There are some writers that are heads and shoulders above others. They always snag the important gigs and never seem to have a dry spell. What is it about them that makes them so popular? Abundant talent? Insider connections?
Talent will take you far and connections will help you get your foot in the door, but there are three things that, when all else is equal, separate the cream from the watery stuff no one wants.
Star writers are excellent communicators. They keep their editors informed on article development, including any changes or source issues. They are accessible. Emails are returned quickly and phone calls are returned by the next business day. Skype or an IM are just a click away. An editor never has to worry about what’s happening when they work with these rock stars.
These same writers know how to keep in front of editors and clients without being pushy. They follow what publications are doing, drop a line of hello, forward an article someone might be interested in – and not in the same day. They are unforgetable without effort.
Better than any pizza delivery service, rock star writers are always early. Not on time – early. They understand that editors/clients are always facing a huge time crunch. Getting it in early shows that they are on their game and they can be trusted with the big gigs because they manage both their time and the publication’s interests well.
There’s a difference between communication and hand-holding. Rockin’ writers use their problem solving skills and don’t wait for an editor to lead them. They are proactive. If there is a problem with a angle, they keep the editor informed and will give them several options or alternatives.
They are also masters of clean copy. An editor knows with their go-to folks they will get timely work, clean copy and one less migraine.
Talent is incredibly important, contacts can be made fairly easily, but professionalism will keep you in the green long after the wishy-washy Hemmingways and sloppy Stephens are dropped for missed deadlines. Editors and clients want someone dependable and who consistently exceeds their expectations.
How do you knock a client/editor’s socks off?
It comes under communication, but every time an editor emails me with an angle they want to explore or questions answered through the article, I reply to their email detailing how I’ll incorporate their suggestions.
If there are any confusions, they email back, if there are not, they tell me to put all that info in the post/article.
Sure it makes for loooong emails but the editor is satisfied I understood what is required and I have a point of reference to come back to.
Jennifer L says
Love this, Terreece!
I have to say that I try to always do all those things. If an assignment is due to a client on Wednesday morning, I try to submit it by Tuesday afternoon or evening. At worst, I’d send it first thing Wednesday morning.
If something happens to impede the progress of a story, I always keep in frequent touch with the editor about the progress so the editor won’t be unpleasantly surprised. The key source won’t call back? I email my editor and keep her apprised of the situation and tell her my alternate strategy. I also ask if she has any other avenues she’d like me to pursue.
My issue, honestly, is getting some new editors to take a good look at me and give me a chance! I think I usually do just fine once I get my foot in the door…it’s the getting my foot in the door that’s such a challenge!