10 keys to impressing editors—and getting more writing gigs

These insights from both sides of the desk will help you work efficiently, fulfill your subject matter and deadline targets, and foster good will for future assignments.

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I’ll never forget the first article I wrote for a national magazine.

I’d spent two years pitching the editor on a wide variety of stories—to which she always said no. So, when she finally phoned me to accept an idea and commission me to write the piece, I was gobsmacked.

I did a little happy dance, speculated about how I was going to spend my considerable (to me) paycheck and started contacting sources.

Now that I’ve worked on both sides of the desk—as a writer and editor—for more than 40 years, I have a well-developed sense of what you have to do to make editors like you. Here are 10 surefire ways:

1. Make sure you fully understand the assignment.

Human communication is imperfect. If I say to my kids, “Please clean the house,” they might take it to mean I want them to pick up objects lying in the wrong places and wipe down the kitchen counters. But what if was expecting them to vacuum and dust? (I know. Bad example. They’ll never do this in my lifetime—at least not in my house.)

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