Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Aiming for the Stars

I was encouraged by an editor who liked my writing style to pitch a department piece to break into the mag (I don't have many clips beyond the small pubs for which I'm on staff as an editor). Assuming all goes well and I dazzle her (which I plan to!), I will definitely follow up with additional story ideas. My question is should I prepare 3-5 more FOB pitches, or go for the big one and pitch a feature or two (she handles both)? In other words, is nailing one short assignment enough to prove myself worthy of feature consideration? And if I decide to pitch another section of the mag, will it help to name-drop that I recently worked with this editor even if the piece hasn't run yet?

Two good questions here. For the first, I'm inclined to say that it doesn't matter: you should pitch the ideas that you think are strongest, or hell, why not pitch them all? If you're dying to break into features asap and have a great story idea, go for it; once she knows your name, you'll at least get a more attentive answer. Will she assign it? I'd say that if it's a good fit for her, she probably would. That said, there's really no way to know, so I wouldn't consider this an either/or thing: pitch everything because proving yourself to an editor is an on-going process, and just because you'd rather write features doesn't mean that you shouldn't (or can't) be writing FOBs along the way. Does that make sense?

As far as writing for another section of the mag, this is how I handle things. I usually ask the editor I'm working with if she is the appropriate editor to pitch X to. If she's not, she almost always gives me the name of the editor who is, and I can then say to this editor, "So-and-so suggested that I contact you about TK story idea." It gives me an in without being presumptuous. Of course, if your experience with your current editor is positive, I don't think it will harm you to name-drop, but it's always nice to have said editor's permission to do so. (But again, I really don't think it's that big of a deal.) Besides, your current editor might just put in a good word for you with the new editor, which is always a good thing.

So, how do you guys handle moving from FOBs to features? Is one story enough to make the transition?

1 comment:

Dawn Papandrea said...

Thanks for the great advice, as always, Allison!