Tuesday, July 04, 2006

 

Renegade Writer Q&A: Rose Strong

Rose Strong pitched a magazine that normally pays in contributor copies -- but she asked for money. She ended up with her first magazine assignment and a nice check to boot.

Q. You mentioned that you recently sold your first article. Can you tell me more about the assignment?

A. I sold my first article to Fido Friendly, a publication that caters to people who like to travel with their dogs. I have three dogs and often travel to see family when I go on vacation. I thought a great idea would be to give hints on visiting family and friends with your pooch and keeping the welcome mat saying welcome by giving ideas for etiquette with your pet. Since I traveled to see my sister over the past 20 years with my dogs in tow, her home has become our laboratory and that's what made me the best writer to do this article. I think I was pretty convincing! In fact, the article is out now in the Summer issue and looks great!

Q. How did you pitch Fido Friendly?

A. Well, I pitched through email to the editor and wound up with an open communication with the publisher who has been the magazine contact. According to the writers guidelines, there is only a compensation of 5 complimentary copies for 'field editors.' I approached the task just like any other query and was offered a price per word. I wanted to sound professional, although I felt incredible trepidation in asking about a contract. (Your section on this and getting paid has been a wonderful courage booster!) I was told the email was the contract. I had to check your book to see what that would mean and found out I had full rights after the article was published! So cool! Not a huge payment, but it's cash and guess what? They paid me before the article was published, so this is one I'm sticking with for now!

I have been trying to get into markets for women and other mags, but thought this would be a great place to find a niche since I am quite the animal lover. I have had dogs all my life and cats as well, so I have lots of experience and have the ability to speak intelligently with medical and training professionals to get the info I need for my articles.

Since I pitched to Fido Friendly (I am currently working on another two articles for them! Dogs in Car Accidents and Dog Friendly Bucks County, PA) I have landed two assignments for Dog Fancy. To a dog writer this is like landing in The New Yorker! I think I've found a niche with dogs; it's not the only thing I'll write about, but a good place to cut my teeth!

Q. Did you break any "rules" when pitching the magazine?

A. Hmmmm, I don't think I've really done that with Fido Friendly, but for Dog Fancy, I had to play with the email address to find the right one. They say they only take submissions by snail mail and I bucked that rule!

Q. What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever gotten?

A. Wow, this is a good question, but not sure if there is just one, but if I had to choose...I've always enjoyed writing and there was a new weekly newspaper that started in my area about 4 years ago and a friend of mine wrote for it. I asked her what I had to do to find out if I could write for the newspaper too and she said, "Just pitch to the editor and see what she says!" This one simple piece of advice said in such a matter-of-fact manner was all I needed. Just like the old Nike commercials of 'Just Do It,' the way she said it gave me the guts to just do it!

I'd also have to say your book gave me one of the best ones...about the email addresses and to seek them out by playing with them to see if they go through. That has been successful for me and so simple!

Also, I'm not sure you'd consider it a piece of advice, but the saying 'Don't take it personally, it's only business,' was good once someone rationalized to me that an editor's job is to their readers and my article just didn't fit their needs at the time and they weren't simply taking a personal stab at me as a person.

Q. The worst?

A. I guess you could say that I've been lucky so far and haven't gotten a really bad piece of advice. I live in Bucks County, PA, where we have a very active writers' population which is supported by The Writer's Corner (formerly the Writer's Room) in Doylestown, PA, where there are incredibly knowledgeable writers who are sharing their own experiences and suggesting in their workshops things that have worked for them. I'm also surrounded by friends who are writers and they give great support.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

A. I'd have been braver! I wouldn't have waited so damn long to send out the queries! This is really quite easy and I don't melt like the Wicked Witch of the West when hit with a rejection!

Q. Is there any advice you'd like to give to aspiring magazine writers?

A. Here's a good hint: When I go to the doctor or my sister-in-law takes my mother-in-law who has a continual list of appointments each month, we both check for current issues of magazines and pull the mastheads out. I figure why spend the money on them, take the time at the bookstore or library, or search the web for them when those reading at a doctor's office aren't going to miss the masthead one iota! [Hey, were you the one who ripped the masthead out of Neurology Now at my doctor's office? ;-> -Linda]

When your book said that magazines sometimes give false names in their Writer's Market entries, I thought the best way to be sure that I had the editors' names was to just take out a masthead page!

If you really want to write for a living...just write and send out those queries. I know this sounds cliché, but it is so true! Read The Renegade Writer and then read it again and never give it away or loan it out, keep it on your bookshelf and refer to it over and over again. It is a wonderful reference. Rejection is just part of the deal, not the whole thing and has nothing to do with who you are as a person.

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