Notice to freelancers – editors don’t want much from you. Here’s what they want –
1) Good copy
2) Clean copy
3) On-time copy
4) Someone who follows instructions.
That’s what editors shared during a session of Virginia Press Women’s spring conference in Roanoke.
Dan Smith, editor of Valley Business Front, and former editor of Blue Ridge Business Journal, also urges writers to write in their own voice. “Hang on to it,” he says. “It makes you a better writer.”
“The editor’s role is to give the writers as much room, support and guidance,” says Keith Ferrell, freelance writer and former editor of Omni magazine.
Freelance writer Deborah Huso says she wants editors who return phone calls and emails. “There needs to be basic courtesy and good communication,” she notes.
She also urges writers to have a contract before proceeding with any writing. “You do not work for a magazine, you work for the editor,” she says. “If a new editor comes in don’t assume the old contract is valid.”
Digital media has changed the freelance landscape. Deborah says writers should get paid for all the uses of their articles. “Don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially if you’ve been in the business for a long time,” Deborah says.
Neither Dan or Keith disagreed with Deborah’s perspectives. Dan says, “Talk to other writers for the publication and find out about their experiences” before you start writing for a new publication.
“We work with our writers to accommodate their requests,” Dan adds. “We want to be on the writer’s side.”
They all agreed on one point – if you’re going to be a freelance writer, you have a to be a business person first and a writer second.