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Excerpts from
How to Be an Editor's First Choice

There are writers who editors like, and those theyíd bet their careers on....
- the WritersSoftware team

How to Be an Editor's First Choice

There are writers who editors like, and those theyíd bet their careers on. How can you be that writer who the editor will call on every time she needs an important assignment to be done? Are you a hot favorite or a pass-on-for-another-freelancer who keeps querying but receives no response? Here are the qualities that will endear you to an editor.

1. Giving more than you promise

When an editor asks for two samples, give her three. If she trusts you with an assignment, donít wait for the final deadline, but send it in a day in advance. If sheís asked you to provide notes, make sure you give her everything she needs so that she doesnít have to ask for anything more. If you make an editorís job easier, sheíll love you for it. And sheíll be willing to trust you again with more assignments.

2. Constantly coming up with fresh slants

There may not be too many new topics (unless youíre writing about technology; then you just canít complain), but there can always be new slants. An editor likes writers who can reduce her brainwork, and make her look good in front of her superiors by coming up consistently with great ideas.

3. Having all the answers

Itís important to know about your subject. Thatís why so many well-paid writers advise you to specialize. So, if an editor calls you to discuss your query, and poses follow-up questions, you better have the answers. Because an editorís never going to trust you with an assignment unless sheís sure you know what youíre doing. And not having answers to her questions is a sure-shot sign that you donít.

4. Coming up with clever titles, and great sidebars

The most important thing Iíve learnt so far is to visualize your article. See how it appears on the page. Granted, itís usually not going to come out like youíd imagined it, but for a minute forget that youíre a writer, and think like a designer. See the beautiful fonts and the shaded box on the side? Thatís how the editor sees your article. Now itís your job to bring that visual to life with your words.

5. Understanding the core audience of the magazine

If youíre writing for a magazine for home PC users, your editorís not going to appreciate ideas on network security, however wonderful they may be. Similarly, when writing for a small business owner, youíd want to treat that person as a little smarter, even if he might have the same knowledge base as that of a home user. His computing decisions are more important. Thatís why you should always be familiar with the readerís knowledge level. Thatíll help you make the distinction between good ideas, and great ones.

6. Making boring subjects come alive

Editors love writers with a dash of style, attitude and chutzpah. If you can give even a serious subject a touch of humor, youíll soon be a hot favorite. This is especially true with technical, business and trade magazines. Their subject matter tends to be boring. Itís your job to not only inform the reader, but also to entertain him.

7. Having the whole package

If you can write great prose, but not meet deadlines, youíre replaceable. If you can get great interviews and dig up little-known statistics, but make the fact-checkerís life hell, you might not be seen as a great catch. If you come up with the best ideas, but canít provide equally interesting sidebars, thereís probably someone who can. But if you give the editor all those things and more, she has no reason to look beyond you.

8. Knowing the magazine

I wouldnít go as far as to say that will never sell something to a magazine you havenít read (I have), but I will say that youíre not going to get rich doing it. If you donít want to go broke buying all the prospective magazines, get yourself a reliable Internet connection and visit the magazineís Website. No editor will stand a query that looks like itís been sent to a million others.

Editors often like to work with a select group of freelance writers, whoíve earned the editorís trust over time. By following the tips above, youíll soon ensure an impressed editor, but many lucrative assignments as well.

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About the Author: 

Mridu Khullar is the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com, a free online magazine for writers. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to get a complimentary e-book with 400+ paying markets. Also check out her e-book, "Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters That Sell," available at http://www.writerscrossing.com/queries.html

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