Advantages Varied and Exciting
Disadvantages You need a thick skin
I used to write a column and features for women's UK magazines. I only stopped because I was commissioned to write a radio script. But I had (and still don't have) any special training or friends in the business. I happened to send in an idea that appealed to the features editor of the magazine.So if I can do it - so can you!
Here is some practical advice on getting commissioned and getting paid (that big stinky bugbear)SELLING THE IDEA
Take a quick look at the magazine you're trying to sell your idea to. You don't have to read it from cover to cover but you do need an idea of the demographic (age range of the reader), and tailor your idea accordingly. Suppose you want to write about the size zero debate? For New Woman magazine which is quite heavily celebrity led, and aimed at roughly 25 - 35 year olds you could take the 'Are skinny celebs responsible' angle but for Good Housekeeping which is aimed at older readers (sorry, middle youth), you could tap into the fears of mothers, worrying about the pressures to be skinny that their daughters face. Work out the demographic and angle your piece accordingly.PITCH
Write your email. Keep the pitch short - down to a paragraph. Say you want to write a piece about the size zero debate and that you will cover x, y, and z points. Don't blah on and on. With most pieces you will also need an 'expert' point of view. So with size zero, depending on your angle you might need to get a quote from an eating disorders expert. Don't worry about that for now. Just mention in your pitch that you'll be talking to an expert.
Second paragraph, do a short cv. Mention any other magazines or newspapers you've written for. Don't attach a cv - features editors couldn't give a stuff how many GCSE's you've got. Don't forget to add a contact number.
Suppose you've been commissioned? The next thing is to make sure you're both on the same page. (Arrrh! Horrible phrase!) Once you get to know a commissioning editor and he or she trusts your style you can be more casual about it, but in the beginning, get it all in writing. The reason for this is two-fold. PAY ATTENTION SCRIBES!
If the commissioning editor isn't crystal clear about what he or she wants, they won't be happy with what you deliver.
And then it will be easier for them to refuse to pay your or offer you a crap kill fee.
Let me explain. I was once commissioned to write an article. We had an email exchange. I expanded my original idea and planned out my article. I then sent it to the editor saying 'This is what I'm going to write about, is this ok with you?'
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