only place in my magazine that publishes food pieces is 500 words, it could be the best kumquat chili on the planet, but i dont have a place for it.

far easier on the editor is a query that says, "id really like to do a piece on kumquat chili. i think it would be great in your "seasonings" section, which i see is around five hundred words, which i can do. alternately, since i own my own kumquat farm with my daughter, an expanded piece on our mother daughter business for your "family" section in the feature well could be great too. I could easily exand that to a thousand words" or some such thing.

the most important thing in the world when pitching, to me, is understand the mag youre writing for. take a day, go to the library and skim the last years issues at least. rookie mistake with a bullet is someone who wrote a piece or is submitting a pitch, doesnt understand your book and its obvious sent the same exact query to twenty other mags.

best, h
post #18 of 39
The editor who I have been dealing with from Massage & Bodywork magazine has been wonderful - exceptionally prompt with her responses, friendly and encouraging.

Angela <><
post #19 of 39
Hollycat - great posts. What week are you at - with your bedrest? I thought I would go stir crazy during my six-weeks, but mothering helped...

I don't think I have much to add other than I'm pretty sure I've made every rookie mistake and it's been ok, I may have been secretly mocked but I still have plenty of awesome work (although the story I'm currently working on is about to make my eyes cross and my brain explode...) The key, I think, is to keep learning and to communicate with your editor like you're on the same team.
post #20 of 39
Yeah - I think the lady with the stationary was extreme too. I think, though am not certain, she was an editor at Forbes magazine or some other high end one. I doubt any of use would be pitching there anyway.

Smokering: Magazines generally follow this format (again, just from what I have been studying)
FOB: front of mag: light tone, short pieces like reviews, short tips, reader stories, lots of ads. Supposedly the easiest section to write for and the easiest to get published in as a newbie (not a lot of investment so if the piece blows, the editor could easily get someone else to do it)
Well: middle of mag: longer feature articles normally on the cover. Some mags have no ads in this section. Harder to get into as a newbie.
BOB: back of mag: shorter articles, often personal essays and commentary.

Quote:
the most important thing in the world when pitching, to me, is understand the mag youre writing for.
That's what I've been reading as well. The one book offered the suggestion to you get a hold of the mags media kit so that you can investigate the readership. Some media kits you can download online. Others you can request saying you are an advertiser. That way in your query you can make the pitch saying how your article appeals to the target audience. So if you know that 78% of the readership is age X- Y, you could include "According to ___ study, 92% of X-Y age people are concerned about _____."

Quote:
guess im not sure why this is percieved as unfair or difficult
Oh it makes sense to me as well. Perhaps I chose my words poorly. Difficult and unfair in the sense that a newbie writer has to be better than the pool of regular writers editors work with to get noticed. In most professions, green workers do not have to be, nor are they expected to be, better than their seasoned peers, KWIM?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Mothers' Writing Group
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Miscellaneous › Mothers' Writing Group › When to follow up with magazine editor?