Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Advice to Writers: Never Beg!

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received for getting writing assignments was this: Never ever act like you’re begging.

That came from a pretty savvy, super high-level editor friend of mine.

“Always make editors seem like you’re this very hot writer, even when you’re cold,” he said. “All editors, just like all movie directors, want to work with people who are hot, not cold. Heat in any industry is huge. So always act confident, even when you’re not. Just fake it for awhile. Eventually, if you’re good enough, you’ll catch up to your own hype.”

Mind you, this doesn’t mean that you’re acting like an arrogant diva, just someone sure of his or her talent and track record.

A couple of ways to accomplish this:

Get across to editors that there are time limits on your story pitches (be reasonable and give them 2-3 weeks max) and if they ultimately are willing to assign you to a story don’t jump at the first payment offer (be reasonable and gently ask, “Is there any way to get a little more for this?).

You’re establishing a line of respect. In the long run, this attitudinal shift will get you more work and money than merely begging for a shot.

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1 comment:

Don Lafferty said...

This is great advice, Mike, in a market where it seems like hard working writers are ready to practically give their work away just for the privilege of a byline.

Believing in yourself can be a challenge for even the most accomplished writers, so it's best not to trust your gut on this.

Run the business of writing like you'd run any business. Set realistic goals, work hard, conduct yourself professionally and expect the same in return.