This week was crazy.
On Monday I pitched nine ideas to a new-to-me editor at The New York Times on retirement. Hard to think of anything fresh and new. On Wednesday afternoon he assigned one. (I got that idea after doing a reading of my book, “Malled” at a local nursing home. Ideas do come from everywhere!)
Last week I pitched another new-to-me editor there eight different ideas for a regular column, the Holy Grail for any freelancer; she liked one of them and asked for a sample. I reached out to about 20 people on LinkedIn as possible sources; some freelancers have a bunch of steady gigs, and/or teach. I have none of that and would be thrilled to have something reliable.
After four months of calling and emailing a friend who works with her, I now have an appointment for coffee with another new-to-me editor next week at a design/shelter magazine I’ve long wanted to write for; with my background studying interior design and passion for antiques, this is a (potential) perfect fit. So excited!
I emailed one of my Times’ editors to remind her (nicely) that my payment from her needs a second approval before I actually get my money. It should, as it must, arrive just in time for April 15 when I put away a wad ‘o cash for my retirement savings. Whew.
Like many freelancers, I know, cashflow is an ongoing challenge. I make money, but it often doesn’t arrive exactly when I need it; I use a line of credit (overdraft protection) to cover my costs until it does.
The Times ran a front-page story about a huge donation of art to the Metropolitan Museum — and I recognized the name of a fellow Canadian and fellow alum of my college as a major player in the story. I emailed her immediately to ask if it was indeed the same person (it was), and pitched three editors within half an hour, all in Canada. Two said no and one said she’d consider it. I also pitched it to three different editors at the Toronto Star, where a dear friend gave me the right names and emails.
Then — of course! — after the Star says yes, the NYC PR people say, “Later, maybe.” Good thing it wasn’t much money. This is the second time, (and probably the last), I waste my time trying to get a hot story for a Canadian client offering little money for a lot of hassle.
I’ve been spending more time on the part of my business I tend to neglect — finding and pitching new markets. It’s time-consuming and tiring as you never know who will bite and who’ll simply ignore you, no matter how great your ideas or credentials. Last week a Montreal friend kindly sent me an ad from Entrepreneur magazine seeking writers who know about design; I sent my clips and resume at once, and never heard a word.
Freelancing is a constant juggling act: doing the work in hand, (well enough to get repeat business); revising stories after submission; getting new work; invoicing and tracking payment; coming up with ideas and pitching.
Planning to visit with friends coming to New York for my annual writers’ conference April 25.
Oh and working out, seeing friends and enjoying the crocus, magnolia, daffodils and bluebells popping up all over downstate New York right now.
I also gulped down — pun intended — a friend’s new book, to be published in July, about American women and their consumption of alcohol. I plan to pitch several angles from it to a few different women’s magazines.
Still grinding away on my book proposal.
Working on a story for Ladies Home Journal and finally heard back from a source on another LHJ idea. I got this LHJ assignment — unusual for me — just by asking if my editor had anything to assign. We met more than 15 years ago when she was editing a bunch of custom publication magazines for Gruner & Jahr, now long gone.
If you stick around, and keep doing good work, and nurture your relationships, it pays off…
Got back the revised version of my story for the Yale Alumni Magazine. I loved that assignment and really hope for another, both well-paid and interesting. I landed that gig by pitching one idea she didn’t like but catching her eye — she assigned this to me.
Spoke to my editor in Florida about my next design story and got a cheery “We’ve got nothing at the moment” email from a long-time editor in Texas.
Sent paper work to a librarian for a Malled talk there May 15; paperwork to get paid by LHJ and a contract filled with the usual obnoxious language, (some of which I amended), to a chaotic and late-paying website I never plan to write for again.
By Friday afternoon — when it was cold, gray, wet and rainy, I was pooped, took a two-hour nap and settled into an armchair to just read for pure pleasure. It’s a thriller, of all things, and I have no idea where I found it, The Wrong Mother, by Sophie Hannah.
This weekend — like every weekend — I’ll plow through The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, all in their print versions. If I don’t unplug from the computer, I feel like a cow tethered to a milking machine!
The towering, slithery stacks of unread magazines will taunt me for another few weeks…