Thursday, 14 January 2010

Editorial Calendars - final part

Read the Magazines
You cannot get sufficient information from the editorial calendar and media pack to successfully pitch an idea. You still need to read back copies and/or articles on the magazine’s website to get a full picture of what the editor is looking for in terms of content and style.

You should also request contributors’ guidelines. But, with the additional information provided in the calendar and media pack, you stand a much better chance of having your idea accepted because you will be able to aim at particular issues, knowing the editor is actively looking for content on a particular theme.

Trading Places
There are literally thousands of trade publications which don’t appear on the shelves of the local newsagent or bookstore. These magazines are sold by subscription only to people with an interest in the topic, or are given free to members of an industry or organisation. Their individual subject matter is almost as wide and varied as entries in a dictionary, but they all have one thing in common – the editors need content for the magazines.

If you have some expertise, or can gain the necessary knowledge on the subject, studying the editorial calendars could provide openings for you. To find trade magazines, search online using the ‘“Editorial Calendar” plus topic’ approach outlined above. There are plenty of trade publications crying out for good storylines which fit their calendar.

Think Laterally
Even though you will be ahead of the game by pitching features with an issue in mind, you still need to come up with ideas that are fresh and new. One of the drawbacks of the editorial calendar being there for the benefit of advertisers is that often the same themes reappear year after year in order to keep advertising revenue.

This means that the same old ideas keep doing the rounds. To succeed, and make the editor want to use your work again and again, you need to come up with unusual ways of dealing with tired topics.

Some thoughts to get you started:
  • All year round – a theme you can split into the four seasons, or turn seasons upside down. Skiing resorts in summer or coastal resorts offering winter attractions
  • How-to – do almost anything. Find the theme that suits you in the calendar and offer a how-to article
  • Make the national into a local event. If something nationwide is happening, offer a feature on how that impacts in your locale
  • Food, travel, family, hobbies – all of these have been written about so many times, it’s hard to find new ways to tackle them, but all are perennial topics on editorial calendars. Why not mix and match? Fitting a family holiday around a hobby; travelling to sample the most unusual foods a region has to offer; recipes for families too preoccupied with their hobbies to come to the table

Success Breeds Success
Once you’ve been successful with a magazine, go back to the calendar again and again. Editors like working with writers they know will provide good material, keep to deadlines, and come up with unusual ways of dealing with the perennial topics. Use the calendar to make the breakthrough and, possibly, forge a long-term relationship with the editor.

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