Saturday, May 3, 2008

Newspaper journalism - makings of a freelance writer

In this business you have to be ready and alert. You have to keep in touch with people in the industry, you have to make sure your name remains fresh in their minds, you have to keep on plugging away at keeping that contact book up to date, adding to it, and maintaining friendships. This is a business that functions, to an extent, on “who you know” rather than “what you know”, and it doesn’t hurt to keep that in mind. You need to keep up with the people you met throughout your journalism career, whether they are fellow reporters, editors, or the woman who used to empty the rubbish bins at the end of the night.

The fact remains: for a freelance writer, there’s no rush greater than publication. You have to keep at it. Remember that for every query you send to an editor, they probably received one hundred others. You’re up against a lot of competition, but sometimes sheer persistence pays off. Remember, it was the tortoise that won the race: keep chipping away at it, keep on sending in those queries, know that it can only get easier.

A little-known fact for you: in newspaper journalism, excellent writing isn’t the most important quality to have. That’s what sub-editors are there for. I also do it by being persistent. You need a thick skin to be a freelance writer. You spend a lot of time being rejected, being snubbed, and even being ignored. What many editors are looking for are writers who will respond instantly, file copy on time, get the facts right, and get the story. Being always-on call may not be the most relaxing way to live, but it’s one way to make sure that the editor who just commissioned you for one story will come back for more.

To know more read through the archives on this blog page and select what is important to you.