Oct 122013

YourWayMyWayMy client said she didn’t want to write for the magazine any longer. she thought  the editor had distorted her article, and she worried about what would happen in future pieces.

I listened from the other side. I was a magazine editor for years. I rewrote and reworked my writer’s stories in every issue. One guy wanted to go over every single edit, including grammatical ones. He didn’t last long. Most of the other writers just accepted my work, and they were the ones I hired over and over.

So when do you shut up and when do you say something, when an editor changes your piece in ways that make you crazy? From an editor’s standpoint, I have five suggestions:

1. Analyze the changes. Most edits are tweaks to tighten and enliven the piece, improve clarity, or to better reflect the voice of the publication. You might not like them, but you can live with them. Learn from the edits so you can do a better job next time.

2. Pick your battles. If an editor changed the meaning or emphasis of your work, or inserted inaccurate material, you have a case.

3. Be polite and thorough. In an email, make a clear argument with up to three points of disagreement. Don’t call and don’t make accusations. If you write down how you would like the sentences rephrased, it’s easier to cut and paste.

4. Accept change graciously whenever possible, and move on. This guy did not, which is what inspired me to write this post. Obviously, he had a point and an axe to grind. Don’t blast your story all over social media unless you want editors everywhere to wonder if you will be difficult.

5. Decide whether to keep writing for the editor. The freelancer I coached decided not to pitch more stories, because she felt resentful. That’s the right decision, because her attitude would come through. I have had disagreements with editors as a freelancer too, but we worked them out and continued working together. I’m not saying I’m right — maybe I just have a higher tolerance for changes, having been on the other side.

(Photo courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Thanks to Sally Prosser for alerting me to the post.)

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 Posted by on October 12, 2013 at 2:10 am
Sep 102013

Modern-FarmerPerhaps you’re in a rut, writing for the same publication, and it’s time to branch out? Or maybe you’re comfortable blogging but you’d like to try writing for magazines?

Whatever the reason, it’s always exciting to see a new crop of magazines. Here’s a short list of what emerged recently, followed by tips on how to pitch:

  1. Alo. A Middle Eastern lifestyle and culture magazine with a food section.
  2. ACQTaste (As in “Acquired Taste”). A Canadian journal of food culture and lifestyle, focusing on chefs and restaurants, not necessarily in Canada. A recent issue focused on New York food artisans and chefs.
  3. Cherry Bombe. Here is a bi-annual magazine that celebrates women, high fashion, art and food. Issue one includes articles on food stylist Victoria Granof, pit master Continue reading »
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May 282013

Travel writer and food blogger Amy Sherman (middle) with a translator and guide (left) and Chef Amina (right) at a cooking class in Marrakech.

Soon after San Francisco’s Amy Sherman started her food blog Cooking with Amy in 2003, she wrote about vacations, which — being a food obsessed person like the rest of us — focused on eating the local specialties. That led to writing travel stories for websites, publications, and blogs, and now Amy goes on trips once or twice a month. (Here’s a list of recent stories she’s written for Fodor’s, CitySearch and others, using clipping.me, a free website that showcases writers’ work.)

I asked Amy about who invites her on trips, how to be taken seriously, and how to make travel writing work as part of a food writing career:

Q. You’ve been comped to take some amazing trips, like a food truck festival in San Antonio and cooking classes in Morocco. How do trips like this come about?

People contact me, especially the convention and visitor’s bureaus. Sometimes I’m invited on trips because I’m a food blogger, like going to Continue reading »

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May 142013

When the James Beard Foundation awards unfurled recently, I watched the live Twitter stream from home on the other coast in California, just to be part of the excitement. It’s fun to see who won, who lost, and read about the drama (mostly about chefs, because apparently writers aren’t that exciting).

Then I read most of the pieces that won, because I always like to read what judges think is the best writing out there (or at least, the best of what was submitted.)

If you have time, I suggest you do the same. In the old days, we’d have to buy many magazines. Now we can read most of the articles online and learn why they won. I put in the links below, not just to the stories, but sometimes to the writers so you can learn Continue reading »

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Apr 302013

Kristine Kidd, former food editor at Bon Appetit magazine, ran the test kitchen for 20 years.

Guest Post by Kristine Kidd

When Kristine Kidd was food editor of Bon Appetit magazine, her staff tested recipes from writers and recipe developers, and she decided which ones would run.

A 20-year veteran of the magazine, Kidd is now self-employed and the author of several cookbooks, most recently Weeknight Gluten Free. Here are 14 insider tips. — DJ

At Bon Appetit, we tested hundreds of recipes every month. The ones we published were the ones that worked best in the test kitchen.

We rarely gave a new writer another chance if the recipes did not test well or if we had too much trouble with them. Editorial schedules are jammed and Continue reading »

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Jan 022013

When I was a magazine editor, part of my job was to design the perfect mix of feature stories that kept readers turning the pages. I would lay out maybe two trend pieces, two service guides, one how-to, a round-up, and a profile, with different lengths for variety.

These types of feature stories are formulaic, and most magazines (newspapers and websites too) rely on them. Once you understand the 10 types of features and how they work, you’ll start thinking of story ideas that fit their molds.

When pitching your feature story to an editor in an email, identify the type, so editors can envision the story. Of course, before you pitch anything, go through the magazine’s features and make sure they publish the types listed here.

It might help to subscribe to magazines you’re thinking about pitching, to ensure your story ideas have merit. So at the end of this post, I’m offering 10 free subscriptions for Continue reading »

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Oct 092012

Eight-time Beard award winner Colman Andrews, now at the Daily Meal.

When a PR query from The Daily Meal appeared in my inbox, I jumped at the opportunity to interview the website’s accomplished editor about today’s food writing scene.

I was not disappointed. Below, you’ll see that Andrews is honest about how hard it is to be a freelance food writer, and why he feels fine about not paying for content.

I’ve been a fan of Colman Andrews since interviewing him for the first edition of Will Write for Food in 2004. Saveur magazine, which he cofounded in 1994, remains my favorite national food magazine. Andrews was its editor-in-chief from 2001 to 2006.

Now Editorial Director of The Daily Meal, Andrews has had a long career as an editor, author and writer. He’s an eight-time James Beard Award winner, most recently winning Cookbook of the Year in 2010. Here’s what he says about today’s food writing scene:

Q. You’ve done a lot of restaurant reviewing in the last few years. Is there enough work for freelance restaurant reviewers today?

A. It’s become crowd sourced. The power of Yelp reviews. There was just a study in the American Economic Journal about how a difference of half a star in a Yelp rating can make or break for a restaurant.

The issue there is whether there’s a place for a professional restaurant critic anymore. Would people rather Continue reading »

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