Editorial Calendars, Yes or No
October 2, 2011 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I am doing some freelance writing and have a program that helps organize publications, their contact information and my writing history with them. Querying editors works but has a low success rate - probably about 5% of queries result in assignments ... that is, no speculation pieces. I research the publication and tailor specific queiries to specific subjects, so editors know I'm not mass querying similar publications with the same topic. Many publications use editorial calenders to preview what they're going to feature months in advance

The question, there are companies that sort and provide editorial calendars (MYEDCALS, for example) for writers to use for the same purpose. But renting these lists costs hundreds of dollars a month. Big monthly fees and freelancing are incompatible statements. Do the writers in the hive mind think creating your own editorial calender list is worth the time and effort or should I just stick to sending out queries?

And a related question, have you writers noticed a drop off in editors awarding assignments or accepting submissions. There has been no fall off in new publication startups, so do you think it's temporary or has the blogosphere and sites like HuffPo and eHow are eating freelancer's lunch?
posted by CollectiveMind to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would not be worried about publications' calendars at all. (Not sure what kind of freelancing you're doing; it matters more at some publications than others.) Overall much of the calendar is for the business side anyway. If you look at NY mag for example, freelancers don't need to know most of that stuff; it's really for advertiser packaging.

What you should be thinking about, in my opinion, is relationships. I always get the vast majority of my freelance work through the same 3 to 5 people. As people go from publication to publication, they should take you with them and also introduce you to new people there. Unless you're a schmuck.

Overall, the bottom fell out of freelance three years ago, but it's improved since then. Still pretty tight. You pretty much only get work through people you know, or who have had you recommended to them.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:27 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've switched from writing freelance pieces to doing PR on behalf of a stable of about 10 clients (I make about 10X as much money for 1/10 of the work). Generally speaking, I look for the low-hanging fruit: who needs content fast. I then tailor my pitch to make sure it matches the editorial slant of the publication. For each of my clients, I get about 2-3 stories placed per month.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:04 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think focus and relationships are everything in this business. Coordinating massive calendar lists is less productive than building a line of writing and growing it naturally (and making more $$ as you specialize). I'm lucky to have good relationships with editors who have moved around and given me business as they move from publication to publication (or even beyond mags into commercial publications).

It may be easier to create a simple spreadsheet yourself and see how far in advance different pubs publish seasonal pieces and pitch them as their dates arrive. Or offer a larger piece and mention how you could break it down. Do what works for you, as cheaply as possible, and don't spread yourself too thin. I also highly recommend Kelly James-Enger's books, Ready, Aim Specialize and Six-Figure Freelancing.
posted by mdiskin at 12:22 PM on October 3, 2011

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