Notes From a Hired Pen

Reader Question: How do you form relationships with editors?

Today’s reader question is about those gatekeepers we love to (sometimes) hate: editors.

“What are the best ways to cultivate relationships with new editors? Blind pitching? Seeking them out through social media? Finding mutual connections and asking for an introduction?”

I’d say a little bit of all three, and then some.

The best way to cultivate a relationship with an editor is to pitch good stories, and then if something’s assigned, do your job: turn in your story on time to the specifications of the assignment, and then be available for any and all revisions. When that story is done, pitch another. Repeat.

You can also meet editors at conferences – if they’re there to speak to writers, they’re there to find writers. I usually introduce myself, pass along a card, and then if he or she gives a card back, pitch after the conference.

I also follow some of my editors on Twitter, but any relationship that comes from that is dependent on the editor. I never pitch someone on Twitter since I hate being pitched on social media. If an editor tweets something that’s relevant to a pitch, I may include it in the pitch, but I can only remember doing this once, and this was an editor who I’d met in person multiple times.

Also, if you feel comfortable with it, there’s nothing wrong with asking to meet up with an editor if you’re in New York or Chicago or LA or wherever an editor is based. I haven’t had an editor say no, though by the time I ask to meet up, usually I’ve written for someone for more than a year. Also: I can be an introvert, but I know how and when to turn it on when meeting an editor in person. I sometimes come across better in real life than I do in email, so I take that in real life opportunity when I can (I think this is why I found an agent quickly - I pitched in person – but that’s another post all together).

It all comes down to the editor. Some have taken an interest in my personal life, which is normal after writing for their publication for years. One finance editor requests that I send him my running articles I write because he’s a runner too. Others just drop in to assign me something, then drop out when the story’s done, which is fine too.

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