As a freelance writer, you probably already know that you often need to work as your own advocate. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a book, an online publication, or an editorial. You are the only one who can decide what your work looks like and how it flows.
But, writers have to go through a specific process in order to get their work professionally published. That often involves working with editors. Unfortunately, for many professional writers, that can be nerve-wracking. It’s never easy to have someone else critique your work, or even feel as though they’re picking it apart. But, that isn’t even necessarily the hardest thing for writers to deal with.
Because the writing industry is so saturated, one of the most difficult things a writer faces is simply getting their foot in the door and reaching out to editors.
So, how can you approach acquisition editors in an authentic and professional way, while boosting your “brand” and showcasing how unique your writing is?
Be Professional From The Start
Keep in mind that when you approach an acquisition editor at a publishing company, you are both business professionals within your field. You have to be able to “pitch” your writing to them in a professional and respectful way, and that starts with the initial approach.
In many cases, the first communication you might have with an editor will either be over the phone or email. So, it’s important to practice proper etiquette and set a professional tone. If you’re communicating with an acquisition editor via email, keep these tips in mind:
- Use a professional email address with your name instead of one with a nickname or numbers.
- Keep conversations brief.
- Be careful with using humor in email, as it may not come across as you intended.
- Use the right “tone” in your words.
Your query letter should also get right to the point. It needs to be friendly and approachable while stating your ideas within the first paragraph. Don’t forget to make a personalized follow-up a short time later, but don’t beg the editor to work with you or publish your work. Developing a positive relationship is more important than getting published right away.
Be Your Own Brand
When you’re a writer, you are essentially your own business and brand. So, you need to market yourself in a way that stands out above your competition. Essentially, you need to be able to “sell your writing” to the publishing companies you want to work with. Don’t let that make you nervous! After all, they’re your words, and you know the emotions you want to evoke with those words. You can advertise your writing with things like short, snappy titles and the best bits of your synopsis that don’t give away the entire plot.
As you build your brand, it’s also important to remain consistent. Editors need to understand who you are and what you’re about — and having a public relations strategy can help. The right strategy will encourage editors to have the right image about you and will make them more interested in your work. Your PR strategy should include:
- Storytelling (Easy-to-read information about who you are and your writing style)
- Marketing efforts
- Utilizing influencers to boost your popularity
- Understanding your target audience
- Building a trustworthy reputation
Your strategy will help to build your personal branding in a positive direction. As a result, acquisition editors will be more likely to notice you and pay attention to your work. Does it take time to build a brand? Of course. But, your patience will be worth it when it becomes easier to get noticed.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on the things you shouldn’t do, rather than all of the things you should. Some simple, common mistakes can mean the difference between a publishing company choosing to work with you or not.
If editors aren’t getting back to you or they seem to be ignoring your writing, you could be making some of those mistakes without even realizing it.
So, what shouldn’t you do?
For starters, don’t fall into the trap of trying to fit a specific mold. Unique writing and storytelling will get noticed, so don’t be afraid to be yourself through your work. With that being said, it’s also a good idea to write about things that are relevant. You want to set the right tone with your work. For example, consider the state of the world we’re in right now. It’s important to be sensitive about certain topics, depending on the type of publication you’re looking for.
By paying attention to the environment you’re in and showing that you aren’t “tone deaf” in your writing, your work is more likely to get looked at. Other common mistakes writers can make include everything from a lack of research to a lack of character development. Remember, if you want your work to be published, it needs to be 100% complete. Don’t rush through something just to finish it when you know there could be more to the story. Approach editors with something you are proud of, and they will notice your passion along with your professionalism.