Friday, February 20, 2009

Arabian Horse Times

I think I mentioned when my query was accepted by Arabian Horse Times a few months ago, but I just wanted to update that the piece finally appeared and is in the February issue. I haven't seen it yet, but at least one of my friends has (thanks, G). I'm looking forward to seeing it! Although I'm in several other magazines, this is a big deal for me and I hope to write more for them! I don't know what the circulation is, but they are one of the premier magazines for Arabian horse owners and enthusiasts. As they say:

The premier monthly, international magazine devoted to Arabian horses and the people that love them. With a circulation that reaches around the globe (over 66 countries), the Arabian Horse Times brings to its readers the most complete coverage of the Arabian horse in the world today.

Onward and upward! I love adding new magazines to my list!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Editor Interview: Jenn Talley, Managing Editor of Sierra Style Publishing

Sierra Style is a group of magazines in the Sierra Foothills. Last summer, I sent a letter of introduction (hi, my husband and I are freelance writers, here's a sample, we're available for freelance assignments, etc) to Jenn's predecessor, Desiree Patterson, who is now the publisher. Desiree said she would keep us in mind, gave us our first assignment a month or so later, and now we are in nearly every issue.

Jenn took over as managing editor a few months ago and does a great job. I asked her a few questions about her job and about the query process from her perspective.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your background--education and experience before you became the editor at Style.

Jenn Talley: I graduated from the University of Florida, where I double-majored in English and Communication and minored in Advertising. Out of college in Jacksonville, Florida, I was a copy editor at an advertising agency, an amazing and fast-paced industry in which the businesses are much more like fraternities than corporations-I loved it tremendously! From there, I reluctantly moved on to working for the foundation of a large five hospital system to gain more writing opportunities. There, I wrote the foundation newsletter, along with the children's hospital newsletter and various collateral material. I moved to Sacramento from Florida in July of 2008 when my husband accepted a transfer with the Oracle Corporation. I sent an email to Style, asking if their editorial department had opportunities available, and one month after sending that initial e-mail, I was contacted regarding the managing editor position. I interviewed and accepted the position, and I have loved every day of work. My goal has always been to work in publishing and I'm so thankful that I am where I am now.

Jennifer Walker: How did you get your job? Did you have an edge over other people looking for the same job?

Jenn Talley: I simply took the initiative to send an e-mail and follow up. My former experience in the advertising industry gave me an edge because it is very deadline-driven and you are forced to balance multiple projects at once.

Jennifer Walker: Do you do any writing outside of Style?

Jenn Talley: I currently freelance write, proofread and copy edit manuscripts and will be completing my Web site soon. I can be reached by e-mail at

Jennifer Walker: How many queries do you receive for Style every week, and how many of these pieces actually end up in the magazine?

Jenn Talley:
We receive between 5 and 20 queries per week with article suggestions and new freelance writers, and we consider all of them. Many of them are already in queue to be placed in the magazine, and others are new. The number that end up in the magazine varies, as the editorial department as a whole plans each issue and decides content.

Jennifer Walker: What is your typical day like?

Jenn Talley:There really is no such thing as a typical day for me. Each day is literally different. I have several publications, projects and issues that I balance each day. I very much enjoy that aspect of my job.

Jennifer Walker: When reading queries from freelancers, what compels you to want to learn more about the piece or writer?

Jenn Talley: When freelancers show their personalities in their initial inquiries-whether in their e-mails or clips, I am compelled to get to know them better. When every freelance inquiry looks the same, it's sometimes difficult to differentiate between the average and exceptional.

Jennifer Walker: When reading submitted manuscripts, do you have any deal breakers that will always cause you to reject the piece (i.e., grammar, lack of sources, etc.)? Or do you tend to be flexible and work with the writer to improve it?

Jenn Talley: Grammar and writing style are extremely important for all writers. As a trained proofreader and copyeditor I am a stickler for grammar, but it will not be a complete deal breaker. Writing style, however, is key. If a writer's style does not match that of our publication, they may not be the best fit.

Jennifer Walker: Is there something a writer can do to make their query or submission stand out from the rest for you?

Jenn Talley: You get one shot to make a first impression, so show your personality as much as possible without being overbearing, so that whomever you are contacting gets a real sense of who you are as a person and writer.

Jennifer Walker: What other advice, from an editor's standpoint, can you offer to new freelancers?

Jenn Talley: Never submit a piece that is not your best work, details are important, and plagiarism is never okay.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Are you making some things happen, or waiting for something to happen?

My brother and his girlfriend took me out to dinner last night to Chinese food. At the end of the meal, we each opened our fortune cookie. One of them was one of the best I'd ever read...I may misremember the exact phrasing, but essentially it said: Make some things happen, instead of waiting for something to happen.

This is a philosophy that I have always tried to live by. I've never been one to sit around and moan that nothing good ever happens to me--I'm the one that decides something needs to happen and I try to figure out how to bring it about. However, we're all human and slip from time to time. I get busy with projects and forget to seek more, and soon I'm out of work (and money).

This is a little bit of a stretch on the original intent of the message, but it's a good lesson anyway: as a freelance writer, you have to constantly make things happen for you. It's easy to get complacent when you have ongoing relationships with an editor or two who give you work every month, but is that enough to pay your bills? What if they have to cut back? Keep sending out queries, posting on bid sites, online content sites, etc. You have to constantly push. I let things slack last fall, and I am just now really recovering and getting to the point where I have enough work.

Every writer is hoping for that phone call or email from Big Time Magazine Editor saying, "I read your piece in XX and I want you to write for me", but that just doesn't happen...or it's exceedingly rare if it does. (Pause to chuckle, because I saw an episode of Family Guy last night, where the New Yorker called Brian and asked him to write for them because he'd written something in some podunk paper. They fired him because he didn't have a college degree.) You have to keep sending those queries out.