David A. Boyington who blogs at VideoCDRadio asked in comments:
What does an editor want to see in a sample article that has been posted to my website? How should this sample article be posted?
Imagine for a moment that you’re an editor of a magazine for Seniors. I was actually a founding editor for a senior newspaper which may make this post a bit more real. Let’s suppose that I’ve put together a market listing for Writer’s Digest that says something like this:
Articles for to help seniors get and stay active and other pertinent issues for the 50+ crowd. Briefs for national audience on health, food, humor, etc of 25 – 100 words $50. Articles to 1,000 words, up to $200. Photos $10 each. Email queries with links and NO attachments considered. (This is NOT a real market listing – do not send me queries etc. Please.)
Now, what would you want if you’d written that listing? How can you make it easy for the editor to quickly discover if you’re a fit or not?
Here’s what I’d hope I’d get:
Briefs emailed to me without a query in the style of the publication – yes, you’d have to get a copy and read it to see just how briefs worked in my magazine. I’d also expect you to include full contact info – name, address, phone number and website and your email as part of the sig in your email.
Article ideas sent as a brief query with either a link to the sample section of your website and/or links to two or three articles that demonstrate you can write the length of the piece I want and the tone. Again, this assumes you’ve read the publication so you have some clue about our style. Again include full contact info in your email.
What I wouldn’t want is long rambling emails, and emails with attachments and questions about what I was looking for, or queries without links to something relevant. Those get discarded becuse I don’t have time to baby you.
Remember, editors are people too. They are busy. Put yourself in their shoes as best you can and figure out what you’d want if you were trying to fill a magazine or find the next best seller.
Which is where your website can help or hinder.
Keep it simple and easy for them to discover that you can write. Make your website clear and direct. A glance should show where the samples are – call them samples or articles. Your list of credits should be easy to find too. Any introduction should be an overview of what you can do for the editor. Treat it as a sample of your writing.
And for heavens sake put your contact info on every page… as a footer or in a single tab so at a glance they can email, call or even snail mail you. Don’t hide it. I’m always amazed at how often I have to hunt down the contact information on sites.
Make it easy for them to give you an assignment or ask to see your proposal. Look at your website as if you were going to hire you. Does it work?
My site, Anne Wayman, demonstrates what I mean. Lisa Jo Rudy does it in a whole different way. So does Sharon Hurly Hall. And these are just a tiny fraction of the sites out there that will help and editor or client decide if the writer is one they probably want to work for.
What tips about websites do you have?