I wanted to share a little story in light of what we've been discussing over the past week or so: how to forge long-term relationships with editors, the power of persistence and the necessity of patience. Thought that this anecdote might really help drive all of these points home.
So I wake up Friday morning to an email in my in-box from an editor with whom I haven't spoken in well over a year. A YEAR! In fact, I don't think I've written for this magazine in at least that long, probably longer.
Now, before I go on, let me backtrack. Remember how I posted a story last week about how it took me three years to land an assignment with one particular editor, and I landed it only after she moved on to a new magazine? Well, for clarity's sake, let's call her editor A. And let's call the editor who emailed me on Friday, editor B. When editor A switched positions and magazines, she started assigning to me, as I mentioned. She also referred me to several other editors within the magazine, one of whom was editor B. I wrote a few articles for editor B, but she soon got promoted to a position at which she no longer assigned pieces. So...that was that.
Until Friday. She's now back assigning, and a year later, she sends me a note out of the blue and assigns me an enormous feature at a top pay rate. See where I'm going with this? The beauty of freelancing is that if you work hard at proving your worth and if you take the time to hone your relationships with your editors (as I did with both editor A and editor B), you can develop career-long ties. What did I do to imprint myself into editor B's memory? I can't be certain, but I'd say it had something to do with delivering well-researched stories, happily tackling a few rounds of revisions, and being cordial, pleasant and friendly the entire time. I mean, isn't that what we'd ALL want from an employee? It doesn't sound like a magic formula (right? I mean, you're reading that thinking, "well, isn't this obvious?"), but you'd be shocked at how many times I hear editors complaining that writers failed on one or more of these levels.
Also, back to editor A, who as of late had also been promoted to a new position within the publishing house...thus my dry-spell in writing for them. She's now helming a few new projects for the publisher, and she too has come to me for story ideas and assignments. Again, this is a relationship that I really took the time to invest in...not because I was assured of any sort of payoff but because a) she was someone whom I admired and wanted to work for and b) regardless of if it paid off, it was the right thing to do for my career. You can never go wrong in attempting to establish strong relationships, even if that editor never sends a single story your way. You never know what you can learn from her or the process, when she'll pass your name along to someone else or when she'll think of you out of the blue.
So...I just thought I'd share. I really thought that this situation drove home a lot of the points we'd been chatting about on the blog.
Unrelated PS - Why, oh WHY, does that spiteful idiot continue to reap prizes and first place on The Amazing Race while that dear open-minded couple pull up the rear?? Is there no justice on reality television??? (Don't answer that. And yes, I tried to keep this intentionally vague for those who haven't yest seen it.)