In most professions/jobs/hobbies, “who you know” can give you an advantage, and writing is no exception. “Who” you know can give you an in whether you’re writing for a magazine, writing a book, looking for publicity, or just need information for an article.
More than 10 years ago a cattle friend of ours (he’s not a cow, but we know him through the cattle business, hence, a “cattle friend”) was starting a new monthly newspaper (it later evolved into a magazine). He and my husband Tim talked extensively about the business/money aspect of starting the magazine, what information to include in the magazine, and so on.
Mike, the new magazine’s editor, knew I was a writer. At some point in one of our conversations, I approached him with the idea of submitting a “Top 10″ list of humorous farm/ranch/livestock related items for the magazine every month. He was happy to print my Top 10 lists and I was thrilled to see my name in print every month. (You can check out Livestock Plus at www.livestockplusinc.com)
This experience gave me a taste of what it was like to be a “real” writer . . . including the sometimes difficult task of coming up with a column–even if it was “just” a list!–every month. Because the magazine was brand new, I didn’t ask to be paid. Instead, Mike ran ads for my book every few months and at the end of each article listed my name and contact information.
In my previous post Write What You Know; Teaching Lamaze Classes I talked (well, wrote) about writing for a childbirth magazine. I wrote for that magazine for as long as it was published. I developed a good relationship with that editor, turning in articles according to her specifications, on time, and cheerfully making any changes she requested.
A year or so later, she called asking me to write an article about breastfeeding for a one-time magazine she was producing. The article was an adaptation of one of the articles I’d written for the previous magazine, and she asked me to do it because I already had the information and she’d worked with me. It was a fun article to write–I interviewed several friends to get quotes for the articles and they were thrilled to see their names in print.
In Sept. of 2006 I was one of the speakers at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, NE. As part of doing my talk every day, I was provided with a booth in which I could display the books I had published. On the first day of Husker Harvest Days the editor of a fairly new magazine, Rural Life (www.rurallifemagazine.com) introduced himself to me and, after looking through my books, bought several of them.
Even though we’re both in the same general business (publishing), we have a different point of view–me as an author, and Dan as a publisher. It was interesting to talk with him about how his magazine came about and his vision for his magazine.
After he paged through one of my books, Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home (read an excerpt at www.shellyburke.net), he asked me to write an article for Rural Life!
Talk about an ego boost–the editor of a magazine was asking me to write an article–and he was going to pay me very well for doing so! I wrote several more articles for Rural Life over the next year or so.
About a year ago, Dan contacted me to see if I was interested in being a speaker at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL, in August of 2008. Was I?!?! Of course! My first out-of-state speaking engagement! What a thrill! (OK, I know one of the rules of writing is not to use too many exclamation points . . . but another rule of writing is that it’s OK to break the rules . . . my high school English teacher told me so!)
It was more than fun to travel and speak out of state, and I met a lot of new contacts and got many new ideas at the Farm Progress Show.
I’m going to e-mail Dan at Rural Life this afternoon with several article ideas. I don’t know if he’ll be interested in my proposals, but I do know that even if he doesn’t need any articles right now, he’s keeping me in mind for any future projects.
The take-away information for readers? Think about who you know, who is involved in any way with any type of publication. Don’t be shy–talk with them about writing, and suggestions and ideas you have.
When you meet someone new, tell them you’re an author! You might have just met your next editor, or someone who knows someone who IS an editor and needs someone with your expertise.
When you do get an assignment, carry it out professionally–you’ll be remembered in a positive way and that person will remember you for future articles or projects.
When opportunity knocks, be ready to answer!