Archive for the ‘Magazine Writing Basics’ Category

“Can writers meet magazine editors in person? Does it help?” Part 1

“How can writers meet editors in person?  Is it helpful?” Part 1

Yes, it’s possible to meet some, and yes, it can be helpful.

Yet by nature, freelancing tends to be a long-distance business. You will sell to editors you never meet in person, especially if you write for national or specialized publications or for book houses in cities miles from your hometown.

And that’s OK. It’s your words on paper they buy, not your good looks. What they see in print from you is what their readers will see, after a bit of editorial polish and spit.

That’s not to say that you won’t develop relationships with editors. Between emails, phone conversations, chat, and snail mail you may work together very closely, and for many years. You will learn and grow from their input. They will become familiar with your experience, knowledge, and writing skill sets. That leads to more trust, and repeat assignments.

If someday you finally get a few minutes to meet them, that’s a bonus and a pleasure.

However,  I admit that I got a nice jump-start in writing for one magazine by meeting the primary editor at a writer’s conference. You can do the same.

That doesn’t mean it necessarily gave me an edge over other writers. It simply means that instead of trying to get that editor’s attention in a sterile, black and white, 12 point Times New Roman font, I had 15 minutes to reveal my enthusiasm for the magazine and my fountain of ideas, while pitching one idea more specifically.

After the conference, when I sent the formal query in the mail for him to consider more closely, I had the privilege of it being moved to a smaller stack on his desk than his towering slush pile, due to my scribbled words  “requested material” on the envelope. However, that one meeting did lead to my writing for nearly every issue of the magazine for six years, so it was the beginning of great working relationship.

Not all editors attend conferences, and not all conferences are suitable (or affordable) for you to attend. Find several conferences that appeal to you. Look online at the brochures to see who is attending. You might see an editor listed who would be a good fit for a query you are working on.

However, the purpose for attending should not revolve solely around the one meeting. Look for workshops and keynote presentations that excite you. Look  forward to learning a ton and developing new friendships. Before I go to any conference, I pray that my time there will be well spent, to help others as well as getting help myself.

Consider the whole conference a relationship-building experience, in addition to a chance to build writing skills. Your excitement about being there in general will carry through into your editorial appointments.  Then if a serendipitous moment happens, say a prayer of thanks.

Next up is Part 2: ” Can writers meet magazine editors in person? How are appointments arranged?”

Write on!

Laurie Winslow Sargent

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