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Filling Up Your Dance Card
by Cindy Ladage

Writing for editors can be like a dance. Sometimes, writing one story per event or place can be like dancing with only one partner. It is much more fun and productive to fill your dance card with a variety of editors and make the most of your trip. When possible, try to obtain more than one story and make your event or trip a one-stop shop for several publications.

For example, I write for antique tractor magazines, a farm toy publication, and do travel stories for a couple of regional publications. Many times the tractor shows I attend may have a collector that I can interview for a story for the antique tractor publication, a toy collector I can interview for the toy publication and perhaps a museum that can be included in a travel story for one of the regional publications I write for as well.

Another twist that also saves time and travel cost is when a single story is turned into at least two different stories from one interview. Not long ago I interviewed a doctor for a story about skin cancer for a senior publication. When interviewing him, because my husband is a farmer, I asked about skin cancer and agricultural workers. I was able to use the same base facts the doctor shared, divide the quotes using the appropriate ones for the appropriate audience, and have a story for the senior magazine, and one for the farm publication I write for.

These ideas sound fairly easy and they are, but from other writers I talk to, I find they are often overlooked. When adding the price of gas and other incurred costs of an interview, this helps stretch the dollars you spend and increase the dollars you earn! Plus in a case like the one listed above, two sets of audiences gained the benefit of learning about a health risk they shared from a terrific expert who’s time to meet with a writer is limited.

The key to making this work is having a variety of publications in which to place a story. By knowing the editors you frequently write for, you can keep an eye out for what they want and need – that way your story will usually land on the printed page. When an editor does not want a story you send, as long as the article is not time sensitive, there are always other publications out there that the story will fit.

Part of the fun of already having a ready-made audience for one section of the story is trying to find new markets for the “rest of the story” that you didn’t get to cover in the already spoken for pieces. When most of the trip is already dedicated to certain publications, a fishing expedition for editors and other publications is a fun adventure.

Time is as valuable a commodity in today’s busy world as is the gas, the paper, the ink, and the other incidentals you spend to prepare a story. Why not use it to the best extent possible? For your next engagement, plan ahead and think out a strategy for how to best fill your dance card!

© Copyright 2006, Cindy Ladage

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