I was talking to the managing editor at Writer’s Digest magazine the other day and he was offering some advice about starting up a freelancing career while I search for a more permanent “big girl” job with those sweet, sweet benefits. He mentioned how he’d had some pretty bad experiences with some of the people who’ve pitched him stories for WD. Apparently their unfriendly, unethical and blatantly rude actions landed them a special place in the WD Blacklist Folder.
He wouldn’t tell me who was in it, but he mentioned that there were 5-6 names in there. I guess you manage a magazine long enough, you’re bound to experience up a few sour deals.
How does one land themselves in the black list folder?
1. Pitching a story to the magazine then trashing the same magazine on their blog before the pitch is even on the editor’s desk. Yes, this actually happened. Apparently this gentleman never heard of the ol’ “burning bridges” adage.
2. Trying to send the same article with only minor changes to the magazine while simultaneously publishing it in a competitor’s magazine. This may have worked 20-30 years ago, but with the internet, not anymore!
3. Being super annoying. I can only imagine what kinds of horrible stalking and creepy-letter-sending will land you in this category. Did I mention WD gets a lot of prison mail?
Now, on a more upbeat note, here is some of his advice for breaking in to freelancing and magazine writing. According to him, the process is pretty simple. Being successful, ah! Now there’s the rub.
1. Keep pitching stories. Can’t stop, won’t stop!
2. Build relationships with editors and publications. But not ones that start with sending vagina poems. Seriously, this won’t work.
3. Try to bypass general slush pile emails and submit directly to editors. Apparently so few people do this that you are more likely to get a quick response. Of course, if you’re like me and fear pissing people off (and landing in the black folder), you walk a fine line with this one. Do you risk getting a cranky email about only submitting to the submissions email? Up to you. Can’t be worse than a form rejection, right? right??