Something that happens at the end of every year is that a bunch of people I follow on Twitter start getting really pensive about our profession! And since this year was such a trash year for creativity because we live in Hell now and the media is slowly picking off all of its editorial staffs so that eventually all magazines will be Doritos commercials written by and starring robots, the tweets were kind of grim. One of the great perks of being an idiot though, is that I remain a dreamy optimist and still believe firmly that people can and should pursue writing if they really want to. This means I get a lot of emails asking for writing advice, which is super-flattering but can be sort of overwhelming because a lot of these emails fall into two categories: thousand word biographies and career histories that they want specific advice on how to leverage all of it into a writing career OR two-line emails that basically ask, "How do I become a writer?" But instead of being an asshole like normal and just sub-tweeting about it, I am gathering all of the writing advice that I've already published and putting it into this one blog post that I'll update as I publish more of it.
This is a pretty thorough blog post where I posted the actual texts of pitches I sent to editors in my early career and an explanation of why I think they worked. People seem to like it. I hope you do too!
You want a mentor? Well, you can't just HAVE one. You have to ask nicely and be helpful and gracious and pick the right person. But then it is fun, because most of the time, mentor is actually just a fancy word for extremely helpful and wise friend and we could all use more of those!
Lots of people are super self-conscious about writing for what they consider small or uncool publications. This post is about why you shouldn't be! Everyone has to start somewhere and often those places have great editorial resources and you're less likely to publicly humiliate yourself if you make a bad call.
For the record, I did NOT name this article about why I think it is ill-advised to constantly be calling oneself a freelance writer instead of just a writer. Freelance is just a tax status! And it makes some people take you less seriously which is foolish on their part but you got to be slick and stuff.
Sometimes you're not just pitching stories, but you need help or an introduction or something. That's fine, just don't be a got-damn Dracula about it!
I can't stress enough how important it is to have a contract and know what that contract says when you write something for a publication. LEVERAGE THAT THING AND GET YOUR COIN, MY FRIENDS.
"The Creative Art of Pitching Stories"- Skillshare Class
So I approach pitching as the tender lovechild of a business proposal and a creative writing exercise and I explain as much in this Skillshare class you can take if the links above don't fully cover what you're looking for. I am not sorry for my exxxtreme Southern California accent, this is my heritage and I will not be ashamed!
If all of this doesn't do much for you, you're always welcome to sign up for a one-hour session tailored specifically for your questions and needs. I force you to use Facetime or Google Hangouts so that we can both gesticulate wildly and reach each other's body language so we get the most out of it. You can buy one of those here: http://www.alanakm.com/classes/personalized-session-for-writing-career-advice-onlinephone-one-on-one