Hint #5 Don’t lose heart
MAGAZINE HEALTH WRITING BASIC 12 part – 5
Hear the phone not ringing? Hear your email not pinging? You hear nothing but crickets, you say? Don’t lose heart; those are just the friendly freelance fairies whispering in your ear to try a little harder.
This is a competitive business. Health, fitness, and nutrition editors at the best publications are inundated with health queries by writers (not to mention PR people trying to get press for clients). But don’t let that scare you. This isn’t a lottery.
The good news is many of those other writers haven’t done their homework. This leaves room for you if you know what to do. Take a second look at those query letters you sent out. (You did send out more than one, didn’t you?) Here’s how to make them better:
- Tighten and clarify. Remember the old rule about jewelry? The one that says after you’re finished accessorizing, take one piece off? Words are like that, too. See how many words you can take out losing anything. If you’re like me, you’ll cut out many more than just one. And your query will read much better.
- Add clout. If you found one medical study or expert source, find another. Then get one more. You may not need to cite them in your query, but it may give your article idea more substance.
- Dig for gold. Look beneath the surface. Unearth the unexpected. Find the new spin on the same old health topic. Editors don’t know what ideas they want from writers, so they can’t tell you. And you won’t know either until you get knee deep into a topic. Like Robert Frost said, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But that’s how to break in, whether you’re new to writing or just switching specialties. It gets easier once you build your portfolio of clips and editors get to know you. Then you can dash off casual queries that still get noticed.
Do a good job on your articles and editors will start to call you with assignments. It may take about a year to get to that point. In the meantime, listen to the crickets and polish your craft.
Happy Health Writing,
[See the full list of 12 hints here: 12 Hints for Magazine Health Writers]