Sample ITWPA Insider Newsletter

 

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Earn More: IT’S NOT WHAT YOU WRITE, IT’S WHO YOU MEET

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ITWPA INSIDER #2

September 15, 2006

Edited by Stan Sinberg in San Francisco

"Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money." - Moliere  

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Today:

*** EARN MORE: The Importance of Meeting Editors
*** QUICK TIP: How to Keep Up-to-Date on Editorial Changes
*** YOUR PASSWORD: How to Get into the ITWPA Members-Only Website
*** FEATURED PRESS TRIP: Get Fit at Rancho Cortez

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Photographs Sell Articles – It’s True!

Want to increases your chances of making a sale?  It’s a fact that editors are looking for complete photo/text packages.  Learn how to shoot professional-quality photographs with your point-and-shoot camera.

Here’s how: www.thephotographerslife.com/phc/itwpa


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THE IMPORTANCE OF MEETING EDITORS
By Stan Sinberg

As a professional writer who thinks his stuff is pretty darn good, here’s what I think about networking and schmoozing editors:  It’s a waste of time. 

After all, editors are highly-intelligent professionals who will surely recognize I’m a great writer, so what’s the point of doing the ingratiating meet-and-greet? I could spend that time working on more saleable articles, or hanging out at the beach.

As a professional writer who likes to eat and has been living in the real world for twenty years, here’s what I think about networking and schmoozing editors: DO IT! EVERY CHANCE YOU GET! I IMPLORE YOU!

Editors are a conservative, cautious bunch who don’t trust their own judgment and like to work with people they know.

I have numerous stories from my life about why this latter course is important, but this is my current favorite:

About 16 years ago, I received several form rejection letters from one of the top two or three men’s magazines published in this country. 

Then I attended an ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Workshop in New York, and the editor of this same publication was moderating a panel. After the panel, I introduced myself and mentioned I’d sent a few pitches in. He asked me about them, liked one, and requested I send it to him personally.

The following day, a Monday, I walked eight blocks from my apartment to the magazine’s office, and left a copy of my essay with the receptionist. The very next day, a Tuesday, I opened up my mailbox and there was a check from the magazine for $1,000. This began a relationship that included me writing several pieces on assignment. 

I was bowled over at how accessible the editor was, and when I taught writing classes over the years, always included this tale as an example of why it’s important to meet editors: It got me past the slush pile into the head honcho’s field of vision, and, since he was now able to put a face to the pitch, he was more disposed to buy it.

That’s a pretty good yarn, but not the end.

Two years later, I moved across the country to work for a newspaper and stopped freelancing for them. Over the next decade and a half, I freelanced for other publications, but the men’s magazine fell off my radar.

Then, a couple months ago, a number of my regular freelance gigs dried up at the same time, and I went flying headlong in the wrong direction of the feast-or-famine cycle. I browsed mediabistro.com, looking for new markets to pitch, came across this same men’s publication, and lo and behold, the same editor was still at the helm! This is almost unheard of, but there it was.

So I sent him a “I’m sure you don’t remember me…” email, recounting how I’d met him 16 years ago at a writing conference and how I’ve told the story of meeting him in my ensuing classes. 

I also included a pitch for a feature. You guessed it – the next day, in my email, there was a note with a deal for the piece for $2,000. And now, again, I’m writing a regular feature for them, as well. That meeting close to two decades ago, has revitalized my freelance life today!

I know other writers with similar stories. Against our better judgment, we realize that meeting editors and other guardians of the printed page is a very productive use of one’s time.

Why? Well, as mentioned, sometimes it’s just because you got past the hired underling whose job it is to reject 90% of what crosses his or her desk. It is safer, after all, to reject a decent piece than to pass along something the editor winds up hating. And part of it is human nature: People tend to work with people they know, even if it’s only for a short while and rather obliquely.

This certainly doesn’t mean you can’t get published without meeting editors, or if you live in the boonies: far from it. The pages of our major publications would be pretty thin if that were true. Nor does it mean that you WILL get published just because you and an editor hit it off. You still have to be able to produce and the editor still has to have a need for it. 

But it increases your odds. Gives you an edge… an ‘in’… a break, if you will. Once you have that, the rest is up to you.

How to Meet Editors

So how do you meet editors? Writing workshops are one good way; the editors who attend are generally looking for new writers, and certainly are expecting to be approached. Sometimes they appear on…

(continued below)

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..panel discussions on various issues, or attend media parties, where you can introduce yourself, get their card, and pitch later.

Of course, if you have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who knows the editor, or, for that matter ANYONE at the magazine, it’s good to ask for an introduction.

Another way to approach this is to scan the masthead and email someone further down the food chain – an assistant or associate editor – and casually ask for their advice on how best to contact the editor. There’s a decent chance the associate will feel flattered (and important) by your request, and try to help you, just to prove that he IS important.

If none of those scenarios is possible, you can try calling or emailing the editor, and mention that you’re a long-time reader and fan, and will be in town for a few days and you’d like to arrange a short in-person introduction. Admittedly this is more of a long-shot, but if you’re persistent and personable, you might find a receptive and empathetic soul.

Use your imagination, be persistent, but don’t be obnoxious, and don’t be rude or angry when you’re turned down.  And pitch again. The editor may even begin to recognize your name without remembering WHY he recognizes it.

My idealistic self still believes that meeting editors SHOULDN’T matter. But 16 years ago, an eight-block walk taught me otherwise.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stan Sinberg is editor of the ITWPA Insider and an award-winning humor columnist and travel writer whose work has appeared in publications ranging from the Chicago Tribune to South America Explorer to Indy Men's Magazine. He has been a satiric radio commentator on San Francisco's "World Class Rock" station, KFOG, and is co-creator of the long-running musical-comedy revue, "For Whom the Bridge Tolls." He was a featured speaker at AWAI's Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop last month in Denver. For a copy of his presentations, click here:

www.thetravelwriterslife.com/trc/getstarted

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QUICK TIP: For the latest on who’s in and who’s out at magazines, check out mediabistro.com’s “Revolving Door” updates on their website: www.mediabistro.com.

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THIS MONTH’S WEBSITE PASSWORD:

Check out the members-only section of the ITWPA website (www.itwpa.com) and share stories and travel tips… read archived issues of the newsletter… browse articles on writing better, traveling smarter, earning more… and sift through the many discounts available to you as a member of the ITWPA.

This month’s username and password are:

Username: mteverest
Password: himalayas

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THIS WEEK'S FEATURED PRESS TRIP:

One problem with comped press trips is you tend to gain weight. Well, Rancho Cortez Guest House in Bandera, Texas is offering a trip that promises the opposite result. The first day starts with a comprehensive two-hour fitness assessment, followed by a regimen of kickboxing, weight training, hiking, and water aerobics. Horseback riding and hot-tubbing are also available. Rancho Cortez claims a typical guest loses about five pounds a week. Writers are offered a free stay with a discount rate for family and companions. Go to www.ranchocortez.com and email mary@ranchocortez.com for details.

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The ITWPA Insider is a FREE twice monthly newsletter from the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance, available to ITWPA members only.

(c) 2006 ITWPA, info@itwpa.com

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